The Week In Books, No. 25

I feel like the only posts I’ve been doing lately are book posts – and I feel that way because it’s true. Sorry. I don’t have as time as I much used to have!

I expected I would really like “The Children of Hurin
” because it’s by J.R.R. Tolkein. Maybe I built it up too much, but I found this book to be terribly disappointing. I never started caring about the characters, or if they lived or died, and the story never really grabbed me. I sort of slogged through it, figuring I should finish it. The pace of the book was way off, with some unimportant segments taking forever to get through, while other more crucial plot twists given short shrift.

Unless you’re a super enthused Lord of the Rings fan, I’d suggest you skip this book. If you are a super enthused Lord of the Rings fan, you might like it. And by “super enthused Lord of the Rings fan,” I mean the kind of fan who has tried to teach himself the Elf language, and/or who has a collection of ceramic Lord of the Rings figurines, especially if said collection includes one or more weapons of any size, and if the collection is housed in a backlit oak curio cabinet devoted exclusively to Lord of the Rings paraphenalia. Or if you have a costume so you can dress up as a Lord of the Rings character. Or if you named any of your children Frodo.

OK, I’m done being a snob now. Heh heh.

This week I read a truly fascinating book titled “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
.” The author, an investigative journalist, followed four different types of meals down to their smallest component parts in our food system.

First, he discusses the economics, government policies, and marketing that drive the conventional food system (as well as an analysis of the content of that food, it’s actual price, and the science that enables us to make about 90% of our diets out of corn).

Next, the narrative turns to conventional organic foods (such as you find at the grocery store, or the health food store) and if you’re really getting what you think you are (you probably aren’t).

Third, the book covers local farm/sustainable agriculture along the original organic model. This section expands on the nutritional and long-term benefits of natural eating, but also digresses to an examination of the animal rights movement.

Finally, Pollan hunts and gathers a meal from around his home in northern California and readers learn about the ins and outs of foraging for mushrooms, hunting wild boar, and an ill-fated attempt to collect salt from the San Francisco Bay.

The book is witty, highly engaging, and written in a conversational tone that is informative but never boring or too teach-y. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has even a passing interest in the world around us, whether or not you particularly care about food.

Currently Reading:
2 Chronicles, Psalms, Mark, Hebrews
“The Inheritance of Loss” by Kiran Desai

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