The Plant Paradox (Steven R. Gundry, MD)

Last year I read Dr. Mercola’s book “Fat for Fuel” and did his program for about a month. That program worked the best for my health of all the programs I’ve tried. After that, I saw an interview with Dr. Gundry by Dr. Mercola. That led me to Dr. Gundry’s most recent book, “The Plant Paradox.”

Dr. Gundry is the former chairman of cardiothoracic surgery at Loma Linda University (among other credentials) who changed his focus to using diet to cure diseases. His research led him to discover proteins in certain foods called lectins that are part of plants’ defense mechanism. These proteins present in foods generally considered healthy are actually harmful to our health. He found that eliminating or neutralizing them led to his patients’ illnesses going away.

The book goes into more details on all this and is fascinating reading. He also presents a program which includes recipes and other guidance for avoiding lectins. I am currently following his program and have noticed an improvement in my own health. Most of the recipes were surprisingly tasty. I consider Dr. Gundry’s program the next step after Dr. Mercola’s MMT program.

I like this book a lot. One example of the many things I like about the book: Dr. Gundry sells supplements on his web site which he mentions in the book but for each mention of his supplements he also mentions generic supplements that you could use instead. I found this helpful since the supplements he sells are pricey. Recommended.

Why Buddhism Is True (Robert Wright)

I never heard of Robert Wright before but I saw this book listed on one of the “Best Books” list and it sounded interesting. Apparently he has written other books in the past including one on evolutionary psychology. But it turned out that the stuff he had previously written about didn’t really help him deal with issues he was thinking about. What did help him was attending a long silent meditation retreat. He had sort of a profound experience there which made him delve deeper into mindfulness meditation (Vipassana). Why Buddhism Is True is his recounting of that experience and his attempt to make sense of it in terms of his previous experience and the stuff he wrote about in his previous books.

I really enjoyed this book. It also made me eager to learn more about mindfulness meditation and perhaps get more into it. To that end I have added a few more books on the topic to my “To Read” list for 2018.

Believer (David Axelrod)

Last year I spent more time listening to podcasts than I should have (that won’t happen this year). One of my favorites was David Axelrod’s podcast, The Axe Files. Axelrod is the director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago. One of the things I liked about The Axe files was the fact that he would have guests from both sides of the aisle. I came to appreciate more Republican politicians from their interviews on Axelrod’s podcast (not all though…).

When I heard he had a book out I wanted to read it. It didn’t disappoint. Axelrod has had quite a career starting from being a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and from there moving on to working on political campaigns. Some of the people whose campaigns he worked one were Senator Paul Simon, Mayor (of Chicago) Harold Washington, and of course Barack Obama. The book has many stories from those campaigns and more. Being a Chicago native, the early days of his political work as well as his time on the Tribune were interesting to me.

I enjoyed this book a lot. I kind of knew I would as I got to know him from his podcast. If you’re interesting in politics, especially Chicago politics in the past or the Obama campaigns or just want to read some interesting political stories I’d recommend this book.

Joni Mitchell – In Her Own Words (Malka Marom)

This is one of those books that has been languishing in my Kindle collection for a long time. I was sitting around waiting for something and opened it up on my phone and couldn’t stop reading it. I finished it in two days. I’ve been a Joni fan since “Court and Spark” and up to “Mingus.” After that I didn’t pay much attention to her albums except for “Turbulent Indigo.” After reading this book I feel I have to go back to the Joni albums in my collection and check out some of her albums that I don’t own.

Malka Marom was a folk singer in Canada in the 60’s, part of a duo – Malka & Joso. One night in 1966 she happened to go to a coffee house and catch the then-unknown Joni Mitchell and was blown away. That started a relationship that lasted decades and included three lengthy interviews with Mitchell: One around the time of “Court and Spark,” one around the time of the “Mingus” album, and one decades later in 2012. These three interviews are the core of this book.

Maybe it’s because the interviewer is a long-time acquaintance, maybe it’s because the interviewer is a fellow performer, maybe it’s because there is a lot of shared history, maybe because the interviewer gives the interviewee a lot of space; for whatever reason, Mitchell is quite candid in all three interviews. It’s also interesting what she has to say at the different stages of her life that the interviews are taken from: the transition from solo performer to fronting a band (Tom Scott’s L.A. Express), the time of the Mingus project and declining commercial appeal, and the more recent time dealing with illness and looking back on a long career. It’s a fascinating look at an uncompromising artist.

The book also includes photos of a selection of Mitchell’s art and asides from people who have worked with Mitchell. For me this was a great book. Highly recommended.


Tribe of Mentors (Timothy Ferriss)

I wondered if I would like this book. On the surface it seemed very similar to his previous book, Tools of Titans, except with shorter entries. The difference here, though is that he asked everyone the same set of questions. Not every entry has answers to all the questions and a few entries deviated from the standard set. There are also a few examples of folks saying no to Ferriss’ request to participate (“How to say no”). In addition there are several pages across the book with quotes that Ferriss was “pondering.” I think they were taken from his “Five Bullet Friday” email newsletter.

I ended up liking the book a lot. It became my favorite bathroom read. The entries are short. And varied. I got some good ideas from some of the entries. There were some that I didn’t think were helpful (for me) at all. The folks answering the question come from many different backgrounds which also made it interesting.

I think Ferriss’ great value is as an interviewer, connector, and researcher. In this format his value add was formulating the questions, finding interesting people to answer them, and letting that be. I’ve read all of Ferriss’ books so far and gotten something valuable from each of them. I would recommend this book.