Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Whatcha readin'?

I've been doing quite a bit of reading lately; most of it won't ever be seen on the blog for various reasons—partially because I would be spending more time posting than reading! Anyway, here's a sampling, with special thanks to our 5-star library for their assistance on Inter-Library Loan.

While we were in Milwaukee visiting Debbie's parents back in November, I managed to spend a bit of time at a Barnes & Nobles bookstore. We're a bit lacking in large bookstores up here, so it was nice to spend some time there—not enough, but is it ever? I looked over quite a few interesting books, made notes, and once we got back home, I ordered a few via ILL.

The first was My Beef With Meat from Rip Esselstyn. Rip is the son of one of the leaders in the Whole-Foods, Plant-based diet, a former firefighter, and a champion triathlete. He's written a few books about what he calls a "Plant-strong" diet. In this book, he addresses the questions he is inevitably asked about why a plant-based diet is healthier than the standard American diet (SAD). As always, he is an entertaining author, but, again as always, I don't like his attitude. He seems to be trying to prove he's just as much a "man" as a meat-eater. Right. Consequently, you find profanity and tough-guy stuff throughout. That might appeal to some who are insecure in themselves (or more accurately, in who they are in Christ), but it keeps me from recommending his stuff. You would be far better off reading The China Study or either the book or DVD of Forks Over Knives. Another good resource is Keep It Simple, Keep It Whole.

Another book I discovered there was Straw Bale Gardens. This is actually an expansion of a shorter book he self-published, entitled Straw Bale Gardening. I've read both of them now, and the newer one is definitely worth the extra $5.00. Straw Bale Gardening sounds like a fascinating concept. I wish I had easier access to affordable bales around here. In Indiana, I paid about $3-5.00 per bale; up here, the going rate is closer to—hold on—$20.00! There is no way I'm going into this in a big way at that price! But the concept is fascinating and has potential. I'm going to try it in a small way next summer and maybe use it as a season extender idea in the 8' x 8' greenhouse that Dave built.

Another book I ran across quite by accident is The Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook. It's a beautiful book with marvelous photography. I read it mainly for the 200+ pages of gardening wisdom from Eliot Coleman—anything he writes on gardening is worth reading and this book was no exception. There's another 200 pages of recipes, which are good, but not Whole Foods, so of minimal use to me. There are some good ideas, but that's about it.

Finally, on Christmas Eve I read The Secret Race. It's basically a confession by world-class cyclist Tyler Hamilton of how he doped—and how all the professional cyclists dope. When it first came out, Lance was still claiming he didn't dope, so Tyler caught a good bit of flack. The version I read (an e-book via ILL) included an afterword from after Lance's Oprah appearance. I used to say that I figured 80% of the riders doped— the top 40% and the bottom 40%. The top ones did it in order to win, the bottom ones in order to stay professional.

I was wrong! About 99% of professional riders dope. And Tyler explains why and how. Basically, it's the same reason that everybody does anything wrong: you put someone or something other than Jesus Christ at the center of your life. As I was reading, I couldn't help but draw parallels to the fall of Evangelical leaders. Anytime you place something other than the person of Jesus Christ at the center—and that includes "ministry in Jesus name"—of your life, you will fail. No question of if, just a question of when. It took over 10 years to out Lance, but he was outed. How long did Tiger Woods live a double life? How long has Mark Driscoll been guilty of plagiarism? Your sin will find you out!

Well, that's a bit longer than I intended it to be, but that's some of the stuff I've read recently...

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