Traditional medicine has always been the mainstay of the health category. And its books reflected that by tending toward a "just the facts" approach that advocated conservative treatment options, all wrapped up in a staid package. But as the medical establishment has begun to embrace a more holistic view, titles dealing with everything from overall health to conditions like diabetes, autism, and cancer are reflecting the change in attitude, say publishers.
A prime example of this trend is Spontaneous Happiness (Little, Brown, Nov.) by Dr. Andrew Weil, a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine whose 15 bestsellers have sold more than 10 million copies. With his latest book, Weil shifts his focus to mental health, drawing on techniques from ayurveda, Buddhism, acupuncture, and psychotherapy and offering advice on how lifestyle, behavior, and dietary changes can help people attain emotional wellness.
"What I've learned from Dr. Weil over the years is that a great deal of alternative medicine has now been proven by science—look at omega-3s and vitamin D, for instance," says LB executive editor Tracy Behar. "I no longer think in terms of ‘alternative' and ‘conventional' medicine."
From Behar's vantage point—editing a list "tightly focused on health, psychology, and self-help, parenting, science, and reference" that also includes the Sears family and Dr. Joel Fuhrman—she sees an integrative approach that empowers people to take control of their own health as key to success. "Self-care is king," says Behar. "The health books that sell these days put treatment largely into the hands of the consumer."
To that point, this season many publishers are putting forth titles that present new perspectives on health and concrete strategies for improving wellness, be it mental or physical.
Free Press editor-in-chief Dominick Anfuso has high expectations for The End of Illness: A New Perspective That Changes Everything (Dec.) by Dr. David B. Agus. A well-known cancer specialist and researcher, Agus also founded the popular Oncology.com Web site. The book advocates for a larger concept of treating health as a system, but also makes specific recommendations. "This book will radically change what you do day-to-day and how you think about your body and health," says Anfuso. "Dr. Agus believes we can extend our lives by 10 years by changing the way we look at health."
The correlation between health and happiness is at the center of the latest in Harlequin's How Happy Is series from happiness expert and life coach Sophie Keller, How Happy Is Your Health? 50 Great Tips to Help You Live a Long, Happy and Healthy Life (Dec.), which offers guidance on which supplements to take on a daily basis, how to avoid common toxins, and how enzymes can improve health.
And several publishers are tackling a notorious strain on overall well-being: stress. Free Press has taken key tips from its most popular hardback titles by Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael F. Roizen and repackaged them into the portable, small-format You: Stress Less (Oct.). Tamar Chansky's Freeing Yourself from Anxiety: The 4-Step Plan to Overcome Worry and Create the Life You Want (Da Capo Lifelong, Dec.) addresses ways to deal with anxiety without medication. And from Watkins (dist. by Sterling) comes Richard Brennan's Change Your Posture, Change Your Life: How the Power of the Alexander Technique Can Combat Back Pain, Tension and Stress (Jan.), which offers a physical approach to releasing muscle tension and restoring ease of movement.
Rowman and Littlefield are seeking to help consumers navigate the often frustrating health care maze. Dr. Richard Klein's Surviving Your Doctors: Why the Medical System Is Dangerous to Your Health and How to Get Through It Alive (Aug.) and Fred and Jessica Leavitt's Improving Medical Outcomes: The Psychology of Doctor-Patient Visits (Oct.) each provide valuable advice on how patients can ensure their needs are met.