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The Big Letdown: How Medicine, Big Business, and Feminism Undermine Breastfeeding

Kimberly Seals Allers. St. Martin’s, $25.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-02696-5

Journalist Allers (coauthor of The Mocha Manual to Military Life) thinks the slogan “Breast Is Best” should really be “Breast Is Complicated” as she comes out swinging against simplistic probreastfeeding arguments. Though some background is necessary, too much of Allers’s focus is on examples over a decade old, including a controversial advertising campaign from 2002, a controlled trial from 2001, and infant growth charts that were based on formula-fed babies until 2006. The resulting impression is that she doesn’t have much new to say about 21st-century trends. Allers does have one unusual target—feminism—and though much of her ire targets older second-wave ideas, such as the masculinization of women in pursuit of workplace equality, she also blames the well-meaning approach of lactation activists for making breastfeeding seem aggressive or radical rather than normal. She also criticizes third-wave ideas, such as placing breastfeeding in the context of “choice feminism” rather than public health and social justice, and calls out the middle-class focus on workplace accommodations in corporate environments. Only at the end does Allers step back from the anger to propose approaches for moving forward, and then her ideas are too vague to be useful or actionable. Agent: Stacey Glick, Dystel & Goderich. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/02/2016 | Details & Permalink

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How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids

Jancee Dunn. Little, Brown, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-0-316-26710-6

Dunn (coauthor of Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir) proves herself a clever, honest, and hilarious writer who isn’t afraid to take her own marriage on a great experiment. Few writers would be courageous enough to lay bare such uncomfortable truths as her verbal abuse of her husband in response to his selfishness and how it may be threatening the normal development of their daughter. This book-length intervention tackles the whole spectrum of marital stressors, including dishwasher disagreement, financial infidelity, and weekend activity management. Dunn talks to experts in their fields, including $800-per-hour family therapist Terry Real, sociologist Michael Kimmel, and marriage researchers John and Julie Gottman. Her warm and funny prose will restore hope for moms—and dads—everywhere, as when she writes, “I’ve made myself reach for his hand when a fight is looming—even if I’m so irritated that I’d rather pick up a live rodent... the familiar contours of his hand remind me that this is the person I married, not the bogeyman.” Her book should become a baby shower classic. Agent: Alexandra Machinist, ICM. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 12/02/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, and Big Success After Baby

Lauren Smith Brody. Doubleday, $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-385-54141-1

Veteran women’s magazine editor Brody writes nimbly and wisely about a subject she is well versed in: the conflicts, struggles, and triumphs of returning to work after having a baby. Brody was an editor at Glamour when the first of her two children was born, and, like many working mothers in the U.S., she returned to her office at the end of her 12-week leave, just when “baby wakes up to the world.” The timing, argues Brody, is unfortunate, but working women must nevertheless find ways to cope with the transitional period that she calls the fifth trimester. In 12 solution-packed chapters, Brody covers (among many other topics) childcare, sleep deprivation, wardrobe, breast-pumping, and dad’s involvement, basing her advice not only on her own experiences but on input from more than 700 survey respondents. In addition to discussing solemn subjects such as postpartum depression, Brody makes her readers laugh with commentary on subjects such as preparing for the inevitability that “your baby will puke on you.” The meatiest chapter is the last, in which Brody provides tips for communicating with employers. Working moms will find a wealth of ideas to help navigate the challenging transition period in this friendly and practical guide. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 12/02/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Running with a Police Escort: Tales from the Back of the Pack

Jill Grunenwald. Skyhorse, $22.99 (244p) ISBN 978-1-5107-1279-9

Grunenwald, a librarian and podcast host, shares her life in fitness, from her middle school days avoiding gym class to the present, in which she is an enthusiastic slow runner of races. She often finishes last as the police reopen the streets, hence the title. She also documents her journey from being in denial about her unhealthy lifestyle to acknowledging it and taking action via Weight Watchers and, eventually, running. The story leads up to her first runs in Cleveland, where she lives, to her first race, her first destination race, and many other races. The author is open about her physical pains as a 311-lb. runner, her food cravings, and the mental hurdles she overcomes throughout her races and runs. No matter the challenge, readers witness her walking and finishing last with dignity. Readers can count on Grunenwald to be honest about herself and others, and sprinkled in the chapters are fun references to writers such as Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen King (she is a librarian, after all). This autobiography will appeal to and inspire those struggling to get healthy. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/02/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Natural Beauty with Coconut Oil: 50 Homemade Beauty Recipes Using Nature’s Perfect Ingredient

Lucy Bee, photos by David Loftus. Quadrille, $14.99 (96p) ISBN 978-1-84949-894-4

Bee, a beauty therapist and the woman behind the eponymous U.K. coconut oil brand, opens a vast horizon of healthful possibilities in this overview of the benefits of coconuts and coconut oil. Bee shares the reasons for her embrace of coconut oil as the optimal ingredient for healthy skin, hair, oral hygiene, and general well-being. Coconut oil is the perfect skin treatment, she says, and can be administered alone or in conjunction with sea salt, honey, or coffee grounds; the book includes recipes for these treatments as well as exfoliants and cleansers that incorporate lavender, avocado, and cacao. Beyond beauty tips, she highlights the importance of good eating in conjunction with external applications, providing recipes for smoothies rich in antioxidant fruits, nuts, “good fats,” and vegetables. This easy-to-follow and well-designed little book allows anyone to discover the possibilities of coconut, whose benefits extend far beyond cookies and cakes. Color photos. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/02/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Essential Kundalini Yoga: An Invitation to Radiant Health, Unconditional Love, and the Awakening of Your Energetic Potential

Karena Virginia and Dharm Khalsa. Sounds True, $25.95 trade paper (264p) ISBN 978-1-62203-662-2

Longtime yoga teachers Virginia and Khalsa team up to provide novices with an inspiring introduction to the kundalini version of the practice, as well as to offer a fresh perspective for seasoned practitioners. The authors explain the system of beliefs behind kundalini yoga, “an ancient, time-tested system of exercises and meditation,” and cover the use of asana, breath work (pranayama), meditation, and mantra. The kriyas (seven “classic” exercise sets have been selected for inclusion), meditations, and other aspects of the practice are presented with user-friendly clarity and are accompanied by attractive black and white photos of Virginia demonstrating the poses. Readers will learn the basics of a kundalini yoga session, including the opening Adi Mantra and other mantras, commonly used mudras (gestures), and breathing techniques such as kundalini yoga’s signature Breath of Fire. The authors do an excellent job of summarizing kundalini’s rise in the U.S. since it was introduced by India-born kundalini yoga master Yogi Bhajan in the l960s, but the emphasis is on engaging the reader to participate and learn through experience. Readers will find this a valuable resource for jump-starting or enhancing their kundalini yoga studies. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/02/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Back Pocket Pasta: Inspired Dinners to Cook on the Fly

Colu Henry. Clarkson Potter, $28 (240p) ISBN 978-0-553-45974-6

Henry, former director of special projects for Bon Appetit magazine, created #backpocketpasta on Instagram, and the high-concept hashtag became this book of pasta recipes (plus a brief “Salads & Sides” chapter). “Back pocket” refers to the handful of ingredients and simple techniques required to pull together a weeknight meal. Henry’s years in food media combine with her food-centric Italian family background for sophisticated, compromise-free recipes that demonstrate how good olive oil, tinned anchovies, pecorino romano, and San Marzano cheese can become convenience foods. Absorbingly chatty, personal headnotes tell the story of each recipe, touching on a familial twist such as how Henry was inspired to pasta-fy a favorite restaurant breakfast. Her introductory manifesto is an outline for success, including gratifyingly citing the importance of pasta cooking water, a resource many cooks still pour down the drain. Sensible suggestions for maintaining a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator make it easy to have supplies on hand, and her “Set Up Your Station” chapter includes staging a few tools in advance of the work week. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/02/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Palomar Cookbook: Modern Israeli Cuisine

Layo Paskin and Tomer Amedi. Clarkson Potter, $35 (256p) ISBN 978-0-4514-9661-4

Paskin, creative director, and Amedi, chef, of London’s acclaimed Palomar restaurant, share this vibrant and exciting collection centered on modern Israeli cuisine. The recipes are easy, quick to prepare, beautiful, and tasty. The authors provide a helpful pantry section for those new to the cuisine and include several mezzes such as a simple but flavorful tapenade, red onions and sumac, hand-chopped chicken liver, and falafel. They dedicate a chapter to raw foods, including Moroccan oysters, beef carpaccio, and a vibrant fattoush salad. Main dishes include shakshuka, a satisfying combination of eggs poached in stew; polenta Jerusalem style; and spinach gnocchi. Also included is an illustrated cocktail section by Marco Torre with signature drinks from the restaurant. Desserts are memorable, including vanilla and caramelized pine nut ice cream, Stilton cheesecake, reverse Earl Grey chocolate fondue, and a delightful dish called Jerusalem Mess, a combination of cream, almond crumble, apple jelly, and strawberry coulis. This inventive and deeply appealing book will introduce the wonders of Israeli cooking to a wide new audience. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 12/02/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Malaysian Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Simple Home Cooking

Christina Arokiasamy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35 (352p) ISBN 978-0-5448-0999-4

Arokiasamy, a Malaysian native, professional chef, and cooking instructor, showcases a flavorful array of Malaysian dishes in this enticing and accessible collection. Heavily influenced by the country’s main ethnic groups—Malay, Indian, Chinese, Nyonya, and Portuguese—this cuisine often borrows ingredients from other cultures to provide an endless variety of flavors, as Arokiasamy’s welcoming dishes and flavors show. She includes a crash course in Malaysian history, highlights key items for a well-stocked pantry, and includes a useful and detailed spice chart that describes taste, aroma, health benefits, and uses for numerous spices. Dishes are grouped by flavor foundations, which include sambals and pastes, soups and salads, rice and noodles, and street food. The vibrant and exciting recipes include stir-fried bok choy with bacon and garlic; village fried rice with chicken and spinach; and pineapple sambal prawns. Desserts are plentiful and appealing, including chocolate cinnamon cheesecake and coconut-banana sponge cake. Arokiasamy also offers guidance on a variety of related topics including using a mortar and pestle, rice in Asian diets, and cooking with a wok. A mouthwatering introduction to Malaysian cooking, this book offers home cooks a wealth of delicious everyday meals sure to delight. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 12/02/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Jack’s Wife Freda: Cooking from New York’s West Village

Maya and Dean Jankelowitz. Blue Rider, $30 (256p) ISBN 978-0-399-57486-3

There are a pair of Jack’s Wife Freda cafes in New York, both owned by the Jankelowitzes and named for Dean’s grandparents. The menu, represented in this collection of breakfast, lunch, dinner and drink offerings, is both multigenerational and multicultural. Spelled out in a 12-page introduction, Jankelowitzes’ culinary influences include Ashkenazi comfort food and spicier Sephardic dishes, as well as regional inspiration from Israel, Johannesburg, and Greenwich Village. These recipes (crafted by Julia Jaksic, moonlighting from her executive chef role at the famed Employees Only), include a matzo ball soup made with duck fat; lamb tartare seasoned with capers, mint, and sriracha; and mustard seed–crusted tofu. The South African spice blend peri peri, with its mix of chili pepper, paprika, and brown sugar, turns up the heat on both chicken wings and chicken giblets. Either would pair well with a watermelon margarita that they call the Pink Guzzler, or a cantaloupe melon mimosa. The many color photos capture entrees in close-up, the restaurants filled with contented diners, and the happy couple enjoying their success. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 12/02/2016 | Details & Permalink

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