Monday, June 9, 2014

Me Before you

by Jojo Moyes

"Aren't Jojo Moyes's books, well, sort of...insipid?" asked my friend as I rhapsodized about this book.
"No," I replied, "Definitely not, it's only her cover art."

And, you must admit, the titles and the cover art of her books suggest a certain boilerplate cheesiness within. But this is most definitely not the case here. This author is taking on tough topics, including assisted suicide, chronic pain, and, most importantly, the meaning of life when life has seemingly lost all meaning. She does so with delicacy and without judgment, giving intelligent voices to both sides of topics not often discussed--even herein--in calm and thoughtful voices. Reading this book brought to mind some of my favorite reads on the same subject, namely "A Lesson Before Dying" and "Man's Search for Meaning".

In particular, however, this story brought to mind "Dying Well", a concept beautifully covered in Dr. Ira Byock's book with that title. No marking time in a living death once Lou enters Will's life; as they grow to love one another, each gives the other the gift of meaning.

"He who has a why to live can bear almost any how," per Nietzsche. Unfortunately, the operative word here is 'almost'. Love or hate the ending; you won't ever forget it.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Orphan Choir

by Sophie Hannah

Started strong but progressed to just so-so.  The quirky protagonist loses her sense of humor and her grip on reality after her 7 year old son leaves home for boarding school whilst her next door neighbor plays sound wars through their thin, adjoining wall.  Granted, no one can stay arch and amusing while both mourning and not sleeping, but poor Louise devolves into an unconvincing, obsessive madness as I wonder with a yawn how much longer her tedious, journal entries will be the gimmick that moves the plot.

That said, other reviewers confirm what I suspect, namely that this particular work is a disappointment in light of Ms. Hannah's other, better books.  So, while my enjoyment of "The Orphan Choir" was most tepid, I look forward to more wit and better story lines in future Hannah thrillers.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

"How Far Would You Have to Ride a Bicycle..."

by Jonathan Bailor
" burn off the calories in two slices of bacon?" asked a headline on the front page of yesterday's Denver Post. The answer on page 16B? Four or five miles! And lord help you get any work done if you had a pat of butter and a Starbucks grande skim latte with that breakfast bacon indulgence because now you'll never get to work on time-- you'll be walking 1.25 miles on the downtown mall and jogging around City Park lake 1.5 times to work off the extra calories for those bad boys. can lift and lower Mr. Bailor's book over several weeks and change your mindset and your midriff!

I gave up preaching the calories in/calories out theory of weight gain some time ago, replacing it with "you can eat but you can't eat that" sermon, with that being the bread, tortillas, rice, potatoes, and sweets with which my patients snacked their way through long, sedentary days. This book while a bit repetitive and disjointed will supply you with the physiological facts supporting this nutritional sea change. I'm not sure if Mr. Bailor's program will fit your meal planning any better than it does mine, but it certainly is food for thought, and his suggested foods may well sneak their way into your grocery cart as more and more of them now arrive in mine.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Casual Vacancy

by J.K. Rowling

I've mentioned this book and how much I enjoyed it to several friends.  "Can you pronounce the names in the book?" asked one; another simply stated "I don't like fantasy."  The location, a small village in England; the time, the present; the characters, believable if not always appealing and often tragic.  If you've ever wondered how life will go on after you die, this well-written work is a most interesting exploration of the ripples and waves in the wake of one man's demise.  No fantasy here but a rather engaging and grim reality.