Reviews - e-books and audiobooks: Global travel, diet, a slacker's memoir
Grunge, Nerds, and Gastropubs
by Kevin Craft
Amazon Digital Services
What does the ability to buy music at the click of a mouse have to do with the organic food trend? How can grunge be understood through the framework of Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History? Culture vultures excited by such questions will enjoy Kevin Craft’s essays in Grunge, Nerds, and Gastropubs, in which he examines his youth and, among other things, that age group’s propensity for a “mandatory disinterest born of a lack of material needs”. Growing up in the US during the early 1990s was a time when he felt at one with the music of Nirvana and slacker culture. It was also a time when depression was “the ultimate signifier of enlightenment”, which is perhaps why Generation Xers, unlike punks or flower children of previous youth movements, did not foment rebellion but accepted their lot with a shrug. Most interesting are Craft’s arguments explaining why “foodiesm” has become such a pervasive phenomenon and the part played by our desire for authenticity. Many will find this Kindle Single entertaining. True slackers will say: “whatever”.
Around the World in 50 Years: My Adventure to Every Country on Earth
by Albert Podell
Thomas Dunne Books
Around the World in 50 Years may make you wonder, "What took you so long?" But read Albert Podell's account of his swashbuckling exploits and you'll understand this was not a single circumnavigation but 102 separate journeys. In the late 1950s, Jack Kerouac's On the Road was the spark that got Podell going. By 1982, however, the former Playboy editor, lawyer and government lobbyist had visited just 51 countries. His book is not the type of travel guide that ticks off the countries the way one draws lines through items on a shopping list. That's probably why every journey seems replete with adventure: there's Podell about to be lynched in Pakistan after being called a spy; him bargaining with an Algerian police officer keen to buy one of Podell's beautiful travel companions; him cursing the lack of trees to climb up to escape from Cape buffalo, Africa's most dangerous animal, etc. About the only thing he writes about Hong Kong concerns a meal in Wan Chai, where the pièce de résistance was allegedly live monkey brains.
The Blue Zones Solution
by Dan Buettner
(read by Joe Barrett)
People who watch their diets won't find much they don't already know in The Blue Zones Solution. But they should still reacquaint themselves with the "secrets" to longevity shared by the world's oldest, and healthiest, people (who live in communities identified as "Blue Zones"). Dan Buettner, who started researching the subject more than a decade ago, reminds wannabe centenarians that it's not just what you eat but how you live that may help you get to 100. That means disengaging with the sofa and partaking in physical activity, being sociable and reducing stress. Apart from talking to old, sprightly Japanese on Okinawa, members of a Seventh-day Adventist community in California, and others, he interviews Pekka Puska, the Finnish visionary who spearheaded the North Karelia Project in the 1970s. (It promoted a low-fat, high-vegetable diet that saw cardiovascular disease plummet among the population. Joe Barrett narrates the book, which includes 77 recipes, in friendly tones, advancing its feel-good nature.