Sunday, August 21, 2011

A RIGHT Good Travelogue

Holidays in Heck P.J. O'Rourke

When you read P.J. O' Rourke books you are automatically dropped into really funny situations with genuinely snarky writing. From his bachelor days impressing dates with how clean his house is (by stuffing everything in a closet and spraying the air with Pledge) to his war reporting from various dangerous hell-holes, O'Rourke can find the humor in the improbable. His newest title, Holidays in Heck, takes him from war correspondent to family man as he navigates the world of fun vacation spots with the wife and kids, or he-man challenges to such far flung places as the Galapagos, Kyrgyzstan, and China.
Some of his essays are drop dead hysterical, as when he describes plane travel rules that we all have experienced and dread. The deluxe family skiing vacation in Alpine Valley Ohio (not Vail or Aspen or Gstaad) is a scream, yet absolutely perfect in a twisted sort of way. But if you know his writing, you are always waiting for that republican/conservative slant to get in the way of the fun. For example, when his family is coerced into visiting the American History Museum in Washington D.C., they play a spirited game of spot the way "political correctness" is inserted into American History by highlighting contributions made by women and minorities. Sorry but I know history wasn't just made by dead white men and I applaud the Museum for expressing this. A piece on landing aircraft on the carrier Theodore Roosevelt morphed into a political screed on John McCain, the gist of which was that if he could land on an aircraft carrier, he's the guy most qualified to run the country. He seems to forget that McCain crashed three planes, the last ending in his POW capture; not exactly a glowing resume bullet-point.
I enjoyed the book, with some reservations. O 'Rourke should decide to either write humor or become a political columnist but mixing both together does not serve him well.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Paleo Lite

Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis MD.

When I found out that this book was coming out, I knew I HAD to review it. Why was I so excited, you might ask? It all started when I had a partial thyroidectomy and I had stitches on my neck. With a constricted throat, the last thing I wanted was bread or pasta which I dropped like a hot rock. I absolutely didn't miss it either and I stopped having my daily heartburn and reflux. On a thyroid site, something called the paleo diet confirmed what I felt, namely that anything with wheat was unnecessary and unhealthy. There was also a reference to a "wheat belly" article which I read and promptly sent to my husband who was eating a bagel at the time. It was the push he needed to begin my paleo program, and it was the last bagel he's had since. You guessed it-the article was written by the esteemed Dr. Davis.

So,on to the book. Dr Davis is a cardiologist who counsels obese people in ways to prevent heart attacks. He discovered through observation, and by monitoring his own health issues that the visceral fat around the middle is the result of too much insulin, the hormone of fat storage. The way most people obtain this insulin is wheat consumption. Wheat has morphed from an unobtrusive biblical grain to a modern hybridized, high-yield Frankenfood that would die without human assistance. Those harangued by doctors, nutritionists, and health associations to eat whole wheat instead of chips and pretzels are not getting good advice, as wheat/gluten in any form packs on the pounds and causes inflammation. Dr. Davis also counsels against gluten-free products as, while wheat-free, they are still made from cornstarch, rice starch or potato starch and can increase blood sugar more than wheat products.
In the 13 chapters of the book, Davis explains the wheat belly phenomenon and how to banish it from your life forever. An appendix with some yummy sounding recipes is included to start you on the path to good health.
I am reviewing this book as a paleo follower of more than a year. Dr. Davis gets it almost absolutely right with a couple paleo non-no's specifically tofu and most cheeses. But his scholarship, professional advice, and common-sense language will be very much appreciated by all of those concerned with healthy eating and well functioning body systems.

Bodacious Book Reviews

Hi all! I'm Donna Ballard, a librarian at the East Meadow Public Library. My official librarian blog is "On the Bedside Table" which I co-write with the other librarians in my department. Since this blog mostly features fiction, I decided to create another review blog which will be more eclectic and a little less formal. Please take a minute to see my posts on both blogs-all comments appreciated!