Review: The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor

The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor
The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor by Mark Schatzker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Listening to the audio CD but that does not seem to be a choice on GR.

First, the reader on this audiobook is very good. Non fiction can sometimes be a difficult listen, especially while driving; it’s easy to miss main ideas and critical specifics. This reader was slow and clear and i was able to follow the threads of thought throughout.

This book is fascinating because it focuses on flavor. We all know we should eat whole grains and unprocessed fruits and vegetables for health, for the good of the planet, for vitamins, for our waistlines. Schatzker focuses on the development of artificial flavorings and industrial farming methods and what they have done to our brains, our palates, our cravings, and our ability to know when we are satisfied. It’s interesting and important stuff. Although I thought the very last section of the book (about the quest for perfect tomatoes and building a dinner around them) went on too long and was pretty boring, I found this to be an accessible book that I would especially recommend to people who might benefit from a nutrition message but might not be swayed by animal welfare or ecological arguments.

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Review: The Moment of Everything

The Moment of Everything
The Moment of Everything by Shelly King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this very much , although my favorite part may have been that sneaky and slightly evil-looking cat peeking out from the cover. (The cat is certainly why I picked up this book.) It reminded by quite a bit of Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore in feel, if only because of the California bookstore where many hang out but few buy, and the connections to the tech industry. I liked the main character and her search for employment and meaning, and I liked that, though a centerpiece was the star-crossed back and forth writing inside an old copy of Lady Chatterly, Maggie’s romantic life did not consume the entire storyline.

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Review: Re Jane

Re Jane
Re Jane by Patricia Park
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I kind of want to give this more than 3 stars, as I liked it in a number of different ways.

I liked it because it takes place in Queens. Jane rides the purple-circle labeled number 7 train, like I did. She gazes out on the Manhattan skyline and is sure that her adult self will be there, no longer B&T (bridge-and-tunnel). She walks the Flushing sidewalks and is in and out of the stores with their signs and awnings in Korean, not English, despite being in NYC in the 1990s and early 2000s. She even helps a young friend prep for the Hunter High School entrance exam. (I still remember the topic for the exam essay I wrote back in 1979.) It’s a familiar and nostalgic setting for me, and I enjoyed the visit.

I also liked Re Jane because it takes place in Korea, a country I have never seen and know little about. Park gives the reader a picture of what it might be like to be a young professional person in modern Seoul, dining out, going to clubs, and learning to conform to unfamiliar social expectations.

Re Jane is also about intergenerational relationships, culture shifts, expatriate living, learning to become one’s self and the fact that no society remains the same – You can go back home but it won’t be as you left it. All cultures morph and grow, and some of us will live forever in the gaps between what was and what is. If you are lucky, you will have a friend like Nina, who will grow and change and straddle multiple worlds alongside you.

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Review: The Mapmaker’s Children

The Mapmaker's Children
The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this book, McCoy tells parallel tales of two women, separated by history and geography but united by childlessness and world events. The big takeaway is that you make a family by connecting with and being good to the people around you. Along the way, readers will learn something about the underground railroad while still enjoying a light summer read. I felt that the writing was the tiniest bit thin, with bonds forming and situations coming to climax just a little too easily. Still, very enjoyable and this would make a good book group book as there’s plenty to discuss.

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Review: On the Move: A Life

On the Move: A Life
On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

On the Move is a fitting title for this memoir by Oliver Sacks: the writing moves suddenly from one topic to another, like a butterfly just touching from plant to plant. It took me a good 50 pages to stop being annoyed with brevity of sections. Of course, the title also references Sacks’ motorcycle journeys, his many transatlantic crossings between his home of London and his work in New York and California, and his astonishing movement between the worlds of medicine, research science, residential patient care, and writing. There are several interesting themes that come up but are not deeply discussed: being a young gay man in 1950s England and then in late 50s and early 1960s San Francisco; growing up in a family of 5 doctors; several instances of completing a major piece of writing or photography and losing the only copy of a manuscript (in a missing suitcase, in a fire, lending it to a colleague who then died; misunderstandings with supervisors, lab partners, and research subjects that led to loss of position, etc. He is so smart and so creative – I think if you are a fan of his books this is an interesting read. If not, it might just be too disjointed, skimming over too many fascinating topics too quickly.

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