Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Eat To Live

Fuhrman, Joel, M.D., Eat to Live. New York: Little, Brown & Co., 2011. Print.
image from:www.drfuhrman.com
My Thoughts
A friend of mine committed to hard core following this book. She got GREAT results, so I thought I'd read it and see what it's about, and if I could follow the "plan" Dr. Fuhrman gives.

Well, I've read the book. Thought about what he says (which does make sense), but I haven't actually committed to it yet. I feel like summer is a good time to try this, but not having a routine schedule and being at the mercy of the road hasn't made me start.

The premise is to eat 1 pound of raw vegetables, 1 pound of steamed vegetables, 1 cup of beans and 4 fresh fruits daily. This sounds doable. I eat salad. I eat fruit. Should be easy. However, I'm not finding myself doing it. I'm eating lots of other stuff that isn't included in Fuhrman's plan. He also gives some items to limit: cooked starchy vegetables or whole grains, raw nuts & seeds, avocado, dried fruit and ground flaxseeds. Off limits items are dairy products, animal products, between-meal snacks, fruit juice and oils (Fuhrman 284).

There is a detailed meal plan with recipes included. This is 56 pages of the book. I liked that Fuhrman says to read the book first, without skipping ahead to the "plan." Included are "ten easy tips for living with the six week plan"

  1. Salad is the main dish: eat it first at lunch and dinner
  2. Eat as much fruit as you want but at least four fresh fruits daily.
  3. Variety is the spice of life, particularly when it comes to greens. 
  4. Beware of the starchy vegetable.
  5. Eat beans or legumes every day.
  6. Eliminate animal and dairy products.
  7. Have a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds every day.
  8. Consume nuts and seeds in limited amounts, not more than one ounce per day.
  9. Eat lots of mushrooms all the time.
  10. Keep it simple.  (Fuhrman 287)
Fuhrman includes case studies of his patients. Most are morbidly obese, so dropping 100 or more pounds is very much needed. I don't need to drop that much weight.

He backs up what he's saying with scientific studies and refutes other claims made by experts, including the USDA's Food Guide Pyramid (Fuhrman 99). He is realistic. "This program is not for everybody, because added to the desire to lose weight must be the willingness to make a commitment to achieve wellness" (Fuhrman 309).  He is informative (did you know that meat isn't the only source of protein? Did you know "all green vegetables are high in calcium" (Fuhrman 140)? He is funny. "Believe it or not, I do not expect you to eat exactly like a gorilla" (Fuhrman 96). He states that by eating more healthy green vegetables, the healthier and thinner the doer will become (Fuhrman 96). "The high volume of greens not only will be your secret to a thin waistline but will simultaneously protect you against life-threatening illnesses" (Fuhrman 155). He is encouraging. "Eat to Live does not have to be an all-or-nothing decision on day one. Incremental improvements bring benefits" (Fuhrman 221). "We can't buy good health; we must earn it" (Fuhrman 412).

Caffeine "promotes inadequate sleep, and less sleep promotes disease and premature aging" (Fuhrman 403)

Cancer Fuhrman writes that "the war against...cancer..is to follow the overall advice presented in this book and begin at as young an age as possible (132). He later writes that there is evidence that "high-growth-promoting foods such as dairy products" are "a causative factor in both prostate and ovarian cancer" (Fuhrman 142). This got my attention.

Headache "Recurrent headaches...are almost always the result of nutritional folly and...are completely avoidable" (Fuhrman 264). He lists 15 common migraine triggers (sweets being the first one listed) (Fuhrman 266). He advises instead of medicine to "drape a cold washcloth over their forehead and lie down in a dark room to rest" (Fuhrman 265). He even includes an Anti-Headache Diet

Hunger "True hunger is felt in the throat, neck, and mouth, not in the stomach or head" (Fuhrman 201). WHAT? I was interested in these paragraphs about true hunger. Very informative (and logical). "Symptoms of true hunger: enhanced taste sensation, increased salivation, gnawing throat sensation" (Fuhrman 202). He encourages the reader to "get back in touch with true hunger" to understand the correct signals a healthy body will give.

Nutritarian-a term Fuhrman coins to describe "a person whose dietary focus is on eating healthful, nutrient-rich foods (217).

Social support-Fuhrman suggests to have family and friends read this book "not with the purpose of recruiting them to this way of eating, but so they will help you and understand why you are eating this way" (Fuhrman 383).

Monday, June 22, 2015

Stay Where You Are and Then Leave

Boyne, John. Stay Where You Are & Then Leave. New York: Henry Hold and Company, 2013. Print.
image from:www.johnboyne.com
My Thoughts
Yet again, this is a book I got signed by the author at TLA conference (2014). I was excited to met John Boyne, as he wrote The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I finally got around to reading this story. It is probably a little young for high school students, as Alfie Summerfield, the main character,  is only 5 when the story begins.
The story takes place prior to and during World War I. Alfie's father goes off to fight, leaving Alfie and his mother to survive at home. Alfie earns money by shining shoes at the train station. There, he learns that his father must be alive and sets out to find him at the hospital. His father suffers from "shell shock" and is not himself. Alfie doesn't understand what has happened to his father (as the doctors seemed a bit baffled themselves). This is understandable.
Some of the events seemed unbelievable (e.g., Alfie travels alone and is able to get his father out of the hospital; Alfie shines the Prime Minister's shoes). However, because this book, I think, is geared towards a younger audience, I can accept some latitude in what the young character is able to pull off in the story. I was glad that Alfie talked to Joe Patience and gained more "adult" knowledge about his dad.
I enjoyed the description of the librarian (as I seem to notice more since becoming one). "He loved to hear Mrs. Jillson, the librarian, reading from a book...Mrs. Jillson was as old as the hills, but she put on funny voices and made all the children do the same thing, and Alfie loved that part of it" (Boyne 50). Ahhh...the difference a little fun can have with a child.
I learned about white feathers and the war. Apparently, women would hand out white feathers "to any young man they see who isn't in a uniform. It means you're a coward" (Boyne 175).

The title reference is on page 101. It comes from Alfie's dad's letters where he explains his role in the trenches. It is further explained on page 216.

 So, I think this is a good book for middle grade readers. This coming of age story touches on war, relationships, discovering knowledge, understanding "adult secrets" and the importance of family.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Heir

Cass, Kiera. The Heir. New York: Harper Teen, 2015. Print.
image from: www.kieracass.com

My Thoughts
I WAS SO EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK! I got to meet Kiera Cass and take pictures with her at TLA this year. The book was released three weeks later, so I didn't get a signed copy of this one (but I did get the first three signed). I loved that she was so friendly and genuinely interested in her fans.

About the book--18 years have passed since The One. King Maxon and Queen America have come to their eldest child "seeking a way to boost morale" in the country (Cass 12). This surprised me, as I thought this book would pick up with America's pregnancy. Nope, their daughter is now ready to face her own Selection, but Princess Eadlyn has her own thoughts about marriage. I kept thinking about in the first book how her mother, now Queen, had her own thoughts, too. I even marked one page when Princess Eadlyn says, "'Do you know how hard it is when you love jeans but you're a princess?'" (Cass 131). Fans of the first book will see the connection.

I was surprised at how Princess Eadlyn's attitude was so...rude/spoiled/condescending. There were times that I didn't like this character or her sarcasm. There were other times I'm glad that Cass depicted her as strong and independent and  someone who doesn't "need to be rescued" (Cass 121). Princess Eadlyn is conflicted. She wants to appease her parents, lead her country, but she also doesn't believe in the fairy tale. "This was why love was a terrible idea: it made you weak. And there was no one in the world as powerful as me" (Cass 276). Like many young adults, she must find her own way.

I kept a list of the men in the Selection to help me keep track of who was who. Cass devoted separate chapters to each of these guys and his "date" with the princess that also helped.

I think there is more to Henri and Erik. I predict that Erik is really the suitor and not the translator (but then I wonder if I've just seen that so many times before, that Cass is throwing that red herring in here).

I also know there is something developing with Kile. I'm not sure if it's a pseudo sibling love or if this might be that "right in front of you but can't see it" love story.

I liked that even though the story jumps to 20 years after the last book, some of those years were discussed, including Lucy and General Leger's story. Sometimes we don't always know why people are the way they are because we don't know their histories. Princess Eadlyn was learning much in these pages.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

All Over But the Shoutin'

Bragg, Rick. All Over But the Shoutin'. New York: Vintage Books, 1997. Print.
image from:www.goodreads.com

My Thoughts
This was my book club read this month. This book has been on my "to read" list for about two years, so I was happy to have the deadline.

First, I enjoyed the storytelling. Rick Bragg creates a picture of his life that I can see. I wondered if I could understand it so well because
  1. I'm a Southerner. 
  2. My great grandparents came to Texas from Alabama. 
  3. Rick Bragg is just a gifted writer. 
This is a memoir. In such, I'm sure the details are embellished or understated as Bragg remembers. I'm not calling Bragg a liar, but I know that memories form in a lens that might be tainted. 

I liked how he told the good with the bad. His life was not magical or privileged. He lucked into some things and in others he worked hard. He does not try to blame his upbringing for his faults. He simply shows how people and events shaped who he is. "I am proud of who and what I am, just as proud of being the son of a woman who picked cotton and took in ironing as I am of working for a place like the New York Times. I have always believed that one could not have been without the other" (Bragg xx). 

The book is divided into three parts. For the most part, the book is in chronological order. He writes in the prologue that his "momma believe that she failed [her sons]....She blames herself for that" (Bragg xix). He gives an example for each brother and even himself. Then, he writes about winning the Pulitzer "the highest honor our profession bestows. I hope she blames herself for that, too" (Bragg xx).

Some funny things he wrote: 
"[she] might have told a lie, since she felt that another benefit of old age was that it gave you license to lie like a Republican" (Bragg xvi)
"When she got made she could cuss paint off the wall, cuss crows from the trees, cuss the lame straight and the wicked pure" (Bragg 32)
"Momma kept a garden, which sounds romantic to people who have never held a hoe" (Bragg 46)
squash were used as clubs (Bragg 47)
Bragg's older brother Sam would drop down to pray when he got in trouble. This kept him from getting beat! (Bragg 48)
"Telling stories was something you did on your porch. Journalism was too much like work, like digging taters" (Bragg 116)

Some things he wrote that I liked:
"Hungry does not have a color" (Bragg xvii).
He writes about the dialect and how his grandfather added "r" to words, so Edna became Ednar. I've heard this in my own family.

Overall, I think Bragg is a gifted story teller and carries on Southern traditions. He introduces the reader to people in this book just as he would introduce them---by explaining family connections. For example, "Abigail was a Hamilton, a Presley on her momma's side..." (Bragg 32). He uses colloquialisms that I understand. He is related to the same people I am. Even though I have never meet Rick Bragg, I feel as if I know him. This book was an enjoyable memoir in spite of the hardships.

The title reference is on page 12.