Thursday, May 22, 2014

50 Books in 2014: 6-10

One thing I have been keeping up with (although I am admittingly behind) is my 50 books in 2014 challenge. If you have a GoodReads account, I would love for you to add me as a friend, but if not, you can always check out my account to see what I'm reading, the reviews I've posted, etc. (

So here are books 6-10 that I've read this year (the post for books 11-15 will be next week):

  1. How to Disappear Completely: On Modern Anorexia by Kelsey Osgood


    GoodReads says: "At fourteen, Kelsey Osgood became fascinated by the stories of women who starved themselves. She devoured their memoirs and magazine articles, committing the most salacious details of their cautionary tales to memory--how little they ate, their lowest weights, and their merciless exercise regimes--to learn what it would take to be the very bestanorectic. When she was hospitalized for anorexia at fifteen, she found herself in an existential wormhole: how can one suffer from something one has actively sought out? Through her own decade-long battle with anorexia, which included three lengthy hospitalizations, Osgood harrowingly describes the haunting and competitive world of inpatient facilities populated with other adolescents, some as young as ten years old.

    With attuned storytelling and unflinching introspection, Kelsey Osgood unpacks the modern myths of anorexia, examining the cult-like underbelly of eating disorders in the young, as she chronicles her own rehabilitation. How to Disappear Completely is a brave, candid and emotionally wrenching memoir that explores the physical, internal, and social ramifications of eating disorders and subverts many of the popularly held notions of the illness and, most hopefully, the path to recovery."
    Average Rating: 3.30/5

    I said: 3/5 stars, "While I commend Osgood on coming forward and telling her story about anorexia, I felt that this book was more of a critique on how anorexia is developing as being "trendy" and the new concept of "wannarexia". There is not much science to back up her arguments, and this book read more like a term paper than a memoir or personal account."

  2. City Farmer: Adventures in Urban Food Growing by Lorraine Johnson

    GoodReads says: "City Farmer celebrates the new ways that urban dwellers across North America are reimagining cities as places of food production. From homeowners planting their front yards with vegetables to guerilla gardeners scattering seeds in neglected urban corners, gardening guru Lorraine Johnson chronicles the increasing popularity of innovative urban food growing."
    Average Rating: 3.54/5

    I said: 3/5 stars, "
    I expected this book to be more of a memoir and a personal testament to urban gardening from the author's experience. She included this here and there, but it read mostly as a handy book with all sorts of information on the history and current state of urban farming. I enjoyed it and the knowledge I've gained from reading, but I wish it had been a bit more personable."
  3. The Simple Living Handbook: Discover the Joy of a De-Cluttered Life by Lorilee Lippincott

    GoodReads says: "Where did all this stuff come from? I don't have time for a life. I need to get away! Ever feel this way? Society is quick to fill our minds and homes with all the latest gadgets, tools, obligations, and entertainment, but what happens when it all doesn't fit? The Simple Living Handbook is a how-to memoir about creating a life that has space for what really matters to you.Lippincott's road to simplicity started in the fall of 2010 when she was on the verge of a breakdown. Her life was basically "normal"--husband, two kids, comfortable home, three home businesses--but she felt like she was running a rat race. She was desperate for more time and space to focus on family, health, and her own interests. So she and her husband decided to cut back on clutter--drastically. Now the family of four lives in a one-bedroom apartment with only the possessions they actually need and use; they stick to a simple diet of only whole foods "that God would recognize"; and they have managed to become productive without feeling busy. They've never been happier or healthier.Through personal stories, advice, and tips, Lippincott teaches how to make the hard decisions necessary to simplify your home and your schedule. Beyond that, she addresses the hidden emotional hoarding that threatens to keep our souls running in circles. Through her inspiring story, readers will learn to take a step back, reassess priorities, and commit to making space for those people and things that really matter."
    Average Rating: 3.11/5

    I said: 2/5 stars, "
    This book had some really good advice on how to clear out your home for a more simple life, but towards the middle of the book, it started to get really preachy, especially when she started throwing God into everything she talked about."
  4. Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset, Maugham

    GoodReads says: "'It is very difficult for a writer of my generation, if he is honest, to pretend indifference to the work of Somerset Maugham,' wrote Gore Vidal. 'He was always so entirely there.' Originally published in 1915, Of Human Bondage is a potent expression of the power of sexual obsession and of modern man's yearning for freedom. This classic bildungsroman tells the story of Philip Carey, a sensitive boy born with a clubfoot who is orphaned and raised by a religious aunt and uncle. Philip yearns for adventure, and at eighteen leaves home, eventually pursuing a career as an artist in Paris. When he returns to London to study medicine, he meets the androgynous but alluring Mildred and begins a doomed love affair that will change the course of his life. There is no more powerful story of sexual infatuation, of human longing for connection and freedom. 'Here is a novel of the utmost importance,' wrote Theodore Dreiser on publication. 'It is a beacon of light by which the wanderer may be guided. . . . One feels as though one were sitting before a splendid Shiraz of priceless texture and intricate weave, admiring, feeling, responding sensually to its colors and tones.' With an Introduction by Gore Vidal Commentary by Theodore Dreiser and Graham Greene."
    Average rating: 4.07/5

    I said: 3/5 stars, "
    This book took me a long time to finish because I started getting really bored during the first half. With this being said, I was glad that I picked it back up because I really loved the second half. There are many valuable lessons that can be drawn from this book about different stages in life, as well as the overall meaning of life. I also really loved the ending."
  5. The Trouble With Poetry - And Other Poems by Billy Collins

    GoodReads says: "Playfulness, spare elegance, and wit epitomize the poetry of Billy Collins.""With his distinct voice and accessible language, America's two-term Poet Laureate has opened the door to poetry for countless people for whom it might otherwise remain closed. 

    Like the present book's title, Collins's poems are filled with mischief, humor, and irony, "Poetry speaks to all people, it is said, but here I would like to address / only those in my own time zone"-but also with quiet observation, intense wonder, and a reverence for the everyday: "The birds are in their trees, / the toast is in the toaster, / and the poets are at their windows. / They are at their windows in every section of the tangerine of earth-the Chinese poets looking up at the moon, / the American poets gazing out / at the pink and blue ribbons of sunrise." 
    Through simple language, Collins shows that good poetry doesn't have to be obscure or incomprehensible, qualities that are perhaps the real trouble with most "serious" poetry: "By now, it should go without saying / that what the oven is to the baker / and the berry-stained blouse to the drycleaner / so the window is to the poet." 
    In this dazzling new collection, his first in three years, Collins explores boyhood, jazz, love, the passage of time, and, of course, writing-themes familiar to Collins's fans but made new here. Gorgeous, funny, and deeply empathetic, Billy Collins's poetry is a window through which we see our lives as if for the first time."
    Average rating: 4.20/5

    I said: 3/5 stars, "Poetry is not my forte, nor do I claim to know anything about it, but for me, these poems are just observations of the outside world rather than insights on the human experience. Perhaps I am not looking at them correctly. Nonetheless, these poems were a reminder to slow down and take in the world around me, something that I often forget to do is my busy life."

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