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315 items in my library, not enough hours in the day…

Although 315 does not sound like a lot of books to me, if I spend any time extrapolating out into the future… wait, I can’t. I’ll just take it one book, one chapter, one page at a time and see how it goes.

Yesterday, on my way to the public library (not to read books, but to do some learning on my computer), I passed two book stores. Well, one book store that is open and stocked with books, and another that used to be open and stocked with used books. Sadly for them, and I guess fortunately for me as I still feel the pull to browse and buy, they seem to have packed up and put brown paper on the windows in anticipation of whatever’s next. Seems to be fewer and fewer places to buy real books that doesn’t involve a virtual shopping cart.

I’m still making my way through the “Baby Boomer Diet”, although you wouldn’t know it from the weekend frenzy of deep dish pizza and Zap’s potato chip helping a friend from New Orleans celebrate his birthday in Chicago. I photocopied the chart of how to properly combine food and posted it on my refrigerator, hoping it will sink in by osmosis. My upcoming trip to New York does not bode well for BED.

Basically, there are four food combos that work best for digestion. Animal protein with non-starchy and ocean vegetables, starchy vegetables and grains with non-starchy and ocean vegetables and fats, protein fats (kefir, seeds, soaked and sprouted almonds) with acid fruits, non-starchy and ocean vegetables, and animal protein with fats (though this last appears in dark gray as a warning against over-consumption).

Eat fruits at least 30 minutes before or 3 hours after a meal. Leave your stomach 20 percent empty. Eat smaller meals more frequently if that works best. I’ll let you know when I actually begin…


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First step… Cleanse!

Well into a hundred pages in Donna Gates’ book and I’m not yet daunted. I know I’ll have to say farewell to caffeine and sneak in a taste of alcohol while she’s not looking, but I haven’t started yet, so red wine for everyone!

A hormone check is on the horizon, but first she recommends three months of easing into the diet, cleansing and doing things like acupuncture, and thanks to Groupon and Living Social, I have some half-price sessions coming my way. Now, does one want to entrust their health (hair, skin, body, nails and/or stomach) to someone offering their services at such a deep discount? I’ve been using these coupons for more than a year now, and haven’t really had a bad experience. There was one cranky masseuse, and a haircut that took a couple of days to accept, but other than that, I’ve had many lovely massages, mani/pedi’s, haircuts, facials and discounted meals.

I followed Adina Niemerow’s “Super Cleanse” last summer (, beginning with a week of raw food and moving into a juice fast, which ended just shy of five days when I positively had to eat something solid. Overall, eating raw and juicing made me feel lighter and a bit more energetic, but man, was I cranky! Too much abstinence makes for an unhappy girl. Balance, balance, balance!

However, I found myself adhering as much as possible to the raw, clean food lifestyle. Until I came home on the night of September 1, 2011 to find a strange man kneeling on my bed, shoving things into my backpack. But that’s another post for another day.

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The Baby Boomer Diet: Body Ecology’s Guide to Growing Younger by Donna Gates

Well, if that’s not a title to make you want to dive in and follow every recommendation. I have been familiar with Donna Gates’ Body Ecology Diet, or BED, for a few years now. She’s a big proponent of gut flora. Did you know that more than 60% of your immune system is located in your intestines? Gives a new meaning to those “gut feelings” doesn’t it.

Seems like public enemy number one of our gut health has a name that everyone knows: Louis Pasteur. Yes, the man who discovered “germs” and gave them a universal stamp of disapproval took his theories too far. Indeed, more babies were saved when doctors simply washed their hands before ushering them into this world, but how many of us have been deprived of the valuable nutrition in raw milk?

Here’s a helpful article that will explain it better than I can:

I began reading this book this week and I’m up to Chapter 7. Let’s see how long it takes to read and digest. (Get it? It’s a book about digestion!)


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Still almost finished…

I’m not surprised that I don’t mind living with piles of books taking up floor space. If stepping over things that didn’t belong on the floor were an Olympic sport, I’d be weighted down with medals.

This project must be what it’s like to eat a hot dog by halving it with every bite. You think you’re just about finished, but there’s always a nub left to tackle. Okay, perhaps the hot-dog-eating analogy is a bit inadequate, because at some point you’re just going to give up. The point is, whenever I think I’m ready to organize the books by category and shelve them in their new homes, something else pops up that needs to be added to the list.

Two days ago, it was all the little phrase books I’ve collected over the years, most of which are older than I am. Looks like I’m well-prepared to say a variety of things in Italian, German, Spanish and French, a la 1954, useful if I’m looking for the heppest, most nifty, gee-whiz hangout, Daddy-o.

Yesterday, it was my music book collection, very few of which have ISBNs, some without covers, impossible to trace. What is the name of that Beatles’ songbook? I can’t even remember the cover photo (or was it a drawing?) and ran out of search terms, so I sent a plea to to help me figure it out.

The most distracting thing about archiving the music books is the new-found desire to pull out my guitar and actually play. “I’m Sorry” by John Denver anyone? This, while perhaps fittingly, keeping one eye on the dream-crushing paring down to the final 24 on American Idol.

Meanwhile, I started reading Donna Gates’ “Baby Boomer Diet”, which promises to teach me a new way of eating that will turn back the clock. I confess that I’m familiar with Donna’s Body Ecology Diet, or BED, and know I won’t get far downing mint chocolate-covered espresso beans from Trader Joe’s while reading it.

Which brings me to a point to ponder: do I just read these books or do I actually follow what they prescribe? Do I cook my way through each cookbook, or just read through them and pick out recipes I’d like to try? And when do I actually let someone know I’m writing a blog?

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Almost there…

The bulk of my library, ready for sorting and finding their homes.

Okay, that doesn’t look like too many books, but so far I’ve added 245 to LibraryThing, and that doesn’t include those that need manual entering. Not everything has a lovely ISBN ready to populate the page.

So far, I have no system, no goals for reading down the piles. Once everything is entered and categorized, I’ll begin the process of returning the books to the various shelves I have scattered about my flat. There’s the built-ins in the living room, the IKEA bookcase I assembled and anchored to the wall of my bedroom, and a couple of small, foldable shelves that could go anywhere.

Today, I remembered there are crates of books in a storage locker in Santa Barbara beside the furniture and Majolica pots taken from my Mom’s house that don’t fit in her new apartment. I cringed at the thought — more books to categorize, more shelf space that I don’t have, more to (gasp!) read. And what about the lovely new book on courage by Debbie Ford that will be out in April? Will I have to wait until my library has been digested to entertain something new? Is this what those about to marry encounter when they consider being with one person for the rest of their lives? Will I develop a taste for some “strange” and stray from my own books? I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile, technology is threatening to leave me behind. Recently, a young(er) man was telling me how he reads the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and the Economist on his iPad, before he even gets out of bed. No going to the newsstand anymore. You don’t even have to go to the front door and bend over to pick up the physical paper. Now you can roll over, grab your iPad and be immersed in the day’s news without moving more than a couple of inches.

I have an iPad, which I bought to Facetime with my boyfriend while he was in London. It surely would have been cheaper to use the phone, but there is something nice about being able to see him, and the technology is pretty seamless. And of course Words With Friends keeps me in touch with people without having to contact them. When they make a move, I know they’re alive and well. Then I learned that I could read the magazines I subscribe to on the iPad, and started downloading issues of Wired, the physical copies of which remain in their plastic delivery bags, scattered about my apartment.

Reading online is a revelation. There’s video and audio and other treats you don’t get with the physical magazine. But have you ever read Wired? It’s pretty dense, and there are definitely long-paragraphed stories I’m happy to skip, which feels a bit like cheating. I think I have to cut myself a break here and be happy if I make it cover-to-cover, whether or not I’ve read all the content.

I’ve also begun to dig into the latest novel I wrote in November, during National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.  Check out the website: I’ve competed five times! Yes, there are five shitty novels in Kinko’s boxes under my bed and tucked up on the shelf, waiting to be read. Add those to the pile, please! If I haven’t said it already, this is a project that will easily last me the rest of my life. *Sigh*

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Oh, joy! I found a website that allows me to (fairly) easily create a library of all my books. It’s called LibraryThing, and you enter the ISBN (International Standard Book Number), and 9 times out of 10, up pops your very book, with all the pertinent details, including how many other LibraryThing members carry that book in their collection.

I now know that I have more than 200 books, as that is the limit for free use of the site. As a measure of my commitment, I will plunk down the ten bucks to add more books. I’m almost there, almost ready to organize my collection by topic and title and get them back on the shelves, ready for reading.

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A lifetime’s library

I’ve been reading since, well, who knows? But somehow, buying and owning books became more of a pattern than actually reading them. Several years ago, I learned the secret to getting from cover to cover. Take a book out of the library! It comes with no price tag and a built-in deadline, an irresistible combination.

The idea for this project came to me after I recently moved into a new apartment. Why, I wondered, was I lugging around all these unread books? Knowing that I will probably move again in the next year, I thought Read ’em or weep. And so this project, as amorphous and potentially eternal as could be, was born.

The first thing I did, I am reluctant to admit, was buy a brand new book. A full-priced, albeit paperback, novel that I could have checked out of the library. It was the little rebellious girl in me throwing a spanner into the works, as my English boyfriend would phrase it.

So I’m almost finished with Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. It’s the first novel I’ve read in years, the first book that had nothing to do with food or spirituality or writing or travel or finance or health and wellness that I’ve bought in a decade, and it’s quite good. Once finished, I can proudly put it on the shelf with the other already read books (yes, I’ve read a few) and move on to the next.

It’s not just books unread by the score; I’ve amassed a hefty assortment of magazines — Newsweek, Wired (couldn’t resist the $3 promotional subscription price), San Francisco, 7 x 7, The New Yorker (left by a generous neighbor), and Rolling Stone (which I didn’t even subscribe to, yet manages to find its way into my mailbox regularly) — and a wide variety of email newsletters. I’m a sucker for a free ebook (most of which remain, you guessed it, unread).

I thought I’d create a database, a lovely table of titles and such, but happened upon a lifesaver, a website called LibraryThing, and am now in the process of entering all the ISBNs (International Standard Book Number) and categories. I’ll not only be able to organize my books more effectively, but I can see how many others using the website share my interests.

My intention is to read these books and provide as much of a synopsis and review as I can muster, not being a book critic or even a completely attentive reader. I’ll do my best!

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