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The nice things about a health and/or science and/or psychology book, if you get a good one, is that it feels like self-help you don’t need to be embarrassed about. (Why self-help feels inherently embarrassing is another matter.) Most of them isolate one thing about yourself or the world that is maybe not as well understood as it should be: dreams, or shame, or psychedelic drugs. By the end, you usually appreciate the subject more, or at least you notice it more, and sometimes, this appreciation/attention combo really does improve your life. If anticipating the start of 2019 has you in self-improvement mode, consider the following books from 2018.

Wellmania, by Brigid Delaney


at Amazon

In what I’d call a half memoir, half gonzo journalist–style study on one of the fastest growing industries in the world, author Brigid Delaney explores (and personally tests) a number of highly dubious wellness trends — including an alarming, visceral account of a 101-day “fast” which essentially amounts to self-imposed starvation. Delaney is a little more credulous than I want her to be, but I also think that’s what makes her sympathetic and fun to read. You want her to succeed and be happy. You want that for yourself. The wellness industry knows it, and they’re taking advantage, and this is funny, engaging of one woman’s journey through wellness hell and back. —Katie Heaney


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