The Book Babes salute 2008 with a full agenda and terrific news: Da Capo Press will publish our book, "Between the Covers: The Book Babes' Guide to a Woman's Reading Pleasures," in time for next year's holiday gift-giving. (Get those orders in early.) In the meantime, we'll continue to recommend great book at this blog and through our radio show, which is heard on WMNF 88.5 FM radio in Tampa. And our New Year's salute starts with three favorite new books for body and spirit:
1. "You -- Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty," by Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz (Free Press) -- These two docs have established a bestselling franchise with sensible advice about taking care of yourself so that they won't have to. New forms of health care coverage are probably on the horizon, given the strain that medical care costs are putting on our economy. So the pressure is on to shape up. This book underlines what we've already been told by other experts: that the soreness and slowing down tonce considered an inevitable part of aging is as much the result of bad habits as it is the passage of time. There's a lot of "research shows" factoids here that may or may not mean a wit in the long run. But what makes this series hold together is how it explains thoroughly and in plain English why the basic maintenance recipe still holds up: Eat less, move more, floss daily.
2. "Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body," by Jennifer Ackerman (Houghton Mifflin) -- Speaking of bodily functions, this book covers that topic in a more entertaining way than any book we can remember. Starting with the wake-up call and ending when you turn out the light, it shows what dynamic creatures we really are. Our body rhythms, much less our body temperatures, ebb and flow to match the content of our days. Who knew that cognitive function is so compromised for the first 10 minutes after waking that it's the equivalent of being legally drunk? Or that congestive heart failure, gastric ulcers and sudden infant death syndrome are most likely to kick in between 3 and 4 a.m.? No prescriptions here, but info worth extrapolating: For instance, because dairy cows make more milk while listening to Beethoven, figure that listening to classical music will make your body work better, too.
3. "The Book of Psalms," a translation with commentary by Robert Alter (Norton) -- We believe in holistic medicine. So the final recommendation here deals with the spirit, and we can't resist mentioning one of Ellen's favorite for holiday giving. This is an ecumenical offering for anyone who loves the sound of the psalms in the Hebrew Bible but doesn't necessarily know what they're trying to say. Alter's revisions from the King James version may be small, as in the opening lines of the most famous psalm, the 23rd: "The Lord is my shepherd,/ I shall not want./ In grass meadows He makes me lie down,/ by quiet waters guides me./ My life he brings back./ He leads me on pathways of justice/ for His name's sake." But each passage is annotated to help explain any alterations and the psalm's literary and historical meaning. You don't have to be a religious person to draw solace from these poetic gems.