the bookshelf

By admin
March 15, 2013

The following reviews are published courtesy of Lemuria Blog, Lemuria Bookstore, Jackson, Mississippi, or

The Happiness Project By Gretchen Rubin

Happiness is so elusive. We all want it, our country was founded on our unalienable right of the “pursuit of happiness,” but we are always just below the mark. It’s not that we are necessarily unhappy; we just aren’t as happy as we could be.

Now that January has passed, New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Best-selling author, Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project, part memoir, part self-help, lays out a guide for how she systematically achieved happiness in a year.

After extensive research, from Zen philosophy to Benjamin Franklin’s own system of self-improvement, Gretchen has done the legwork into what really works to alter behavior enough to reach a higher level of happiness. Rather than spending an entire year on one or two changes, Gretchen devotes each month to one large goal, with bite-size steps to achieve that goal.

Gretchen is candid in her success (and failure) each month. Her openness helps you have an ally in your own quest for happiness. It is easy to fall into step alongside her.

Reviewed by Adie Smith

Organic Crops in Pots: How to grow your own vegetables, fruits, and herbs By Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell

The industrial eater is, in fact, one who does not know that eating is an agricultural act, who no longer knows or imagines the connections between eating and the land, and who is therefore necessarily passive and uncritical – in short, a victim. When food, in the minds of eaters, is no longer associated with farming and with the land, then the eaters are suffering a kind of cultural amnesia that is misleading and dangerous. ~ Wendell Berry, “The Pleasures of Eating,” The Art of the Commonplace

With spring fast approaching, I find myself yearning to shed the many layers of heavy winter clothing and also discover that my palate is craving dishes on the lighter side of the food spectrum.

In an effort to get back to my agrarian roots and avoid being a “victim” in Mr. Berry’s eyes, I have decided to attempt to grow an organic container garden on my back patio. The key word here being “attempt.”

Since my knowledge of organic container gardens is most definitely lacking, I have enlisted the help of a book: Organic Crops in Pots by Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell. I happened upon this book in the gardening section of the store, and it turns out to be exactly what I needed. This book is full of helpful and encouraging points on organic gardening for small spaces.

The suggestions for containers range from old olive oil cans to a galvanized metal tub-basically any type of recyclable container that suits your taste. There’s also a chapter on herbs, which I found very helpful and a section on tomatoes, which I’ve not had much luck growing up to this point. Hopefully I will be able to turn that luck around and have a bumper crop of delicious, organic tomatoes from my own back yard this summer!

Reviewed by Anna Clay

Thinner this Year By Chris Crowley & Jen Sacheck, Ph.D.

At 55, I had been jogging for 25 years, and my legs were wearing out. I didn’t want to give up that lifestyle, but that’s what I was facing. Chris Crowley’s book Younger Next Year inspired me to find other exercise pleasures. I started more stretching and explored strength building. My biggest change was switching to stationary bike riding and not minding its boredom. I don’t watch television so getting into this exercise was a mental challenge. With enough diligence and practice, I’m now enjoying my jogging replacement. This pleasure has led to outside biking, enhanced by the convenience of the Ridgeland bike trails. My back and knees told me biking was my new path.

If your body is carrying a few extra pounds, consider Chris’s new book, Thinner This Year. Thinner is not really a diet book but a book for changing your lifestyle permanently. It will give you no-nonsense ideas about living happier and being more content with yourself as you age.

Thinner This Year also advises readers to avoid “dead foods” or nutrient-poor foods such as highly processed foods with solid fats and lots of added sugars. Along with a straightforward diet plan, the book sets up a meticulously researched exercise program that includes 25 whole-body strength exercises – what the authors call the “Sacred 25.”

Reviewed by John Evans

Wheat Belly Cookbook By William Davis, MD

A gluten-free diet may seem like one of the many passing diet fads, however Dr. William Davis’ Wheat Belly Cookbook makes what may seem like an impractical or impossible diet a possible lifestyle. According to Davis, “Wheat is not the ‘healthy whole grain’ it has been pretending to be… it is in reality a major contributor to the world’s worst epidemic of obesity” says Davis in his introduction.

Between recipes for Pecan-Breaded Pork Chops and Chocolate Almond Biscotti, Davis intersperses success stories from people who have become healthier by steering clear of gluten. For some of these individuals the change in diet was due to health problems, but for most it was a desire for change and a healthier lifestyle.

By far the best part of this recipe book are the gluten-free bread recipes: herbed focaccia, breadsticks, walnut raisin bread, the list goes on. Not only are these recipes gluten-free, but they also use carbohydrates that don’t raise blood sugar. Even if you aren’t willing to commit to staying away from your favorite pasta or sandwich, these recipes are a wonderful way to introduce a healthier lifestyle to your family, even if it is just one night a week.

Reviewed by Adie Smith

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