Friday, August 18, 2017

Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival

This book shines light on, well, light.   The authors literally want America to turn off its lights.  These sentences best sum up the book’s central theme: 

“As a nation, we are sick because we don’t sleep.  We are fat and diabetic because we don’t sleep. We are dying from cancer and heart disease because we don’t sleep”.

“If you sleep at night for the number of hours it would normally be dark outside, you will only crave sugar in the summer, when the hours of light are long.  It is the “perennial adaptation” or the chronic, constant intent to hibernate, that causes overconsumption of carbohydrates and obesity and its attendant high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and inevitable heart failure” 

I loved this book because the authors never attempted diplomacy when addressing man-made diseases.  If you are obese or if you are a vegetarian or if you think fake sugar will help you lose weight or if you still think that carbs are important (year-round) you will be set straight.  You will be served the real dope - unceremoniously, emphatically, and with a touch of hyperbole. I wasn’t surprised to learn that the book was first published in 2000; the author’s blunt instrument delivery (which I found refreshing and amusing) can now only be found in red state/blue state polemics (which I do not find amusing).  The authors of this book are not afraid to step on your toes to make a point.

The book is well-researched with almost 100 pages of end notes.  I always like to see that and it is especially appreciated in a book that makes Big claims, as this one does.

I do think the authors get side-tracked a few times on the basic nutritional advice (eat more fat and protein, few carbs, and no added sugar, whatsoever).   I happen to agree with all of that stuff, but I am somewhat new to the perils of 24 hour light made possible with electricity and made much worse with electronic intrusions.  I would have preferred more about the cost of progress…you know, the “What have we lost?” aspect.   I don’t mind when my laptop does context switching, or when my 14 year-old does context switching in a casual conversation, but I’m not crazy about it in my books.

This was a good book with a ton of very useful information for how to live a better, more healthful life.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Review: The Kept

The Kept The Kept by James Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I did an audio version of this book and it was superbly narrated by Kate Udall. Flawless performance.

A random selection from the audio cd section of the library, I had no idea what I was in for.

This is a very dark story of a barren woman - a midwife - who began taking babies to raise as her own. It is set in the late 19th century, during a brutally harsh winter in upstate New York. Years of wrongdoing are halted and life unravels on a single day of unspeakable violence.....and her unholy deeds catch up. They seep into every corner of every hour and she is condemned to outrun her fate while trying to connect with her 12 year old, Caleb. The two of them, while bent on revenging the deaths of their loved ones, also tear at the world, trying to wrest peace and understanding from its hollowed soul.

The extremes of sadness, regret, malevolence and sacrifice are hard to take. The author does a fine job of folding his reader up in these extremes. I felt like I was chained to all of their iniquities and could not be free until I had finished the book.

The ending was ambiguous and since I like my redemption crystal clear, I promptly made up my own ending. You will probably do the same.

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Review: The More They Disappear

The More They Disappear The More They Disappear by Jesse Donaldson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This work of fiction closely examines a single rural town in Kentucky where every family has been touched by the evils of oxycontin. It is a fast read, with a good old-fashioned linear approach to the storytelling - and the story lent itself quite well to that. It is not hard to imagine entire communities forever changed by the opioid epidemic. Although it is fiction, what the book illustrates IS happening. It is happening right now, right under our noses.

You will find many of the characters in this story very endearing; some you will want to run down with your car.

The author does not lecture. He doesn't need to. Instead, through the events in this story, he expertly reveals how the darkness of oxy addiction reaches deeply into and across families, vaporizing goodwill, and butchering hopes and dreams.

I could not put it down.

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