Monthly Archives: October 2011

Review and Giveaway: You are Not So Smart by David McRaney

You Are Not So Smart

David McRaney

302 pages

Publication Date: October 27, 2011

Publisher: Gotham Books

Source: Publisher

You are always explaining to yourself the motivations for your actions and the causes to the effects in your life, and you make them up without realizing it when you don’t know the answers. Over time, these explanations become your idea of who you are and your place in the world. They are your self. 

Have you ever thought if there’s an emergency, you’ll jump to action? Or maybe you think you procrastinate because you can’t manage your time as well as you would like? In You Are Not So Smart, author David McRaney sets out to prove you wrong and explain why people think the way they do. Using psychology studies, Rainey shows readers some important trends such as the Texas sharpshooter fallacy and why metacognition, thinking about thinking, can help us became more aware of the way we make decisions.

You Are Not So Smart is compiled of short chapters, that each focuses on a certain topic. McRaney writes in a way that makes everything easy to understand. I found much of it to be fascinating but also a little scary like the normalcy bias. It’s a phenomenon that’s normal but pretty obstructive during an emergency and people have literally seconds to act. When normalcy bias kicks in, an emergency becomes too overwhelming and a person fools themselves into thinking that everything is normal. But what ends up happening is that a person doesn’t ever react. In life-threatening situations, the effect can be fatal. Normalcy bias isn’t something that you can get rid of, because you use it in situations big and small, but it was pretty terrifying to think that in an emergency I might refuse to act when I most need to.

There are also a lot of humorous chapters including my favorite on the Dunning Kruger effect. Have you ever found yourself really good at something and decided maybe you should enter a contest? Maybe once you entered, you realized that you aren’t as good as you thought you were? That’s the Dunning-Kruger effect. It’s what makes reality talent shows so addicting to watch since so many people who don’t have talent, think they do and audition. You know what shows I’m talking about.

It wasn’t until reading this book that I learned that the author has a blog of the same name and some of these chapters were originally blog posts ala Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. So, I can’t tell you how much of the book’s material were originally blog posts but I read a post on McRaney’s blog that states many of the topics featured in the book are new.   I don’t think it really matters either way because You Are Not So Smart is a terrifying, funny, entertaining read that you’ll find hard to put down. My rating: 4 out of 5.

Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours, I have one copy to giveaway. Leave a comment below, letting me know to enter you in the contest. I’ll announce a winner this Monday. Good luck.

Review: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

The Joy Luck Club

Amy Tan

288 pages

Publication Year: 1989

Publisher: Vintage

Source: Public Library

And I think now that fate is shaped half by expectations, half by inattention. But somehow, when you lose something you love, faith takes over. You have to pay attention to what you lost. You have to undo the expectation.

The Joy Luck Club is the story of four mothers, Chinese-born women who migrated to the United States, and their American-born daughters. The book focuses on the women’s childhoods, loves, heartbreaks, and their relationships with each other.

The novel begins after the recent death of Suyuan Woo. Her daughter, June, is asked to replace her in the Joy Luck Club, a group of long-time friends who often meet up to play Mah-Jong, among other things. As honored as she is, June doesn’t know if she can take her mother’s place. June and Suyuan’s relationship was filled with love but also misunderstandings and doubts. June is a woman who’s given up on her talents and potential at a young age while her mother always saw the potential especially when her daughter didn’t.

I had always assumed we had an unspoken understanding about these things; that she didn’t really mean I was a failure, and I really meant I would try to respect her opinions more. But listening to Auntie Lin tonight reminds me once again: My mother and I never really understood one another. We translated each other’s meanings and I seemed to hear less than what she said, while my mother heard more.

June and Suyuan’s problems aren’t unique, though they feel that way. Every mother-and-daughter pair in the group has the same problems.  They were women who came from two very different cultures and had a bridge to cross in order to understand and appreciate each other. With every pair it was as if the mother understood her daughter, but the daughter felt as if her mother was a puzzle.

I can remember countless times as a teenager when I felt like my mother and I were speaking two different languages. Now as a mother, I wonder how much of what I say to my daughter will be remembered and in what way.  I think that’s part of timelessness of this book. Mother-daughter issues are going to be around as long as human beings are here. It’s something most women can relate to. Though The Joy Luck Club was first published in 1988, it’s not dated. It reaches across age and culture to give readers a satisfying story.

As sad as I was to let these characters go, I’m glad that I’ve finally read this brilliant book. My rating: 5 out of 5.

It’s Monday! What are you reading and Bout of Books

It’s Monday! What are you reading? is my favorite meme hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey

Last week went by in such a blur that I can barely remember what I read. Looking at last week’s stack, I see that the only books I read were for the read-a-thon. Here’s what I read:

  • Habibi by Craig Thomspon
  • Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
  • Love as Strong as Ginger by Lenore Look
This week I’m reading:
  • The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (already started)
  • You are Not So Smart by David McRaney (for an upcoming TLC book tour)
  • The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
  • Interview with the Vampire (already started)
  • Kamchatka by Marcelo Figueras
If I can squeeze anything else in this week, I will.
Amanda at On a Book Bender is hosting a week-long read-a-thon called Bout of Books. It starts today and ends this Sunday. I had to participate though I just failed  finished Dewey’s read-a-thon. I’m surrounded by so many great books, why not spend the next week reading?
What are you reading today?

Sunday Salon: Read-a-thon and what’s ahead

Good morning! It is early here and already the kids are up and on their third bag of popcorn. It’s a good thing that I didn’t last long during yesterday’s read-a-thon because I would be really grouchy right now about all of this noise.

I don’t know about everyone else but the read-a-thon was a hit for me. I finished three books: Craig Thompson’s Habibi, Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol, and Love as Strong as Ginger by Lenore Look.  All three were really lovely reads. I also started two books yesterday: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice and The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. I’m pretty sure that I’m going to finish one of them today.

Looking ahead

Yesterday while I was on Goodreads, I realized that I’m 64 books away from hitting my goal of reading 312 books this year. I picked the number 312 because I’ve already surpassed my initial goal of reading 240 books this year. Luckily for me, there’s still a week left in October. I don’t want to give up my goal just yet. I know many bloggers understand the need to have a number goal for yearly reading, but I know there are others who don’t.

Last year I read less than 200 books, which is an all-time low, because I was too busy doing other things like being on Facebook or Twitter. I spent so much time online that I ignored my passion: reading.  Having a set number of books that I want to read tells me over and over again to turn off my computer and get to reading. This year I’ve sacrificed watching TV. I still watch movies every now and then but I probably watch no more than an hour a week. I’ve even sacrificed blogging by being absent most of this past summer to read instead.

It’s not an issue of quantity versus quality but an issue of focus. There’s only so many hours in a day and I need to focus on what’s most important to me. As I get older, I’m finding myself reading more for enrichment and competition than for pleasure or entertainment. I have this feeling that I’m behind and the only way for me to catch up is to read more and more widely in various genres. It’s probably because the goals I set when I was younger are still goals that I have yet to accomplish but I want to. I’m finding that feeling to be a great companion because it pushes me to do more.

Have you set any reading goals for this year? Why do you read? Is it for competition, entertainment, pleasure?

I’m up! I’m up! 24-Hour Read-a-thon

I woke up late but I’m here! Last night was the wrong night to have insomnia.

1st Hour Meme:

1. Where are you reading from? Southern California

2. Three random facts about me? I’m a huge daydreamer; I own a red and white men’s beach cruiser that I’ve named Dorothy, and I’ve donated more than 100 books to my local thrift store and public library this year.

3. How many books do you have in your tbr pile for the next 24 hours? 17 though that number will probably increase.

4. Any goals for the read-a-thon? Nope!

5. If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice to people doing this for the first time? Have fun and don’t put any pressure on yourself. This is a great event to make new friends at.

My first book of the day:

Can you believe the first hour is almost up? *sigh* Happy reading to all the read-a-thoners!

Update the 2nd:

It’s 4.5 hours into the read-a-thon. I’ve finished Anya’s Ghost, ate breakfast (oatmeal with light brown sugar), and took a shower. I’ve also left a ton of comments on readers’ blog, (who knew there are so many bloggers whose names start with M).  Now I plan on starting Habibi by Craig Thompson.

Thank you to everyone who’s commenting here. I appreciate it!

Update the 3rd:

I’ve just finished Habibi by Craig Thompson. I think I like it more than Goodbye, Chunky Rice and Blankets, two of Thompson’s earlier books. It’s an ambitious book that the author has put a lot into. I knew it was a big book but I didn’t bother to check the number of pages. I’ve also read Lenore Look’s Love as Strong as Ginger, which is about the author’s grandmother and the back-breaking work she used to do in a crab factory in San Francisco, CA.  It’s a lovely book.

The stats:

  • 3 books
  • 928 pages total
  • I left a ton of comments (at least 100)

So now I’m off for coffee and a quick nap. I know that sounds funny but trust me, it works.  If you’re participating in the read-a-thon, how are you doing?

Mid-Event Survey

1. What are you reading right now? Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. It was an impulse download from the library.

2. How many books have you read so far? 3

3. What book are you most looking forward to reading in the second half of the read-a-thon? Maybe the short stories. I have a ton of them on my Edison (Kobo e-reader).

4. Did you make special arrangements to free up your whole day? Nope. I just told everyone that today is the read-a-thon. They know what that means – don’t mess up with Momma!

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with them? I haven’t had many interruptions. I went to the grocery store. That’s it.

6. What surprises you most about the read-a-thon so far? Nothing! It’s a great event. I think one of the things I love so much about this event is that it’s a great opportunity to make friends with bloggers who probably wouldn’t have met otherwise.

7. Any suggestions on how to improve the read-a-thon next year? Maybe we can be more aggressive in getting publishers to donate prizes?

8. What would you do differently, as a reader or cheerleader, if you were to participate again next year? Nothing.

9. Are you tired yet? I was tired earlier but I’m not anymore.

10. Any tips? Relax, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and short books are always good to have.

Read-a-thon Stack

It’s really sad when your read-a-thon pile is actually three piles of books and can only be read in a month, not a day. Yesterday Raych told me that’s the fun of making a read-a-thon pile and I think she’s right. Here’s my stacks:

Stack 1

Habibi by Craig Thomspon (graphic novel)

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (re-read)

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol (re-read/graphic novel)

Stack 2

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (re-read)

Bless me Ultima by Rudolpho Anaya

The Most Beautiful Walk in the World by John Baxter

Spilling Ink by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter

Soul Kiss by Shay Youngblood

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurtson (re-read)

Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

The Girl who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow

The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Aline Bronsky

If Jack’s in Love by Stephen Wetton

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

The Infernals by John Connolly

Shine by Lauren Myracle

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore

The Watchmen by Alan Moore

Stack 3

Troubling Love by Elena Ferrante

The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (re-read)

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery

That’s a crapload of books but the read-a-thon thrives on variety. Am I going to read for the full 24 hours? No, not at all. I’m cheerleading too so I’m hoping to split my time evenly between the two. I’m pretty excited to read almost everything in these stacks though I’ve just realized I only have two scary reads, both by John Connolly, to keep me up in the wee hours of the night.  Have you read anything in my stacks? Is there something you think I should read first?

Review: The Night Circus

The Night Circus

Erin Morgenstern

387 Pages

2011

Publisher: Doubleday

Source: Public Library

The circus arrives without warning.

No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers.  It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Usually when I see a particular book being the center of discussion online, I try to wait until talk dies down before running out and reading it myself. With the R.I.P. challenge going on right now, I decided that The Night Circus sounded too good to pass up. I think the book is worth the hype it’s getting though there are a few things about it that was problematic.

The Night Circus is the tale of Celia Bowen and Marco, two gifted illusionists who are forced to compete against each other as adults by their mentors. Celia and Marco have no idea why they have to compete or that the tournament is to the death. With the help of a talented group, Marco’s mentor is able to pull off the perfect battleground for the pair – Le Cirque de Reves, a circus that’s only opened at night and is filled with wonderful attractions. The tournament doesn’t affect just the pair but also everyone around: from those who work for the circus to the people who attend almost every time they can to those who helped to create it. While many people think the circus is the best in the world, others know its true powers and those close to it will never be the same.

Forgive my vague description, but it’s hard to describe this book. Luckily for readers Morgenstern didn’t have that same problem. One of the book’s greatest strengths is that the descriptions are so vivid. The circus is not only the setting but also a character. Readers can easily imagine the black and white stripes of the tents, the red scarves of the circus’s most devoted followers, the dress that Celia wears that changes colors to match whoever she’s talking to at the moment. This is a great book to study to learn how to describe a setting.  Andi wrote about the book’s cover and design which sadly I missed since I was reading The Night Circus on Edison (my Kobo ereader).

I found some of the characters very interesting. The twins, Poppet and Widget, were a delight to read about as they roam around the circus with their new friend, Bailey. Not all the characters were as fleshed out as I would have preferred. Celia the child and teen who refused to answer to the name Miranda and had her fingertips sliced off by her father/mentor Prospero was much more interesting to read about than Celia the adult. The same goes with Marco though I think the only interesting thing about him was the thing about his physical appearance. Did anyone figure out who Marco’s mentor, the man in the grey suit, really is? I’m pretty sure that I did and was so happy with myself.

There’s so much that the author builds on in the book but there’s so much that also doesn’t get explained or isn’t as detailed like the back story of Tsukiko the contortionist. I really wished that readers knew more about Tsukiko along with Prospero and what exactly pushed this cold man to try his last trick. (It was an awesome trick.) I wouldn’t have cared if this book had turned into a chunkster (400+ pages) if it meant that I learned more about the characters I was interested in.

Besides some of the characters, another problem I had with this book is the plot. I was pretty let down by the disappointing climax that’s more of a small hill than a climax. That didn’t stop me from reading the book but the disappointment wasn’t something that I could easily overlook.

The Night Circus isn’t just some fantasy book about a circus. After reading it and letting everything about it turn over and over in my head, I’ve realized that the story of the two illusionists is also a story about storytelling, living your life to the fullest, and learning that no matter how powerful you are, there are some things you can’t always escape. Flaws and all, The Night Circus is an engaging read that I can easily recommend to those who enjoy fantasy. I look forward to reading more of Morgenstern’s work in the future. My rating: 5 out of 5.

One of my favorite quotes:

“Stories have changed, my dear boy,” the man in the grey suit says, his voice almost imperceptibly sad. “There are no more battles between good and evil, no monsters to slay, no maidens in need of rescue. Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case. There are no longer simple tales with quests and beasts and happy endings. The quests lack clarity of goal or path. The beasts take different forms and are difficult to recognize for what they are. And there are never really ending, happy or otherwise. Things keep going on, they overlap and blur, your story is part of your sister’s story is part of many other stories, and there is no telling where any of them may lead. Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon, or a wolf and a scarlet-clad little girl. And is not the dragon the hero of his own story? Is not the wolf simply acting as a wolf should act? Though perhaps it is a singular wolf who goes to such lengths as to dress as a grandmother to toy with its prey.”

Sunday Salon: Reading and reviewing

Good morning! Right now it’s the early hours of Sunday. The sun isn’t up yet but the kids are so I’m up too. I don’t mind so much since I’m already on my second cup.

Can you believe that Dewey’s 24-hour Read-a-thon is just a week away? I don’t know if I’m going to join this year but if you’re free next weekend and want to catch up on your reading, this is a great way to do it. You don’t have to read the whole 24 hours just as much or as little as you want. It’s never too late to sign up. Maybe you already have plans for next weekend; there are other ways of helping.  You can donate as little as $10 to the prize fund so that international participants can have their prizes sent to them in a timely manner, sign up as a cheerleader and cheer readers on, or sign up for marketing, hosting a mini-challenge, and more. There’s something for everyone.

Right now Alita from Alita Reads is hosting a review-a-thon. It started on Friday and ends tomorrow. It’s a great way to catch up on review writing. Plus it’s not too late to join. Maybe we can convince Alita to host a review-a-thon next week after the read-a-thon when everyone’s sick of reading? I’ve already completed about four mini-reviews plus I have 4 longer reviews to complete. I’m hoping to have everything finished and ready to post by Tuesday.

Now I’m off to write. Do you have any plans for today? Are you joining next week’s read-a-thon?

Edit: Here’s the link for anyone who wants to donate to read-a-thon: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dDJQZVNhZWlZd25uTlVXWHJlTVVCc0E6MQ&ifq

Review: Here by Wislawa Szymborska

Here

Wislawa Szymborska

Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stainslaw Barańczak

2010

81 pages

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Sources: Publisher and Public Library

 

 

I can’t speak for elsewhere,

But here on Earth we’ve got a fair supply of everything. . .

 

Here by the poet Wislawa Szymborska is a book that I’ve been dipping in and out of for almost a year.  I’ve read it front-to-back twice but failed to write a review.  I think it’s time to change that since it’s a good volume and will probably be on my best of 2011 list at the end of the year.

Here is the poet’s latest volume of poetry. At just 81 pages, the book is a great volume to carry along to read a poem or two when you have the time though once I read the first poem, I sat down to read the rest.  It’s also a bilingual edition so readers can see what the poems look like in Szymborska’s native language, Polish, alongside of their translations.

The subjects that the poet writes about vary but all are interesting. One of my favorite poems is “Teenager”, in which Szymborska imagines a meeting of her teenage self and who she is today.

 

So many dissimilarities between us

that only the bones are likely still the same,

the cranial vault, the eye sockets.

 

Relatives and friends still link us, it is true,

but in her world nearly all are living,

while in mine almost no one survive from that shared circle.

 

I got shivers reading that last stanza. For most of us, we go from being the youngest members of our families to the oldest as we slowly by surely lose those we love.  It’s a thought that I’ve encountered several times this year in other works such as Stewart O’Nan’s Emily, Alone and Michael Lee West’s Consuming Passions.

Other favorites from the collection includes “An Idea” which is a great poem for those of us who try to talk ourselves out of good ideas and “Vermeer”

 

So long as that woman from the Rijksmuseum

in painted quiet and concentration

keeps pouring milk day after day

the World hasn’t earned

the world’s end.

 

As with most volumes of poetry there are a few poems that I didn’t care for but overall Here is a readable collection that’s great for those who are new to reading poetry and those who have been doing it for years.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is my favorite meme. It’s hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I had a good reading week though I didn’t read as much as I wanted to. I don’t know what happened but days went by without me reading a word. This week I’m getting my butt into gear and getting things read. I’m on a mission to cull my tbr shelves but I want to read my books first before letting them go.

 

Last week I read:

Two Old Women by Velma Wallis

Amulet Vols. 2& 3 by Kazu Kibuishi

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

 

 

 

This week I want to read:

Chicken and Egg: A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes by Janice Cole (already started)

Amulet Vol. 4 by Kazu Kibuishi

The Immigrant Edge by Claudia Kolker

Make the Bread, buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese (maybe)

Three of my own books (undecided on which ones)

So that’s my reading pile for the week. What book are you looking forward to reading? 

NetGalley October

The lovely Emily over at Red House Books has decided to once again dedicate a month to reading NetGalley books. I participated in July during the last time this challenge was going on and failed pretty miserably. So I’m signing up once again and posting my intentions in hopes of doing better.  I plan on reading 5 – 10 of my review galleys this month.  I’ve already finished one NetGalley book so I’m feeling pretty good. If you want to make a dent in your pile of NetGalley books, why not sign up?

Review: The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

The Last Werewolf

Glen Duncan

293 Pages

Publication Year: 2011

Publisher: Random House

Source: Public Library

 

A second silenced shot buried itself thud-gasp in the B&B brick. Silver ammo? I had nothing to fear if it wasn’t, but no way of finding out other than taking one in the chest and seeing if I dropped dead. (This was so typically unreasonable of the universe. Apart from a few days to do what I had to so I didn’t want any more life. What’s a few days after two hundred years? But that’s the universe for you, decades of even-handedness then suddenly zero negotiation.) I got down on my belly. The concrete’s odour of stale piss was a thing of cruel joy. Low, moving in tiny increments, I stole a look round the doorway’s edge.

Jake isn’t your average werewolf. Sure he turns into a monster every month on the full moon. And yes, he does require human flesh to survive. But what makes Jake special is the fact that he’s the last of his kind. Werewolves were always small in number but they’ve been hunted to the brink of extinction by WOCOP – an organization whose mission is to hunt the creatures. WOCOP has done its job so well that with Jake being the last werewolf, the people behind the organization have no other purpose.

Jake doesn’t care about being the last. In fact he welcomes it because at 201 years old, Jake has had enough of life and wants an end to it all. What Jake doesn’t know is that while he’s counting down until WOCOP comes after him­−namely Grainer, a hunter with a vendetta−there are others who will stop at nothing to keep Jake alive. The Last Werewolf is a welcome addition to the literature of werewolf and other creatures of the night.

There’s been a lot of positive talk surrounding this book since before its publication. I think the book lives up to some of the hype but while I liked the book I didn’t love it. The Last Werewolf is a smart book that reminds me of A Discovery of Witches and Justin Cronin’s The Passage because it isn’t just fantasy. It also adds science and conspiracy theories to the mix while rewriting the shape-shifter myth to give readers something truly monstrous.

I can’t put my finger exactly on why I didn’t love this book. It’s a page-turner that keeps readers mostly interested in the story, the transformation between Jake and the thing that lives within him is gripping and the twist is unexpected. . . Maybe it’s the fact that after reading so many positive responses to this book, I believed that I was going to love it. My rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Have you read this? Is there a book that you liked while everyone else loved?

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a great meme hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey.

 

Last week I read:

Hellboy: Wake the Devil by Mike Mignola

Amulet #1 by Kazu Kibuishi

Here by Wislawa Szymborska

Holes by Louis Sachar

How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz

Max’s Words by Kate Banks

Green Wilma, Frog in Space by Tedd Arnold

What the World Eats by Faith D’Aluisio and Peter Menzel

 


This week I’m hoping to read:

The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness by Brianna Karp

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teaching to Raise Self-Reliant Children by Wendy Mogel

Amulet #2-4 by Kazu Kibuishi

Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival by Velma Wallis

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg (maybe)

Chicken and Egg: A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes by Janice Cole (maybe)

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan (maybe)

 

So that’s my list. What book are you looking forwarding to this week?

Sunday Salon: October Reading

Thanks for all the well-wishes yesterday! I really appreciated it. The bug that I had went away as fast as it came so now I’m back to normal.

I don’t know what happened but September was a horrible month for reading! I looked at my Goodreads account last night and saw that while I read 30 books last month, the majority of them were children’s books. I’m trying to make a sizable dent in my tbr pile so reading children’s books from the library isn’t helping.

My favorite books from September are:

  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  • What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio
  • Max’s Words by Kate Banks
  • The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • A People’s History of an American Empire by Howard Zinn
  • The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
  • Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend by Larry Tye

Earlier this year after looking at my sagging over-stocked shelves filled with unread books, I decided to do two things: give away more than 100 books and read 312 books by December 31st.  . So far I’m doing pretty well. I’ve given away eighty books to my local thrift store and public library and read 235 books.

I’m determined to make October the month to kick my reading in gear and finish giving away the last twenty books. I started on The Night Circus last week, read a page, and haven’t picked it up since. It expires in a few days so it’s one of the many books that I’m looking forward to reading this week.

What about you? What are your plans for October? Are there any books you’re looking forward to reading?

Review: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio

What the World Eats

Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio

160 pages

Pub Year: 2008

Publisher: Tricycle Press

Source: Public Library

In What the World Eats, Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio travel around the world to learn what families from other countries eat in a week. Technology has advanced to the point where most countries can get out-of-season produce whenever they want and brands that are popular in one culture are just as popular in another. With such an abundance of food being produce you would think that world hunger would no longer be an issue but it still is. To make matters worst there are more overfed people in the world than those underfed. By traveling the world to new-to-them countries and those they have visited years ago, the authors observe how mealtime is changing.

What the World Eats was such an unexpected delight. It’s adapted from another book the authors wrote, Hungry Planet: What the Worlds Eats, and fitted for a younger audience. Don’t let that stop you from reading this though. This is a book that adults and children can enjoy. The authors give facts about the 21 countries they visited, stories about the families, and pictures to illustrate exactly how much a family eats. The amount of money each family spends in a week on food is broken down by category. This isn’t a definitive guide just at glance at other countries.

I found the book fascinating and my family did too. Once you look at one picture, you want to know more and the authors did a great job keeping readers curious and turning pages. It was so interesting to compare what a family in rural China eats to a family in urban China or to see the profiles of families living in different parts of the United States.

When you lay out exactly a family eats weekly, you can’t help but start to think about what your own family eats too. Right after I finished this book I had to go to the grocery store. I couldn’t help but think about all the processed foods that I saw throughout the book. There were so many things that I usually buy but I didn’t this past grocery trip. That’s part of the magic of this book.

What the World Eats is a great addition to anyone’s personal library. My rating: 5 out of 5 stars