Dont Eat This Book by Morgan Spurlock: Lightweight But Convincing Expose of the Fast Food Industry
For those of you who've been on another planet for the past year or so, Morgan Spurlock is a filmaker who spent an entire month eating nothing but McDonald's food and filming the decline in his health, expanding waistline and other alarming consequences of this damaging diet.
The result was the gripping documentary, Super Size Me, which earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination.
Don't Eat This Book, although an obvious offshoot of the film, is a worthy project in its own right, with plenty to offer Spurlock fans and newbies alike.
If you've seen the movie, you'll appreciate the behind the scenes perspectives revealed in Don't Eat This Book. But the main thrust of the book should appeal to anyone with an interest in the fast food industry and its role in modern society. Certainly, if you're a parent or teacher who cares what children eat, you should own this book.
The title - Don't Eat This Book - is a spoof on the warning labels emblazoned on virtually every US product.
The warnings are aimed at warding off court cases from the kinds of people people not only stupid enough to put their hands into a whirring grass cutter or to mistake silcone gel sneaker inserts for mints, but also shameless enough to blame the manufacturer for their ensuing, and well-deserved, misfortune.
Spurlock has no time for such frivilous litigation. But he convincingly argues that such cases are very different from the kinds of class actions being pursued against giant tobacco and food companies.
It should be obvious to anyone but the most brain dead that putting your hand into a power mower's blades is bad for you. But until recently it was not so obvious that cigarettes and fast food were bad for you.
For decades tobacco companies hid evidence that their product was a health hazard, cunningly designed to be addictive. At the same time they spent staggering amounts of money on marketing to create the image that cigarettes were "cool".
With the success of the initial tobacco class actions, attitudes began to change.
As Spurlock points out, "Suddenly it was apparent that sticking a cigarette in your mouth was not quite the same thing as sticking those sneaker mints in your mouth. No one spent billlions and billions of dollars in marketing, advertising and promotions telling that guy those sneaker mints would make him cool, hip and sexy. Big Tobacco did exactly that to smokers."
He spends much of the rest of Don't Eat This Book building a similarly damning case against the fast food industry.
The parallels are inescapable. Fast food chains like McDonalds spend billions on convincing kids that eating their unhealthy, fattening products will make you popular and cool.
Their "Super Size" policy, cynically designed to prey on the natural human instinct to get value for money, is roundly criticised, with the author's own experience in filming Super Size Me serving as chief witness for the prosecution.
And if it wasn't hard enough to keep your kids from eating junk food outside of school, there's the growing trend of fast food chains to offer funds to cash-strapped schools in exchange for branding and advertising opportunities. In several cases, fast food chains have even set up shop inside school cafeterias.
Thankfully, all is not doom and gloom. Spurlock heaps praise on schools that provide healthy, local food in their cafeterias. He also provides advice and a list of resources for parents and teachers seeking to turn the tide in their own communities.
This, combined with Spurlock's casual, humorous writing style make for a quick, breezy and ultimately optimistic read. Its accessibility makes Don't Eat This Book an ideal educational tool, especially when combined with Spurlock's Super Size Me documentary.
If you prefer a more measured, investigative style of journalism, Don't Eat This Book may be a little lightweight for your liking - Eric Schlosser's brilliant Fast Food Nation will probably be more to your taste.
I'll end with one word of caution. If you do print out this review, please don't eat it. It may give you indigestion and I can't afford the lawsuit!
For more reviews of the best obesity books, visit www.obesitycures.com/obesity-books.html">http://www.obesitycures.com/obesity-books.html
Alan Cooper is a journalist with 20 year's experience and the publisher of www.ObesityCures.com">ObesityCures.com, a site with the ambitious aim of being a "one-stop-shop" for impartial information on obesity and weight loss solutions - including fad diets, prescription weightloss pills and natural weightloss aids.
Anna Burns won the 2018 Man Booker Prize for her third novel, Milkman. Burns, 56, is the first writer from Northern Ireland to win the Booker. She accepted the prize tonight at a lavish ceremony in London.
Burns's dark, experimental novel is about a bookish 18-year-old girl caught up in the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Originally set to be published in the United States next fall, Graywolf Press announced tonight that Milkman will be released on Dec. 11.
The New Academy Prize in Literature 2018 has been awarded to Guadeloupean author Maryse Condé. She is the author of about 20 novels, including I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem; Tales from the Heart: True Stories from My Childhood; Windward Heights; Victoire: My Mother's Mother; and Who Slashed Celanire's Throat?
The New Academy Prize in Literature was created earlier this year by more than 100 Swedish writers, actors, journalists and other cultural figures in response to the Swedish Academy's decision not to award a 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature in the wake of a highly-publicized scandal. The New Academy will be dissolved in December.
A spate of global phishing scams attempting to access agencies' and publishers' manuscripts and other sensitive information prompted Penguin Random House North America to issue an urgent warning to all staff.
The PRH email was circulated with the subject line "Important: New Phishing Alert" and reads: "We have recently seen an increase in attempts to steal our manuscripts. This has occurred in multiple locations across the globe. The individuals attempting to access these manuscripts have a sophisticated understanding of our business. We need to protect ourselves from these threats."
The Bookseller understands PRH UK has been similarly targeted, with fraudsters posing as literary agents and foreign-rights staff from seemingly legitimate email addresses. Other houses have also been affected. Pan Macmillan revealed it had also been targeted by scammers trying to access manuscripts, and has issued an internal briefing to staff. The head of another global publisher said that while there have long been scams targeting confidential information such as contracts, seeking manuscripts is a new development.
The deadline is approaching to cast votes for the USA's best-loved novel. To date, more than 3.8 million votes have been cast.
Organizers of The Great American Read have released a Top 10 list of the leading candidates. The winning book will be revealed in the "Grand Finale" episode on October 23 on PBS stations nationwide.
Viewers can vote for their favorite titles each day through October 18 via Facebook, Twitter, text and phone. Click the link below for full details.
The Top Ten are:
Chronicles of Narnia series
Gone with the Wind
Harry Potter series
Lord of the Rings series
Pride and Prejudice
To Kill a Mockingbird
The number of self-published books topped the 1 million mark for the first time in 2017, according to Bowker's annual report on the number of ISBNs that were issued to self-published authors. The total number of ISBNs issued last year rose 28% over 2016, to 1,009,188.
It is important to note that these figures represent book editions not book titles - for example, a book that is published in three different formats (say hardcover, paperback and audio), would count for three ISBNs.
The gain was due entirely to the increase in the number of print ISBNs issued by Bowker last year: 879,587, an increase of 38% over 2016. The number of ISBNs issued for e-books released by self-published authors fell 13% from 2016, to 129,601.
While Bowker noted that the 2017 decline is the third consecutive year the number of ISBNs issued for e-books fell, the drop is more likely due to authors moving to Amazon's KDP self-publishing platform than an overall decline in the number e-books that were self-published last year. Because KDP uses Amazon's own ASIN identifiers rather than the industry standard ISBNs, KDP's titles do not appear in the Bowker data. Amazon does not disclose the number of KDP titles that it releases annually.
The finalists for the National Book Award are in, and this year, there's more of them than ever before.
For 2018, the National Book Foundation has added a new category for translated literature, in what seems to be an attempt to push back against the idea that Americans don't read books from other countries. It doesn't spotlight only unfamiliar names, though: The finalists in this category include Trick, translated by Namesake author Jhumpa Lahiri, who has written extensively about her decision to begin reading and writing in Italian after years of being celebrated for her beautiful English sentences.
Handbags, briefcases and ties can be checked out for up to three weeks at a time at the Riverside branch of the New York Public Library, as part of a pilot program dreamed up by Michelle Lee, a young adult librarian...
Johns Hopkins University just announced that the school will name a new research building after Henrietta Lacks, the "mother of modern medicine" whose cancer cells revolutionized medical research--and whose story came to the public's attention through Rebecca Skloot's 2010 nonfiction work, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
"Through her life and her immortal cells, Henrietta Lacks made an immeasurable impact on science and medicine that has touched countless lives around the world," Johns Hopkins President Ronald Daniels said during the university's 9th annual Henrietta Lacks Memorial Lecture on Saturday.
Amazon's minimum-wage increase for its hourly workers comes with a trade-off: no more monthly bonuses and stock awards.
Amazon confirmed in an email to CNBC that the company is getting rid of incentive pay and stock option awards as it increases the minimum wage to $15 per hour. The company, however, stressed that the wage increase "more than compensates" for the loss in other benefits.
Among the 25 winners of the 2018 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowships (widely referred to as the "genius grants," which come with a no-strings-attached award of $625,000) are at least six people who are writers or story-tellers:
- Natalie Diaz, 40, a poet who teaches at Arizona State University.
- John Keene, 53, a writer in the Department of African American and African Studies at Rutgers University.
- Kelly Link, 49, a fiction writer in Northampton, Mass.
- Dominique Morisseau, 40, a playwright at Signature Theatre in New York City.
- Ken Ward Jr., 50, an investigative journalist with the Charleston Gazette-Mail.M
- Raj Jayadev, 43, a community organizer and co-founder of Silicon Valley De-Bug, a story-telling, community organizing, and advocacy organization.