Sunday, August 21, 2011

Time for the annual 'cottage trip book review'

I'm just back from 2 glorious weeks of vacation at our Northern Ontario cottage.  I know there are so many more 'important' things I need to be doing (like the 10 piles of laundry I have scattered on the laundry room floor).  But if there is anything I have learned from years of cottaging it is not to expect too much of myself the first day or two back. 

It was a busy couple of weeks.  We managed to get the cottage painted and enjoyed many rainy days lounging, reading and relaxing.

I didn't get as much reading done as I normally do on my northern getaway, but the books I did get in were totally worth it and reminded me that I am always guided to just what I need when I need it.

First up; Alicia Silverstone's "The Kind Diet".  I saw this book at the local Indigo store and thought it looked interesting, lucky for me the local library had a copy!  Since switching up our diet a little, kicking processed foods to the curb and eating more raw foods I thought it would be a great idea to look into how others are doing it.  Alicia's all about veganism, she talks alot about the impact our diet has on our environment and discusses the positive changes that could take place globally if we were all a little more conscious about what we eat.  Although, she's not a raw foodie, her recipes are all delicious looking, packed with nutrients and environmentally friendly.  This is a book I will be purchasing to have on my recipe book shelf.  Definitely!

Helene Cooper's 'The House at Sugar Beach'.  A young girl's account of what life was like, raised in Monrovia in a 22 room mansion by the sea in the 70's.  Her family flees to the USA when Liberia erupts into civil war and she begins her journey as an American citizen, how she becomes a valued media correspondent and her journey back to Liberia 23 years after the fact.
Cooper's ancestors are traced back to the first ship of freeman to set sail from New York to Monrovia in 1820, so this book is also chalk full of history (which is exactly the way I like to learn my history).
Definitely a worthy read.

'Stealing Buddha's Dinner' by Bich Minh Nguyen.  The entire book is about a young Vietnamese girl who comes of age in Grand Rapids, Michigan and relates food of every flavour to her upbringing and her journey.  I found it interesting how Nguyen related every experience to the food, whether it was celebration or tragedy, it was all about the food.  A few times I found myself putting the book away because it was making me hungry for all the junk food I had packed for the kids. 
This story put into perspective what it would be like for an immigrant.  The things they would have to adjust to, the social aspects, the difference in cultures and the abundance of food!  All things we all take for granted.

'Mandela's Way Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love and Courage' by Richard Stengel.  There's just something about Nelson Mandela that draws me in and this book might just be my favourite of all I read on vacation.
Stengel shares stories of intimate time spent with Mandela and shares what was learned and how Mandela handled each situation. 
I love a book that gives me an opportunity to reflect upon my own life, my own character and how I could make a positive difference in my world.  Stengel writes in such a way that it feels like you are getting to know his subject more deeply and intimately.  A truly inspiring read!

Last but certainly not least, 'Mother Teresa's Secret Fire' by Joseph Langford.  As much as I like to reflect when I read, I also like to get down to the nitty gritty right away and to do this you need to start on Chapter 8 of this book.  Once I got to the point of the message Langford wanted to convey I found myself being affected deeply by his words and found it much easier to take in the message.
This book is a tad bit religious, I was hoping for more simplistic material as Mother Teresa was a simple (and at the same time profoundly deep) woman.
Who Mother Teresa was, what she encountered, her love of Jesus and faith in God is something we can all have.  She wasn't born with all of this divine connection, it grew inside of her and her faith grew out of that.  She reminds us that Jesus has deep love for us, for who we are RIGHT now.  We need not wait to become something different or better than we already are to receive and feel divine Love.  A great read for anyone wanting confirmation of their worthiness on this planet, or who simply wants to know more about what made this amazing woman tick.

Well, that's it, the 'cottage trip book review'.

If you read any of these or have read them, I'd love to hear what you thought!

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