Book #23–A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome

This book title jumped out at me as I was browsing the shelves of an airport bookstore. I’ve completed the Camino de Santiago, not once, but twice. My feet have carried me 1,000 miles to Santiago, which is roughly the same distance from Canterbury to Rome. The author, Timothy Egan, has a really comfortable style of writing, that makes you feel like you’re walking with him. I wasn’t interested the religious of aspects of his journey, per se, but I did find the history fascinating, and I loved how he described all the stops and landmarks along the way. He has many great quotes in the book, but this one was my favorite—

But for many of us, malnutrition of the soul is a plague of modern life.

~Timothy Egan
Food for my soul–a good book, a nice lunch, and perfect weather!

Book #22–The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

It took me a long time to read, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, and as you can tell by the beat-up cover, I gave this book a workout! I was reading it while I had a very busy work schedule, so I was only able to read small sections at a time. With that said, if you only read one book this year, make it be this one!

It is because of this book that I’m finally able to get a better understanding of the news reports that are being presented to us with alarming frequency–obesity, pollution, water usage to raise animals vs. plants, importation and exportation of food products, the treatment of animals, soil conditions, the economy, and the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and hormones…just to name a “few” things.

The author took me on a journey not only through the history of some foods, but he also unveiled some of his own misconceptions about food and food production, which mirror the ideas of the average consumer, including myself. He doesn’t spend time trying to convince his readers to go “vegan,” but rather, he paints an entire picture from the beginning of the food chain until the end. The reader is left with the job of of deciding how to process the information, and then absorb it into their own life, and lifestyle choices.

In the end, he produced a dinner for his family and friends that was grown, hunted, and foraged locally by himself and his friends. He was proud of his accomplishment was surprised by how truly difficult it was, because Americans have walked so far away from growing and preparing their own food. We are now a nation of people who rely on government regulations to keep us healthy and well-feed, and we have no clue how our food is produced, or what’s in it.

We have walked so far away from natural food, that we’re often fooled into believing that industrialized food is healthy. My husband and I recently got back from a trip to France and we noticed that the sign on the prepackaged sweets aisle was labeled in French, “Industrial Pastries.” The word turned us off…we walked away. Interesting, right?

I’m really glad that I read this book–I learned a lot!

P.S. Tomorrow is my birthday, so that means that I read 24 non-fiction books in a year! I was hoping to read a few more than that, but some of those books were thick! LOL! Let’s see how many I can read from now until my next birthday!

Book #21-Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen

Ummm….no. I do not recommend this book. It’s rare for me to not like a book, but the author seemed to be suffering from a mid-life crisis as she was writing the book, and we had to suffer along with her. Here’s the gist of her story: She falls in love with the Greek language and she gets her employer, The New Yorker to pay for her to take Greek lessons. As she learns the language, she visits Greece and the Greek Islands several times over the course of many years.

She’s obsessed with Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love, but yet she ping-pongs back-and-forth between telling the reader that she isn’t interested in men, and then bragging about all of the men that had tried to lure her into bed during her travels. At one point, she tells us that she has penis envy, that she doesn’t have penis envy, and then during a break-through session with her therapist, she discovers that she most definitely does suffer from penis envy. She seems uncomfortable with her own body, but then swims naked in the sea–twice.

The book is a complete hodge-podge. It’s almost as if she opened her travel diary and copied every other sentence. The random ideas are stitched together with tales of Greek Gods, a sprinkling of a few Greek words for good measure, and a of course, her fascination with her sexuality.

There were a few bright moments, but overall—UGH!

Book #20–A Year in Provence

I just finished reading, ‘A Year in Provence,’ written by Peter Mayle. Peter and his wife moved to Provence, France from England, and each chapter chronicles their lives in a new country in a bright, funny, and interesting way. The reader learns about food, wine, the people, and the traditions of France with each turn of the page. It will make you want to sell everything and move there! He is also the author of the book, ‘My Twenty-Five Years in Provence: Reflections on Then and Now.’ I haven’t read it yet, but I’m adding it to my list.

Book #19–The Dictionary of Difficult Words

Yesterday, I finished a week-long training in Arlington, VA. and two of my participants approached me at the end of the day to chat with me, and to give me a gift.

They gave me a book called, ‘The Dictionary of Difficult Words,’ because they thought I would love it—they were right! Even more lovely was the hand-written thank you card that accompanied it. Their words really touched me—it’s nice being thanked and appreciated!

Marsha & Maria–thank you so much for thinking of me!

I read the book cover-to-cover this morning and I really enjoyed it! As promised, it’s filled with lots & lots of difficult words. I can tell this will be a book that I revisit many times!

Kenspeckle (adjective)–

“If something is kenspeckle, it’s easy to recognize or easy to see.”

Book #18–The Age of the Horse: An Equine Journey Through Human History

“For we use the horse in more ways than any other animal: we ride on its back, attach it to wagons and ploughs, strap packs to it, drink its milk, eat its meat, go to war on it, cherish it as a pet and have turned it into a symbol of everything from wealth to political power, purity, laciviousness and human suffering. In 5,500 years of domestication, humans have transformed horses’ bodies into everything from buttons to thrones.”

~Susanna Forrest

Book #17—Eiffel’s Tower

Much to my surprise, Thomas Edison, Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, James Whistler, Annie Oakley, and Buffalo Bill were some the colorful characters who were included in this story about the Eiffel Tower. Built for the World Fair of 1889 in Paris, France, the Eiffel Tower was the “brain child” of Gustave Eiffel. He designed and oversaw the construction of this massive monument. Initially, he had to fight tremendous opposition from many Parisians who thought that it was a monstrosity that would be nothing more than an eyesore. However, Paris and the world grew to love this metal icon over time.

People from all ‘walks of life’ clamored to visit the tower after it was completed in time for the fair. Average citizens, princes, politicians, nobility, and Indian chiefs alike were awed by the construction elements, the height, the elevators (built & designed by the Otis Brothers in America), and of course, by the view of Paris from the top.

On a personal note, I learned about a French artist that I had never heard of before—Rosa Bonheur. She lived in man’s world, baby, but she didn’t let that stop her. Because she typically painted livestock, animals, and outdoor scenes, she petitioned the court to be granted permission to wear pants when she was working. Yes—she had to get the “green light” to wear pants! Known for realism, her paintings almost look like photographs. I’d like to learn more about her and her artwork.

One of her well-known paintings is called, Horse Fair” and it’s housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Either it’s serendipity, or we just notice what we notice, because now we’re aware of it. I’m staying in a cute little Airbnb near San Francisco this week. This picture was hanging on the stairwell. I JUST finished reading, ‘Eiffel’s Tower.’ I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have given this print a second glance, but I took my suitcase to my room and then came back and studied it with interest.

Book #15–The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Book#15 was a quick, but enjoyable read. I was especially fond of the dedication, which I included below. In addition to reading the message, make sure to enlarge the picture so you can see the texture of the paper. THIS is one of the reasons why I love books so much—the rich paper just makes me happy. The second reason—the simple joy of turning the pages. Electronic books will never provide that feeling.

According to
biophilia—a love of life and the living world; the affinity of human beings for other life forms. The rich, natural pleasure that comes from being surrounded by living organisms.

Book #14–The Six Wives of Henry VIII

Wow! This book was interesting, shocking, bewildering, entertaining, and intriguing. It was a big, thick, heavy read and I learned a lot about this time period of English history. Do I have a favorite Queen from this tale? Yes. Wife number four, Anne of Cleves.

I was aware of the words counterpane and disport, but had never seen them in text before—King Henry had both of them! A counterpane is another word for a bedspread or a quilt, and a disport is something that “carries you away” from everyday activities. King Henry’s disports included hunts, tournaments, banquets, balls, and sporting events. The word ‘sport’ is a shortened, more modern version of the word disport. Sports “carry us away,” or create happy diversions from our work and home lives. True, not many of us take part in jousting tournaments like Henry did—just give us football, beer, and a hotdog, and most of us are happy campers!

port—to carry (Latin)