Saturday, May 4, 2013

April 2013 Books

April was a month of quality over quantity with only three books read, but all rated a 5 - the highest number possible.

Eat Right 4 Your Type and Cook Right 4 Your Type by Dr. Peter D'Adamo
Published: 1997 and 1998
Rating: 5
Author's web site

I was sidelined this month by a medical emergency (bleeding ulcer) which put me in the hospital needing a blood transfusion - the second time in five years.  I also needed an endoscopy and when the anesthesia wore off, the nurse next to my bed talked about the premise of eating for your blood type, researched and championed by Dr. Peter D'Adamo.  And while my doctor swears that food/drink has absolutely no correlation to ulcers, I have to wonder, especially after reading this very compelling book.

The first premise is this:  "Blood type is not a neutral factor.  Rather, it behaves as the control valve of your immune and digestive systems, a biological watchdog that enhances your body's ability to survive and thrive."

The second premise: "Each of the four blood types evolved in response to both the physiologic development of the species and changing climactic conditions over the eons since humankind first trod the Earth.  The adaptations that occurred in the course of evolution not only strengthened our immune systems against new bacterial, viral, and environmental assailants, but at the same time permitted our vulnerable digestive systems to adapt to a wide range of unfamiliar foods."

Linking blood type to diet: Each blood type responds positively and negatively to proteins in certain foods.  These proteins are called lectins and "have agglutinating - gluing or sticking - properties that affect your blood.  When you eat a food containing protein lectins that are incompatible with your blood type antigen, the lectins target an organ and begin to agglutinate blood cells in that area.  In effect, lectins gum up the works, interfering with digestion, insulin production, food metabolism, and hormonal balance."

I have been on the diet for three weeks and feel good.  I am much more conscious of what and how much I am eating so my meals are healthier, portions are less, and interestingly, I do not crave the main negatives for Type B: chicken, tomatoes and wheat.

Egoscue Method of Health Through Motion by Pete Egoscue
Published: 1992
Rating: 5

I am an aerobics instructor, teaching several spinning/cycle classes a week, and need to take continuing ed classes to keep my certification current.  A number of years ago, in one of my classes, the instructor recommended this book.  At the time, I found the exercises extremely helpful in improving my posture and releasing the tension in my upper back, shoulders and neck.

I dug out the book this month and re-read as my upper body tension was so bad, I could literally feel the knots throb all the time.  It was affecting my ability to sit comfortably at work and made it difficult to sleep.  After a quick re-read and faithfully doing the 13 exercises every day (takes about 20 minutes), all the tension is gone!

If you ache from tight, tense muscles, I would highly recommend.

Sophie's Choice by William Styron
Published: 1976
Rating: 5
See post on Josh's blog

Wow - I loved it. So much so that I deliberately slowed down my usually fast reading pace to savor, write down questions I had while reading, write down quotes that I loved, looked up words that I did not understand and added them to my lexicon (there were many), and thought about Styron's style, technique and framework while walking my dogs.

People have said this is a semi-autobiographical book and I would agree.  Both Styron and his protagonist, Stingo graduated from Duke University and were in the Marine Corps during WWII.  As a successful middle-aged novelist, Stingo/Styron writes about the painful and life-changing summer of 1947 when as a virginal twenty-two year old wannabe writer, he meets the tragically beautiful Sophie Zawistowska and her mad but brilliant lover, Nathan Landau.

Written in the first person, I would also describe the work as a "fictional memoir".  As a reader, we are always aware that Stingo is writing about the past and yet, when a scene is described, we are right there, just as he remembers it,

Is Stingo a reliable narrator?  I believe so for he is not reticent about revealing unflattering facts about himself and seems determined to "tell it like it was" - the good, bad and ugly and there is a lot of ugly.

Suicide is a theme that runs through the book which is interesting considering that at the time, Styron was not suffering from depression and suicidal ideation as he did later in life.  He wrote about it in a highly popular memoir, Darkness Visible, published in 1990, which I read last year - see post.

Some of my favorite quotes:

We learn early on that Sophie is a Auschwitz survivor.  Here is a description of how she shops for lunch at a Brooklyn deli, forever changed by her months of starvation.
The privilege of choice gave her a feeling achingly sensual.  There was so much to eat, such variety and abundance, that each time her breath stopped, her eyes actually filmed over  with emotion, and with  slow and elaborate gravity she would choose from the sourly fragrant, opulent, heroic squander of food: a pickled egg here, there a slice of salmi, half a loaf of pumpernickel, lusciously glazed and black.
Stingo, in writer's paradise, where everything comes so easily:
..I breathed a delicious sigh and felt the next scene hatching, so palpable I could almost reach up and fondle it, like a fat golden egg in my brain.
Stingo, on the beach, describing himself vs the other bronzed bathers:
Sharecropper-white with pink elbows and chafed knees, I felt wan and desiccated amid these bodies so richly and sleekly dark, so Mediterranean, glistening like dolphins beneath their Coppertone.  How I envied the pigmentation that could cause one's torso to develop this mellow hue of stained walnut.
Grief, pain, heartache and loss are described so accurately, I plan to write a post on Josh's blog about certain quotes and how they touched me.

I want to see the movie starring Meryl Streep as Sophie with a box of tissues as my only companion.  I would also like to read some of his other works, namely The Confessions of Nat Turner with which he won the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

The book fits perfectly in my WWII reading theme.  In fact, in this fictional memoir, before Stingo/Styron gets ready to write about Sophie's experience in Auschwitz, he gives a list of authors that helped in his research.  I googled each one and wrote them in my book diary for future reference/reading.

  • This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman and We were in Auschiwitz by Tadeusz Borowski.  Tragically, he committed suicide at 28 years old, 3 days after the birth of his daughter.
  • Essays - Language and Silence by George Steiner
  • Treblinka by Jean-Francois Steiner
  • Five Chimneys: A Woman's True Story of Auschwitz by Olga Lengyel
  • The SS State: The System of the German Concentration Camp by Eugen Kogon
  • The Last of the Just by Andre Schwartz-Bart.  I've downloaded a sample of this novel into my iPad.
  • Anything written by Elie Wiesel.  I am particularly interested in his 2-volume memoir: All Rivers Run To the Sea + And the Sea is Never Full.

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