It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading

Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis – This was a recommendation from this meme from someone I don’t remember, but thanks. I liked this book. Melanie has gone from 290 lbs to 145 lbs in the last four years. She quit her job as an attorney, went to culinary school, and opened a take out restaurant specializing in healthy meals. Then her husband announces that he’s leaving her for a friend of hers who is obese.

Melanie struggles to deal with a divorce, a six month old business, and learning to conquer the habits that lead her to gain weight back. The book shows the struggles that people have. It doesn’t give easy solutions. It does however give lots of great recipes for healthy versions of comfort foods. I’ve made the Banana Chocolate Chip muffins and am going to try the macaroni and cheese made with Laughing Cow cheese.

Simply from Scratch by Alicia Bessette – I must have had a food theme going on. I liked this one too. This book is about Zell, whose photojournalist husband died a year ago in an accident while on assignment in New Orleans. Zell has cut herself off from her friends and family and talks only to her dog. When she hears about a baking contest with a $20,000 grand prize she decides to enter since her husband wanted to raise that amount for a charity. He told her about it in his last email before his death. The only problem is that she doesn’t cook.

Her new neighbor is a child who also wants to enter the contest for her own reasons. They decide to work together and this starts to draw Zell out of her shell. This book does have the recipe for their contest entry which I’m not sure if I’ll try. I like all the ingredients but I’m not sure about combining them. Maybe I’ll get adventurous this weekend.

Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger – This is written by the author of The Devil Wears Prada. Brooke has supported her husband Julian by working two jobs while he tries to make a living as a musician. When he becomes an “overnight” sensation their lives are turned upside down. Suddenly she never sees him, she’s told she’s too fat for the red carpet, and she is in danger of losing the jobs that she loves. The worst part is reading what is written about them in the tabloids. When stories start to break about infidelity Brooke needs to decide if she wants to fight for her marriage or leave all this behind.

I liked this book also. It is a look at the downside of fame. I especially liked it when she started getting unsolicited advice from other wives who found out about their husbands’ misdeeds from the tabloids. It ranged from “go buy a house before you leave him” to “ignore it and some other scandal will break.”

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot- In 1951 Henrietta Lacks was treated at Johns Hopkins for cervical cancer. A sample of her tumor was taken and the cells were the first to be able to be grown in culture. Since then the HeLa cells have been used all over the world to test medications and treatments for diseases. They were instrumental in making the polio vaccine. Henrietta’s family found out about the existence of the cells in the 1970s.

The book combines the story of the cells with the story of the family. I started out feeling sorry for the family because they can’t afford health care even though their mother’s legacy has revolutionized medicine. But, by the middle of the book I wanted to start banging heads together. The family is uneducated so they don’t understand the science of what has happened with the cells. That’s understandable. But instead of trying to learn they prefer to spout conspiracy theories like there is a town made up of clones of their mother in England. People who have tried to explain things to them are dismissed because they refuse to talk to white people. When one daughter and the author go to a hospital and find the records room empty the daughter flies off the handle believing that they burned all the medical records because they knew she was coming to visit. In fact the records had been moved to a bigger room down the hall. Ignorance is one thing but you just can’t help stupid.

Eventually the daughter and one son do decide to accept an offer of help to understand the science. It helps ease their minds and settle down a few of their wilder theories. I think part of the reason this family so offended me is that I spend large parts of my life dealing with people like them. You tell them that their dog has a cold and they go off about that no good neighbor who probably poisoned the dog. I explain again and again that colds happen without poison but they want to believe they are being persecuted.

The book examines the issues of who can profit from tissues collected from patients. Samples are stored indefinitely and used for all kinds of research.

Family Ties by Danielle Steel- Annie inherited her sister’s three children when she was 26 years old. Now 16 years later, the kids are grown and it is time for Annie to decide what she wants her life to be. She has a business but hasn’t dated anyone. She has trouble stepping back from the kids’ lives to see that she deserves love too. It is typical Danielle Steel but I like that.

Getting to Happy by Terry McMillian – This is a sequel to Waiting to Exhale. I didn’t like this book as much as her others. The point of this one is that the characters are all at points in their lives where they aren’t happy and they aren’t sure what to do about it. It was too whiny for me. Her books have always been inspiring and empowering but this one just didn’t work for me.