Looking for a good read this weekend? Here are a few books I've read (and loved) lately, and I think you might enjoy them, too!
I was at the airport waiting for my flight to Toronto last week and stopped by the little convenience store to shop the 2 for $20 bookshelf. Some people like to chat it up their seat-mates on a plane, and I admit I used to do that a lot more than I do now. But these days one of my favourite things to do on a plane is to lose myself into another world with a good book by a great storyteller. This time I was looking for some fiction, set in a different time, with rich characters. I hadn't heard of The Boston Girl yet but when I saw the cover, and that the author was Anita Diamant, who also wrote The Red Tent which I loved, I picked it up, read the back, and knew I had found my travel companion in the narrator and lead of the story, Addie Baum.
"The Boston Girl follows one woman's life through a period of dramatic change. Watching Addie Baum escape the constrictions of her upbringing, find ways through literature and work to broaden her own appreciation of the world, and in retrospect draw the outlines of a life fully lived is engrossing and captivating. Diamant creates a wonderful portrait of a woman who both expresses and helps create the definition of modern woman. And she does so while making the early years of the past century come to full-blooded life."
I'm fascinated by the latest research and new understandings of the vast relationship between our body's microbiome and our health, our personality, well just for the complete quality of our lives! Did you know that the bacteria in your gut play a direct relationship with your health? Get this - each of us has a completely unique bacterial profile...and experiments with fecal transplants (yeah...a fecal transplant is exactly what you imagine it to be) from an underweight mouse to an obese mouse show strong evidence that simply replacing the bacterial profile in its gut will cause the obese mouse to lose weight...with NO change in diet. What?! Really?! YES! It's complex but related to the rate at which the bacteria in our system extract calories and nutrients from food. This is not a static state, it can change over time, and it explains a lot of unexplainable information. Calories in does not necessarily equal calories out. The health of your entire system is responsible. This stuff is really interesting, leading edge information. They say that the research happening now regarding the microbiome will be as revolutionary to the world of science and medicine as was the unravelling of DNA in the 80's. My functional medicine doctor recommended this book to me and the newest research is showing that almost every system in the body (and every disease) is directly affected by what's going on in your guts. Pretty cool, because guess who has 99% of control of what goes into your gut? Yep. You. Me. We.
If you're interested in learning more and taking control of your own health, this might be a book you want to read. The Sonnenburgs make this easy to understand and the book is absolutely written for a layperson. It includes recipes and easy practical tips (such as there's no need to wash your hands after playing with a dog, but there is good reason to wash your hands after being in a hospital).
Dr. Mark Hyman is a rockstar (IMHO) functional medicine doctor and consultant to the likes of Bill & Hillary Clinton. His thoughts on the book? "We are facing a mass genocide threatening the lives of billions of people across the globe. It is the killing and harming of our own inner garden, our gut bacteria, by our processed diet, antibiotics, acid blockers, and other gut-busting drugs. The Good Gut for the first time connects the dots between the health of our gut flora, or microbiome, and our health. A bad gut causes heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disease, and more while a good gut can prevent and heal most of what ails us in the twenty-first century. If you want to learn how to cultivate your own inner garden and create abundant good health, read The Good Gut!"
OK, here's the skinny - I LOVE reading autobiographies and biographies, particularly about people who have lived life to the extreme. I derive great pleasure in exploring their worlds, their childhoods, their experiences, their reflections and beliefs, and the stories behind the obvious public story. I suppose I enjoy getting to know people this way in real life, too, but I digress.
SLASH by Slash with Anthony Bozza is a huge book (457 pages) that I couldn't put down and finished in about three days in August. I also took a self-designed abbreviated rock music history and guitar appreciation class, listening to Slash's catalogue and also to the music that inspired him, as described in the book. Slash is an interesting man who has definitely lived life to the extreme. He is not exaggerating when he quips on the cover of the book that "It seems excessive...but that doesn't meant it didn't happen". Besides the intrigue of sex, drugs, rock and roll, there are some interesting angles to this man that aren't obvious if you only know him as the guitar player with the cigarette poking through his bushy hair, delivering the kind of guitar solo in November Rain that makes your heart cry. He's an animal enthusiast and has devoted quite a bit of time and money to raising awareness about elephant poaching and speaking out against the illegal ivory trade.
"As the lead guitarist for Guns N' Roses, Slash established himself as one of hard rock's finest and most soulful soloists during the late '80s, technically adept yet always firmly grounded in the gritty Aerosmith and Stones licks he loved. Slash was born Saul Hudson on July 23, 1965, in Stoke-on-Trent, England, to artistic parents both involved in the entertainment industry; his mother was a clothing designer who worked on David Bowie's film The Man Who Fell to Earth, and his father designed album art for such artists as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. The family eventually moved to Hollywood, where Hudson attended junior high, received his first guitar, and met future GNR drummer Steven Adler. With Hudson adopting the nickname Slash, given to him by a family friend, the two formed a band called Road Crew; although it proved unsuccessful, it was the vehicle through which they met and eventually joined up with the other members of Guns N Roses."
Enjoy your reading and let me know if you have a recommendation for me! Next on my to-read list: The Illegal by Lawrence Hill (author of Book of Negroes).