26 March 2010

Magnificent Mavens of Literacy Book Group Report

The Magnificent Mavens of Literary Awesomeness met last night, and rather than discuss one book, we all took turns telling about good things we had read recently. Everyone wanted a list, so I took notes.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows. Several of us have already read and loved this one. I describe it as Anne of Green Gables meets the Hiding place, because it has the light-hearted, character-driven appeal of LM Montgomery's works, but it is set shortly after World War II in Britain and Guernsey, and also has some serious tones. After I finished it, I read it again immediately. I rarely read a book that I know I want to buy for my own instantly, but this one will definitely join my library. We decided to read it and discuss it in April.

Lemon Tart, by Josie Kilpack. Kilpack has written two murder mysteries so far that involve food. The other is called English Trifle. I think they sound fun, but haven't read any. Feel free to comment and add thoughts if you have read them (or any of these books, for that matter). The Amazon reviews are glowing but sparse.

Ariana series, by Rachel Ann Nunes. This is LDS fiction, and the reader said she enjoyed the way the gospel was woven into the stories. The book clarified ideas about culpability and consequences for her.

The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. I haven't read this book, but I have heard many great reviews of it. The book details five different ways people express love (time, verbal affirmation, gifts, service, physical affection). The ideas have helped me to understand myself and my marriage in the past, so I really ought to sit down and read the thing. Good thing we chose it for our May book discussion

Michael Pollan came up as well. Pollan has written many books about food, the best known being The Omnivore's Dilemma. I'm sure the dilemma is best understood by reading the book. From Amazon reviews, it sounds like Pollan has done a thorough job in researching, as well as a good job in writing about our relationship to and distance from our food. Pollan was also involved in the Food Inc. project, which apparently helps many people feel motivated to grow their own gardens. Other titles include Fast Food Nation, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-eye View of the World, and a whole fruit-basket of others. I need to put him on my 3x5 wallet list of people to look up at the library. For more on him, check out Jennifer's review on her blog, Simple and Small.

What DaVinci Didn't Know, by Richard Neitzl Holzapfel. The reader on this one wasn't through, but her review wasn't glowing, so maybe check some reviews before you decide if it's for you, or not.

The Undaunted, Gerald Lund. This one should appeal to church history fans. The story starts in the coal mines of the UK, and ends with the settling of the Blanding, Montezuma Creek area of the Four Corners region. The reader recommended it for Lund's signature style of making a fictional family and interesting plot, and following them through all sorts of fascinating history. She also mentioned that The Fire and the Covenant by Lund was similarly good.

The last mention in my notes is Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel. For the price of less than a visit to the dentist, this book sounds like a good deal to me. The book discusses nutrition as a more practical method of dental care than flossing and brushing. This is extremely unfortunate for me, if true, because I love sugar so deeply.

Well, this post is a book in and of itself. Feel free to share favorite recent reads or thoughts on any of these in the comments, too, if you have survived all the way to the bottom of this hairy post.


Thora said...

I really liked the Guernsey book. Umm, not to be unpopular, but the Ariana series is one of those Mormon Romance books/series that are at the top of my "Make fun of" list. Although I've read them - more than once. What can I say, I like making fun of books?

I always use the ideas of the five love languages, but I've never actually read the book. Maybe it's like the colors personality book - a great idea, and the book is good too, but the important part is the ideas presenting, which can be distilled down to a few points. At least, I tell myself this to make myself feel better for not having read it. I think I can put Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover on this list too, since it really comes down to just five principles, that could be summed up in a pamphlet (don't get me wrong - I really love his method, and I guess if it takes the whole book to motivate you, then it's done its job.)

Saddie said...

You've got me sold on the Guernsey book. Now where to find a copy... ?

I just finished Catching Fire (sequel to The Hunger Games) and LOVED it! I couldn't put either one down. Luckily they're jr. fiction so the children weren't too neglected.

Now to get the new Fablehaven! Woo hoo! Perhaps the Easter Bunny can hook us up.

amy said...

I have read the Omnivore's Dilemma and I think it may be the best-written book I've ever read. Pollan doesn't come to many conclusions, instead leaving the reader with questions and ideas, which I think is far more enjoyable. His also very popular "Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants" is like a cliff's notes version, in my opinion, and not nearly such a masterpiece. Read the read McCoy if you want to experience Pollan at his best. That said, my own research disconfirms some of his allegations (such as the health of people eating a traditional French diet involving diminutive portions of rich, animal-product-laden, foods; other things I have read indicate that this diet, though it does not produce fat people, also does not produce healthy people with low rates of cancer and heart disease...), so read with caution.

I think the basic premise of the 5 love languages is fine and useful. I think the book is sexist. My spouse and I took the quiz at the beginning of the book to determine our love languages (I feel like an idiot just having typed that...) and the quiz was significantly different for men and women in really ridiculous ways. For example, there were questions about whether or not he feels loved when I have sex with him and whether I feel loved when he helps me with the laundry. So I'm not talking about subtle stuff you'd need to minor in gender studies to pick up on. It was pretty brutal and discredited the book somewhat, in my opinion. I just couldn't take it seriously. I'll be interested to hear what y'all think.

Haven't read the others. No time for fiction these days.

Dansie Family said...

we just watched food inc, and i plan to get my eggs from cinda, buy more organic and less meat, and try really hard to buy less stuff with corn syrup. that'll be easier for tom than me.

i am excited to read the guernsey book. tom and i went there on western european cruise and that was my favorite stop.

angela michelle said...

My MIL recently gave me a book on the Five Love Languages for Kids, which is coauthored by the original guy and a parenting expert.

I agree with Amy on the Omnivore's Dilemma.