Sunday Afternoon Book Post on a Monday

I didn’t quite get this post finished on Sunday, but let’s pretend I did.

At the end of 2014, I had the best intentions to write about every book that I read like Faith does on her blog — if not here, then at least on Goodreads. But then I got the flu, and so did everyone else, and I settled into a long period of not finishing any book-books but instead reading bits and pieces of lots of “things”, including various short, health-related e-books and other online offerings.  And my TBR pile grew higher and higher and ever higher…

TBR pile 1

… in spite of my resolution to read mostly off my own shelves.  (Ok, in my defense… some of the books in the stack are off my shelves and some of the others I got with Christmas money or were Christmas presents, so they don’t count.)

So before it all gets completely out of control, I thought I would just sit down and write up a Sunday Afternoon Book Post.  Sundays are usually the day I catch up on reading book blogs (right now my favorite is A Work in Progress, which I found linked on one of Semicolon‘s review posts), updating Goodreads, and other bookish sorts of things.  (My version of a day of rest.)  Hopefully what you will see in the future is the somewhat more regular appearance of these Sunday afternoon posts, although I can’t claim that they will happen every Sunday because my life is just like that.

(Today, for instance, an unexpected Winter Weather Advisory has popped up, and I have just had to stop and scramble a rather large Costco list for Andy to procure on the way to youth group.  I would have planned the timing of this a little differently had this been on the radar yesterday! But that’s true love, when your husband will fend off hundreds of other people for the last three gallons of milk before an ice storm so you don’t have to.)

In any case… here’s what would be On My Nightstand if I kept the books I was reading on my nightstand, instead of piled up beside me on the couch and coffee table…

Books Finished

YA:

*Boy and Going Solo by Roald Dahl– Read in January, when I had the flu.  Boy should be required reading for all Charlotte Mason educators, since the schools Dahl is describing are the same English boarding schools and “public” schools that Charlotte Mason criticized.  He spends quite a bit of time on the means of punishment in Boy (caning), which is somewhat disturbing.  I liked Going Solo — Dahl’s memoir of his years in East Africa and then flying for the RAF in WWII — better, but Boy gave me more food for thought.

* She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgewick — a book Katydid got for Christmas, also read while I had the flu.  Quick mystery/SF-ish read with a blind protagonist.  Also… no romance, which is odd in a book aimed at teenage girls, but welcome — to me, anyway.  The protagonist’s relationship with her younger brother was refreshing, but the book is all about coincidence and serendipity and obviously from an atheistic point of view, in which God — if he exists — is painted as an ominous influence.  Katydid liked it more than I did — surprisingly, because of all the math involved.

Fiction:

Treason, by Dena Hunt — Subtitled, A Catholic Novel of Elizabethan England.  I thought it was a little difficult to get into at first and I had a hard time keeping the events at the end straight, but overall, a really good read.  The characters were very well-drawn, and Hunt has a real talent for description.  It’s mainly about the “white” martyrs of England… those who were not killed by rack or rope, but instead managed to hold onto their faith in the face of fear and persecution.

The Flight of the Silvers, by Daniel Price — I picked this book up with my Christmas money after seeing it nominated as one of the best SF books of 2014 on Goodreads.  But — ugh.  I’m including it here in “finished books”, but only because I don’t think I’m going to pick it back up after reading 1/3 of the way through.  The characters are all very two-dimensional and read like an only marginally original knock-off of the X-Men.  (They time travel, but none of their weird abilities really have anything to do with who they are.  It’s as if the author said, “You know what would be cool?  If somebody who shifted to another earth could somehow slow down time so it seems like they run really fast! Let’s assign that ability to… the actress! Yeah!”  Also, everyone is beautiful, except for the fat thirteen year old girl.  But I guess that’s what I mean by two-dimensional; all the characters have a signature ability and are boiled down to one or two shorthand attributes.  The thirteen year old is fat, the cartoonist is sarcastic, the lone Christian is… of course… rigid and legalistic.  Wish I’d checked it out of the library so I could give it back.

Non-Fiction: Faith:

The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Divine Office by Daria Sockey —  Very helpful book.  I haven’t yet made it from the Divine Office app on my phone to an actual copy of Christian Prayer, but this little guide was very illuminating and helpful in figuring out how the Divine Office works in general.

Non-Fiction: Diet and Health:

The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, by Nina Teicholz —  I did write about this one on Goodreads.  Here’s what I said:

I wanted to like this book more than I did, but it turned into a low-carb manifesto at the end. Having done the low-carb thing and discovering that it wreaked havoc on my thyroid, I was not prepared to agree with the author’s ultimate, blanket assertion that it’s carbohydrates (in general) that cause heart disease (and not saturated fat). It may well be refined carbohydrates and sugar that cause heart disease — and I think the book at least did a good job of exonerating saturated fat, by exposing both the lack of science and politics behind our current low-fat dietary guidelines — but I don’t think that taking an extreme anti-carbihydrate stance is helpful in the end. After all, we’ve been eating carbohydrates in the form of fruit and tubers for a very, very long time, at least as long as we’ve been eating meat, and current science shows that complex carbohydrates which feed good gut flora are indeed necessary to good health. In other words, carbohydrates do not have to equal Ho-Ho’s.

The book minus the anti-carbohydrate stance is stellar, though — an exhaustive expose of how food politics has resulted in a huge dietary experiment run on the American people over the past sixty years, to the obvious detriment of our health.

In the end, kind of disappointing, as the first 3/4 of the book was so good.

It Starts with Food, by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig — The Hartwigs are the founders of Whole9 Life and the inventors of the Whole 30.  (If you haven’t heard of it, the Whole30 challenges you to give up sugar, grains, legumes, and dairy for 30 days.) This is the latest edition of It Starts with Food, and includes the revised rules of the Whole30 (basically, now you can eat all kinds of potatoes except potato chips and french fries from McDonald’s).  I’d never read the first edition, because my first Whole30 — way back where there was only an e-book that was much more expensive than this hard cover — ended in disaster.  To be fair, though, it wasn’t really the fault of the Whole30.  I had been eating a modified GAPS diet, in which I avoided almost all starches, for about a year.  It was chronically low in calories and carbohydrates for a nursing mother, and when I undertook a Whole30 with my own added restrictions of no sweet potatoes (regular potatoes weren’t allowed then), my health really took a nosedive.  I gained back every single pound I lost on that diet, with a vengeance.

So I was pleased to see that It Starts with Food contains some modified guidelines for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, recommending that mothers pay attention to how many calories they’re consuming to make sure they’re eating enough, not to worry too much about the “no snacking” rule, and to make up those extra calories using more carbohydrates and fat.  There are also special sections for vegetarians, those who suffer from autoimmune disease, and athletes.  The rest of the book seemed pretty sensible to me, too.  They take a harder line on grains and legumes than some other writers in the Paleo community (Chris Kresser and the Jaminets, for instance), but most of what they say about nutrition in general seems sane, and they are willing to admit that after the Whole30 is over with, high quality dairy might be good for you if you tolerate it.  As a basic primer in nutrition, I liked it enough that I think I will try to hand it off to my teenagers after Andy is done reading it.  (He picked it up the other day.)  I thought the “meal maps” in the back were a bit confusing; they’re meant to show people that they don’t have to have complicated recipes and meal plans to eat this way for 30 days or longer, but I think if I wasn’t already a cook, I would find them somewhat overwhelming.

As it happens, I’m trying a Whole30 again this year, for Lent.  And I’m doing it with added restrictions again and hoping this won’t be a case of history repeating itself.  This time I’m trying 30 days with the autoimmune restrictions — no grains, legumes, dairy, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant), nuts, or eggs.  It gets hard on Fridays.  But I just got to a point where everything was all kind of jumbled up and I needed to wipe the slate clean to see what is really bothering me.  I’m currently on Day 6.  I spent a few days feeling like I was constantly starving, even with trying to keep my carbs up (I’m already sick of sweet potatoes), but my energy has been a lot better and my digestion is getting better, so I think that it’s already clear that something I was eating was not good for me.  My bet is dairy, but we’ll see.  (At least, I really hope I can eat eggs and potatoes again!)

The Autoimmune Solution, by Amy Myers, MD — Reading this book was why I decided to take on such a restrictive diet for Lent.  Amy Myers is a functional medicine doctor with Graves disease — an autoimmune condition of the thyroid.  This book is a lot less science-y than Sarah Ballantyne’s Paleo Approach, but it’s based on the same science and makes basically the same recommendations as far as diet goes.  But it’s more compact and a little more easily accessible, with recipes and 30 days of meal plans in the back, and a chart of recommended supplements.  And — most important for me — it contains information on the effects of mold.  Mold triggers my asthma and allergies, but I don’t test positive to mold on a skin prick test.  Therefore, most conventional doctors will tell me that mold isn’t my problem.  Only I know that it is, because every time I walk into a house that smells musty or damp, my bronchial tubes start to close up and I need my inhaler.  According to Amy Myers, about 25% of the population is very sensitive to the mycotoxins produced by many molds.  These mycotoxins aren’t tested by skin prick allergy tests, and they can also provoke a host of other symptoms (most of which I also have) in sensitive individuals.  But since only about 25% of people are sensitive to these mycotoxins, it is unlikely that everyone in the family will be a responder.  Just, you know, the one person that everybody thinks is nuts.

The book I’ve just begun for my before bed reading isn’t even on this stack, though… it’s Kristin Lavransdatter, and I’m attempting to read it in the gigantic combined Penguin edition.  But I may be forced to put it on my Kindle instead, because it’s too big to hold while I nurse!

 

 

Comments

  1. Book chat! Yay!!:)
    Erin recently posted…See Me Homeschool: A Pictorial RecordMy Profile

  2. These look like some interesting books! I need to check out the Autoimmune Solution and It Starts with Food.
    Amy recently posted…End of Year RecapMy Profile

    • So far I haven’t had any luck with the recipes in The Autoimmune Solution, but I thought the information was potentially helpful. We’ll see, I guess… I’m on Day 9 and things are starting to settle down. I’m seeing improvements, and I have to admit that getting rid of almost every single potential food trigger does narrow things down a bit. I think one of the things I may be sensitive to is coconut… but that was pretty hard to tell with all the other potentially inflammatory stuff in there mucking things up.

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