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52 Ways to Walk: The Surprising Science of Walking for Wellness and Joy, One Week at a Time

Annabel Streets. Putnam, $24 (272p) ISBN 978-0-5934-199-53

“Walking is not—and has never been—boring,” writes novelist Streets (The Joyce Girl) in this inviting exercise guide to a year’s worth of walking. The plan’s divided into a weekly program, with each week dedicated to a certain type of walking. Week one consists of a stroll in winter, as the advantages of walking in the cold are significant and include increased cognition and reduced stress, according to Streets, and she describes the “extraordinary changes that take place in our bodies and brains when we spend time in moderate cold.” Later chapters advocate for slow walks (shown to lower cholesterol and help regulate insulin levels), ambles through muddy terrain (soil has “mood-enhancing effects”), early morning treks (exposure to sunlight helps start the day off right), and post-meal strolls (which help with digestion). Streets carefully breaks down the psychological and physical benefits of each type of walk, and makes a solid case that getting some movement in outside can help one “appreciate the exquisitely complicated and beautiful world we inhabit.” Readers ready to hit the pavement will find plenty of inspiration and information here. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 10/29/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Your Life Depends on It: What You Can Do to Make Better Choices About Your Health

Talya Miron-Shatz. Basic, $28 (272p) ISBN 978-1-5416-4675-9

“After decades of research, I’ve found people are not fully capable of making good medical choices in the ways they’re currently offered,” writes Miron-Shatz, a visiting researcher at Cambridge University, in her informative if dry debut. Miron-Shatz admonishes “paternalistic” practices in which it’s assumed that doctors know best, and champions shared decision-making between medical professionals and patients. She encourages readers to “use every tool in your arsenal to learn about your symptoms,” discusses the downside to delaying end-of-life conversations (“it reduces patients’ agency”), and suggests ways to foster a good doctor-patient relationship (for starters, don’t treat doctors like gods). Along the way, she digs into the factors behind patients’ medical decision-making, such as confirmation bias, and investigates how choices are presented to patients (“Like so many issues we saw in health care, too much choice is a problem that institutions create and individuals are forced to negotiate”). She briefly covers why some patients fail to comply with treatments, and the effectiveness of telemedicine, but the survey prizes breadth over depth, and the statistics tend to overpower analysis. While Miron-Shatz makes a convincing case for patient self-advocacy, readers are likely to be left wanting. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 10/29/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Baking with Fortitude

Dee Rettali. Bloomsbury, $28 (192p) ISBN 978-1-5266-2696-7

Rettali, owner of London’s Fortitude Bakehouse, debuts with a thoughtful collection of hearty loaf cake recipes that put a modern spin on traditional artisanal baking. “For me, baking is about crafting, where it’s as much about the process as the end result,” she writes. For bakers that prefer a deeper taste, that process requires patience (her fermented bakes take a week in total to make). While non-fermented loafs—such as her sage, buttermilk, and almond butter loaf cake, and thyme and lemon basbousa buns—can be “made and baked straightaway,” she often urges bakers to let the cake batter ferment for up to three days for a more intense flavor. Still, the recipes themselves are simple to execute, often only involving a handful of ingredients. Spices, nuts, and fruits are employed liberally, such as in a thyme and apricot butter loaf cake, and in a chilli-soaked date and oat loaf cake, which draws its inspiration from her mother’s fruit cakes. Her Moroccan honey and cinnamon sourdough loaf cake requires a buttermilk starter and time to ferment, while her batbout buns are constructed with a simple combination of self-raising flour, yogurt, and a pinch of salt that leaves out the fermentation process entirely. Those willing to wait will be greatly rewarded. Agent: Jonathan Hayden, Jonathan Hayden Literary. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 10/29/2021 | Details & Permalink

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That Sounds So Good: 100 Real-Life Recipes for Every Day of the Week: A Cookbook

Carla Lalli Music. Clarkson Potter, $35 (288p) ISBN 978-0-593-13825-0

James Beard Award–winning chef Lalli Music (Where Cooking Begins) provides “recipes and kitchen encouragement to go with every hunger” in this stellar collection. In her companionable style, she arms readers with the tools to cook efficiently and whenever the inspiration strikes, starting with a helpful tutorial on balancing “inactive” and “active” cooking times (the key is to prep during downtime) and a “waste-reducing strategy for food shopping” that involves relying on a stocked pantry and only going out for perishable things. Recipes are broken down into options for weekdays—where “stovetop suppers” and big salads save the day—and lazy lunches and dinners for the weekend. Weeknight standouts include salt-and-sugar pork rib chops, for which greens are wilted in pork drippings, and a lightning-fast gingery ground beef with lime and herbs. Come Friday night, she leans more luxurious with a cold sliced steak with arugula and parmesan, a spicy seafood stew, and whole grilled fish (pro tip: douse it with oil to avoid sticking). A master planner, she also includes substitutes for every recipe, to avoid “having dinner upended by a single missing ingredient.” Bursting with flavor and potential, these everyday recipes are far from everyday. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 10/29/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Artisan Design: Collectible Furniture in the Digital Age

Judith Gura. Thames & Hudson, $85 (400p) ISBN 978-0-500-02244-3

Design historian Gura (1935–2020) (Design After Modernism) offers a spectacular guidebook to artisan furniture in this posthumous collection. Gura covers the work of more than 100 artists: there’s early industry pioneer Wharton Esherick’s 1950s curvilinear pieces, George Nakashima’s stark wooden chairs from the ’70s, whimsical chairs from Marcel Wanders made in 2013, and contemporary nature-filled resin forms made by Sasha Sykes. The most fun section showcases tongue-in-cheek works, such as Tom Loeser’s bench made of repurposed shovel handles and Hubert le Gall’s “Pot de Fleur,” a set of chairs that when joined looks like a flowerpot. To wrap up her master-class, Gura tours private collections—readers get a look inside Elvis’s former home in Los Angeles (which is now a gallery), a luxurious house on stilts in Miami Beach filled with one of a kind furniture, and a New York City apartment that holds a fig leaf–covered cabinet. Gura skillfully highlights the changes that the craft has seen through decades as she traces the different movements, how they influenced each other, and the evolution of furniture as technologies changed and new techniques were introduced. Design enthusiasts will want this on their coffee tables. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 10/29/2021 | Details & Permalink

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365 Quick & Easy Tips: Home Organization: Simple Techniques to Keep Your Home Neat and Tidy Year Round

Weldon Owen editors. Weldon Owen, $19.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-68188-835-4

Keeping one’s home organized is a manageable daily project, as laid out in these easy-to-follow tips gathered by the folks at Weldon Owen. Tidying tricks for each day of the year are broken down by room: in the kitchen, readers are encouraged to create a labeled spice station and toss any rarely used gadgets; the basement is maximized by adding storage drawers under the stairs; in the home office, one can use a lazy susan for office supplies and mounting putty for securing organizers inside desk drawers; and kids’ bedrooms should be approached by organizing “like a child,” and considering what the little ones can reach. Sections feature DIY projects, including a vinegar-based sink cleaner, a linen spray scented with essential oils, and upcycled office-supply storage boxes. Decorating know-how is sprinkled throughout (foraged branches can make an eye-catching centerpiece, and curtains that “puddle” on the ground add a touch of elegance), as are such “quick tips” as keeping bugs away with cedar blocks and using stick-on backsplash for an easy upgrade. Beautiful photos complement the clever advice, and the brief, to-the-point ideas are perfect for jumping into as needed. Neat-freaks in the making, take note. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 10/29/2021 | Details & Permalink

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30 Minute Mowgli: Fast Easy Indian from the Mowgli Home Kitchen

Nisha Katona. Nourish, $29.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-84899-400-3

British chef Katona (The Spice Tree), founder of the Indian restaurant chain Mowgli Street Food, draws inspiration from her home kitchen to offer simple and speedy dishes that are big on flavor. “Though you will not find the long-simmered curries or slow-roasted meats that adorn Mowgli’s menu within these pages, these recipes are what I actually cook at home on a daily basis,” she writes. Packed with savory and robust dishes, the collection features highlights such as aromatic spiced lamb and apricot wraps, a tangy tamarind salmon curry, and a fire-roasted quick angry tandoori (because, as Katona writes, “Everyone needs a good tandoori recipe up their sleeves”). She pays homage to the women in her family with their favorites, including a Million-Dollar Dahl, from her mother-in-law, and a comforting mushroom curry inspired by her mother’s childhood in India. In line with her promise to keep recipes hassle-free, Katona offers “shameless shortcuts,” such as using canned spinach and stock cubes (an easy substitute for the “salty, sweet hit” that typically only comes from long simmers) for readers short on time and space. Meanwhile, a breakdown of Indian spices takes the guesswork out of achieving complex flavors at a “moment’s notice.” Home cooks won’t be left wanting. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/29/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Plant & Planet: Sustainable and Delicious Vegetarian Cooking for Real People

Goodful. Rodale, $29.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-59313-551-8

Delicious vegetarian recipes are paired with “practical, real life advice for a better planet” in this excellent collection from the folks at BuzzFeed’s Goodful. While they believe cutting out meat is the “most effective way to reduce your environmental impact,” the authors also explore other simple eco-friendly practices, such as buying seasonally and sustainably (“lean heavily toward fresh produce and pantry staples”), reducing packaging, and extending the life of food through proper handling. With a recipes section guided by the mantra “work smarter, not harder,” it will come as no surprise that meal prep here is king. Accordingly, unfussy instructions are on offer to make a week’s work of grains, precook beans, and roast veggies in batches. To save money and time, home cooks are offered a tantalizing selection of five-ingredients-or-fewer meals—including charred whole broccoli salad—and ten meals that can be made in less than ten minutes—such as mushroom scallops with quick pea mash, and caramelized banana and orange parfaits. Zero-waste dishes, including a glorious grainless pie crust with whole-citrus filling, zero-waste pesto, and vegetable scrap stock, are easy on the wallet as well as the planet. Home cooks looking to eat more consciously will find this immensely inspiring and deeply satisfying. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 10/29/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Recipe for Survival: What You Can Do to Live a Healthier and More Environmentally Friendly Life

Dana Ellis Hunnes. Cambridge Univ, $24.95 (300p) ISBN 978-1-108-83219-9

Hunnes, a professor at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, makes a convincing case for a greener diet in her comprehensive debut. She bemoans diets heavy in meat and dairy, for example, as they “contribute significantly to environmental degradation and climate change,” and can cause diabetes, elevated blood pressure, and high cholesterol. She criticizes aquaculture, too, urging readers to ditch fish and lamenting society’s reliance on plastic (when consumed by sea life, it can wind up harming human health). To best counter climate change, she advocates for a diet that consists of more vegetables, organic produce, and less waste. A list of 21 “recipes,” or lifestyle principals, rounds things out—readers are encouraged to buy grains in bulk, compost, ride a bike or use public transit instead of driving, and shop locally. The advice is sound enough, though those familiar with Earth-friendly living aren’t likely to find anything they haven’t seen before (one of her tips is to plant trees). Still, it’s a thorough introduction, and there’s plenty for newbies to sink their teeth into. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 10/29/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Dancing Is the Best Medicine: The Science of How Moving to a Beat Is Good for Body, Brain, and Soul

Julia F. Christensen and Dong-Seon Chang. Greystone, $18.95 trade paper (328p) ISBN 978-1-77164-634-5

Neuroscientists Christensen and Chang take a look at the benefits of dancing in this zippy guide to better health. They make a solid case that dancing can improve problem-solving skills, help the body relax, increase socialization, and strengthen one’s sense of community. They also describe the positive impact of dance on heart health, joint strength, and weight loss, and suggest that the progression of conditions such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease may be slowed by dance. A “Dance Test” rounds things out and helps readers find a style to suit them: ballet is best for solo dancers, Argentine tango suits creative improvisers, and modern dance is great for those looking to express their feelings. Christensen and Chang are “dancers by night” and consider their subject as both scientists and participants, offering plenty of fun anecdotes, such as when Christensen was a child and missed her pony, she would perform a special dance to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Waters,” despite not understanding the lyrics. Readers looking for a prompt to get their bodies moving would do well to start here. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 10/29/2021 | Details & Permalink

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