03 February 2010

well read wed.

Sometime last spring I noticed a book tagging around with Land. At school, at night, in the car. It was Everything is Illuminated. I liked the title. I liked the bright colored cover. I did not think I would want to read it. I assumed it was in the same genre as Hairstyles of the Damned and the Electric Koolaid Acid Test [other books that have kept Land company - and don't get me wrong I like a good Tom Wolfe novel, just not that one]. We were at parent-teacher conference soon after and Land's English teacher asked if he was reading Everything is Illuminated. I so proudly piped in, "Yes." Well the reply amounted to: WRONG answer: he's supposed to be reading, Lord of the Flies after just finishing Go Ask Alice. I was instantly deflated, and understood why depression lurks among sophomores. How can you survive a Cache Valley 'worst air in the nation' inversion when you're immersed in Lord of the Flies? Seriously, I still get sick to my stomach remembering the storyline. So now my interest in what Land was distracting himself with piqued. I noticed the movie version on the discount table and picked it up. We watched it together. Unbeleivably good. So I read the book. And then I picked up the author's [Jonathan Safran Foer] next book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Couldn't put it down. Close to finishing I was catching extra air in my breaths. Adreneline rush and anxiety about this inventive story coming to an end. So as the New Year began and I was putting together a resolution list I noticed that Mr. Foer had yet another book out, Eating Animals. Actually, I had picked it up long before, but had given it to my dad to read when he left his book on an airport shuttle. Like father, like daughter - I just left my latest book on the airplane coming home from Cayman.

Back to the book. Taken from the inside cover, "Eating Animals explores the many stories we use to justify our eating habits." Having a few food allergies [ie: dairy] I know I feel better when I eliminate animal products from my diet. But, oh have you ever tried to give up cheese, or bacon, or a really good steak. I kept hearing Antonio asking the vegetarians in Mexico while eating to die for carne asada, "Why do you deny yourselves the great pleasures in life?" To quote the text quoting Mark Twain, "quitting smoking is among the easiest things one can do; he did it all the time." That is how I have been in the past with a no-meat diet...'conscientious inconsistency.' Then I got further into the book. I was exposed to factory farming and slaughter house procedures: unimaginable. Land's host mom called me to ask about his diet and they said they did not eat pork because they felt pigs were intelligent creatures and they did not agree with how they are treated. I felt a bit ok that I knew a bit about what she was speaking of. I still struggled with the knowledge I had gained and if I was going to act on it. I underlined this sentence, "Whether we change our lives or do nothing, we have responded. To do nothing is to do something." And so I set a one month resolution, "Don't eat animals." And as of today I accomplished it. And I feel spectacular. I have cooked some good food that even the boys have loved... like mouth-watering, roll your eyes in the back of your head vegetarian faire. My skin is better. Weight is coming off. I think I'll renew this goal for month two of the year. Now this was my choice. I was influenced by a powerful storyteller who said, "...I'm not trying to convince people to live by my standards of what's right. I'm trying to convince them to live by their own."

Read Well:

Everything is Illuminated

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Eating Animals

all by Jonathan Safran Foer

I'll have to post some recipes. One other resolution I accomplished was to take my own bags to the grocery store. Easy. Plus Smith's Marketplace pays you 5 cents per personal bring-your-own bag.

3 comments:

karen gerstenberger said...

Thank you for telling us about this author; I don't recall his name, but the book titles ring a bell. Isn't it magical that a well-written book or story can actually move you to change? What a powerful gift.

I could not agree MORE with you about "Lord of the Flies." I felt the same way about "A Separate Peace," and when David had to read "Lord...," I was disgusted to find that in 30+ years, no one has re-thought that choice. It's a hideous work, in my opinion, and totally unsuitable for their age group. There. I've said it. Thank you for the podium. I'll step down now. =)

AnnDeO said...

Thank you for commenting Karen on Lord of the Flies. Maybe if enough parents point this out it could possibly change. This year Land read 'Secret Life of Bees' which is a good story I just have yet to see the line of reasoning with the book selections. My favorite book in high school was Anna Karenina.

echo said...

i enjoyed the movie version of everything is illuminated but i have not read any of his books.
i never did read lord of the flies. it was one of those books that i was supposed to read, never did, but somehow took the test and still did well. haha