Book Corner 2020.2

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The Anti-Diet by Christy Harrison

Just like THE F*CK IT DIET by Caroline Dooner but with very little swearing. Harrison is a registered dietician, and uses what she knows to convince you that Health At Every Size (HAES) (TM) is the only way to go. Lots of proof showing that diets don’t work, don’t last, and actually make you gain weight (NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT!). Seriously, Harrison is always bending over backwards not to offend (with constant shout-outs to non-binary-gendered people), refusing even to use the words “overweight” or “obese” without quote marks.

There is only a very short chapter about how to do truly intuitive eating. Like THE F*CK IT DIET, this book warns you that by “intuitive eating” we do not mean being obsessed with hunger cues, which is just dieting by another name. F*ck-it-style intuitive eating means: just eat. Whatever you want, whenever you want, however much you want. Enjoy.

Who couldn’t get behind that?

Harrison gives lots of reassurance that this will NOT ruin your health. After a honeymoon phase with brownies, you will settle in, your weight will settle in, and your health will be fine – or not – but if not, it won’t be because of eating the wrong things. Lots of factors contribute to health, including many beyond one’s control. And dieting is about control, so that’s not a message many may want to hear.

But it’s true; and other things that are true are: adipose tissue itself has NEVER been proven to DIRECTLY cause health problems. It’s just body tissue, after all. And: being health-obsessed, or even health-conscious at all, is not a moral obligation. There are no “good” and “bad” foods because an apple and a hamburger are MORALLY EQUIVALENT. Running a marathon and watching a Netflix marathon are MORALLY EQUIVALENT. What is “health” for, anyway? To let you live longer and more productively … to do what? Whatever is meaningful to you, THAT is the moral obligation; not health per se.

This would all be obvious if not for what Harrison terms “diet culture,” the water we all swim in. We are all afraid of being or becoming “fat” and what it will mean for our status. But this sounds shallow so we cloak it in talk of health-consciousness and “wellness.”

Just chuck it all. In other words, F*ck It. ( )

S’E2S’E #8

Then there were 8:

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Here’s #8, a Navaja-Churro Lambswool single-ply.  Sheds all over.  I bought it as roving, and spun it directly.  When I put it in hot water to set, lo and behold, I discovered it was FILTHY!  So, one wash in Tide detergent later…

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Book Corner 2020.1

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American the Anxious by Ruth Whippman

Started out strong, and had a hysterical, dead-on chapter about meditation, or as Ruth puts it, “Meh”-ditation. The theme really isn’t about how Americans are too anxious; but about the ridiculousness of the happiness quest and its associated industry. Ruth’s discovery seems to be that happiness is other people. I beg to differ, but I still cheered on her take-down of mindfulness.

Unfortunately it frequently devolved into that kind of non-fiction book I hate, the kind that reads like a research paper. “Research shows this. It seems that that. Turns out that…” And chapters about parenthood and Facebook were boring, with nothing we haven’t heard a zillion times.

Even amidst all of that, though, I still found myself frequently laughing out loud – not just chortling but outright guffawing. Maybe it’s the Britishness of her humor. ( )

Hey [20]19

180 Janis Joplin, backstage, Grande Ballroom, Detroit 1968.
180 Janis Joplin, backstage, Grande Ballroom, Detroit 1968.

I read 57 books in 2019.  Thanx to Tyler Cowan, who taught me to discard with abandon books I start but end up not enjoying.  Read only what makes you really excited to get back to your book, and you’ll make the time to get back to your book.  And have a better time when you do.

Best fiction discovery: Lionel Shriver.  I discovered her starting with The Mandibles and ended up reading four more, my favorite probably being We Need to Talk About Kevin for its sheer staying power, closely followed by the Post-Birthday World.  I really love parallel universes.  So Much for All That would have been another favorite were it contained to the main plot, and had it discarded with the subplot.

Best non-fiction discovery: Meghan Daum.  She writes essays that just talk out of my own brain.  See: the Unspeakable; this year’s Problem with Everything.  Some of Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House also resonated.  She has also written a novel, the Quality of Life Report, which I read years ago before I knew she was herself.

What happened in my life this year that didn’t take place on my couch under the reading lamp?  I turned 50, obviously, and got some clean medical screenings.  My spouse and I greatly enjoyed 2 weeks in coastal Maine.  A new mudroom was completed on the back of our house.  All of this could have been predicted; the real wild dominoes fell at my job.  My manager experienced a life-changing injury in late February; and [the product that I work on] experienced a 6-hour outage on April Fool’s Day.  As a result, one of my best work-pals is now my boss, and we haven’t done any meaningful work since April.  You just never know.

Book Corner 2019.57

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Normal People by Sally Rooney

The first part was excellent. Marianne is a high school outcast who barely registers, let alone cares, that she is an outcast. Connell is a well-liked, smart and athletic boy who is nevertheless awkward and introspective. Marianne is part of a rich family, and Connell is the son of their housecleaner. They begin a sexual relationship, which they keep secret. The secrecy is not because Marianne is associating with a working-class boy beneath her station; it’s ironically because Connell is dallying beneath his station in the high school popularity pecking order. Small spoiler for part one: Connell finds out after high school is over that a) everyone at school kind of knew all along about the relationship, and b) now that high school is over, it doesn’t matter at all that he was seeing Marianne, because that whole part of life is over. So all the secrecy was for nothing, and this hits him hard, because he knows he should have done better by her.

After that, the story seems to thrive on misunderstandings and unspoken things between Marianne and Connell, who both attend Trinity College. It became a bit less interesting as Marianne turned out to be not so much a free-spirited iconoclast but a broken girl from an abusive home; Connell became the more interesting character. I’ll try to avoid spoilers by stopping here, but the ending wasn’t bad. ( )