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My Book Reading

Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly  (completed)

Lou Reed: A Life by Anthony DeCurtis

   (in progress)

Killing Floor by Lee Child   (completed)

   (1997, Reacher's first appearance)

Sticky Fingers - The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan


The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone (Dey St. Books, just completed, full review just published)

Double Agent Celery: MI5's Crooked Hero by Carolinda Witt (pen-and-sword books)

The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum (1980, the book that started the franchise, just completerd)

The Take by Christopher Reich (Mulholland Books)

Podcast Favorites

Kara Swisher's Recode Decode this week is an interesting conversation with Tina Brown. Using the publication of her new Vanity Fair Diaries as a starting point, they examine Brown's publishing career, notably her wonderful runs with Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. Then they dive into the internet age, how it's changing the publishing world, Brown's start-up of The Daily Beast, followed by venting about Facebook today. Swisher puts together the best intervierw/talk with Brown I've heard since her book was published. Brown was consistently creating some of the best magazines in the world, at a time when that mattered.

Rich Roll's podcast is one I've discovered recently, and I'm working to catch up. Here are two don't-miss episodes:

Fogel is the star of, the producer of, the man behind Icarus. If you've not watched this documentary, exclusively streaming on Netflix, get to it! Of all the interviews I've read and heard with Fogel, Roll brings out the most interesting perspective. It's a fabulous listening experience.


Lance Armstrong needs no introduction. I don't care whether you admire or dislike him, his wealth of experience and new perspective on many matters is worth listening to. Me, I think he's one of the finest athletes ever.


What's the Glycemic Index of a Sweet Tart?

Daily I attempt to teach clients and gym members about managing their blood sugar levels, in part by consuming low-glycemic-index rated foods. The average person knows next-to-nothing about nutrition, and needs a ground-up education in the glycemic index. For those looking for a handy paperback book to provide some answers, perhaps people lacking a smart-phone in their lives, help is here in the form of The Low GI Shopper’s Guide to GI Values: 2011 by Dr. Jennie Brand-Miller and Kaye Foster-Powell.

These are the authors of The New Glucose Revolution, a best-selling nutrition book. I wish each of the 3.5 million people with a copy in their home would read the damn thing and follow their advice! There’d by many fewer obese and damaged people. Anyways, this book of easy-to-reference tables and lists is accompanied by sensible advice about eating in general, gluten-free diets, grocery shopping and even eating out. Nicely done. (DaCapo Press $7.95)


Chemicals in the World, in Our Bodies?

For a long time I’ve been wondering what changes in our food supply are taking place due to environmental developments (I assume it’s quite negative). Anyone who doesn’t think the ever-present soaking of farm fields with chemicals and pesticides is lessening the quality of their food has their head stuck in the ground.

Recently I’ve been more and more convinced the long-term effects of these chemicals are affecting the health of people, how our bodily processes function, and possibly awaking other health issues inside us. When I'm rinsing my broccoli under the cold water tap, what am I truly accomplishing? McKay Jenkins feels the same way about all these chemicals sprayed on food and the earth (the food for the animals we eat, as well, don't forget), and does a hell of a good job broadcasting the results of his investigations into how these chemicals are affecting us on a daily basis. What’s Gotten Into Us: Staying Healthy in a Toxic World confirmed many of my worst suspicions, and scares the hell outta me. 

Jenkins thought he was doing it all right in his life; he was healthy, exercised regularly, grew organic vegetables. When an annual check-up revealed a tumor the size of an orange in his abdomen, he began to ask tough questions about why this could happen, and what could or should he have been doing about it ahead of time. He wonders if as a society we are now content to surround ourselves and our families with dangerous toxins, everywhere, and not give it serious thought.

I’m not about to give up, and neither is Jenkins. He provides answers, creates awareness, and with this book is trying to raise the roof and get people’s attention. We should be seeing reports about these toxins in our everyday world on CNN, rather than “news reports” devoted to the babble coming from Donald Trump’s mouth.

Random House, $26


a A Passion For Food and Wellness

Passion is a word I throw around a great deal, whether in my writing, or in daily life. The word is important to me, sure, but more so what it embodies. I’ve been fortune to make my living most of my life following my passions, and I search for it in others. 

Shana Lee Conradt lives her passions. Sure, she’s a mother, a wife, a business-person, a gym owner, a teacher. That’s pretty wonderful on it’s own, isn’t it? But setting her apart is her passion for fitness, for nutrition, for people and life.  

I don’t know her well, but she’s a member of the gym I work at, and I’ve never seen her without a smile (other than the final reps of hard sets!). Clearly Shana enjoys her life, and inspires others by example and instruction in the gym. Now she’s taken a big new step with a book, Getting Fit With Food. Of course, she self-published this project, and is doing the tough work herself of publicizing, selling and distributing. 

Our world is littered with well-meaning authors and guides into the worlds of wellness and fitness, but Shana is different. She’s realistic, her passion is consistent (there’s that word again), and she knows how to effectively reach people and help them change. Getting Fit With Food features stunning photography, helping get across both the beauty of natural food, and her message that this is what you should be putting into your body.  

Shana talks about how she isn’t really a cook, but didn’t want to eat boring, healthy food. So she taught herself how to cook, and passes along to others that they can eat in a way that enhances their health without sacrificing taste and interest in food. Oh, can I relate to this. Most people who know me and my wife have heard us relate that we eat the same dozen foods over and over; neither of us enjoy cooking and don’t have the time for much of it anyways. So several times daily we eat meat, vegetables, a little fruit, very little grain, a good amount of healthy fat. The same foods, over and over (our taste buds awaken at night to red wine!). 

Reading some of the 101 recipes in Shana’s book, salivating over the photographs, I’m inspired to try some of them. My plan is to prepare one of these recipes weekly as a dinner for Anne and myself. Find Getting Fit With Food on Facebook to keep up with Shana's appearances, presentations and plans, then head to and order the book ($19.99). I challenge you to spend $20 in a better manner, enhancing your health and sending your hard-earned money directly to the author. You cannot do better. "Healthy food tastes great," Shana says. Try any of these recipes and you’ll know.


New Spy/Mystery/Detective Novels You Should Read

Read these books. They are among the best-written novels of recent vintage; clever, imaginative, and compelling. Characters on these pages (or in them if you’re reading on an iPad or Kindle) come alive, as the cliche goes. Well, the cliche exists because it’s accurate. I’m telling you with certainty you’ll be happy, not just satisfied, but excited to be reading these novels.

The Five by Robert McCammon   (contemporary fiction combining a bit of the supernatural with rock music, Iraq war veterans and passionate writing)  Subterranean Press

The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming  (why is Cumming one of the best spycraft authors alive? He tried to become a spy for the British Secret Intelligence Service; he knows the business. Trinity Six is historical fiction with a bent premise, adding a sixth man to the legendary Russian spy ring of the 1930s) St. Martin’s Press  

 So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman  (First novel, angry and intense writing, examining violence against women and hard life in rural America. This book will rock your soul)  Simon & Schuster

The Complaints by Ian Rankin  

Rankin is one of the finest writers of detective fiction of the last two decades. Many of his books feature the same primary character, John Rebus. This guy was fascinating, a cranky man readers came to feel we knew. It’s the rare author who would abandon a successful formula, leave the guy and his world behind, and begin anew. But Ian Rankin is clearly unafraid to break the rules (as are many of his protagonists), and with The Complaints he’s jump-started a new main man, Malcolm Fox (and apparently ended the run of Rebus).

It doesn’t take long for Fox to crawl inside the mind of the reader, to live, to become important, to carry the book. I’m not saying you’ll forget about John Rebus, but you may.  I guarantee you’ll remember Malcolm Fox and anxiously await Rankin’s next book. Without telling you a thing about this novel’s plot and story, I’m trusting you’ll follow-up and read The Complaints

$24.99, Little Brown


Zeitgeist & Glamour: Photography of the ‘60s and ‘70s


 Edited by Nicola Erni, Petra Giloy-Hirtz, Ira Stehmann

The glamorous 1960s and ‘70s will live forever in imaginations, in Hollywood, in popular culture. Every time Jagger or Capote or Warhol went anywhere, cameras seemed to materialize, chronicling their every dance, drink and move. Whether Studio 54, swinging London, and everywhere in-between, the celebrity photograph came into it’s own.

Containing nearly 500 photographs, only 21 of which are in color, Zeitgeist & Glamour: Photography of the '60s and '70s is riveting. Legendary artists with the camera, names such as Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Warhol, fill the 368 pages. More than a spectacular chronicle of the era’s cultural scene, this is 1960s and ‘70s celebrity come alive. Society, music, fashion and art were changing rapidly; happily much of it took place before cameras.

$65, Prestel USA oversize hardcover (Random House)