Counter Clockwise by Lauren Kessler

Find in catalogI’ve been a fan of Lauren Kessler, Eugene writer, journalist, and teacher, since “Stubborn Twig,” her book documenting the Japanese American experience, was selected for the sesquicentennial “Oregon Reads” in 2009.

In her newest offering, “Counter Clockwise,” an engaging, well written, and occasionally snarky book, Kessler shares details of her year-long exploration into the anti-aging movement.  Since experts now think that our individual lifestyle choices account for about 70% of how slowly or quickly we age, we have a lot of control over the kind of old age we’ll experience.  Kessler focuses on an unexplored side of anti-aging: what it takes to be younger, not just look younger.  And it turns out there’s a fascinating lesson from cultures that do not associate aging with diminution or vigor or usefulness – “attitude, feelings of self-efficacy, and age cues from the environment” affect how we age.

She not only concisely distills mountains of clinical research, and interviews scores of experts, she’s also a self-designated guinea pig in a year-long experiment.  “I did everything,” she tells her readers, “so you don’t have to.”  Kessler goes the distance.  Tests you’ve never heard of.  Cleanses, bootcamp, hypnotic suggestion.  A consultation with a plastic surgeon.  Supplements, superfoods, and a wide variety of dietary experiments – some short-lived due to rebellion by her long-suffering family.  And exercise, exercise, exercise.   “Yes, I know what you are thinking,” she writes.  “Exercise is good for me, blah, blah, blah, what else is new?”  But Kessler’s impressive array of studies, statistics, and experts are as convincing as her descriptions of her year as a “Sweat Chica” are humorous.

While Kessler sneakily never does mention her chronological age, the endearing combination of adventurous curiosity and healthy skepticism coax us to travel with her as she investigates how to maintain stamina, vitality, fortitude, and creativity right to the very end.

An inspiring and information packed read… and oh, by the way, if you’re looking for me, I’ll be at the gym! – Connie Bennett, Library Director

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