Sunday, June 30, 2013

66. "Women Food and God" by Geneen Roth

Roth, Geneen. Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything. New York: Scribner, 2010.
211 pages.
Reviewed by J. d'Artagnan Love

Roth writes, "On the first morning of my retreats, I tell my students that the great blessing of their lives is their relationships with food" (27). In Women Food and God, Roth explains that everything we know about ourselves and our lives can be unlocked by breaking down our relationship with food. Her target audience is individuals who struggle with disordered eating whether they binge eat or starve. Her approach to healing from disordered eating boils down to being kind to yourself. 

Roth's approach to healing from disordered eating draws from the Buddhist practice of mindfulness and the practice of inquiry. Both of the practices involve living fully in one's body rather than caving to your incessant brain chatter. In the inquiry process one is to ask what they are feeling in their body. Is it a burning sensation? How big is it? Is it moving? Does it have a color? A shape? The goal is that in doing this, a person will learn to listen to the needs of his/her body rather than just eating on auto-pilot. When we listen to the needs of our body and eat when we are hungry, when hungry eat exactly what our body is telling us we need, and stop when we are full, Roth argues, that our weight will level out to our "natural body weight" and the battles that take place in our hearts over food will come to a stop. 

Roth's work is compelling and applicable even for individuals who don't necessarily suffer from disordered eating. Her practices are outlined in easy-to-implement steps that would benefit anyone wanting to get in better touch with their bodies. Interestingly, she points out that when we are able to get in touch with our bodies we are also more easily able to access the part of ourselves many conceptualize as "souls," "God," "Buddha nature," or "consciousness." The book is not specific to any religion or creed but is instead a good practice of psychological health. I certainly recommend this to anyone interested in self-improvement!

4.5 darts out of 5
Bookshelf Project Status: KEEP


Sunday, June 23, 2013

65. "The Crush" by Sandra Brown

Brown, Sandra. The Crush. New York: Warner Books, 2002
470 pages
Reviewed by J. d'Artagnan Love

Beach Read/Beach Trash: noun. A book that is easy to read and in which its sole purpose is to entertain the reader and not add to a literary cannon.

Everyone needs to read some beach trash every now and again. I did not make this word up. My friend did (but I solidified the definition above. Perhaps I should send it in to Urban Dictionary). That aside, the term fits a genre and style of novel in which it is good to indulge. Beach read novels don’t necessarily add anything new to the literary world or work to push any boundaries. Beach reads are all about stories and not just any stories, but stories that are wildly entertaining, easy to consume, and fun. I need more beach trash in my reading diet.

Thus, at a used book sale, I stocked up on paperback novels that fit this genre of “beach read” and started to dig into the pile this spring. The Crush is the first that I picked up and I wasn’t disappointed.

Rennie Newton is a top surgeon at a hospital in a Texas town. Blonde, beautiful and completely uninterested in romance, Rennie is chosen to lead a jury in the trial of Ricky Lozada, a known contract killer. During the trial, Lozada develops a mad crush on Rennie, and is not found guilty. A few months later, a fellow surgeon competing with Rennie for a promotion at the hospital is found murdered in the hospital parking lot. All the evidence points to Lozada being the killer but Rennie is considered a suspect as well.

The police department then calls on the help of Wick Threadgill, a police officer taking a break from police work after the murder of his older brother, who was also employed as a police officer. Reluctantly, Wick agrees to help with the case, but on his terms and in his own way. As Lozada stalks Rennie more closely, Wick also grows attached to her but the mystery surrounding Rennie Newton grows even more tangled when he discovers secrets from her past she has worked hard to bury.

I stuck this book in my purse and took it with me everywhere. It was a great read to escape the stress of daily life. I read it in waiting rooms at doctor’s offices. I read on my lunch break at work. It served as an escape which is exactly the purpose of a beach read. While it didn’t add to the literary world any new prose or genius stylistics, I found Brown’s writing to be clever. The narrative held my attention throughout the story which didn’t feel too contrived or cliché for me to enjoy it (I am, after all, still a slight book snob. I admit it). I liked the characters and the plot exhumed some emotion as I read, but not so much to be overwhelming as some books can be. This text found the perfect balance between being suspenseful and being entertaining. Not a bad start to my pile of paperbacks!

3 darts out of 5
Bookshelf Project Status: DONATE

Sunday, June 16, 2013

64. "Insomnia" by Stephen King

King, Stephen. Insomnia. New York: Viking Press, 1994.
787 Pages
Reviewed by J. d'Artagnan Love

I have not read much of Stephen King’s work. His last book I read was Bag of Bones and I read it in high school which, as of this May, was officially ten years ago! A friend of mine loves his work and recommended I read Insomnia based on her knowledge of my novel preferences. Ironically, I was having bouts of insomnia myself when I picked up the book, making it a good fit for the time in which I read it!

Insomnia follows Ralph, an old widowed man, as he wanders through the haze of sleeplessness—a haze which slowly turns into hallucinations that Ralph has a difficult time distinguishing from reality. Ralph loses his ability sleep over time, and he insists that the hallucinatory existence in which he now resides is a result of his insomnia. When he is witness to one of his long-time friends behaving strangely, Ralph is sent spiraling into a neon, dreamlike, domino cascade of events. One thing Ralph is sure of is something very important is happening to him and the town in which he lives.

Ralph eventually surrenders to this new world, a world that overlaps with the real world but no one but Ralph is able to access. Eventually he learns that his long time crush, Lois, is also suffering from insomnia and she admits to having similar experiences with an alternate reality. Lois and Ralph’s journey intensifies as they meet Clothos, Lachesis, and Atropos, three mysterious beings that live, not in this world, but in the colorful alternate world only Lois and Ralph can enter. Together they learn to develop their own personal skill sets that help them in an unfolding battle between good and evil.

This is one of the most interesting books I think I’ve ever read. King reaches deep into a collective unconscious to explore the afterlife and the true meaning of morality. The story presents readers with questions about their own perceptions of the world and how it works. Readers must also make a leap of faith—is what Ralph experiences true and valid or just insane ramblings from a senile old man? Do you believe him or do you think King will chalk it up to a loss of mental faculties by the end of the narrative? These questions kept me turning pages along with his brilliant descriptions of a beautiful world that exists alongside our own. The text is rich and complex and swayed my decision to read more work by Stephen King! I can’t say much more than that without giving the story away! This is definitely a good started text for anyone unfamiliar with King's body of work. If you read it, let me know what you think!

4 darts out 5
Bookshelf Project Status: borrowed from a friend.