Helpful, Engaging, Relevant
Last Christmas, my brother-in-law gave me William and James Sears’ book The Omega-3 Effect: Everything You Need to Know about the Supernutrient for Living Longer, Happier, and Healthier as a present. I am a “reader,” but I have to admit that the boring, orange cover and the topic of the book didn’t really invite me to settle down near the fireplace with a hot chocolate, ready for a good read. I had heard of something called omega-3s, but I had no idea what they were and why they were relevant to me. It wasn’t until a few weeks after Christmas when I was flat on my back with a fever that I reached for my gift. I felt duty bound to read the book, and I figured now was as good a time as any. At the very least, I thought the topic and what I assumed would be highly scientific language would help me fall asleep.
My first impression of the book couldn’t have been more wrong. The Librarian’s cliché is true: don’t judge a book by its cover. Once I started reading, I didn’t put the book down until I finished it. I am a reader, but I am also a writing teacher. When I was reading this book, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I was reading one of the most well-written non-fiction books I have ever read. What do I mean by that?
The book included scientific information about the importance of omega-3s in a healthy diet. But a real plus was that I actually understood the scientific information. As William Zinsser says in his famous On Writing Well, scientists should write like people. The authors of The Omega-3 Effect write like people for people. The writers use clear prose, active verbs, and personal examples to convey their ideas.
The book made me laugh. When the good doctors explain how omega-3s help develop brain muscle, promote heart health, and stabilize weight, they make their points by using humor and, sometimes, even humorous illustrations.
The book made me empathize with others. The doctors explain how I can help my kids’ future health now by including more omega-3s into their diets. When the writers describe how omega-3s can help a person recover from surgery, they share how their own family members benefitted from reduced recovery time after surgery.
Because the authors make sure the facts they relate can be appreciated by the science and health novice, they also persuaded me to believe that what they have to say about the importance of omega-3s in a person’s diet is relevant to me.
I wanted to have a healthier heart, a more quickly firing brain, healthier kids, and a body that could recover from physical stresses much more easily. The book gave me practical advice for incorporating omega-3s into my diet. The authors describe how the “S” diet—a diet rich in seafood, salad, seasonings, and supplements—could assure a diet rich in omega-3s and a healthier me. The doctors demystify the world of omega-3 supplements and explain how I can be sure I am purchasing a supplement that actually contains what my kids and I need.
This book was helpful, engaging, and relevant. It is so good that you could curl up by the fire with your hot chocolate. You could relax and read this book on the beach. You’ll learn; you’ll laugh; you’ll empathize. By the end, you may even resolve to live a healthier life. And the best part, after reading this book, you’ll know how to do it!
Michelle Wood holds a Ph.D. in Literature and Criticism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. When she is not reading about omega-3s, she spends her time preparing for the classes she teaches at a liberal arts university in Ohio. Her husband and two children bless her everyday with love and good times.
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Listen to what Dr. William Sears has to say about Omega-3s!