Friday, June 15, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Guest Post: Connie Bridge)

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
by Jonathan Safran Foer
This was an extremely good book. I watched the movie first because it won a bunch of awards. The movie was so emotional and so good I had to read the book.
Sometimes it is better to see a movie before you read the book. To me, this was one of those times, I think. I listen to Books on CDs at work. And sometimes I can concentrate on the book and sometimes I have to concentrate on work. I had to listen to this book 2 times. BUT it was so good that I loved it even better the second time.
The main story is a drama that “follows the journey of a nine-year-old boy as he attempts to solve a family mystery.”
Oskar, a studious 9-year-old who either has Asperger’s syndrome, “has heavy boots, as he calls feeling down, because he carries a secret he hasn’t shared with anybody else. He was sent home from school soon after the attacks on 9/11 and was the first one home. There he found five messages from his father calling from one of the World Trade Towers on the answering machine, and he replaced the phone and kept the messages to himself. He likes to be in his father’s closet because ‘it made my boots lighter to be around his things, and to touch stuff that he touched.’ He finds a vase on the highest shelf of the closet, and inside the vase he finds a key in an envelope. The only thing written on the envelope is “Black.” 
This key sets Oskar off on a quest to find the story behind it, to find the secret that his father kept, in hopes that it would help him understand his dad better. He computes how many keys and how many locks there must be in New York City, and decides that “Black” must be somebody’s last name. Starting with the top of the alphabet for all the Blacks in the phonebook, he then sets out every weekend to visit them in order and see if they know anything about his father or the key. Most of the people he visits also seem to be dealing with some sort of loss in their lives, and Oskar is often at a loss how to interact with them. He finds a Mr. Black in his own building, a 103-year old war reporter who hasn’t left his apartment or heard anything since his wife died. He is so taken by Oskar’s quest that he agrees to accompany him on his journeys across town. Mr. Black tells Oskar, “It’s not a horrible world . . . but it’s filled with a lot of horrible people.” Eventually Oskar is aided by the mysterious tenant in his grandmother’s apartment, and Oskar convinces him to help dig up his father’s empty casket.
Other underlying stories are about his grandmother and grandfather and their lives in Europe during World War 2. Although sometimes it is not so easy to follow, I like the underlying stories almost as much as Oskar’s story.
Yes, it is emotional but a great thought provoking book.  I recommend reading it 2 times. And maybe even watching the movie first to get the basic premise of the book. LOVED IT! 
Connie Bridge

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Drop Dead Healthy

Drop Dead Healthy is a fantastic plethora of fun facts. The author, A.j. Jacobs, is on a mission to be the healthiest man in the world. For 2 years he focuses every month on a different body part.

It covers everything from flossing (which could possibly add 6.4 years to your life) to how squatting while going number 2 instead of sitting can help prevent hemorrhoids (we were not meant to sit on toilets, we were meant to squat in fields, which completely eliminates reading on the toilet).

PHOTO: A.J. Jacobs spent two years trying out every diet plan, every work-out routine, every self-improvement trick and technique out there. He documented his journey in his new book, "Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Quest for Bodily Perfection."The great thing about this book was that a lot of the things I learned I can actually apply to my life and they were understandable. Yes, I will start walking more because we are not made to sit as long as we do. Maybe I will start thinking about what I'm eating (big maybe), but I will definitely start eating smaller portions (we eat too dang much). Jacobs does a superb job of explaining in a non-textbook way how to be healthy and gives you so many options that allows you to determine what would be best for you.

In an interview with Forbes Magazine, Jacobs was asked what they top 3 things he did to improve his health were. His response was, "never sit at your desk for more than an hour. Sitting is surprisingly bad for your heart, like eating a deep-fried Twinkie while smoking. Any movement helps, even getting up from your desk every hour to walk around for a couple of minutes." Jacobs wrote the book while walking on the treadmill and went an astounding 1,200 miles. His second tip is to chew your food, "Seems minor, but chewing slows you down, which means you eat less, which means you get thinner." Extreme chewers say to chew 50 times. His last tip is to avoid white foods, "white bread, white rice, white flour, even potatoes - these things will send your blood sugar rocketing. They are the devil".

The most important thing I learned from this book is that there is a fine line between being healthy and being healthy. I learned that it is very healthy to have human interaction and friendships, but I also learned that if you eat with people who don't eat healthy you are more likely not to eat healthy. So are you willing to give up eating with your friends so you can eat healthy, or are you willing to give up eating healthy to eat with you friends (I hope my friends pick the latter option seeing as my diet consists of pizza, coke and hot dogs).

Mo Bridge

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Summer Reading List

Summer Reading
School is almost over! Finals will begin in one week and the most excitement I have for summer is that I will be able to get through so many books without having to restrict myself to 2 hours a day of personal reading due to school responsibilities. I'm also excited for all the hiking, fourwheeling, boating and working. In high school some teachers would require those students who were taking the "smart people" classes to read during the summer. I am making my own list and calling it the "I don't have to focus on college, so I will catch up on all the books I've missed out on, summer reading list". In short I will call it Summer Reading List.