Even More Reads and Views


Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan - This may be one of the best books I've ever read, and should be required reading for everyone. Regardless of what you eat, this book will shed some perspective on a ton of different things related to food (and I talked more about what it meant to me here). Pollan presents a variety of very intricate topics and facts, and makes it accessible to the average reader. It may just change your life.

Cleaved, by Julie Powell - Simply put, the Julie that is presented in this book is quite different than the one presented in the movie or book of Julie and Julia. She is darker, more damaged, but it's an intensely personal - and, one assumes, true - look at her own life, the life outside of the Project. Along the way you learn a lot about the life of a butcher, a path probably not too many would have predicted for her. I would suggest you read Julie and Julia first, just because reading this one first - as we did - will probably color how you approach her more well-known book.

In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan - This follow-up to Omnivore's Dilemma is meant as a simple guideline, a reaction to many people asking Pollan what people should be eating given the findings in the previous book. It's a remarkably easy answer, but Pollan backs up his mantra - "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." - with more very clear, easy to understand facts and logic. If it seems like I'm pushing this, I'm sorry - it just makes entirely too much sense to me to do otherwise.

Pirate Latitudes, by Michael Crichton - This is Crichton's post-humous release. I have mixed feelings about these kinds of things, because often they are missing the final updates by the author who knew the book best - you know, because he's dead and all. Another person simply isn't going to have the story as complete in their own mind and won't have the same frame of reference coming from the research done by the original author. They said this book as found complete, but I would guess that's not entirely true; had it been complete, it would have been turned over to a publisher. It's not a bad book, it's just not as sharp and polished as we expect from a Crichton novel. (I have the same feeling about all of those crappy 2Pac albums that came out after his death - if he wanted the songs released because he thought they were good, they would have been out already.) Crichton fans may be a little disappointed, but it's still entertaining and a fast read.

Committed, by Elizabeth Gilbert - This is the followup book to Eat. Pray. Love. - which yes, even though I'm male I did read and I did enjoy. It explores Gilbert's reluctance to step back into marriage - which makes sense given the divorce that plunged her into what became the previous book - until she was faced with the decision to marry again. It's chock full of personal inteviews from various cultures and detailed history of the institution of marriage itself. This book is also obviously a personal story, meaning the conclusions drawn aren't necessarily applicable to everyone (and Gilbert says as much); however, it's still enlightening. If you liked Eat. Pray. Love., you'll like this.

Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell - If you have seen the movie - which it seems like a lot of America, especially foodies, has - then I highly encourage you to read the book. For one, it tells a slightly different story. It's not that the book has any more or less drama than the movie, it's just different drama. For example, in the book Eric never walks out on her...which seems like a key thing one would want to be accurate on. I'm a big fan of Powell's writing style, but I know from reading various other opinions and reviews it's not for everyone. I've dug up a link to her original blog and intend to read that also at some point, but that's a lot of reading. The book is like the behind the scenes story of the project - and it's fascinating.

Snuff, by Chuck Palahniuk - Palahniuk - you may know him as "that guy who wrote Fight Club" - is absolutely, definitely, not for everyone. Mom, I would suggest not reading Chuck. His books are full of basically the raunchiest and weirdest crap you can come up with, and while it's not necessarily my cup of tea, I can't look away either. This one's premise is basically a porn star who plans on killing herself by setting a record - if you want to know more at this point, you are already going to read the book. If you don't, you aren't his target audience anyway. Palahniuk is hardly the first author to write this style of fiction (just the first I was exposed to, via Fight Club), but he won't be the last where at the end of the book you ask: "What the hell is that guy on?!"


500 Days of Summer - This movie was intriguing - both of us like Zooey Deschanel - but it was horribly depressing. It's probably more accurate than most Hollywood drivel, but that doesn't make it happy. Not a big fan of the male lead, Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

The Hangover - How, exactly, had we not seen this movie yet?! Good question - even better after we saw it and realized why everyone loved it so much. Funny, entertaining - and Mike Tyson! Thumbs up.

Funny People - Contrary to what the title of the movie may lead you to believe, this is not funny. It had it's moments, sure, but in the end it just wasn't a comedy. A drama with funny points? Sure. Not a comedy though.

Terminator Salvation - The first rule of a Terminator movie is never to expect a full-fledged story but to instead be impressed with the special effects and the body count. This one is no exception. It was probably an hour longer than it needed to be.

Post Grad - On the surface this should have been a solid movie. The main characters were that girl from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Alexis Bledel) and the quarterback from Friday Night Lights (Zach Gilford), two actors we enjoy. Unfortunately, the script was horrible and the story never seemed to be going anywhere. It didn't stand apart in any way and just seemed muddled. I wanted to like it, but can't.

All About Steve - In something that has increasingly become surprising to me, apparently I'm a fan of Sandra Bullock. She might be a bit wacky - or more than a bit - but she's also funny and, dare I say it, cute. Plus, Bradley Cooper is pretty dang entertaining himself. However, those two carried this movie, because the script wasn't the best. Glad it didn't have a typical Hollywood ending.

A Walk in the Clouds - The story here wasn't too bad, even as improbable as it was. Since it was set just after WWII, perhaps people were more trusting then, because bringing home a random guy for the weekend and telling your psycho dad he's your husband because your professor knocked you up just seems a little crazy to me. Oh yeah, and Keanu Reeves is a horrible actor.

Whip It - Add Ellen Page to the list of actresses we both like. Her humor and the delivery of her lines makes her always entertaining, and the supporting actors (Eve, Kristen Wiig, etc.) really made this work. Could have done without Drew Barrymore's character myself, but I suppose when you direct the movie you can put yourself in it too. Thumbs up.

Wedding Crashers - Wifey and I watched this the night before my sister was married (Congrats Sis!) to get in the wedding mood. Not sure it's really all that great for that, but it was entertaining. I don't think I'd say it was good, but you can't really expect that from anything starring Owen Wilson.

Surrogates - I used to be a big Bruce Willis fan, but in this movie he just came across as, well, old. I had low expectations going into this wack robot body replacement movie murder mystery - and they were met exactly. I'm sure it was a great comic book.

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