Gone are the days when patients relied solely on information straight from the doctor’s mouth. The health-conscious face a multitude of would-be advisers online, from Google-derived self-diagnosis and treatment to WebMD’s frightening postings on exotic illnesses. Unwilling to be left out, book publishers, too, are joining the fray, with a cornucopia of rich offerings in the health category.

At Avery, there’s an attempt to offer more than nuts-and-bolts information. “There’s more awareness than ever that disease can’t be treated simply through medications and interventions, and holistic approaches to health that take both physical and psychological factors into account are gaining popularity,” says Marisa Vigante, editor at Avery. “We’re seeing that this approach really resonates with readers as it’s intuitive and empowering.”

Vigante points to Avery’s upcoming Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum’s Heart Book: Every Woman’s Guide to a Heart-Healthy Life by Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum (Jan.) as a perfect example. With heart disease having become the leading cause of death among women in the United States, this cardiologist’s approach transcends mere prescriptions and surgery, focusing on stress-reduction and lifestyle changes that create what she calls “heart-centered living.”

This season, many publishers are looking to give readers the tools they need to improve their health on their own terms.


In an increasingly complex health landscape, it may be just the moment for publishers to offer a health care road map. Several forthcoming books focus on the health care system’s flaws and traps.

“Health care costs continue to escalate, and every day the news brings us new or conflicting research about cancer treatments, if salt is actually good for you, how much fat is healthy, or what role your genes play in your health,” observes Nichole Argyres, editor at St. Martin’s Press.

St. Martin’s has several titles aimed at helping readers overcome confusion. Dr. Leana Wen and Dr. Josh Kosowsky have teamed up on When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests (Jan.), taking a look at the doctor-patient relationship and providing concrete guidance on how patients can advocate for themselves and get the best diagnosis. More globally, How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America (in paperback in Oct.) by Dr. Otis Webb Brawley (with investigative reporter Paul Goldberg) features the American Cancer Society’s chief medical and scientific officer’s biting assessment of the problems in health care today, from failures to serve the poor to insurance company shortcomings and the potential conflicts of interest faced by physicians. This hard-hitting volume also offers a prescription for improving the system. And, finally, readers who want an inside look at the world of high-stakes healing may be interested in Trauma: My Life as an Emergency Surgeon by Dr. James Cole, in paperback in November.

Meanwhile, Bloomsbury has Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care (Sept.) by Dr. Marty Makary. The co-developer of the surgeons’ checklist featured in Atul Gawande’s bestselling The Checklist Manifesto, Makary has worked in many high-profile medical institutions (Georgetown; Johns Hopkins) and here explains the mistakes he’s seen and advocates for greater accountability.

“While people suffering from common health ailments can greatly benefit from pill-free cures, we’re also seeing a growing trend toward preventive health care. This means learning how to break the bad habits that cause poor health in the first place,” says Lissa Warren, v-p/senior director of publicity at Da Capo.

A January offering from that publisher could be just the thing for those making New Year’s resolutions. Psychologist Jeremy Dean’s Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick aims at utilizing the brain’s “natural autopilot” to maintain such healthy habits as taking vitamins and exercising.

Hazelden is partnering with Harvard Health Publications to produce its new Almost Effect series of books authored by Harvard Medical School doctors and professionals. The series’ first two offerings hit the stores earlier this year: Almost Alcoholic by Robert Doyle and Joseph Nowinski (Mar.) and Almost a Psychopath by Robert Schouten and James Silver (June). Coming next: Almost Addicted by Dr. J. Wesley Boyd and Eric Metcalf, releasing in November.

Publisher and v-p of marketing and communications at Hazelden Nick Motu says: “The books, written by experts from Harvard and other leaders in their field, not only help people and their loved ones identify issues that are interfering with their daily lives, but they offer practical steps for making positive changes.”

Also an advocate of refreshing the health backlist is John Duff, publisher of Penguin’s Perigee imprint. “While the demand for general health reference titles are certainly on the wane, we are updating and revising a few strong backlist sellers by Dr. H. Winter Griffith due to ongoing demand and the ever-changing nature of the material,” he says. The updates will be to Griffith’s The Complete Guide to Symptoms, Illness & Surgery, Sixth Ed. (Dec.) and The Complete Guide to Prescription and Nonprescription Drugs 2013 (Nov.).

Healing Mind

Alternative medicine and holistic treatments continue to attract readers.

Pat Rose, publicity director for Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari Press/Hampton Roads notes that naturopathy can be combined with conventional medicine for effective treatment of depression and other conditions.

This fall, the publisher has How Come They’re Happy and I’m Not?: The Complete Natural Program for Healing Depression for Good by Peter Bongiorno (Conari, Nov.), a licensed New York City–based naturopathic doctor.

Rose notes that the publisher has also seen “a growing demand for information about alternative, drug-free approaches to diagnoses such as ADD and autism.” Martha Burge’s The ADD Myth: How to Cultivate the Unique Gifts of Intense Personalities (Conari, Sept.) will complement Hampton Roads’ successful 2002 title The Natural Guide to Autism by Stephanie Marohn.

Llewellyn’s publicity director Steven Pomije believes there’s substantial interest in works offering “an approachable and practical plan… for self-improvement and better living, whether it be a diet book or one on mindfulness and meditation.”

On Llewellyn’s upcoming list is Robert Butera’s Meditation for Your Life: Creating a Plan That Suits Your Style (Sept.), which gives a “straightforward meditation plan” that will help anyone lower stress, improve concentration, and become healthier. Pomije also finds there is growing mainstream interest in alternative techniques such as Reiki that can be used to enhance traditional medicine. That ancient art, a Japanese-style “laying on of hands,” gets showcased in Raven Keyes’s The Healing Power of Reiki: A Modern Master’s Approach to Emotional, Spiritual & Physical Wellness (Oct.).

At Inner Traditions/Bear & Company, many backlist alternative-therapy titles continue to pick up steam. For example, T. K. V. Desikachar’s The Heart of Yoga has seen rising sales every year since its 1998 publication.

Moreover, the publisher has many new holistic-therapy titles: Delta Medicine: Natural Therapies for the Five Functions of Cellular Health (June) by Dr. Yann Rougier offers a step-by-step method for self-healing. It provides “a time-proven method for patients to reprogram their bodies to heal, with equal emphasis placed on methods addressing the mind, the emotions, and the body,” says acquisitions editor Jon Graham.

Also on the way from Inner Traditions/Bear & Company are Self-Healing with Breathwork: Using the Power of Breath to Increase Energy and Attain Optimal Wellness by popular author Jack Angelo (Oct.) and Basic Practices of the Universal Healing Tao: An Illustrated Guide to Levels 1 Through 6 by Mantak Chia and William Wei (Dec.).

Da Capo’s Warren notes that with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention citing over 700,000 emergency- room visits and 120,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. each year due to adverse drug reactions, it’s no wonder people are searching for alternatives.

“The demand for a pill-free approach to curing common maladies continues to grow,” she says. The publisher’s The Healing Remedies Sourcebook: Over 1000 Natural Remedies to Prevent and Cure Common Ailments by Dr. C. Norman Shealy was released this past June, and provides natural remedies for a host of ailments.

But Cleis and Viva Editions associate publisher Brenda Knight sees the embrace of alternative medicine as tied to another major trend in society—and in health books: a renewed focus on aging.

“Personally, I think the surge in alternative health books is caused in part by the boomers, who are approaching and crossing the 60-year line,” says Knight. “Boomers are deeply concerned with looking and feeling good, focusing on everything from natural skin care and yoga face lifts to the health of the aging brain and sexual vitality.”

Aging Healthfully

And there a slew of forthcoming books that deal with topics of particular interest to that aging population.

Cleis’s lead title for winter 2013 is The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure: Erotic Exploration for Men and Their Partners by sex educators Charlie Glickman and Aislinn Emirzlan (Feb.). The volume will help adult men of all ages but Knight believes it’ll be of particular interest to the graying generation. “Prostate massages can help prevent prostatitis and have many side benefits, including increased sexual potency,” she observes.

Sexual rejuvenation is also on the agenda at Workman, which is offering Jill Blakeway’s Sex Again: Recharging Your Libido (Jan.). And that publisher has several other titles dealing with aging in the pipeline.

Says Mary Ellen O’Neil, senior editor at Workman: “We’ve found that readers are most interested in single-idea books that are counter-intuitive or that debunk a previously held belief.” She cites a title released at the end of 2011, The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program: Keep Your Brain Healthy for the Rest of Your Life by Dr. Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan, as a prime example and “the first book to say you can take control of a disease once thought inevitable.”

Also coming from Workman are Thinner This Year: A Younger Next Year Book by Chris Crowley and Jennifer Sachek (Dec.) and 399 Brain Games, Puzzles & Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young by Nancy Linde (Oct.).

Free Press has two new titles aimed at slowing the aging process. The first is Dr. Mike Moreno’s The 17 Day Plan to Stop Aging (Sept.), from the author of #1 bestselling The 17 Day Diet. Each book applies a similar “four-cycle plan” outlining nine systems of the body that can make people feel old and telling how to reverse the aging process in them. That title is followed by J. Michael Zenn’s The Self-Health Revolution (Nov.), a new trade edition of the originally self-published manifesto that sold 30,000 copies in Whole Foods stores. Zenn tackled his own health woes by researching and interviewing experts, then settling on a plan that helped him lose weight and have more energy. And for those who want to know more about the brain, Firefly Books has The Brain Book: Development, Function, Disorder, Health (Oct.), a deluxe hardcover describing all the brain’s functions, disorders, and diseases, written by a team of international brain science experts.

Perigee’s Duff agrees that brain books are still in demand. “Readers continue to show strong interest in all things brain-related,” he says.

One such work from Avery describes new “chronobiological” research into sleep and moods Chronotherapy: Resetting Your Inner Clock to Boost Mood, Alertness, and Quality Sleep by Michael Terman and Ian McMahan, both Ph.D.s, releases in October. The book’s drug-free program applies scientific findings about light and the circadian clock that can help people rest and improve their moods and energy.

“Health books based on cutting-edge science and containing a practical application” are very much in vogue, says Avery’s Vigante. “When science can help with the most basic of our needs, like getting a good night’s sleep, readers pay attention.”

Food as Medicine

The past few years have seen a rising interest in food as a health fix. That trend continues this upcoming season, with several new books on the menu.

“The connection between food and health is stronger than we ever imagined,” says Trisha Calvo, executive editor at Rodale Books. “We’re seeing that people aren’t only interested in weight loss anymore. They’re hungry for advice on how to design a diet that prevents or helps treat a variety of diseases and conditions from migraines to cancer, fatigue. and depression.”

Coming up at Rodale is Dr. Tasneem Bhatia and the editors of Prevention magazine’s What Doctors Eat: The MD-Designed Diet for Fast, Sustainable Weight Loss and a Lifetime of Perfect Health (Dec.), a title packed with information on what physicians themselves consume to stay healthy and lower disease risk. Also in the works is Dr. William Davis’s Wheat Belly Cookbook: 150 Recipes to Help You Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health (Dec.), a follow-up to the cardiologist’s bestselling Wheat Belly.

At St. Martin’s, Tana Amen’s The Omni Diet (Apr.) uses science-based nutrition to create a lifestyle program that balances plant-based and high-protein approaches to fight off illness and maximize body and brain functions. Nichole Argyres, editor at St. Martin’s Press, observes that the book deals with “how to reverse illness and influence gene expression with the food you eat.” The publisher also has a paperback edition of John Hoffman and Dr. Judith Salerno’s The Weight of the Nation on the way in February.

And, finally, Viva Editions’ title from this past March, Lemons and Lavender: The Eco-Guide to Better Homekeeping by Billee Sharp, includes a chapter on low-budget cures and healing techniques. Associate publisher of Cleis/Viva Editions, Brenda Knight, notes that the title has already been successful in special markets like Whole Foods, where the author will be doing workshops this fall.

“With the state of the economy and national health care, more and more people have been turning to the kitchen pantries for old home remedies,” says Knight.

Fighting Cancer

Cancer, of course, remains a concern for many Americans, and that is reflected in this trio of forthcoming titles.

Henry Holt

The Breast Cancer Survival Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide for Women with Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer by Dr. John Link, with Dr. James Waisman, Nancy Link, and Dr. John West (Aug). A newly-updated fifth edition of the essential resource for the 250,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Link is the director of the Memorial Breast Center in Long Beach, ranked as one of the top ten breast cancer centers in the U.S. by Self magazine, and brings the latest research to this guide.


A World Without Cancer: The Making of a New Cure and the Real Promise of Prevention by Dr. Margaret Cuomo (Oct). Described as “part exposé, part call to action, part ‘take control of your health’ guide,” Cuomo calls for a new approach to change cancer culture in the U.S. by emphasizing prevention. Based on more than 40 years of medical evidence and interviews, Cuomo urges a shift in thinking about this disease that affects so many people.

Running Press

Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen: The Girlfriend’s Cookbook and Guide to Using Real Food to Fight Cancer by Annette Ramke and Kendall Scott (Sept). From two cancer survivors, a down-to-earth guide in which two women “share, girlfriend-style, real-life knowledge and experience about the healing power of food”—whether readers are in the midst of “Cancer World,” recovering after surviving cancer, or just want to eat healthier.

Closer Look: Concussions and Our Kids

The harmful consequences of concussions to athletes has been a hot media topic over the past few years. A new title from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt zeroes in on one of the phenomenon’s most troubling aspects: Concussions and Our Kids: America’s Leading Expert on How to Protect Young Athletes and Keep Sports Safe (Sept.) by Dr. Robert Cantu and Mark Hyman. The work brings together the expertise of Cantu, a preeminent expert on head trauma in sports who serves as senior advisor to the National Football League, and Hyman, a veteran sports journalist, to tackle the controversial issue. Says Susan Canavan, senior executive editor at HMH, “Safety and brain health in some of our most popular and dangerous mainstream sports is the red-meat issue of the day. The neuroscience shows that kids’ brains are [very] susceptible to concussions and that repeated concussions can have real and lasting consequences.”