Welcome back to Off the Shelf, a monthly tasting menu of everything literary the Winning Edits team has been devouring!
In this column, I take you on a literary–culinary tour of the Winning Edits team’s bookshelves.
This month: a year of yes, three years of adventure, an approach to vibrant health that’s just for women, and a searing exposé of the structural inequities of one of America’s largest cities.
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Year of Yes
Senior Web Producer Mindy Peters recently tore through Shonda Rhimes’ 2016 bestseller Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person. She enjoyed it so much, in fact, that she “stayed up until 2 a.m. the first night” reading it. “Not bad for an impulse buy.”
Why did she love it so? Says Mindy, because this account of Rhimes’ yearlong personal growth experiment was an exercise in exquisite restraint. Although the experiment worked, Mindy appreciated the fact that Year of Yes “is not a self-help book. Rhimes doesn’t tell us we all need to try her experiment. She doesn’t give us a to-do list—she just shares her experience.”
“It was stunningly refreshing to read a self-improvement story without the preaching.”
WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source, by functional nutritionist Alisa Vitti, is one “for the ladies,” says Editorial Director Janna Maron.
“It’s all about female health and balancing hormones through diet and lifestyle.”
According to Janna, the protocol in this book has helped many women avoid hormone therapy and naturally manage more serious conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). She raves that the plan outlined in WomanCode is “a revolutionary approach to health care, one that is focused on empowering women to take charge of decisions based on what their bodies need.”
The cornerstone of this approach is something Vitti calls “cycle syncing.” “That’s right,” says Janna. “Getting in sync with the monthly period. If it sounds just crazy enough to pique your curiosity, then give it a read.”
“Chicago’s Awful Divide”
Managing Editor Karen Beattie just got finished reading “Chicago’s Awful Divide,” a March 28 essay by Alana Semuels in the Atlantic. Says Karen, “I’ve lived in Chicago for many years and I’m still trying to understand the complicated issues that divide the haves from the have-nots in our very divided city.”
This article was an eye-opener for her as part of that quest.
“I live in a middle-class neighborhood, but I drive through poor and struggling parts of the city when I take my daughter to school. I also have friends who live in some of those neighborhoods. So every day I see the dividing lines very clearly. It’s so easy to judge something or someone from afar, but when you understand the complex issues of systematic injustice, and hear the firsthand stories of people who are stuck in these neighborhoods, you start understanding how the term ‘pull yourself up from your bootstraps’ is nearly impossible when there are so many forces working against you.”
Sailing Alone Around the World
“Anyone who enjoys adventure—true adventure undiluted and authentic—will eat Sailing Alone Around the World right up.”
So says Production Editor David Grabowski, referring to the 1900 autobiographical adventure memoir by Joshua Slocum that details the author’s solo circumnavigation of the globe (the world’s first!) in a thirty-seven-foot sloop called the Spray.
Luckily for us, according to David, Slocum “was as good a writer as a sailor, despite only having a third-grade education. The narrative is entertaining, thrilling, romantic, and detailed. Slocum writes in a matter-of-fact manner that understates the quiet danger that is inherent to what he’s doing.”
“In the end you feel that you’ve accompanied this humble man through his voyages (from the comfort of your armchair) through the Strait of Gibraltar, the southern cape of Africa, and back home again.”
And what eventually became of this daring wanderer? As David tells it, Slocum “sailed away in 1909 and was never seen again. It’s all about what you leave behind, I guess.”