The Paleo Solution

The Paleo SolutionAt the end of July, I read The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf, one of the world’s leading experts on the Paleo/Primal/Caveman “diet”. (I put that in quotes because it’s more like a way of eating for life.) I’ve been interested in health/nutrition/fitness since I was a kid and have read books and magazines on those subjects, but the information is usually the same and pretty much follows the USDA’s Food Pyramid guidelines.

Most of the information in Wolf’s book was pretty revelatory to me. Some things, such as the importance of eating fresh, local food in season when possible and eating grass-fed meat rather than corn-fed meat and wild over farmed fish, I’d been informed about through Michael Pollan’s books and the documentary Food, Inc. (all highly recommended, by the way). I was extremely intrigued by what I was reading in The Paleo Solution. Namely, that grains, legumes and dairy are inflammatory, interfere with nutrient absorption and eventually are the culprits that lead to modern diseases such as Type II diabetes, cancer, heart disease and auto-immune diseases, among other conditions.

The “diet” itself is based on emulating how our Paleolithic ancestors ate for hundreds of thousands

Author Robb Wolf

of years. It makes the most basic kind of sense, really, and Wolf effectively gets that across. The advent of agriculture (what UCLA evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond called the “worst mistake in the history of the human race”) only came about 10,000 years ago, a time period that experts say has not been sufficient for our bodies to adapt and evolve to overcome the detrimental effects of grains, dairy and the unnatural abundance of sugar, trans-fats and refined carbs in our modern diet.

I can’t stress how much I recommend this book and this way of eating. I’ve been striving to stick to it and have already experienced benefits and I’m looking forward to experiencing many more. This is one of those rare books that I’d put in the “life-changing” category. It contains so much invaluable information, which can also be found at Robb Wolf’s website.


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If You’re Reading This…

Enough said.

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The Imperfectionists

Nothing in all civilization has been as productive as ludicrous ambition. Whatever its ills, nothing has created more. Cathedrals, sonatas, encyclopedias: love of God was not behind them, nor love of life. But the love of man to be worshiped by man.

The ImperfectionistsThe Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman is flawless. Its subject matter – a sinking English-language international newspaper based in Rome – evokes simple nostalgia that is echoed in Rachman’s simple yet elegant prose.

Each chapter focuses on the experiences and perspectives of varying staff members and one faithful reader, from the obituary

Author Tom Rachman

writer to the has-been foreign correspondent. Their lives intersect, but each character is eccentrically distinct, at times clashing with one other, but all bound by the fact that they cling to the endangered newspaper as passengers aboard the Titanic must’ve clung to one another.

There is humor in Rachman’s writing, but he has also written multi-faceted humanity into his characters and the newspaper, which is like a character itself.


You will most likely find yourself empathizing with these characters and their well-intentioned efforts as well as their failures. You will feel for them what you feel for your grandmother who still uses a typewriter because she refuses to learn how to use a computer. I wasn’t sure that this was the type of novel I’d enjoy when I first picked it up and read the back cover at Costco, but I’m so glad that I did read it!

If history has taught us anything, Arthur muses, it is that men with mustaches must never achieve positions of power.

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Excerpt from Imperial Bedrooms

I’m currently reading Evolve Your Brain by Joe Dispenza and also The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, but before I finish those, I wanted to share an excerpt from the Random House website from Bret Easton Ellis’ new book, Imperial Bedrooms. It is a sequel to Easton Ellis’ novel Less Than Zero, which was also made into a film starring Robert Downey, Jr. I have actually only read one of Easton Ellis’ books: The Rules of Attraction. Anyway, I saw the film version of Less Than Zero but I am curious about this sequel, so I plan to read both books.

Anyway, here is the link. I am already a bit intrigued.

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Well, I had to renew it from the library three times, but I’ve finally finished reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. The novel won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2003 and I definitely understand why now. It is amazingly well-crafted and original and features an unforgettable protagonist. I even found myself marvelling at individual sentences at times.

The novel is told from the point of view of middle-aged Calliope Stephanides retelling the history of her family from Asia Minor all the way to Detroit, Michigan, where her own personal history begins and she takes the reader all the way up through her adolescence. The history of her ancestors is imperative to her own story because a dark secret has been covered up and has manifested itself in her own genes: Callie was born a girl, but due to a mutated gene, her body becomes that of a male’s as soon as she hits puberty. She has both male and female genitalia. By the way, before you fly into a rage, this isn’t a spoiler because it’s revealed in the first few sentences of the novel. It is quite shocking at first. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to relate to a narrator who’s a hermaphrodite, but this story is so incredible, moving, and epic and Callie is a strong, funny, inquisitive and brave protagonist.

That’s the amazing thing about fiction and about being inside the head of a character completely different from you. It really expands your mind and enables readers to have empathy for people that they most likely would not be able to empathize with in the ‘real world’.

Eugenides also does a remarkable job of contrasting the Old World ways and customs with those of American life. We see how quickly the next

Jeffrey Eugenides

Jeffrey Eugenides

generation becomes Americanized and loses touch with the roots of their parents, how quickly they forget. A physical environment has so much influence over who a person becomes, which also factors into Callie’s gender identity. Her environment has molded her to be female, but eventually the biological self starts to mutiny against that conditioning, and she is thrust into foreign territory, much as her grandparents felt when they arrived in the United States. A person becomes conditioned to one place or one set of circumstances, but chance thrusts them into another.

This novel is a grand achievement, with the makings to become a classic. Although Calliope has been compared to the likes of Holden Caulfield, among others, she/he is unlike any other protagonist that came before.

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A Walk in the Woods

Recently, I finished reading Bill Bryson‘s A Walk in the Woods. I had started reading it right  after Christmas and eventually got distracted by other books. But I took it with me on a 6-day backpacking/camping trek through the Grand Canyon because I thought it was appropriate. Ok, so the Grand Canyon is different terrain than the Appalachian Trail, but it was appropriate enough.

Bill Bryson, an American, spent 20 years in England before moving to New Hampshire with his family. In order to reacquaint himself with his native land, he decided to hike the entire Appalachian Trail, which spans from Georgia all the way to Maine. The book details his ensuing adventures and tribulations.

Bill Brysonis obviously a writer who will make you start giggling like a maniac when you’re reading by yourself in a

Bill Bryson

Author Bill Bryson

coffee shop, and you’ll try to keep your mouth closed, but the laughter will splutter through anyway. My mother was reading the same book in the Grand Canyon, and she started laughing a number of times while reading in our tent. What makes A Walk in the Woods especially funny is the fact that neither Bryson nor his hilarious sidekick Katz is a natural born hiker or anything close to an athlete. The contradictions, such as fueling a journey through the wilderness with Little Debbie cakes and Snickers bars, are so spot-on American.

And besides being funny, A Walk in the Woods is quite informative as well. I knew next to nothing about the Appalachian Trail when I first picked up the book and thumbed through it, but I learned a lot and felt pretty darn inspired and protective of the AT by the end of it. Bryson really makes a plea for preserving the Appalachian Trail and the vision that led to its creation. It really is magnificent. In fact, I almost felt like climbing out of the Grand Canyon and trekking on over to the Appalachian Trail.

All in all, this is an enjoyable, informative, and rather quick read that will instill patriotism and perhaps get more people outside.

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Sweet Valley Confidential

Sweet Valley ConfidentialI got really excited last week over something that I read on The Daily Beast. I was at work and I almost jumped out of my chair. Take a look for yourself. Francine Pascal has actually written an entire Sweet Valley High book herself (most of them were written by ghost writers, but the plot lines were written by her) and this one, Sweet Valley Confidential, is set in NYC and Sweet Valley and Jessica and Elizabeth are grown women, aged 27. Pretty much my age, yikes.

I cannot stress how much of a nerd I am, I know, but those books were a huge guilty pleasure of mine during juniorWakefield twins high and high school. I was too young to witness Sweet Valley High‘s real hayday in the 80s, unfortunately. I caught on to the books (and then was hooked on all that silly, glossy perfection) in the late 90s. I haven’t thought about Sweet Valley in years!

So then of course I went onto Amazon and pre-ordered the book for my Kindle. It just arrived today. While I’m very into it, I think Middlesex, which I’m currently reading, may get pushed to the side until I gobble up this new development in the lives of the infamous Wakefield twins.

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