Category: Book Review (page 1 of 14)

My Current Reading List

I have a tendency to read several books at the same time, usually a mix of fiction and non-fiction.  My current list is no exception, although I have to say, I’m reading a much larger number of books than usual, even for me.

Actively Reading- Non-Fiction:

She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity by Carl Zimmer – the title says it all.  It’s a massive book; 574 pages of text, plus the Glossary, Notes, Bibliography, Acknowledgments, and Index, coming to a grand total of 657 pages.  I am finding it quite fascinating.


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Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dryer.  This book was a birthday gift – someone knew how much I enjoy copyediting.  Not only is this informative, but it’s extremely witty. 


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Building the American Republic, Volume 2:  A Narrative History from 1877 by Jane Dailey.  I began reading this two volume set upon the recommendation of my nephew-in-law, who was a Colonial History major in college at the time.  It’s a bit dry, but I learned a lot from the first volume and, since I’m a history nerd, dry isn’t a reason to skip a history book.  Besides, given our current political situation here in the United States, having a better understanding of how we got here isn’t a bad idea, is it?


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Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear.  This is a recent bestseller and was recommended to me by several friends.  There’s a lot to digest in this small book, so I am reading small bits at a time, highlighting a lot, and then mulling over what I’ve read.  It’s a book to be read more than once, I believe, to get the full benefit from all the great information.


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Actively Reading – Fiction:

The Isaac Question: Templars and the Secret of the Old Testament (Templars in America #5) by David S. Brody.  I am reading this on my Kindle and it was a free book offered through BookBub, which explains why I’m reading #5 in the series rather than starting with #1.  The author assures the reader, though, that this book works as a stand-alone, which I’ve decided is pretty much the case.  The author also shamelessly promotes his previous books within this book, which is rather different.  The main character, Cameron (Cam) Thorne, seems to be loosely based upon the Brody himself. Cam is an historian and author who writes novels that coincidentally have the same titles and subjects as Brody.  That said, the topic is fascinating, completely rewriting the Old Testament story of Abraham, Moses, Isaac, and Joseph and the span of the Egyptian enslavement and exodus.  I can’t put it down at night, which has led to a few nights short on sleep!


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Not Actively Reading:

Even though I’m not actively reading these, I am not ready to give up on them yet!  I do intend to finish each and every one.

The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future by Ryder Carroll (non-fiction).  This book has been life-changing for me.  I devoured the first hundred pages or so back in October 2018, and I then immediately began putting his method into action with my own Bullet Journal, which I now use daily.  Like Atomic Habits, this is a book to hang on to, read and read again, as there is so much useful information to implement that you can’t possibly do it all at once.


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Jeff Gordon:  His Dream, Drive, and Destiny by Joe Garner (non-fiction).  I’ve been working on this book for over a year now.  If you are a Jeff Gordon fan, it’s a must read.  It is an over-sized book, though, and unwieldy to hold, which isn’t really a good reason for not having finished reading it.  I need to pull it back off the shelf!


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Fast Food Genocide: How Processed Food is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It by Joel Fuhrman.  I own almost all of Dr. Fuhrman’s books and follow (mostly) Eat To Live (ETL), his dietary plan.  Lately I’ve been slip sliding away, so I should pull this one back out and refresh what I already know.  I need to be eating to live, not living to eat.


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8 books, and only 1 fiction.  Wow.  I think that’s a record for me!

What are you reading?

Book Review of A Whole New Mind by Daniel H Pink

One of my goals this year is to read through some of the (too) many non-fiction self-help books that sit unread on my bookshelves.  Previous reviews have been:

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and The Brain, by  John J. Ratey, MD with Eric Hagerman.

Salt Sugar Fat:  How The Food Giants Hooked Us, by  Michael Moss.

Since I posted those reviews, I have read two more books and am most of the way through a third, so I figured I better get some more reviews written up!

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future*, by  Daniel H. Pink.  Copyright 2005.  ISBN-13: 978-1594481710

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As you can see from the copyright date (2005), A Whole New Mind has been on my shelf for quite a while.  I believe I was first intrigued by the title due to my homeschooling research on right-brain learners and I did actually begin reading it several years ago, but never finished.  Better late than never, right?

The first quarter segment of A Whole New Mind covers three main themes:

  • The last two centuries or so have been considered the age of “left-brain” dominance
  • The 3 A’s – Abundance, Asia, and Automation – are draining away the traditional careers of “left-brain” thinkers, i.e. lawyers, accountants, engineers.
  • The future belongs to those who can think outside the box, create opportunities, and provide a personal touch, i.e. designers, inventors, storytellers.

In the rest of A Whole New Mind , Daniel Pink outlines what he considers to be the six senses necessary for professional success and personal fulfillment:

Design – Story – Symphony – Empathy – Play – Meaning.

What makes this book unique is that Pink, knowing that some of these senses might not come natural to many of us, includes several ways to master each sense.  For example, at the end of the Play chapter, he suggests you:

  • Find a Laughter Club (yes, there is such a thing!)
  • Play the Cartoon Captions Game
  • Step on the Humor Scale
  • Play at Inventing
  • Get Your Game On
  • Go Back to School
  • Dissect a Joke
  • Play Right-Brain Games.

Each suggestion is complete with explanations, book and/or website resources, and what you might gain from trying each activity.

I am hanging on to this book because I would really like to actually do at least one activity from each of the six senses.  I’m sure my right-brain could benefit from some hands-on exploration.

 

Book Review of Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss

Salt Sugar Fat:  How The Food Giants Hooked Us*, by Michael Moss.
Copyright 2013.  ISBN-13: 978-1400069804

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Salt Sugar Fat was an eye-opener, revealing the history, science, and marketing behind our present-day convenience / processed foods.   I was a child of the 60s & 70s and thus remember a time when a trip to a fast food restaurant was a rare treat and buying a packaged pizza (crust, sauce, and cheese topping in a box!) was very cool.  Grocery shopping was simple because there were so few choices in the store.  Today a trip to the grocery store feels like running a gauntlet – so many options assaulting you, wearing down your defenses until you just grab something, not caring whether it has any nutritional value or not – and chances are pretty high that the answer to that is “not.”

This book is jam-packed with information, but here are a few highlights:

Sugar

  • Our bodies are hard-wired for sweets.
  • Children like a much higher level of sweetness than adults
  • There is a particular “bliss point” at which things taste their best and ultimate sweetness
  • The bliss point is at a different level for different age groups and even ethnicities.

Fat

  • There is no taste receptor in the mouth for fat (taste receptors are how the sweet taste and other tastes get delivered to the brain)
  • Fat is about a mouth feel or texture, rather than taste
  • There is no bliss point with fat
  • Fat is so pleasing to the brain that the brain never sends the signal to stop eating
  • Fat tastes better with the addition of a little (or a lot) of sugar
  • When sugar is added, people mistakenly believe that the item contains less fat because they notice the sugar, not the fat (the fat goes “into hiding”)

Salt

  • Even more than sugar or fat, salting processed foods is the way to increase sales and consumption
  • “Among the basic tastes—sweet, sour, bitter and salty—salt is one of the hardest ones to live without.”
  • Salt is not a taste that we are born to love – babies don’t like salty foods, but love sweet foods. Rather it is a taste that we learn to love.  The more salty foods we eat, the more our palate adjusts to salt, the more we crave salt.
  • Manufacturers of processed food thus create our cravings for salt by adding more and more salt into their products.
  • Salt fixes many problems that occur in processed foods, which is why manufacturers rely upon it so.
  • The most important issue salt fixes is WOF – warmed over flavor. “ WOF is caused by the oxidation of the fats in meat, which gives meat the taste of cardboard or, as some in the industry describe it, damp dog hair, when the meat is reheated after being precooked and added to soups or boxed meals.”
  • With the addition of salt, “the cardboard or dog-hair taste is still there, but it is overpowered by the salt.”
  • Addiction to salt can be reversed. People who consciously reduce salt levels in their diet will notice within a few weeks that normal processed foods taste way too salty.  Their taste buds become more sensitive to salt and thus need less salt to experience the same salt enjoyment.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is concerned about nutrition and eating a healthier diet.

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