Books of 2011

At the end of my Books of 2010 post I said I wanted to make it through 20 titles. In 2011, I only conquered 12. But I have high hopes for this year because I’ve already finished 5 and January isn’t over yet. Between the Kindle and a folder full of audiobooks, I’m raising the stakes the and declaring that I want to double my last goal and hit 40 by the end of the year.

Food Matters

If you’re looking to introduce someone to the idea that we need to eat less meat, more whole grains, and make more of our own food instead of reheating what a factory produced for us, I consider this an excellent place to start. I recommended it to my dad, and he liked it too. I bought the Food Matters + cookbook version as an e-book and I really regret it because it’s too difficult to navigate through and actually utilize the recipes, even on my iPad.

The Culture of Fear

My thoughts on this book can be found here. I liked it because I like folklore and urban legends, AND because it helps me remember to not get worked up over silly media hype. It was very repetitive and a bit dry at times though.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Tells a fascinating story and makes you think about some hard questions. I really appreciated how hard Rebecca worked to not take a side and let the reader attempt to come to their own conclusions. A discussion thread on this book can be found here.

The End of Overeating

Loved this book for two reasons. It was like an inside look at how food is marketed and produced (the author talked to several different industry insiders to learn how they manipulate the food they produce to be as appealing as possible), and because he got into how the brain works when it’s around food. After I read this book, I was able to admit what a binge eater I am, and how that doesn’t make me sad/bad/weak/little/etc. Years of bad food choices have essentially conditioned my brain. I heard the author on NPR and he mentioned the book The Compass of Pleasure, which I also want to read.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Janssen told me she liked Omnivore’s Dilemma more than In Defense of Food. I didn’t believe her, and yet, somehow it’s true. Pollan follows four different meals from conception to digestion, including a hunting trip and making yeast with bacteria that is apparently floating in the air all around us right this moment. I think this is my favorite non-fiction food book of them all (which is saying something because I’ve read quite a lot from this genre by now).

Our Babies, Ourselves

My friend is at Columbia and gave me this book talking about how fascinating he found it as an anthropology student. It was very interesting, and somehow freeing. Our current American way of raising children is neither the only way, nor the best way. You can read more of my comments here. It can be a bit dry, and I did struggle with the portion on breastfeeding (she made me feel like if I had just tried harder, tortured myself longer, breastfeeding would have worked because everyone else is doing it).

The Hunger Games

Note: Do not start this series while on vacation with your spouse. Your spouse will hate this book for the many ways it sucks you in. We were staying in Florence in a beautiful hotel and all I wanted to do was LISTEN TO MY BOOK.

Catching Fire

I loved this one too.


And this one.

Why We Get Fat

I can’t fully get behind Taubes because I like my vegetarian ways, and eating zero carbs AND zero meat would be incredibly difficult, but I found a lot of this ideas thought provoking. I actually think his theories helped my workouts because now I do them for the endorphins and the stronger me, not because I want to burn calories.

Predictably Irrational

Behavioral economics is fascinating, and I love turning to That Husband and saying “It’s just like in Ariely’s book!” I recommend you and your spouse both read this one so you can have those moments as well. Favorite sections include the power of free, how arousal influences our decision making skills (read this section if you have teenagers and want to figure out how to keep them from getting pregnant/getting someone else pregnant), how price and placebo work together.


I listened to this one in audiobook form (there are some F-words scattered throughout) and I highly recommend it because Tina reads it herself. I love 30 Rock and particularly enjoyed the section where she talks about how the show came about and gave some little behind-the-scenes bits (shoutout to one of my favorite quotes from 30 Rock that’s mentioned in the book: Stop eating people’s old French fries, pigeon. Have some self respect! Don’t you know you can fly? – Tracy Jordan).

What were some of your favorite books from last year? My Goodreads to-read list is always growing.

Book Club: Predictably Irrational

I’m working my way through Predictably Irrational. Give it a try! I promise you’ll love it. It really revolutionizes how you view your own interactions with the world around you. The chapter on how we place value on what we already own made me realizing buying things with the thought “I can always return it later” is exactly why Nordstrom has the amazing return policy that it does.

If you’ve read it, comment below with your thoughts! I’ll add mine once I finish.

Next Book Club Pick

You might remember I switched up the format of my Non-fiction Book Club a bit, abandoning the timeline and just reading the book when I could. I actually really enjoyed this, as it felt less stressful and I was still able to leave my thoughts in the comment section and interact with others a little bit, even if it was drawn out over a long period of time. See my comments, and those of the others who read the book with me, here. (And feel free to read the book and add your thoughts at any time!)

We recently started listening to audiobooks, which has completely revolutionized the number of books I’m able to consume. Hello, why didn’t I think of this earlier? I’m just about done with the Hunger Games trilogy (I loved it, if you’re wondering.)

I’m trying to decide between three different titles for my next listen. Would you like to join me in reading one of them?

Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health

We all witness, in advertising and on supermarket shelves, the fierce competition for our food dollars. In this engrossing expose, Marion Nestle goes behind the scenes to reveal how the competition really works and how it affects our health. The abundance of food in the United States–enough calories to meet the needs of every man, woman, and child twice over–has a downside. Our overefficient food industry must do everything possible to persuade people to eat more–more food, more often, and in larger portions–no matter what it does to waistlines or well-being.

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Why do our headaches persist after we take a one-cent aspirin but disappear when we take a fifty-cent aspirin?

Why do we splurge on a lavish meal but cut coupons to save twenty-five cents on a can of soup?

When it comes to making decisions in our lives, we think we’re making smart, rational choices. But are we?

In this newly revised and expanded edition of the groundbreaking New York Times bestseller, Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. From drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner, we consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They’re systematic and predictable—making us predictably irrational.

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? have sex? smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. As Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth. [Mary Roach happens to be my favorite author 🙂 ]

Book Club: Our Babies, Ourselves

I’ve recently decided to alter the way That Wife Book Club works a little bit, as I’m having a hard time keeping up with the 1 book/month goal and I know some of you are as well. And thus, Book Club will become a place for you to talk back and forth with me as I read through… whatever it is that I’m currently working on. Jenna Cole, That Wife, homemaking, and the baby keep me busy enough that I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like, and I would like to put this a little farther down my to-do list, at least for now.

And so, the Book Club link in my sidebar that you see to the right will now take you to a post like this one, where you will be able to see what I’m currently working through. You can join me if you’d like, and if you comment on the book I’ll certainly write back and share my thoughts as well.

Right now I’m working through Our Babies, Ourselves. Please share your thoughts below if you’ve read it as well!

Henrietta Lacks Discussion

I finally took the time to sit down and write out my thoughts about Henrietta Lacks. You can join the discussion here if you’ve read the book!

I still haven’t started on Our Babies, Ourselves and it’s going to take me some time to get through it. I understand not a lot of people are interested in parenting books, but the response to that choice was really low. Are you guys over the book club? If you are I’m going to change the format up a bit and go ahead and read what I’d like each month, but post a discussion post that let’s people talk about it if they so please. Pretty similar to what is happening now, but no one else will have any say in what I’m reading.