Craft By Zen

5 min read

🔖archive   🔖blog   🔖post

Book Reviews of Things I've Recently Read

Every so often, I read too many books in a short amount of time. I thought it would be beneficial for folks to hear me out and see what they think of the books I’ve read.

The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith

This is the latest novel by J.K. Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. This is a fiction crime novel set in modern day London following private detective Comoran Strike. The novel is about the murder of a young, rich model who dies in the middle of a winter night. At first, the press went head over heels that it was a suicide, but the private detective is brought to the case when the brother of the murder victim wants it re-investigated because he thinks it is a murder. This is supposed to be the first book in a series, and unlike Rowling’s Harry Potter series, is a lot more adult. There’s crime, violence, sex, and a whole lot more cussing than you’ll hear from one of the students at Hogwarts. There’s also themes of how the rich operate and enjoy their lives, and Rowling really shows how they are disgusting in their own right. Worth an airplane read, though it’s nothing groundbreaking. The book kept me in my seat, making me think who the killer was.

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

This is my self-help book of the quarter. It’s about how our willpower works and it’s a practical guide in changing habits and really utilizing willpower without being drained. It’s highly interesting and brings on a ten-week plan. It’s been used by the book’s author, Kelly McGonigal, and the class she teaches undergrads and others at Stanford. I’m going to review it later and see if I can actually change one of my habits through this program. I’ve tried some of her suggestions before, but now I know more of the science behind it. If you want a primer to this, I recommend her talk @Google.

Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting by Darya Pino Rose

I don’t need to diet. But I do enjoy reading about a good, healthy living style. Some deviations from other diet books is that this book doesn’t actually talk about which diet to take. Instead, it uses science to back itself up that we should all have a good food foundation because diets tend to be shortcoming success, but relapse rates are quite high. Instead, this book raves about eating healthy from the beginning of your food adventure through more vegetables and try to gain the habit of cooking for yourself or making better food choices. You’ve probably seen me reading this book before, but now I’ve actually finished the darn thing. I didn’t learn too much except the author calls this new diet, which isn’t a diet, healthstyle. I think I like this neologism.

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

If you enjoy eating at restaurants, don’t read this book before you eat at one. It may make you feel bad. But this book is really important to my understanding of the fame around Anthony Bourdain, particularly why he’s so goddamn famous. The Food Network loved this book so much, they gave Bourdain his own show called “No Reservations” where he went around the word to eat at various locations. The reason he’s so famous now is that he gets the lifestyle everyone wants; he gets paid to eat and critique. Here’s the thing though, this book is before that era and describes his upbringing, his hardships in the restaurant gig, and he’s eventual success in that domain. It describes someone in their craft and love for their job and how they grow into that role, which was not innate but from shear brute force over years of being on the line. There’s another book I highly recommend called “Life, on the Line” by Grant Achatz who describes his time being a line cook as well. There’s this common thread where you work your ass off being in the position that you get to as head chef, and it’s horrifically difficult. But I want to adopt this drive and try and figure out how that can apply to my life. If it wasn’t for this period in my life, I probably wouldn’t be as fascinated at this. But I love someone who has their craft down and can still learn something, as when Bourdain describes his first time eating in Tokyo by the end of this book. A film I highly recommend about food craft is “Jiro Dream of Sushi.”

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

I’m surprised this book is over 100 years old. I’ll be honest. I had no reason to read this children’s novel except that Audible has it for quite a cheap, low price. And it was narrated by Anne Hathaway, actress of “The Princess Diaries,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” and “Brokeback Mountain.” It’s interesting to notice the little differences from the film, even though I don’t think I ever saw the film all the way to the end. Also, I don’t think I actually read the book before, but know the story pretty much by heart. It’s still a delightful read and it’s incredibly short, but long for a child. This actually brings up whether I should actually read Wicked about the Wicked witch of the west that is killed pretty early in this book. This also may be the first mention of munchkins. I may read “The Hobbit” next because Audible has daily deals. Or else I’ll just finished the fucking bible first. When I do finish the bible, I’ll definitely give you the low down and we can snap at all of those fundamentalists.