Book Review: Life of Pi

Life of PiLife of Pi by Yann Martel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What in the hell did i just read?

I picked this book up because it was available from the digital library and i was in the mood for something fun. I was expecting something like Cast Away with a tiger. I’ve never seen Cast Away, mind you, but i know that it involves Tom Hanks having conversations with a volleyball, so in my mind it’s generally a lighthearted story. Life of Pi turned out to be considerably darker than what i had in mind—not in an oh-the-humanity way, but in a weirder way.

I began reading with the Author’s Note at the beginning of the book. Thinking that it was Yann Martel’s actual introduction to the book and seeing that it was rather long-winded and narcissistic, i skimmed it. It described the author suffering a poor book reception, searching for new inspiration, taking his bag of money to India to do some writing (à la Elizabeth Gilbert), and happening to speak to a local there who told him a great story, which became the basis of the book i was about to read. The main character, Pi Patel, was a living, breathing human whom the author visited and interviewed. Ah, so this is a true story?! I thought. Well. I was misled.

But before i get into that, i want to mention that i almost didn’t make it through Part One of the book. Part One takes up about a third of the book and comprises Pi’s backstory, from childhood up until he boards the ship that was meant to take his family and part of their zoo to Canada but winds up sinking. Pi becomes fascinated with religions at an early age and adopts not just one, but three of them. And of no discernible consequence to the rest of the story is his near-sighted derision of atheists and agnostics. These snide remarks bubbled up several times, to no effect except to dare me to put the book down. They weren’t really even followed up later in the book. I’m still not certain what their purpose was.

So the book is set up as being a story about faith. Fine. Except… If that’s truly the book’s aim, it did a pretty terrible job of making me believe in God or even making a case for faith. I’m a tough cookie when it comes to those matters, i know, but i truly made an effort to be open-minded in this case. It’s only fiction, after all. But i just don’t see that this book is really even about God.

About halfway through, i checked Wikipedia (carefully, trying to avoid spoilers,) to see if this was indeed a true story. It isn’t. It’s billed there as a fantasy, which served to confuse me further. How is this book a fantasy, i wondered. It’s far-fetched, but not fantastic. I read on.

Stories of survival are fascinating to me (as long as they aren’t too brutal. I’m never going to read the story of that guy who hacked his own arm off. Nope. I’ll stick to the untrue survival stories for now). I love it when characters devise clever ways of staying alive, and there was plenty of that in this book, which i enjoyed a lot.

Then, at about 80 percent of the way through the book, the story became a very different story. It went from being a far-fetched but plausible story to being something that Jules Verne might have written. It got dark, and then it got weird, and then it got darker and weirder. It turned into a sci-fi. And then in the last ten percent it concluded with one of those maddening endings that sci-fi writers love to write that leave you going “so… WTF actually happened?” I like those and hate them at the same time. And it’s not really clever anymore. Too many writers have done this already.

So i’m giving this book three stars despite its beginning and its end, because the middle was pretty entertaining. And i actually liked the weird stuff toward the end quite a lot. If Part Three had been something that tied things up nicely rather than just sort of unceremoniously pulling back the curtain, i think the book would’ve been a lot stronger.

Now i’m going to have to watch the movie, in spite of the CG tiger.

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Book Review: I Am Legend

I Am LegendI Am Legend by Richard Matheson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a great book. I found myself wishing i could still be reading it after i had finished. It’s very short, but other than that i would say it’s pretty much flawless.

I’m not even sure why i liked it; it’s a bleak story. The protagonist Robert Neville is presumably the last man on Earth after a disease infects everyone and begins to turn them into vampires. Yes, vampires, although they’re more like what we know as zombies. It isn’t a fantasy book; Neville slowly unravels the mystery of the disease and discovers that vampirism isn’t something mystical, but a set of symptoms that are attributable to the disease. I enjoyed that part a lot. Neville is a champion of skeptical, scientific inquiry. His struggles with self-discipline and motivation to tackle the problem at hand made a lot of sense to me, as did his relentless desire to discover the truth.

Something about survival stories is so much fun to read. I’ve enjoyed that ever since i first read The Boxcar Children, i think. I shy away from anything that’s too brutal though, so i don’t read very many survival stories, but this one was just right for me. It’s riveting to hear about someone working diligently to take care of himself, and doing an admirable job of it. That’s the kind of work people were meant to do.

I don’t want to give the ending away, but it’s pretty amazing. Unless you’re much cleverer than i am, you don’t really understand the title of the book until the very last page. And then you get it, and it blows your mind.

And, by the way, they had no business using this title for the Will Smith movie. It doesn’t fit. They took many, many liberties with the story, but the main thing they changed was the ending. I don’t particularly care that they changed the things they did, but i just think it’s silly that they used this title for it.

So, probably you should read this book, whether you liked the movie or not. It’s a classic.

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Book Review: The Magicians

The Magicians (The Magicians, #1)The Magicians by Lev Grossman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book gets three stars solely because it started out so strong. I was telling people that i loved it and i thought i would surely end up giving it five stars for the first third or so of the story. The writing was delightfully descriptive and the story was dense but not dull, which i think is perfect, and the system of magic was really interesting and intricate and challenging and fun. The Beast was such a creepy cool thing that happened early on. And i loved all the references both direct and indirect to the other huge fantasy stories: Narnia, Harry Potter, The Once and Future King, Lord of the Rings, even Dungeons and Dragons and Star Wars. It’s a fantasy book for fantasy nerds who have read it all, and bits of it are quite funny. But large chunks of it are not amusing at all.

This is certainly a different kind of fantasy story. It was billed to me as an adult Harry Potter with sex and alcohol and such, but it’s more like… The Chronicles of Narnia meets St. Elmo’s Fire. Or the kids in Traffic or Garden State, or some other drugged-up privileged modern white kid movie that i haven’t watched because who would want to watch that crap? It’s a bunch of worthless scumbag young american adults doing magic for no real reason and getting endlessly intoxicated. These are supposed to be the smartest of the smartest kids, and they just do a series of increasingly idiot things because they’re bored and have been given large sums of money that they’ll never have to actually earn. And the smartest of the smartest of the smartest, supposedly, is Quentin, the main character of the story, who is also the uncontested king of the douchebags.

(Warning: it gets mildly spoiler-y here.) I never felt any sympathy for Quentin, and by the middle of the book i flat-out hated him. He’s a worthless, cowardly, self-centered, powerless, utterly disappointing failure. He’s no magician; he never becomes the hero of the story. And the worst part is that he never really redeems himself for the dumb things he does along the way. He just moves beyond his starry-eyed self-pity into a defeated numbness. I’m not convinced that he ever even truly took responsibility for his own actions, or that he intends to atone for them in book two. At the very least, he could’ve had some existential epiphany and become a much better person. But, nope.

I think the point of this book is to be a philosophical exercise rather than a good story. Grossman could have written a good story, but that would’ve been too easy. He had to write something strange and uncomfortable instead. I was kind of baffled by the parts of it that actually resembled a plot, especially the main conflict at the end. I don’t understand why that had to happen at all. The whole message of the book seems to be this: chasing happiness is pointless because no matter where you go, you’ll never catch it—but anything is better than working a nine-to-five and leading a normal life. I expected that last bit to be proved wrong at some point, but it definitely wasn’t (so, fuck you, Grossman). But the most telling part of the book, to me, is what isn’t in it: none of the characters find happiness. They’re so sure they know where not to find it, but they don’t really have a clue how to attain it, even at the end.

There’s a lot here to ponder, so i think this book was worth reading. But, damn. I don’t think i’ll be reading the rest of the series, because i just can’t stand these characters.

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Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the RyeThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If i could, i think i’d give this 3.5 stars. I certainly didn’t hate it, but i don’t feel like i quite grasp what people love so much about it.

I probably waited too long to read it. I could see my younger self really loving Holden and the conversations he tries so hard to have with people. My younger self who didn’t even have an intimate knowledge of the life he feared so much just yet. I feel for the guy; i understand his frustration with all the phony people, and i was amused by all of his swearing and blundering. I get it. I think i’m still trying to finish growing up and learning to understand and forgive people for being so fake and figure out what’s really real, myself.

I do think there’s a lot of meaning within the story, but it would’ve been more impactful for me if it was also a really good story. It helped to picture Holden as young Jason Schwartzman and think of the whole thing as a quirky indie movie. But even then, it could’ve used a little more quirk and fun. A little more Wes Anderson. Maybe this is the precursor to that kind of film. Maybe the big deal about Salinger is that he was one of the first people be able to show this sparkling beauty in super-ordinary people & situations.

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Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Um. Like, whatever, or something. [Insert half-relevant literary quote here.]

Let me preface this by saying that i cry at everything. Every movie makes me cry, from Disney movies to romcoms, and everything in between. I don’t even watch dramas anymore, because i just can’t handle it. The feels. It gets me right there, and i never recover.

I cry pretty often when i read books, too. And i often avoid books that sound like they’re going to make me cry. Which is why i hadn’t read this one until now, when one of my fellow book club members has chosen it as her pick. I readied myself for it; i saved my last serving of Ben & Jerry’s and strategically waited to finish it until my husband would be out of town and i could just spend the evening alone, feeling sad.

But… i didn’t even cry. I think there was one moment early on when i almost did, and toward the end my eyes got a little moist, but no actual tears were shed.

Nor did i laugh, mind you. I mainly did a lot of eye-rolling. I know one of the points of the book was that most people are just ordinary people even if they die young, and glorifying someone who dies doesn’t do all the other schmucks a lot of justice. And so the characters in the book were meant to just be ordinary, flawed people. But i get irritated when “flawed” characters are nothing but annoying. Hazel is an unappreciative, cynical brat, and Gus is smarmy, arrogant liar. And they have these conversations throughout the book that are half uber-teenager, half Gilmore Girls. Zero real people talk like that. I don’t buy it.

And the insufferable author VanHouten that they interact with, he just felt to me like an altogether odd character to have in this book. He’s there so that there’s a story, but it’s a weak one. It’s a short book, and the little adventure they go on is weird, and the twists that happen near the middle are predictable and don’t hit with much impact. And the end isn’t wrapped up very neatly—or maybe it’s too neat. It should’ve gone farther in one direction or the other.

Kids dying of cancer is of course sad, and the philosophizing they do is mildly interesting, but this just wasn’t the great impactful life-affirming story that i was expecting after all the heaps of praise it’s gotten. At the very least, though, it’s a semi-relatable look at life and mortality from the point of view of nonreligious people. So i do appreciate it for that.

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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! That was an amazing book. I have so many thoughts about it that they’re going to be difficult to organize. This is easily my favorite of the HP books so far.

First, a quick recap of my HP adventure. I read the first HP book back when i was a tween, then i saw the first movie and decided it was close enough to the book for me and went back to my Star Wars novels instead of continuing on with the HP book series. I saw all of the movies as they came out, and promptly forgot them for the most part. But i liked them a lot, so recently i decided it was time i read all of the books and re-watched each movie as i finished them.

So what i remembered about this fourth one from watching the movie long ago was that there was the tournament which Harry competed in, and Robert Pattinson also played someone who competed in it, and there was one task that involved rescuing people who were underwater and another task in a maze-like thing in which some boy died. I pretty much forgot everything else. My memory for movies is terrible.

Because my memory of the story was so poor, i enjoyed the book immensely. There were many surprises for me, especially at the end. I feel like i’m the last person on Earth to read these books and actually be surprised by them, and it’s kind of an eerie feeling. Like i’m stuck in the past while the world is decades ahead of me. But i digress.

I loved the little hints about Ron & Hermione’s jealousy, even if it was borderline annoying how they bitched at each other incessantly. And Hermione’s sudden political-mindedness was definitely obnoxious, but thankfully it faded out for the last third or so of the book. The focus of this book is a little more squarely on Harry; Hermione and Ron played bigger roles in the previous books, and i liked that. But i also love Harry, now more than ever. So, i’m not complaining.

I loved the little romance Hagrid had, and the drama with Cho and Fleur and Krum and all that. The ball was delightful. I did kind of remember that from the movie, because i love relationship drama. I thought it was a little far-fetched that the Beauxbatons and Drumstrang students just hung out at Hogwarts for an entire year doing nothing because the tournament tasks were so spread out, meanwhile their respective schools were without their headmasters. But it worked so well for the story that i don’t really care anymore.

I’m amazed at how many characters Rowling is able to invent and create compelling stories for within the Harry Potter world. Rita Skeeter, all the Weasley brothers, Hagrid, Ludo Bagman, Neville, Snape, Mr. Crouch — there were so many little stories within the bigger story of this book, which itself is within the bigger story of the series, and each one of them was important and interesting.

And Voldemort. Lord Voldemort is terrifying. Poor Harry. Brave, amazing, wonderful Harry. What a perfect end battle. But that was just the beginning of the end. There was another fascinating twist that i didn’t see coming at all, and all of the loose ends and little mysteries and stories were tied up so neatly into one marvelous package. I’m almost afraid to go on in the series, though, because this is clearly just the beginning of Voldemort’s second reign of terror, and i know things get even darker and sadder and more difficult from here on out. I think i’ll read a different book before i start the next one, as i had been doing in between the previous books.

Brava, J. K. Rowling. You really are a skilled writer, and deserving of quite a large portion of your mountainous heap of cash. I’m really starting to get it now.

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Book Review: Foundation

Foundation (Foundation, #1)Foundation by Isaac Asimov
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

If you like clever political maneuvering and don’t particularly care if a book has any other substance to speak of, you’ll like this one.

I can’t understand why this is considered to be one of the best sci-fi books of all time. There’s nothing enjoyable about this story except for those moments when someone has done something exceedingly clever without the reader’s noticing. There was a moment of interesting action in the middle of the book, and the rest was just slow drifting about, talking. The characters were almost wholly unremarkable. There were two females in the entire book: one who mooned over a pretty garment and then was gone, and a horrible acid-tongued wife who only made a brief appearance.

The fact that it was set in space was just coincidental. Other than the one intriguing city-planet in the beginning, the rest of the worlds were not even described. There were no aliens. The ships weren’t really described. The weapons and other nuclear-powered doodads sounded sort of interesting but were really only glimpsed.

I just don’t get it. Even the story wasn’t played out to my satisfaction, but i’m sure as hell not going to be reading the rest of the series. I can pretty much guess that it’s just going to be a lot more of the same.

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Book Review: The Subtle Knife

The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2)The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

If i hadn’t been reading this book on my Kindle, i very well may have chucked it against the wall at the end. There were so many things about it that bothered me, but let’s see if i can write them all out coherently.

I didn’t believe the relationship between Lyra and Will. Why would the strong, independent-minded girl from The Golden Compass respond so positively to being bossed around, threatened, called names, and generally disregarded by a boy she knows nothing about except that he’s killed someone? It takes Will a long time to warm up to her, and that makes sense, but Lyra likes him immediately, which doesn’t.

I love Lyra. I was disappointed that the focus was no longer on her in this book. I’m not sure how i feel about Will. He’s a bit flat, and a touch psychotic. I do kind of sympathize with him, but the way he reacts to things is very strange and hard to relate to. I miss Iorek Byrnison. I’m pissed about what this book did to Lee Scoresby. And i hate Mrs. Coulter much more now than i did at the end of The Golden Compass, which is fairly amazing. How is she suddenly so powerful?! And how is Asriel suddenly so powerful? This book takes so many strange leaps that i didn’t see coming, even knowing that The Golden Compass was just the beginning of the story.

So many of the characters make dumb mistakes in this book that have terrible consequences. And that sort of counteracts all the overly-serendipitous stuff that happened in the first book, but it’s frustrating to read. The witches all act like stupid whores—and i’m sorry to say that, but their behavior just makes me angry. The one exception was Serafina’s first scene. Every other scene that included witches in this book made me roll my eyes really hard, or worse.

***SPOILER ALERT***

Ancient Aliens meme ANGELS

The whole Dust = dark matter = ANGELS part made me want to puke. All this build up with the Dust was so interesting, and then ANGELS. I can’t exactly put my finger on why it bothered me, it just seemed really dumb.

There was some interesting action in the middle of the book, but everything else was either boring or frustrating or gross. The monkey-stroking-the-snake scene made me feel yucky, which i’m sure was intentional, but even before that happened the whole book kind of made me feel yucky. I don’t particularly like this series, but i’m going to have to read the last book at some point. I can’t leave off here; there are so many unanswered questions both big and small—which is part of the reason that this book just utterly fails to stand on its own. For example: if there are so many doorways to the other worlds, why did Asriel have to blast a new one? Why was his gateway up in the sky when the others seem to be on the ground—i.e. the multiple worlds overlap in space, don’t they? How is Asriel manipulating time? Why does the subtle knife only cut doorways between two of the millions of worlds? How does Mrs. Coulter communicate with the Specters? How do they suddenly start flying at the end of the book? What ever happened to those two adults from Cittagaze? Who the hell is this Sir Charles, other than a plot device? And on and on and on.

This middle book just felt like a hurried exposition of how complex the characters have supposedly always known this multiverse to be. I think it was really poorly executed in comparison to the first book. I don’t care about any of the characters. I just want to see Mrs. Coulter meet some sort of satisfying fate—she’s the only one i feel strongly about anymore. But i need a few cold showers and less confused books before i can move on to The Amber Spyglass and see this stupid thing through.

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Reading Progress: Fall 2013

I’ve finished fifteen new books so far this year, and that makes for a pretty nice screenshot from Goodreads. So, here it is:

Goodreads 2013 reading progress screenshot

They are, in reverse-chronological order (with links to my review of each book on Goodreads):

  1. A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1) by Ursula K. Le Guin
  2. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
  3. The Once and Future King by T.H. White
  4. The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen
  5. In Defense Of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan
  6. The Oracle Glass by Judith Merkle Riley
  7. Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman
  8. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
  9. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  10. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  11. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
  12. Terra by Gretchen Powell
  13. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  14. The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman
  15. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

In addition to these, i’ve also re-read five books so far this year: The three Hunger Games books, The Great Gatsby and Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce.

As you can see, i’ve been on quite the fiction kick. And despite what a long time it’s been since i really read much fiction for fun, i find that i still love fantasy and science fiction dearly. I did enjoy The Great Gatsby immensely the second time around, but And The Mountains Echoed, for example, left me feeling parched for something whimsical and other-worldly. And i thought The Help was enjoyable but not terribly special. It’s not that i don’t love reality. It’s just that right now what i want books to do for me is supplement reality, not scrutinize it.

The Night Circus is, as you may have guessed, the book that i have enjoyed by far the most—not just this year, but in recent memory. And it is very nearly that time of year again when this book would be extremely appropriate to read. Read it, read it, read it. I’m going to wait until January to read it again only because i think reading the same book multiple times a year would be too often, because it would come at the price of discovering other books.

And now i’ve hyped it entirely too much. But just read it.

There are too many books listed here for me to really talk about each one, but i do want to say that Divergent left me baffled. I don’t see what’s special about this book at all. They’re making it into a big movie and many of my friends on Goodreads have read it and they all enjoyed it quite a lot, but i didn’t. Do people really just get a lot of pleasure out of girls who fight? This story is nothing new and not the least bit interesting. And i’d say the same thing about Terra. I have nothing good to say about Divergent and i am really confused as to why people like it so much.

I liked but didn’t love The Once and Future King; i was disappointed that The Vanishing Act had nothing to do with magic and was rather depressing; and The Oracle Glass was something i picked up for $2 on sale and it was entertaining enough, but weird. I’ve enjoyed reading some of the classic sci-fi books like Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Time Machine. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell was a thousand-page book that i zipped through in nineteen days. I found it to be very well written and a lot of fun to read. And i loved A Wizard of Earthsea and will probably read the rest of that series very soon.

As for nonfiction, i thought The Antidote was kind of cheap, in the sense that all nonfiction books are starting to feel very formulaic and mass-produced and of very little value in the end. And In Defense of Food was also somewhat disappointing. It’s not a bad book, but it’s not an eater’s manifesto like i’d hoped it would be. It talks to much about food rules and too little about the joy of eating. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is a much better (albeit much longer) book.

So that brings us quickly up to date. I’m reading a memoir right now, but once i’m done with that i’ll probably be delving into another pile of fictional stories. Perhaps i’ll even read the rest of the Harry Potter books one of these days, who knows?

Playing Catchup

I got sick of that WordPress theme, so i switched to the most generic default one available. That ought to motivate me to get off my butt (or on it, really) and design a new one. Ugh, maybe.

I really need to write more often. I feel like nothing much happens in my life and yet there’s so much that i find i ought to have written about when i take a long break.

I saw The Great Gatsby. And then i read it for the second time.
I took my mom to see the movie for Mother’s Day. I read the book in high school but i couldn’t really remember much of anything about it. I think we powered through it in just a few days and i vaguely recall being left scratching my head.

Great Gatsby poster

I really like Baz Luhrman’s movies and his style, and i thought The Great Gatsby was a perfect story for him to tell. Nobody could’ve done a better movie rendition of it, if you ask me. It was spectacular, romantic, tragic, well-cast for the most part (i could’ve done without Toby Maguire, but i just don’t like him much in general), and possibly the most enjoyable movie i’ve seen since The Hobbit (Part 1 of Eleventyhundred). It inspired me to re-read the book, and this time i loved it. Fitzgerald truly was an artist, and it’s such a pleasure to read a book that’s written with so much skill and passion. It’s not the most epic story ever told but it’s just told so well. Truly an American classic.

We went to Decorah for a weekend.
To celebrate our second anniversary and to procure a particularly excellent and rare beer, we drove 3.5 hours each way up to Decorah, Iowa, and spent two nights at a charming bed & breakfast there. Decorah, by the way, is a perfectly beautiful little place. My brother drove an even longer way for the aforementioned beer; he met us at Toppling Goliath on Saturday for the event, which was crowded but well organized and turned out really well for us because Nathan and i got our numbers early enough in the morning (7:20 a.m.!!) that we were able to garner a second bottle each. People were passing around rare beers to sample just for fun, and i had a good time visiting with my family and discovering lovely new beers. After lunch that day we walked out to what is probably Iowa’s only waterfall, and it was a very pretty sight to see. (Photos courtesy of Nathan.)

Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout by Toppling Goliath
Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout by Toppling Goliath

Did you know that Iowa has a waterfall?!
Did you know that Iowa has a waterfall?!

Nathan went to Seattle for a long weekend
And i was kind of lonely i missed the poop out of him. This was the longest we’d been apart since probably our second date, and being without him was totally alien and wrong to me. I went out Friday evening with a couple of girlfriends and then i was mostly at home working on a logo for a family member the rest of the weekend, but i went to my grandpa’s house for a couple hours of people time both evenings. I do not like living alone one bit, even with a dog. Does that mean i’m actually an extrovert? I prefer to be around people for at least 2/3 of every day (working alone at home wasn’t so bad).

I got stressed out about food and then remembered Michael Pollan.
All the low-fat / gluten-free / low-calorie / paleo / clean / vegan / sugarphobic / locavore / sustainable / organic / good calories, bad calories / moderation / best-body / health-obsessed food talk that pops up seemingly everywhere was starting to make me feel guilty every time i put something in my mouth, and so i bought In Defense of Food and have started reading that to try to get back to a place where food is not a tool or an enemy or a sin but above all things a pleasure. And even reading this is kind of wearying, because it says a lot of the same stuff that Nourishing Traditions and Why We Get Fat say about how the Western diet is terrible for people’s health (yeah, duh), but i think the difference will come in the latter half of the book where Pollan presents an eater’s manifesto. Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. And as long as you can tell the difference between actual food and laboratory-created foodlike substances, that’s all he says you really need to do. No worrying. I’ve hardly ever worried about food in my life except for when i was a vegetarian, and i don’t plan to allow it to become a habit.