This month I am joining up with the lovely Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into linkup, mostly because as I planned my “What I read” post I realized I wanted to endorse movies and lotions as well, which didn’t really have a place in anything titled “what I read”. Here is my slightly expanded – but still mostly literary – list of what I was into the last few months.
The Soloist By Mark Saltzman
From time to time we all should read a novel written in an era before cell phones just to remind ourselves that we survived without them. That is hardly the only virtue of this engaging novel, which is both musically edifying and plot driven. Its protagonist is a aging cello prodigy who is put on a jury for the murder of a Zen master. That sounds preposterous as I write it, but trust me, it’s a great read.
The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life – The Ancient Practices Series by Joan Chittister
This book might have been better as a pamphlet: there are times when I feel like Chittister is really stretching to fill the chapters, which each deal with a different element of the liturgical year . There were facts in here that were new to me about the historical development of the church year, and as always Chittister wows with her insights. The layout had a few distracting quirks that I struggled to ignore. I could see using chapters at different points in the year for teaching or faith sharing.
Teach Us to Sit Still: A Skeptic’s Search for Health and Healing by Tim Parks
This was the highlight of my fall, bookwise. Parks includes literary and artistic references to great effect in this illness memoir that resonated with my own health struggles this year. The prose is at times blistering as Parks relates the injustice and mystery of illness. I can’t recommend this book enough.
The Secret Ingredient: 7 Steps To Create Health That Lasts for Life by Marie Mosher
Marie has written an inspiring practical guide to eating well which suffers at times from lack of clarity. This compact, accessible book could have used one or two read throughs by an editor to eliminate occasional repetitions and contradictions. All in all, the author writes with love for her readers and really wants what is best for people, and that comes across in her life-giving text.
VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good by Mark Bittman
Since I am vegetarian (not just before six, but always) and have no intention of becoming vegan, I didn’t take all of Mark Bittman’s suggestions for going “Vegan Before 6” as the title suggests. Bittman is a superb writer and researcher, and the science in his book is solid, at least to my layperson’s eyes. As one finds in many mass-marketed books on health there was an annoying focus on weight. The recipes in the back double the value of this book.
Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization by John R. Ratey and Richard Manning
Unlike most books that claim to offer the six steps to whatever goal one is trying to achieve, this one was refreshingly non-prescriptive. It includes anthropological and scientific evidence for trying to live a more “natural” life, which in the view of the authors involves trail running and eating paleo. I wasn’t always clear on the points they were trying to make with some of the historical evidence, but there was enough new-to-me material to make it worth my while.
Inside Job documentary
Despite being completed not long after the financial crash, this documentary feels current. Recounting the steps that led to economic problems all over the world in the late aughts, it includes illustrative interviews and clear explanations of complex financial maneuvers. Like many documentaries designed to bring contemporary problems to light, it doesn’t end on a hopeful note, but in this case the knowledge is worth the pain.
The Iron Lady
Once again I am late to the cinematic party, finally catching up on a film that is more than a year old. Any film with Meryl Streep doesn’t need my recommendation, but I am happy to offer it anyway. She is exquisite, and the structure of the film, showing Margaret Thatcher’s rise and fall in a series of flashbacks, is artistic and effective.
Health & Beauty
Nubian Heritage Lavender & Wildflowers with vitamin E Lotion
I love the smell of this lotion! I received a free sample of a different scent and was so hooked on the texture that I bought a larger bottle at Whole Foods to satisfy my current lavender obsession. My only complaint is that it can be hard to get the lotion out of the bottle.
Neutrogena Cleansing Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser
In the winter I need the gentlest cleansers as my skin can get rather dry, but the ones I use from Cetaphil and Cerave don’t always make me feel clean. Neutrogena has finally come up with an ultra gentle cleanser that doesn’t sacrifice suds. Maybe it’s all in my head, but the foam makes me feel like it’s getting the job done.
What have you been into this month?
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