In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

What's wrong with the Western Diet? Why do other more traditional diets appear to be healthier, despite the fact that they do not benefit from the wisdom of our nutritionists and food industry that can manipulate the nutrients in food? According to Pollan it is *because* of nutrition research and the food processing industry that the Western diet is so unhealthful. By reducing food to it's component nutrients and ignoring cultural aspects of food and diet, they have unwittingly aided the deterioration of American's health. He argues persuasively that nutrition research is fundamentally flawed and its conclusions are suspect. Back to Book Reviews  

Pandora’s Lunchbox by Melanie Warner

Lots of information on what "processed" really means in terms of modern food production. A combination of food science history and detailed explanations of the various chemicals and procedures used to create modern packaged food. I sometimes skimmed over the technical details, but it was very eye-opening to learn just what happens to our food. I was surprised that even food I thought was natural, like vegetable oil, goes through pretty extreme processing just to make it palatable. Back to Book Reviews  

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

I listened to the audiobook version of this and really related to the message and advice. This book is all about embracing who you are, loving yourself, and finding your joy in life. It's a really quick listen (or read) and the narrator has a clear, easy to listen to voice. It emphasizes giving up on perfectionism and loving your imperfect self and imperfect life with its all its quirks and flaws. I found it inspiring and motivating and especially interesting as her findings are based on a large body of qualitative research she has conducted. While self-help can feel contrived, simplistic, and/or rote to me, Brene Brown's books always leave me feeling restored and refreshed. The memoir aspects of the book were actually my least favorite because they seemed cheesy to me and I didn't always identify with her personal story, but I didn't find that it took away from the overall message of the book. Four out of five stars. Back to Book Reviews  

The Atlas of Beauty by Mihaela Noroc

Beautiful collection of photographs of women from around the world. The author even traveled to North Korea to capture some of the photos. A perfect coffee table book that would make a great gift. My only criticism is that I thought the captions of some of the photos were either a little silly and frivolous sounding or just weren't especially well-written. The author's strength is obviously photography as most of the pictures are well-composed and stunning. Four out of five stars. Back to Book Reviews  

Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

A fascinating look at a unique event. George Orwell, a british citizen, volunteered to fight against fascist rule under Franco in Spain's civil war. Orwell's experiences of the political atmosphere are carefully worded and his personal reflections (e.g. recovering in a hospital) all serve the larger narrative. Homage is a travelogue of a country at war. His observations of Catalan politics and culture are relevant again with the current secessionist turmoil. Back to Book Reviews  

The Happy Traveler by Jaime Kurtz

Travel always sounds really exciting to me until I actually have to do it, so I thought I could use some tips from this book. The author has a lot of great suggestions on how to be happier traveling and I liked the way she pulls from current research and human psychology for those suggestions. A lot of it, though, seemed like common sense suggestions and it was incredibly repetitive, so I eventually started skimming the book and just reading sections I was interested in. Anyone about to travel or that travels frequently would probably enjoy giving this book a look through. Three out of five stars. Back to Book Reviews  

Black History in its Own Words by Ron Wimberly

This book features quotes from influential African Americans throughout American history, as well as gorgeous portraits of the person quoted. It's a thought-provoking compilation for anyone who wants to learn more about people who have shaped the United States in a myriad of ways, from a woman who enlisted as a male soldier in the Civil War to Black Panthers to musicians, artists, activists, and many others. Back to Book Reviews

Run Fast, Eat Slow by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky

There is very little diet info or nutrition recommendations tailored to athletes in this book (other than eat whole foods), but I've enjoyed a few of the recipes so far such as cilantro lime cashew sauce, double chocolate teff cookies, and cocoa coconut macaroons. Many of the entrees are fairly basic and do not necessarily reinvent the wheel, but I got lots of inspiration and menu ideas flipping through the pages; for example, I recreated Shalane's Breakfast Meets Dinner Bowl with my own twists and it was delicious and simple. Allergy-friendly, nutritionally dense recipes throughout. Three out of five stars. Back to Book Reviews  

Rivers of Oregon by Tim Palmer

Beautiful photographs and vivid descriptions abound in this coffee-table style, loving tribute to the waterways of Oregon. The author describes what must amount to many trips across these great rivers with an enthusiasm that had me excitedly plotting out my next great adventure. His knowledge of Oregon's riparian ecology provides for informed essays that are fascinating and informative. My only complaint is that it should have been a larger book to really showcase the fantastic photos. Four out of five stars. Back to Book Reviews