Happy. Healthy. Heathen.

Traveling, training, thinking, talking, typing


book review

Fighting God, by David Silverman

This is my review of David Silverman’s recently-released Fighting God. This review is cross-posted at Goodreads.


No bones about it. David Silverman IS Fighting God.

In this manifesto, Silverman tells us, topic by topic, why he does what he does. As president of American Atheists, Silverman is the head of the largest, and likely most militant and litigious, atheist organization in the world. And he’s over it.

He’s over “live and let live”. He’s over “respecting your beliefs”. He’s over “coexist”. He’s over all this, and he explains in this book why: not because he’s an intolerant hater, but because religion won’t allow him. He cares too much for other people, and he cares too much for America and its values. Religion, as he sees it, invades every corner of our cultural and political arenas, and not in a good way.

He spends some time at the beginning of the book defining terms so that the reader can get firm footing on the power of language that has for so long worked in religion’s favor. For example, many flavors of Christianity fall under the broad term Christian (Baptist, Presbyterian, Catholic, even Mormonism). This is not true for people who have no belief in God (seculars, agnostics, atheists). This becomes important when statistics are used to prove that America is a “Christian” nation, because the numbers are skewed. Silverman emphasizes in this chapter the value and extreme importance of non-believers using the term atheist, which regardless of the baggage, every non-believer is.

Silverman then takes us on a journey through all religions, not just Christianity. He carefully addresses every topic used in defense of religious beliefs, and shows them for the smoke they are. One of his strongest sentences, in Chapter 3, states:

“Beyond the rhetoric, beyond the lies, and beyond the marketing, never once in the history of our species has any religion found, offered, or shown any verifiable and testable proof based on scientifically valid evidence and the scientific method (you know, the way we would prove anything else) of any supernatural being or phenomena. Ever. As I said before, if I am ever proven wrong on this point, I will quit my job and donate the proceeds of this book to that specific god’s religion, and I shall do so in a tremendous hail of publicity so that everyone will know.”

This book builds with intensity. As an attorney, my favorite chapter is Chapter 8: On Fighting Unpopular Battles (but Being Right). The chapter addresses the problem of religion in politics in America. Even the most devout of believers will agree that religion has a position of privilege in our government. This is perhaps the most powerful reason in a series of powerful reasons to push back against the ubiquity of religion, and to push hard. So many divisive issues in our culture have at their roots the ugliness of religion: gay marriage, abortion, women’s reproductive health, and even wealth inequality (remember the “poor always being among us”?). Silverman reminds us that religion will never, ever concede its position of privilege, and it will only be taken from religion with muscle, stamina, and determination.

Silverman’s book concludes with a variety of speeches he has made, and after the beatdown silent non-believers have taken throughout the book, these speeches not only assuage those wounds, but serve to inspire and motivate. Patriotism has been usurped by the religious right, and these few pages go a long way in reclaiming it.

For the purpose of full disclosure: not only am I an non-believer, but I’m one of those firebrand atheists Silverman describes. This book does a wonderful job of explaining why I am the way I am, but I would also have loved to have read it when I was on my way out of religion. Instead of slinking quietly away, I would have hired a marching band, drill team and all, and I myself would have lead the parade, carrying the atheist banner.


Thanks for reading!

Paleo Post, part 1

I’m still in Vegas with my girlio, helping her apartment and job hunt.  The mini-update is:  it looks as if we have found her an apartment.  It’s about 5 miles from the strip, is gated and secure, and we should get her moved in tomorrow or Tuesday.  She’s begun the job application process by getting her Alcohol Card and Health Card, and all of the online applications filled out.  She’s optimistic about getting work, and is really excited about getting settled into her little Vegas home!

However, I want to post today about nutrition.  I’ve gotten a lot of response from folks since I posted about our experience with the Ancestral Health Symposium.  A lot of the response has been from my friends in the skeptic community.  I’m going to try to explain my position on this a little better, but it makes me so proud to be part of this group of skeptics who don’t accept information without evidence.

First, let’s work on the word.  The issue over the word “Paleo” reminds me of the flame wars the secular community has over the word “atheist” versus “any-self-identification-word-other-than-atheist” (agnostic, freethinker, humanist).  So many arguments against “Paleo” nutrition focus on this one word.  These arguments make a valid point.  I have a Portuguese friend who says that rules are divided into Theory and Practice (with his lovely accent those words are Teeory and Prrrractice).

In Theory, Paleo nutrition is a way of eating (and movement, and other things but we’ll focus first on nutrition) that is based on what we know about  human evolution.  There’s even an effort within the community to switch to the term Evolutionary Nutrition.  The theory is that we base our eating on the way of eating that allowed our ancestors to have survived to reproduce and thrive.  Paleo refers to the era when our ancestors were hunter-gatherers, before the Neolithic era of agriculture (Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel, is an awesome book (and Pulitzer Prize winner) that explains the history of human societies).

However, in Practice, almost nothing we eat modernly is the same food our ancestors ate.  Not the bananas, not the brazil nuts, not the beasts.  Unless you are harvesting wild mushrooms, or fishing pristine rivers, or hunting wildebeests, you are eating modern versions of all of those ancient foods.  So I will agree with the “Paleo-busters” who assert that there can be no true Paleo diet because there is not true Paleo food.

There is a large part of this movement (and I don’t speak for anyone but myself) which is attempting to shift the focus from selecting our diet based solely on our ancestral heritage and more on what the food actually does when it enters your body.  In studying the effects these different nutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrates) have on our bodies, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of human physiology and anatomy, and how our systems function separately and in harmony.

You remember from high school biology that we have cells –> organs –> systems.  Remember that we have 10 systems:  respiratory, musculoskeletal, nervous, reproductive, gastrointestinal, integumentary, urinary, immune, endocrine, and circulatory.  Each system is dependent upon the others, and the general health of the person is an accumulation of the health of each of the systems.  The things we do with and put into our body affect the systems, and therefore the whole body.

The process of figuring out what different foods do in the body is a challenging task, because of the interconnectedness of all the systems and the unique physiology of each person.  I have no scientific background, but even as a layperson I have found sufficient research to show that certain foods have a MORE healthy effect on the systems and certain foods have a LESS healthy effect.

So now here’s the rub.  What is healthy and what is unhealthy?  This is where the strength of skepticism comes in.  Conventional wisdom has always been a big red flag for me, and never more so than in what is considered a healthy diet.  Leaving aside for a moment that the government that provided us with the food guide pyramid is the same government that subsidizes corn, sugar, and soybeans to the tune of billions of dollars a year, let’s first look at the standard American diet with a critical eye:  assuming that the average grocery store reflects what the average American eats, 75% of the items in a grocery store contain corn or a corn product.  Even the beef, pork, and chicken from the grocery store are ultimately corn, as they are fed corn for all or most of their lives.  In his pivotal book, Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan describes the history of the plant we know as corn, and how our industrial food supply is so dependent upon it, and how very unhealthy it is for humans, and the animals we eat, and humans again when we eat those animals.

Additionally, there is enough evidence to convince me that grains are inflammatory.  Inflammation, in turn, is very damaging to our body (also here) (and here).  There is a also syndrome known as leaky gut syndrome that results in increased intestinal permeability, and it is thought that grains contribute to this, which in turn leads to bad stuff getting into one’s bloodstream.  Finally, there’s some research that suggests that processed carbohydrates can light up pleasure centers in our brain so strongly that it mimics an addiction for some people.

This post is going far longer than I intended, so I’m going to have to break it into several posts.  I’m going to do it this way.  In summary of what I’ve said so far, there are several components of what the Ancestral Health movement endorses.  Over the next few posts, I’m going to personalize those factors according to what I think are the most important.  In the movement we call this N=1, and there is huge focus in the movement on self-experimenting.  This is because each of us has in our past a heritage based on climate and geography and the food that would have been available to our ancestors, and the digestive enzymes we would have evolved to accommodate that supply.

Here’s Gayle’s short version of How To Eat:

1.  Eliminate grains, whole or processed.

2.  Eliminate sugar.

3.  Eat lots and lots of a variety of vegetables, particularly the green leafy kind, and a limited amount of low-sugar fruit.

4.  Eliminate dairy.

5.  Eat meat from grass-fed cows, pastured pigs, free range chickens and eggs, and wild-caught fish.

6.  Eat healthy fat in the form of avocados, nuts, coconut, and olive oil.


While I’m working through all this, I may decide to change the sequence, or add to, the above list.  Also, this is only the NUTRITIONAL arena of the Paleo movement, which is only a portion of what contributes to our overall health.  So much more to come!

Thanks for reading!



Sex at Dawn. The book, not the appointment.

“We have good news and bad news.  The good news is that the dismal version of human sexuality reflected in the standard narrative is mistaken.  Men have not evolved to be deceitful cads, nor have millions of years shaped women into lying, two-timing gold-diggers.  But the bad news is that the amoral agencies of evolution have created in us a species with a secret it just can’t keep.  Homo sapiens evolved to be shamelessly, undeniably, inescapably sexual.  Lusty libetines.  Rakes, rogues, and roués.  Tomcats and sex kittens.  Horndogs.  Bitches in heat.”

And if that paragraph doesn’t appeal to you, neither will this book, or the rest of this review.

The book is Sex at Dawn:  How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What it Means for Modern Relationships.  It’s written by researchers Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá.

Like so much else that I study and seek to understand, this topic sends me running to our evolutionary heritage.  This is, for me, the first step in gaining understanding, whether we are determining what we eat, how we live, why we act the way we do.  This phase of information-gathering is not the end, but rather the beginning of the process.  Our natural heritage is morality-neutral – nature cares not whether you eat/behave/live/die in this manner; it’s simply the manner in which our species have evolved to thrive.  Natural selection isn’t inherently good or bad.  But it is the framework upon which to study what behaviors have served us well in our survival through the millenia.  (And a side note, which won’t surprise anyone who knows me, we learn again how things got sideways in our prehistory with the advent of agriculture.)

And our species has thrived on, not to put too fine a point on it, sluttiness.  If you pause reading right here, you can probably answer the next question, WHY, without much help.  But this book offers a lot of fun in seeking the answer.

It has long been known that we share an ancestor with other apes, and that our closest relative is the chimpanzee.  What hasn’t been known until more recently is that we are as equidistant, evolutionarily, to the bonobo.  It is in observing these two societies, bonobos and chimpanzees, that we get a full picture of social behavior that runs a broader spectrum than initially understood in terms of how we as homo sapiens have evolved.  We have so many years of social/religious pressure adding to our history, it’s difficult to determine what is natural and what is cultural, and watching our not-so-influenced relatives give us insight into our own behavior.

What we have discovered is that while chimpanzees exhibit behavior that shows reproduction-based sexual activity, territoriality, exchange of female sexual favor for protection and food, bonobos behave quite differently.  Bonobo societies use sexual activity for conflict resolution, tribal bonding, celebration, and includes multiple partners/genders/acts.  Additionally, bonobos, like humans and unlike chimpanzees, have hidden ovulation, and therefore hidden paternity, which allows the entire tribe to take an interest in all the offspring of the group.

There are only a handful of books I have sent to all of my adult children, and this is one of them.  My kids are all progressive, open-minded, hippie-types, and as with all things, I love getting their feedback and observations, particularly when it concerns science, culture, and relationships.  They hold progressive ideas about marriage, monogamy, and relationships based on their own knowledge and experiences, and I look forward to having our family book discussion on this, fractured though it might be through time and distance!

The divorce rate in the US currently stands at about 50%.  If you were a car manufacturer, and you installed brakes on your cars that failed 50% of the time, you would consider this an absolute emergency.  If you were an investor, and you lost clients’ money 50% of the time, you should look for a new line of work.  If your restaurant food made people sick after one of every 2 visits, you’d be shut down in a big hurry.  There’s a problem with marriage in the United States, that doesn’t seem to be confined to any category:  age, religion, region, or race.   And because our religious and political entities have an interest in keeping the status quo, our citizenry finds itself, as it so often does, restricted from even asking questions and pushing back in the face of these dismal statistics.  The authors of the book don’t do a lot of moralizing – don’t go out and join a hippie commune, but perhaps share the book with your spouse and marriage counselor.  It’s a conversation we should be having.

“Could it be that the atomic isolation of the husband-wife nucleus with an orbiting child or two is in fact a culturally imposed aberration for our species – as ill-suited to our evolved tendencies as corsets, chastity belts, and suits of armor?  Dare we ask whether mothers, fathers, and children are all being shoe-horned into a family structure that suits none of us?  Might the contemporary pandemics of fracturing families, parental exhaustion, and confused, resentful children be predictable consequences of what is, in truth, a distorted and distorting family structure inappropriate for our species?”

Remember the documentary about the penguins?  Remember how we anthropomorphised that charming movie?  We aspired to be monogamous like the penguins, devoted to the nth degree to our offspring and to one another?  Churches showed this as worship service, in an effort to make us learn how very, very, ever so important it was to be like the penguin!  Calling them model parents, holding them up as an ideal example of monogamy, this film was lovely.  Touching.  And in its defense, that year spent with that egg on the ice was pretty accurately portrayed.  Those raging Antarctic blizzards don’t lend themselves much to extramarital temptation.  However….

“Once Junior is swimming with the other 11-month-olds – the penguin equivalent of kindergarten – fidelity is quickly forgotten, divorce is quick,  automatic, and painless, and Mom and Dad are back on the penguin prowl.  With a breeding adult typically living 30 years or more, these “model parents” have at least 2 dozen “families” in a lifetime.  Did someone say “ideal example of monogamy”?

You should read this book.  Every page reveals an interesting piece of the puzzle of human behavior.  Some of it is laugh-out-loud funny, and some of it is “who’s reading my email?” accurate.  I’ll throw in a couple of additional teasers: there’s a chapter on why a human penis is shaped like it is (try to guess first), and an entire chapter devoted to multiple female orgasm (as trippy as it sounds).  I have a copy I’m happy to loan, and there’s a Kindle version too.

After all that good stuff, let me issue one final caveat.  I HATEHATEHATED the final chapters.  After 300 pages of serious science data, cross-referenced sources, humor, light, the perfect balance of every word, the last chapter devolved into a Dear Abby column, and I have no idea why.  The authors have even added another chapter to the newest editions addressing all the complaints they received about that, but it was an unsatisfying explanation.  However, the totality of the book still rises about that imperfection.  This one’s a winner.  Read it, then tell me about reading it!

I envy you getting to read it for the first time.

Thanks for reading!


It has taken me a few days after finishing this book to take the moment to review it.  I usually do that; it gives me time to think about what I want to write, and, as in this case, it gives me time to emotionally recover from the impact the book has had on me.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

This is Ayaan Hirsi Ali.  She was born in Somalia, and grew up there and in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Kenya.  The first half of her book, Infidel, introduces the reader to her brother, sister, mother, father, and the environment in which she spent her childhood/adolescence.  It is a tough read, and I found myself having to limit how much I could take in one sitting.  She underwent the worst of what you would imagine it would be like to grow up in a repressive, poor, religiously fundamental culture.   I won’t spend much time reviewing this part of the book, but understand the second half wouldn’t be what it is without the first.

As a young adult, she was married (she wasn’t present at her wedding) to a cousin of her father’s choosing, and on her way to Canada to live with him, she sought asylum in the Netherlands.  It was there she began to question the foundations of beliefs she had been indoctrinated with.  She was troubled with reconciling how clean and functional the country was in spite of the fact that it was secular, and memories of her own home countries.  She also observed women in a free society, and was moved by the parenting of a friend with small children who was patient and nurturing, instead of violent and condemning.

Her description of riding a bicycle for the first time made me cry.  She writes about taking off her robe, putting on “oversized men’s trousers” and feeling the wind in her face and the elation of freedom of movement. It was just a paragraph in this book with a long list of remarkable events, but it touched me beyond my ability to convey.

She eventually graduated from college, became a member of Dutch Parliament, and became an outspoken critic of Islam, and a supporter of women’s rights.  She made a short film with Theo Van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker, which is disturbingly beautiful:


Tragically, Van Gogh was killed by an Islamic fanatic, and pinned with a knife to his chest was a death threat for Hirsi Ali as well.  She has since moved to the United States, and of course, lives with constant security concerns.  After having read this book, I googled her name and watched every video interview with her.  She is articulate and gracious and beautiful and fiercely independent, perhaps a throwback to her clan of birth, a clan that was born to rule.  She is smart and warm and funny, and she is one of my personal champions.

I highly recommend this book.  While you read about horrific events that occurred in the life of this woman, the writing remains straightforward and concise.  She neither overplays nor underplays the trauma in her life, and I can’t imagine reading this without being moved by both the importance of this book, and the character of the author.

As always, if you do choose to read it, please let me know:  discussing books is a joy and a privilege for me, and I’ll also reciprocate with whatever book you recommend!  (and yes, I’m including my conservative friends and the Sarah Palin book – which will have to be a Reciprocal Read pact, cuz I’m not reading it otherwise!)

Thanks for reading!

Book review Sunday (and other things)

What a difference between two mornings!

Yesterday morning was as dark, rainy, windy, omninous, and tornado-threatening as this morning is bright, clear, sunny, and peaceful!  Woo hoo to all the runners who braved the weather to compete in the Country Music Full and Half – this one will be memorable!

Today’s post is to be a book review post, but I must first update the 50 New Things project.  I have loved hearing all of your responses, and of course, I left a couple out on the last post.

Daughter Amy in Humboldt County suggested climbing a redwood, which is an absolute.

BF Becky in Clarksville (from upstate NY) suggested hiking the Adirondacks in the fall, which I’m going to do with her, whether it’s this fall and an official part of this undertaking, or some other fall when she can make a trip home!

Buddy Ted from my Nashville Secular group had three spectacular ideas:  learn to fight with a sword (on the list), drive a race car (ON THE LIST), and hike the AT (not on the list – 6 months is too long for this project!).

Precious Shannon, the mother of my precious grandchild Aden had two suggestions:  Take a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class with her (done).  Her other suggestion goes under the Streaking Through Publix line:  Visit a jail for a few hours.  That suggestion may accidently go under several of the other lines.

I guess I’ll begin issuing this disclaimer now:  To any of my young readers contemplating a version of this for your 18th or 21st birthdays:  DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.  There is a difference in spending a little time in the back of a patrol car when you are 18 or 21 and when you are 50!  (Which can’t go on the list, because it has to be for the FIRST TIME…whatever, I was 20, stupid, a little drunk, and a lot over-confident.  Story for another time.)

Now on to the next topic:  Boobquake.

In my blog-reading recently, I came across Jen McCreight’s blog (  I have never read her before; she’s a self-described feminist-atheist-activist, and this particular post has taken on the proverbial Life Of Its Own, receiving comments from Richard Dawkins AND Christopher Hitchens (supposedly), becoming a Facebook Fan Page, and being linked to Pharyngula, one of the most popular blogs of all time.  In response to a radical cleric’s declaration that provocatively-dressed women and the resultant promiscuity lead to earthquakes, Jen has offered up her ample cleavage in a mass experiment to occur Monday, April 26.  Thousand have joined in with her to harness the power of the boob, in a light-hearted effort to make the point that perhaps earthquakes are caused by more natural forces than a malevolent supernatural avenging god.  I will lend my own effort to the cause, albeit it limited in size and scope; we small-breasted women unite in saying:  “It’s not the size!! It’s not the size!!”  (And yes, we have discussed the impact of an actual earthquake occurring the day of our little experiment, and we have a response for that:  Behold the Power of the Boob – think of the implications…what ELSE could our body parts do??)

Now, finally, to the book review…

I have just simultaneously finished reading two books.  They are The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith, and Godless by Dan Barker.  I was reading the first when I discovered I had the opportunity to hear Dan Barker speak and quickly had his book beamed into the Kindle to read before his lecture.

Dan Barker was an evangelical preacher in California as a young man.  He made multiple mission trips to Mexico throughout high school, college at Azusa Pacific, and his young adulthood.  He described himself as a fundamentalist, and was also a gifted musician.  He wrote several children’s holiday musicals that are still being performed today (Mary Had A Little Lamb, for Christmas, and His Fleece Was White As Snow, for Easter).  His story is of his conversion (de-conversion) from fundamentalist evangelist to atheist.  He is now co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation ( – well worth a visit), and is an international speaker and debater.  In person he was charming, funny, and articulate (he spoke at the Belcourt in Nashville last Monday night).  Because of his personal history, he speaks and writes gently and with compassion about believers who hold the same aggressive conviction he once did.  His book and website address the impact of fundamental religion on our country, our children, and our position in the international community.  His book is a terribly interesting read, and not only does his share his journey, but he throws in the basic philosophical and theological reasons most former theists leave their faith.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book, for believers and former believers alike.  Former believers will appreciate his insight and humor in his discovery process, and believers will appreciate understanding why he and others leave the faith they once held so very dear.  This book is well-written, personal, funny, and important.  It is available in Kindle version, and I’ve seen it in B & N, Borders, Books-A-Million, and of course Amazon.

The second book is The Vegetarian Myth, by Lierre Keith.  Don’t let the title throw you.  You do not have to have any connection whatsoever to vegetarianism to read this book.  If I had the leverage, I would make everyone on the planet read this book; as it is, I’m going to bribe/threaten/cajole my family and posse to read this book.  One review I read said that everyone should read it, and everyone who eats should memorize it; I agree.  I consider it one of the most important books related to personal and planet health that has EVER been written.

My disclaimer is completely up front:  Ms. Keith is a radical, lesbian feminist.  Get over it.  If our criteria for reading any book was that we should agree with every belief the author holds, we wouldn’t have read much of anything, would we?  Read this book ESPECIALLY if you are troubled by her views!  I have joked that if I could have any superpower, it would be to force people to read books (I know, right?).

Another review of this book says this: “In any course about writing, you are instructed to figuratively cut open a vein and bleed on the paper – this book comes as close to doing that as any I have ever read.”  Ms. Keith was a vegetarian/vegan for 20 years, for moral, nutritional, and political reasons.  Her compassion for animals is palpable on every page, and her intentions were as pure and altruistic as any vegan I’ve ever known.  There is a vegetarian I love who is one of the 4 most important people in my life, and I am willing to admit that I read this book with my arms wrapped around that precious soul.

Ms. Keith addresses the science, history, intent, implications, and results of vegetarianism.  The book is brimming over with new information about our food supply and its process.  She brings to light the ugliness that is our commercial meat industry, the despicable way we are treating our food animals, and the reflection that shines on our society.  She writes a chapter on soil (soil!) that is so loving and descriptive I read it three times.  I have ordered and sent this book to my Forestry-and-Conservation-soon-to-be-graduate-of-UT son in New Zealand.  I’ve ordered and had it sent to my hippie son in Colorado, my California Redwoods daughter, and will soon send it to my precious vegetarian, free-spirit, compassionate, smart, beautiful daughter in France.

I’m so torn about wanting to tell you everything in the book, and allowing Ms. Keith to do it in her much more passionate and articulate way.  Let me just say that I dare you to read it.  I beg you to read it.  I’ll bribe you to read it.  I’d force you to read it if I had any dirt on you.  And when you do read it, I’ll be waiting for your phone call or text about meeting at Starbucks to discuss it.

The daughter I have referred to several times in this post has as one of her life mottos:

Comfort the disturbed.  Disturb the comfortable.

I love that expression, and it is never more applicable than to this book.  Read it.  Please.

One tiny reference to training – going well, going strong, feeling great, loving the running/biking, hating the swimming (wetsuit in a pool – yuk).

Thanks for reading!  (THE superpower!)

What I’m reading

When Jesse bought me a Kindle for Christmas this year, I was delighted.  (Give him credit for listening – I’d been whining for it for over a year).  I had no idea, however, that in the three short months I have had it, it has become as indispensable an electronic device as my cell phone and laptop.  They’re gonna yank my hippie credentials any second now.

I’m a voracious, ferocious reader.  When I was a little girl, my family would vacation in the car, like everyone else in the 60’s, and I would position my book under my leg to sneak reads while I was supposed to be sightseeing.  When I was in high school, I had several books stashed in my locker just in case I finished one during the day and needed another one before I could get home or to the library.  As an adult, I keep books all over the place – in my car, at work, in the bathroom, in the laundry room, in the kitchen, so that I’m never without the ability to grab a quick read when I have 90 seconds or so.

When my kids were little, I made them a simple promise about books:  anything they wanted to read, I would buy for them.  (I didn’t factor in porn, and I guess they were too young to see that loophole!).  When we designed our house, in a very real sense, I structured the inside of the main living area around the bookshelves, upstairs and down.

All this to repeat:  I love reading.

Here is a non-comprehensive list of the books I’m currently reading:

On the Origin of the Species, by Charles Darwin

Walden, by Henry David Thoreau

The Problems of Philosophy, by Bertrand Russell

The Vegetarian Myth:  Food, Justice, and Sustainability, by Lierre Keith

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce

Eat, Pray, Love:  One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert

Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond

The Greatest Show on Earth, by Richard Dawkins

The Chalice and the Blade, by Riane Eisler

Those include books on my Kindle and traditional editions, but they don’t include those books I have already read, to which I’ll occasionally go back for a chapter or two; that list is enormous.

the pile by the bed

I’ve just reread the list and I realize I don’t have any fiction in there.  I enjoy fiction – I’ve recently been devouring Nelson DeMille, especially his John Corey novels.  I’m just not reading one right this red hot second.

Share your books with me – I like nothing better than to have a book recommended to me!

Thanks for reading!

Great run on the farm

60 minute run on the farm today – felt good, felt strong.  It helps more than I can describe to have my running companions with me…

not a great pic, but these girls just wouldn't cooperate!

It was cool and overcast-y, and a little bit muddy, but it was good to get out on the property.  It was probably about a 5 – 5.5 mile run (60 minutes); yesterday was a great strength training event.  Kinda boring, but sometimes that what training is.  Favorite shuffle today was  Bread and Roses, John Denver.

I wrote in an earlier post that I wanted to blog about a few different things, and since this post is a bit short about training, I’m going to blog about one of my favorite Christmas presents:  My New Kindle.

Jesse gets the credit for this, but I’ve been whining about it for a while – he knows how to shut me up!

So this is Amazon’s electronic book, if you don’t already know.  It can hold about 3,000 volumes and most downloads are about $10 and take about 60 seconds to beam into my device.  There are a lot of books that are considered public domain and are free:  Sherlock Holmes, most classics like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, many children’s stories.  There are other sources for book downloads, but I haven’t begun researching this yet.  Not every book in available in Kindle form, but it appears they are growing exponentially.  You can also subscribe to newspapers or magazines – you get them even before they hit the newsstands!

The Kindle is a pure delight to use.  It is not a lighted screen, so you must have a source of light in order to read, but it is incredibly simple to use.  There is a font size option, and a words-per-screen option.  I use a smaller font if I have my reading glasses handy, but can enlarge it to readable size if not.  The page-turning feature is on either side of the 6″ x 8″ pad (about 1/3″ thick) and the black leather cover protects the surface.  It takes a charge in about half-hour and will last about 4 hours reading, I think.

I do not think that electronic devices will ever fully replace books.  Everyone with whom I’ve spoken about this Kindle has the same response:  “But I want to TOUCH the book, FEEL its pages, SMELL it”.  I get it, I get it.  I like to do that too.  But here’s where I think the Kindle has an application.  When I travel, I usually take 3 or 4 books with me…sometimes I finish one on the travels and need a new one, sometimes I am reading several at once, sometimes I want to refer back to something.  So far I have downloaded 8 or 9 of my most favored volumes, and a couple of new ones I’ve been wanting to read, along with the complete works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and On The Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin.  I am reading a most of them simultaneously, which is the way I typically read books.  I beamed in the latest edition of Newsweek, to which I have a subscription, but I didn’t really like it on the Kindle, because it has no ability to show pictures, and I really missed that.

It was perfect on the airplane, and on the couch, and in my bed.  You can also highlight, make notes, save passages, and add bookmarks.  It has the ability to be online, but since I have an iPhone, I haven’t really pursued this ability.  I’ll see how it goes in my usual routine here at home – I’ve had it with me for the last 2 days, but haven’t found an extra couple of minutes at Starbucks yet! 

I was given the option of naming the device, so I’m waiting for inspiration; so far it’s Read Even More, but that’s a little weak, so any suggestions are helpful??  My rating is TWO thumbs up.  I’ll continue to analyze it as I use it, so stay tuned…

Thanks for reading

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