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Health-Inspired Summer Reading Reccomendations

apple on a stack of book in the grassThere’s still time to dig into some health-related books this summer – for professional development, pure enjoyment or both. Here are some favorites from a range of trusted health professionals.

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World

by Michael Pollan

My Mother’s Day bouquet of tulips prompted me to reread this book. From my first reading, I was captivated by a new way of thinking about the interaction between humans and plants. Through four plants – apples, tulips, marijuana and potatoes – Mr. Pollan discusses how we have used plant breeding for sweetness, beauty, intoxication and control, and how plants have used our desires for their survival. He combines history, plant breeding, biology and the need for survival in an engaging style that makes this book hard to put down, even on the second or third reading.

Alice G. Bender, MS, RDN
AICR Associate Director for Nutrition Programs

The Power of Full Engagement

by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

The focus of this book is how managing your energy will get you further toward health and other goals than the common goal of managing time wisely. Major sections address physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy. I believe the nutrition recommendations are over-stated as a single best approach for everyone. However, the practical steps to address all four forms of energy are so positive and helpful, that The Power of Full Engagement provides an excellent base for creating the healthy lifestyle that for many people can seem elusive.

Karen Collins, MS, RDN, CDN
AICR Nutrition Advisor

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat

by Bee Wilson

I like how this book approaches a fork as a technological upgrade I hadn’t ever taken a moment to think of the origin and history behind the fork.  I like to read food & medical history for fun.

Robin Brannon, MS, RD, CSO
Food & Friends

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

by Rebecca Skloot

This is the story of a woman who sought treatment for cervical cancer, and her cells were used for research without her consent. The outcomes of that research led to major advances in how we treat various diseases (including polio). This book explores the ethics of doing research, the consent process and who benefits from the findings. At times it is sad and disturbing, but it’s a great example of how important it is to have protections in place for research participants.

Dori Steinberg, PhD, RD
Duke University

A History of Food in 100 Recipes

by William Sitwell

This was so interesting – to see where many food and culinary terms and expressions come from. The reading is interesting and funny. The author has such typical British humor – dry and witty.

Dori Mitchell, MS, RDN
Manager of AICR’s New American Plate Challenge

101 Foods That Could Save Your Life

by Dave Grotto

The format of this book is perfect for quick, easy reading, and you can open it up at any page. I love discovering the folklore behind each food, each food’s unique health benefits and most importantly how to select, store, eat and enjoy a variety of super foods! Dave Grotto’s work is a timeless find for anyone who enjoys reading, eating and who believes food is the best medicine.

Melissa Halas-Liang, MA RD CDE
Author and founder of SuperKids Nutrition

Something to Chew On: Challenging Controversies in Food and Health

by Mike Gibney

It is rare when a distinguished professor in food and nutrition writes a book, and rarer yet when he or she takes on some of the most polarizing issues in nutrition. Dr. Gibney covers the topics of pesticides, food additives, locally grown foods/food miles, GMOs, global warming, nutrigenetics, obesity and more, fully referenced. Perhaps most important (and maddening) are the chapters describing how ideological forces are preventing billions around the world from becoming food secure.

Colby Vorland
Nutrition Science PhD student, Purdue University

The Brain that Changes Itself

by Norman Doidge

This book (subtitled Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science) is absolutely fascinating in its clear presentation of the science of neuroplasticity of the brain. Underneath the fascinating science are practical implications for all human beings. I read this book four years ago, and I am still marveling at the many ways in which thoughts can change the structure and function of our brains.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN
Director of Nourishment Programs, Smith Center

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

by Barbara Kingsolver

This is a great read about the author and her family's journey to eat only foods they can grow/obtain locally. It really gets you thinking about our food supply and the value of eating real foods rather than the hyper-processed foods we are constantly surrounded by. I love the style of writing and hearing about the real challenges (and successes) faced by the author and her family.

Sonja Goedkoop, MSPH, RD
Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center.

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