Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Home by Toni Morrison


Toni Morrison's Home  left me feeling at once immersed in the story and voyeuristic as if I was staring in the window at secrets that weren't mine to know. Morrison's story telling once again reads like a lyrical documentation of a segment of the characters' lives. As usual she left me wanting to know what happened to Frank and Cee after life continued even as I imagined their lives following a familiar course. Morrison captures slices of life that grab our hearts and make us think about people whose circumstances may differ from our own. Home is the quintessential story of a search for life that always brings one back to one's roots. Morrison always delivers just as she does this story of family, secrets, and survival. Reading Home feels like taking a trip home...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health edited by Gene Stone

                  

Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health edited by Gene Stone is the companion book to the documentary, Forks Over Knives. After watching the movie on Netflix, I bought the book mainly because it contains 125 recipes. The movie makes several convincing arguments for embracing a plant-based diet including the impact on one's health and the environment. In many ways, the contents of the book simply rehash the documentary without as much detail, but it makes a nice easy reference to keep on one's shelves. The recipes provided come from a variety of sources. I've tried a few of the recipes and am anxious to try several of the others. There's also a Forks Over Knives website with information and a nice selection of recipes including one for chocolate cupcakes that is among the best I've ever tried. I enjoyed the movie and found the book to make a nice companion if for no other reason than it provides a great starting point for starting to eat a tasty, plant-based diet if one so chooses to do so after the movie and the book.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew provides an easy to follow alternative to traditional row gardening. I began reading the book with a bit of skepticism because I grew up on a farm where row gardening was the norm. Over the years, I've since tried container gardening and raised box gardening with mixed results. Bartholomew makes the square foot gardening method seem approachable though I have to admit I'm having a hard time envisioning it being both more bountiful and less work than traditional gardening.  Bartholomew outlines how to build the boxes and how to plan the plantings. He offers advice on how to choose what to grow. He includes information about some of the more common plants people grow as well as a planting schedule to aid people in growing a square foot garden and extending the growing season. He also discusses soil and provides a soil mixture he calls "Mel's Mix" that he claims will grow the best producing plants and do away with the need for tilling the soil because the plants in the square foot garden are all grown in six inches of Mel's Mix. Bartholomew provides a method of gardening that promises to make gardening accessible to everyone. I'm intrigued and the book convinced me square foot gardening is worth giving a try. All New Square Foot Gardening is easy to read, nicely illustrated, and filled with useful information if a bit repetitive at times.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Spectrum by Dean Ornish, M.D.



The Spectrum by Dean Ornish, M.D. details the research Dr. Ornish and others have done regarding maintaining health and preventing disease. Dr. Ornish delves into the effects of food, stress, exercise, and attitude on health. He explains that the research reveals that while general healthy eating works for everyone, there are aspects of any diet that won't. Some people respond differently to different things based on their genetic makeup and other factors. Ornish provides insight into the idea of thinking prevention rather than cure. He explains that many diseases are related to diet and lifestyle and can be completely avoided if people are willing to change their diet, exercise more, and embrace meditation. Ornish teamed up with Art Smith to create recipes for the book. Some of the recipes sound delicious but several use ingredients I find suspect at best casting some doubt on the veracity of the book. I've yet to make any of the recipes, but they sound easy enough. I'll never make many of the recipes in this book because I eat a vegan, oil-free, primarily whole food diet. I watched the meditation DVD that came with The Spectrum and am looking forward to using it when I need a little aid with my meditation. The Spectrum is an interesting book based on research that provides solutions for those seeking to improve their health.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Everything Grant Writing Book by Nancy Burke Smith and Judy Tremore


The Everything Grant Writing Book (2nd Edition) by Nancy Burke Smith and Judy Tremore makes grant proposal writing accessible to anyone wishing to write grants. Smith and Tremore outline the importance of grants to nonprofit organizations.They discuss the process and offer examples to simplify the process of writing grant proposals in an easy to read, easy to understand manner. The Everything Grant Writing Book is a great resource for anyone wishing to write grant proposals because it takes the intimidation out of the process for the novice without denying the amount of work writing grants requires. I wish I'd had this book when I wrote my first grant proposal.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Night Blind by Michael W. Sherer


Michael W. Sherer's Night Blind blinds the reader to all else during the course of reading. Sherer immerses the reader so deeply in Seattle, the air feels damp and the night feels lonely as he introduces Blake Sanders. Sherer did something most authors fail to do... He managed to make me think the ultimate villain out to destroy Sanders was someone other than it was and yet when he finally revealed the villain, it made perfect sense. I felt engulfed in Sanders quest to do the right thing even while stumbling through his life trying to deal with his losses, save his life, protect those he loves, and seek justice. Sherer brings in a diverse and interesting cast of characters that leave the reader wanting more not only of the flawed but likable Sanders but those who surround him.  In the midst of all these fabulous characters, Sherer drops the reader into the midst of danger, intrigue, political wrangling, and more danger. Sherer's cast of characters reminds us that none of us live in a vacuum where our lives are untouched by the actions of others.