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:

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:


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:

Book Review | The Awakening

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Widely considered a classic now, The Awakening by Kate Chopin was at at its publishing in 1899, considered controversial for the way that Chopin depicted immoral and frank depictions of female sexual desire and for its depiction of a protagonist who chafed against social norms and established gender roles.

Within a decade of her death she was considered a leading feminist writer for her time. Unfortunately, this often happened for female authors of this time.

The writing is superb. My review on goodreads is short but precise:

Wonderfully written! An ending I did not see coming as well. Really enjoyed this. Upsetting that Chopin was not recognized for her talents while she was still alive.

I’m just a reader who enjoyed this book and gave it five stars. I don’t feel qualified to give it a full analysis, but luckily for us others on youtube have already done this.

Grumpy Old Men | Waiting for Godot Book Review

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Remember Grumpy Old Men?

Grumpier Old Men Trailer

This book was written in 1952 well before the movie and its basically the same thing. What I originally wrote in my goodreads review was:

Strange play. Two guys that are waiting for someone who never comes. They are mean to each other and at least one seems to be a vagrant. The run into an old mean guy that has memory issues. This play is short only 100 pages, but I just summed it up 4 sentences. You’re welcome.

And that really does sum up Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. I thought it was funny and short. It gets three stars from me.

Sleeping Giants a Science Fiction Mystery

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Giants was a real surprise to me. I was given this book at a Comic-Con years ago and when I finally picked it up I was blown away. It is a great science fiction story. A young girl finds some metal protruding from the ground and that small discovery turns the world upside down and begins a lifetime of searching. What they discover will change all their lives and the lives of everyone on earth.

Sleeping Giants Signed
Sleeping Giants Signed

This is only the first book in a trilogy called The Themis Files. I grabbed the other two books after reading the first and had the author Sylvain Neuvel sign them at subsequent Comic-Cons in San Deigo. I really enjoyed this book, but as often happens I have been distracted by other great books and I have not gone back to read the other two books in the Themis Files triliogy although I have signed copies. This is why writing about the books on this blog is very helpful for me, because I remember this great books and can finally go back and read them.

I wouldn’t quite call this a hidden gem as it does have 51,000 ratings on goodreads, but It certainly isn’t as popular as some. Most folks over there give it 4 or 5 stars. It earned a sold 4 from me and I said

Excellent book. Lots of action and a great story. Real cliffhanger at the end. I’m looking forward to reading the next one in the series.

Book Review | In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It

In Conclusion, Don't Worry About It
In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham

I really like Lauren Graham. She was wonderful Gilmore Girls, which is where I first saw her. I thought she was a very talented actress. Later I learned that she had also authored some books. I’m a fan of her book, Someday, Someday, Maybe and also enjoyed Talking as Fast as I Can.

Both of these were good books. This book left me dissatisfied. It’s not that the advice in this very short, 52 page book is not good, it just that I don’t think it needed to be a book and I don’t know what the reasoning for publishing it was other than maybe that Graham was getting a lot of press at the time since Gilmore Girls had come back on Netflix for four episodes.

Below is the book blurb…

In this expansion of the 2017 commencement speech she gave at her hometown Langley High, Lauren Graham, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood, reflects on growing up, pursuing your dreams, and living in the here and now. “Whatever path you choose, whatever career you decide to go after, the important thing is that you keep finding joy in what you’re doing, especially when the joy isn’t finding you.” In her hilarious, relatable voice, Graham reminds us to be curious and compassionate, no matter where life takes us or what we’ve yet to achieve. Grounded and inspiring—and illustrated throughout with drawings by Graham herself—here is a comforting road map to a happy life.

Thats just it, they could have just done a blog post or youtube the speech, it didn’t need to be expanded. Anyway, I still like Graham her writing and acting, I just don’t see a need for this book to exist. Save your time and read her other better works, or binge on the Gilmore Girls. I graciously gave this book 3 stars.

Book Review | The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault of Our Stars by John Green is an insanely popular book, with just shy of 3 million ratings on Goodreads. The book came first but soon became a major motion picture.

The Fault of Our Stars Movie Trailer

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

After I read the book and really enjoyed it, I decided to watch the film. I would say if you are a reader, you don’t need to watch the movie, it in no way adds to the book you have already read. The acting was okay, but the story in the book is so much more, as usually is the case with books.

Initially I didn’t really want to read this book. Mostly because it was so popular and all the reviews say that the book made them cry. I’m not super emotional, but I don’t want to read books that are sad just because they are sad.

I want to read books that give me something to take away. I want to read books that make me better in some way. We don’t have a lot of time why read or do anything for the matter that doesn’t benefit us in some way.

I did learn to value the things and the people in my life much more than I was currently doing. We all know this is important but sometimes we need a reminder. This is a very good book and a great reminder that what we have in life, whether it is a lot or a little is more than some and we should celebrate and be thankful for that instead of being depressed and always wanting more.

Because of this lesson and really great writing I would recommend this book to most everyone. The story and lesson earned 4 stars out of 5 from me.