A Series of Catastrophes and Miracles by Mary Elizabeth Williams

williams, mary elizabeth - a series of catastrophes and miracles ( thumbs_side ) Cancer is a bitch, plain and simple. And the author is unfortunate enough to have experienced the struggle with both her own body and many of those she loves. However, she’s lucky in that an experimental treatment cured a rare, stage 4 melanoma she had been enduring.

Throughout this time, she chronicles what it is like to still have to balance a career, friends, and family with her treatment. She analyzes discussions she has with those close to her in similar situations, and how she feels blessed to have pulled through.

It’s good writing about a somewhat taboo, depressing topic. The only gripe I have is that there are too many characters introduced for me to follow. I got a little lost, even though the main story was the same.

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Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

gaffigan, jim - food a love story

( thumbs_up ) Yes yes, I know I have been reading a lot of books about food lately, but this book is from a different point of view altogether.

Gaffigan goes into detail about his adoration for food and all things delicious. He has a strong conviction that the pleasure he feels from eating outweighs any negative health consequences that will arise. He tells stories of his passion for a variety of different cuisines with uproarious comedic insights.

Although I do not share his philosophy, I can definitely understand where he’s coming from within this writing. And it’s a joy to listen to his hilarious anecdotes on this topic.

The Food Revolution by John Robbins

robbins, john - the food revolution

( thumbs_up ) My first question when I was recommended this book was, “Is John Robbins related to Tony Robbins?” No, in fact, John Robbins is related to the founder/owner of Baskin Robbins.

He gave up the partial ownership of family company he was set to inherit. Through his own investigation, he observed what the dairy and meat industry was doing to Americans’ health, his family’s health, the economy, and the environment.

This book delves a little more heavily into the external impacts of the agricultural industry than do other books I’ve read on similar topics. Also, it’s refreshing to see this point of view: someone vehemently choosing their beliefs/facts over the easy riches they could have had.

The China Study by Colin T. Campbell

campbell, colin - the china study

( thumbs_side ) Campbell is a brilliant scientist and doctor, but not quite as fun to read as some of his counterparts (e.g. Dr. Greger). However, I did learn a lot from this book. The China Study is the largest nutrition-based study of its kind – and it started the plant-based revolution that is occurring today.

The writing felt a bit disorganized and hard to sift through, but when I found the data, it was clear-cut with unarguably solid citing. It’s crazy to think everyone is still going crazy about the need for protein when science has clearly shown there has never really been a case of protein deficiency – ever. Instead, that excess protein is causing harm to society. It’s the corrupt agricultural and food industry at it’s best. Only highly-funded media-based confusion is needed to silence public outcries.

Good info, but not the best writing.

Brain On Fire by Susannah Cahalan

cahalan, susannah - brain on fire ( thumbs_up ) This book  opened my eyes to a concept that I had never heard before, but that makes so much sense. There is a theory now (based off many case studies) that a large percentage of mental illness may stem from autoimmune issues.

This woman’s specific case already had a rare, but pre-discovered title, “Autoimmune Encephalitis”. Her experience speedily went from bad to worse. She first developed a mood disorder, which quickly escalated into the type of disorganized and hallucinatory thinking that can be found in schizophrenia. From there, dementia and physical symptoms developed. She was fortunate enough to have been placed with a persistent and very competent doctor that was able to pinpoint her mostly unheard of disorder. Otherwise, it was clear she was headed for a certain death.

Obviously not all autoimmune issues will head downward as hers did, as simple allergies are considered an autoimmune response. How this reaction presents itself is different for everyone.

Perhaps this story points to the fact that more time should be spent on studying what is causing the rise of mental illness in our population today rather than on the drugs trying to treat it. Finding the triggers could lead to developing both a prevention and a cure.

The Wellness Project by Phoebe Lapine

lapine, phoebe - wellness project

( thumbs_side ) Again, another book I was interested in due to it’s focus on health – most especially holistically. This is not a book for entertainment, and the author makes that preface within the first chapter. This book is to chronicle her time focusing on how to heal her body, which seemed to be only degenerating further as time went one. She has an autoimmune disease, and traditional western pharmaceutical treatment practices were not helping her. And many of the drugs were, in fact, hurting her, as she would find out later.

I learned a bit from this book, but it is only a case study and specific to her own prior medical issues. I don’t think I’ll purposely pick up anything similar again.

Whole by Colin T. Campbell, PhD

campbell, colin - whole

( thumbs_side ) If you know me, you know I’ve become highly active in trying to expand my breadth of knowledge in plant-based eating and nutrition nowadays. I was warned Campbell’s books were tedious, he repeated himself a lot, and he goes off on tangents about philosophy and corruption between the food companies and political/health organizations. This is all 100% accurate. But to be fair, he’s experienced a ridiculous amount of scrutiny and threats due to what he publishes.

His writing style and content can be a pain to sift through. However, the highly analyzed results from his numerous studies (that also vary widely in scope) is why we read his books. I learned a lot from what he wrote here, but god it was not fun to read. I recommend the audiobook if you’re going to attempt it.