Friday, January 30, 2009

Same Kind of Different as Me

Same Kind of Different as Me
Authors: Ron Hall & Denver Moore (with Lynn Vincent)
Thomas Nelson, 2006
235 pages

My friend SLY recommended this book when I saw her a few weekends ago, and I put it on my very long list of books to read someday. Little did I know I would end up purchasing the book just a week later, and getting so deeply involved in it that I could not put it down. 

It's the story . . . of two men who seem to have nothing in common. Denver is a 60-something former sharecropper from Louisiana who has been a "drifter" most of his life. Ron is a 50-something "good old boy" from east Texas who through a combination of wit and luck is Fort Worth's most successful art dealer and gallery owner. Ron is at the top of his game; Denver lives in a homeless shelter, where he has taken on the persona of a scary badass. 

Then there's Ron's wife, Deborah, whose desire to serve leads the couple to the homeless shelter - despite Ron's reluctance. Through her, their lives merge, and they all find out that they are more alike than they ever thought possible. 

What we have is a story of love and loss, redemption and forgiveness, and of good and evil. But mostly, this is the story of an unlikely friendship. Yes, it has a Christian/spirituality theme, but it's not preachy. A sub-theme is the concept of modern-day slavery and you will learn a lot about the economics and realities of sharecropping as practiced all the way up to the 1960s (or later) in some parts of this country. You'll get to know some of the people at the homeless shelter, and if you're lucky, you'll come to the same realization as Denver and Ron . . . that we all have more in common than we have differences. 

This is the kind of book my Mom loves, so I'll be sending it on to her now that I'm finished. (That means the ladies in her UMW group will probably all be reading it soon!)

Rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Food Matters

Food Matters
Author: Mark Bittman
Simon & Schuster, 2009
311 pages

As I've mentioned in my Food for Thought blog, S and I have been on a mostly vegan diet since the first of the year. Our intentions aren't to be vegans (neither of us has the discipline for that) but to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and to eat less dairy and meat - for reasons of health and longevity. In Food Matters (subtitled A Guide to Conscious Eating), Mark Bittman encourages the same thing. But in addition to the health benefits of such a diet, Bittman (an omnivore) promotes the environmental benefits of eating less meat and dairy: if people would reduce their consumption of meat and dairy, agribusiness would be forced to shift toward more environmentally friendly and humane policies, while also allowing for more people in the world to be fed.

Bittman's arguments are nothing new for me. I've been reading books like Diet for a Small Planet and The Food Revolution for fifteen years. Food is a topic that interests me, and so does saving the planet, feeding the hungry, and treating people and animals well. But Bittman sort of puts a new spin on things: instead of saying that everyone should become vegan, he just recommends that we reduce our consumption of meat and dairy. Any reduction (the more the better) is good, he says. 

I like this book because it makes several points without being overly preachy. AND it contains some recipes that I'm looking forward to trying. 

OK, really nothing new for me here, but it was presented a different way, and I'm glad I took the time to read it now. I found it to be . . . motivational!

Rating: 4.25 stars

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Breaking Dawn

Breaking Dawn
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Little, Brown and Company, 2008
754 pages

Have you ever postponed reading a book simply because you didn't want the story to end? As the fourth (final?) book in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn takes the story and characters to a whole new level. One difference between these and the previous books is that the middle section of the book is told from the perspective of another character (not the main character, Bella). Many new characters appear - some we've heard of before in the other books, but others are totally new. It gives the book a fresh twist but also opens up possibilities for additional material.

Breaking Dawn answers a lot of questions I've had since the first book in the series, for example: Will Bella end up with Edward or Jacob? Will she stay human or become a vampire? Will her parents learn what's going on? Will the Volturi cause trouble? How will this all play out? All is revealed in Breaking Dawn.

But is the saga really over? Is Breaking Dawn really the last book? Sometime last year, a friend told me that Meyer wrote some sample chapters for a fifth book, which was to be called Midnight Sun. According to internet rumors, someone leaked the book online. Sometime last year, Meyer made the contents available on her web site

So maybe it's not really over after all?

Rating: 4 stars - OK, it was my least favorite of the books. A lot of material is covered and some seemed rushed. But I enjoyed it.