An entertaining hodgepodge of autobiography, travelogue, and history.

SWEAT

A HISTORY OF EXERCISE

Obsessed by both working out and its history, Hayes writes a book that combines them.

A successful freelance author, journalist, photographer, and editor, the author is not shy about describing his lifetime preoccupation with running, gym workouts, and aerobics, with diversions into boxing, swimming, and biking. After recording exercises favored by such towering historical figures as Einstein (“didn’t look like a strapping athlete, but he didn’t look like he never exercised either”), Tolstoy, and Kafka, Hayes delves more deeply into the subject. He hit the jackpot in the rare book room of the New York Academy of Medicine, discovering a huge, brilliantly illustrated edition of “De arte gymnastica (The Art of Gymnastics), dated 1573. The author was Girolamo Mercuriale, a name previously unknown to me.” As Hayes learned, the book was an effort to revive Greek and Roman love of exercise. Reappearing throughout this book, De arte provides much of the inspiration for Hayes’ exploration. “In ancient Greece and in the early Roman Empire,” he writes, “there was at least one gymnasium in every town. The gymnasium was as much a part of culture and society as a theater and marketplace.” Authorities from Hippocrates to Plato extolled exercise, a point of view snuffed out by the rise of Christianity, when “Cathedrals replaced gymnasiums as sacred sites; it was the holy spirit—the soul—that was now to be glorified, not the body.” By the 16th century, Renaissance humanism was reviving the former view. This book is largely a record of the author’s travels across the world, where he visited libraries and interviewed scholars and scientists or simply people he encountered along the way. He recounts exercise history and how he continued his daily workouts despite often primitive local facilities, and he interjects episodes from his past that are more or less related to the active life. Fittingly, he ends at the Olympia site in Greece.

An entertaining hodgepodge of autobiography, travelogue, and history.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-62040-228-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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A refreshingly candid, fearless look into a model’s body of work and its impact on her identity and politics.

MY BODY

The international model embarks on a nuanced investigation of her body and identity.

Ratajkowski’s exploration of fame, self-identity, and what it means to be a “beautiful” woman is surprisingly engaging. Originally thrust into the spotlight in 2013 due to her scantily clad appearance in the music video for Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” the author eventually became known for her stances about beauty and sexuality and how they are commodified. Now that she is a wife and mother, she writes, “I feel a tenderness toward my younger self. My defensiveness and defiance are palpable to me now. What I wrote and preached then reflected what I believed at the time, but it missed a much more complicated picture. In many ways, I have been undeniably rewarded by capitalizing on my sexuality….But in other, less overt ways, I’ve felt objectified and limited by my position in the world as a so-called sex symbol.” This short book includes the juicy tidbits that avid celebrity-memoir readers seek, and the author shares how she really felt about the video shoot and how the aftermath affected her. Beyond that, the book is a reflective coming-of-age-in-the-industry tale, a story that is never maudlin but contains a few thick, murky sections. Ratajkowski attempts to break down the construction of her identity and sexuality in relation to the ever present male gaze as well as her relationships with the women in her life. The charm of this book lies in the author’s largely relatable writing, which shows the complex emotions and confusion of a young woman experiencing her sexual development and maturation into a capable adult. Admitting that the “purpose of the book is not to arrive at answers, but honestly to explore ideas I can’t help but return to,” Ratajkowski grapples directly with a host of thorny issues.

A refreshingly candid, fearless look into a model’s body of work and its impact on her identity and politics.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-81786-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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An oft-ignored but fully convincing argument that “we cannot prevent the next pandemic without creating a healthy world.”

THE CONTAGION NEXT TIME

The Covid-19 pandemic is not a one-off catastrophe. An epidemiologist presents a cogent argument for a fundamental refocusing of resources on “the foundational forces that shape health.”

In this passionate and instructive book, Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, writes that Covid emerged because we have long neglected basic preventative measures. “We invest vast amounts of money in healthcare,” he writes, “but comparatively little in health.” Readers looking to learn how governments (mainly the U.S.) mishandled the pandemic have a flood of books to choose from, but Galea has bigger issues to raise. Better medical care will not stop the next epidemic, he warns. We must structure a world “that is resilient to contagions.” He begins by describing the current state of world health, where progress has been spectacular. Global life expectancy has more than doubled since 1900. Malnutrition, poverty, and child mortality have dropped. However, as the author stresses repeatedly, medical progress contributed far less to the current situation than better food, clean water, hygiene, education, and prosperity. That’s the good news. More problematic is that money is a powerful determinant of health; those who have it live longer. Galea begins the bad news by pointing out the misleading statistic that Covid-19 kills less than 1% of those infected; that applies to young people in good health. For those over 60, it kills 6%, for diabetics, over 7%, and those with heart disease, over 10%. It also kills more Blacks than Whites, more poor than middle-class people, and more people without health insurance. The author is clearly not just interested in Covid. He attacks racism, sexism, and poverty in equal measure, making a plea for compassion toward stigmatized conditions such as obesity and addiction. He consistently urges the U.S. government, which has spared no expense and effort to defeat the pandemic, to do the same for social injustice.

An oft-ignored but fully convincing argument that “we cannot prevent the next pandemic without creating a healthy world.”

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-19-757642-7

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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