I don't want to give this book any more than three stars for fear of condoning Chua's cruel parenting style. I don't want to give it any fewer because...moreI don't want to give this book any more than three stars for fear of condoning Chua's cruel parenting style. I don't want to give it any fewer because it's an entertaining read and and an enlightening insight into what Chua refers to as "Chinese parenting." (less)
I didn’t realize this when I started it (though I probably should have), but this book is a 272-page advertisement for low-carb diets. My main critici...moreI didn’t realize this when I started it (though I probably should have), but this book is a 272-page advertisement for low-carb diets. My main criticism is that Taubes comes across as condescending. He’s so convinced himself that low-carb diets are the best that he’s unwilling, and in fact does not, consider compelling counterarguments against that contention.
The first half of the book criticizes the conventional wisdom that, in order to lose weight, people must consume fewer calories than they expend. He cites numerous studies and research that establish that doing one of either exercising or reducing calories does not typically result in weight loss. When people exercise more, they eat more. When they eat less, they expend less energy. The major flaw in this position is that virtually none of the research addressed the efficacy of diets that require both diet and exercise. Clearly, both in conjunction can work and have worked; otherwise programs such as Weight Watchers would have no success, and the TV program Biggest Loser would not exist. I don't care how obese a person is, if that person accurately account for calories expended, even if sedentary, and then eats less than that, that person will lose weight. Even if that person eats almost entirely carbs. How else could Mark Haub’s (of Kansas State) Twinkie diet have worked? Taubes lost a lot of credibility by failing to acknowledge this fact.
And while it makes sense that diets which severely restrict calories, such as 1500-per-day diets, wouldn’t catch hold, what about diets that restrict only a moderate amount of calories? Say, the amount of energy a person a day expends minus 100 calories? I actually lost 15 pounds last year by doing something similar, and I ate desert almost every day. I’ve kept the weight off by closely watching to ensure that I don’t consume more calories than I burn.
That’s not to say, however, that some people aren’t more predisposed to becoming obese or that it isn’t easier for some people to stay lean. But with sufficient motivation, weight loss can be achieved, even while eating carbs.
I acknowledge that many people can't, or won't, life a lifestyle requiring both diet and exercise in the long term, which is a valid criticism I suppose.
But will people live a low-carb lifestyle in the long term? A low-carb diet is boring. How many breakfasts of bacon and eggs in a row can someone stomach? Are people really going to stay motivated, in the long-term, to avoid potatoes, beer, pasta, and sweets? Do you know how many places low-carb dieters can’t eat at with their friends? Low-carb diets are also expensive; many can’t afford to eat meat at nearly every meal. And what’s the success rate of those who begin low-carb diets in the long-term? Astoundingly, Taubes doesn’t even address that question.
I’m somewhat perplexed at the unusually high ratings this book has received, given that it hasn’t addressed the issues above. It’s almost as if the low-carb diet is a form of religion about which supporters will not allow others to blashpeme. (less)
I enjoyed the scientific, legal, and ethical elements of this book, but didn’t care as much for the detailed personal history. Although biographical i...moreI enjoyed the scientific, legal, and ethical elements of this book, but didn’t care as much for the detailed personal history. Although biographical information bout Henrietta Lacks was clearly necessary, let’s face it, we wouldn’t be reading a book about her life if her cells hadn’t been taken from her without her knowledge. It’s not as if Henrietta consciously did anything terribly remarkable herself. And then, as if a lengthy focus on Henrietta’s life weren’t bad enough, most of the second half of the book details the history of Henrietta’s family. Really? Thanks, but I really didn’t care to read about Henrietta’s daughter’s emotional struggles and health issues, nor did I care to read about the criminal records of Henrietta’s grandchildren. This book would have been better at half its length. (less)
If it were possible to acquire post traumatic stress disorder from reading a book, then this would be the book to give it to you. About half of the wa...moreIf it were possible to acquire post traumatic stress disorder from reading a book, then this would be the book to give it to you. About half of the way in, I wanted the suffering to end. I became concerned about how much of the book was left, because I was afraid that the remainder consisted of more suffering. Frankly, it was difficult to get through. I'm happy I stuck it out, though, because, in the end, Louis Zamperini found redemption in a way I hadn't expected. Overall, a gripping and worthwhile read. (less)
I listened to the audiobook version, which was read by Klosterman himself. Klosterman reminds me of a know-it-all alternative kid from high school who...moreI listened to the audiobook version, which was read by Klosterman himself. Klosterman reminds me of a know-it-all alternative kid from high school who hates everything. I wouldn’t want to hang out with him because he likely has so many “rules” about what’s cool and what’s not cool that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. Listening to this book was like being trapped late at night during high school at a diner with no way to leave (for lack of a ride home). All I want to do is go home, but instead I’m stuck with some kid philosophizing about pop culture until 3:00 a.m. Klosterman was a music critic, and his writing resembles a typical record review that contains so much jargon and so many nonsensical, abstract notions that you’ve learned nothing about the record. He’s like my high-school English teacher who injected meaning into poetry that I’m sure the author didn’t intend. I want my six hours of life back. (less)