Diary of a Book Nerd: September 2016 Book Reviews


This has been an emotionally challenging month of books. One of the most difficult things about learning is the pain and discomfort it brings. I can’t read these books aloud to others, and yet as I’m reading them, they are changing my viewpoint, expanding my knowledge and becoming the filter from which I see the world. I’m taking a break from books about animal rights, it’s entirely too depressing and is taking a toll on my relationships.  You can expect more business- oriented books in the future, I can’t stay on this animal rights trajectory and remain the positive, happy, kind person that I have usually been. This subject rips out your beating heart. Without the ability to stop the world’s eating habits, I’ve changed and the whole world stays the same, I learn to keep my mouth shut and my heart bleeds through my eyes. I digress. I highly recommend an equal balance in book subjects so you can avoid depression and despair.


The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

This book is notoriously gruesome, but it is renowned as being one of the first accounts to expose the intimate practices of the burgeoning meat-packing industry and incite public attention to the dire need for change in early 1900’s Chicago. Not only is this book tragic and horrifying, (bet you really want to read it now!) but it illustrates a whole culture of deception and degradation toward immigrant workers in this industry at that time. The endlessly painful details of the struggling, desperate lives of these immigrants (who went through so much to get here in an attempt to better their lives) gave me a sickening perspective of just how lucky I am to live a life of cleanliness, health and dignity.

This book is not one to read on a beach when you’re trying to enjoy yourself. I read this book to gain a first person perspective of this industry’s  beginnings and to better understand all aspects of the animal agriculture industry’s practices. I devote myself to these studies so that I can be a more knowledgable and consequently, a more effective animal rights activist. In the process, I learned that the moral degradation and abuse is not limited to the animals in this industry.

I am glad I read this book, for a number of reasons, even though I can’t really say I recommend it, because it’s straight up, a huge downer. I am grateful for this perspective anyway,  simply because I now understand references made to this book, I have a better idea of how life worked for immigrants in that area during that time period, and it helped shift my infrequent bouts of self-pity for things I desire in life to immense gratitude for my health and the well being of my family. The innumerable blessings in my life became vivid and blaring every time I let my eyes wander up from the pages of this book. Mr. Upton Sinclair painfully conveys exactly the amount of insurmountable pain and incessant suffering a human can handle before they simply give in to the pressure. I couldn’t hang, I’d probably kill myself. Not sure if this review is helping anyone desire to read this book, now that I’ve reread what I’ve written. Haha, You’ve been warned!

Roald Dahl is an oddball but he is the Man.

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

I know, everyone has seen the classic movie with Gene Wilder, and perhaps less people have seen the strange new version with Johnny Depp. Being a huge fan of Roald Dahl’s work, I had to read this book. I’ve been reading chapter books with my son, so this story was a fun and silly nightly read. There were plenty of illustrations by the quirky and awesome Quentin Blake, and a few deviations from the movies, which I enjoyed better than the movie adaptations.

In the book, Charlie doesn’t do anything wrong, he is an appreciative boy and it is out of his character to drink the Fizzy Lifting Drink and have to burp his way down. Charlie wouldn’t dare do that! Also, in the newer adaptation of the movie, in the end, Willy Wonka says he can have the factory only if he leaves his family behind. What a creep! Who would do that to a little boy? I would tell that perv Wonka to GTF Outta my tiny destroyed house if I heard him asking my son to make the choice. What a dick! I was also disgusted with the irreverent way he smashed his glass elevator into the house with zero regard for Charlie’s family.

In the book, Willy Wonka still smashes into the house, but at least he lets his whole family move into the factory with them after destroying everything they own. He’s still a creep and a megalomaniac, but at least he isn’t a complete demon in the book. I liked it alright, but honestly, the songs are super long and boring, and I had no idea how to sing them pleasantly, so reading this book out loud became a chore every time an Oompa Loompa song came around, which was often for awhile there when the kids start dropping off.

I think you’re maybe better off just watching the 1971 original and doing your best to forget about this strange, psychedelic story, with more than it’s share of disturbing darkness, so you don’t have any haunting dreams. Anyone with half a brain can sense that Wonka is not to be trusted, the guy is clearly off his rocker.


The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

Finally, a book that I can tell everyone to read! This book is motivating, inspirational, and a serious catalyst for change. I think it’s safe to call this book a Life Changer.

The principals in this book are simple and profound. Basically he is saying this: Every decision you make in your life is either helping  you or hurting you. There are no neutral decisions. Every tiny discipline you implement into your life on a daily basis compounds day after day, until your success is inevitable. Duh, right? Do the work and the work will get done. The way this guy illustrates his points over and over, clearly and in different ways, it really drills into your head what you need to do to succeed in ANYTHING in life.

This book makes you realize that everyone always has a choice, that most people fail, and what will set you apart is consistent habits, daily. You either do or you don’t. You’re getting closer, or further away. It’s so motivating because it becomes painfully clear how correct he is and how obvious his truths are. This book is the reason I’m making this blog happen right MEOW! I’m either a blogger, or Not a blogger anymore. I exercise daily or I used to exercise. Ouch. I’m gonna buy everyone this book for Christmas because it’s like, the key to success. If you keep going, every day, without fail, toward your goal, success is inevitable. If you lose momentum and give up, failure is inevitable. My Dad gave me this book, and for so long it sat on my shelf. Little did I know this gem would be the fire I desperately needed right now! Awesome book, Dad.

Imperative reading, but the truth hurts.

Diet For A New America by John Robbins

This book is completely eye-opening. John Robbins is the son of Baskin Robbins fame, set to inherit his place in ice cream royalty when life gave him other plans. After watching his family members suffer from ill health after a lifetime of an abundance of ice cream, John became a vegan as an act of rebellion against his family and the complacent, prevalent social acceptance of these products of violence and their unhealthy qualities. He has written numerous books that have sold millions of copies printed in many languages and has won more than a handful of humanitarian awards for his widespread work as a proponent of removing meat and dairy from the American diet to prolong the life of Americans.

John’s work in this book is so thorough and exhaustive, yet it is his kind tone and bite-sized anecdotal stories that makes this book difficult to put down. The information is so alarming and absolutely the opposite of what we have all been told in school for generations. He provides extensive evidence and references for all of his information and basically, once you read this book, your conscience will not allow you to look at meat and dairy without reeling over the amount of suffering and long reaching negative affects the production and consumption of these products has on the world and ALL of it’s inhabitants.

I finished reading this book and proceeded to drive all of my closest friends and family away because I couldn’t stand to keep this information to myself, while every single person around me casually eats dairy, thinking that is gives us calcium and strong bones. Meanwhile, I now understand explicitly that the overconsumption of protein negates the ability for calcium to be used by the body, causing phosporus to be leached from the bones, thereby causing osteoporosis. Isn’t that insanity?! We’ve been told milk gives us strong bones, and yet in innumerable, extensive studies, the countries that have the HIGHEST incidences of osteoporosis are exactly those that also have the highest consumption of dairy products.

A study on Atherosclerosis (the hardening and thickening of the arterial walls that pump blood to the heart and brain due to overconsumption of cholesterol) found that the consumption of three or more eggs a week is associated with a significant increase in artery-clogging plaque buildup, which is a strong predictor of stroke, heart attack, and death.


The meat, dairy and egg industries pay millions to negate these studies and confuse the public, successfully, thanks to lobbyists in the government that suppress this information while continually spreading misinformation on a massive scale.


I could go on and on, but I’ve caused more than enough problems in my own life for speaking too candidly about the millions of reasons to avoid these foods. All I can do is highly, highly recommend you put your feelings aside, and allow yourself to open your eyes to a new reality that isn’t funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, the very industry that stands to gain billions of dollars from the children and adults indoctrinated daily in our school systems and through our prevalent, invasive media, into believing animal products are a crucial part of a healthy diet.eb5b2a51b935b16d95ad08e19de8530d

This book is a loaded bomb of so many truths, it blew up my former belief system and left me shocked and angry. I felt a little hopeless, despite John’s solid positive statements at the end of every chapter about how it could be different if people were able to make a change. This book was written in 1987 and I still only know one vegan person in real life, in 2016, a full 29 years later, so yeah. It left me feeling pretty much completely hopeless. Informed, loaded with information that makes people angry, resentful of me, uncomfortable. The more I learn, the more I learn about all of the lies prevalent in our society. The disturbing part is, you would think people would want to know the truth. They don’t. If you’re one of the few who appreciates truth, I recommend this book absolutely.  It’s the most thorough and convincing book I’ve read, loaded with disturbing but imperative, hidden information.  If you aren’t ready to make a change, you will not like what you learn from this book. If you’re ready to step out of our society of purposeful ignorance, this book is a loving, compassionate, yet stinging splash of ice water on the face.

Sorry my books this month are so heavy! It’s no wonder I’ve been so down lately. The truth hurts. I don’t have time for fluffy entertainment. I seek the truth to better myself, make informed decisions, and to expand my knowledge daily so I can be aware of the full range of effects I am having on the lives of others on this cluster-fuck of a planet. I wish you joyful, informative reading, even if the subject matter isn’t always sunshine and roses. My goal is to reduce suffering, and to properly do so, I must bravely face injustice and take responsibility for my actions and their ripples across the pond.


This next month though, I’m reading a higher ratio of happier books. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

To read last month’s book reviews, click HERE!


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