Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Book a Week Update (or, Why I Joined a CSA)

Since I know that what I am reading is ENDLESSLY fascinating to you all ;) here's a quick update on my most recent books:

#22 Heresies of Nature by Margaret Blair Young. I enjoyed this book. I started out really loving it and then began hating a couple of the characters and then, by the end, really enjoying it but also feeling deeply saddened. This book follows the foibles of a Mormon family struggling with their mother's multiplesclerosis. Everyone in the book makes some big mistakes (adultery and fornication chief among them)--even the poor, sick mother makes the mistake of trusting the one woman she shouldn't. But everyone seems to weather it all and, while the ending isn't happy, it is uplifting. This is a good read for anyone seriously trying to understand LDS lit and its current trends.

#23 Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. I've always struggled with Dickens. The only other book of his that I managed to finish is A Christmas Carol, so reading all 800 pages of this book feels like an accomplishment. I can now fully articulate why his style drives me nuts. I will spare you all the details of Dickens' shortcomings as a writer and my shortcomings as a reader (I get pretty fired up about it and then get longwinded), but suffice it to say I also hate Jane Austen, so apparently the whole genre/time period doesn't work for me.

#24 In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan (non-fiction). This book, which seeks to encourage readers to begin making healthier food choice by shopping and cooking to a new mantra ("Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants), is excellent--although some of Pollan's suggestions are a bit impractical. The thing I really took away from this book was his scathing criticism of the way the Americans are encouraged by our politicians and our scientists to consider food in a strictly "nutritionist" vacuum. By doing a sort of meta-analysis of the food analysis, looking at the way we think and study food, he sheds light on our culture's food biases and how they are compounding the very problems we are trying to solve. Talk about missing the plants for the nutrients. . .

#25 The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I actually liked this book even more than I liked In Defense of Food. This book was full of interesting information (want to know how many different kinds of processed corn are in your food? Or how about how much petroleum or barrels of oil it takes to get dinner on your table?) all couched in a personal journey to answer the question, "What's for dinner?" Pollan follows four different types of food chains, examining all the links along the way, and eventually creates what he believes is the perfect meal. Pollan's perfect meal is not my perfect meal (he hunted his own wild boar in the backwoods of the Sonoma valley!), but the thoughtfulness he's encouranging totally jives with me. His section on sustainable farming was so inspiring and convincing that I joined a local CSA in order to avoid the grocery store. The man is a good writer. This book is definitely worth getting on the waiting list at the library or even buying. It will change the way you approach food, I guarantee it.

Anyway, that's the current list. I'm about a week ahead. I've now read 7711 pages this year. Go me!


Jer said...

Hey Laura, I always enjoy reading about what you read. I've heard a lot of good stuff about Omnivore's Dilemma, and I guess it's time I read it, as I've been wanting to for a while now.

I'm also very intrigued by the CSA you joined. You'll have to let me know how that goes as I might be interested myself.

Kelly said...

Keep up the good work, Laura! I've read 23 books so far this year -- I'm a little behind you, although I have to confess some of my books are pre-teen stuff that my oldest has brought home from school. Still, your book a week project has inspired me to try it too.

I know nothing about CSA's. I didn't even know what one was until this blog. So I checked out your link -- it's an interesting concept. I hope it works out well for you. We tend to just go to the local farmer's market for our summer produce (except for our garden zucchini). But it costs more than the grocery store, and I wonder sometimes if there isn't a better way....

Lura said...

I'm interested in reading The Omnivore's Dilemma. It sounds intriguing. I had never heard of a CSA either, but I think it's awesome that you joined one! That is something I'll look into if ever we have the means to do so. Thanks for the book reviews... I'm always looking for a good book to read.

m said...

I loved the year I read a book a week. That was the year I quit all retarded TV like the Apprentice and American Idol. I know both of those shows are so fun but what a waste of time. I read a few heavyweight books in a week that should have taken a few weeks to read. That was a task!

Anonymous said...

just found you via charlotte.

love your blog.

LOVE the title.

(just finished James Freys latest book. have to add I I really enjoyed it----to my surprise!)


Laura said...

Mizfit--thanks for stopping by. I love reading your comments on Charlotte's blog and I'm so grateful for the advice you give her. You are so funny--I hope you'll stop by again! p.s. I enjoy your blog too:)