Monthly Archives: July 2018

Friday 5: Completely Different Books


Here are a few books I’ve read recently. A couple are short ones. But I’ve noticed that I’ve been listening to and reading a lot of nonfiction. There is one novel on this list. I remember thinking when I read it that it felt like a long time since I’d engrossed myself in one! But after looking at this recent list, I realize that these are 5 complete different styles of books.


Happiness Hacks: 100% Scientific! Curiously Effective!
by Alex Palmer (audio, nonfiction) – worth a read

Truth be told, this came up as a suggestion in my Hoopla App, where I download audiobooks from the library. It is a quick listen/read, so I gave it a shot. I wondered what kind of quick “hacks” would actually make one happier. I was surprisingly pleased to learn a thing or two – especially the tidbits about relationships. I listened to the audio version and realized later that I didn’t retain anything. I couldn’t think of one idea I learned to put into practice. So I downloaded the e-book from the library and wrote down those little bits of advice that struck me as novel. Here are a few:

  • Plan vacations earlier: Studies show that the after effect of a vacation is short-lived, but the time planning for and leading up to a vacation offers great happiness.
  • Relationships: Make sure their are at least 5 positive interactions with your significant other to every negative one. Less than this was a high predictor of failed relationships!
  • With so many options out there, use a bracket to make decisions to help with decision fatigue.
  • Use a dim red bulb as a reading light – I don’t remember why on this one!
  • Build things yourself – even if it’s a piece of IKEA furniture.
  • Complain with a purpose – include how you’d prefer things to be and/or how they can be improved.
  • Don’t “like” something on social media, provide a thoughtful comment instead.

Studies that back these “hacks” up are provided in each case. These are just a few that I hadn’t heard before.


The Truly Healthy Vegetarian Cookbook
by Elizabeth Thomson 
(nonfiction, cookbook) – MUST READ

Remember when I read the How Not to Die cookbook? I said that the cookbook had semi-complicated recipes with long ingredient lists. For someone new to trying a more whole-food, plant-based diet, the How Not to Die cookbook to be a little intimidating. However, Liz Thomson’s The Truly Healthy Vegetarian Cookbook is not. I found this book because I follow her blog I Heart Vegetables.

Thomson shows how easy it can be to add more plants to your diet. She even includes ways to add meat, if you are so inclined or to eliminated animal products are if you are completely vegan. There is even a page titled 15 Snacks, 10 Minutes, 5 or Fewer Ingredients. I, personally, want “recipes” like this, but authors often shy away from them because they might seem too “easy”.

This cookbook includes the title “truly healthy” because not all vegetarian (meatless) and vegan (animal-product-less) lifestyles are healthy. You can avoid meat and animal products and still eat just chips and processed foods all day. Healthy means eating more fruits and veggies and getting all the nutrients you need. She addresses all of this in the first chapter.

And while the point of this cookbook may not be to show how easy and/or quick it can be to whip up whole-food, plant-based, healthy meal, it’s what I’ve been learning to be true. When I don’t have to thaw, prep or sear meat, my meals come together much more quickly. Yes, I still eat meat and dairy products; but over the past year I’ve really come to love lentils and all kinds of beans, too. And any time I can learn to add more vegetables to my diet the better. Remember, only about 13% of Americans eat enough fruits and vegetables. Are you part of that small percentage? I certainly am not! (Yet.)


The Science of Getting Rich
by Wallace D. Wattles (nonfiction) – maybe?

I’ve been meaning to read this for probably a decade. Wattles wrote this book in 1910. It’s been referred to often in books about the Law of Attraction. While I certainly understand the premise, I wasn’t inspired or wowed by this book as many others have found it to change their lives. I’m sure it’s the language used during that time period that doesn’t speak to me. But it is a quick read. If you want to give it a shot, you can download it for free on Rhonda Byrne’s website for The Secret here


Medium Raw
by Anthony Bourdain (nonfiction) – worth a listen

Like many, I was saddened to hear the news of Anthony Bourdain’s death. I wasn’t a superfan, but I did enjoy watching No Reservations from time to time. His Quebec episode inspired us to travel there. (Although not in winter as he did!) It’s still one of my favorite episodes. I love the way he tells stories.

Not long after his death, his first book, Kitchen Confidential, skyrocketed up to #1 on the Amazon sales chart. That book was written in the late 90s (published in 2000), when my idea of food consisted of whatever was cheap while I was trying to transition from college to finding a job. I read this great article that was written after Bourdain’s death about how the book came about, explained by his editor and friend.

I haven’t read Kitchen Confidential – yet. I’m on the long library waiting list. Instead, I went with Medium Raw because fellow blogger Lisa recommended it, indicating that she liked it better. It was 10 years and I feel like not having even read Kitchen Confidential, that I could tell.

What I love about Anthony Bourdain is that he was always undeniably himself. What I didn’t always like is that he would criticize others for not being who he thought they should be. In some ways, I felt like he apologized for this (not directly, but in a way only Anthony Bourdain can do!) in Medium Raw. It’s almost like he was acknowledging his own evolution. But those changes are only part of what this book is about.

I downloaded the audio version from my library and enjoyed listening to it so much I’m hoping to listen to it again at some point on a road trip with my husband, who is also a fan. I can’t imagine now, not listening to Kitchen Confidential on audio when it becomes available at my library. His voice, passion and story-telling are uniquely his and I can’t imagine soaking up his words any other way now.


by Delia Ephron (fiction) – worth a read

Not sure where this one was recommended to me, but I must have put it on the hold list at the library for a reason! I watched more than my share of Nora Ephron films in the 90s, so when I learned Delia is her sister, I was intrigued. Plus, the setting of this book is in Italy. Who doesn’t love Italy!

When I sat on my deck reading this book on a windy, hot summer afternoon, I was whisked away. It’s funny that I could call this a quick, easy read when I was just getting so angry reading it. The book is written from the point of view of the four main characters, but I didn’t like any of them!

After reading the book, I went back to read the reviews on goodreads. I found people either loved it or hated it, but I was somewhere right in the middle. Because it was quick, I’d say it was worth the read, but it isn’t one I’d put at the top of my list. I found that many people disliked the characters as well. But do we really have to like the characters to like the book? That’s where the tension comes in.


Do you ever feel differently when reading different kinds of books?


Friday 5 – What I’ve Read Recently


Here are a few books I read and listened to within the last month or so… Everything was good, but no must reads this go ’round. If I had to pick one of these five, go with You Are a Badass.


Little Fires Everywhere
by Celeste Ng (fiction, audiobook) – on the fence

I’ve started and stopped this book a couple of times. Mostly because there were just too many holds on it at the library and I couldn’t renew it or finish it before the renewal date. I finally downloaded the audio from the library to my phone. That way, I could listen to it as often as possible (read: when I’m walking or doing housework), rather than just in the car. To be quite honest, I don’t understand the hype around this book. I think it’s making it’s way to the big screen or getting a TV series deal now or something. I thought it was good, but not great.

That being said, when I think back about it, there are some themes that I didn’t notice how interconnected they were while reading the book – conflicting perspectives that provoked my thoughts long after reading this book. Maybe that’s all an author really needs – someone to keep thinking about the book long after it has been read.


O’s Little Book of Happiness
by The Oprah Magazine 
(nonfiction, audio) – worth a read

This is a collection of submissions to the Oprah Magazine of what brings people happiness and joy to people’s lives. You cannot help but smile when you read some of these these. Some are even inspiring. I listened to them on audio, but I think this book would be better suited to read. It’d make a great coffee table book!


My Italian Bulldozer
by Alexander McCall Smith (fiction) – worth a read

I’m not quite sure how I heard about this book! But I may have put it on my TBR (to-be-read) list when I was longing for Italy. It’s a pretty easy, fairly quick read and while fun, not exactly earth-shattering. I like the thought of driving a bulldozer in the countryside of Italy, though!


You Are a Badass
by Jen Cincero (nonfiction, audiobook) – worth a read

This book has been on my TBR (to-be-read) list for at least a year or two; but I think I was thrown-off by the title. It made me feel like the book was trying to hard to get my attention. But when I finally downloaded the book on audio and listened to the author read her own words, I learned that the title and the voice of the book are completely authentic to her personality. Sincero takes many of the motivational and self-help ideals and spins them in a way that is more down-to-earth that even the biggest skeptic will get on board.


How Not to Die Cookbook
by Michael Greger, M.D. (cookbook) – worth a flip


After reading Dr. Greger’s How Not to Die and having reconfirmed what the health and nutrition field claim as the healthiest way to eat (eat real food, mostly plants), it was natural to pick up this cookbook to help transition to a more whole-food, plant-based diet.

What I liked about this book is that Dr. Greger explains such a diet without going into all the technical and medical detail that he does in How Not to Die. However, I found many of the recipes in the book to be quite cumbersome with long ingredient lists and new techniques that make such a transition seem daunting. I do know that that doesn’t have to be the case and I’ll let you know the cookbook next week that will prove that to you! (That being said, the How Not to Die Cookbook does have a few recipes that make checking out this cookbook from the library to flip through it. I just wouldn’t purchase it just yet. )


Where do you read most often?