In the spirit of school re-opening, I’d like to tell you about a few new books I’ve read.  The first are for your health, the last is for fun (which is also for your health!).

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Mental Health for the Whole Child: Moving young clients from disease & disorder to balance & wellness by Scott Shannon, MD is a brilliant text written for clinicians.  That being said, it’s very readable and would be a fantastic book for parents and family of children with mental health and behavioral issues.  The text starts with a discussion of the nature of health and healing, and the concept of self-completion.  There is a section on the seven building blocks of wholeness and the barriers to achieving wholeness in the lives of some children.  There is a section on the art of assessment, as well as appropriate use of interventions (and the dangers of using poorly studied interventions).  The book concludes with chapters on specific diseases and disorders, such as ADHD, depression, OCD and autism.  Overall, the book is concise, approachable and very atypical as psychiatry texts go.  It would be a great read for those who care for children, either professionally or personally.

Scott is a dear friend of mine and one of the most big-hearted, logical and sane psychiatrists I know.  He is a past President of the ABIHM, an assistant clinical professor at the Univ of Colorado, and an internationally known lecturer.  His medical practice is the Wholeness Center in Fort Collins, CO, the largest and most comprehensive integrative mental health clinic in the country.

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The next book started as a friend’s son’s bar mitzvah project.  Daniel Friedland, MD and Zach Friedland recently completed The Big Decision:  a story and framework to inspire and empower better life decisions.  The book starts with Zach’s fictional piece of a middle school football player who is faced with the dilemma of starring in the season playoff finals or being present as best man at his favorite aunt’s wedding, which are to occur on the same day in different cities.  The story details how his parents give him a framework to make this tough decision on his own.  Zach started writing this when he was 12.  The second part of the book is written by Danny, who as a physician has spent his career teaching physicians how to use evidence to make better medical decisions.  He also teaches this skill and the basics of better decision making to corporate clients and institutions world wide.  Danny is also a personal friend and the president elect of the ABIHM.  And BTW, a great surfer!

The first story is cute and an easy read.  It gets across the basic information that is then presented in a more “educational” way in the final section.  This book would be very helpful for young adults who are learning to navigate the world for themselves; it focuses on how to calm yourself amid the mental chaos of conflicting desires so that your correct decision can be reached.  The skills this book teaches could be helpful to all of us; it’s definitely worth a read.  Teachers should gobble this up!

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Ok, I haven’t actually read this next one yet, as it’s not due out for a few more weeks.  However, I know the author and his other writing, so I expect this book to be amazing as well.  Did you read Wheat Belly?  Did you love it?  Then preorder Grain Brain: the surprising truth about wheat, carbs and sugar–your brain’s silent killers The author, David Perlmutter, MD is one of those guys who not only reads the medical literature, he puts it into action.  If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or other degenerative neurologic condition, then read this book.  Grain is not your friend.  David tells you why.

So, as I often tell patients, I know about the Paleo/primal diet….but I don’t eat this way.  If I were predisposed to Alzheimer’s, I would, as the literature is pretty clear.  And this is not in some crazy left-wing holistic medicine journal, but in the Archives of Neurology, the “bible”.  David (another personal friend) writes in a way that turns dry medical jargon into something you can wrap your head around.  I’ve had dinner with the guy….he lives this stuff, and it doesn’t look all that hard. __________________________________________________

Last one, and this is just for fun.  I don’t actually read these, but listen to them.  Louise Penny has a series of books, mysteries actually, based in Montreal and a tiny town nearby called Three Pines.  Inspector Gamache is an amazing character, as are the population of Three Pines.  Over the past several years, we’ve listened to the whole series; the latest addition is How the Light Gets In.  I finished listening to it in 3 days!  I generally don’t like mysteries, but this series is really more about the characters, not the murders or intrigue.  My mom reads these as well…but actually reads them.  She laughed once when I talked about how good it was to “hear Gamache’s voice again”.  If you’re looking for a good new series, check this one out.

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BTW, I don’t get anything from recommending these books.  Yes, the authors are my friends, so I’m happy to let the world know about their work.  That’s all.

I’m curious:  what are you reading?  If you’re in the healing professions, what are your “go to” books?  If you’re out to find health information yourself as a lay person, where do you go?  If you’ve read a really good novel, please tell us….I’m always looking for more!