Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lots of books!

I've been on a book reading frenzy for the past few weeks. Most of what I read comes from recommendations that I see on other blogs, so I thought I would return the favor and share a few of my own thoughts on what I've been reading recently. I'll start with fiction...

1. Violets of March by Sarah Jio
I really enjoyed this book. It's a mystery novel about Emily, who finds an old diary and sets out to uncover family secrets. This would be a great beach read - the setting is idyllic, it is easy to read and I found it hard to put down! I would rate this a 4 out of 5.

2. Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
This novel follows the lives of two women, one in India who had to give up her newborn daughter to an orphanage, and one woman in California who is adopting a daughter from India. It is interesting how their lives intersect.  I thought the book was good - not my favorite, but still a good read. This would be a good choice for a book club. I give it a 3.5.

3. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
This is the story of Little Bee, a refugee from Nigeria, and Sarah, the woman who takes her into her home in London. I would describe this book as heavy, shocking and sad. To be honest, I really didn't love this one. I give it a 2.

4. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
This historical fiction novel is the story of a Chinese boy and a Japanese girl living in California during WWII. I didn't realize how Japanese people were treated during this time in our country - the Japanese were sent to internment camps. This is a love story, and a very sweet one. I liked it, and would give it a 3.5.

5. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
To be honest, I was really just curious to see what all the fuss is about in this series for teens - it's been a #1 bestseller for awhile (I also haven't read the Harry Potter series or the Twilight series, although I may!). The books take place in the future, and they are not for the faint of heart! All three of the books were good, but I thought the first was excellent (and will be coming out in a movie next March!). They are very fast reads - Matt and I both read the entire trilogy in 4 or 5 days. That said, I am not a science fiction fan and didn't appreciate these books as much as most people! I give them a 3.5 (Matt said he'd give them a 4!).

6. Reshaping it All by Candice Cameron Bure
I absolutely loved this book. I don't spend money on books - I always get them from the library, unless it is one I am going to want to read again and again and loan out to friends. This book definitely falls into that category. The content of the book is about a third her biography, a third about healthy eating, and a third about her faith. I grew up watching DJ on Full House, so I thought it was interesting to read her story! She talks about eating and weight loss in relation to her faith, and I found it to be inspiring and full of good ideas! I like how she focuses on living a life of self-control and discipline in all areas of life. I highly recommend! I give it a 5.

7. Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst
The words on the cover say it all: this book is about satisfying your deepest desire with God, not food. I like that idea, and I really wanted to love this book. It's hard to put my finger on exactly why it didn't sit well with me. I think it is because she basically leaves no room for moderation - her diet is very all or nothing, and I don't think that is realistic. She doesn't eat any bread, pasta, corn, potatoes, rice, or sweets. And having even just one small treat on an occasion isn't an option for her. She does say that her own diet isn't for all people, but it is the only diet she talks about, and I couldn't quite figure out how to apply this to my own life...I only eat a treat once or twice a week - is this ok? After reading this book, I was left a little confused. I give it a 3. Who knows, maybe I'll read it again in a year and think it's wonderful:)

8. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
This should be required reading. Michael Pollan, who was featured on Food, Inc., goes through the history of 'nutritionism' and the affect on Americans: we're fat. His ideas are simple and straightforward: eat food, not to much, mostly plants. By "eat food" he means real, whole food, and not what he refers to as "edible food-like substances" - processed foods. This book, along with Food Inc.; Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; and the book below have completely changed the way Matt and I think about food. I give it a 5.

We also read Food Rules by Michael Pollan, which is a VERY short version of In Defense of Food. It is a very simple, easy to read, quick book. If you don't have the time or desire to read In Defense of Food, at least read this one!

9. Food Matters by Mark Bittman
The ideas in this book are similar to In Defense of Food - eat less meat, way less processed food, and much more fruits and vegetables. I also highly recommend this one. I give it a 5.

10. The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman
This cookbook goes along with his Food Matters book - it features healthy recipes (there isn't even a meat section - the dinner section focuses on vegetables, beans and grains!). Every single recipe looks AMAZING, and the few that we've tried have tasted awesome! Bittman is a food journalist for the New York Times and cookbook writer and he is hands down mine and Matt's favorite when it comes to recipes and cookbooks. He's called the "minimalist" - he focuses on making things taste good in a minimal amount of time with minimal ingredients. I love that! I know this is a cookbook, but I still give it a 5!

Have you read anything good lately? I LOVE getting recommendations!!


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