The Bookworm: The medically and fishing obsessed

Terri Schlichenmeyer

“Hype: A Doctor’s Guide to Medical Myths, Exaggerated Claims and Bad Advice – How to Tell What’s Real and What’s Not”

  • By Nina Shapiro, MD with Kristin Loberg
  • c. 2018, St. Martin’s Press
  • $26.99, $34.99 Canada; 304 pages

For the last few days, you’ve had a tickle in your throat.

It’s not much, just a hrrumph that’s gone from occasional to annoying. You’ve looked it up online and, well, it’s either allergies, a cold, or you’re going to die. But, as author Nina Shapiro, MD says in her new book, “Hype” (with Kristin Loberg), be careful what you think you know.

“Hype: A Doctor’s Guide to Medical Myths, Exaggerated Claims and Bad Advice – How to Tell What’s Real and What’s Not” by Nina Shapiro, MD with Kristin Loberg.

Your doctor may be rolling her eyes at you.

But don’t worry. Says Shapiro, showing up at an appointment armed with sheaves of print-outs, having “done … research” is often a good thing; most physicians are glad to serve better-educated patients. The problem is that some of your new education may be false and some of it may be dangerous.

So how do you know the difference?

To start, if you’re looking for information online, be super-specific in your search and bear in mind that websites with colorful ads are often “exaggerated.” Pay attention to what comes after the “dot” because it matters in a web address. And just because the website looks authentic doesn’t mean its information is.

Remember that we tend to panic about that which is newsworthy, while ignoring what’s good for us; you may worry about Ebola, for instance, (a threat that’s truly small) but you don’t use your seat belt. Learn how to assess risk and remember that sometimes, not acting is the riskier choice. Also remember that even the most benign substances can kill you if they’re consumed in excess.

In this book, Shapiro explains how to tell if a “study” is really of any use for you, and how to properly use the information you’ll get from genetic testing. Find out why there is no “best” diet or exercise. Get the final word on vaccinations. And that handful of supplements you were about to take?

Hold off a minute …

Lie-ins and thyroids and scares, Oh, my! What do you do when you’re feeling poorly? “Hype” lets you separate the help from the hooey.

Don’t, however, think that this is just another voice in the medical jungle. Author Nina Shapiro, MD (with Kristin Loberg) doesn’t tell readers what to do; instead, she offers the tools to figure out the best next step based on calm truth, not rumor. Shapiro doesn’t hyperventilate in her writing, which is handy and reassuring when you’re faced with a lot of decisions or too much conflicting information.

On that conflict, Shapiro is careful to show both sides to a medical coin – few things, as she points out, are all good or all bad. To that point, she reminds readers that there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to healthcare; she’s also refreshingly candid about her own medical superstitions and practices.

For anyone who wants to be extra proactive in their healthcare choices, this is a book to have. Even though it’s pretty no-nonsense, it’s got a breezy feel to it and sometimes, the authors have a little fun with readers, too. “Hype” is down-to-earth, informative, and your funnybone may even be tickled.

“Born to Fish: How an Obsessed Angler Became the World’s Greatest Striped Bass Fisherman”

  • By Tim Gallagher & Greg Myerson
  • c. 2018, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • $26, higher in Canada; 205 pages

It was not your typical romance. She fell for the first line you fed her and she played hard-to-get, but she was a beauty and she was worth every ounce of effort. A catch like her doesn’t come along every day, and in the new book “Born to Fish” by Tim Gallagher & Greg Myerson, you had her for sure, hook, line, and sinker.

By the time he was two years old, Greg Myerson was already fascinated by fishing. As the story goes, he was caught more than once with his toy rod and reel, trying to make a catch in the drainage ditch in front of his parents’ Connecticut home.

“Born to Fish: How an Obsessed Angler Became the World’s Greatest Striped Bass Fisherman” by Tim Gallagher and Greg Myerson.

Not long after that, though he was barely old enough for school, Myerson understood that his soul needed the outdoors to thrive and he spent hours alone, exploring the woods just beyond his back yard. He was never good with a classroom, but he got by; the best thing he gained from school were friends who taught him better ways to hunt and fish, and they showed Myerson the fine art of trapping.

At age eight, he was already determined to have a skiff of his own so that he could fish for striped bass in the ocean near his home; trapping muskrats and selling pelts would get him to that goal within two years. His parents were wise to what he was doing by then but, despite their wishes and that of the Coast Guard, ten-year-old Myerson began taking his new boat a sea, into dangerous parts of the water. His fascination with fishing had become a full-blown obsession that only grew.

The summer after his first year at college, the obsession finally paid off when Myerson, who’d been ruminating on an idea, had a breakthrough that led to the catching of a record-smashing fish of epic size.

And that fish led to a fisherman’s change-of-heart …

First, this: “Born to Fish” can be a struggle to read.

To start, there seems to be a lot of repetition. That may be because, unlike most other biographies that offer a little more surrounding backstory, this book is almost completely about co-author Greg Myerson. You’ll read about his life in fishing, but also about a lot of fights and disregard for rules and laws, and that gets pretty stale. We’re also offered tales of elementary-school children alone on boats, and with guns.

And yet, there’s the fishing.

Co-author Tim Gallagher tells heart-pounding stories of landing the biggest of the big ones, tales that will thrill even the most neophyte of fishermen. Those parts of this book are like sitting around in the bait shop, ears open to tales of lures, equipment, boats and motors, and long battles with water monsters.

In the end, what you want from a book will determine how much you’ll like this one: if you come for the sport, then “Born to Fish” will hook you easy enough. If you’re looking for biography, though, let this book be the One That Got Away.

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The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.