The vows to exercise and eat nutritiously that start off many a new year don’t only benefit the body. Many writers, including Haruki Murakami and Mohsin Hamid, find that running or walking helps stimulate their creativity. Others draw connections between individual health and the wellness of society.
While working on his book How to Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi received a diagnosis that forced him to fight for his life—and fueled his commitments to both writing and political change. Gandhi’s activism extended to his own diet; according to the historian Nico Slate, he believed that eating raw food was not only cleansing but also liberating, because of the money and time it could save.
Near the turn of the 20th century, anxieties about America’s expanding urban environments led physicians to diagnose a wide range of symptoms as effects of modern technology, a phenomenon explored in histories by David Schuster and Tom Lutz. And a recent book by Barbara Ehrenreich links prevailing ideas about preventive care to a cultural desire for control that may actually hurt patients’ well-being.
Every Friday in the Books Briefing, we thread together Atlantic stories on books that share similar ideas.
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