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One Worth Urging Him to Read

MIDLIFE MAN A Not-So-Threatening Guide to Health and Sex for Man at His Peak; By Art Hister; Greystone Books; $19.95; 212 pages

JUST LIKE A WOMAN How Gender Science Is Redefining What Makes Us Female; By Dianne Hales;Bantam; $24.95 398 pages

April 12, 1999|SHARI ROAN

This is a terrific book--if middle-aged men would only read it. As the author points out, most men spend little time thinking about their health. And then, when signs of mortality begin appearing in middle age, they think about it but still may not seek any legitimate information and counseling. Moreover, as the author, Dr. Art Hister, correctly points out, there is a scarcity of medical information about midlife health issues for men compared to the vastly analyzed subject of female menopause. "Midlife Man" aims to remedy that problem by counseling men on a full range of health topics, including physical appearance, sex, prostate problems and other midlife disorders, nutrition and fitness. It's an upbeat book. And if men won't read it, the women in their lives might find this a good guide to improving their understanding of the midlife male.

*

Dianne Hales is a first-rate writer and health analyst, and it's a pleasure to see her turn her attention to the study of women. This is not a how-to health book but a thorough look at what it means today to be a healthy female. As the title implies, there are long-standing myths about women that make many women wary of their bodies. Hales notes that she was warned by various experts not to write about premenstrual syndrome, abortion, sex differences in the brain, depression and other topics that might cast women in a poor light. Instead, her mission is to tackle these issues head on, pointing out the truths about female health issues. By doing so, Hales challenges both men and women to embrace women's different biology. "One of the gifts of gender science and of the recent revelations in reproductive biology . . . is that they allow women to reclaim their bodies with true pride in their distinctiveness, their evolutionary resilience, their physiological stamina, and their remarkable capacity for renewal and lifelong growth," she writes. Readers will come away with new knowledge of many practical health matters as well as new thoughts about what it means to be a woman.

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