With self-publishing on the rise, it seems like everyone's an author these days -- and the diabetes community has its share of book-writers of all sorts.
Just skim through the listings over at Amazon. A quick search of "diabetes" brings up 22,000 "new and popular" titles, many of them involving food and diets, but also exercise, lifestyle and personal encounters with this illness. The term "type 1 diabetes" narrows the findings down to 952 books (!), although they're not all focused specifically on diabetes (some just mention it, like the pediatric nursing handbook).
Just look at our own lineup lately, with a book review (and giveaway!) being featured just about every other week. Just this year, we've reviewed a half-dozen books involving diabetes and mentioned many more, and that's not even counting all those we've had requests to review!
Our point: there are a lot of new books cropping up, and we don't want any of these great titles to get lost in the stacks.
We may not be able to do a full review of every one -- a good problem to have since it means our D-Community has all the more resources at its fingertips -- so we've put together a Zagat-review-style roundup of some recent new titles from around the DOC:
Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad by D-Dad Scott Benner, who blogs over at Arden's Day. Released April 2, I had a chance to read through this 228-page paperback and have to say it's one of the best I've read in a long time. No, diabetes doesn't take center stage, and that's just one thing I really liked about it. This is a personal story from a guy sharing his own experiences -- the good, bad and ugly. I found myself laughing and crying and running all through my emotional spectrum, particularly when it came to the type 1 diagnosis story of his young daughter, Arden. I very much enjoyed getting a glimpse into Scott's day-to-day activities and seeing how diabetes, and other duties like doing those dreaded loads of laundry, all fit together. This is just a great human story that most of us can relate to and partake in the emotions, and to me that makes it all the more worth reading. This goes for $11.28 on Amazon.
Islands and Insulin: A Diabetic Sailor's Memoir by Type 1 PWD Erin Spineto. She's a UC San Diego graduate and science teacher who works with the great group Insulindependence. She was already an avid surfer and sailor when she was diagnosed in college. Ten years later, to prove to herself and the world that people with T1D can do anything, she set out to sail the Florida Keys alone... and this is her story. Amy hopes to write a more comprehensive review of this book soon, but has already given her endorsement: "What a great adventure with type 1 diabetes! Islands and Insulin is witty, relatable, does a great job of illustrating the maddening intricacies of this illness, while at the same time proving there really are NO LIMITS for us PWDs (people with diabetes!)" Published in January by Sea Peptide Publishing (he, he!), the book goes for $15.99 on Amazon.
My Beloved World, a memoir by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a fellow type 1 PWD since age 7. I downloaded this 336-page book to my Kindle and absolutely loved reading it. Again, diabetes isn't the focus -- it's just part of her story, weaved in to all the aspects of her background and legal education and the years leading up to her selection for high court. In her book, she talks about her background growing up in the Bronx of New York and from an early age learning how to inject insulin because her father couldn't do it with shaky hands. You're not going to get a look at her on the bench, since it concludes at the time she was sworn in at a lower federal court. But Justice Sotomayor's story is an inspirational one about the American Dream and being able to work your way up the ladder to a judicial seat on the nation's highest court, and it's also an inspiration for anyone with diabetes to know that they can achieve great things regardless of their diabetes. Published in January, book costs $12.99 in e-format on Amazon.
Sweet Fire: Sugar, Diabetes & Your Health by certified nutritionist Mary Toscano. You might have guessed from the title, this one's all about sugar and knowing your nutritional labels. A quick skim through of this 260-pager led me to think the overall theme is "limit your sugar and know what you're eating," and it's really aimed at the type 2 population or those most recently diagnosed with diabetes who might not yet have a grasp of the food aspect of this condition. One thing we do know is that Mary is a highly informative and entertaining educator, as Amy witnessed when she reviewed the original DVD version of this topic. Released Jan. 1, 2013, the book goes on Amazon for $24.95.
Diary of a Life Less Sweet, by Crystal Rivera. This New Jersey woman makes her debut as an author with this 70-page book about her little brother, Victor, and his type 1 diabetes -- through her eyes as a sister. The book's premise is described like this: "Siblings of children with diabetes typically receive little support. Diary of a Life Less Sweet fills this void. Our heroine, Jade Bluefeather, must learn to deal with the news of her brother's condition and the subsequent changes that her family experiences. In her diary, we not only hear Jade's thoughts and feelings, but we also learn the 'truth' about diabetes from various medical professionals as they debunk some common misconceptions. Ultimately, Jade and her family adapt to these changes and return to a life that is once again 'sweet.'" There are some templates in the back for starting your own diary or journal. Released in October 2012, the book costs $9.95 on Amazon and part of the proceeds go to diabetes research.
People With Diabetes Can Eat Anything, by fellow type 1 Jane Dickinson, who is also a certified diabetes educator and has her own blog. She wrote about her book in a post, but the description of this book says it's "written for people with diabetes and those who care about them." It provides readers with "the tools to feel empowered, confident and prepared to go out into the world and make healthy choices. Through humor and a conversational approach, the author anticipates questions, provides answers, and puts readers at ease. This a book about strength -- it's about managing diabetes successfully and getting on with life." Released in February, this book costs $16.99 on Amazon.
Diabetes Self-Defense by type 1 PWD Frank Harritt. Released in February, this book is "developed for people with diabetes by people with diabetes," and is a "one-of-a-kind reference manual and logbook (that's) an all-in-one weapon for the person with diabetes, including weekly education and logbooks, checklists, medical records, and a glossary of important diabetes terms." Easy to follow and easy to use weapon in the "war against diabetes," this book has been reviewed for medical accuracy by Jay Krakovitz, MD, a Boulder, CO-based physician who also has diabetes. So who is this author? Harritt is a fellow PWD... or as his book description says: "A fifth degree black belt in Diabetes Self-Defense, Mr. Harritt has used insulin for 22 years, yet, as a result of developing and using this simple, six-step program, has had no significant complications. You too can excel in the art of Diabetes Self-Defense, whether you've had diabetes for three months or three decades!" The book costs $18.99 on Amazon.
Raising Teens With Diabetes expected to hit the shelves in June, this is a new "survival guide" by D-Mom Moira McCarthy, who blogs over at Despite Diabetes. We love the description: "Hormones. Growth spurts. Mood swings. All combined with blood sugars. The teen years with diabetes on board are a challenging time for parents and anyone who cares about a child with diabetes. Raising Teens with Diabetes: A Survival Guide for Parents, by well-known diabetes mom, author, and advocate Moira McCarthy, is a no-nonsense, honest approach at not just surviving but thriving in those years, from a mom who has been there. Raising Teens with Diabetes is a must-have resource for anyone navigating the waters of parenting a child with diabetes." We can't wait to get our hands on a copy to review, Moira! Of course, we're also very excited that Moira will be at this summer's annual Children with Diabetes Friends for Life conference, so there will likely be many from the Diabetes Community hoping to get her to autograph their copy of this newest book once it's released!
So the reading list is long, and you may need an extra book shelf or two if you have any interest in collecting all these works.
Hail Patient Publishers!
The increase in diabetes-focused books out there is likely prompted by two things: the growth of type 2 diabetes as an "epidemic," creating an allure for everyone to get their name into the hat, and the rise of self-published authors. No longer are we living in times where you need an agency or high-brow literacy license to become a published author.
Of course, blogging plays a role too, as it lets people (patients!) test their publishing chops.
Riva Greenberg, a fellow type 1 PWD, blogger and author of several diabetes books herself, says, "I think there are more patient-authored books out there and that's great. I think social media, which encourages us to share learning, has credentialized knowledgeable and successful patients as experts, so it's no surprise more patients are writing books."
She wrote about the patient-expert trend earlier in the year over on The Huffington Post, pointing out that we often learn behavioral changes better from each other than from our doctors, as only someone living with a condition can have practical experience, and that's such a valuable perspective to share.
"Since we're all at different points in our journey living with diabetes, with different informational and emotional needs, more patient-written books means it's more likely something will answer your need when you need it," Riva says.
Beyond the "How To"
Jeremy Sterling, marketing director at Michigan-based Spry Publishing that has become a common publishing company for many in the Diabetes Community, has some insight as well.
"We're currently seeing a couple of exciting trends as we look toward the future of diabetes publishing," he said. "As standard medical reference books have become over-saturated in the marketplace in recent years, there has been a shift toward experiential, lifestyle-oriented books that focus on taking the best information that's available and really adapting it to your individual perspective, making it work for you. It's all about moving beyond the traditional 'how to' and stepping into the 'what's next.'"
Sterling said another movement he's observed within the greater publishing industry that's impacting diabetes publications is the tremendous shift in delivery methods for content. E-books are experiencing unprecedented growth in virtually all book categories and emerging technologies (like tablets and smartphones) are bridging different types of media, he said.
"If you consider the direction that books are evolving in presently and then imagine all of the new ways that upcoming books will be able to help people with diabetes, the future looks very bright," Sterling said.
Classics like the 25th anniversary edition of The Discovery of Insulin by Michael Bliss just went into e-format earlier this year, and many books are available in Kindle format for fast-click downloading.
There's audio, too. Take our own Wil Dubois, for example, who's written five diabetes books. He's a humorous wordsmith and his writings will keep you on your toes, for sure. Just recently, some of Wil's books available through Red Cell Books became available on audio, and he said in the first few days of that availability, Amazon sold more in audio versions than his titles did on Kindle in the past two years!
Of course, whatever the format or specific topic, we're always eager to see what's new in the ever-expanding "Library of Diabetes," and we'll be sure to keep bringing you reviews and giveaways, too!