Catching up on the books

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Now that I have played around with my new blackberry a bit (and I am sure there will be more of that coming–I foresee a blog focus that is slightly relaxed here), I figured I should do something about the fact that I have read 7 books since I posted a book update here. Here it is:

3. The Murder Room by P.D. James

Another great book from James. Very suspenseful at the end–I kept having to go back and actually read a paragraph that I had only hurriedly skimmed.

4. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

A few years ago, I lost a bunch of weight. I didn’t follow any particular pattern of eating, ie. Weight Watchers, Atkins, etc. I had some simple rules around the way I ate: I only ate food that I really enjoyed. I tried not to choose fattening foods very often, but when I did, I enjoyed them and didn’t feel guilty about eating them. I ate slowly and really paid attention to how full I felt, and the the taste and enjoyment of my food. I cooked real foods at home as often as possible, and kept lots of whole fruits and veggies on hand for occasional snacks. I avoided processed food as much as possible. I ate at the dinner table with my family and friends.

I lost so much weight, that I really started to pay attention to the way that I was eating, the specific foods. I joined Weight Watchers, and I counted points. I lost five more pounds, but I was anxious about food a lot. I was also hungry. I spent a lot of time thinking about food, and I didn’t enjoy what I was eating. I bought little chocolate cakes, put out by Weight Watchers at only one point that tasted a lot like chocolate sawdust, and told myself it was a treat. I then started gaining weight.

Now that I have read this book, I can see the clear differences between the two styles of eating. When I focused on eating real food and enjoying eating, I lost weight, without putting much effort into it. When I focused on losing weight, I thought about food all the time, I didn’t enjoy my food, and I gained weight. This book was helpful in reminding me of my own experiences with food and weight, and showing why things happened that way. It was short book, but very interesting, and full of information. Highly recommended.

5. Everything Bad is Good For You by Steven Johnson

This book had a lot of interesting information about the increasing complexity of popular culture, and the positive affects on our intelligence. Johnson certainly does not say that sitting around playing video games and watching tv all day long is good for us, but he makes a convincing argument that doing these things sometimes can be good for us. He cited an impressive amount of research to support this theory, although much of the justifications for his view are more theoretical than proven at this point. It does open up quite a few interesting questions for further research, though.

6. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I stayed up too late to finish this one. It was just as good as I remembered. I found the Historical Notes at the end particularly creepy, when the academics studying the supposed manuscript go out of their way to talk about how the oppression of women in the Gilead society is part of a different culture, so they cannot make value judgments about it. So many people say that now about cultures that viciously oppress women, as if that makes it all right to conduct activities like honor killings, or punishing women for adultery when they were raped. I have been listening to NPR lately about how Germany refuses to uphold their own laws when it comes to crimes against Muslim women because that is a different culture, so this is not a fictional device. Scary stuff. Excellent book, I am glad I read it again.

7. Creation in Death by J.D. Robb

I needed something easy to read, because I was sick, and this fit the bill. The eye rolling quotient of these books is high (Eve Dallas is tougher than you, no matter who you are), and there is no interaction between characters that goes unexplained, but the mysteries are fun, the characters do grow and change, and I really enjoy these.

8. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

This was just a lovely read about reading can change anyone, even the Queen of England.

9. The Giver by Lois Lowry

This was the most recent book that my 10 year old daughter and I read aloud to each other. We both cried quite a bit near the end of this. We are going to get the other books in this series. It was a great book for talking seriously with my daughter while still being very enjoyable.

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