cover image The Hungry Years: Confessions of a Food Addict

The Hungry Years: Confessions of a Food Addict

William Leith, . . Gotham, $25 (294pp) ISBN 978-1-59240-155-0

Leith is a binger: when he starts eating, he can't stop—and he wants to know why. This question, and an interview with Dr. Atkins, leads him to explore fad diets, unhealthy food production and the ubiquitous media depictions of "perfect" human physiques. While some of British journalist Leith's facts have been reported elsewhere, his humorous anecdotes, compelling interviews and sobering statistics provide convincing arguments against processed foods, government nutritional requirements and other evils of the food chain. In his fast-paced, stream-of-conscious style, Leith molds a journalistic exposé, a food journal and a memoir into the personal exploration of a man consumed by a consuming society. Though he hardly exercises, the 236-pound Leith embarks on the Atkins diet to great success, but in the process realizes that denying himself carbohydrates brings up issues that go beyond his diet. Hungry for answers, he starts seeing a therapist, who suggests that he eats compulsively because he has "been running away from emotions." Leith's ups and downs will ring true for anyone who has tried to lose a significant amount of weight, and the revelations that come out of Leith's therapy sessions will undoubtedly have readers asking why they really want that doughnut. Agent, Nina Collins. (Sept.)