Pity The Reader

Pity The Reader CoverI finally finished Pity The Reader: On Writing With Style by Kurt Vonnegut and Suzanne McConnell after taking a short hiatus on this particular volume as life got busy. Luckily, this book is one that can be picked up after time away without any disruption because of how it is structured as well as the content itself. This book is centered on writing as a craft and attempts to provide the reader with the lessons Kurt Vonnegut left behind on the topic.

Written by Suzanne McConnell, a student of Kurt Vonnegut during his time at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and later a lifelong friend, this book contains much of Kurt’s views and lessons on writing but also contains a biographical insight into Kurt Vonnegut himself. The book consists primarily of Vonnegut’s writings and uses original source materials including letters and drafts of stories.

I think this book provides many insights into craft that are beneficial, but also many insights into life and the world we live in. Granted, the world Vonnegut lived in was much different than the one we know today primarily due to technology (even though he passed away in 2007), but much is the same when it comes to human interaction. Vonnegut was considered one of the first (or most impactful) black humorist of his time. His writing is definitely unique and this book goes further to elaborate why Vonnegut, and his work, is one-of-a-kind.

This book gave me a better appreciation of Vonnegut’s work. I had read Slaughterhouse Five, The Sirens of Titan, and Breakfast of Champions many years ago and I think I would have a different view when reading them today. I remember thinking they were slightly whimsical and almost pointless, but that was because I was trying to base them on the merit of the story itself. I think Vonnegut’s works need to be read in the context of the world we live in as he was very much involved (or aware) of the craziness of the human race. Having many more years to see the this craziness is why I think I’ll have a better appreciation the second time around or with other works I have yet to read. I’m currently reading a collection of stories titled Welcome to the Monkey House, and I have to admit I’ve enjoyed every story so far.

If you are interested in Vonnegut, writing, or both, then this book is likely one you will enjoy. I know I got more out of it than I expected.

Happy Reading.

How Not To Diet

How Not To DietHow Not To Diet is Dr. Michael Greger’s follow up to his book How Not To DieWhere his first book focused on the leading diseases in the U.S. and how food can help prevent and reverse said diseases, this “sequel” is focused more on nutrition, weight loss, and how we should re-align our definition of what it means to “diet” (also known as eating food).

How Not To Die includes Dr. Greger’s daily dozen recommended foods to maintain a healthy lifestyle. He expands upon these and includes 21 tweaks to assist with weight loss. Most people go “on a diet” to lose weight with their definition of a diet being a temporary change to meet that goal. They then go back to their previous eating habits (or their established diet) which is what originally created the additional weight they want to lose. So, let’s first cover the definitions of diet. Oxford Languages has three primary definitions. Continue reading

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.

How Not To Die

How Not To Die book coverThe next step on my journey into nutrition was How Not To Die by Michael Greger, M.D., with Gene Stone. This book is filled with interesting information whether you are working toward a healthier you or if you just like general knowledge about the society we live in. The focus is on the 15 leading causes of death in the United States and each chapter focuses on an individual disease, what pharmaceutical options have been created to address it, and what foods have been used to address and reverse the disease. Basically, this book discusses using food, or diet, as medicine with plenty of interesting facts that may surprise you. The second half of the book is Dr. Greger’s daily dozen foods he recommends to promote and maintain a healthy lifestyle that will add years to your life.

I’m not recommending this book because I want to shift your entire focus to your diet or make you feel bad for wanting to eat a burger. Why read a book about diseases if you are healthy? Well, this book is more than just about diseases (though many of the diseases discussed can begin years before being detected). I am recommending this book because it is an interesting read and can be a very useful reference tool to help you or perhaps someone you know. To put it simply, the standard American diet is not healthy and often leads to the leading causes of death in this country. If a few small changes to your eating habits can drastically improve your health, why wouldn’t you give it a shot?

With nearly 150 pages of notes (out of the book’s total 560 pages) that reference the many papers, studies, and other medical and historical publications, Dr. Greger took evidence from the vast resources of medicinal studies and created an easy-to-read book to help us better understand how our diets impact our health. He doesn’t promote any fad diets or specific eating restrictions. He even promotes eating foods in less healthy forms if that is what it takes to help you eat healthier than you are now and hopefully help create a trend upward towards an even healthier you.

It is crazy how little the average person knows about nutrition. I remember growing up learning about the Food Pyramid which has since been debunked, and I wouldn’t dare follow it given what I know now. My recent dive into nutrition proves how little I knew, and I am glad my current focus is creating a better future for me. I know many people want to be healthier and many know how to be healthier, but they just don’t have the motivation or commitment to make it happen. If you fall into this category, I think books like this can help with motivation because it helps you focus on your future with encouragement to act now. Reading about studies on heart disease makes you want to ensure you don’t develop heart disease. Dr. Greger’s daily dozen foods is available in an app simply titled the daily dozen. The best part is you don’t need to sign up or create an account. It is simply a checklist with access to other information about the food groups to help you begin healthier habits. He has a website NutritionFacts.org which is filled with short videos and articles centered around nutrition. Interested in a new type of food or a natural way to decrease blood pressure? There are dozens of videos averaging 3-4 minutes long to help you learn and better understand your body and how the food you eat can help or hinder your health.

I’ve been focusing on my health recently for a multitude of reasons, but primarily to build a sustainable nutritional and physical regiment to maintain a healthy body and mind. My aim is to be healthy and live as long as possible for my family. The fact I have more energy and feel much better physically and mentally is a testament that it is working. I’m even starting to exercise and eat healthy because I enjoy it. My hope is that you also want to feel great and live as long as possible. I may not know you, dear reader, but I care about you nonetheless. You matter, and I want you to live a happy life.

Happy Reading.