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The Good, the Bad and the Very, Very Ugly

by Katherine - 3 Comment(s)

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reading three books that vary tremendously in terms of subject and scope.

The Good: salads: beyond the bowl, by Mindy Fox. My only complaint is that there aren’t pictures provided for every recipe. But otherwise, this is a delicious book! Tonight, I’m having potatoes and green peas with pesto. YUM! Fox encourages readers to make gorgeous salads from all sorts of greens, of course, but also incorporates fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, grains, eggs, meats and more. If you’re bored of arugula, or you’d like to be the most popular guest at the picnic, check this one out!

The Bad: Six Weeks to OMG: Get Skinnier than all Your Friends, by Venice A. Fulton

Did I say “bad”? I meant awful. If you need me to tell you why competing against your friends, skipping breakfast and bathing in cold water might not be entirely sustainable (or healthy) routines, then you’re in trouble. And so are the readers of this…wait for it: crap. There – I said it. Dear readers, in nearly 400 Slice of Calgary posts, I have never once written a scathing book review, but this one deserves it. Fulton – an “expert in nutrition and exercise physiology” doesn’t provide readers with his credentials – neither in this book, nor in his blog. An “expert”, eh? Kind of like how I’ve got 65 pairs of shoes and therefore am a podiatrist, right? Skip this fat-phobic trash and do what you already know you need to do: cut out the junk, get your body moving, and eat your veggies.

The Very, Very Ugly: People who Eat Darkness: Love, Grief and a Journey into Japan’s Shadows, by Richard Llyod Parry. I never read true crime, but was drawn to this book because of the review on its back cover: “Utterly compelling...comes with a cast-iron guarantee that you will read to the very end”. I wondered what was so compelling about it, so I read the first page. 224 pages later, it was midnight and time for me to go to bed, but I couldn’t stand not knowing what happened to Lucie Blackman – or what would happen next. This is a gruesome story, to be sure. But it’s not solely about the young British woman who moves to Japan and is abducted, killed, and dismembered. It’s about her family dynamics, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, misogyny in Japanese culture, and the way that we treat victims and survivors of crime. The journalism is exhaustive and the writing is fantastic!

Need a suggestion for your next read? Chat with your librarian, sign up for our monthly newsletters, or check out our other blogs!

Dear Sugar

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

In my last post, I mentioned crying while watching my new favourite documentary “...and this is my garden”. And now, the tears are going mobile; I’m crying on the train! I don’t know what it is about the work of Cheryl Strayed that so touches me, but each time I read snippets of her advice column, I feel my eyes welling up. There’s something so powerful about her voice. She’s sympathetic and acknowledges others’ problems without ever judging them, and she sees life through a wide angle lens.

tiny beautiful things: Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar is full of the advice that your I’ve-already-seen-it-all grandmother might give you if she were a totally unbiased blogger (and occasionally used the F word). My colleague made a good point, too: the advice in Dear Sugar is usually prefaced by, or at least mentions, experiences from Sugar’s own life. This isn’t ol’ anonymous Ann Landers. Not at all. The author is totally exposed.

There are a few underlying themes that recur in almost every letter: have the courage to live your own life, regardless of your own fears or the reactions of other people; grow up and start being honest about who you are and what you need; accept that there aren’t going to be easy answers to the problems and relationships that vex you. And so on.

tiny beautiful things makes for the perfect summer read. Each column is only a few pages, so you can jump in and out, as your beach or BBQ schedule permits.

Check it out for tender and uplifting advice that you probably don't think you need to hear. But you do.

Picks of the Litter(ati) July 25, 2012

by Katherine - 3 Comment(s)

A while ago, I read and quite enjoyed How To Be Black, by Baratunde Thurston. Its deft and humourous examination of blackness in America really got me thinking about race and race politics. So, when I saw No matter what...they’ll call this book racist: how our fear of talking honestly about race hurts us all, by Harry Stein, I grabbed it. I can’t wait to read more about this topic.

Two other titles that I’m interested in reading are Here Come the Brides! Reflections on Lesbian Love and Marriage, edited by Audrey Bilger & Michele Kort and Debating Same Sex Marriage, by John Corvino and Maggie Gallagher. The latter is from Oxford University Press, which is typically an indication that great quality brain food is only a flip of a page away.

The Calgary Public Library gets new books daily! Browse our New and Notable shelves, ask a librarian for a suggestion, use our databases to find books that suit your preferences, or subscribe to our electronic newsletters. We’ve got everything you’re into!

Where art thou, BFF?

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Who is your best friend? I’m willing to guess that whoever he or she may be, you met each other more than a couple of years ago, not recently. In fact, it can be pretty hard to go from “newlymets” to best friends; building friendship takes time – an increasingly rare commodity in this busy, busy world of ours. And where to go, when searching for a new best friend? It’s not like you can date around, the way you would if you were looking for a significant other. Or can you?

I’m reading a great new book (with an unfortunately lame title) MWF seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend, by Rachel Bertsche, which is both an examination of what friendship is, and the chronicling of Bertsche’s social experiment: 52 friend dates in one year.

As I read through it, I’m discovering that Rachel sounds like a girl I’d like to have as a BFF. She loves books and brunch and good bad TV. She’s not yet ready for kids, but feels too old for some of the Gen Y’s she meets. She wants to be a full time writer. She even has curly hair, like me! How cute we’d be, brunching and book clubbing and writing together…

I’ll admit that keeping track of the litany of friends' names can get a bit tedious (see the appendix for a full listing!) but what I really appreciate about Bertsche's writing is that it is so frank and honest. Admitting that you would like to find a new or another best friend might make you feel insecure – after all, what kind of total loser would find herself in the friendship “market”, anyway? But that’s just your inner bully talking. The fact is that it’s easy for former friends to drift apart, and for a void in our social lives to appear. Why not learn how we can find and sustain new friendships, and then actively put those strategies into practice?

I’m not all the way through the book just yet, but I’m enjoying it so far. Check it out in print or electronic format!

Baby's first Audiobook

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Sure, I’d taken out books on CD before. But, I’d never downloaded one from Overdrive, our provider of free e-books and audiobooks.

Now that I’m finally(!) an iphone user, I’m anxious to download as much free content as I can – everything from university courses to music, movies and books.

The first title that I downloaded was The China Study, and I listened to it over the course of a few evenings, as I walked around my community. Next, I might check out fiction, or perhaps some cookbooks. Downloading these items was so easy! You really do not need to be tech savvy to click or tap your way to hundreds of new titles. Just download the free Overdrive app, and you’re off to the races.

If you need any assistance, just give us a call (403-260-2600) or strike up a chat with us, from our homepage.

And if you haven’t yet heard of The China Study, then may I suggest you make it your first download? Chock full of staggering epidemiological research into the effect of dietary protein on rates of disease in North America and China! I especially recommend it to those for whom a family history of cancer is a concern, and those who may be evaluating or re-evaluating their intake of meat.

Getting Things Done, by David Allen

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

I’m in the cult of productivity. Give me a prioritized to-do list (colour-coded, please!) and I’m a happy camper. I like to write in fountain ink, and do my crossing-out with a Sharpie. Nothing beats the satisfaction of striking a big, thick line through a list of niggling tasks. With a full-time job, a part-time job and both school and volunteer commitments, I have to find easy ways of staying on top of multiple projects and deadlines. But with more and more productivity tools, the job hasn’t necessarily gotten any easier.

If you’ve ever attempted to get your life in order and streamline your systems, you may have already encountered the work of David Allen, author of Getting Things Done and Making it all Work. I recently borrowed Getting Things Done on book CD, so that I could multi-task by listening to the book as I organized my desk, and filed my papers. What I really love about Allen’s approach is that it works for any sized project – whether it’s day-to-day workflow or planning large events. Those who follow his method (check the blogosphere – there are legions!) often swear by it, because it makes them feel so much more in control. Allen wants us to get every single thing down on paper. From dentist appointments, to light repair work, to thank-you notes that need to be sent, and so on. It sounds onerous, but really isn’t; once our have-to-do items are down on paper, they're no longer monopolizing our mental real estate or causing us stress.

If you think you could benefit from more elegant organization, give the GTD method a try! Get things done, and stop worrying about them!

(Now, don’t just make a mental note of the title – write it down!)

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