I love Michael Pollan's books The Omnivore's Dilemma, and the Botany of Desire. Sweeping history or cultural commentary, a real understanding of humanity's relation to food and plants. However, this book is about his experience of growing a garden - it's more autobiographical. More slow and meditative than sweeping. If you like that kind of thing, he's a fabulous writer so you'll enjoy this. It's just not what I expected after reading the other two books.
I picked this right after starting the short-story anthology Zombies vs. Unicorns (zombie fiction sometimes blames prions) on Kindle. Fun connection. As to this book, it was a great story, interesting science, kept a good pace, and gave me pause (yet again) about eating factory-farm meat...
Not as thick on the science/history as Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes (which I loved), but very helpful to focus on the unique dangers of wheat (those two authors should talk to one another!). Some of the language and reading was annoying (he repeatedly mentioned man-breasts, which probably would be uncomfortable for some people to hear) but worth ignoring for the education. For me, it came down to wheat=worse than sugar in its effect on blood sugar, disease and aging. Since wheat seems to be in nearly EVERYTHING we eat, drink, or slather on our bodies, I realize I'll be best off to remove wheat from my intentional diet. (I don't have celiac disease, so I'm not going to worry about every envelope I lick or the hand cream I depend on in the winter.)
I loved this book, even though I don't plan to be an "attachment parent." Mayim says a few times in this book that she doesn't judge... and it's true. She really doesn't. She just lays out her parenting style for those of us who are curious. I really appreciated the laidback philosophy. It's obvious that she loves her kids. From co-sleeping (impractical?) to baby-wearing (sorta cool - I may steal this one) to diaperless babies (ew), her ideas were interesting and educational. She drew a picture of a life that embraces a child rather than treating him like an add-on.
I read this after Survival of the Sickest by Sharon Moalem, which prepared me to understand sickness (including cancer) in terms of microbes. I followed it with Controlling Cancer, the short TED book by Paul Ewald & Holly Swain Ewald (on Kindle). Between the three of them, I have a completely new picture of today's scourge. Mukherjee does a tremendous job of catching the reader up on the history of the medical science. His explanation of the sequence of scientific discoveries kept my interest and helped me understand where we are today.
I originally didn't want to read this book because I thought it would be depressing; strangely, I finished with a sense of optimism. We've come so far in our understanding of prevention and treatments (Ewald is right that we need to focus funding/research on the former) that I feel like it's possible to advance further. I am less afraid of the disease, while at the same time reconciled to the idea that I may one day encounter it.
He's a smart, accessible philosopher - and I feel much, much less anxious after reading this book.
Rob Bell does what the apostle Paul did in the epistles - explained what Jesus did and what it meant for their time. (Plus, if you know the epistles, so many of Bell's sentences have an uncanny resemblance to verses that he's almost quoting them, but in a way that they feel fresh and shocking, the way Paul's words must have sounded to his listeners.) I had to listen to it twice back to back, just for the joy of it. It's a beautiful revisioning, stripping away the cultural overlay of centuries, stuff we've added to the faith that isn't essential. In fact, I think I should listen to it again. And you definitely should too.
I hate to put a lower review, because Pollan is a fabulous writer, researcher, storyteller. It's only because this book (along with Second Nature) is completely different from his books The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, and Botany of Desire. The latter three, I devoured (pun intended), but I couldn't get through much of this one or Second Nature. They're terrific, if you like slow meditative autobiographical stories, but that's not my kind of thing.
I'm not dyslexic, and don't know anyone who is, but this was a great explanation of strengths our schools overlook.
There are two versions, one written with all the science (this one) and one written with just the principles laid out. I was afraid this longer version might be dry, but he draws all the scientific studies before in a masterful explanation. I was looking forward to the conclusions but sorry when it was over.
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