Thoughts on a Book: ‘The Road to Wellville’

BattleCreekSanitorium - photo
Patients at “The San” do breathing exercises. Circa 1900. Public domain, Wikimedia Commons.

I recently finished an interesting novel, “The Road to Wellville,” by T. Coraghessan Boyle. It’s a quirky little book about Dr. John Harvey Kellogg’s sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan.

While fictional, it does give you a good idea of some of the crazy things people will do — and have done to them — in the name of good health, or “biologic living” as Dr. Kellogg called it.

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, Library of Congress photo.

Around the turn of the 20th century, the rich and ailing flocked to the Battle Creek Sanitarium — also known as “The San” — for daily enemas and all sorts of therapies. Patients maintained a meatless diet, with no coffee or tea. Coffee was said to cause liver disease and diabetes, and tea, mental illness.

Dr. Kellogg, father to 40-some foster or adopted children, also thought sex — even with one’s spouse  — was harmful and should be avoided.

As a happily married coffee addict who likes a good hamburger now and then, I don’t think I would have enjoyed “The San” one bit.

The book was pretty good, however, and I recommend it.


2 thoughts on “Thoughts on a Book: ‘The Road to Wellville’

  1. Did you where they found “buried deep in the microfiche” Walt Whitman’s 47,000 word treatise on healthy living/ Apparently he followed the paleo diet!

    Liked by 1 person

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