Reading and listening

Three books I’d like to quickly mention…

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall: I saw McDougall on the Daily Show and heard about the Tarahumara while watching the show Last Man Standing.  This book came out during my fascination with my Vibram Five fingers (which I still think are amazing) and so may have been the target demographic for the book.  The author writes for Men’s Health and other magazines and you can definitely tell that from his writing style.  If you’re not a running enthusiast (not necessarily a hard core fanatic, just someone who enjoys running) the book might not appeal to you which is a shame because it goes off on two rather lengthy tangents that I think have a much wider appeal.  First, a discussion of how the running shoe-industrial complex came into being and has really bamboozled almost everyone with no proof that they improve a runner’s performance or prevent injury.  Secondly, is a great discussion about human evolution and an argument that humans have literally evolved to be running creatures.  Not running predators like cheetahs or wolves but rather persistence hunters.

John Dies @ the End by David Wong:  I picked this up on a whim and am very glad I did.  This book really defies any sort of summation but it is a horror-humor mix.  Allow me to quote one passage from the book to give you a feel for it:

A group of men carrying what had to be rifles stood around the vehicle, and John immediately reached out and punched the switch to kill his headlights.  Then it occurred to him that the lights suddenly going off might have been more noticeable.  So he punched them back on, thought he saw two of the men turn toward him, and then quickly turned the lights back off again.  Now he felt the stobing of his headlights was almost impossible not to notice; in fact, all of the men seemed to be looking up the hill at him.  The group might have either pursued him or raised their rifles to perforate his windshield had a gorilla riding a giant crab not leapt out of the woods and eaten two of them.

Dear readers, no amount of context would explain that paragraph.  The whole book makes you feel a bit disoriented like you’re just a bit thick and not getting it but its enjoyable enough to wait what passes for answers and resolution.  It elicited a dozen or so laughs out loud and a bunch of smirks so check it out if you want some light entertainment.

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman:  I’ve collected a small library of vegetarian cookbooks since going to the dark side way back in 1997 but this may allow me to throw all of them away.  It’s absolutely brilliant covering all the cooking basics, ideas for altering recipes and addressing all those vegetables you see in the supermarket and have no idea what to do with them.  The author assumes no cooking skill on the part (hence the instructions for making a green salad) but don’t assume the simple recipes are tasteless or boring.  I’ve done 5 or so meals out of this book so far (it’s massive at 800-900 pages) and each has been a hit.  In fact, I’ve officially made my wife a fan of cauliflower, something she swore she didn’t like at all.

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