The Olive Harvest

I read The Olive Harvest, by Carol Drinkwater, many years ago. I decided to reread to escape to southern France and enjoy a virtual vacation. While I did enjoy all the voyeuristic pleasure of seeing Carol’s life on an olive farm, there were emotional relationship difficulties that made this less of a travel novel and more of an introspection into her relationship with her husband. She did travel around the country and see some fun things (sheep hearding, Saints Maries festival, flamenco dancers) and meet interesting fun characters, the overriding concern was always her beloved Michel.

Still a good read.

Read June 2020

The Wild Woman’s Way

The Wild Woman’s Way, by Michaela Boehm, tells Boehm’s own story about how she became a Wild Woman and how she now teaches others. Being a Wild Woman is about finding pleasure in yourself, your surrounding, and finding how nature and our natural ways can heal us. This was a great journey to read and explore. I would like to reread to think more on how this can change my outlook and my experiences with life, love, and pleasure.

Read October 2019

Do You Believe in Magic? The sense and nonsense of Alternative medicine

Paul A. Offit, M.D. states that he wants to review the effecitvness of Alternative medicine, like Acupuncture and herbal supplements, in Do You Believe in Magic? The sense and nonsense of Alternative medicine. While there was alot of helpful information about some questionable medical practices where practitioners rely more on their own theories instead of sound medical knowledge, I felt that he gave too much of a pass to the pharmaceutical industry. He complains of the lack of oversight on herbal supplements but seemingly ignores the countless pharmaceutical recalls that happen even after the oversight that he says is superior. He touts the established medical community of thoroughly evaluating their treatments but ignores that medical advice about many topics has swung all over the place as the medical community learns through trial and error. I’m not disputing all of his claims, but he doesn’t seem to place the same critical eye on western medicine as he’s putting on eastern modalities in this book. Which makes me question his true purpose.

Read March 2019

Hippie Food – How Back-To-The-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat

I’ve been reading Jonathan Kauffman’s Hippie Food – How Back-To-The-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat for months now. Its interesting but just as longwinded as the title. So many hippie names and details of who started which co-op in which hippie part of town.

Its interesting, but too much. I’m not even sure what the point of the book was other than to get down to the minutiae of every health food trend. I’m thankful that the food trends have continued towards the healthier which makes it more available.

Read March 2019.

The Underground Girls of Kabul- in search of a hidden resistance in Afghanistan

Jenny Nordberg tells a secret side of Afghanistan culture, the bacha posh. In The Underground Girls of Kabul – In search of a hidden resistance in Afghanistan, Nordberg explores a culture that devalues girls and oppresses women, and what happens when there aren’t enough boys. Jenny Nordberg covers Afghanistan when she learns the little boy of her interviewee is actually a little girl. When investigating why, she uncovers so many cultural norms that restrict girls and condemn families without and sons. Afghanistan is a country that’s been at war for more years than not in recent history, but no matter who’s in charge, women are the lowest of society. So what’s a family to do to gain respect, to help run their family story, to run errands when the husband is at work? They often turn little girls into boys, who have more freedom and power than the women of the households.

This was such an interesting book. And such a strange world where a fake boy is better than a real girl. Its heartbreaking for the bacha posh who want to stay as they are. Its heartbreaking for the sisters and mothers to see a bacha posh be treated better than they are. And more heartbreaking is that I don’t know if there’s any help for these women and girls in a culture that seems to hate them. Its hard to understand how a society can hate half the population. Even the women seem to bring the other women down.

Read January 2019

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark- One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, by Michelle McNamara tells the story of the Golden State Killer and his rampage across multiple areas of California. Originally listed as separate killers in different areas, DNA evidence began to link the crimes showing a spree that lasted from 1974 through 1986 when the crimes suddenly stopped. Michele McNamara traced his killings, rapes, and burglaries around the state and met with the police as well as amateur sleuths.

While McNamara died before finishing this book, her editors and collaborators helped finish her work. Unfortunately, she also died before DNA traced the crimes to Joseph James De’Angelo who was arrested in April 2018.

Fascinating and horrible read. The crimes committed scared entire regions of California and ruined many lives. Very well written, filled with facts and personal anecdotes to push the reader along.

Read June 2018

What Happened

What a depressing read. To realize that someone who can articulate so many complex issues and see fault with themselves and find ways to improve could’ve been President. Hillary Rodham Clinton really dives into what she believes went wrong with her 2016 Presidential campaign. Whether its completely accurate, I cannot say, but she has many strong arguments about why she lost the election.

While I agree with Mrs Clinton herself when she says she’s not the best about speaking about herself, she is quite good at talking political points and telling other people’s stories. While clunky in parts, the book went through so many different topics that affected her campaign and her career leading up to it.

Important read. Read February 2018.

10% Happier

10% Happier- How I tamed the voice in my head, reduced stress without losing my edge, and found self-help that actually works- A True Story, by Dan Harris, tells his own story of how he came to mediation but it also serves as a reference for many other religious or self-help books. He includes brief synopsis of what the main teachings are for many of the teachers out there.

I found this book after spending a weekend at a meditation retreat. It was recommended for beginning meditators by several different participants. I was able to read it faster than any other book in the last couple of months. It helped clarify some aspects of meditation that I was working on, like clearing my mind, how to get comfortable, how difficult mediation can be, etc. He includes many helpful types of mediation and I really enjoyed the compassionate meditation, where you focus your compassion on others as part of your practice.

I really enjoyed how honest Dan Harris was about his approach to meditation and how others in his life viewed this new passion of his. He’s helping mainstream meditation and showing how meditation can help with real life challenges.

Great read and exactly what I need in my life right now. Highly recommend for anyone having a hard time turning off their inner voice.

Read November 2016.

A Walk in the Woods

I loved this book! Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods makes me want to take a couple months off from life and venture into the wild. When the only thing that matters from day to day is getting to the next camping spot. He documents the frustrations and challenges, but the beauty of just walking sounds wonderful.

The information about the Appalachian Trail and how nature is being destroyed in places and preserved in others, is an honest discussion about how Americans use their wild spaces. In such a large country its good to know that there are people working hard to save the woods as close to what they were before America happened. On the other hand, I’m not surprised at the inefficiency of bureaucracy and government as well as the opportunists who want to make some money without worrying about the destruction they may be causing.

This was a well-written book about a very interesting topic. I’m not usually a fan of non-fiction, but there’s something about this book, and also Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, that help me realize how hectic my normal life is and how nice it is to think about escaping from it all.

Read June 2016