The Glucose Goddess Method: Your Four-Week Guide to Cutting Cravings, Getting Your Energy Back, and Feeling Amazing by Jessie Inchauspe (New River £22, 288pp)
The Glucose Goddess Method: Your Four-Week Guide to Cutting Cravings, Getting Your Energy Back, and Feeling Amazing
by Jessie Inchauspe (New River £22, 288pp)
Well, who wouldn’t want to feel amazing? Inchauspe is a French biochemist and author, and she certainly does look amazing. We all need blood sugar, but we need to manage it.
The folks who make sweets weren’t born yesterday, so managing our sugar is not as easy as it sounds. The core of this book is a four week, step-by-step plan to steady our blood sugar.
Inchauspe recommends a tablespoon of cider vinegar every day (for its blood-sugar levelling qualities) — any way you choose, but easiest stirred into a glass of water.
Then it should be: a savoury breakfast never a sweet one; a bowl of veggies before your main meal of the day, and make sure you move, for example by taking a ten-minute walk, afterwards. As an added bonus, there are more than 100 delicious looking recipes. Now where’s my cider vinegar?
Killing Thatcher by Rory Carroll (Mudlark £25, 416pp)
by Rory Carroll (Mudlark £25, 416pp)
Spoiler alert: the title’s wrong . . . the IRA never did kill Thatcher. But if you didn’t know that, this compelling book by the Guardian’s hugely respected Ireland correspondent might not be for you.
The IRA bomb, on a delayed timer, exploded in the middle of the night on October 12, 1984, at the Grand Hotel in Brighton. It was the last day of the Tory party conference. Rooms were destroyed, dozens of people injured and five killed.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was in her lounge when the explosion ripped through the hotel. Had she been just a few feet in another direction, she would have been cut to ribbons. As it was, she was unhurt. It was the most daring conspiracy since the Gunpowder Plot, and Carroll’s telling of it reads like a thriller: true crime is very big business these days, and you won’t find anything more gripping than this.
Outlive: the Science and Art of Longevity by Dr Peter Attia with Bill Gifford (Vermilion £22, 496pp)
Outlive: the Science and Art of Longevity
by Dr Peter Attia with Bill Gifford (Vermilion £22, 496pp)
There’s no shortage of books these days encouraging us to live better, healthier and longer lives. And you will certainly need a long life for this humongous tome.
Peter Attia, a leading specialist in medicine and longevity, sets up this look at human health with the story of the hapless mythical Greek Tithonus, whose lover, the goddess Eos, asked Zeus to give him eternal life.
To his joy, his wish was granted but because Eos forgot to ask for eternal youth as well, his body continued to decay. Big problem.
What Dr Attia wants us to do is live a long, meaningful and fulfilling life based on physical, emotional and spiritual health. Ominously, it turns out that the blood and cholesterol tests we get from an annual health check may be ‘normal’, but we might still be unhealthy — because average is not the same as optimal. Above all, exercise is hugely beneficial: just a little bit of daily activity is better than nothing.
Going from zero exercise to just 90 minutes a week can reduce your risk of dying prematurely from all causes by 14 per cent. And as the author says — it’s very hard to find a drug that can do that. The book comes with a belting endorsement from actor Hugh Jackman — and he looks pretty good.
Selling Hitler: the Story of the Hitler Diaries by Robert Harris (Penguin £10.99, 342pp)
Selling Hitler: the Story of the Hitler Diaries
by Robert Harris (Penguin £10.99, 342pp)
Still as gripping as ever, even four decades after it was first published, this new edition, to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the ‘Diaries’, also comes with a cleverly designed new cover suggesting an age-old forgery. Harris, one of Britain’s most successful novelists, is also a dab hand at non-fiction.
In April 1983, in a bank vault in Switzerland, the German magazine Stern offers to sell more than 50 volumes of Hitler’s secret diaries.
The price is £2.3 million. In Britain, the bidder was Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times. Behind the fraud are Gerd Heidemann a German journalist obsessed with collecting Nazi memorabilia (and not in a good way) and Konrad Kujau, a small-time forger of luncheon vouchers looking to, er, expand.
In the supporting cast are a collection of media magnates, editors, journalists, academics and experts — all unified by greed and gullibility, which blinded them to the obvious implausibilities of the banal collection. Specimens of Hitler’s handwriting were authenticated because they were compared to other examples of the forger’s work.
Hilarious and barely credible, it is still one of the best books you will ever read about British journalism.
I’m Not As Well As I Thought I Was by Ruby Wax (Viking £18.99, 224pp)
I’m Not As Well As I Thought I Was
by Ruby Wax (Viking £18.99, 224pp)
She may be famously depressive, but Ruby can write about depression without ever being depressing. Far from it: this is a fabulously entertaining read, despite encompassing a nervous breakdown, arduous inpatient treatment at a mental hospital and her husband’s prostate cancer.
Ruby is one of the funniest women around and fearsomely honest. She started this book as an account of travelling the world; it ended up as something very different.
There are some scarringly frank verbatim accounts of sessions with her shrink, but also wildly funny comic setpieces: like the time when, working part-time on the door at a strip club, she persuaded the bored strippers to put on a performance of Chekhov. The punters, however, were not impressed. She also has fascinating memories of the stars she has interviewed from OJ Simpson to Carrie Fisher.
A delightful book, endearingly chaotic and deeply moving, too: it is like spending a wild weekend with one of the funniest, smartest and most interesting people you will ever meet.
Ultra-Processed People: Why Do We All Eat Stuff That Isn’t Food . . . and Why Can’t We Stop? by Chris van Tulleken (Cornerstone £22, 384pp)
Ultra-Processed People: Why Do We All Eat Stuff That Isn’t Food . . . and Why Can’t We Stop?
by Chris van Tulleken (Cornerstone £22, 384pp)
Not a book to make you feel happy about your three meals a day.
Over the past 100-odd years we have entered a new age of eating, where most of our calories come from an entirely new set of substances — all skilfully engineered to drive excess consumption, with ultra-processed food (UPF) making up 60 per cent of the average diet in this country and in the U.S.
They are now the leading cause of early death around the world, though quite how that fact is calculated is slightly beyond me. So what is UPF?
There’s a long scientific definition, but what it boils down to is this: if it’s wrapped in plastic and has at least one ingredient that you wouldn’t find in your kitchen, it’s UPF. It’s what an older generation would have called ‘junk food’.
Van Tulleken, a garlanded doctor, scientist and journalist, tells the story with great wit, and no little anger, focusing on the rapid increase in obesity since the 1980s, largely due to UPF.
The multinational food corporations know what they’re doing, and they aim to make sure you will want (and buy) more. Very disturbing . . . and make sure you check your kitchen cabinets.
Giles and Mary: Country Life — a Story of Peaks and Troughs by Giles Wood and Mary Killen (Ebury Spotlight £17.99, 256pp)
Giles and Mary: Country Life — a Story of Peaks and Troughs
by Giles Wood and Mary Killen (Ebury Spotlight £17.99, 256pp)
Giles Wood and Mary Killen are the ultra-posh couple from Channel 4’s Gogglebox, who have seemingly been delighting fans of the show since 2015 as they burble away on television to each other about television.
Now they have parlayed this fame into this, their second book (their first was about marriage).
Giles is an artist and gardener, while Mary is a journalist: the Spectator’s agony aunt no less. They moved into their cottage, near Marlborough in Wiltshire, some 30 years ago, after buying it from one of Mary’s chums on Tatler magazine — and extremely cosy the place looks, too.
This book feels like sitting in an agreeable, upscale country pub, with a G&T, eavesdropping on the likeable-looking couple at the next table, while they bang on about the ups and downs of country life: dogs and vets, what the Common Agricultural Policy did to the countryside (not much good), septic tanks, vicars, edible flowers, pub closures and planning horrors. And the rest.
And, as Giles remarks of his friends in South London, if you are one of those people who has to spend most of your life in a traffic jam moving at the pace of a horse and cart, there’s plenty in this book to muse on.
Built to Move by Kelly and Juliet Starrett (Orion £18.99, 336pp)
Built to Move
by Kelly and Juliet Starrett (Orion £18.99, 336pp)
We take it for granted that our bodies will just keep on going in (reasonably) good condition. But would you buy a Maserati and leave it sitting out in all weathers for months on end and then expect it to carry on working properly? The Starretts introduce us to a series of physical work-outs to counteract the effects of our sedentary, technology-dependent way of living.
The most ferocious — and most vital — challenge is the Sit-and-Rise Test. You cross one foot in front of the other and sit down on the floor cross legged. Then rise up with your arms outstretched.
This test measures our wellbeing and flexibility. Though most of us will find it staggeringly hard. Oh well, keep at it. It’s got to be good for us.
Colditz, Prisoners of the Castle by Ben Macintyre (Penguin, £10.99, 384pp)
Colditz, Prisoners of the Castle
by Ben Macintyre (Penguin, £10.99, 384pp)
The latest page-turner from the seemingly inexhaustible keyboard of Macintyre, one of the most captivating of all World War II historians, doesn’t disappoint.
Colditz was the forbidding Gothic castle in the heart of Nazi Germany, used to house the most troublesome captives of the Third Reich, Allied prisoners of war who the Germans reckoned were always going to try to escape. Well, surprise surprise, that’s exactly what they did.
Compulsively readable, and told in Macintyre’s inimitable wry, humorous prose, this is a remarkable tale of rip-roaring derring-do, courage and extraordinary resourcefulness. With knotted sheets, secret tunnels and elaborate disguises, there were more attempted escapes from Colditz than any other camp.
But this immaculately-researched book also reveals a close-knit world sealed behind the prison’s massive walls, a place which included communists and women, aesthetes and philistines, spies, poets and traitors.
Half the population of the castle were German, and Macintyre paints a remarkable portrait of this crew, too — many cultured and humane and far removed from the brutal Nazi stereotype.
Some well-known figures take a knock to their reputation: Douglas Bader, the legless air ace, for example, was not wholly likeable. He was, says Macintyre, a total hero and at times a ‘complete bastard’. A superb book.