Nonfiction Previews, Feb. 2013, Pt. 4: Animals, Food, and the Arts

Arnot, Bob. The Aztec Diet. Morrow. Feb. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780062124050. $25.99. HEALTH/DIET
What has eight times the omega-3s of salmon, six times more calcium than milk, three times more iron than spinach, 15 times more magnesium than broccoli, four times more selenium than flax, and five grams of fiber in just 70 calories? The chia seed, beloved of the Aztecs, studied by food scientists here since the 1980s, and now the centerpiece of a high-protein, low-fat diet devised by Arnot, host of the Dr. Danger reality television series and the author of 14 books. Wonder if it tastes good; with a 75,000-copy first printing.

Bazelon, Emily. Sticks and Stones: The New Problem of Bullying and How To Solve It. Random. Feb. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9780812992809. $27; eISBN 9780679644002.
A senior editor at Slate, Bazelon builds on her persuasive and sensitive reporting on the suicide of Phoebe Prince in 2010 with this portrait of teenage nastiness today, which is amplified and complicated by the all-out openness of the Internet. Her aim is not simply to describe but to advise, as she shows parents and teachers how to protect youngsters from bullying. Her legal background should help (she’s a graduate of Yale Law School, where she now serves as Truman Capote law and media fellow), as will name recognition—Bazelton is part of Slate’s “Political Gabfest,” a weekly podcast that attracts 75,000 listeners.

Davis, Laura, Love at First Click: The Ultimate Guide to Online Dating. Atria: S. & S. Feb. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9781451687033. pap. $15; eISBN 9781451687040. RELATIONSHIPS
One in five relationships today first sees the light on an online dating service, and yours could be next. A few tips might be helpful, but whom to ask? Davis, for one, dating coach and founder of a consultancy called eFlirt Expert, who’s been featured in the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and more. Here are tips on everything from finding the right site to creating a profile to staying safe. Lots of real-life success stories; read with Amy Webb’s Data, a Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating To Meet My Match, also coming in February 2013, and you will be set.

Davis, Sampson with Lisa Frazier Page. Living and Dying in Brick City: An E.R. Doctor Returns Home. Spiegel & Grau: Random. Feb. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9781400069941. $25; eISBN 9780679605188. MEMOIR/MEDICINE
You’ll know Davis’s story from New York Times best-selling books The Pact, We Beat the Street, and The Bond, written with George Jenkins and Rameck Hunt, which portrayed the tough-minded decision of these three friends from Newark, NJ, to rise above hardship and become doctors. Here, Davis, the youngest physician to receive the National Medical Association’s highest honor, The Scroll of Merit, recounts his return to the Newark Beth Israel Hospital (where he was born) and his efforts to address head-on the medical problems facing inner-city communities. Bravo for a real insider’s view.

Fletcher, Anne M. Inside Rehab: The Surprising Truth about Addiction Treatment—and How To Get Help That Works. Viking. Feb. 2013. 448p. ISBN 9780670025220. $27.95. PSYCHOLOGY/PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
Having visited 15 addiction treatment facilities, ranging from outpatient programs for the poor to posh rehabs for the rich to unconventional sites Twelve-Steppers might shun, best-selling health/medical author Fletcher (e.g., Thin for Life) has some sobering things to report. There’s a big difference between practices recommended by scientific research and the treatments actually employed, for instance, and trained professionals aren’t always doing the work. With the degree of addiction in this country, cutting across all communities, this book looks to be an important purchase.

Hare, Brian & Vanessa Woods. The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think. Dutton. Feb. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780525953197. $27.95. PETS/DOGS
Dog lovers, we already knew this, but, yeah, dogs are smarter than most people think, and Hare, a professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University, proved it with a simple cognition experiment in his parents’ basement in 1995. That experiment showed that dogs weren’t just smarter than wolves and foxes—contrary to popular opinion, domestication has made them sharper as they have learned to cooperate with humans to achieve goals—but (surprise) smarter than apes and chimps as well. Hare has since founded the Canine Cognition Center at Duke to further his investigations. Smart stuff here from Hare’s worldwide work and apparently a lot of cheerful enthusiasm, too; just wish my dog were on the cover!

Huang, Eddie. Fresh Off the Boat. Spiegel & Grau: Random. Feb. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780679644880. $26. MEMOIR/FOOD
Not your standard immigrant story because Huang is not your standard, dutiful-son immigrant. Born to FOB (“fresh off the boat”) Taiwanese parents not in some urban Chinatown but in the American South, Huang partied hard, loved football, and sold drugs while helping the Haitian chefs make ribs at his father’s chain of steakhouses. He finally staked out his claim with BauHaus, his super-hot Taiwanese sandwich shop in New York’s East Village (I’m going tomorrow!); he also hosts TV shows (e.g., Munchies for Vice TV) and blogs at and—plus his own blog, Fresh Off the Boat. Not just for foodies but for anyone interested in family and American culture, neatly upended; with a 40,000-copy first printing.

Kerasote, Ted. Pukka’s Promise. Houghton Harcourt. Feb. 2013. 464p. ISBN 9780547236261. $28. CD/MP3: Brilliance Audio. PETS/DOGS
Kerasote charmed us with his dog books, Merle’s Door and Pukka, about Merle, the dog that opened up his heart, and the little pup that came after the beloved Merle died. But he was serious in his scientific details, and he’s serious here, too, as he scans the most recent research to show how we can keep our dogs alive longer. Good conversations with veterinarians, breeders, and animal-welfare specialists and reportedly some surprising discussion of issues like shots and neutering. You can’t argue with the 20-city tour, already scheduled for New York, Boston, Raleigh, St. Louis, Kansas City, Austin, Boulder, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, somewhere in Connecticut, and in Wyoming, of course, where Kerasote lives.

Lopate, Phillip. Portrait Inside My Head: Essays. Free Pr: S. & S. Feb. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781451695861. $26; eISBN 9781451696318. LITERATURE
When he’s not directing the graduate nonfiction writing program at Columbia University, Lopate is writing terrific essays collected in terrific books like Portrait of My Body and Against Joie de Vivre. Here’s another collection, with essays ranging in subject from his Brooklyn boyhood (where he worked as a tutor in the employ of “the Polish countess” and watched street fights from afar) to marriage, parenthood, culture, baseball, and Virginia Woolf’s sniffy views about film. If you want to know how he does it, see the next book.

Lopate, Phillip. To Show and To Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction. Free Pr: S. & S. Feb. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9781451696325. pap. $16; eISBN 9781451696332. WRITING
Literary nonfiction, creative nonfiction, essay. Whatever you call this genre, it’s achingly insightful and deeply involving when done right. And Lopate shows you how to do it, covering the nuts and bolts to provide your own personal master class. Lopate directs the graduate nonfiction writing program at Columbia University and has taught all ages over many years, so we can expect honed insight here. Think of all those people out there who really want to write; they could profit.

Morell, Virginia. Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures. Crown. Feb. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780307461445. $26. ANIMALS
We’re not unique, Homo sapiens. Rats like to be tickled, dolphins are self-aware, chimps mourn loved ones, and jays plan ahead (probably better than I do). Here, Morell (Blue Nile) explores recent research on animal cognition and the important ethical issues it inevitably raises. A contributing correspondent for Science and also a regular contributor to National Geographic as well, Morell should know her stuff.

Morgentaler, Abraham. Why Men Fake It: The Truth About Men and Sex. Holt. Feb. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780805094244. $25. HEALTH
Associate Clinical Professor of Urology at Harvard Medical School and the founder of Men’s Health Boston, Morgentaler has a lot to say about male health, male sexuality, and the obsessive worry over what it means to be a man. Here he uses case studies from his own practice to give us the big picture. Nicely reassuring, I imagine.

Shannon, Dan & Annie Shannon. Betty Goes Vegan: 500 Classic Recipes for the Modern Family. Grand Central. Feb. 2013. 448p. ISBN 9781455509331. $26.99. COOKING
Vegan cookbooks have been big lately, but when one carries the Betty Crocker imprimatur, you know this eating style has become mainstream. The book got its start with the Betty Crocker Project on the authors’ blog,, and has been covered on the official Betty Crocker Twitter and Facebook venues. Among the 500-plus original vegan recipes you will find Spicy Thai Wings and Tequila Fajita Vegan Chicken. So the “for-the-family” pitch seems right.

Shields, David. How Literature Saved My Life. Knopf. Feb. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9780307961525. $25.95. MEMOIR/CRITICISM
“Literature [should] assuage human loneliness, but nothing can assuage human loneliness. Literature doesn’t lie about this—which is what makes it essential.” That quote from Shields (Reality Hunger), an inventive rethinker of all things literary and cultural, gives you a strong feeling for his new book. In what is called a blend of confessional criticism and anthropological autobiography (okay, sounds high-flown, but I think that nails it), Shields uses his own conflicted personality to show how literature makes life bearable. He’s particularly fascinated with the newest literature that effectively integrates quotations from other sources (like found material in art) and plays with consciousness and self-consciousness; for him, that’s an antidote for his own hyper-awareness. Sure, it’s for your smart readers, but remember that Shields’s The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead was a New York Times best seller and that Reality Hunger got the best-book nod from more than 30 publications.

Sweat, Keith. Make It Last Forever: Do’s and Don’ts. Strebor: Atria. Feb. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9781593094065. $24; eISBN 9781451655773. RELATIONSHIPS
Host of The Sweat Hotel, the No. 1 urban nighttime radio program in the nation, Sweat draws on his show to offer relationship advice ranging from building communication to committing long term to reigniting those tamped-down flames. His big argument: look first for compatibility. Like life, like art: the title comes from Sweat’s popular R & B album and single. There will be an audience.

Wall, Duncan. The Ordinary Acrobat: A Journey into the Wondrous World of the Circus, Past and Present. Knopf. Feb. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9780307271723. $26.95. PERFORMING ARTS/CIRCUS
An American college student in Paris when he saw his first nouveau cirque, Wall did what young children used to dream all the time of doing: he ran away to the circus. Correction: he won a Fulbright scholarship to study at France’s École Nationale des Arts du Cirque (the national circus school) and has since been working as a performer, director, and writer. Partly the story of one young man, not prodigiously gifted in athletics or the arts, who learned to juggle, tumble, clown effectively, and swing on the trapeze with the best of them, and partly an account of circus history and the regeneration of the circus aesthetic by the Cirque du Soleil, this is (dare one say) a unique book that sounds like so much fun.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.