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What to Read in April

This month: Lie down on the couch, reveal your hedonism and get the real truth on food.


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By Jeffrey Lieberman

Pill pushers, head shrinks, orators of psychobabble — psychiatrists have been called many names, not all of them complimentary. Lieberman, former president of the American Psychiatric Association, confronts his field’s sometimes negative image head on, acknowledging psychiatry’s seedy past and the rogues and charlatans who led it astray. From squalid asylums and ice pick lobotomies to the dawn of antidepressants and MRIs, Shrinks details psychiatry’s missteps and failures, and eventual triumphs, as Lieberman tries to shake off the debilitating stigma that clings to mental illness — and the people who treat it. — Brenda Poppy


Sex, Drugs and Rock ’n’ Roll

By Zoe Cormier

Cormier, part of the artsy collective Guerilla Science, promises stories of scientific discoveries made through tripping, rocking out or getting busy in bed. She doesn’t quite deliver on that pitch, though tales of Nobel-winning work enhanced by LSD come closest. Instead, the book evolves into a tour of the science behind our baser pursuits. By turns wry and giddy, Cormier teases out our uniquely human take on hedonism with tidbits as varied as the power of our orgasms (hint: no other creature on Earth can best us) and what the discovery of a 40,000-year-old wooden flute reveals about music and our ancestors. — Elisa Neckar


Secrets from the Eating Lab

By Traci Mann

Founder of the University of Minnesota’s Health and Eating Lab, Mann puts what she calls the dieting industry’s “sacred cows” on the menu in a book that’s equal parts science and self-help. Diets don’t work, she argues, and obesity is not deadly. After summing up decades of research on the physical and psychological factors behind eating, starving and yo-yo dieting, Mann suggests common sense strategies to achieve a healthy weight — which has more to do with your genes than your jean size — and accept your body for what it is. — Gemma Tarlach

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