Good Books….

Here’s a round-up of some interesting non-fiction I read earlier this “spring” (if that’s what we’re calling the cold grey downpour that was April). A note here, as these are three fairly glowing reviews—I am in NO way affiliated with any of these authors. Just appreciated their books.

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The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon Many of you know, and likely salivate while reading Angela Liddon’s beautiful blog www.ohsheglows. And if already you’re a fan of her inventive and delicious Vegan fare, warm, self-deprecating stories, and gorgeous food photography, then you’re in for a treat. Her cookbook glows too…from the nutrient packed, rainbow-colored smoothies section, to the impressive selection of Vegan mains, to the final fabulous dessert section, Angela does NOT disappoint. Everything I’ve tried so far has been scrumptious, and her YOLOS, a vegan interpretation of a popular roll-shaped candy, will convert the most sceptical anti-veg. Highly recommended, for Vegans and Non-Vegans alike.

28 Days Lighter by Ellen Barrett and Kate Hanley Ok, forget about the title for a moment–this is NOT a diet book, it’s about the menstrual cycle.  Gentlemen, you may want to go stick your fingers in your ears while singing LALALA for these next paragraphs.

Fitness expert Ellen Barrett and Wellness Coach Kate Hanley have teamed up to provide women with a detailed guide to understanding their menstrual cycle, with tips to make each phase more bearable. The goal here is not so much weight loss, but a deep understanding of the moon cycle that allows women to flow through the month (if you’ll excuse the expression) without bloating, cramping or pre-menstrual mood swings. This understanding is grounded in Western Medicine, but also in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Yoga and Ayurveda (Traditional East Indian Medicine).

Some of Barrett and Hanley’s suggestions are wise but very counter-cultural. For example, they recommend NO exercise and additional rest or sleep during the first two days of a woman’s period. The idea here is that the body is already working very hard to shed that uterine lining, and exercise diverts the body’s energy away from that crucial task, creating strain.  (Ashtanga yoginis will be familiar with this theory, as Pattabhi Jois also advocated for a “Ladies’ Holiday” from yoga practice during the first days of the cycle). For the pre-menstrual part of the cycle, which they name the Vixen phase, Barrett and Hanley recommend Solitude, Hydration, and Cardio. Essentially, the authors say that women should find the time to be by themselves and to walk briskly, dance or bike in order to channel energy and preempt irritability.

After implementing a few of their suggestions, and finding that they DO make a real difference in how I feel and react, I can heartily recommend this book. For more information, do check out the authors’ websites www.ellenbarrett.com or www.msmindbody.com

Paris Letters by Janice McLeod Ok, I admit, I am an unabashed fan of re-invention memoirs. (This couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that I am in my mid-thirties, and trying to re-invent myself. Heavens, no! ) And this one is especially fun.

This is the story Janice MacLeod, a Canadian copywriter who has achieved success. At the beginning of the book, she is living in a big American city, working for a large company. She has a nice apartment and financial ease. But she is beginning to feel trapped by her career and her mere two weeks of vacation per year.

One New Year’s, she resolves to write three pages in her journal everyday, and to see what changes result. In so doing, she discovers she wants to travel. Thus begins a money saving blitz during which Janice MacLeod cuts out all frills, becomes Vegan (to avoid the expense of meat) and generally scrimps.  At the end of it, she has saved enough money to go to Europe for a year. While in Paris, she meets and falls in love with a butcher named Christophe. After travelling through more of Europe. Christophe calls her back to Paris. There, Janice starts a business sending subscription water-color illustrated letters about Paris back home to Canada and the United States. She is still making a living by writing, only now, she writes about what she loves, on her own hours, in a truly enchanting setting.

What sets this book apart from the traditional re-invention memoir is MacLeod’s refreshing frankness. She tells us what she had to give up to save money, including a whole list of saving tips at the end of the book. She is also careful to point out that challenges constantly come up, even in her new life : MacLeod struggles to learn French. All of which makes for a very pragmatic, but still quite inspiring book. Do check out her continued adventures in Paris at: www.janicemacleod.com