Monday, March 17, 2008

Book Review: The China Study

Date: March 17, 2008
Author: T. Colin Campbell, PhD, and Thomas M. Campbell II
Title: The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health
Rating: 7/10

I borrowed it from: The Montgomery County Public Library, Silver Spring branch, and I haven't returned it, yet.
This book made me feel: Angry, adventurous
Why I like it: I can use it as a shield when carnivours try to pierce me with stupid questions - just read the book.
Why I don't like it: Dr. Campbell didn't convince me that the research design methods used for studies he didn't respect as disreputable. I still believe in the studies that prove his point. I just wanted to be more convinced that the studies, which didn't prove his point, weren't valid studies. It wouldn't take much more convincing.
The plot in five words: death/suffering/diet/life/whole

This book made me think of: Colleen Patrick-Goudreau who recommended this book on her podcast.
Memorable character: Dr. John McDougall
Memorable quote:
This is especially true when no subjects in the study population consume a whole foods, plant-based diet when it is their diet that is most consistent with the biologically-based evidence, supported by the most impressive array of professional literature, consonant with the extremely low disease rates seen in the international studies, far more harmonious with a sustainable environment, possessed of the power to heal advanced disease, and has the potential, without parallel, for supporting a new, low-cost health care system.

Person I met while reading this book: I started a new blog.
Something memorable that happened in my life during the time it took to read the book: My brother is a good cook, and he is a carnivour. However, since he is so intuned with how to cook things, he had a better understanding of how I should sear tofu on my first try. If he wasn't there it would have been a failure of tofu pieces, but with him there, and his food artistry/understanding, it was palatable. Just goes to show that an intuitive person with one food, can be intuitive with another.
If I could recommend this book to one person, it would be to: Anyone in my family.
How this book changed my life: I have scientific proof to back up my lifestyle.
Will I read it again: Most likely.

Notes: When I started this blog project I didn't know what would interest me the most. I knew I was a big lover of fiction, but it didn't take long for me to show my love of food. After reading this book it's possible that my next career, in many years, may be health related (vegetarian dietician or acupuncture.) Also, the findings in this book are not news to me. The agencies that are there to protect; government, medical, education, are actually hurting us because they block this low-cost easy change information. To prevent disease, to cure disease, pills and procedures are not the answers. So much could be prevented with a whole-foods plant based diet. Now, how to tell my family members this . . .

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Book Review: Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry by Gail A. Eisnitz

Date: February 17, 2008
Author: Gail A. Eisnizt
Title: Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry
Rating: 8/10

I borrowed it from: The Silver Spring branch of the Montgomery County Public Library. I first heard of it from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I asked her at a conference what was the inspiration to go from vegetarian to vegan, and she said this book. That was in the summer, but I've been thinking of it. I have to return in by Thursday, so I read most of its 300 pages today. It was a quick read, and left me shaken.
Have I returned it yet: No, but will soon.
Where I read it: Home, metro

This book made me feel: Shaken, angry, helpless, inspired.
Why I like it: Inspired by the courage and voice of those willing to speak against exploitive working conditions, government coverups, and inhumane treatment of animals.
Why I don't like it: It disgusts me the hold the meat industry has on the pockets of our elected officials.
The plot in five words: death/pain/exploitation/courage/voice

This book made me think of: The Jungle.
Memorable character: Gail A. Eisnitz
Memorable quote: After all the USDA corruption I'd encountered, this was the most brazen so far. This wasn't some midlevel supervisor at the USDA instigating a coverup. This was the highest-ranking agriculture official in the country, a member of the Cabinet, answerable only to the president of the United States, signing off on a document riddled with lies.

Person I met while reading this book: Bookstore staff where I bought Becoming Jane DVD.
Something memorable that happend in my life during the time it took to read this book: Sometimes when I run it feels natural.
If I could recommend this book to one person, it would be to: A person with clout, and a lot of listeners.
How this book has changed my life: I'll be a vegetarian again.
Will I read it again: most likely. Similarly there are times when I feel the need to reread Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.

Notes: Violation of workers, contaminated meat, awful working conditions, inhumane treatment of animals, classist disregard of workers, management looking at the clock and paycheck, society looking at the government, government looking at clock, paycheck, and political polls - are you sure this isn't The Jungle. I was almost in tears reading this because the exploitation of workers is still so pervasive, and of course it's in the meat industry. I'm exhausted reading it. I recommend you read it, too. Choose wisely in what you eat, as you are your own best health advocate.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Book Review - Death in Summer by William Trevor

Date: February 10, 2008
Author: William Trevor
Title: Death in Summer
Rating: 7/10

I bought it where: At Kramerbooks. It was an impulse buy. I liked The Story of Lucy Gault about 4 years ago, and I knew I would eventually read more of his books.
Where I read this book: Home, metro, my twin's.
This book made me feel: Anxious, nervous. Trevor writes suspense successfully. My feelings were appropriate given the writing.
Why I like it: Layers of suspense
Why I don't like it: Suspense creates a wall between reader and words. It felt like the action was happening outside a window that was part of a wall 5 feet away.
The plot in 5 words: death/kidnap/suspense/history/final

This book made me think of: A man who frequented Fremont Place Books when I worked there in 2002-2003. He recommended The Story of Lucy Gault.
Memorable character: Thaddeus. Strong, silent, lonely, and could possibly learn to love his child.
Memorable quote: Death is mysterious, he finds himself reflecting, in ordering so calmly what life can not.
Person I met while reading this book: I visited, and felt I discovered a hidden treasure.
Something memorable that happened in my life during the time it took to read the book: I realized that where I work will incorporate Web2.0 into the next launch of the website in August 2008.
If I could recommend this book to one person, it would be to: A book club
How has this book changed my life: I'm not a big reader of suspense, but I'm willing to expand my horizons with this author as my guide. His writing style is too good to miss.
Will I read it again: Most likely

Notes: Even though I read the ending before I finished the book, I was still affected by the ordering and method of words that created the suspense. The use of each character, the few characters, and the scenes, familiar, yet they contributed to the anxiety. The suspense was very well written. Just look at question #6 of the Reading Group Guide. That's the type of question I would have created. Also, I don't know if question #10 of the same guide has value. I think it was a throw-away death. I guess death does happen, but it seemed too convenient to the ending.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Book Review: Everyman by Philip Roth

Date: January 30, 2008
Author: Philip Roth
Title: Everyman
Rating: 7/10

I bought it where: At Kramerbooks as an impulse buy. It has good reviews, it's short, and it's paperback.
Where I read it: Home, metro
This book made me feel: Old. It's about an older man looking back on his life, and the flashbacks have less vitality than the present day scenarios. However, the reader already knows from the beginning that the main character is dead.
Why I like it: Philip Roth wrote in some good people. The characters are one dimensional basically because the book is so short and there are quite a few supporting characters. So, the good are very good, and everyone else is average.
Why I don't like it: It hit too close to home. I'm aging, and I had medical issues. The medical procedures discussed I don't want in my future. Again, the characters were not developed. I guess that's not the point of the book. It must be to develop the steps right before dying?
The plot in 5 words: age/regret/family/death/alone

This book made me think of who: My 96-year-old grandma who recently sent to me 9 biscotti recipes handwritten in beautiful handwriting.
Memorable character: Howie
Memorable quote: Old age isn't a battle. Old age is a massacre.
Person I met while reading this book: Ageist fucks on a band website.
Something memorable that happened in my life during the time it took to read the book: I was thinking about my own age and health, and I didn't wan't to acknowledge the limitations. I still don't. We all die, sure, but I think we have control of our happiness. If someone presses upon us our limitations until we give them the chance to decide what are lives are, then we've lost some of the goodness that life has to offer.
If I could recommend this book to one person, it would be: A book club
How this book changed my life: It was definitely fate that I read it at this exact time. I didn't even know what it was about, just that it got good reviews on the back cover. This is a time when I have been forced to think about age. I'm almost 40, and I still have living to do, but maybe even I wonder, not just the ageist fucks.
Will I read it again: not likely

Notes: It's a short book with physically big words. It's a flash. the writing is quick and interesting, but there's no time for too much analysis. The reader is always almost done. Reviews remarked the tenderness, and there are some tender passages. They ground the book into everday life. It didn't inspire me to write probably because the author wasn't tender to the characters. They are not fully developed. I'm trying to think why it received such good reviews. It wasn't flawed. It could depress someone thinking about age, thinking about regrets. Do we only live to think of the past, and the best time to die is when no one could support our memories?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Book Review: Ralph Ellison: A Biography by Arnold Rampersad

Date: January 27, 2008
Author: Arnold Rampersad
Title: Ralph Ellison: A Biography
Rating: 8/10

How I got this book: First, I borrowed a copy from the library. However, when I visited my twin's Bar preparation class, I bought a copy.
Where I read this book: Home, metro, restaurant at twin's class, twin's house.
This book made me feel: I learned more about outside influences of successful writers, and how they may fail in writing future books, yet gain in popularity.
Why I like it: It's well written. Sure, I wanted to complete the over 500 pages so that I could get to a new book, but I knew I was going to learn a lot over those pages. I wasn't bored, and not really antsy, but interested.
Why I don't like it: Ralph Ellison was intelligent, he had ambition, but he took the time to market himself as a certain type of writer, that in the end he didn't have time or focus to write the second book.
The plot in five words: division, art, travel, money, transition

This book made me think of: Toni Morrison - successful and prolific. She finished more than 1 novel. Ralph Ellison resisted supporting her in her endeavors. It could be because she would take his spotlight as a black writer, it could be because she was female. Those options were explored within the book. Not sure if there could be another option except personality difference.

Memorable character: Ralph Ellison. He was portrayed as a man with his own direction, his own focus, and loyalties.
Memorable quote: There were so many within essays that Ellison wrote, that I didn't tag them. I would just recommend that you read the book.
Person I met while reading this book: When I visited my twin at her bar preparation class a shuttle was dispatched to pick me up from the metro to the hotel. It was free, and I just said, "Hello" to the bus driver. It was cold and rainy, and it was great to have such a free ride.
Something memorable that happened in my life during the time it took to read the book: I started to telcommute on Fridays instead of Wednesdays. On Fridays I stay at my twin's house so that an adult is home when her kids are home from school. Because I don't have a car my twin usually drives me home Saturday afternoon. It is quite a change in my view of weekends.

If I could recommend this book to one person, it would be: History professor
How this book has changed my life: I will read a Saul Bellow book. I didn't know about him before. Maybe I'll read Invisible Man.
Will I read it again: Not likely:

Notes: Ralph Ellison is driven, he is intelligent, he is torn between what geography created him (Oklahoma), and what geography will make him (New York City.) He walks a tightrope between being a token black on many art commisions/boards, and in this way doesn't feel it's his duty to support other black artists to succeed on these very same boards. He has an idea as to what success is, and it's about popularity, and stipends, and experience. However, as a writer, all of his paid activities get in the way of his writing, he is not focused. I would recommend this book as it brings up questions that would be good for a book club; basically, what would you do in his shoes? He is not a hero or a villian, he is a successful businessman/teacher/lecturer who wrote a ground-breaking book.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Book Review: The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich

Date: January 10, 2008
Author: Louise Erdrich
Title: The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse
Rating: 9/10 (Can a book be perfect? I was struggling to give this a 10 or not?)

I bought it: At Fremont Place Book Company probably the day it came out in hardcover.
Where I read this book: Seattle, Maryland, DC
This book made me feel: That I can leave worries behind my back to listen intently to an experienced storyteller.
Why I like it: Characters are complete, sadness, laughter, story with substories like life. Interesting and engrossing like life. Beliefs and facts like life.
Why I don't like it: Waiting for her next novel.
The plot in 5 words: Ojibwe/Catholic/humor/sadness/years

This book made me think of: Peet's Cafe in Fremont District of Seattle. I read it the second time on the second floor of that cafe.
Memorable Character: Father Damien(very rare that I choose the main character as the most memorable)
Memorable Quote: I started to cry in earnest, unstoppable because of the evil taste of this thing they called olive.
Something memorable that happened in my life during the time it took to read the book: I posted a picture of me eating a cookie on a message forum, and someone responded as if he/she had been waiting for me to do that.
If I could recommend this book to one person, it would be to: Helen in Seattle
How this book changed my life: Oh, man! When in the pit of writing despair, time to sink into this story. It restores my faith in authors.
Will I read it again: Most likely
Notes: This is the third time I read it. I bought it new first edition hardcover. I plan on reading it again, and again, and again over many years. My favorite story. It reminds me when I was able to devote a lot of time to reading; a very good time, and yet a time of unemployment. Probably why I associate it with "saving" me at different times.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Start and Recall: The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

I started this book twice. I can understand that the artistry is appreciated, and there is attention to the smallest of details. However, the author doesn't like her characters. The ones she writes most about have next to no redeeming qualities. It's not enjoyable to trudge through the smallest of details. I'm not inspired.

I always feel something is wrong with me if I don't like a book that has received great reviews. However, life is short, why torture myself to read a book when I know there is a book that can inspire me waiting on my bookshelf to rescue me whenever life becomes boring.

That is the best part of life, to not relive a wonderful experience, but to be rescued by it. After I realized that the Kiran Desai book was just not for me, I took this book down from the shelf. The slowness of the week all of sudden faded away into incredible story telling. I sunk into the words like they were a easy boy chair, soothed and relaxed. Louise Erdrich loves her characters. There is no doubt about it or she wouldn't give them the ability to laugh, and give the reader the ability to see the irony that Louise does. Man, she can write. I haven't kept all of her books. Some of them I donated to the library, but they are all good, and some are just out and out phenomenal. She is my favorite writer. Man, I was truly rescued by her story telling last night. Sometimes I just have to realize that I need inspiration for my life to feel worthy of every moment, and not just living it from action to action. Her words do that to me. Every moment is potentially the most inspirational moment of my life. Man, I LOVE her WRITING!