29 October 2010

Featuring . . . Stretch by Neal Pollack

This Friday and every Friday for the next several months I'll be featuring a book in the Harper Perennial Imprint. Some were recently published, some will be released later this year, all are worth a closer look.

Neal Pollack's Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude is a memoir you don't want to miss. It's a funny, mocking, and realistic tale of how a pudgy 30-something guy ended up becoming an advocate for the practice of yoga.

Neal Pollack was out of shape. The hair on his head was thinning and the hair on his face was pretentious—traits a New York Times critic gleefully pointed out while panning his second book. Combined with the predestined failure of his punk rock band, it was almost too much for Pollack to bear. He was willing to try anything to get his life back on track . . . even yoga.

While struggling to master difficult poses without kicking other yogis in the face, Pollack actually, remarkably, began to feel better, both in body and mind. Soon he found himself immersed in the "weird and circuslike" world of yoga. He participated in a 24-hour yogathon, attended yoga conferences and Asian retreats, went to yoga rock shows, started getting regular assignments for Yoga Journal magazine, and, finally, began teaching yoga classes himself.

Stretch mercilessly lampoons the bizarre, omnipresent culture of yoga, but it's also a story of profound personal transformation. Pollack started off mocking yoga. Now he's become one of its most enthusiastic proponents.
Admit it, this premise has you intrigued. The thing that caught my attention is that Pollack was not at all your typical candidate for taking yoga classes. He is a self-admitted meat-eating, pot-smoking, punk rocker kind of guy. And although he never lost sight of the holier-than-thou attitude that some yoga practitioners project, he kept an open mind and was able to recognize the positive changes he underwent thanks to his classes.
  • Kirkus Reviews calls Pollack "a highly entertaining guide as he investigates the good, bad and ugly of the yoga spectrum. . . . There is also a lovely authenticity to his discovery of his yoga fundamentalism."
  • The San Francisco Chronicle says, "Ultimately, Pollack lampoons himself more than the culture, and this is perhaps the most compelling evidence of Pollack's conversion: his inability to be snarky about yoga."
For more on Neal Pollack, visit his website. There is also a funny video interview with him on You Tube.

This book was featured as part of my Spotlight on the Harper Perennial imprint. For information about the imprint, please read Erica Barmash's welcome note posted here on June 18, 2010. I encourage you to add your reviews of Harper Perennial books to the review link-up page; it's a great way to discover Good Books for Cool People. See the alphabetized review index to see what others are saying. And don't miss the The Olive Reader, the Harper Perennial blog.

Stretch at Powell's
Stretch at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by HarperCollins / Harper Perennial, 2010
ISBN-13: 9780061727696


Julie P. 10/29/10, 7:11 AM  

I've heard lots of good things about this one!

Anonymous,  10/29/10, 10:18 AM  

How funny this sounds. It's seems people really fall in love with yoga. I can't wait to read this memoir.

bermudaonion 10/29/10, 10:34 AM  

At first I thought this was a yoga book and I figured it wasn't for me, but then I read memoir, and now I've got to read it!

Teresa 10/29/10, 11:19 AM  

I'm looking forward to reading this one. It serves as a reminder that anyone can be successful with yoga if they just give it a try.

Unknown 10/29/10, 11:52 AM  

Alright, I'll admit it, this one does have my interest.

Belle Wong 10/29/10, 12:42 PM  

This definitely sounds like a fun read!

Barbara 10/29/10, 3:01 PM  

This sounds very funny. He sounds as klutzy as me - I can just picture me trying to do yoga! :D

Unknown 10/29/10, 3:36 PM  

I did yoga one time and I can see how people fall in love with it. It feels so good afterwards.

This looks like a book I'd enjoy :)

Jenners 10/29/10, 5:18 PM  

I think I would love this!!! You're always tempting me with new books with this series.

And I did yoga for a brief point in my life for stress relief and loved it. I really should get back to that.

Just Mom 10/30/10, 12:15 AM  

Yoga is so ripe for poking fun - we have a class twice a week at the hospital where I work and I love it but I equally enjoy the after-class rehash with my officemate. I think I would enjoy this memoir!

Alice 10/30/10, 10:47 AM  

I love yoga and I think I'm going to love this memoir too!

Anonymous,  10/30/10, 8:53 PM  

This looks much better than that other yoga book I read! I think I might have to get myself a copy.

Zee 10/31/10, 7:54 AM  

As someone who has gone from being a gigantic klutz to someone who loves yoga I thank you for recommending this book. It has been added to the TBR pile!

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