An Eater's Manifesto

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (Hard Cover Book) by Michael Pollan

Our general book department is staffed by students with ranging interests and tastes, all spending their hours surrounded by the same books.  Luckily, our shelves host a few different options (about 80,000) and there really is something for everyone.  

Student employees from the General Book department regularly review their favorites, offering a slightly different perspective than you might find on a book's back cover.  One from this month's selection is In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.  This pretty little non-fiction selection is written by Michael Pollan, made famous by The Omnivore's Dilemma (did anyone else's high school biology class read this?)

In Defense of Food is an interesting book, discussing the nature of the food we eat today.  Bottom line, "healthy eating" seems like an easy concept, but is made difficult by the thousands of options on grocery aisles.  And chocolate cravings.  

So, is this one worth reading?  Mary, a student employee from our General Book department wrote a review.  
"The world is filled with conflicting advice about food and nutrition. There are so many choices and no definitive answers.  Michael Pollan makes eating healthy eating easy.  
Eat Food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.
This book is a must read for anyone who has ever wondered what he or she should eat."
Have you read it? Worth the 205 pages or should we spend our time googling 'homemade snickers recipes' instead?

(It's also 25% Off this month, the perks of being a staff pick)

And While We're on the Topic (of book covers)

Did you know J.D. Salinger had strict rules about the content of his book covers?

Title and name.
No blurbs.
No biography.
No quotes.
No exceptions.

This policy came about after a nasty publishing mishap with Catcher in the Rye.  Turns out Salinger's publisher decided to follow the trends of the time and branded the cover with some "raunchy" design, against Salinger's preferences.  Needless to say, there was some backlash.  Salinger was disgusted by the garish design on the cover, terminated his contract and enforced strict rules from there on out.  He was also dealing with some serious emotional disturbances, but that's another story. 

Book Covers: A Worthy Judge of Character?

Random House compiled a list of "The 20 Most Iconic Book Covers Ever" last week.  I was thrilled.  I clicked through on by one, so excited to see what their choices would be.  Most of them were classics, cover art I've seen time and time again, but some of them were covers that have long since been redesigned, or replaced with a photo from their subsequent movie (am I the only one that hates when they do that?)  

Book covers and the images that grace them are a big deal.  With strong, poignant art, how can you not judge a book by its cover?

I'll never forget an afternoon spent in my local Borders (R.I.P.) during high school.  My best friend and I were on the hunt for a novel suitable for a joint English class project.  The objective was clear: we were to find a book we would simultaneously read, and relate our feeling sand reactions through corresponding journal entries.  Having just finished All the Pretty Horses and Heart of Darkness, we wanted something tailored to our 17-year-old-extremely-feminine-teetering-on-adulthood taste.  I should mention, we were shamelessly judging these books by their covers. 

Bel Canto looked a little dull.  The Road too foreboding.  Then we saw American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfield. 

That cover was all that mattered.  We could have cared less about the author's name or the size of the book or the price.  They were overshadowed by our immediate reaction to the cover.  It featured a women sitting in a white gown, lush and beaded and enveloping, with a gloved hand wearing a wedding ring delicately clasped in her lap.  The cover cuts off below her head, forcing you to focus on that hand and its wedding ring.  The title is displayed along the top, simple and clean and classic.  We bought that book entirely based off the cover.  The project turned out well and in retrospect, our journal entries back and forth are priceless caricatures of our 17-year-old selves.  I love that book, even though there were parts I didn't necessarily love and many that I've since forgotten. 

The cover drew us in and forever branded that book my mind.  The cover set the tone.  It was the trailer to the book, the thing I knew about before I knew anything else.  Now, years later, it's how I've categorized that story and the lessons I learned therein. 

Cover art really is art, made especially exciting by the fact there's an entire story for you waiting behind it. 

What books have you bought for the cover?

BYU Bookstore Marketing

Mark Twain: the original Missourian

Today's post comes from Anita, our manager of Children's Literature.
(Intimidating guy, no?)

"'Classic' -- a book which people praise and don't read."              
 -Mark Twain

I love the focus on Mark Twain that grew from the 2010 100th anniversary of his death.  It was more than just promotional hype because Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain's real name) had stipulated that his uncensored biography not be released to public view until 100 years after his death.    Five thousand pages of unedited memoir will eventually be available to the public, starting with the 2010 November publication of volume one. I have to ask myself, what he was compelled to write that required 100 years to cool off?

Mark Twain is a favorite of mine because of his amazing ability to tell an entertaining story, while simultaneously looking inside the human race and identifying truth.  His stories identify truth in human nature more clearly than if you were looking at it through a microscope.   The man was a genius, funny, fallible, and outrageous--but still a genius. 

If you have no hope or desire to slog through 5000 pages of memoir, at least enjoy the byproduct of new Mark Twain publications that are off shoots of this event.  A favorite of mine is The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West by Side Fleischman.  So titled because the first posters advertising Mark Twain appearances advised that the doors would open at seven, “The Trouble to begin at 8 o’clock.”  This book has lots of photos and is a quick read. Another favorite is The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Suzy) by Barbara Kerley has excerpts from Suzy Clemen's journal.  A humorous introduction to Mark Twin can be found in Robert Burleigh’s The Adventures of Mark Twain by Huckleberry Finn.  

Biographies aside, my favorite work of  Mark Twain's is The Diaries of Adam and Eve: translated by Mark Twain

What's yours?