Books I loved sticking my nose in this year: Part III

 Rounding up the books I’m enjoying the most this year! I know, I know, it’s only September, but just the thought of making lists like these in December – which appears to be kind of mandatory for bloggers – makes me feel exhausted. I’m getting off to a head-start.

First, I rounded up 3 awesome true-story books about journeys and adventures.
Part I here
Then we moved on to the fiction books I found particularly original and exciting.
Part II here

This week, let’s look at… 

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…the ones that taught me to eat like a champ

In defense of food, Michael Pollan 1 //  In Defense of Food: An eater’s manifesto by Michael Pollan

Mandatory for anyone slightly interested in health, nutrition, and the catastrophe that is SAD (Standard American Diet). Pollan’s mantra goes a little something like this:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” 

Should be simple enough, right?

But it’s NOT in today’s society, because so much of what’s on the shelves in supermarkets have been processed and fiddled with in laboratories to the point where it’s not even food anymore. It’s just an experiment of refining food to the unrecognizable and playing around with ‘nutritional’ lego bricks. The most interest part of the book for me was reading about the age of “nutritionism”: how everything basically went awry as soon as scientists where able to break down food into molecules vitamins, minerals, omega-this and fiber-that. Cue the inevitable…. politics got involved. There’s money to be made here, folks.

I don’t respond well to people pointing fingers and saying, “the reason your health isn’t optimal is because you’re not eating well enough. make better choices” – you being any one of us in modern Western society.

What I love, however, are these guys like Pollan who educate us in how we got f***ed, basically, by the Big Guys: The meat industry. The dairy industry. The GMO companies. And the politicians trying to protect their interests.

When someone says, “we know you’re trying your hardest, and it’s actually not your fault that you’re not eating nourishing enough food! and the choices you make from here on out DO matter! let’s educate ourselves on the subject and make a difference where we can”….. that’s when I listen 😉

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Nourishing wisdom, marc david2 // Nourishing Wisdom: A mind-body Approach to Nutrition and Well-being by Marc David 

Marc David is the guy who founded the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, and he has an immense amount of knowledge in nutrition and  nutritional psychology.

In this book he argues is that there really is no such thing as “good food” or “bad food”. In order to have a healthy relationship with food – and good health, of course – we need to get our heads out of the science behind nutrition and try to be more grounded in a mind-body approach to eating. Yes, yes and yes!

Total game-changer for me. I loved this book so much that I actually wrote a post about back in May which you can check out here.

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Clean, Alejandro Junger

3 // Clean by Alejandro Junger, M.D. 

This is one of the last books I read, and I only just finished it last week.

It’s a nutritional detox program, developed by Dr. Junger that is meant to restore the body’s natural ability to heal itself. It’s a very revealing book with lots of “inconvenient truths” about how our bodies are constantly bombarded with toxins through our food, our homes, our environment.

The thing is that our bodies are this incredible machines that have ability to get rid of all these toxins, but all the toxins we consume constantly in the 21st century blocks this ability. I like the metaphor with the band-aid: one of the basic things Mom teaches us when we’re kids is that if we scratch our knees, put a band-aid and don’t pick on it. The wound will heal by itself as long as you get out of the way. It’s basically no different when it comes to our illnesses.

Haven’t finished it yet, but it’s for sure one of the most interesting (and scary…!) reads of mine this year!

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 4// BONUS! The documentaries… 

 Some of these I’ve seen before, but they’ve all been revisited this year. Must-sees for those of you interested in health and diet.

Hungry For Change – true story: this was the  straw that broke the camel’s back. I watched this in March and started green-juicing the next day. Haven’t looked back since.

Food Inc. – Oldie, but goodie. A little bit more controversy-y and focuses a lot on the politics involved in farming and the big animal-based food industries in the US.

Forks over knives – argues the case of vegetarianism and benefits of getting protein from plant foods vs. animal foods, and that all the ‘Western diseases’ are linked to animal foods; heart disease, diabetes etc. One of the most memorable points made is that we could put an end to hunger today if we took all the grains used to feed cattle and give it to starving world citizens instead. Yup. And cattle is supposed to eat grass anyway, so we’re only messing with nature feeding them all these grains.

Food matters – from the people behind Hungry for Change.

Fat, sick, and nearly dead – a documentary film following an Australian guy who goes on a month long juice cleanse to save his life, and travels through the US to gain awareness about it. Funny, uplifting, inspiring, and will teach you a lot.

May I be Frank? – the guys working at Café Gratitude in San Francisco take on a project: sick, depressed and overweight Frank who wants to fall in love one more time before he dies. And you guessed it… he has to change his diet and lifestyle and learn to love himself first. Awww… this movie is hilarious and very touching at the same time.

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I hope you’re feeling inspired to learn a little bit more about nutrition and diet!  

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Books I loved sticking my nose in this year: Part II

 Rounding up the books I’m enjoying the most this year! I know, I know, it’s only September , but just the thought of making lists like these in December – which appears to be kind of mandatory for bloggers – makes me feel exhausted. I’m getting off to a head-start.

A couple of weeks ago I rounded up 3 awesome true-story books about journeys and adventures that I have read so far this year.
Part I here

This week, let’s look at… 

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…the ones that brought something new to the table

1 // ROOM by Emma Donoghue 'Room' by Emma Donoghue

Original. That’s the main thing you need to know about this book.

It’s about a girl who was kidnapped at 21 and has been locked in a Old Nick’s shed for the past 6 or 7 years. In captivity, she gives birth to a son who she names Jack. We get to know what their life is like in Room, follow their dramatic escape, and take part their struggle to adjust to freedom and a normal life – which is terrifying for Jack, since he’s never known anything other than life in Room.

The twist is that whole story is told through Jack, which makes it an unforgettable read. I’ve never read anything like it – definitely haunting (but also a celebration of courage and resilience, so it’s wasn’t all horrible, thank God).

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2 // The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky'Perks of being a wallflower' book

A coming-of-age story with lots of heart and lots of wisdom!

Taking place in high school, it’s about a socially awkward and shy freshman – a wallflower – named Charlie who becomes friends with a quirky and exciting group of people. He basically falls in love with all of them (one girl in particular) and with the person he is when he’s with them, and the books is a little bit like an ode to being on the fringes of life and adulthood.

The story is a lot of more layered and thought-out than I first expected, so I was really pleasantly surprised by this book. It deals with some  serious issues and some very emotional and sensitive subjects. You’ve probably heard or seen this quote from the book:

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

Sigh… Ain’t that the truth!

(No, I haven’t watched the movie, because as much as I try to like her and find endearing qualities,  I just cannot stand Emma Watson…)

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3 // Aleph + the Valkyries + the Pilgrimage + Manual of the Warrior of Light by Paulo Coelho

paulo coelho books collage

Soooo… I’ve been on a bit of a Paulo Coelho roll.

I adore Paulo Coelho, but  it’s almost like I adore everything that he stands for more than I can claim to adore all of his books – because I’m way behind…! Over the past few years, I’d only read The Alchemist, Eleven Minutes and Veronika Decides to Die. My true fascination and love for him actually comes from reading and watching interviews with him. To me, he represents magic and possibilities. The belief that you can become anything you set your mind to become, and that dreams and wishes are powerful things which should never be suppressed.

Well, I finally got around to it and tackled the stack of Coelho books I had sitting in my bookcase.

Aleph ⋙ a journey of self-discovery and a very personal novel. This one really struck a chord with me because it deals with Coelho’s own real-life crisis of faith. I find it immensely comforting to know that even spiritual leaders have times when they feel frustrated and angry and at a stand-still and questions the freakin’ point of it all. A very interesting insight into Coelho’s life.

the Valkyries ⋙ I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this to people who think that Paulo Coelho is “a little bit out there” as it is. I mean, the book is about a journey through the Mojave desert that Coelho and his wife undertook to try to meet his guardian angel – in the most literal sense. It contains lots of accounts of magic, rituals and angels; that kinda thing. But for me who – let’s face it – is “a little bit out there” myself, it was a wonderful read! It’s a fascinating story, and like ‘Aleph’, it focuses on the human being behind the spiritual, untouchable wise author/”magus” version of Coeolho.

the Pilgrimage ⋙ A must-read, plain and simple. The story of Coelho’s pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela back in the 80s. It’s one of the first books he published, some 20 years ago. This book was especially interesting to read because my cousin, on his gap year after graduating high school, embarked on this pilgrimage by himself in March. I think he’s by far one the coolest people I know for doing that. How many 19-year-old guys do you know who went on a pilgrimage by themselves instead of boozing it up in Thailand with their friends for 3 months? He is downright awesome, and my hat’s off to him. I hope he knows that.

Manual of the Warrior of Light ⋙ what a beautiful little gem! A summary of Coelho’s teachings, it can be described as a compilation of short philosophical passages. A heart-warming read!

“In order to have faith in his own path, he does not need to prove that someone else’s path is wrong.”

“Warriors of light are not perfect.Their beauty lies in accepting this fact and still desiring to grow and to learn.”

“The only trap I must beware not to fall into, is to think that each day is the same as the next. In fact, each morning brings with it a hidden miracle, and we must pay attention to this miracle.”

“To travel is the experience of ceasing to be the person you are trying to be, and becoming the person you really are.”

Sitting on my nightstand, I have ‘By The River Piedra I sat Down And Wept‘ and ‘Manuscript found in Accra‘. Let the marathon continue!

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Have you read any fiction books this year that brought some new ideas; that you found original and exciting? 

 

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Books I loved sticking my nose in this year

I read lots of different kinds of books (as well as blogs, magazines, online newspapers, celebrity gossip sites, and oh yeah – heaps of academic journals and textbooks… sometimes I don’t know how I have room for my own words in my head when it’s so filled with other people’s rants).

The only type of books I don’t read are crime novels. Booooooring. There’s a murder/disappearance, a detective/policeman/PI, and a villain (always the one the author means for you not to suspect). Ain’t nobody got time for that. 

I thought I’d start rounding up the books I’m enjoying the most this year. I know, I know, it’s not even September yet, but just the thought of making lists like these in December – which appears to be kind of mandatory for bloggers – makes me feel exhausted. I’m getting off to a head-start. I’m thinking I’ll probably divide this into categories, and I’ll start with… 

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…the ones who are on a journey

I find reading about other people’s adventures, travels and journeys incredibly uplifting. These are the three books about adventure that I enjoyed the most so far this year, and I would be so stoked if you had any tips or recommendations for me! Drop me a sentence in the comments 😉

1 // Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer 1997 book

I’ve been wanting to read this book since 2007, given that the Sean Penn-directed film adaptation is one of my all-time favorite movies. And that’s saying a lot, cause I’m a serious film buff and discussing movies is probably the only time that I don’t idly throw around terms like “greatest”, “best” and “favorite”. But you know, life happened, and it wasn’t until six years later that I found the time to read the book by Jon Krakauer.

It chronicles the true story of young Chris McCandless who came from a well-off family in West Virginia, but didn’t quite want to “give in” to society and its expectations of him. After graduating Emerson University in 1991, he gave away all his money and almost all his possessions and started traveling the country, basically running away from modern Western society. In the spring of 1992 he hitch-hiked to Alaska and walked into the wild by himself. He was found dead out there in the wilderness the following fall.

The book uses McCandless’ own journal to tell the story of his last months out in the Alaskan wilderness, and narratives from his family as well as all the people he met on his travels around the country, to try and make sense of the whole tragedy.

Loved it, loved it, loved it. This story is so dear to me, for some reason. This kid, and his life, really made an impression on me ever since the first time I saw the movie a long time ago. Whatever your interpretation of McCandless’ actions are and however you feel about it, Into the Wild will definitely make you think.

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2 // WildWild by Cheryl Strayed  by Cheryl Strayed 

This was one of the most successful books of last year, so there’s plenty of reviews and Oprah interviews floating around the web for you to look at. Basically it’s a memoir by a woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (from the Mexican border to the Canadian border) by herself in the 90s.

Yes, I realize I’m being a little bit self-involved as usual, but here’s how this book relates back to me:
Back in 2007 I watched Into the Wild (see above) for the first time. And in a montage of some of the places McCandless’ passed through on his journeys in North America, there is a short clip – probably 5 to 10 seconds total – of him on the Pacific Crest Trail. The moment I saw it, I jumped up in my seat and my mouth dropped. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I. Have. To. Go. There.

Since then, I’ve been fascinated with the PCT and have watched plenty of Youtube documentaries and read blogs online about people doing it. I just know somehow that I’m meant to go there – maybe not to do the hole 3-4 month trek, but at least a section of it and to see it with my own eyes. And last year, the lovely Cheryl Strayed published a book about hiking the PCT alone as a female, and I nearly lost my shit.
This is a sign, I thought.

Don’t read this, Mom, but truth be told, the PCT has been one of the top 5 on my bucket list for six years now and it is happening. Don’t know when, don’t know how, but  it’s happening.

Map of Pacific Crest Trail

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3 // the Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel FriedmanThe Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost

Another memoir! Whohoo!

So this one’s by an American chick who was always the typical good-girl, and felt like she had to experience some sort of adventure before real life would set in after graduating college. She went to Ireland by herself for one summer where she met a free-spirited Australian girl who would become her friend and partner-in-crime in future travel adventures. The book is basically divided into 3 parts: Ireland, Australia, and South America – the three places these two girls backpacked together.

I read this on the plane on my way over to Oz and loved reading about Rachel’s travels in Australia, of course. But the most exciting part was by far reading about their travels in South America! Especially because they split up and actually spent the first weeks traveling by themselves, which is something I’ve always wished I had the balls to do. I’ve done my fair share of moving new places, taking little trips, and generally doing stuff on my own, but I’ve never undertaken a longer trip by myself.

I have so much respect and awe for the people who go backpacking on a different continent by themselves (especially women), and I not-so-secretly hope that I’ll have the courage to do it someday (soon!).

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What books, fiction or non-fiction, about journeys or adventure have you read lately that you loved? 

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