Champions for Change: Athletes Making a World of Difference by Jane Poynter.
Jane Poynter may not be a household name, but she's famous. Famous for living in Biosphere 2, the enclosed structure outside of Tucson where for two years, eight "biospherians" grew their own food, recycled their waste, water and air and conducted environmental experiments (her book, The Human Experiment, is fascinating). After leaving the Biosphere 2 structure, Jane continued her ecological interest (read the profile I wrote about her for Continental airlines magazine).
And recently, she recently wrote Champions for Change, a beautiful book profiling athletes' takes on environmental issues. While that may sound like a celebrity latching onto the cause of the day, it's not. The athletes have real ties and understanding of the issues they talk about. Like marathon swimmer Tammy van Wisse, who holds six world records in swimming. As someone who swims in open water, she sees the pollution (and even the human waste) at eye level, and sometimes ingests it.
It's a book filled with live-action photos, profiles of athletes and international ecological issues, along with solutions.
Puzzle Baron's Logic Puzzles
I planned to give this Puzzle Baron's Logic Puzzles book as a gift to Mark (he's great at puzzles), but in the end decided to keep it for myself (and maybe share with him). I love doing puzzles on plane rides (especially sudoku), and tried one of these online first (you can print a few out here). You can make yourself feel bad by looking at the statistics for the fastest solver and the average time. If I'm on the plane with kids, you can bet that average time will double. But it makes you really think, which I don't feel like I do enough these days (put that down! Eat your dinner! Put your clothes away! Wash the dishes...)
Fits Starts & Matters of the Heart - I got a copy of this book as a gift, though I had it on my Amazon wish list anyway. It's a compilation of essays about relationships (ranging from love to kids to dogs) - written by a lot of awesome professional writers I'm privileged to know from my online writers group, Freelance Success. The authors in this book have written essays for O, the Oprah Magazine, Newsweek, National Public Radio, and just about any other top magazine you've heard of. This book is hard to put down because you read one essay, just a few pages, and then you want to read one more. And because it's only a few more pages, one more. And soon you've devoured the whole book.
Walt Disney World Resort Extreme Vacation Guide for Kids - as you may know, we recently took our first trip to Walt Disney World (here's the top 15 things I learned at Disney World, and here are some vacation planning tips for kids at Disney World). The kids were not interested in reading any guide books (nor was my husband, for that matter). This book came out just as we were leaving for our trip. It gets the KIDS ready for Disney World. How? Giving them tips on earning their own spending money there (instead of "can I buy this?" they'll just consult their own wallet). They can make their own autograph books (saving about $10 in the process). They can explore some of the science behind Disney World, like making their own geodesic dome. And it includes a park guide for kids - so they'll know what to expect without having to read through the helpful, but way too plentiful information in adult guide books. Plus there are projects to do after they return home, so they can continue living the memories. Get a good look inside the book here - and you can buy it from the authors!
Are you My Guru by Wendy Shanker
As a medical writer, there's nothing better to me than a medical mystery - what is this disease and how do we treat it? But in an entertaining, engaging way. That's what Wendy Shanker does. In her mid-30s, she gets an auto-immune disease (Wegener's granulomatosis - try saying that five times fast). To treat it she seeks out any kind of healer and spiritual adviser out there - from orthodox rabbis to meditation and traditional medicine. From colonics to tarot cards. And she writes about her journey in a funny way. Shanker also wrote The Fat Girl's Guide to Life, and she's made quite a name for herself as a writer for magazines, books and television.
What books do you recommend this holiday season?