Jun 25, 2015

Good Reads

I used to read books, a lot. I used to read at night before bed. I used to read all day at the pool. I used to read on airplanes. Nowadays, I read the internet. I read blogs, I read social media, I read text messages. I remind myself to blink.

On average, a person going through his or her daily routine blinks about 18 times per minute. However, spending significant amounts of time staring at a screen causes blink rates to reduce, resulting in dry, itchy or burning eyes. (source)

But, somehow over the last couple of years I did manage to digest a handful of good books. I want to share some of the books with you – the ones that explain my vegan(ish) pursuits. I will save the autobiography and self-help books for a different day (or blog).

In general, I lean toward didacticism in literature. Good ol’ fashion fiction books intended to provide pleasure an entertainment often miss the mark. For me, make-believe belongs on the stage, the TV or the silver screen. (Yes, I know scripts are the foundation of this medium and if I were a producer I would obviously read farce. Or maybe not, maybe I would make documentaries and titles “based on a true story”). To each their own! Oh, and I do make an occasional exception for well-written historical fiction. I digress.

Here are the last few books I read regarding food and our environment. They are mostly science-based vegan foodie books. I recommend all of them. Reviews and details are posted below.

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The China Study

This is the nutrition Bible. It is very science heavy. I recommend reading it with post-its and highlighters nearby. I possess great reverence for Dr. Campbell and I believe his research provides the most comprehensive nutritional data available today. This one took me some time to read, but mostly because I hung on to every word like a thirsty sponge. It’s impossible to read this book without shifting your personal paradigm on how nutrition plays a role in long-term health.

Whole 

This book is also the work of the venerated Dr. Campbell. In his first book, The China Study, he examines the science behind food and what it does to our bodies – he shows us the facts. In his second book, Whole, he explains how the information presented in The China Study actually matters and how it can save our failing health. Basically, it’s the “okay, here is the application of the science and this is how it works.”

In The China Study, T. Colin Campbell (alongside his son, Thomas M. Campbell) revolutionized the way we think about our food with the evidence that a whole food, plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat. Now, in Whole, he explains the science behind that evidence, the ways our current scientific paradigm ignores the fascinating complexity of the human body, and why, if we have such overwhelming evidence that everything we think we know about nutrition is wrong, our eating habits haven’t changed. (source)

Eating Animals 

Jonathan Safran Foer’s approach to Eating Animals is honest, humble and in my opinion, fair. As a new father who has ricocheted from omnivore to vegetarian throughout his life, he is quickly inspired by the responsibility of feeding his new son. He takes it upon himself to investigate factory farms and agribusiness. He seeks answers to questions like “why do we eat cows but not dogs”? Foer personally visits slaughterhouses in the middle of the night – his book reports his investigative journey into the world of animal rights and animal welfare.

This book is what he found. Brilliantly synthesizing philosophy, literature, science, memoir, and his own detective work, Eating Animals explores the many stories we use to justify our eating habits—folklore and pop culture, family traditions and national myth, apparent facts and inherent fictions—and how such tales can lull us into a brutal forgetting. (source)

The Face on Your Plate

I read this book in 2 days. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson is my favorite vegan voice. I would re-read this book over and over again like a tween (or my husband, or my mother) reads a Harry Potter book. This book really explains the detriment our current diets have on the planet.

Masson’s rare combination of passionate advocacy and scientific perspicacity makes this book unusually powerful. As a psychoanalyst, he address the psychological and emotional barriers that keep people from adopting a compassionate lifestyle – and one so manifestly in their own interest, as well as society’s and the planet’s.” (Atlantic Monthly, blurb on back binding)


Since I am currently channeling my inner bookworm, I decided to give my eyes a rest from constant blue light and unravel a few more paper pages.

Blue light is especially good at preventing the release of melatonin, a hormone associated with nighttime. (source)

Researchers have shown in humans that light influences hormone secretion, heart rate, alertness, sleep propensity, body temperature, and gene expression. Moreover, in such studies, blue wavelengths have been found to exert more powerful effects than green wavelengths. (source)

Here are the next books in the pipeline:

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Any additional recommendations?

Don’t forget to blink.

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