04 Jan

Books of 2010

Posted by Jenna, Under Uncategorized

I used to read a lot. As in, hiding from my mom out in the storage container so I could read instead of doing pretty much anything my mom wanted me to do. Now I read blogs and check Twitter and edit photos and take care of That Wife, so reading doesn’t play a huge role in my leisure time any longer. I’m trying to change that a little bit though, and here is what I managed to read in 2010! I don’t have any confidence in my ability to review books (my critical analysis skills aren’t that strong), but I wrote a short note under each book to try to guide you toward what I wouldn’t recommend and what I wouldn’t.

Birth

I liked this history of birth because it gave me a better idea what it was like for my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, etc to give birth. A bit of an agenda (I think the author is a believer in natural birth) but she is a reporter and I think she was actively working to remain as neutral as possible. Very accessible.

Deliver Me from Pain

I was a bit annoyed by the closing argument/statement (then again, I think everyone knows where I stand when it comes to drugs and birth). Yet another awesome book that helped me better understand what the birth experience was like for my relatives. A bit harder to get through if you aren’t really interested in the material.

The Tennis Partner

I have a hard time with this sort of “flowery writing” (but my preference as of late has been non-fiction so that’s no surprise), but I plowed through it because it was a book club pick for a book club I was part of back in Dallas. If you like tennis, you’ll like it. If you’re a doctor, you’ll like it. If you’re a doctor who plays tennis you’ll LOVE it. I had a hard time getting through the sections that used a lot of technical terms when talking about tennis.

Fight club

Another book club pick. Did not like. Forced myself to finish because I was hosting that month.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Loved! Anyone interested in eating local throughout an entire year will want to read this. It’s full of recipes and ideas for how to make eating work, even without a grocery store. I both read and listened to this one and I am completely in love with Kingsolver’s voice. So soothing.

In Defense of Food

Loved it more! I posted about it here.

Food Rules

Love this one the most because it really changed TH’s approach and attitude as well.

Nurtureshock

The book club pick for December 2010. Which means I loved it enough to read it skim it yet again! Also we have this in audiobook form and I think I’ve listened to it three times this year. Read the section on language development, and then try using the techniques on your infant. I guarantee you’ll like what you see!

Eating Animals

Oh wait, yet another book I loved. I posted about this one here.

Purple Cow

I liked that this book helped me take the time to think about Jenna Cole and brainstorm ideas I can use as my own “purple cow”. A lot of the information only applies to big companies though, IMO, and I’m not even sure I read through to the very end. Worth picking up if you need a creative kick in the pants though!

The Dirt on Clean

A book club pick, you can see some of my thoughts/prompts in the comment section. Not the kind of book that “changed my life”, like some of the others I read this year, but an interesting read if you’d like to hear how our thoughts about personal hygeine

Cheap

If you are spending too much money on crap, read this book. Then you’ll stop. I feel like I buy a lot less now because I read this book. Book club discussion here.

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance

Reading through the reviews on Goodreads regarding this book, I apparently disagree with pretty much every mormon in the world when it comes to this book. I loved it, and TH did too. Yes, even TH read it, the first book I’ve ever seen him read in over 2 years of marriage. We loved it so much we want our teenage kids to read it (someday I’ll write why we want this). It’s an unflinchingly honest account of someone trying to come to terms with their faith, and I identified with Elna’s desire to be completely put herself out there when it comes to both her flaws and her strengths. Some of the stories will have you ROFL for sure!

For any LDS readers, it does swear (I was not a fan) and apparently a lot of people did not like her detailing of her sexual encounters but for whatever reason I wasn’t bothered by them. Maybe because I had my own naughty streak as a teenager/young adult. :)

The New Kings of Nonfiction

I finished this one a few days ago. I want Ira Glass to edit another book just like this one! I did not finish the one on the war or the one on poker. I found the one on poker to be particularly boring because I don’t know anything about poker, or care about it in the least. It was hard to follow. Favorite stories include Johnathan Lebed’s Extracurricular Activities, Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg, The American Man, Tales of the Tyrant (I kind of want to read an entire book on Saddam now!), and The Hostess Diaries: My Year At A Hot Spot.

13 books! Not bad. I’m hoping to hit at least 20 next year. I just started The End of Overeating and I love it already.

22 Comments


  1. thanks for the recs, Jenna. i am not usually a commenter
    but am excited to add some of these books to my list so wanted to
    say thanks for sharing :)

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  2. Awesome! I read a lot more books this year than previous years because I was out of college and not pouring over textbooks anymore.

    It was a lot of non-fiction including the Dirt on Clean for your book club :)

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  3. I loved the first “Birth” book, too. So interesting! And I’m betting you wouldn’t really like any of Chuck’s books since they’re all similar to Fight Club (in degree of cursing, vulgarity, sexuality, etc.). But since you had a naughty teenage streak, maybe I’m wrong. :) Thanks for the recommendations!

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  4. My reading list is a lot less impressive – but maybe now that I’m done with school I’ll have more time to read. Oh… what a concept. :)

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  5. Great recommendations! I’ve read several of these and particularly loved NurtureShock and The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance.

    I actually had to go look up of Elna’s book on Goodreads when you mentioned that people were kind of down on it. Because I generally loved it. It’s not a faultless piece of memoir work, but I was impressed by several aspects of her writing and some of the chapters are particularly tight. It seemed to me that, like you noted, a lot of the reviews were down on her as person, people didn’t like that she lies or is confused or sometimes shallow. But the thing is, she was pretty up front about the fact that she has all these faults and she isn’t looking to be praised for them. The book is about her and her life and she has these faults. There was a real honesty there that I loved. It’s attractive if you like that in a person or a writer. And not a little brave given how judgey Mormons can be towards each other. (What’s with that? Soo not Christ-like or Zion-esque) Like she swears, she could probably choose better words, but it’s way less taboo among East Coast members and, even if it wasn’t, a good memoir work (or writing in general, I think) requires that you don’t self-censor. Nothing will come out as powerfully if you do. And the sex stuff? So relatively tame. She made some mistakes and choices that aren’t in line with the ideal standards of the church but none of it was really that bad. Or, frankly, uncommon. Chastity is a hard row to hoe. The more honest we are about that the better.

    Jeez, I like talking about books.

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  6. I thought The End of Overeating and In Defense of Food go so wonderfully hand in hand.

    Jenna Reply:

    Yes! We keep talking about what I’m reading and our discussions inevitably return to Pollan’s ideas.

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  7. Hooray for books! Is there a book for January for your book club? I read “clean” but then sort of fell out of it, when I couldn’t get into “Cheap” (I wanted too though!) and I’m still on the waiting list for Nutureshock at my library!

    Jenna Reply:

    Yep, I’m currently waiting to get “The Culture of Fear” from my library which is the January book. This library is SOOO slow when it comes to getting books from other branches!

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  8. Not sure if I should thank you or give you the evil eye for adding 3 more books to my to-read list :) Excited to read the New Kings of NF and the tennis partner! Maybe I can even convince Y to read a book if it’s about tennis and doctoring…

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  9. I’ve been reading your blog for months now and never
    commented (shame, shame) and decided today should be the day.
    Thanks for the list of books and your short review. I’m always
    looking for something new to read. I’m thinking I might give Cheap
    a try, and then come back and read the comments from your book
    club. Also, I went through and read all your photography posts and
    felt like I really learned a lot. Thank you so much for writing
    those, and please, write more!!!

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  10. You bring up that you had a naughty streak as a teen. I thought the Mormon faith believed in waiting until marriage for sexual acts? Believe me, I know we all slip up. I’m just curious what your spiritual/religious journey. I completely understand if this is too personal, just wondering since you mentioned it.

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  11. Thanks for more book inspiration.
    I need to take the time to sit down and finish Nutureshock. It’s great but I’ve already renewed it 3 times because I don’t take the time.
    I’m quite curious to read animal, vegetable, miracle and in defense of food.
    Also Cheap.
    Oh well, looks like I’ve got my non fictional book list for the 101 in 1001 project all made up now :)

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  12. I listen to the Regional Dance author on This American Life. I think she was talking about not going to church or leaving the church. I don’t remember. She told a really great story though about faith and believing in general.

    I think I am going to pick up the book Cheap and Ira’s book. I didn’t know he had a book out. Oh how my crush on him grows every Saturday.

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  13. Let me get this straight, you had a baby and this is your idea of not reading much?! I too used to read A LOT and don’t read much now, but my version of not much is something like 3-5 books a year. In any case, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts and am impressed with the amount you got read. Here’s to more books in 2011!

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  14. You expose me to so many books I’ve never heard of. I am excited to someday listen to these (since I never have time to read.) Thanks!

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  15. I read The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance last year and I really liked it, but the swearing surprised me, since it is written by an LDS woman, but I really got a lot out of it, even as a non-Mormon. I think it’s well-written and funny and moving how she portrays the struggles to live according to your beliefs, yet battle with the things you want as well.

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  16. Jenna, for whatever reason, the only picture I can see when I load this page is the one for “The Dirt on Clean”. Can you list the other books, because there are lots I would like to read! (especially the one about eating local for a year w/ recipes, and the two after that you say you “loved”). THANKS!

    And I also wanted to say, that while I don’t always agree with you, you have really inspired me to move towards more “real foods”. I have not quite gone as far as you have, you are talking to someone who probably ate fast food 7 times a week and I now cook at home a lot more and try to cook better foods for me and my family.

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  17. Mrs. Pumpkin/Kaylea says:

    Oh Jenna! I’m so sorry you had to read Fight Club! I
    imagine you hated every second of it. I personally loved it, much
    more for the discussions on consumerism and mixed up priorities of
    the world today than the violence and sex, but knowing what I know
    about you it must have been an awful read. I’m surprised that the
    book club you were in wasn’t more sensitive to your beliefs when
    choosing what to read.

    Jenna Reply:

    It was a bunch of other Mormons so I thought I was safe! Different levels of tolerance I guess. That’s why I started my own nonfiction book club :)

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  18. I made it through 11 books and started a handful of others (including Cheap and The Dirt on Clean). Not bad considering my goal was to read 6 for the year! Plus that’s way more than I read in 2009 when I was finishing up grad school. I think I’ll try for 12 books this year. You’ve given me a lot to add to my goodreads list!

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  19. I love this!! Thanks for the suggestions and reviews! I’m hoping to have more time for reading this year. (ha…I’m not sure why I think I will!!)

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      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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