I have fallen way behind on posting some of my recent reads. To further add to the backlog, I just came back from a beach vacation where I basically sat under an umbrella and read for a week. Due to time constraints as well as lack of motivation to write thorough reviews on all of my recent books, I have decided to go with a new format based on my other favorite blog – Midtown Lunch. This blog is geared toward the food-obsessed like myself who doesn’t want to eat a deli sandwich every day for lunch. The blogger posts on all the cheap restaurants, food carts, etc in the NYC midtown area. He summarizes his lunch experience, post some photos, and then does a +/- section.
I have decided to follow this format by posting a brief summary of each book and then a +/-. The goal will not be to provide a true review of each book but rather to either garner interest or disinterest in any of these books from our readers.
Here goes (in order of read the longest ago to most recently read):
This book was previously reviewed here by RaeRae but as a refresher, Kingsolver and her family move from Tucson to a family farm in Appalachia and decide that for 1 year they are only going to eat food that is grown locally and seasonally in the Virginia area. She has 2 daughters, a teenager and a pre-teen, so it is all the more impressive that she managed to do this considering how challenging it often is to cook for children. Kingsolver’s basic premise is that if we really want to stop harming the environment, then eating locally is the way to go. Her descriptions of how much fuel and resources are used to transport food are mind-boggeling.
She acknowledges that this experiment is “easier” for her since they live on a farm and are able to grow the majority of their produce and raise turkeys and chickens. However, she gives a lot of guidance throughout the book on how to make small changes in your food buying and eating habits.
It is amazing how much the availability of food has changed even in my lifetime. When I was growing up, you couldn’t buy a perfectly ripe peach in the middle of January – it just wasn’t available. And that is exactly Kingsolver’s point – you should eat what is seasonably available. The amount of damage to the environment as well as the economics of transporting that tree-ripened peach in the middle of January is nonsensical.
Kingsolver keeps the book entertaining by including recipes, funny stories as well as lots of historical facts.
- Powerful statement about our eating habits vis-a-vis the environment
- Motivated me to shop at my farmer’s market on the weekends
- Good recipes
- This book has become a topic of conversation amongst my friends
- I was paralyzed the other day in the grocery store when I wanted to buy apples for my kids and they were all from Chile. I succumbed and bought them anyway
- In the 21st century, you shouldn’t have to deprive yourself of eating bananas because they don’t grow in the northeast
- I’ve been feeling way too guilty eating a lot of my meals
This was one of those books that got a lot of hype in 2006 and definitely did not live up to all the hullabaloo. The book describes the lives of three privileged 30 yr old New Yorkers right before and after 9/11. There is the beautiful daughter of a famed journalist who has never done anything with her life, the more homely, intellectual documentary film maker, and the resident gay male to round out the three-some. Interwoven with these three characters is the famed journalist and his subservient wife, his nerdy, brilliant nephew from Middle America, and lastly the daughter’s sarcastic, condescending fiance. Sound pretentious and contrived? Well it is. I did not find any of the characters in the least bit likable and my main problem with the book was that the writing was pretentious, over-wrought, full of run-on sentences and much too wordy. And in what I found to be a lame and almost offensive ending, Messud used the tragedy of 9/11 to neatly wrap things up for the characters and their ongoing issues.
- Any book set in NYC is somewhat interesting, because I know the streets and restaurants they are referring to
- The characters are so pathetic that it makes you feel that much better about your life
- Way too long, no real plot, like reading a bad reality show
- Completely uninterested in the characters
- Use of 9/11 to “wrap things up” really stank
Obviously a thumbs down for me.
And on that happy note – I will sign off and continue the vacation reads in parts 2 and 3.