March, April, May, and June Book Review & Book Club

The Language of Flowers

Yikes, how has it been four months since I’ve done a Book Review!?! I didn’t do them for a few months because I just wasn’t finishing many books. 2018 has sure been surprising to me with how busy I’ve been with work (in a good way!). I have definitely prioritized working late nights over reading, which I don’t like but it felt necessary. So finally, here’s what I’ve read over the past four months.

The Language of Flowers

The Language of Flowers: A Novel, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

This was a book club book, and I loved it. It made me think twice about what type of flowers I give people, and I love that there are meanings behind them. I really enjoyed the storyline in the book, but even more so loved the story of the language of flowers.

Read all about it in my Book Club column!

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage: A Novel, by Tayari Jones

Another Book Club book that I won’t be doing a full post on. The Book Club gals had mixed feelings about this book. For me personally, it kept my attention, I kept turning the pages, but I didn’t love it. Some of my book club just didn’t really buy the story line (they thought the idea of the dolls was unbelievable) and/or they didn’t like it much. A few liked it, but I don’t think they loved it.

I wouldn’t say it’s one of my favorite books, it won’t make my Top 10 (or Top 20), but I didn’t mind it. I didn’t want to put it down. I was into the story. I was trying to put myself in the situation — if my husband whom I’ve only known and been married to for a short time — went to jail for 7+ years, how would I feel? What would I do? There’s much more to it than the marriage as there is a race factor in the story that adds another deep layer into this book.

It was part of Oprah’s Book Club, and got really good reviews, but I just wasn’t that into it personally. This is not to say that the writing wasn’t good. I thought it was great! Here’s a few excerpts I enjoyed:

Still, the truth is that there was nothing extra. If my childhood were a sandwich, there would be no meat hanging off the bread. We had what we needed and nothing more. “And nothing less,” my mama would have said, and then wrapped me in one of her lemon-drop hugs. (Page 5)

The one thing I don’t miss is how we fought so much. I can’t believe we wasted so much time fussing over nothing. I think about every time I hurt you. I think about the times when I could have made you feel secure, but I let you worry simply because I liked being worried about it. I think about that and I feel like a damn fool. (Page 59)

Marriage is like grafting a limb onto a tree trunk. You have the limb, freshly sliced, dripping sap, and smelling of springtime, and then you have the mother tree stripped of her protective bark, gouged and ready to receive this new addition. (Page 110)

Three takes you from being a couple to being a family, upping the consequences for walking away, upping the pleasure quotient for staying home. (Page 111)

This close to Christmas, the dolls remaining in the store were like the kids who didn’t get picked for kick ball. some of them were flawed on purpose; I made the eyebrows too thick or gave the doll a long torso with short stubby legs. Somewhere out there was a girl or boy who needed to treasure something not quite perfect. These dolls, as crooked as real children, lined the shelves like eager orphans. (Page 226)

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, by Mark Manson

This book surprised me. I didn’t think I’d get much out of it but actually loved it. Read all about it in this post.

Year of No Sugar

Year of No Sugar: A Memoir, by Eve Schaub

I rented this book from the library. It wasn’t really what I expected but it was really interesting. The author was really honest and the family dynamic to the story in addition to the story about the food in general was interesting. If you are interested in food, sugar, health, or any projects that require a year of dedication and then that person writes a book (a popular thing since Eat, Pray, Love) then this book is for you.

After learning how terrible sugar is and how it’s in almost everything, and being inspired by the book Sweet Poison, by David Gillespie, and the research of Dr. Robert Lustig (Fat Chance), Schaub challenged her family to a year of no sugar.

Sugar is EVERYWHERE. I think it’s really hard to literally eat NO added sugar. The author said, when we said a Year of No Sugar, we meant a Year of No Added Fructose.

I learned a lot about things I didn’t know I wanted to know about — mostly about the different forms you can find sugar in.

I read the book in my Kindle app, and highlighted some parts that stood out to me. Excerpts are in italics, my comments are not. These are just random bits from the book that I found interesting. They are much better when you read them in context, so if any of this piques your interest, you will probably like this book.

Simply drinking one soda per day is worth fifteen and a half pounds of fat gain per year.

WHOA. I mean this doesn’t surprise me, but to think of it in pounds — yikes! I rarely drink soda. So when I do it tastes so good, but it’s very few and far between.

Michael Pollan (author of “Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants”) advised buying food products with no more than five ingredients.

I feel like this would be so hard.

Glucose is Good. Glucose is what your body, and all living things, use to transport energy through the body and is what Lustig refers to as “the energy of life.” It is the inability of the body to access that good glucose that results in diabetes.

Fructose, as it turns out, exploits a loophole in your body’s carefully orchestrated ballet of hormones: fructose does not suppress ghrelin (the hunger hormone) nor does it stimulate insulin or leptin (the full-feeling hormone). You get the fructose’s calories, of course, but you are still as hungry as if you hadn’t eaten them. So you keep eating.

All fructose—100 percent of its calories—must go to the liver to be processed, just like those of toxins. And just like with toxins, there in the liver, many things happen—all of them bad.

If we believe the Cleveland Clinic’s more recent estimate of one in five, that means now there are more than sixty-two million Americans living with a condition the term for which was coined as recently as 1977. Additionally, circulating fatty acids have been proven to speed the growth of cancer cells. As if everything we’ve already mentioned weren’t enough reason to run screaming from the sugar-added buffet at our local supermarket, we can add cancer to the mix as well. And not just any cancers: three out of the five most common cancers—colorectal, breast, and prostate—as well as one of the most deadly—pancreatic—all have proven correlations with increased sugar intake. Simply put, cancerous cells consume more glucose than normal cells. Therefore, if you have a heightened blood-glucose level (due to all those lovely circulating fatty acids that interrupt the glucose from getting to your cells) you have a very cancer-cell-friendly environment on your hands.

The fact that the number of obese Americans has not doubled or even tripled in the last hundred years but, in fact, has increased by seven times?

Fructose, you’ll recall, is poison. Fructose is the ingredient that our body can live entirely without, thank you very much, and would be much the better off for it.

Then we have erythritol. I found out that it is a “sugar alcohol,” which generally isn’t such a good thing, since sugar alcohols such as xylitol and Maltitol are known to be associated with laxative properties and “gastric distress.” Ew! However, according to unerring wisdom of the Internet, erythritol is unique: unlike other sugar alcohols, it is absorbed in the small intestine and then excreted. Translation? No tummy troubles.

Once we returned home from our travels, I was happy to notice that my kids were more interested than ever in food: in ingredients, in the garden, in recipes and improvisation.

As the story goes, the hot fudge sundae was so named because you could only order it on Sunday.

…learned that balsamic vinegar isn’t really vinegar and is fortified with sugar.

…people just can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to the idea of making a child happy. And what easier way to make a child happy than with an inexpensive little bit of sugar?

This book reminded me a lot of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. After reading these books, other books, researching on the Internet, and listening to a lot of podcasts — I definitely try to not eat a ton of sugar. It’s hard because it is hidden in everything. Which is why I think simple foods are great. And then you can balance it out with a treat if you want. Sometimes if I don’t eat a lot of added sugar, and then I eat something like an Oreo, it actually tastes gross to me.

When I say simple food I mean things like a quick salad with only a few ingredients. I love arugula with salt, pepper, lemon, and olive oil. So simple, so easy. The other day I had strawberries, so I threw those on the top too! I also love to roast vegetables in EVOO, salt, pepper, and sometimes another seasoning like Herbs de Provence or the Everything Bagel seasoning from Trader Joe’s. There’s zero sugar in all of that. At the same time, I love ice cream. So it’s a balance for me!

Have you ever done a period of time with NO SUGAR?!? If so, please tell me all the things. I’m so curious what you did, how you did it, how it felt, what you ate, what you found hard about, etc.

I'll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara

I’ll Be Gone In The Dark, by Michelle McNamara

We just read and discussed this book for Book Club. It’s had so much coverage in the press recently because the killer was found! I’m just hoping he’ll talk about it so we know why he did everything he did!

We all were equally freaked out by the book, could only read it during certain hours of the day or listen to it with our husbands, or make sure to do something else right afterward to get our mind off of the awful things this guy did.

If you like the nitty gritty detail about true crime you will like this book. There were parts I found fascinating, and parts I thought dragged a little.

If you are really into true crime, I recommend listening to some podcasts about it as well.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir, by Haruki Murakami

So I actually didn’t finish this book and I don’t plan to. I just thought it was boring. I could never get into it. I thought Born to Run was so interesting, and this one just fell flat to me.

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What have you read any of these books? What have you read recently? Please tell me in the comments below!

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