By David S. Kidder, Noah D. Oppenheim and Bruce K. Young, MD

Review by Scott Keith

Back in the day, if you loved medical trivia and wanted to research the causes of a fever or the health benefits of Vitamin C, you had to stroll to the nearest library or book store to satisfy your curiosity. All that changed with the Internet. A click of the mouse and you can research all things medical.

Thanks to the efforts of David S. Kidder, Noah D. Oppenheim and Bruce K.Young MD, you can find answers to many of your health questions the old-fashioned way, in an easy-to-carry-around book. The Intellectual Devotional: Health is the fourth installment in the New York Times best-selling series. This enjoyable 374-page book will let you explore seven fields of knowledge: Children and Adolescents, Diseases and Ailments, Lifestyle and Preventive Medicine, Drugs and Alternative Treatments, The Mind, Sexuality and Reproduction and Medical Milestones. What is remarkable about this lively, instructional book is that topics are designed to be read one day at a time. For instance, Monday, Day 1, you’re introduced to the Apgar Score. Tuesday, Day 2, is devoted to Immunity.

All age groups can benefit from this treasure trove of medical facts. The older crowd can explore Memory and learn that “The gray matter that makes up the brain’s wrinkly outer cerebral cortex is filled with memories, much as a computer disk is full of files, waiting to be activated and pulled back into the conscious thought process.” Later in the book, on the subject Nearsightedness, read that “Some accounts claim that the Roman emperor Nero (AD 37-68) would gaze through an emerald in order to see gladiator fights more clearly. Nero’s jewel is believed to be one of the earliest remedies for nearsightedness, a common vision condition in which one can see nearby objects clearly but things that are farther away appear blurry.”

The Intellectual Devotional: Health is useful on many levels. As a self-help guide, you’ll discover that “exercise can improve or even prevent medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and some cancers.” If you have a desire to shed a few pounds, take note that “Research has shown that people who maintained a Mediterranean-style diet lost more weight over a 2-year period than people who followed either a high-protein or a low-fat diet.”

If trivia is your thing, learn about the first ambulance or study medical legends such as Hippocrates, Van Leeuwenhoek, William Harvey, Edward Jenner and Louis Pasteur. Discover the history behind medications such as Tetracycline, Valium, Nexium, and perhaps the granddaddy of modern pills, Viagra. And check out Additional Facts at the bottom of each page. This feature offers fun-to-read health tips, sprinkled with a bit more history.

Whether you’re a youngster, a baby boomer or a senior citizen, you’ll have a fun time reading The Intellectual Devotional: Health one day, one topic, at a time. If you prefer to read several topics at one sitting, be sure to schedule a large chunk of time because you’re not going to want to put this book down. 

(Rodale, Hardcover, $24.00)

Available at, all major book stores, Target, Costco and Walmart