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In response to my previous posts where I mentioned reading 70 books and losing 70 pounds, some commentors have expressed interest in following a similar path. Here are those posts, for some background:

So, today, I’m pulling on my librarian hat and recommending some ways to make good choices of books to support a healthier lifestyle.

The first skill to develop is How to Skim a Book, so that you can quickly sort through many books to choose the ones that are most likely to work for you. Here’s my method. It works best for a physical book in hand, but Amazon often has enough information with the Look Inside feature to yield the same results.

How I Skim a Book

  • Read the title and subtitle. Are they appealing? Not too pushy or overhyped?
  • Meet the author. What can I learn from the jacket? Is the author a doctor or a therapist who has worked with many dieters? Does the author have a personal story that appeals to me?
  • Scan the back cover. Is the concept interesting? Feasible?
  • Flip to the Table of Contents
    • Do the chapter titles cover topics that will help me?
    • Does the way the book is structured make sense to me?
    • Is there an index? If I learn something, I want a way to find it again.
    • Is there a bibliography? Bibliographies help me find other good books to read.
  • Read some random pages in the middle. Is the writing style one that I can stand to read? It might be asking too much to enjoy the writing in a diet book, but I want the narrative voice to be one that I can relate to with a tone that isn’t too annoying.

With a skimming skill in hand, here are three steps to reading books that will help you improve your health and diet:

Step One. Clear time for reading. How will you incorporate the reading of diet books in your other reading? Some suggestions:

  • Make every third or fourth book you read a diet book
  • Read a diet book at lunch time, saving other books for evenings
  • Read a diet book in print, while something more fun resides on your e-reader (or vice versa)
Book Review: The End of Overeating by David A. Kessler

The book that started me on my 70-pound weight loss journey

Step Two. Select from a variety of books. Visit a well-stocked bookstore or library to get ideas of books that you may want to read or check on-line sites like Amazon or Goodreads. Skim the books to see if they seem good candidates for you, but remember that you can always abandon a title later if it doesn’t work for you. I suggest choosing at least one book in each of these categories:

  • The food industry (like In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, The End of Overeating by David A. Kessler, or Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss)
  • Habits, thoughts, and behaviors (like The Beck Diet Solution by Judith Beck, The Eating Well Diet by Jean Harvey-Berino, or The Diet Fix by Yoni Freedhoff)
  • Diets you’re curious about

Step Three. Get the books. If you’re going to read a lot of books, the library is your friend. Most libraries have books in print, audio, and electronic formats. You can always purchase, later, the books that suit you best.

What health books have had the biggest impact on your lifestyle?

Signature of Joy Weese Moll


Comments

How to Use Health and Diet Books #WeekendCooking — 15 Comments

  1. Excellent advice for how to choose a book before committing to it. I would think overeating is the biggest stumbling block for most people — it’s so easy to say, “Yum. That was so good, I’m going to have one more bite.”

  2. Pingback: Sunshine blows away nightmares #SundaySalon | Joy's Book Blog

  3. Great tips! I especially like the idea of reading a diet-related book at lunchtime. I just finished listening to an audiobook in the horror genre that completely put me off food for a while (The Troop by Nick Cutter) so that’s another way to go! 😉

  4. The book that really made a difference for me was Make the Connection: Ten Steps to a Better Body and a Better Life, by Bob Greene and Oprah Winfrey. Greene was Oprah’s personal trainer. I’d been exercising for years but never saw any weight loss – then I read his guidelines and after six weeks started to see a difference

  5. I love these tips because they can apply in general to reading any books. The library is one of my favorite places in the world. I could never repay the library for all the books they’ve let me borrow through the years. So from me as a library patron to you as a librarian, I thank you, thank you, thank you. 🙂

  6. This is fantastic advice and I think it could be useful for a wide array of self-help books. I will definitely take this approach next time I decide to go on a journey for self improvement. (For now I’m going to sit here, lazy and unenlightened. 🙂 )

  7. Great tips Joy, will check out The End of Overeating. I’m reading one at the moment to get some insight for my partner … Weight Loss For Food Lovers: Understanding Our Minds And Why We Sabotage Our Weight Loss by George Blair-West, he’s actually a local psychiatrist turned psychologist 🙂

  8. What an inspiring post. Thanks for sharing your reading and dieting tips and recommendations. I think Joan Dye Gussow’s book “Confessions of an Urban Homesteader” was the big game changer for me–I have always been a sort of gardener but she really inspired me to incorporate local produce plus what I grow into a healthy approach to food. I also really like Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” and she really cemented what Gussow started for me.

    I have tried a few of Pollan’s books but they don’t really do much for me–but I like their message and am glad they are so popular.

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