Book Review | How to be Vegan

How to Be Vegan: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Cruelty-Free Eating, Living, Dating, Travel, Decorating, and More by Elizabeth Castoria

I like this book a lot so I have a lot of notes to take here. For you and for me later.

Five “start-here” books:

Eating Animals, by Jonathan Sarfran Foer – I’ve read this, and I really enjoyed it. I was already vegetarian when I read it and it has just pushed me to go further. Wonderful book. I agree with it being on this list and being the first one on this list!

The Face on Your Plate by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson – I have not read this but it is on my list now!

Finding Ultra by Rich Roll – No, not Rick Roll. The whole title helps here: …Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself. Yep, adding to shortlist.

The Lean by Kathy Freston – Rest of the title… A Revolutionary (and Simple!) 30-Day Plan for Healthy, Lasting Weight Loss. I’m not into diet books. I don’t need them anymore and I may be missing something, but I think I’m good here.

The average man in the United States has a 50 percent chance of having a heart attack. The average for vegan men? Four percent.

Books by Nutritionist:

Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina – 611 pages and only 8 ratings on Goodreads. Hmmm. We will see about this one.

Q: Where do you get your protein? A: From plants. Protein deficiency is essentially unheard of among people who are consuming enough food to meet their daily calorie needs.

Q: What about omegas and iron? A: You guessed it: you can easily get these from plants as well. Spinach is a powerhouse iron provider; omegas are easily found in flax and other seeds.

Q: What about calcium? A: Again, plants….dairy actually drains calcium from your bones as it is digested. Leafy greens are packed with calcium as are sesame seeds and tofu.

What about clothes? Some links to online places to get vegan stuff:

Vegan Shampoos:

  • ABBA
  • Adama
  • Alba Botanica
  • Beauty Without Cruelty
  • Giovanni
  • John Frieda
  • Kiss My Face
  • L’Oreal EverPure
  • Nature’s Gate
  • Paul Mitchell
  • Peter Lamas


  • Desert Essence
  • Jason
  • Nature’s Gate
  • Tom’s of Maine

Cleaning Product Brands:

  • Bon Ami
  • Ecover
  • Method
  • Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day
  • Seventh Generation

More Books:

  • Beg: A Radical New Way of Regarding Animals by Rory Freedman
  • Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat by Howard F. Lyman, Glen Merzer
  • Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life by Brendan Brazier
  • Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet by Jack Norris, Ginny Messina


Other Resources:

Reading More

Books, Books, Books and more Books“Books, Books, Books and more Books” by Chiot’s Run is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

8 Ways to Read (a Lot) More Books This Year is a must-read article for any bibliophile. Neil Pasricha wrote this article back in 2017, and everything in it still pertains to today. I really like a lot of the content on Harvard Business Review (HBR) and this article is no different. If you are like me you like reading about reading. It’s meta I know. Book geeks are deep man!

If you are a reader you won’t hesitate to read the article. Even though HBR has a paygate the first two are free a month, so you can read this one free! Just incase you already used your 2 freebies this month, here are some highlights.

  • Centralize Reading in Your Home – Basically, make it easy to read, keep them close, and reduce other distractions, like social media and television.
  • Make a public commitment – Like posting your challenge on GoodReads, I know, I know that’s social media, but its book geek social media so everything in moderation right?
  • Book Lists! – I love a good book list and Goodreads is full of them, but if you need more I would recommend: The New Lifetime Reading Plan, Book Lust, and More Book Lust.
  • Change Your Mindset about Quitting – No one is going to call you a quitter! Give a book a few chapters and if you don’t like it, pass it on. Slogging through a book is the quickest way to get you off reading for the rest of the year if not longer.
  • Take a break from magazines and newspapers and fill that time with reading books.
  • Churn Rate – Keep the books moving on the shelf, don’t leave the same ones on there all the time. Make changes to what is on the shelf, so you stop and look instead of passing the bookshelf again for the thousandth time.
  • A little adds up – Just because you can’t sit down with an hour of uninterrupted time and your favorite drink, doesn’t mean you don’t have time yo read. Take it short spurts if you need to. Read a little here and a little there. Something is better than nothing and all these little reading spurts will add up to books completed.
  • Change up your medium, this one is not in Neil’s article, but I listen to audiobooks, read on a kindle, and read print books. I like to read print books when the lighting is good in the daytime and I switch to the Kindle at night and don’t worry about if I’m near a lamp, as the device is backlit, this would work with an iPad too. Lastly, audiobooks help a great deal. When I’m out for a walk or during my daily commute I listen to audiobooks.

Book Review | Where the Water Goes

Where the Water Goes by David Owen follows David as he explores the Colorado river from start to finish. What he learns along the way about the “law of the river” he shares with the reader. A must for anyone reading this work is David’s web page containing pictures of everything he talks about in the book. The book does not contain any pictures outside of a map in the front.

Horseshoe Bend“Horseshoe Bend” by michelnocture is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I believe this book would have been too dry (see what I did there?) with anyone else narrating the story. David Owen weaves a bit of the story of others into the story as well as weaving in his own story and travels into, the history and law of the river.

How we (mostly me in Southern California) get our water consist of a very complex network of laws and crazy rules. It is amazing it works. I learned a lot about all of it and I’m glad I read this book.

the lake today contains only about thirty-eight percent as much water as it did in 1998

David Owen

Genevieve Valentine writes a great review of this book for NPR, that is a great overview and a better review than I have written here.

Book Review | The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life

The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Babauta

The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Babauta seems to be recommended reading by every other minimalist. I finally got to it and I’ve got to say his book is minimalist at only 105 pages.

All good stuff in here and it’s a great primer for starting out or just seeing what this minimalist thing is all about. Not to mention a good quick read. Nothing crazy in here either which I really liked.

Some of Leo’s favorite blogs:


2019 Books in Review

In 2019 I read 54 books. That’s 8,579 pages. For audiobooks, I listened to just under two days of audio. 30% of my reading was graphic novels, of those mostly Star Wars comics from Marvel. Following closely was Kindle books at 28% of my reading. Followed by audiobooks and finally, hardcovers mostly form the library.

Speaking of the library, I saved $557.13 by visiting the library and not buying those books. I was gifted one book and an author reached out and gave me their book as well.

I read almost twice as many books in 2019 as I did in 2018. Most of the books I read this past year were actually published in 2016. My average book length was 209 pages. My average rating for books on GoodReads was 3.7. Overwhelmingly the books I read were written by US authors (37). And although I want to read more books by female authors, the books I read were by men (44 to 10).

My favorite books in 2019 (in the order I read them):

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  2. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  3. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  4. Star Wars Vol.1 Skywalker Strikes by Jason Aaron
  5. The Public Library by Robert Dawson
  6. The Little Free Library Book by Margret Aldrich
  7. We are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer
  8. Tales from the Open Road: The Adventures and Misadventures of RV Living by Joe Russo

Review | Tales from the Open Road (We’re the Russos)

Tales From the Open Road: The Adventures and Misadventures of RV Living (We're the Russos Book 2)
We’re The Russos Book 2

First, a disclaimer, Joe, and Kait sent me a Kindle version of the book. They didn’t ask me to review it here and my review is my own. Tales From the Open Raod: The Adventures of RV Living is Joe Russo’s second book. The first book Take Risks: One Couple’s Journey to Quit Their Jobs and Hit the Open Road was book one. I’ve already reviewed that book here in 2018 and you can read the review by clicking on the link above.

I’m a big fan of the Russos. I’ve been a subscriber to their YouTube channel since before Joe’s first book. As you can guess from the titles of the books, they are a couple from Los Angeles that quit their jobs, bought an RV and started traveling the US. This, however, as Joe explains in the most recent book was not early retirement.

I recommend reading the books in order as the first book does a good job of covering the period when they decided to make this leap. This second book goes into how. It covers the trials and tribulations of driving and finding parking for a large RV. And it also begins the story of them looking for a smaller RV. While there is a path forward mentioned in the book, we don’t actually find out in the book what happens next, but for all the YouTube followers of the Russo’s we already know how that story ends.

Joe’s writing flows well and while simple really works for me. It’s a fun read and I really liked getting to know more of the details as a YouTube follower I didn’t see all the behind the scenes information that Joe shares in the book. My only complaint is that I wish there was more in the book. More details and more of the class B journey. That said I think it takes tremendous bravery to share your story in a book and even more to share it on a medium like YouTube where the Internet trolls will offer unsolicited feedback on everything that makes it into a video.

Regardless of what the Russo’s do next, I look forward to following their journey on YouTube and in print!

Review | New Minimalism: Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living

New Minimalism: Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living
New Minimalism by Cary Telander Fortin, Kyle Louise Quilici

I picked up New Minimalism by Cary Telander Fortin, Kyle Louise Quilici from my local library. The book describes a middle ground between “I live with only 4 things” and hoarders.

As you can tell from all the links and extra books listed I really enjoyed this book. I’m recommending it to my wife next. I think she will find some real nuggets that will help her.

I enjoyed the practicality. The tagline for the books is:

Your external space reflects your internal state. What does your home say about you?

Cary Telander Fortin and Kyle Louise Quilici

Some notes from the book that I want to remember are:

Philosophy books:


Simple Wardrobes:


Design Books:

Design Websites:

Mammoth Lakes Library

Mammoth Lakes Library (outside)
Mammoth Lakes Library (outside)

I recently read The Public Library, an amazing book written by Robert Dawson. Dawson, traveled and took pictures of libraries around the world. He made an effort to photography libraries that were in affluent and struggling communities. I love books about books, but this one was such a fantastic idea and so easy to execute myself.

Mammoth Lakes Library (stacks)
Mammoth Lakes Library (stacks)

While on a recent vacation to Mammoth in the mountains of California. I convinced my wife to stop by the local library to take some pictures and explore. It didn’t take long and it was a beautiful library. The library was opened in 2007. I also felt much more a part of the community sharing in their local library.

Mammoth Lakes Library (the view)
Mammoth Lakes Library (the view)

The two-story library looked new and was beautiful inside, with lots of movies and audiobooks on the first floor as well as a young readers section. On the second floor, we found the children’s area a MakerSpace and the rest of the collection. A very good size for a small town.

Mammoth Lakes Library
Mammoth Lakes Library

Next time you are on vacation make a quick stop at the local library. You might just learn something. I’ll make an effort to do more spotlights on libraries as I am able to. This was fun for me and I hope it gave you all something fun to read and maybe encourages you to visit a library soon!

A Bit of World Culture | A River in Darkness

A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa

A World Book Day purchased for free on Amazon in order to read books from authors that are outside of the US. I was excited to read this book from an author born outside of the US and written about a country I will probably never visit. As you might imagine from the title the book was very sad. It made me even more thankful for all the things I have and fortune to be able to provide for my family. It would be interesting to see what else has happened to Mr. Ishikawa since the book was published.

The 172 page book was originally published in 2000, but I think the fact that it was a featured book on World Book Day and the fact that it was free, really helped the sales. It currently has 25,500 ratings at a 4.26 rating on goodreads.

The author tells of his impossibly difficult life in North Korea and his eventual escape from the oppressive country. I gave this book 4 stars.