Genius Kitchen

Genius KitchenThe third installment of what could be considered the Genius series, Genius Kitchen is Max Lugavere’s cookbook which is split into two parts. Part one is an overview of nutritional information and what you want to have in your healthy kitchen from foods and spices to utensils and cookware. Part two consists of recipes to help you explore and find ways to make your healthy food delicious.

Admittedly I have not made every recipe in this cookbook, but I have read part one and made a handful of the recipes. All of which were really good and are “make again” dishes for myself and the family.

Part one is a great reference to information on what you should keep in the kitchen and why you should use it. Much of what is in this section is an overview of what can be found in Genius Foods, but in an easy-to-reference format that can help remind you the essential information for each item (really useful when prepping or starting to make an actual meal). Part one can also be a primer for nutrition facts where Genius Foods can be a deep-dive for anyone wanting to know more about the science behind how our bodies intake nutrients. That means you could start with this book and then look into the other Genius books if you are interested in learning more about how to be healthier while navigating our modern environments.

This is actually the first cookbook I’ve ever recommended. Just goes to show how versatile and important books are. From fiction to non-fiction, books enrich our lives. My hope is that this one, alongside the several other nutrition books I’ve recommended lately, can help us extend our lives by being healthier, happier individuals. Longer lives means more books we can read.

Happy Reading.

Mid-Year Update 2022

We are nearing the middle of the year but I felt it necessary to give an update now as I have been neglecting this blog. I typically post here 3-4 times a month, but I only had one post in April and this is my first post for May. This was caused by a number of reasons, but the primary cause is that my reading slump has continued. This blog is focused on books, authors, book-related topics, and occasionally about me. Since my reading has slowed, it’s no surprise my activity here has also slowed. I am still reading, though not at my normal pace, and most of the books I’ve read recently have been nutrition-related as I am still interested and learning about how to be healthier both physically and mentally. All good things, but I’m starting to get that itch to hold a physical book and dive into a story that you lose yourself in for a time.

I can’t recall the last book I’ve read that demanded my attention and had me needing to know what happened next. This may be because my recent reading has been almost exclusively non-fiction and in audiobook format. There were a few books earlier this year that I started but just couldn’t get into and eventually put them down. This contributed to the slump but other factors have also contributed. My focus on nutrition and health also includes preparing most of my own meals and exercising regularly. This of course takes up time (the good thing about audiobooks is I can listen while cooking which can even help keep a focus on healthy eating when the book is about nutrition). I recently received a promotion at work which has also kept me busy and put higher demands on my time and drains mental energy. Again, all good things, but free time is harder to find.

Lastly, and I can’t believe how fast time flies, I am also a father of a beautiful daughter who will be one year old in just a few weeks. Taking care of a child demands your attention and time, and I often find myself wanting to do little else but spend time with her. I am grateful I work from home so I can sneak in a little time with her throughout the workday when she is in the house.

All of these have contributed to my lack of reading and thus my lack of posting here. I hope to change this for various reasons. One is that I simply miss reading and posting here. Two is that reading has been shown to reduce stress with there now being various studies conducted that affirm this. Reading as little as six minutes a day can show a sizeable reduction in stress, and unfortunately my increase in work responsibilities has increased stress levels. Stress has also been shown to increase unhealthy weight gain. Just a few more reasons to get back to reading great stories.

Aside from the lack of time, it has also been the inability to find a book that grabs my interest. The few books I’ve read recently I didn’t enjoy enough to recommend to others. Therefore I am turning the tables and requesting book recommendations from you (which is always welcome) so that I can get back into my reading habit and continue recommending books here. I never really need a reason to go to the book store or library and peruse the shelves in hopes of discovering the next great read, but it never hurts to get suggestions from fellow avid readers. I’m sure I will find my next great read soon.

A Reading Slump

I hate to say that I’ve been in a reading slump lately. Nothing seems to be of much interest on the book front and I think there are three reasons for this. First, I think I’ve been avoiding a return to Blindness by Jose Saramago. My pause on this book was caused by some disturbing content which makes me reluctant to return to it. I’m not one to force myself to finish a book, but I am/was interesting in seeing this one out. However, I’m not sure I will return to it now. This may be the first book I’ve abandoned after reading more than halfway through. The book is interesting but delves into the worst parts of humanity which I don’t need to explore further, but as a writer I feel a need to finish the book to see not only what happens but how Saramago presents it (and if there is a silver lining or hopeful ending). It’s a bit of a dilemma but thinking of how the last few chapters disturbed me enough to put it down makes me think it is best to just leave it put and move on. I can always return to it later if I really feel a need. I just don’t feel any need to finish it now so I’m just going to let it go.

The second reason is a bit two-fold. I’ve been spending much more focus on other areas which has also made me more physically tired. I’ve been focusing of course on my daughter who will soon be nine months old. She is absolutely everything to me and she is constantly on the move. When not wrangling her, I’ve been focusing a lot on my physical health through food and exercise. This has added to my being physically tired more often, but I know it will pay off by giving me more energy as I adjust to the routine. This will help me keep up with the little one. I’ve also been spending little spurts of free time learning Spanish. This may seem like a lot, and it is, but I typically have my mind split across a million endeavors, so it’s not out of the ordinary.

Lastly, I have been spending a good deal of mental energy on my own novel. Unfortunately, I have not been making any progress on physically writing it, but I have been working through the story in my head. I do need to get to work putting it down on paper/on the computer though. I think this last one has been a large part of my reading slump because I’m focusing on my own story instead of focusing as much on reading others.

All that aside, I am still reading. I am slowly making my way through Pity the Reader: On Writing with Style by Kurt Vonnegut and Suzanne McConnell. It is good and can easily be read intermittently. I recently read The Getaway Car by Ann Patchett which was really good and more of an article than a book being only 30 or so pages. I’ve also been reading Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa. I loved the show and am enjoying the manga. So I have been reading, but just in small spurts compared to my usual pace. This actually may be a perfect time to be reading a short story collection now that I think about it.

I can’t change too much of the above if I’m going to accomplish some of the goals I’ve set for myself, but I think putting Blindness away and forgetting about it will be helpful. Hopefully, actually getting back to the nitty-gritty of writing my novel will also help me open up to new stories as well. The slump will pass sooner or later.

There are plenty of good books to discover. I hope you are in the middle of a great one now.

Happy reading.

A Note on Recent Adaptations

I previously posted about a few film and television adaptations I was excited to see that were all based on books I had read. I wanted to follow up about those adaptations and have a little discussion about adaptations in general from a the viewpoint of a fan of the original work.

DuneFirst, I absolutely enjoyed the film adaptation of Dune. I thought the film followed the book pretty well even though it has been a few years since I had read it. I am excited for the second movie that should wrap up the content of the first book. I hear rumors that there may even be a chance for a third movie that I assume would delve into a few of the sequels. I am okay with that of course. The story, and the adaptation, is great and having to wait an additional year to see it was worth it in my opinion.

Next, The Wheel of Time as adapted into a television series by Amazon. I read this series a few years ago. It is a huge series at 15 books (including the prequel) with an average book length of approximately 800 pages. It is one of the longest series I have read and I enjoyed it immensely.

Wheel of Time' Recap Season 1 Episode 3 — Questing Party Splits Up | TVLineThe fans are split on this one and reasonably so. The television series finished the first season in December and it consisted of 8 episodes. Those 8 episodes covered a lot of ground but changed nearly all aspects of the story aside from the characters themselves and the core story meaning the general events are in the show but the details are altered or omitted entirely which I think is what many hardcore fans dislike. I understand the issues they take with the adaptation, but I stand more in agreement with the same hardcore fans who are simply thrilled to see their favorite series on screen. Am I bothered by the many changes and implicit disregard for detail? Of course, but not to the extent that I would review-bomb the show or hope that they cancel it altogether. I think that is ridiculous. You don’t have to continue watching a show if you don’t like it, but why would you go out of your way to complain or bash a show that others do enjoy. Especially at the very beginning of the series.

I’ll admit, the changes and progression of the story did seem lacking to me, but I still want to watch it. I may be less excited to watch it, but the production is top-notch and seeing some of the cities and monsters and magic that are within this story is simply awesome.

Netflix's live-action Cowboy Bebop is canceled - The VergeFans getting upset and throwing tantrums like spoiled children is always a bad look. Which brings me to the next adaptation I want to discuss: Cowboy BebopThis series, produced by Netflix, is a live-action adaptation of an anime that first released in the 1990s. I am a fan of the original series and must admit that I loved the adaptation. Yes, the adaptation is almost entirely different from the original series, but I think it works for a variety of reasons. The first being that the original series is almost more of an anthology than a story-driven series, meaning each episode was it’s own mini-story that involved our main characters. I think the live-action kept (almost) all the characters true to their original personas. It includes a lot of similar mini-plots while alluding to others from the original series. We get more backstory on a few major characters which I liked too. The graphics were top-notch and some of the fight scenes were incredible.

However, so many so-called fans were upset and disliked the show enough that season two was cancelled. There is a petition by fans to have the second season made, and I hope it does get made. I would like to see more. One last note on this one: nearly all live-action adaptations of anime shows have been treated harshly (many for good reason), and this show may be the best live-action adaptation out there.

There are a few more adaptations that I am looking forward to or need to catch up on. For example, I need to watch season two of The Witcher and I am looking forward to watching Amazon’s new show The Rings of Power which is a Lord of the Rings show that will take place presumably well before the original story. Some “fans” have already bashed the show simply because of the title. They know nothing else about it but are already mad simply because of the title. I mean….really?

I guess my main point of this post is that there are too many people complaining about an adaptation not following the source material verbatim or that it is taking too many liberties or isn’t what they wanted and therefore are complaining like they were entitled to get their version of it. Even if it is a quality show on its own. Fandoms can be toxic and can bleed into any medium. All I’m saying is let things be, especially if other fans do enjoy the adaptations. Re-read the book or simply watch the original show again.

Every reader envisions the story, or a character, a bit differently. They make it their own. That is what is great about books. They are a personal experience. If an adaptation doesn’t live up to your specific vision or experience, then let it go and move on. Let the people who do like it enjoy it.

Start of the Year Reading List

Well, it’s a new year and we are already a few weeks into it. Unfortunately, I spent the first week or so sick and recovering which gave me plenty of time to think about what I want to get accomplished this year. I am maintaining my 50 books per year reading challenge and have already finished three books so far which is a pretty good start. I am technically halfway through two books as well but I will talk about those in a bit.

I plan on getting some writing done this year (finally) as I was unofficially on a writing hiatus as I worked on my MBA. Now that the degree is finished, no more excuses. I’m really excited to attend a convention later this year which I have already registered for. It will be my first time attending WorldCon and I hope that the world is in a much better place and events like this stop being cancelled, postponed, and we are free and clear to actually spend time in groups. I would hate to cancel yet another outing, but safety first especially now that I have a little one that is always on my mind.

But this post is about a reading list for the beginning of the year. So far, I have read We Watch You by N.S. Ford which was a great mystery/thriller. I just finished Negotiating with the Dead by Margaret Atwood where she talks about the craft of writing and more. I am halfway through Blindness by Jose Saramago. I have to admit that this is the first time I’ve deliberately put a book down and taken time away from reading it. There was a scene that was really disturbing. I’ve not finished books before due to lack of interest or put it away to try again another time. This book I do plan on finishing but had to take time away because the disturbing scene in question just put me in a bad state and I needed to give myself time to recover before going back to it. The book is interesting and I think is good overall, and I may end up writing a recommendation for it if that turns out to be true.

The other book I’m technically halfway through is the Sandman comic series which I purchased last year in the Omnibus editions. There are three volumes, approximately 1000 pages each, that contain all the Sandman comics and extras. I am halfway through the second omnibus volume and will get back around to finishing the series. I think I paused this one because I came to the end of a story arc and life got busy and all that jazz. I compare it as the equivalent of pausing a show at the end of a season with the full intention of finishing the series. It was a good stopping point, but I plan to restart soon.

Pity The Reader CoverWith all that out of the way, I will now get to the few books I aim to read in the next few months. I just started Pity the Reader by Suzanne McConnell & Kurt Vonnegut. This book is primarily Kurt Vonnegut’s discussion of the craft of writing and more, but it was compiled and written by Suzanne McConnell who was a student, peer, and lifelong friend of Vonnegut’s. I look forward to digging into this one.

Kokoro book coverNext, I plan to read Kokoro by Natsume Soseki. I came across this book randomly and it caught my attention. It was first published in 1914, two years before Soseki passed away. Kokoro translates roughly to mean “the heart of things” and this book, at about 180 pages and told in three parts, is supposedly his most popular work. I had never heard of Soseki before stumbling across this book but I may explore more of his work if I enjoy this one.

Rendezvous with Rama book cover folio society editionI also want to read Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. The only book of Clarke’s that I’ve read so far is 2001: A Space Odyssey and this one came on my radar when it was announced it would be adapted into a film by director Denis Villeneuve who directed the recent adaptation of Dune which I enjoyed. I’ve been meaning to read more of Clarke’s work and now this will prepare me for the film as well whenever it comes out.

So these three are what I aim to read in the next several weeks (I’ll probably finish Blindness as well). Of course life continues to be busy and trying to navigate our crazy world can distract from enjoying our hobbies. I hope you find some time for reading or whatever you enjoy doing. If you can’t find time, then make some time. You’ll likely thank yourself later for doing so.

Happy Reading.