Sunday, February 17, 2013
Reading in Review: First Half of February
Going on a road trip and being confined to the couch have conspired to make February a good reading month for me. Considering that it hasn't been good for much of anything else, that's a blessing. This is the list of what I've read so far this month:
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage (Non-fiction)
The journey itself was extraordinary, but the book is so well written that it only adds to the suspense. In fact, the book read to me more like a novel, with its pacing and excellent descriptions of the Antarctic pack ice and the sea. I realize the rest of the world was reading this book several years ago, when the A &E Shackleton mini series with Kenneth Branagh first aired, but I am slow and just catching up. This book has been on my TBR pile since last summer, but I lost it for a while and just found it in a stack of books in my bedroom at the beginning of the month.
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness (Non-fiction)
The first mention I saw of this book was in the January "Reading Life in Review" post at Mental Multivitamin. I read the excerpt at Scientific American, and tried hard to resist buying the book for at least a week. Because I wasn't going to read health books anymore, remember? But I needed something to read for the trip to my mom's, so I caved and downloaded it to my iPad. Wow. What a story. It is indeed terrifying... but I think it's a book everyone should read, because it will change the way you think about mental illness.
White Horse by Alex Adams (Fiction)
I'm not going to link to this book, because I found it so disappointing. The basic premise is this: scientific tinkering has caused an apocalypse in which most of the human population of the world has died. In the midst of this complete breakdown of civilization, Zoe finds herself pregnant and sets off on a dangerous and what seems like a hopeless quest to find the baby's father, who has disappeared on a quest of his own. The description on Amazon says, "
White Horse offers hope for a broken world, where love can lead to the most unexpected places," but I did not find this to be the case. In the first place, there was so much graphic violence that I found myself skimming over large parts of the book just to discover what had caused the apocalypse in the first place, which was really the only thing that remained for me to want to know. And the "hope" that Amazon touts as being "offered for a broken world" seems very, very empty, based as it is only on the actions of human beings, who are portrayed as having been betrayed by a powerless and anemic God. Really, really wish I hadn't read this one, but in my defense, all the reviews and descriptions I read were quite misleading.
Laughter of Dead Kings (Vicky Bliss, No. 6) (Fiction)
Picked this one out of my mom's shelves. A quick, light read, my first introduction to Elizabeth Peters. I think I liked her descriptions of Egypt more than the characters, who did seem to spend a lot of time eating room service in hotels.
Talking About Detective Fiction (Non-fiction)
Found this one at Ordo Amoris. I read it while I had the flu, which means I'm not sure I remember most of it. I haven't read much P.D. James, but I enjoyed this little history of a genre written by one of its most well-known authors. I mean, I think I enjoyed it, or at least it was the kind of book I could almost concentrate on while I sat on the couch and tried not to cough.
The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care
I have mixed feelings about this book, which I was excited enough about to pre-order. On the one hand, I think there is a huge need for the nutritional information contained in this book. And on the other hand, I wish the authors had simply chosen to write about nutrition and not baby and child care, which is heavily influenced in their case by Rudolf Steiner's "anthroposophy". Therefore, the herbal information for treating common childhood illnesses must be separated from statements about how specific herbs are to be used because they grow in muck for instance, which mirrors the mucous of a cold... etc. And Catholics and others who believe in being open to life should also be warned that there is a chapter on spacing births which recommends "anti-fertility" herbs.
On the other hand, there are also statements in the book making it clear that the authors believe that life begins at conception and that God is the ultimate Creator of life. The emphasis throughout the book is on providing our children with excellent nutrition from conception (beginning prior to conception) through all their growing years. This advice generally boils down to "eat eggs and liver, drink raw or cultured milk, and whatever you do, don't become a vegetarian," but it's worth having the science laid out (which is done to a much greater extent in the nutrition chapters) with recommendations for how much to eat and at what periods of pregnancy which vitamins and minerals are most important, etc. On the whole, I think it was a good purchase and I would recommend the book... just know that if you don't share the authors' worldview, you're going to want to "chew the meat and spit out the bones", as I read in a review of another diet book this week.
Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn
Jen at Conversion Diary mentioned this in a Quick Takes post... I think. I'm not sure now, because at the time I was pretty sick and when I went to amazon to read a sample chapter I started laughing and it turned into a giant coughing fit that really alarmed everyone around me. But at that point I needed something that would make me laugh (although I could have done without the coughing). Anyway, I ordered the book and it was a great read for the couch and the doctor's office. Melanie Shankle blogs about parenting at the blog Big Mama, and she is very funny.