Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Non-Fiction: The Healthy Home by Myron Wentz and Dave Wentz

The subtitle of The Healthy Home (Vangaurd Press) is frightening: “Simple Truths to Protect Your Family from Hidden Household Dangers.” That is, it would be frightening if the material the book contained had been organized in a less childish way.

The information here is powerful and important and the basic premise is sound: in the West, we surround ourselves with toxic and even dangerous material in every aspect of our lives. Vacuum cleaners generate unhealthy electrical fields. Synthetic chemical pesticides are dangerous to birds, not to mention ourselves and our children. Even that beautifully scented lotion you use on your face and hands might be filled with toxic chemicals. And those CFL lightbulbs that have been pushed on us for the last few years as the perfect green alternative? According to the authors, if you read the directions on the package about disposal of a broken bulb “you'll realize you need a Hazmat suit every time you change one or throw it away.” It turns out that dangers to your health lurk everywhere in your home.

The Healthy Home is filled with important and valuable information. Unfortunately, the way the book is organized and illustrated makes it look more like a children’s book than one designed for grown up, thinking adults. Colored sidebars, childish illustrations, and hard-to-read reversed out type at section heads all contribute to making the book sometimes difficult to follow. The information itself is lucid and clear, but it’s as though, at some point in the book’s development, someone decided that readers wouldn’t be able to handle the lessons to be learned here without some sugar-coating. It means that The Healthy Home is more difficult to read than would otherwise be the case. However, if these are issues that concern you (and I’m quite sure the Wentz -- father and son -- would say that these are issues that concern everyone) you’ll want to persevere. There’s a lot at stake here and, according to Dave and Myron Wentz, there’s a great deal that you can do to make your home a healthier place. ◊

Aaron Blanton is a contributing editor to January Magazine. He’s currently working on a book based on his experiences as an American living abroad.

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