All things bookish!

The Back of the Book (from Amazon):

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” These simple words go to the heart of Michael Pollan’s In Defence of Food. Humans used to know how to eat well, Pollan argues. But the balanced dietary lessons that were once passed down through generations have been confused, complicated, and distorted by food industry marketers, nutritional scientists, and journalists- all of whom have much to gain from our dietary confusion. Indeed, real food is fast disappearing from the marketplace, to be replaced by “nutrients,” and plain old eating by an obsession with nutrition that is, paradoxically, ruining our health, not to mention our meals.

Michael Pollan’s bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we might start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives and our palates and enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy.

NotJustLaura’s Review:  I’d picked up this book before but was too scared to read it until I’d become virtually vegetarian (Mr Pollan tells me I’m a ‘flexitarian’.  Sometimes it’s nice to have a label.)  I needn’t have worried.  There are no horror stories about factory farming in this book.  Instead, Mr Pollan looks at where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going food-wise.  His approach seems (to this lay-woman) to be well-researched and reasoned and, well, I’m  convinced.  Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.  It’s not that hard to do, surely?

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The Back of the Book (from Amazon):  Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.

Using those seven words as his guide, Michael Pollan offers this indispensable handbook for anyone concerned about health and food. Simple, sensible and easy to use, Food Rules is a set of memorable adages or ‘personal policies’ for eating wisely, gathered from a wide variety of sources: mothers, grandmothers, nutritionists, anthropologists and ancient cultures among them.

Whether at the supermarket, a restaurant or an all-you-can-eat buffet, this handy, pocket-size resource is the perfect manual for anyone who would like to become more mindful of the food we eat.

NotJustLaura’s Review:  This is the first time I’ve bought a Kindle book and then realised I’d rather have a paper copy.  Food Rules is a bite-sized version of Pollan’s more detailed work In Defence of Food.  It says basically the same things but without the discussion and lots of facts to back up the precepts.  I’ve read both of them and really wish I had the paper copy of this little book to keep in my bag to chew on when I’m bored at bus-stops.  Even more intriguingly, bits of what I’ve read have stuck with me and I’m making changes to the way I shop and eat.  Well done, Mr Pollan!

The Back of the Book (from Amazon):  In January 2001 Shauna Reid was twenty-three years old and twenty-five stone. Determined to turn her life around, she created the hugely successful weblog The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl and, hiding behind her Lycra-clad roly-poly alter-ego, her transformation from couch potato to svelte goddess began. Today, 8,000 miles, seven years and twelve-and-a-half stone later, the gloriously gorgeous Shauna is literally half the woman she used to be.In turn hysterically funny and heart-wrenchingly honest, The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl follows the twists and turns of Shauna’s lard-busting adventure as she curbs the calories and learns to love the gym. There are travel tales from Red Square to Reykjavik, plus romance and intrigue as she meets the man of her dreams during a pub quiz in Glasgow. As her UK visa rapidly runs out, will she be deported back to Australia or will love triumph?Entertaining and action-packed, this is the uplifting true story of a young woman who defeated her demons and conquered her cravings to become a weight-loss superhero to inspire us all.

NotJustLaura’s Review:  I’ve had a weight problem for a very long time.  Now, part of it is pharmaceutical – I need to take a medication which stimulates appetite so I’m constantly hungry.  But a lot of it comes down to poor diet and lack of exercise.  Ms Reid also had a weight problem.  Part of it was circumstantial and part of it came down to poor diet and lack of exercise.  The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl is her incredibly honest memoir of gaining (and losing) the weight of a whole additional person.  I found it inspiring and went for a long walk when I’d finished it.  I suggest you do likewise.

The Back of the Book:  From its small beginnings, the Chalet School grows to be one of the most famous girls’ schools in the world.  There’s no end of excitement and adventure and it’s every girl’s dream to be a pupil there.

The Chalet School now boasts over thirty pupils – including the enchanting Robin.  The autumn term sees adventures of all kinds – a flood that threatens the school and the dramatic rescue of an unwanted St Bernard puppy.  Finally, Joey, Madge and the Robin spend a delightful Christmas in Innsbruck and term ends with happiness of a very special kind of Madame Bettany.

NotJustLaura’s Review:  I’m really enjoying venturing back into the world of the Chalet School.  In this book, I found the characters’ attitudes less dated than in the first – although Madge seeks advice from others when required, we don’t hear her saying ‘Oh dear, I need a man‘s help …’  Perhaps she has grown up after all her adventures?  I’m greatly looking forward to reading the next instalment anyway!

The Back of the Book:  Who are you?

Many Christian women rarely, if ever, ask themselves that question.  But knowing who you are as a woman – and as a Christian – can make a real difference in how you see yourself and others.


Elisabeth Elliot can help you find answers that make a difference.  She suggests that the place to start is by asking not ‘Who am I?’ but ‘Whose am I?’  In Let Me Be a Woman, she writes candidly about what it means to be a Christian woman, and she unabashedly tackles tough issues including:

  • Subordination
  • The single life
  • Self-discipline
  • Masculinity vs femininity
  • The right kind of pride
  • What makes a marriage work

Whether you are young or not so young, single, engaged, married, or widowed, you will better understand how you fit into God’s plan, and you will come away with a wonderful snese of peace about who you really are as a Christian woman.

NotJustLaura’s Review:  My understanding is that Mrs Elliot wrote this book as a series of notes or short essays to prepare her daughter for marriage after the announcement of her engagement.  The Elliots’ writings have strongly influenced the Ludys’ writings so when I picked up this book I was expecting something rather earth-shattering.  To tell the truth, I was a bit disappointed.  This is the first Elliot book I’ve read and I found the format – the short essays – didn’t really hold together very well.  I think I would have preferred a more formal ‘This is what I think about womanhood … and here are the arguments …’   Instead Mrs Elliot seemed to present ideas and then stop writing just as things were getting interesting.  That said, the book is what it is – a collection of essays written for her daughter.  Maybe it wasn’t the best place for me to start and I will certainly approach the other books with an open mind.

The Back of the Book (from Amazon):  Luke for Everyone (with Mark for Everyone) starts this exciting new series. Tom Wright’s translation brings to life the immediacy and drama of Luke’s gospel. His comments on each section, which include a wealth of information and background detail, provide real insights for our understanding of the story of Jesus and its implications for the reader. His clear style is accessible to new readers of the Bible, as well as to those who are already further on.

NotJustLaura’s Review:  As I read through Tom Wright’s excellent series I find myself wondering if he wrote them in the same order as they appear in our Bibles?  Certainly, as I’ve progressed through the Gospels, I’ve noticed his writing becoming tighter and a little more polished.  I can better see the themes and ideas being developed from one chapter to the next and the books seem to hold together better.  Of course, this might say more about me as a reader than it does about Mr Wright’s writing.  You don’t have to think hard before deciding which of us is more expert at our craft!  I’m really enjoying working my way through the series.  I’m reading the first part of John now and have Acts still to come.  I’d rather planned to stop there and just read the others as an when I happened upon them but I’m thinking I might go on through the Epistles and on the Revelation.  And, of course, there’s an Old Testament series now as well …

The Back of the Book (from Amazon):  Packed with delicious recipes, fascinating tips and practical advice, The Vegetarian Pocket Bible is the essential companion for anyone who enjoys a meat-free lifestyle.

Whether you’re trying to find attractive clothes free from animal by-products or looking for fresh inspiration to create exciting vegetarian meals, help is at hand, including:

  • Great vegetarian restaurants you must visit
  • Advice on veggie-friendly cosmetics, shoes and other products
  • All the nutritional and health benefits of being a vegetarian
  • Tips on eating abroad as a veggie – the best places to visit and phrases to know

Your pocket guide to vegetarian living.

NotJustLaura’s Review:  Have you ever been casually browsing a bookshop only to have one of the titles leap off the shelf and onto your credit card?  I was actually looking for something to take to my father in hospital.  He has no interest in vegetarianism but I do although I cannot claim full vegetarian status.

This is a friendly little book, packed full of information for new or aspiring vegetarians – or bemused, omnivorous parents.  I found it a very easy read and would not hesitate to recommend it to interested adolescents.

The author also gives substantial attention to vegan lifestyles and I was left with the impression that vegetarian is good but vegan is better.  I’m not sure if this was intentional but it left me feeling that my almost-vegetarian lifestyle really isn’t up to the mark – and that’s a shame as surely every change we make, however small, matters?

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