This is the final installment of the Hunger Games trilogy. You know these books will be adapted for the big screen very soon, and they'll make millionThis is the final installment of the Hunger Games trilogy. You know these books will be adapted for the big screen very soon, and they'll make millions. Katniss has managed to stay alive thus far, but she's not out of the woods yet. Mockingjay is where the underlying conflict of the entire series comes to a head and that burning question over whom Katniss will choose in the end, Peeta or Gale is answered. ...more
This sequel to the Hunger Games faces the same challenge as most- how do you top the first one? While I didn't enjoy this one nearly as much as the fiThis sequel to the Hunger Games faces the same challenge as most- how do you top the first one? While I didn't enjoy this one nearly as much as the first, I had to find out what happened to Katniss and the rest of her team. Still full of action, but definitely some moments where I was scratching my head saying, "Really?". Bottom line: If you liked Hunger Games, keep reading. ...more
Read this book on the recommendation of my most avid student readers last year, and I'm glad I did. The protagonist, 16 year old Katniss, is a girl whRead this book on the recommendation of my most avid student readers last year, and I'm glad I did. The protagonist, 16 year old Katniss, is a girl who finds out just how tough she really is when she enters the Hunger Games in the place of her younger sister. The entire concept of the Hunger Games is pretty wild, and the future North America painted by Collins is too. It's a quick read, packed with action. Collins builds in quite the little love triangle too....more
Mangione writes a personal story of family and community. His description of life as an Italian American is heart-warming and hilarious, but not withoMangione writes a personal story of family and community. His description of life as an Italian American is heart-warming and hilarious, but not without loss and sadness. As I read some of his accounts, I felt like he was describing my own life growing up in an Italian family....more
This book is a must read. At the time it was written Frederick Douglass was a free man, 24 years old, reflecting on his life as a slave. His mission wThis book is a must read. At the time it was written Frederick Douglass was a free man, 24 years old, reflecting on his life as a slave. His mission was to capture the horrifying nature of slavery in words, to open the eyes of a nation that still tried to deny those horrors. His narrative is short, but powerful nonetheless. His words are moving and passionate and simply eloquent. You cannot read this book and not be deeply affected. After reading this book, it is easy to see how Douglass inspired the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. and countless others. His message still has relevance today, reminding us that every human being has unmeasureable worth.
Love this book! Checked it out from the library but going to buy it for sure.
Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein are Harvard philosophy majors who undersLove this book! Checked it out from the library but going to buy it for sure.
Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein are Harvard philosophy majors who understand that the rest of us don't know what the hell Nietzsche is talking about. They break the discipline down into its major strands, mixing clever and comical descriptions with hilarious jokes that show the true essence of each philosophy. Read below to see what I mean:
Phenomenology- understanding the human experience as it is lived rather than objective data.
"Dr. Janet," the embarrassed woman says, "I have a sexual problem. I don't get aroused by my husband." Dr. Janet says, "Okay, I'll do a thorough exam tomorrow. Bring your husband in with you." The next day the woman returns with her husband. "Take off your clothes, Mr. Thomas," says the doctor. "Now turn all the way around. Okay, now lie down please. Uh-huh, I see. Okay, you may put your clothes back on." Dr. Janet takes the woman aside. "You're in perfect health," she says, "He doesn't turn me on either."...more
Michael Pollan is a journalist, and an omnivore, curious about where the food he puts in his mouth comes from. In the book he follows four meals fromMichael Pollan is a journalist, and an omnivore, curious about where the food he puts in his mouth comes from. In the book he follows four meals from the very beginning of the food chain to his plate. What he finds is that the food we put in our mouths turns out to be a big decision- a moral, political, and environmental one.
Part One- CORN The discussion begins with CORN. Part one of this book is shocking. I knew corn was the main crop grown in America and that farmers growing it are in big trouble, requiring government subsidies just to stay afloat, but Michael Pollan unravels how it got to that point.
After leaving the farm, most of the corn finds its way to the Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) where it is fed to cows, pigs, chicken, turkey, and now even fish. This is problematic due to the fact that cows aren't built to eat corn. They eat grass. This unnatural diet leads to various health problems for the cow that must be countered with a cocktail of antibiotics and hormones, creating more health problems for us.
He follows the corn from the field to the supermarket, where it now infiltrates virtually every processed food on the shelf. I had no idea that corn is broken down and recombined into hundreds of different forms, most notably oils, high fructose corn syrup, and xantham gum (never knew what the hell that was). Just take a look at the food label of any processed food and your probably eating some scientific form of that kernel of corn.
He followed the corn all the way to his meal at McDonald's. Between Pollan, his wife, and his son they packed in 4,510 calories for lunch. The items that contained the highest proportion of corn turned out to be the soda (100%), milk shake (78%), salad dressing (65%), chicken nuggets (56%), cheeseburger (52%), and french fries (23%). And we thought we were eating such a varied diet. As Pollan points out, we are simply industrialized eaters surviving on corn.
Part 2- GRASS Part two focuses on the organic movement. Everyone thinks they're making a wonderful decision to eat organic and in one sense they are, saving the soil from all of the synthetic fertilizers and pesticides (although some crazy stuff is still allowed under US organic laws). There are the obvious health benefits of not ingesting those things. The dark side is that the bag of Earthbound Farms baby lettuce mix you just bought traveled 3,000 miles in refrigerated trucks using untold amounts of energy. Organic started out as a local movement, but as demands increased, it was forced to industrialize. Supermarkets don't want to deal with several smaller local organic farmers. They want one large buyer to stock all their produce needs. Big Organic is now a 350 million dollar business.
Meet Rosie, the organic free range chicken: The lesson taken away from Rosie is beware of food labels that state things like "free range" or "cage-free." These are really meaningless statements placed on packaging in an attempt to lessen the guilt of consumers that have informed themselves about the horrors of industrial factory farming. Michael Pollan tracked down Rosie and it turns out that she isn't out wandering in a field of grass. She's in a long indoor structure confined with twenty thousand birds for the first five weeks of her life. When they open the doors at either end after the first five weeks, the birds habits have been set in place, they feel no need to take a chance out in the unknown (which turns out to be a small fenced in patch of grass that could never support all of the birds inside). As Pollan puts it "free range turns out to be not so much a lifestyle for these chickens as a two-week vacation option."
Pollan then visits Polyface Farm just outside of Charlottesville, VA where Joel Salatin raises cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and even rabbits in harmony with the animals natural instincts. It is the true definition of symbiosis, where each species depends on the others and all depend on the grass. Salatin manages all of this using rotational grazing techniques. The cows come through first, then the chickens. The animals are moved on a daily basis to prevent overgrazing and to allow the proper spreading of the animals' droppings which in turn nourish the soil and grasses. He slaughters the chickens on site, in the open air where any of his costumers can watch and see where their food really comes from. Compare this to the CAFOs where the killing stations are off limits to all observers. What's going on behind those walls? Polyface cows and pigs have to be sent off-site due to USDA regulations. People drive from all over to buy his "clean food" and restaurants in Charlottesville proudly read "Polyface Farm chickens" on their menus. They give a variety of reasons when asked why they come all the way to buy Salatin's food: "I just don't trust the meat in the supermarket anymore." "You're not going to find fresher chickens anywhere." "I drive 150 miles one way in order to get clean meat for my family." "It actually tastes like chicken." "Oh those beautiful eggs! The difference is night and day- the color, the richness, the fat content." It is the alliance between the producer and the consumer. The consumers can look the farmer in the eyes and see that the food is produced "with care and without chemicals." They are also keeping the moeny in the community by supporting local farmers.
Part 3- The Forest His final meal is from ingredients derived from Pollan's owe efforts through hunting and gathering. He realizes this is an unrealistic option in terms of our daily eating, but he wants to undergo this experiment to bring him closer to the food he eats. After hunting wild boar, gathering mushrooms from the forest, collecting cherries from a tree in the neighborhood, he discovers what is for him, "the perfect meal." Why perfect? His meal would not have been possible without the number of people that helped him in his hunting and gathering endeavours. It was an open food chain. He knew where all the ingredients came from and their were no hidden costs. "A meal that is eaten in full consciousness of what it took to make it is worth preparing every now and again, if only as a way to remind us of the true costs of the things we take for granted."
The bottom line: What are we eating? Where did it come from? How did it make it to our table? What is the true cost? (politically, environmentally, ethically, and in terms of the public health) ...more
Sam Harris, an unapologetic aethiest, writes a response to organized religion in the format of a letter to a Christian. Although his intended audienceSam Harris, an unapologetic aethiest, writes a response to organized religion in the format of a letter to a Christian. Although his intended audience is religious, it is more likely people picking up his book are those that believe, or more accurately, do not believe. In other words, people who already agree with Harris. It is a quick read, easy to finish in one sitting. Letter to a Christian Nation is one man's attempt to succinctly describe why he thinks people who believe the bible as a literal description of actual events are nuts. I found my head nodding in agreement several times. On the other hand, I think he was really pushing it with his analogies at times. The bottom line is this is an argument that will never find resolution and few people change sides....more
This was my first reading of Candide and I'm sure it will not be my last. It's the type of book you can only fully appreciate after several readings.This was my first reading of Candide and I'm sure it will not be my last. It's the type of book you can only fully appreciate after several readings. My first read was swift, like Voltaire's writing. You get swept up into the story and within a few hours you're through. I don't have a lot of experience reading satire, but I will seek out more titles after reading Candide. ...more