Ratty (blinger) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 9 & 10 - 2013

Book 9: The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings – 283 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
A descendant of one of Hawaii's largest landowners, Matt King finds his luck changed when his fun-loving, flighty wife Joanie falls into a coma, victim of a boating accident. Matt is left in sole charge of his two daughters, teenage ex-model and recovering drug addict Alex, and Scottie, a feisty ten-year-old. And then Matt discovers Joanie has been having an affair. Deciding to seek out Joanie's lover so that he too has a chance to say his goodbyes, Matt takes to the road with his daughters on a memorable journey of painful revelations and unexpected humour...

This was another book I picked up as part of my education for Hawaii phase, as it was one of the few novels I could find that was set in Hawaii. I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did, and to be honest, I didn’t really love it that much till I got to somewhere close to the end. It’s one of those books that crawls under your skin and sits there, reminding you of it whenever it feels it needs to. I even went out and bought the movie afterwards (starring George Clooney, who proved once again to me why he is such a mega star – the man really gets subtlety – something I also loved about his small role in Gravity), and it was fantastic, even if the fact that they changed Joanie’s name to Elizabeth really annoyed me. What I really loved about this book was the fact that Matt didn’t necessarily hate Joanie for what she’d done and he was open to acknowledging his own flaws. I also really loved the very first statement of the book which reflected on what its like to live in ‘paradise’. I’m from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, which is much like Hawaii in that its always sunny, has amazing beaches (well, we do just slightly north and south of us – distance is a bit of a relative thing here in Australia), and generally reflects the whole idea of paradise. Matt points out that just because he lives in ‘paradise’ (or at least other people’s perception of paradise) doesn’t mean life is without its challenges, frustrations and disappoints. You still have to go to work, people still die, life can still suck. I sometimes feel ungrateful when I complain about having a bad day, because I live in ‘paradise’ (which many a foreigner will comment on). Matt comments on the fact that maybe its easier to be annoyed, or angry or upset when its grey and overcast most of the time (I’m looking at you, London, the only other place I’ve ever lived). It was an interesting observation. And while I’m on the topic (and I’m going to deviate entirely from the point of this review right now), why is paradise defined by summer and sun and sand and surf? As much as I love these things, what I wouldn’t give every now and then for the beauty and cold of snow and ice and rugged up clothing and fireplaces (it doesn’t snow in Brisbane – coldest it gets is about four degrees Celsius)? I love the hustle and bustle of New York because it doesn’t matter in a city of eight million who you are or where you going. It reminds me that I’m just a tiny speck of dust in the universe and my problems are utterly unimportant in the scheme of things. Paradise is many things in my opinion. Anyway, that aside, I really, really enjoyed the book and I highly recommend it.

9 / 50 books. 18% done!

3814 / 15000 pages. 25% done!

Book 10: Sweet Poison: Why Sugar Makes Us Fat by David Gillespie – 205 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
You can understand and break your addiction to sugar with David Gillespie's Sweet Poison. David Gillespie was 6 stone overweight, lethargic and desperate to lose weight fast - but he'd failed every diet out there. When David cut sugar from his diet he immediately started to lose weight and - more amazingly - kept it off. Now slim and with new reserves of energy, David set out to investigate the connection between sugar, our soaring obesity rates and some of the more worrying diseases of the twenty-first century. He discovered: it's not our fault we're fat; sugar was once such a rare resource that we haven't developed an off-switch - we can keep eating sugar without feeling full; in the space of 150 years, we have gone from eating no added sugar to more than 2 pounds a week; eating that much sugar, you would need to run 4.5 miles every day of your life to not put on weight; and food manufacturers exploit our sugar addiction by lacing it through 'non-sweet' products like bread, sauces and cereals. In Sweet Poison David Gillespie exposes one of the great health scourges of our time and offers a wealth of practical information on how to break your addiction to sugar. David Gillespie is a recovering corporate lawyer, co-founder of a successful software company and consultant to the IT industry. He is also the father of six young children (including one set of twins). With such a lot of extra time on his hands, and 40 extra kilos on his waistline, he set out to investigate why he, like so many in his generation, was fat. He deciphered the latest medical findings on diet and weight gain and what he found was chilling. Being fat was the least of his problems. He needed to stop poisoning himself.

There is so much talk about sugar lately and how bad it is, and as I’m on a never-ending crusade to get fitter and healthier, I wanted to read this book. David Gillespie is an Aussie so this book got a fair amount of press over here (he’s just released a new one about schools that is causing a lot of talk at the moment). It’s a fascinating read, told in layman’s terms and fairly no nonsense. And the ideas Gillespie presents make sense. I’ve heard a lot of arguments both ways about sugar and how good/bad it is for you and truth be told, I’m fairly well situated in the school of thought called ‘moderation is key’ (I’ve got to justify my Ben and Jerry’s somehow!). I did learn a lot about how the body processes certain chemicals and about the pros and cons of sugar substitutes, and I will admit I do try to be more conscious of how much sugar I put in my face now (I aim to try and have at least one day a week I don’t eat it, but it generally depends on how stressed I am as chocolate is my go to when I’m stressed). Ultimately, I think the most important thing is to strike a balance between enjoying life (and not being ‘that’ person at a party – its bad enough not being able to eat gluten!) and being healthy. Knowledge is power, and I think this book is just another piece of that puzzle. Definitely worth a peruse.

10 / 50 books. 20% done!

4019 / 15000 pages. 27% done!

Currently reading:
-        The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory – 437 pages
-        Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore by Bettany Hughes – 412 pages
-        Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain – 323 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages
Tags: academic, drama, family saga, food, grief, health, movie-book, science

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