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 | Grain Brain

Grain Brain
Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers by David Perlmutter

Grain Brain by David Perlmutter is my second audiobook of the year.  As you can imagine this was somewhat similar to the last audiobook I listened to.  Both books are focusing on wheat and what repercussions it has for those of us who love it and continue to consume it.

Dr. Perlmutter focuses on the impact of wheat on the brain.  Listening to these books at the gym is very purposeful and really makes me push that much harder.  It focuses me on getting healthier.  And the next time I am presented with an option to eat bread it makes me reflect before taking that choice.  Joe Cross, of Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead fame, is famous for saying:

You control the last few inches to your mouth

I’m paraphrasing, but you get it.  We are completely in control of what we are putting in our mouth.  No one is holding a gun to our head and telling us we have to eat eggplant or Doritos.  That choice is ours.  We may be tempted with certain foods, but the ‘last mile’ is all up to us.  We control that and there are no excuses for what we are choosing to put in our mouths.

The other side of the story.  While doing some research for this post I ran across an article by Alex Ruani reviewing the book and warning people not to take everything in the book as literal truth.

Instead, Perlmutter suggests that a low-carb diet is the only way to manage your blood sugar and insulin levels. But, as we know, a high-carbohydrate, low-glycaemic diet can too…
Source: © The Health Sciences Academy ®. All Rights Reserved.
Read more: https://thehealthsciencesacademy.org

I agree that Dr. Perlmutter left some things out of the book.  He encourages drinking red wine, but also says that it is easier to get your Restoril from a supplement.  He doesn’t warn the reader that too much alcohol consumption can be bad for your brain and body.

While I agree with Alex, that you need to practice some common sense and not take everything from any non-fiction book as the truth.  Do some research and use some good common sense.

As a whole, the book is entertaining and educational.  There is much you can take away from this book and I would recommend it without reservation. 3 stars for this education non-fiction best-seller.

Book Review | Wheat Belly

Wheat Belly
Wheat Belly

My first audiobook of 2018.  And I read/listened to this book mostly while at the gym!  What a great way to get through your TBR!  In Wheat Belly Dr. Davis convinces us all that wheat is not what it used to be and the new altered commercially created wheat is not good for a waistband.  I enjoyed reading this book.  I have been very focused on my fitness lately.  I’ve gone vegetarian, since September of last year.  I tried vegan, but I missed breakfast with eggs.  So I compromised and I am eating egg whites.

Dr. Davis succeeded in convincing me that I need to reduce the amount of wheat that I am eating.  I have eaten far too much.  He argues that in fact, it can be addictive.  This I very much agree with.  I find myself craving a muffin, English muffin or just a slice of bread.  Even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich would be very nice.  Bread is “ingrained” in us!  It is in every meal we have.

My family loves eggs in a basket, many people love to have a bagel or just some toast.  Lunch is often a sandwich or a burger with a big fat yummy bun!  Dinner always comes with a dinner roll.  Its everywhere!

This book and Grain Brain have taught me about the glycemic index and many other ways that wheat negatively impacts our health.  Grain Brains extends what I learned in Wheat Belly and speaks about how wheat negatively impacts our cognitive ability.

I liked Wheat Belly and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about eating healthy and being healthy.  It is a great listen.

 

Book Review | Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Wired September 2017
Wired September 2017

In September of last year, I read Jessica Bruder’s article in Wired magazine about retired people living out of the RVs and working for Amazon fulfillment centers, MEET THE CAMPERFORCE, AMAZON’S NOMADIC RETIREE ARMY. It was a very well written article that greatly intrigued me. Later I found out that Bruder was going to be writing a book about the same subject, furthering the article into something substantial. Nomadland is the result of that work. Nomadland is Bruder’s third book and she has written for many magazines.

Nomadland

The book follows a few of these work campers as the work for Amazon and the park system. The pay is low, most time just above minimum wage, but it is usually just enough to get by with.

many of these wandering souls were trying to escape an economic paradox: the collision of rising rents and flat wages

Plus the RV driving retirees take care of each other, helping out where everything they can. Installing solar panels, sharing a meal, or patching up each other’s RV’s when there is damage. Even though they are retired they still work and they work hard. When working for Amazon they walk up to 15 miles a day putting Amazon products on shelves for other work campers to pick up and package for customers.

Amazon Tour
Amazon Tour by Flickr User: Maryland GovPics

Life is not a vacation for these senior citizens. Things are tough for those that lost their retirement savings when the market went bust or had to pay for huge medical bills when an unexpected illness struck. The single largest expense we all have is rent or a mortgage. If you can cut this expense by living in an RV or van or car, then the money you make goes a lot farther. Working for minimum wage really is a minimum then. Things are not good but they are doable…just.

Camper
Camper by Flickr User: Shutter Theory

This book was an insightful look at how those who get paid minimum wage make things work. Some of them live in RVs or cars because they had to decide if they wanted to eat or if they wanted to have four walls around them. Shelter had to take on another form for them. It works for them but there is definitely a stigma attached to living in your car. You are “house” less if no homeless. Without a real address, there are some real hassles to getting things done. Like having a drivers license even. Bruder did a wonderful job making her article for Wired grow into a very good read! I rate this book 4 stars.

Book Review | Take Risks: One Couple’s Journey to Quit Their Jobs and Hit the Open Road

Take Risks
Take Risks

Another book with a long title and if you look at the actual title as it reads on Goodreads it is really: Take Risks: One Couple’s Journey to Quit Their Jobs and Hit the Open Road (We’re the Russos Book 1), which of course tells us that Joe plans on writing a second book. Joe and Kait Russo are a couple that lived and worked in the Los Angeles area. Like many of us in this area, they worked very hard and their perspective companies expected a lot of them every day.

Living this way grew tiresome to the Russos and one day out of nowhere Kait said let’s just leave it all behind and travel. So began the Russos adventure. The non-fiction book chronicles the Russo’s life while they make their transition. In that year, they start researching their options and start shopping for an RV to live out of full-time. They put their house up for sale and have to get rid of most of their possessions.

Were the Russos
Were the Russos

Like many others, I watch Joe and Kait’s adventure via their YouTube channel where they post a weekly video covering their adventures. While watching their videos Joe recommended a book called Walden on Wheels. I had already heard of this book and it was on my to-read pile. Whenever someone talks about books I’m instantly interested and Joe just mentioned a book that was already on my list! So, Walden on Wheels went to the top of my to-read list. While I was reading and enjoying that book, Joe revealed to his YouTube subscribers that he had written a book and it was available on Amazon for download on a Kindle. I was sold. I immediately downloaded the book and began reading right after I had finished Walden on Wheels.

Joe doesn’t disappoint. He dived in with detail on their adventure to buy an RV and start their adventure. But just as they begin their journey, the book ends, which brings us back to the beginning of this post, there will be a second book and I will be reading it! While we wait there is always Joe and Kait’s new videos every week on YouTube. Joe’s first book earned 5 stars from me.

Book Review | Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between

Talking as Fast as I Can
Talking as Fast as I Can

Yes, I am a fan of the Gilmore Girls.  I watched the first show when it was on TV and then later I watched the whole thing through on Netflix just to make sure I had not missed any episodes when it was on TV.

Later I found out that Lauren Graham had written a book, not this book.  A book called Someday, Someday, Maybe.  I was reading a post online (I forget where) and the author was writing about the best audiobooks to listen to and how great it is when the author of the book actually does the audio part as well.  After reading that article I found Someday, Someday, Maybe on audio at my local library and grabbed it.

I really enjoyed that audiobook and realized that Ms. Graham has a real talent for storytelling.  Fast forward a few months and I hear the news that a new Gilmore Girls will be launching.  I was disappointed to discover that it was more of a miniseries, with only 4 episodes.  But at least they did something, and I enjoyed that too.  It seemed to me that it was just enough to wet our appetites, but not enough to quench them.  Really too bad.

Lauren Graham
Lauren Graham from Flickr User: Genevieve

But, reading Someday, Someday, Maybe and watching the new Gilmore Girls on Netflix lead me to of course want to read Ms. Graham’s new book, Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between.  I thought this was going to be a biography of sorts, but it really just focused on what it was like to film the first Gilmore Girls and then when it was done how much she missed it.  It could have been called the book about Gilmore Girls with a really long title.

She says she was very excited to film the new mini-series with Netflix and talks a lot about that project as well.  But again, I was kinda hoping it was going to read more like a biography where we get to learn a little more about Ms. Graham.  Although, it wasn’t like that we still get her witty attitude and funny jokes.  It was a very enjoyable read and as a fan of the show a win for this reader.  I felt this book earned 4 out of 5 stars.  Dinged one only because I wanted it to be more biography.

Book Review | Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom

Walden on Wheels
Walden on Wheels

Joe Russo of We’re The Russo’s recommended Walden on Wheels as a good place to start when researching van life.  If you are not watching their youtube videos you should start.  Kait and Joe are very entertaining and full of useful information for anyone interested in van life.

In Walden on Wheels, the author Ken Ilgunas takes us along on his adventure to reduce is college debt.  Like many of us, myself included, Ken, followed the societal norms of going to college after high school, simply because that is what was expected of him and what he was taught he should do.

After college, he has a large amount of debt he needs to pay off and fast.  But with a degree in literature, he has trouble finding good paying jobs.  The readers will follow him on various adventures to Alaska among others in order to find work where there is also free room and board offered.  This is great because all of the money he is making goes straight to paying off his debt.

Once the debt is paid off, when you think the book is about to end, Ken actually continues his adventure by going back to school.  What?!  What about the debt he will incur, wasn’t that the whole thing about the book?

Ken has a plan.  He is going to live in a van while going to school and eat hardly anything while working in all of his spare time.  For me, this is where the real adventure started.  This book is a really fun ride and helps you appreciate just how much that we have that we don’t really need.  What is life about, possessions or experiences?

This is the first book I have read in 2018.  Well, finished in 2018, I started it on December 29th.  The best part of this book, besides the content, of course, is that the book is free for Amazon Prime users and is also part of Kindle Unlimited if you have that.

Book Review | Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Travels with Charley
Travels with Charley

I may have said this before, and if so, it is still true as before.  You can’t go wrong with Steinbeck.  Maybe it is because I’m a California boy myself, but for practical damn good books, Steinbeck is the man!

I read Travels with Charley the best possible way.  While I was unable to recreate the journey that Steinbeck takes in the book, I was able to listen to the audiobook while traveling up the California coast.  The best part of my trip, aside from listening to some great writing was that I got to stop at the Steinbeck museum.  That’s right, he has his own museum.  He is the only American writer to have his own museum in America.

Rocinante
Rocinante

Rocinante is what Steinbeck named his truck that he traveled in.  It is also the name on Don Quixote’s horse.  The museum in Salinas has his truck on display even including a replica of his dog Charley in the front passenger seat.  You can also see the inside of the camper (shown below):

Rocinante Inside
Rocinante Inside

The book was marvelous.  I heartily give it a 5/5.  Again, it follows Steinbeck on a trip across America.  A trip he felt he needed to take to reacquaint himself with the American people.  He felt he had lost his relationship with the common man and the trip was a way to rekindle that relationship.

Book Review | The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra
The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra

I found The Romanov Sisters to be a little dry.  I know this is a very niche history book, I get it really.  At 381 pages it’s not that long, but it was just too much detail for me.  I did fear from the beginning that it might be a little slow for me, so I started “reading” this book via Overdrive a tool that my local library subscribes to which enables me to download an audiobook to my smartphone where I can listen to it.  I had I think 10 or 12 days to finish the audiobook.  But I just couldn’t do it.  I had to re-borrow this audiobook again after a forced period of absence.  It was on hold by other patrons, so I had to wait my turn in the queue again.

I’m glad I finished the book, but this would not be one that I keep in my personal library even if I had purchased it.  I’m glad for the free lend from the library in this case.  I gave the book 3 stars.  I was interested in the mystery of how the family was murdered, but the story was all about how they grew up and even quite a bit in the beginning about their parents.  If you have a deep interest in this family, you will probably appreciate the thoroughness of this author.  If like me you are just interested in the mystery around this family, this book will probably bore you.

Book Review | The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain
The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain from Flickr User: Wolf Gang

The first one was better.  Could I end my review there?  Maybe.  But I won’t.  I really love the image of this guy above, this is sometimes how I see Bryson in his traveling books.  Bryson is a local guy, an American, but he moved to England for some time and has written about different locales all over the world, my favorite still being A Walk in the Woods.

To me, The Road to Little Dribbling, sounds like it could be a book about a baby that drools.  I’ve never understood why the names are themselves funny in England, I guess we have a lot of those in America too though.

Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson by Flickr User: The National Churches Trust

Bryson is a funny and engaging travel writer and I have read many of his books.  There hasn’t been one that I disliked.  All of them have been entertaining enough.  This is the only book that I know if that is a sequel to one of his other books, Notes from a Small Island. I gave both of these books 3/5 star rating.  Not great, but in no way bad.  Still entertaining and I will keep them and re-read them at some point in the future as well.

The only reason they got a low’ish’ rating is that there are a lot of inside jokes that only Englishmen will get.  Not being one a lot of references to people and places went over my head.  Maybe this is why I liked A Walk in the Woods so much.  Since that book takes place in the Application Mountains it’s a little closer to this California boy than England is.