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review 2017-10-18 04:51
The American Plate
The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites - Libby H. O'connell

A collection of "bites" about significant foods in American history, sometimes including recipes. I enjoyed this book at first and read half of it right away and then it took me a year and a half to read the second half. :(

 

What I liked: the historical trivia, the recipes that included the author's suggestions for contemporary or portion variations, and the broad selection of foods discussed. (Although honestly, I would not have minded not knowing about Kraft cheese. My childhood is ruined.)

 

What I didn't like: the soapbox politics that took up page space that could have been used to tell me more about the food. It seemed to get worse in the second half as the "bites" approached 20th century food culture.

 

As the title states, this book is also American-centric. YMMV on that bit.

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review 2017-10-16 02:11
Murder in the Bayou - DNF
Murder in the Bayou: Who Killed the Women Known as the Jeff Davis 8? - Ethan Brown

I’m more than a little disappointed that I couldn’t get through this book, because I genuinely like true crime and from what I’ve read about it, this was great investigative journalism by the author. But the audiobook performance was just not working for me. It sounded like the narrator was reading a news article that he just didn’t find very interesting. I gave it more than my minimum 20 minutes of listening for audio before deciding to DNF, but I’m not rating it, as my issues with it are due to the audio performance rather than the writing or content. Maybe I’ll try this one again sometime in the bound format.

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review 2017-10-15 15:04
Hospice Whispers: Stories of Life ★★★★★
Hospice Whispers: Stories of Life - Rev Dr. Carla Cheatham

A short book and quick read that uses brief vignettes to illustrate some key principles of providing hospice care. The principle audience is chaplains, but I feel it provides good, useful information for all professions, and probably even for lay people who may be looking for ways to support family or friends who are going through an end of life experience.

 

Thoughts:

  • Snippets of science-based knowledge regarding the patient experience and abilities at end of life and through the progression of dementia and how physical changes can impact a person’s ability to perceive and process information and to communicate. Using that knowledge, we can look for ways to help people find peace and contentment at end of life. The focus can shift from what they can no longer really do as they decline physically and cognitively, but to what they can still do.
  • Offers examples of practical tools and techniques to connect with patients and their families
  • Reinforced over and over – we cannot presume to know what the patient and family need. We are not the experts on knowing what their end of life experience should look like. We must be respectful to the ethic of autonomy and dignity that we are called to honor. For some people, it’s physical closeness and prayer. For some, it’s popcorn and games of dominoes. For some, it’s watching TV shows that may include violence and explicit sexual content.
  • Reminder that there may be family history and dynamics that we don’t know about, so do not make assumptions based on the information available to us. We cannot make judgements, determine who is right or wrong, make excuses, or take sides in conflicts. We can only use the information to “be more aware of how the grief process and medical care are being impacted by those patterns”.
  • Reminder that we are not there to “fix”, only to provide support at end of life. Must develop the ability to just “be with ourselves”, not filling up the silence with noise and distractions, so that we can just “be” with our patients, and to “sit with compassionate equanimity” in the midst of another’s spiritual, emotional, or physical pain.
  • Hospice workers must set boundaries and engage in self-care, and bring a healthy and full self to their work, not look to take self-fulfillment from the patients and families that they are there to help.

 

Quote: “Chaplain, if one more kind, loving, well-intentioned, good-hearted person tells me my momma is in a better place, I’m gonna slap the shit out of them!”… I took her hands and said, “On behalf of all the kind, loving, well-intentioned, good-hearted but misguided people who say stupid things, I am so sorry. And when you slap the shit out of them, tell them you have the chaplain’s permission to do so.”

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review 2017-10-13 16:36
Body armor
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body - Roxane Gay

Today I'm going to attempt to form some coherent thoughts about my experience reading Roxane Gay's newest book entitled Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. Some of you might have already had this book on your radar because of the huge amount of press that it got right after its release. This is an extremely personal account of Roxane's experiences as an obese woman in our society (which is obsessed with being skinny as you know). However, it's less a commentary on that than a self-exploration of her relationship with food and her body. You might recognize Gay's name from my review of her frank assessment of feminism and how she identifies herself (not just as a feminist but all-around human). I thought that she had pushed the envelope with her openness and willingness to 'go there' with that book but reading Hunger was a whole new experience. For one thing, this isn't a book about the trials and tribulations of being overweight in America and how she's planning on using this book as a tool to get her life back on track. No, this is a cathartic exercise in purging some of the darkness that she has had buried inside for too long. (I'm trying to not give away too much because her writing of the events of her life is kinda the whole point of the book.) This book will make you rethink the way that you look at your own body and how you make assumptions about other people based on their bodies. It is not meant to be preachy or shaming. It's one woman opening up about a horrific experience in her life and how that changed her forever. I think this is the kind of book that everyone should read because it opens your eyes to yourself, to others, and makes you think. 9/10 definitely recommend

 

What's Up Next: The Book That Changed America: How Darwin's Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation by Randall Fuller

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-10-13 16:17
The Diary of a Young Girl / Anne Frank
The Diary of a Young Girl - B.M. Mooyaart,Eleanor Roosevelt,Anne Frank

I finally got around to reading this heart-warming and heart-wrenching document.  I attempted it as a much younger person and didn’t get very far, perhaps because I was a teenager myself with my own angst to deal with. 

 

There’s no doubt that Anne was right about her own writing abilities.  If she had lived, I think she definitely had a chance to become a significant author.  She could have edited her own diaries to begin with and perhaps written more about the Jewish experience during WWII.

 

I think her father (the only surviving member of those concealed in the Annex) was a brave man to allow her journals to be published.  He and his wife do not always come out of them looking good.  However, we, as readers, are continually reminded that the people confined in this small space are bound to clash with one another repeatedly.  Imagine having no space to truly call your own, having to share cooking & food supplies, not having easy access to a toilet and not being able to flush during certain hours, and having to be quiet during the workday so as not to alert the employees working below them!  Prisoners in jails have better living conditions!

 

I am also impressed by the courageous Dutch folk who hid their Jewish friends and kept them supplied with the necessities of life for so long.  That’s a big commitment and they fulfilled it for two years with very few glitches (health problems for all of them sometimes made for erratic food delivery).  How many of us would have the fortitude and the bravery to attempt such a feat?

 

The saddest part of the book was definitely the afterword—Anne’s last entry is absolutely ordinary (in an extraordinary circumstance) and then they are betrayed and sent to concentration camps.  They had lasted so long and the end of the war was just a year away (although they had no way to know that).  I was left with the melancholy question of what might have been.

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