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Until it Hurts: America’s Obsession with Youth Sports and How it Harms Our Kids

By Mark Hyman
Mark Hyman concerned about childrens healthAbout 10 years ago, journalist Mark Hyman started to notice what he calls the “global warming” of youth sports, with the temperature of parents on the sidelines inching up a few degrees each year. Hyman, who lives in Mount Washington, was contributing some heat himself. When his eldest son was 14, the boy’s pitching shoulder started to pain him. Coach Hyman sent him out to the mound anyway— it was the playoffs, after all.

In his new book, “Until It Hurts: America’s Obsession with Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids,” Hyman, who writes about sports for Business Week, analyzes the commercialization and professionalization of youth sports that has occurred in the last half-century. “Seventy-five years ago, when Joe DiMaggio was a kid, his parents were not sitting in the bleachers watching him practice every day,” says Hyman. “In the ’40s and ’50s, parents started getting involved in youth sports for the first time … and they became more invested.” That investment has become an obsession for many parents, says Hyman, who view youth sports less as a way for kids to learn sportsmanship and cooperation than to earn prestige and college scholarships.

The downside of this is not only increased pressure on kids, says Hyman. It’s also increased risk of injury. “Instead of kids playing a different sport every season, they’re on a track where they’re encouraged to specialize in one sport starting at age 8 or 8,” he says. “By the time they’re 13 and 14, they have overuse injuries and their bodies are rebelling.”

Since there’s no czar of youth sports, it’s up to parents to stop the madness, says Hyman. As inspiration, he points to programs throughout the country that emphasize healthy attitudes toward youth sports, including Athletes and Authors summer camp here in Baltimore (athletes-andauthors.com).

Mark Hyman will read and sign “Until It Hurts” at 2 p.m. on May 9 at the Roland Park branch, Enoch Pratt Free Library, 5108 Roland Ave. http://www.untilithurts.com

Eiffel’s Tower… And the World’s Fair Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, The Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a Count.

By Jill Jonnes
Jill Jonnes tells about ParisJill Jonnes first visited the Eiffel Tower as a girl of 7, and she still remembers “the sensation of walking down from the second platform on that summer day, round and round and round … the Paris cityscape revolving around as I descended, a small person on a gigantic structure.”

These days, Jonnes is just as giddy about the tower, which is the centerpiece of her new book, “Eiffel’s Tower… And the World’s Fair Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, The Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a Count.” A narrative of the construction of the 1,000-foot-tall engineering marvel— which dwarfed the Washington Monument, the tallest building at the time, much to many Americans’ dismay— the book is also a whirlwind chronicle of the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, an event, says Jonnes, that incited “wonderful crossings of paths of unlikely people who came to the fair to make as big a splash as they could.”

Thomas Edison had a huge exhibit with all of his inventions, including the “new improved talking phonograph.” Paul Gauguin and James Whistler showed their paintings. And Buffalo Bill brought his entire Wild West Show, including 100 cowboys, 100 Indians and the sharp-shooting and fast-talking Annie Oakley.

“Buffalo Bill becomes the most beloved American in Paris since Benjamin Franklin,” says Jonnes, who lives in Keswick and is the author of four previous nonfiction books. “This fair is the beginning of the French love affair with cowboys and Indians.”
Jill Jonnes will read and sign “Eiffel’s Tower” at 6:30 p.m. on May 5 at the Central branch of the Enoch Pratt Library. http://www.conqueringgotham.com

Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret

By Steve Luxenberg
Steve Luxenberg tells of his family's secretSteve Luxenberg picked up the phone in his Lauraville home on a spring afternoon in 1995 and heard his sister say, “Did you know that Mom had a sister?”

Their mother had always made a big show of being an only child. To learn she had a sister was nothing short of shocking. As both a son and a journalist— first at The Baltimore Sun for 11 years and now as an associate editor at The Washington Post— Luxenberg yearned for answers. But his mother was in failing health and he didn’t feel right about prodding her to talk.

Four years later, Luxenberg’s mother died with her secret intact, and he got another phone call with another shocking question. This time it was his brother, asking, “Who the heck is Annie?” While sorting through their mother’s records, his brother had found documentation showing a third grave next to their mother’s parents, that of someone named Annie Cohen.

Luxenberg knew immediately that Annie Cohen was his mother’s hidden sister, and after making a few phone calls, he soon learned that she’d been committed to a mental hospital at age 21 and died in a mental hospital 30 years later. In his new book, “Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret,” Luxenberg employs his skills as an investigative journalist to tell the story of his Aunt Annie, and of the thousands of nameless people institutionalized for mental illness in the mid-20th century. In probing his family’s history, he uncovers more secrets than he bargained for, but he also learns more than he hoped to about his family’s immigrant past, Annie’s conscribed life and his mother’s reasons for lying about her sister. The result is a detective story that lovingly but insistently teases the truth from one family’s tangled web.

Steve Luxenberg will read from “Annie’s Ghosts” at 4 p.m. on May 9 at Red Canoe Bookstore and Café and at 6:30 p.m. on May 12 at the Central branch of the Enoch Pratt Library. http://www.Steveluxenberg.com

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