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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!

“...and this is my garden”

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

I love documentaries. And I'm suggesting that if you see only one documentary this summer, you make it “...and this is my garden”. It’s not new. It’s not big budget (how many documentaries are, though?). But it’s fantastic, fantastic, fantastic!

Actually, I cried as I watched it. It’s not a sad story at all - on the contrary, it’s about an entire community that benefits when its children are taught to tend their own gardens. This is a film about the earth, community, wisdom sharing, food, and self sufficiency, but I can’t describe how uplifting it truly is. After seeing it, I was energized and hopeful and really overwhelmed by the beauty of what can be accomplished with nothing more than water, sunlight, and care.

You must check it out for yourself! We've got it in our catalogue, and here's the film's website.

Skinny, Skinnier, Skinniest...

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

If you’re a documentary fan, then check out Thin, an amazing little film from HBO. Thin explores the progression of several women who are residents in an eating disorder recovery centre in the United States. One resident is a wayward teen and another is a university educated psychiatric nurse; it quickly becomes apparent that anorexia doesn’t discriminate based on age or education. But, I wonder – given that nearly every one of the residents was Caucasian – if there are some patterns related to ethnicity...? But, I digress...

The women in the centre are each close to or under(!) a hundred pounds and still believe that they have weight to lose. They obsess over every morsel ingested, and then try their damndest to eliminate those morsels by either vomiting or using diuretics, or squeezing the food out of their feeding tubes (yuck!). Sometimes they hide food rather than eating it at all. It’s an enormous struggle – and a tearful event – when one woman is obliged to eat a whole cupcake. With psyches this complex, it’s no wonder that the women have to receive treatment from a whole team of practitioners: counselors, doctors, dieticians, and others.

The film is really well made. It definitely shows the women in an unvarnished light, and the viewer will at times feel both repulsed and sympathetic. But ultimately, this is not a film about anorexia. It does not explain how anorexia comes about or can be prevented; it does not speculate about why or how these particular women fell victim to such skewed views of body and food. Rather, this is a film about women; about feelings; about obsession. And like a lot of other HBO productions, there is no happy ending offered. Indeed, the fates that befall some of the women who are forced to leave the centre are quite saddening. But this isn’t suggary scripted TV; it’s real life. Er - I guess I should say: It’s not TV. It’s HBO. So be prepared for a bit of grit.

Browse some of our documentaries today! And if docs aren’t your thing, then check out HBO’s dramatic shows. Six Feet Under, The Sopranos and Rome are all fabulous!

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.

Blue Cheese at 9 Months?!

by Katherine - 3 Comment(s)

I’m reading French Kids Eat Everything (and Yours Can, Too): How our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen Le Billon, and it’s fascinating! It’s much more than a manual to cure picky eating and family food fights. It’s an insightful examination of attitudes towards food, eating, and nourishment, and how they differ between the French model and the American (and by extension, Canadian) model.

I’m young (for a little while longer, at least) and single (likely for eternity) and it’s my prerogative to eat dinner alone, standing over the sink. Or sitting on the couch, channel flipping. Or at midnight. Or twice. Because there’s no one watching me, my eating routines lack both a social component and a sense of restraint. According to the author’s mother-in-law, my normal habits are a recipe for obesity. So, apparently, is snacking, using food as a reward or punishment, allowing your children to dictate what or when they’ll eat, and eating at any place other than the table, surrounded by your family.

Le Billon observes that French parents are firmly in control and by refusing to let their children eat the same thing every day, or complain about the food they’re given, French children wind up eating a wider and much more balanced range of foods. They are more willing to try new foods, and they don’t whine or throw hunger induced tantrums. Even children 5 or 6 years of age will sit patiently in a restaurant, while their parents linger over a nice long meal. This is because French children are taught that food is exciting and interesting; part of a familial set of rituals; and an aspect of their national identity about which to be proud.

It’s a very far cry from exasperatedly stuffing greasy McNuggets into the whining maw of an angry 7 year old, en route to a hockey practice.

Check out this book whether you have children or not. As long as you’re someone who eats, it will provide you with lots of interesting ideas. Food for thought, if you will.

I noticed a woman on the C-Train, jotting down the title, as I read. We started chatting and it turns out she is French. She said that in her family, they always made sure to eat together at the table, at a very precise time. Sure enough, she was slim. Maybe the French are on to something...

Knapp Chat

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

A customer started a chat with me today (you know that you can chat online with us, right?), in order to ask if she could place a hold on a book by Caroline Knapp. Interestingly enough, I’m reading a book by that same author right now.

My customer had read Pack of Two, a title I have yet to read, and Drinking: A Love Story, which I’ve read and reviewed. I told her that I, too, had read Drinking, but that I preferred the title I was reading right now: Appetites: Why Women Want.

Check out Caroline Knapp’s writing, if you haven’t already. She writes beautifully and bravely about her struggles (mainly with alcoholism and anorexia, but family relationships, too) and she is unflinchingly honest about the frightening terrain in the dark realms of her psyche.

I’m really enjoying Appetites: Why Women Want. It’s described as an anorexia memoir, but it’s much more complex than a simple recounting of what was eaten (or not) and how many pounds were shed. Knapp explores desire as it relates to food, cultural zeitgeist, mothering, and body image. I’ve never suffered from an eating disorder (unless “unrelenting nocturnal potato chip addiction” has finally made it into the DSM 4...) but readers don’t have to have any familiarity with eating disorders to enjoy this book. Simply put, if you are a woman and have a body, Appetites: Why Women Want will very likely resonate with you. Place a hold today!

Pack of Two

Drinking: A Love Story

Appetites: Why Women Want

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