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The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food & Flavor by Mark Schatzker  

Damn, the truth hurts. At least it should pain the big food conglomerates.

Dorito Effect author Schatzker vividly blows the lid off the modern processed food industry, showing how the use of flavor has changed how people eat, what they consume, and certainly how much they jam into their bodies! Not the real flavor of foods (because perhaps over-consumption and over-buying wouldn’t be as common). What Dorito Effect clearly makes evident is the pervasive use of artificial flavoring designed to compel buying and eating habits to spiral out of control, all in the name of profit and production. Health isn’t part of the big food companies’ worries. They do not care.

Just what is flavor and why is it so important to people? A good case has long been made that “modern” production, harvesting and processing means have altered food quality, nutrients, texture and taste. Forever. But science, as easily explained in The Dorito Effect, is manipulating our desire and cravings for food and non-foods. This isn’t so much about tampering with food as it is manipulating the brains and habits of people 

The Dorito Effect is an important call to everyone interested in their health and the quality of food. Schatzker has written an easy-to-digest expose about the food industry, about “what happens when food gets blander and flavor technology gets better.”

Simon & Schuster, $27 hardcover

#doritoeffect, @markschatzker, @simonschuster


The Badass Body Diet - The Breakthrough Diet and Workout for a Tight Booty, Sexy Abs, and Lean Legs by Christmas Abbott  

Most of what the surprisingly dense Badass Body Diet covers is touted in the title. It’s all there. Abbott is known for her fit, athletic body, nutritional common sense, and a willingness to explore her adventurous side (she worked briefly in a NASCAR pit crew).

Using a “brick” system similar to the blocks known to Zone diet users, Abbott sets some high goals with Badass Body Diet. She’s right out there in front of readers, stating she’ll help you dramatically change your body type.

Press releases promise this book “teaches her fans how to spot reduce excess fat with targeted meal plans.” Her p.r. goes on to suggest recipes in the book will “make cellulite a distant memory.” If only it were so simple. 

I’ve trained all kinds of people for years, in commercial gyms, a true cross-section of the American populace, and have yet to see specific cellulite-banishing diets or exercises make a difference in the condition. Nothing in Badass Body Diet has me convinced the answers are within these covers.

But I’m not bashing Christmas Abbott nor Badass Body Diet. I know good publicity and marketing when I read it. No harm. Digging into the book a bit, I found sensible meal plans and a vast amount of sound nutritional advice. Sift through Abbott setting herself apart with terms and meal plans for “Minimalists,” “Modifiers,” “Maintainers”, and “Gainers”, and you’ll find smart information you may find useful, or even great. On the printed page, Abbott is approachable and smart.

However, I don’t find her book notable or wildly compelling. File it on the shelf next to many other reliable, “pretty good” diet and exercise books. In my opinion, you’ll run across it in a year and wonder if you should leaf through the pages again, or just slide it back into the bookcase.

William Morrow, $27.99

@christmasabbott, @WmMorrowBooks, #christmasabbott #badassbodydiet


Six Great Music Books - Timeless Passion


On my desk is an impressive stack of recently published books. This half dozen volumes brought me almost as much excitement as the music they generated in my head.  Checking out the covers, alone, is almost like spinning the vinyl on a turntable. After all these decades of reading books about music, I’m so happy there remain authors able to generate the excitement I got from these.

Robert Gordon, accomplished writer and veteran Memphis music guy, brings the heat with Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion. This is classic, gritty music journalism at it’s best. The Stax Records Story is much more than the up-and-down tale of a record label. This is soul music itself, 1960s and ‘70s America, brought to life on the printed page. You’ll sweat, feel the heat, and find yourself appreciating fine writing as much as the music Gordon tells about. Respect Yourself goes onto the shelf with Guralnick.


Amanda Petrusich goes deep into the mind-set, the very world, of 78 rpm collectors. Recorded music enthusiasts go to great lengths for their passions, they’ll often spend their money on vinyl rather than clothing or food or their home. For better or worse, Petrusich makes her way into their lives, gains trust, and goes fully inside. I find Do Not Sell At Any Price absolutely riveting. I’m helped by having lived in that world, and know some of the characters profiled in these pages. If you enjoy people with passion, you’ll appreciate this book and Petrusich’s ability to share with us the feel, the lives, of these collectors.

@amandapetrusich  @ScribnerBooks

If I need to introduce Greil Marcus to you, it’s time to stop reading and Google the man. Find a copy of Mystery Train - begin there. Read it. Now return to today, buy a copy of The History of Rock’N’Roll in Ten Songs, and read slowly. Slow down. Appreciate what Marcus is delivering with this book, how much thought and care he’s put into this. Do you even think an argument about distilling rock’n’roll music into ten songs would ever end, much less result in this thoughtful masterpiece of a book? Like or dislike his choices, I find myself savoring his thought processes and sublime writing. A masterpiece.

@GreilMarcusNET  @yalepress


Punk USA is an oral history of one of the influential punk record labels. Lookout Records spawned Green Day, the Donnas, Weasel, and a dozen other bands you’ll remember on some level, if you were paying attention in the late ‘80s and ‘90s. What’s special about Kevin Prested’s book? He gets it, the spirit and attitude and rhythm of Lookout Records jumps off the pages. If you’ve fond memories of fanzines, DIY publishing and record sleeves, posters and concert flyers - you’ll find tugs at your heart in Punk USA. Passion is an understated word for the punk world Lookout Records inhabited.



Stealing All Transmissions is a cool story. The United States, at least the intelligent music scene part of this country, fell hard for the Clash in the late 1970s. This book reflects the impassioned work and lives of many people in the field then, notable free-form radio, striving to effect change and take back control of the music industry from the corporate suits. A brief, impassioned history of the revolution taking place in music in the ‘70s, revolving around the Clash and their role leading the charge, Stealing All Transmissions is on-point and true to the spirit and the music. 

The Clash put on a fall 1979 show in New York City that may have been the high-water mark of their career. Stealing All Transmissions brings that seminal evening to life, as it does the heartbeat of the band, their fans and the times. The old adage is that a great music book causes your toes to tap. Author Randal Doane brings sweat to my head with his words. As Hemingway said, this is the “true gen.”

#theclash  @PMPressOrg

The Stones are kicking off another tour of the States. Now, in 2015. I’m excited, though I don’t anticipate spending the kind of money necessary for tickets. How cool is it, that all these decades into their lives and careers, the Rolling Stones continue to generate a frenzy of excitement as another series of concert begin? Ain’t It Time We Said Goodbye: The Rolling Stones on the Road to Exile by Robert Greenfield puts it all into context.

In 1971 the Stones set off on a brief circuit of shows in England, the home country they were soon to leave as tax exiles. Greenfield, author of other Stones books and long a confidant of the band, was with them during this pivotal time. Keep in mind, this is immediately pre-Exile On Main Street-era Stones.

Herion is a big deal. Tension between Jagger and Richards is growing. Their music is amazing, but whether the band would even hang together and record again was in doubt. Greenfield was right in the middle, nothing was hidden from him, and once again he brings the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world to life, warts and all.

#RollingStones  #DaCapoPress





Great Writers - Disappointing Books

Dead Wake by Erik Larson

 The legendary passenger liner Lusitania’s final voyage undergoes the mighty detailed scrutiny of Erik Larson in Dead Wake. As a fan of his earlier work, someone happy to immerse myself in the rich detail and atmosphere he creates with the written word, I found myself disappointed, sometimes bored, with Dead Wake. 

Perhaps it’s because I knew how the book must end. I’m not certain, but I was bored halfway through, but completed reading because I felt it was my duty, some kind of “I like this writer and should slog through” guilt. 

Dead Wake is a best-seller. Larson is a wonderful writer.  I’ll eagerly read his next work, but this one doesn’t do it for me.

@CrownPublishing  #eriklarson  #deadwake


The Martini Shot by George Pelecanos

George Pelecanos is one of my favorite contemporary, tough-guy, crime novelists. HIs writing for television (The Wire, for example), is stellar. He’s many novels to his name, and I’ve enjoyed each I’ve read. I’m disappointed in The Martini Shot; a couple of the short stories, and the longer novella contained in here, don’t hold up for me. They are well written and entertaining, but somehow they don’t measure up to my inner-Pelecanos standard. I found myself flipping through the pages, waiting for the book to end so I would feel good about beginning another.

I’ll wait for the passion, energy and creative personalities I enjoy and expect from Pelecanos the master, in his next project.

@littlebrown  #georgepelecanos   #martinishot


The Food Babe Way by Vani Hari  

Well-known as a leading food activist, master of social media, and outspoken critic of the poisoning of our food supply, Hari has written a wonderfully accessible and truly useful book, an instant classic, in The Food Babe Way.

Some “important” books, wrestling with hot topics, remain unread on bookshelves. I own a few. The Food Baby Way won’t be one of them. This book is destined to be read cover to cover. From the first page, I found myself drawn to Hari’s story, wrapped in her passion for healthy, non-toxic foods. Then she takes her crusade a big step further with activism. This is who she is.

There is no need for me to recount for you tales of meeting-room bravery on her part, confronting corporate big-shots who famously don’t care.  Vani Hari effectively uses YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pressure, whips up the Food Babe Army, and suddenly the profiteers care!

The Food Babe has brought about truly successful change in the health of the American food supply, and hopefully the American people. Please read her posts and essays on her website, Facebook page, and other social media outlets. Sign up for her email updates. This is important, exciting, relevant work.

If this isn’t enough for you, accept as reality everything encompassed by the subtitle of The Food Babe Way:  “Break Free from the Hidden Toxins in Your Food and Lose Weight, Look Years Younger, and Get Healthy in Just 21 Days!”

The Food Babe Way is a book you’ll read, get excited about, then buy several more copies to give to friends and family as gifts!

@thefoodbabe  #thefoodbabe   @littlebrown   @CathyGruhn  #foodbabeway