Michael Pollan is one of those food types who has spent a lot of time pushing a lot of anti-scientific ri...moreCloser to a 3.5, I'm as surprised as you are.
Michael Pollan is one of those food types who has spent a lot of time pushing a lot of anti-scientific ridiculouslessness, especially about genetic modifications of food. It makes it difficult to take a lot of what he has to say at face value, as well as his approaches on issues of food and the "right" way to do agriculture and food gathering.
On the other hand, there's nothing inherently wrong with his point of view regarding the moral, ethical, or even preferential issues with food collection and production. You don't need to be a slave to science while still being uncomfortable with some of the practices in agriculture and meat production. Pollan truly spends more of his time in this book on those issues than real science.
So The Omnivore's Dilemma, in a sense, is a great book when you look at it through the lens of someone who is interested in understanding their food. The production aspects (good, bad, or indifferent), the historical contexts of agriculture, and so on, they're all really interesting reads.
Where Pollan falls flat, beyond his lack of credibility on the scientific aspects, is his connections. He spends a significant amount of time with Joel Salatan of the Polyface Farm, someone who is one of those crunchy libertarian types, but you'd never really understand that most of his problem is regulatory rather than about the actual food supply. He spends some time with ethicist Peter Singer, who is extremely controversial with some questionable points of view on everything, although you'd never know it reading the text. Even nods to PETA and such along the way certainly pulled me out of the text a bit - you can have a serious nonfiction read about food, or you can go along with unserious sources and points of reference. You can't have both.
Overall, I'm surprised to say that this is worth reading. Whichever direction you fall in the basic debates, you'll probably find something of value. There is a "reader beware" concept to go along with it, but it's not enough to toss this into a pile, never to be seen again.(less)
The whole "insider account" of the Red Sox following the 2004 World Series. Very little that's new here for people who obsessively follow the team, bu...moreThe whole "insider account" of the Red Sox following the 2004 World Series. Very little that's new here for people who obsessively follow the team, but a good, interesting Sox primer with some detail as to what it was like for us the last few years.(less)
Among the things that I should love but can’t are Wes Anderson movies, American Chop Suey, and Catcher in the Rye. I don’t know if I’m just not angry...moreAmong the things that I should love but can’t are Wes Anderson movies, American Chop Suey, and Catcher in the Rye. I don’t know if I’m just not angry enough at the world, or if I just find this book so blatantly painful that it just doesn’t want to register, but this book just does absolutely nothing for me, and I’m always significantly confused when people tell me that they love it. Utterly and completely confused. The book, to me, just comes across as very trite and annoying, and I struggle to see where the real meaning comes from. It’s almost like a venting of faux anger and rage as opposed to anything really great and substantial.
Then again, I spend an inordinate amount of time reading YA chick lit, so...(less)
This book was cited in The God Delusion, and the library had it, so I read it. It works as a great intro to textual criticism, but if you already unde...moreThis book was cited in The God Delusion, and the library had it, so I read it. It works as a great intro to textual criticism, but if you already understand the concepts of textualism and the history of the Bible, particularly the New Testament, it doesn't offer as much as I hoped. Definitely worth reading if you've never studied the origins of the Bible, though.(less)
I know that I've already stated that Azkaban is my favorite of the Potter books, but Goblet of Fire really takes a close second. I really think this c...moreI know that I've already stated that Azkaban is my favorite of the Potter books, but Goblet of Fire really takes a close second. I really think this concludes the best of Rowling's writing in the series, as the book, while long, doesn't seem to lack much in the way of punch, and continues down a path she started with Chamber of Secrets, introducing a lot of stuff that doesn't really seem to matter until you've gotten either toward the end or read past the book.
I really love it for four reasons, though:
1) Voldemort is actually scary for the first time. It's not to say that a guy who can kill your parents and command an army of black wizards isn't scary, but the story really brings it home when Voldemort takes out an innocent, gets Harry captured, and brings Harry to the brink of destruction. Voldemort becomes a Big Deal for us, which is different than Voldemort kinda sorta being a big deal, but other things going on that are somewhat more important.
2) Harry finally gets to be the hero. What's disappointing is that he dissolves into sad sack in book five, but we'll get to that later.
3) Finally, Hermoine and Ron feel like real characters as opposed to a supporting cast.
4) Sweet, sweet corruption. Or the beginnings of it, that is.
I recall seriously disliking book five when I read it originally, so it should get interesting, especially following the high of this one.(less)