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Health & Wellness

Keep well in body, mind, and spirit with these books.


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Rationality

- by Steven Pinker

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"In our uncertain age, which can so often feel so dark and disturbing, Steven Pinker has distinguished himself as a voice of positivity." - New York Times


Can reading a book make you more rational? Can it help us understand why there is so much irrationality in the world? Steven Pinker, author of Enlightenment Now (Bill Gates's "new favorite book of all time") answers all the questions here


Today humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding--and also appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that developed vaccines for Covid-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, medical quackery, and conspiracy theorizing?
 
Pinker rejects the cynical cliché that humans are simply irrational--cavemen out of time saddled with biases, fallacies, and illusions. After all, we discovered the laws of nature, lengthened and enriched our lives, and set out the benchmarks for rationality itself.  We actually think in ways that are sensible in the low-tech contexts in which we spend most of our lives, but fail to take advantage of the powerful tools of reasoning we've discovered over the millennia: logic, critical thinking, probability, correlation and causation, and optimal ways to update beliefs and commit to choices individually and with others. These tools are not a standard part of our education, and have never been presented clearly and entertainingly in a single book--until now.
  
Rationality also explores its opposite: how the rational pursuit of self-interest, sectarian solidarity, and uplifting mythology can add up to crippling irrationality in a society. Collective rationality depends on norms that are explicitly designed to promote objectivity and truth.
  
Rationality matters. It leads to better choices in our lives and in the public sphere, and is the ultimate driver of social justice and moral progress. Brimming with Pinker's customary insight and humor, Rationality will enlighten, inspire, and empower.

Talking to Strangers

- by Malcolm Gladwell

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Malcolm Gladwell, host of the podcast Revisionist History and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Outliers, offers a powerful examination of our interactions with strangersand why they often go wrong--now with a new afterword by the author.

A Best Book of the Year: The Financial Times, Bloomberg, Chicago Tribune, and Detroit Free Press

How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to one another that isn't true?
 
Talking to Strangers is a challenging and controversial excursion through history, psychology, and scandals taken straight from the news. In it, Malcolm Gladwell revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the suicide of Sylvia Plath, and the death of Sandra Bland--throwing our understanding of these and other stories into doubt.
 
Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don't know, and the resulting conflict and misunderstanding have a profound effect on our lives and our world. Now, with Talking to Strangers, Malcolm Gladwell brings us a gripping guidebook for troubled times.

This Is Your Mind on Plants

- by Michael Pollan

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The instant New York Times bestseller

"Expert storytelling . . . [Pollan] masterfully elevates a series of big questions about drugs, plants and humans that are likely to leave readers thinking in new ways."--New York Times Book Review

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Pollan, a radical challenge to how we think about drugs, and an exploration into the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants--and the equally powerful taboos.


Of all the things humans rely on plants for--sustenance, beauty, medicine, fragrance, flavor, fiber--surely the most curious is our use of them to change consciousness: to stimulate or calm, fiddle with or completely alter, the qualities of our mental experience. Take coffee and tea: People around the world rely on caffeine to sharpen their minds. But we do not usually think of caffeine as a drug, or our daily use as an addiction, because it is legal and socially acceptable. So, then, what is a "drug"? And why, for example, is making tea from the leaves of a tea plant acceptable, but making tea from a seed head of an opium poppy a federal crime?

In This Is Your Mind on Plants, Michael Pollan dives deep into three plant drugs--opium, caffeine, and mescaline--and throws the fundamental strangeness, and arbitrariness, of our thinking about them into sharp relief. Exploring and participating in the cultures that have grown up around these drugs while consuming (or, in the case of caffeine, trying not to consume) them, Pollan reckons with the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants. Why do we go to such great lengths to seek these shifts in consciousness, and then why do we fence that universal desire with laws and customs and fraught feelings?

In this unique blend of history, science, and memoir, as well as participatory journalism, Pollan examines and experiences these plants from several very different angles and contexts, and shines a fresh light on a subject that is all too often treated reductively--as a drug, whether licit or illicit. But that is one of the least interesting things you can say about these plants, Pollan shows, for when we take them into our bodies and let them change our minds, we are engaging with nature in one of the most profound ways we can. Based in part on an essay published almost twenty-five years ago, this groundbreaking and singular consideration of psychoactive plants, and our attraction to them through time, holds up a mirror to our fundamental human needs and aspirations, the operations of our minds, and our entanglement with the natural world.

The Comfort Book

- by Matt Haig

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A manual of reflections for an increasingly stressful world
Nothing is stronger than a small hope that doesn't give up.

The Comfort Book is a collection of little islands of hope, a gathering of consolations and stories that give us new ways of seeing ourselves and the world. 

Matt Haig's mix of philosophy, memoir and self-reflection builds on the wisdom of philosophers and survivors through the ages, from Marcus Aurelius to Nellie Bly, from Emily Dickinson to James Baldwin. 

This is the book to pick up when you need the wisdom of a friend or the comfort of a hug, or just want to celebrate the messy miracle of being alive.  

The Menopause Manifesto

- by Jen Gunter

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#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER
 
In her follow-up to the #1 bestseller The Vagina Bible, Dr. Jen Gunter, Canadian OB/GYN and the internet's most fearless advocate for women's health, brings us empowerment through knowledge by countering stubborn myths and misunderstandings about menopause with hard facts, real science, fascinating historical perspective, and expert advice.


The only thing predictable about menopause is its unpredictability. Factor in widespread misinformation, a lack of research, and the culture of shame around women's bodies, and it's no wonder women are unsure what to expect during the menopause transition and beyond.
     Menopause is not a disease--it's a planned change, like puberty. And just like puberty, we should be educated on what's to come years in advance, rather than the current practice of leaving people on their own with bothersome symptoms and too much conflicting information. Knowing what is happening, why, and what to do about it is both empowering and reassuring.
     Frank and funny, Dr. Jen debunks misogynistic attitudes and challenges the over-mystification of menopause to reveal everything you really need to know about:
* Perimenopause * Hot flashes * Sleep disruption * Sex and libido * Depression and mood changes * Skin and hair issues * Outdated therapies * Breast health * Weight and muscle mass * Health maintenance screening * And much more!
     Filled with practical tips, useful information and startling insights, this essential guide will revolutionize how women experience menopause--and show them how their lives can be even better for it.

The Well-Gardened Mind

- by Sue Stuart-smith

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A distinguished psychiatrist and avid gardener presents "a truly uplifting book on the power of gardening--and how it can change people's lives" (Stylist, UK).

The garden is often seen as a refuge, a place to forget worldly cares, removed from the "real" life that lies outside. When we get our hands in the earth we connect with the cycle of life in nature through which destruction and decay are followed by regrowth and renewal. Gardening is one of the quintessential nurturing activities and yet we understand so little about it. The Well-Gardened Mind provides a new perspective on the power of gardening to change people's lives. Here, Sue Stuart-Smith investigates the many ways in which mind and garden can interact and explores how the process of tending a plot can be a way of sustaining an innermost self.

Stuart-Smith's own love of gardening developed as she studied to become a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. From her grandfather's return from World War I to Freud's obsession with flowers to case histories with her own patients to progressive gardening programs in such places as Rikers Island prison in New York City, Stuart-Smith weaves thoughtful yet powerful examples to argue that gardening is much more important to our cognition than we think. Recent research is showing how green nature has direct antidepressant effects on humans. "The most original gardening book ever [that] combines observation, horticulture, literature and history" (Sunday Times, UK), The Well-Gardened Mind is a book for gardeners and non-gardeners alike, and the perfect solace for people seeking healthier mental lives.

Swimming Aimlessly

- by Jon Waldman

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Using his own journey as inspiration, writer Jon Waldman offers this heartfelt and funny guide for men and couples struggling with infertility.

Take a moment to scroll through the contacts on your phone or your friends on Facebook. One in six of them is struggling with infertility. The affected women have most likely reached out to family, close friends, support groups, or online communities. They ask for the help they need, and often get it on behalf of themselves and their partners.

But men don't always handle infertility well. Regardless of the underlying cause, the inability to conceive naturally can be extremely painful. The resulting feelings of inadequacy, shame, and isolation can change how a man acts towards those closest to him. But Jon Waldman wants to change that.

In Swimming Aimlessly, Waldman shares his family's infertility story, a years-long, crazy expensive, physically and emotionally exhausting ride. He also speaks with other couples, doctors, and fertility experts, providing not only the latest science, but more intimate advice about the ups and downs of trying to conceive, keeping the partnership healthy, and dealing with the inevitable losses that come--even when the journey ends in a baby.

Remember

- by Lisa Genova

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER o A fascinating exploration of the intricacies of how we remember, why we forget, and what we can do to protect our memories, from the Harvard-trained neuroscientist and bestselling author of Still Alice.

"Using her expertise as a neuroscientist and her gifts as a storyteller, Lisa Genova explains the nuances of human memory"--Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, author of How the Mind Works

Have you ever felt a crushing wave of panic when you can't for the life of you remember the name of that actor in the movie you saw last week, or you walk into a room only to forget why you went there in the first place? If you're over forty, you're probably not laughing. You might even be worried that these lapses in memory could be an early sign of Alzheimer's or dementia. In reality, for the vast majority of us, these examples of forgetting are completely normal. Why? Because while memory is amazing, it is far from perfect. Our brains aren't designed to remember every name we hear, plan we make, or day we experience. Just because your memory sometimes fails doesn't mean it's broken or succumbing to disease. Forgetting is actually part of being human. 

In Remember, neuroscientist and acclaimed novelist Lisa Genova delves into how memories are made and how we retrieve them. You'll learn whether forgotten memories are temporarily inaccessible or erased forever and why some memories are built to exist for only a few seconds (like a passcode) while others can last a lifetime (your wedding day). You'll come to appreciate the clear distinction between normal forgetting (where you parked your car) and forgetting due to Alzheimer's (that you own a car). And you'll see how memory is profoundly impacted by meaning, emotion, sleep, stress, and context. Once you understand the language of memory and how it functions, its incredible strengths and maddening weaknesses, its natural vulnerabilities and potential superpowers, you can both vastly improve your ability to remember and feel less rattled when you inevitably forget. You can set educated expectations for your memory, and in doing so, create a better relationship with it. You don't have to fear it anymore. And that can be life-changing.

Carpe Every Diem

- by Robie Rogge

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A thoughtfully curated, cleverly designed keepsake that distills the wisdom of all those powerful graduation speakers--from Barack Obama and Gloria Steinem to Kermit the Frog--into the best advice for grads of all ages.

Carpe Every Diem is a thought-provoking collection of quotes from famous graduation speakers meant to motivate and inspire the next generation of leaders. Paired by theme, many of the quotes complement one another. George Saunders, for example, riffs on the "failures of kindness" of his youth, encouraging grads to be kinder. Jimmy Buffett offers a simpler nugget of kind-spiration: "Be Santa Claus when you can." Other quotes, however, are paired with conflicting advice, giving graduates the opportunity to choose what to believe in. Some may respond to Neil Gaiman's "make good art" speech, while others may prefer John Waters's call to arms to horrify and outrage others with their art. Which of these affirmations will you choose? 

Each quote is accompanied by a short bio of the speaker and stamped with the year and institution where the commencement speech was delivered. With advice from the likes of Abby Wambach, Angela Davis, David Foster Wallace, Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee, Kanye West, and more, readers will be swept away by the wit and wisdom contained in this book--perfect for graduates, creative thinkers, or anyone seeking inspiration.

Eat Better, Feel Better

- by Giada De Laurentiis

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER o Giada De Laurentiis shares how her unique approach to wellness completely transformed her relationship with food--featuring 100 recipes to boost gut health and immunity and nourish your mind, body, and spirit.
 
This book is the culmination of a ten-year journey. . . .  I've made a conscious effort to take control of my health because it had finally become impossible to ignore the fact that the choices (or lack thereof ) I'd been making for the past twenty years just weren't working for me anymore.

In Giada's most personal book yet, she gives you an inside look at her path to wellness and how she maintains a balanced life. Giada walks you through how to select food that can actually make you feel better and curate a personalized wellness routine to support a healthy mind and body. She shows you her own process of reconfiguring her diet to control inflammation--and how you can use the same steps to turn your life around. Giada also includes information on how to use complementary wellness tactics like intermittent fasting, meditation, and other self-care routines to optimize your well-being.
 
Giada devotes an entire chapter to her 3-day reboot--which she follows several times a year--and offers more than two dozen dairy-free, sugar-free, and gluten-free recipes to accompany the plan, as well as a 21-day menu outline that makes good, healthy cooking easy to implement at home. Even though it's so much more than a cookbook, Eat Better, Feel Better also offers 100 new recipes, from Italian-influenced ones like Fusilli with Chicken and Broccoli Rabe and Pan-Roasted Pork Chops with Cherry and Red Wine Sauce to her everyday healthy favorites including Quinoa Pancakes; Sheet Pan Parmesan Shrimp and Veggies; Roasted Cauliflower and Baby Kale Salad; and Chocolate and Orange Brown Rice Treats. 
 
Eat Better, Feel Better is the perfect jumpstart to wellness.

Successful Aging

- by Daniel J. Levitin

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NATIONAL BESTSELLER
SHORTLISTED for the 2021 Science Writers and Communicators of Canada Book Award

Author of the iconic bestsellers This Is Your Brain on Music and The Organized Mind, Daniel Levitin turns his keen insights to what happens in our brains as we age, why we should think about health span, not life span, and, based on a rigorous analysis of neuroscientific evidence, what you can do to make the most of your seventies, eighties, and nineties today no matter how old you are now.

 
Successful Aging uses research from developmental neuroscience and the psychology of individual differences to show that sixty-plus years is a unique developmental stage that, like infancy or adolescence, has its own demands and distinct advantages. Levitin looks at the science behind what we all can learn from those who age joyously, as well as how to adapt our culture to take full advantage of older people's wisdom and experience. Throughout his exploration of what aging really means, Levitin reveals resilience strategies and practical, cognitive enhancing tricks everyone should do as they age.
 
The book is packed with accessible and discussable takeaways, providing great material for reading groups and media coverage.
 
Successful Aging inspires a powerful new approach to how readers think about our final decades, and it will revolutionize the way we plan for old age as individuals, family members, and citizens within a society where the average life expectancy continues to rise.

Relax, Dammit!

- by Timothy Caulfield

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WINNER of the 2021 Science Writers and Communicators of Canada Book Award
 
WINNER of the 2021 Alberta Literary Awards' Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Nonfiction
 
"Will vaccinate you against misinformation!"--Dr. Jen Gunter, renowned gynecologist and author of The Vagina Bible

An entertaining and practical guide to getting through the day with less stress and better health, from the host of the hit TV series A User's Guide to Cheating Death.


We make a ridiculous number of decisions every day--possibly even thousands. We make decisions about when to wake up, how to brush our teeth, what to have for breakfast, how to get our kids to school, the amount of coffee to drink, and on and on.

Making so many decisions is tough. It can cause stock analysts to perform progressively worse over the course of a day. It can lead us to make poor decisions about the food we eat--the more brain fatigue we experience, the more junk food we consume. And the more deliberate the decision--that is, the more we need to think about it--the more fatiguing the process. There are many social forces at work that make how and what we choose an unnecessarily anxious process. But it doesn't have to be.

In Relax, Dammit!, health policy expert Timothy Caulfield takes us through a regular day--from the moment we wake up to when we go to sleep--and shows the underlying science behind our actions and habits. What he reveals is that we make decisions that are based, to a lesser or greater extent, on misinformation. Whether he's studying cell phone use, bike commuting, or raw-milk cheese consumption, Caulfield shows that many of the things we believe to be healthier, safer, or just better, simply aren't. With solid grounding in current and reliable scientific findings, the author points to a less stressful way forward--which means we can all afford to relax a lot more.

Insightful, sometimes controversial, and always entertaining, Relax, Dammit! is a surprising and liberating guide to modern life.

The Gift

- by Edith Eva Eger

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This practical and inspirational guide to healing from the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Choice shows us how to stop destructive patterns and imprisoning thoughts to find freedom and enjoy life.

Edith Eger's powerful first book The Choice told the story of her survival in the concentration camps, her escape, healing, and journey to freedom. Oprah Winfrey says, "I will be forever changed by Dr. Eger's story." Thousands of people around the world have written to Eger to tell her how The Choice moved them and inspired them to confront their own past and try to heal their pain; and to ask her to write another, more "how-to" book. Now, in The Gift, Eger expands on her message of healing and provides a hands-on guide that gently encourages us to change the thoughts and behaviors that may be keeping us imprisoned in the past.

Eger explains that the worst prison she experienced is not the prison that Nazis put her in but the one she created for herself, the prison within her own mind. She describes the twelve most pervasive imprisoning beliefs she has known--including fear, grief, anger, secrets, stress, guilt, shame, and avoidance--and the tools she has discovered to deal with these universal challenges. Accompanied by stories from Eger's own life and the lives of her patients each chapter includes thought-provoking questions and takeaways, such as:

-Would you like to be married to you?
-Are you evolving or revolving?
-You can't heal what you can't feel.

Filled with empathy, insight, and humor, The Gift captures the vulnerability and common challenges we all face and provides encouragement and advice for breaking out of our personal prisons to find healing and enjoy life.

Chatter

- by Ethan Kross

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER o An award-winning psychologist reveals the hidden power of our inner voice and shows how to harness it to combat anxiety, improve physical and mental health, and deepen our relationships with others.

"A masterpiece."--Angela Duckworth, bestselling author of Grit o Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Adam Grant, and Daniel H. Pink's Next Big Idea Club Winter 2021 Winning Selection

One of the best new books of the year--The Washington Post, BBC, USA Today, CNN Underscored, Shape, Behavioral Scientist, PopSugar o Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and Shelf Awareness starred reviews

Tell a stranger that you talk to yourself, and you're likely to get written off as eccentric. But the truth is that we all have a voice in our head. When we talk to ourselves, we often hope to tap into our inner coach but find our inner critic instead. When we're facing a tough task, our inner coach can buoy us up: Focus--you can do this. But, just as often, our inner critic sinks us entirely: I'm going to fail. They'll all laugh at me. What's the use?

In Chatter, acclaimed psychologist Ethan Kross explores the silent conversations we have with ourselves. Interweaving groundbreaking behavioral and brain research from his own lab with real-world case studies--from a pitcher who forgets how to pitch, to a Harvard undergrad negotiating her double life as a spy--Kross explains how these conversations shape our lives, work, and relationships. He warns that giving in to negative and disorienting self-talk--what he calls "chatter"--can tank our health, sink our moods, strain our social connections, and cause us to fold under pressure.

But the good news is that we're already equipped with the tools we need to make our inner voice work in our favor. These tools are often hidden in plain sight--in the words we use to think about ourselves, the technologies we embrace, the diaries we keep in our drawers, the conversations we have with our loved ones, and the cultures we create in our schools and workplaces.

Brilliantly argued, expertly researched, and filled with compelling stories, Chatter gives us the power to change the most important conversation we have each day: the one we have with ourselves.

The Cancer Code

- by Dr.jason Fung

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Author of the international bestsellers The Diabetes Code and The Obesity Code Dr. Jason Fung returns with an eye-opening biography of cancer in which he offers a radical new paradigm for understanding cancer--and issues a call to action for reducing risk moving forward.

Our understanding of cancer is slowly undergoing a revolution, allowing for the development of more effective treatments. For the first time ever, the death rate from cancer is showing a steady decline . . . but the "War on Cancer" has hardly been won.

In The Cancer Code, Dr. Jason Fung offers a revolutionary new understanding of this invasive, often fatal disease--what it is, how it manifests, and why it is so challenging to treat. In this rousing narrative, Dr. Fung identifies the medical community's many missteps in cancer research--in particular, its focus on genetics, or what he terms the "seed" of cancer, at the expense of examining the "soil," or the conditions under which cancer flourishes. Dr. Fung--whose groundbreaking work in the treatment of obesity and diabetes has won him international acclaim--suggests that the primary disease pathway of cancer is caused by the dysregulation of insulin. In fact, obesity and type 2 diabetes significantly increase an individual's risk of cancer.

In this accessible read, Dr. Fung provides a new paradigm for dealing with cancer, with recommendations for what we can do to create a hostile soil for this dangerous seed. One such strategy is intermittent fasting, which reduces blood glucose, lowering insulin levels. Another, eliminating intake of insulin-stimulating foods, such as sugar and refined carbohydrates.

For hundreds of years, cancer has been portrayed as a foreign invader we've been powerless to stop. By reshaping our view of cancer as an internal uprising of our own healthy cells, we can begin to take back control. The seed of cancer may exist in all of us, but the power to change the soil is in our hands. 

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