As in every category, with health books, a strong platform is no guarantee of success, but it's a good start. Kathy Freston, author of the Weinstein Books May title Quantum Wellness, appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show (Oprah was inspired to embark on a 21-day “cleanse”) and then saw her book hit the PW bestseller list and stay for five weeks. Weinstein publisher Judy Hottensen says, “Obviously, the Oprah appearance was a blessing,” but also credits Freston's “holistic” and “less regimented” approach for the 215,000 copies of the title in print.

Indeed, says Square One president Rudy Shur, giving readers a product that feels either adaptable or specific to their needs is crucial: “More than ever before, there seems to be a great divide between health books that are aimed at a 'one-approach-fits-all' theory and books that are designed for a more narrowly segmented market.” Perigee editor-in-chief Marian Lizzi sees a demand for that same holistic style, or “books that offer not just nuts-and-bolts medical information but overall lifestyle and health advice,” such as that house's Choosing Brilliant Health: 9 Choices That Redefine What It Takes to Create Lifelong Vitality and Well-Being, published in May.

No matter the approach, health care and its costs are front and center these days. Says Kara Van de Water, senior publicist at Ten Speed Press, where the Celestial Arts imprint specializes in health and wellness, “In 2008, presidential candidates and front-page news have brought health care even further into national prominence.” Coming this month from Celestial Arts is How to Save on Prescription Drugs, and next month Wiley publishes Prescription for Drug Alternatives, for which executive editor Thomas W. Miller reports “major support” from accounts.

And then there are those publishers who are aiming for the overwhelmed. Says Collins executive editor Caroline Sutton, “I think readers are so confused by the conflicting advice we're getting about how to be healthy that what they really want is a very simple prescription. I don't think they want a range of choices and a whole lot of explanation. I don't think they even necessarily want something new. They just want to be told what to do.”

Many of the health titles we received for this feature fall into distinct categories, and exemplify varying degrees of prescriptive advice.


More than a century after German neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer first diagnosed a case of presenile dementia in 1901, there have been numerous attempts at a finding a cure or treatment for Alzheimer's disease, but nothing has yet been discovered that stops this terrible illness in its tracks. Today's Alzheimer's titles focus on prevention, diagnosis and patient care.

The Anti-Alzheimer's Prescription was published last month by Gotham Books, where executive editor Lauren Marino says, “[Author] Dr. Vincent Fortanasce takes all of the most current science and research and puts it all together in a very doable plan that can cut your risk of getting Alzheimer's by 70%.”

In December, St. Martin's/Griffin will reprint in trade paper the January 2008 title The Myth of Alzheimer's: What You Aren't Being Told About Today's Most Dreaded Diagnosis by Peter Whitehouse with Daniel George. Assistant editor Alyse Diamond explains, “The book is essentially a call to arms to reevaluate the way we deal with Alzheimer's. The author completely reframes [the disease] to reveal what is wrong with the way we treat memory impairment and how we can do it right.”

In 2007, Headline Books published Frank Fuerst's Alzheimer's Care with Dignity, a guide based on the author's own experience of caring for his wife at home for 17 years after she was diagnosed in her 40s with early-onset Alzheimer's. President Cathy Teets says, “The author has blazed a path through the red tape and hardships to help others who want to keep their loved ones at home for as long as possible. This is an excellent guide for the 'sandwich generation,' who are finding themselves caring for children and elderly parents.”

Another wrenching personal account can be found in Measure of the Heart: A Father's Alzheimer's, A Daughter's Return by Mary Ellen Geist, coming this month from Grand Central/Springboard. Geist was the focus of a front-page New York Times article in 2005, in which she served as an example of the many daughters in the U.S. who are setting aside high-power careers—in her case as a CBS radio anchor—to care for parents with Alzheimer's. Says editorial director Karen Murgolo, “What is special about Mary Ellen is that her journalist's eye allows her to tell the story of her father's and her journey with accuracy and telling detail, and her courage and passion help us understand emotionally who this talented charming man once was, and how a family is affected by a disease like Alzheimer's.” Geist already has confirmed appearances on Today and NPR.

PTSD and Brain Trauma

One of many grim statistics of the Iraq war is the number of soldiers returning home with brain injuries (more than 300,000 at last count, according to the New York Times) and other battle-zone conditions.

In January 2008, Demos Health published its third edition of Brainlash: Maximize Your Recovery from Mild Brain Injury by Gail L. Denton, and this summer it released Brain Injury Survival Kit: 365 Tips, Tools and Tricks to Deal with Cognitive Function Loss by Cheryle Sullivan. Says director Noreen Henson, “Because the equipment these soldiers are using is actually so much improved and advanced than in past military actions, a much higher percentage of soldiers are surviving injuries that would have been fatal in previous wars.”

Another problem afflicting many returning soldiers is PTSD—post-traumatic stress disorder. In September, Fair Winds Press will publish Conquering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Newest Techniques for Overcoming Symptoms, Regaining Hope, and Getting Your Life Back by Victoria Lemle Beckner and John B. Arden. The book offers advice for coping with the issues and case studies of those who have overcome them. According to senior editor Jill Alexander, “The audience for this book is anyone who has experienced trauma, including military vets, survivors of sexual/domestic abuse, and first-responders like paramedics, firefighters, police officers and ER staff.”

For its part, Idyll Arbor is pushing through Eric Newhouse's Faces of Combat, PTSD and TBI: Join One Journalist's Crusade to Improve Health Care for Our Veterans to make it available by the time of the presidential election in November. The book examines what PTSD and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) are, and proposes a series of solutions for the large number of veterans returning to face such problems. Idyll Arbor president Thomas M. Blaschko says, “Politicians of all stripes say they support our veterans. This book blows the cover off empty promises and describes what really needs to be done. We'll see who steps up and proposes real change.”

Coming in February from Da Capo Lifelong is Mindstorms: The Complete Guide for Families Living with a Traumatic Brain Injury. According to senior publicity director Lissa Warren, author Dr. John Cassidy, a neuropsychiatrist and former Harvard Medical School professor, “covers everything from strokes to head injuries caused by car accidents, military incidents or contact sports.”

Longevity and Aging

Want to live longer or look and feel younger than your chronological age? A number of upcoming titles claim to assist readers in the most basic health issue of all—staying alive.

Summarizing the issue pithily is We Live Too Short and Die Too Long: How to Achieve and Enjoy Your Natural 100-Year-Plus Life Span by Walter M. Bortz II. A revised edition of this title, first offered by Bantam Books in 1992, was published last year by SelectBooks. Editor Todd D. Barmann says the book's “relevance and impact are heightened by the recent study from Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital showing that 75% of the variables affecting human lifespan are attributable to modifiable risk factors. In other words, the pitfalls of genetics can be overcome by a proactive approach to our own physical upkeep.”

In October, Crown will publish 150,000 copies of the even more bluntly titled How Not to Die: Surprising Lessons on Living Longer, Safer, and Healthier from America's Favorite Medical Examiner by Jan Garavaglia. Executive editor Heather Jackson says, “As chief medical examiner for District 9 in Florida's Osceola County—as well as in her role as the star of Discovery Health's number one—rated program, Dr. G: Medical Examiner—Dr. Jan Garavaglia has seen firsthand what causes people to die—the careless, overlooked and often silly things that end with a premature death.” Crown's Three Rivers Press imprint will also reprint Stop Aging, Start Living by Jeannette Graf and Alisa Bowman in paperback in December.

Still more wise words from medical personnel pepper the pages of Critical Conditions: The Essential Hospital Guide to Get Your Loved One Out Alive coming from Lemon Grove Press in October. The guide is based on more than 150 interviews with nurses, doctors and other hospital staff, as well as author Martine Ehrenclou's own experiences with family members. Ehrenclou notes that, according to the fifth annual HealthGrades study of patient safety in American hospitals, released in 2008, “nearly a quarter of a million deaths in hospitals nationwide were found to be preventable. Hospital care is becoming hazardous to the patient's health.”

In September, Little, Brown will publish the paperback reprint of Ultralongevity by Mark Liponis, medical director for Canyon Ranch Health Resorts. For the hardcover, the author scored a lengthy segment on Rachael Ray. “Ultralongevity is the only anti-aging book out there that is based on the latest cutting-edge science of the immune system,” says Tracy Behar, executive editor.

Atria gets into the longevity game with December's The Longevity Factor: How Red Wine and Resveratrol Activate Genes for a Longer and Healthier Life by Joseph Maroon. The book supplies instructions for activating “survival genes” with certain plant compounds. Editorial director Peter Borland reports a 100,000-copy first printing for a title that's “timely because in the last few months, hundreds of supplements featuring resveratrol have flooded the market, and many more are on their way. The Longevity Factor will be the first book to help consumers evaluate the various products, understand what the labels mean and find ways to elevate their resveratrol levels through diet as well as supplements.”


According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than one million Americans are diagnosed with various forms of cancer each year. That group is a natural audience for books that serve as medical, and sometimes spiritual, guides.

Fireside is launching its 10 Best Questions series with The 10 Best Questions for Surviving Breast Cancer by Dede Bonner, on sale in October. (Coming in November is The 10 Best Questions for Living with Alzheimer's Disease.) The title contains a series of 10 questions that patients can ask their doctors on several different topics, such as “How long do I have to make decisions about surgery and treatments?” The books represent a new kind of health title, says senior editor Michelle Howry, because they “don't just explain a disease—they offer readers a way to take an active hand in their own recovery.”

For readers attempting a kind of preemptive strike rather than a response, Anticancer: A New Way of Life (Viking, Sept.) offers advice on everything from food to avoiding stress. Author David Servan Schreiber, a founding member of Doctors Without Borders, was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 31. Editor-at-large Carole DeSanti says, “This book presents cancer, rightly, not as a 'niche' topic but as one of general interest. Although Anticancer discusses diet in depth, it is as much about 'a new way of life' on every level. So, potentially, the book speaks to those with a diagnosis, those whose lives cancer has touched, those concerned about it and those interested in preventive care—those who understand that cancer rates are a gigantic wake-up call to all of us.” The title will have a 125,000-copy first printing.

If no amount of prevention has helped, What Helped Get Me Through: Cancer Survivors Share Wisdom and Hope (published by the American Cancer Society and distributed by McGraw-Hill) offers insight from those who have been there, including celebrities like cyclist Lance Armstrong. The book's editor, Julie K. Silver, is a physician as well as a five-year breast cancer survivor. ACS book publishing director Len Boswell says of the September title, “Imagine getting a cancer diagnosis and then being ushered into a room where you're greeted by nearly 300 survivors who can answer every question, allay every fear and offer practical tips for you—and for your family and friends—on how best to handle every imaginable situation. That's what this book is like.”

Last month Clumsy Ducks Publishing in South Bend, Ind., published My Angels Are Come by Art Stump, in which the author recalls the details of his treatment for prostate cancer. Consulting editor Donna Welch says, “This book is unique because of the remarkable detail and candor that the author uses in dealing with such a private subject. He explores and shares every intimate aspect of the disease and its treatment—physical, psychological and emotional—as his cancer experience progresses.”

In October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Da Capo Lifelong will publish Gail Konop Baker's Cancer Is a Bitch (Or, I'd Rather Be Having a Midlife Crisis). Senior editor Wendy Francis says of this memoir about having breast cancer at 46, “What makes the book so special is Gail's voice: she's sharp, funny and she's a wonderfully astute observer of her own life. It's the kind of book that will make you both laugh and cry.” Da Capo also publishes the breast cancer blockbuster Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book and, based on experience with that title, will do e-mail blasts to cancer support Web sites and blogs and place postcards about the memoir in gift bags at cancer walk events nationwide.

Coming in November from Bantam is a fifth, fully revised edition of Breast Cancer: The Complete Guide by Yashar Hirshaut and Peter Pressman, with a new foreword by New York Times health columnist Jane Brody. Executive editor Ann Harris says the latest version of a book that was first published 16 years ago will reflect that “a lot is new in the breast cancer world: significantly improved diagnostic techniques (mammograms, sonograms, MRI imaging, biopsy techniques) and many changes in treatment, especially in the very complex area of chemotherapy. Also new to this edition is an invaluable chapter on the genetics of breast cancer—including courses of action for women who are identified as carriers of breast cancer genes.” In November, Bantam will also publish an updated edition of After Breast Cancer: A Common-Sense Guide to Life After Treatment by Hester Hill.

Women's Health

The health category seems to have moved from Sigmund Freud's question of what women want to what women need in order to achieve optimum health.

With a 50,000-copy announced first printing, Crown's Three Rivers Press imprint will publish Taking Care of Your “Girls”: A Breast Health Guide for Girls, Teens, and In-Betweens by Marisa C. Weiss and Isabel Friedman (a physician and her teenage daughter, respectively) in early September. Executive editor Heather Jackson says, “I don't believe there's a woman who doesn't recall what it was like to 'start developing,' and the questions, fears and issues that surround this physical and emotional rite of passage. And while there are plenty of books out there on teenage bodies and sexual development, there's nothing that guides girls eight to 18 through this major milestone.”

Moving along in a woman's life cycle to women ages 35 to 55, in January 2009, Ballantine will publish Dr. Nieca Goldberg's Complete Guide to Women's Health in paperback. Goldberg, medical director of New York University's Women's Heart Program, appeared on Today to promote the hardcover. Executive editor Marnie Cochran credits much of the book's success to the accessible approach of the author (who worked with sociolinguist Alice Greenwood). Says Cochran, “Goldberg's knowledge of women's health issues is encyclopedic, but she doesn't overwhelm the reader with it. The experience of reading the book is like having a private consultation with Dr. Goldberg.”

Alexa Fishback's Women's Health Daily Fix (Rodale, Dec.) focuses on women's nutrition—at all stages in life. Editor Julie Will says, “Even health-conscious, savvy women feel a little overwhelmed and intimidated by the amount of new information surfacing each day. Do antioxidants prevent breast cancer? Does red wine slow the aging process? How much calcium does a woman need every day, and does it have to come from dairy?”

For women to whom those embarrassing moments of breast development are a more distant memory, Simon & Schuster just published The No-Nonsense Guide to Menopause by Barbara Seaman and Laura Eldridge, which received a starred PW review. Senior editor Sydny Miner calls it “a comprehensive look at all aspects of an important time of transition in a woman's life by one of the most respected advocates for women's health. With so much conflicting information available, this is an unbiased, thoughtful resource for women who want to be informed medical consumers.”