Saturday, June 23, 2012

{Reading Challenges: Week 26}

An Italian Journey: A Harvest of Revelations In The Olive Groves of Tuscany
Continuing on with my current obsession of Italian travel books, I finished this one up last night. It's the story of James Ernest Shaw as he traveled around Italy as a WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). He traveled to various farms that listed a need for help during the annual olive harvest. His reception varied widely as did his experiences, which he chronicles in An Italian Journey. The book was excellent and I would highly recommend it to anyone that has a taste for Italy.
As I read (on my Kindle) I highlighted a few passages that especially caught my eye for one reason or another. 
"In the English language, goodbye comes to us with an interesting story as well. Up until the sixteenth century, the valediction used was God be with you. Within a century it had gone from God be wy you to god b'w'y to godbwye to god buy' ye to good-b'wy and then to goodbye
Throughout the book Shaw speaks frequently of Italian hospitality and how the majority of people he ran into went out of their way to help him. At one point he says "In America, the national pastime is baseball. In Italy it's hospitality."
One point that Shaw continually talks about is the idea of buying local and supporting farming in your community. Shaw owns a farm in Wisconsin and part of his goal in traveling Italy is to explore farming methods to use on his own farm and in his personal life.
"What meat I don't raise myself I'll buy from my local butcher who cuts the meat in my town - not meat that's been processed in a factory hundreds or thousands of miles from my home. What vegetables and fruits I don't raise myself I'll buy from my neighbors whenever possible. We create our communities with every dollar we spend locally. And we destroy our communities with every dollar we spend carelessly - every dollar we spend eliminating our neighbor, and every dollar we spend buying more land than we can take good care of."
"A growing number of Americans are beginning to take a Tuscan-like approach to food. But powerful forces are arrayed against us. Mass purveyors of food force unhealthy methods of production on food factories to supply our seemingly insatiable demand for lower prices. Not reflected in those cheap prices is the collateral damage to the health of our bodies and to America's soil and water that the rest of us, the future generations, must pay for. The task before us is to collectively take the production of food away from industial agri-giants and place it back into the hands of agrarians who will honor not only the food, but also the land on which it is produced."
Finally, just because I thought it was an interesting tid-bit tucked into the story, Shaw thanks: "Frederick W. Smith who envisioned FedEx and submitted it as a class project at Yale - for which I might add, he received a grade of "C""
52 Books in 52 Weeks - 16 
100+ Books- 25
150+ Books - 25

Sometimes the books I pick are intentional, more often though I just randomly pick something off of the shelf. This is especially true with audio books. I usually check out three or four at a time which gets me through about two weeks and when it comes to audio books, I completely judge books by their covers, or titles as the case may be. I generally stick to fiction and easy reads, my drive is long enough without listening to a book that is boring or hard to keep up with.
Which is why I ended up with Why We Broke Up. I wasn't sure about it at first. The entire book is based on a letter a teenage girl writes to her ex about why they broke up. It begins as she's returning a box of things that she's collected throughout their relationship, ticket stubs, stolen sugar, a jacket, a school pendant, other random things. As she puts each item in the box there is a flashback and the story explains why it's there, so the whole book isn't in letter format. The story is rated for YA, but like most YA books I pick up lately, I wouldn't want my sixteen year old reading it. 

From Amazon: "Min, precocious and equally obsessed with classic cinema and good coffee, broke up with Ed, a popular math-loving jock who secretly carries a protractor. Daniel Handler weaves this heartrending story of first love and other powerful firsts as Min reveals, item by item, what's in the box she's leaving on Ed's doorstep. As readers learn why these two unforgettable characters broke up, the significance of these simple love tokens, beautifully illustrated by Maira Kalman, charmingly unfolds. Written with an emotional depth that allows both adult and teen readers to revisit memories of heartbreak and find pieces of themselves in Min--and maybe even Ed, Why We Broke Up will leave you wondering how Handler knows exactly what it's like to be a teenage girl in love." --JoVon Sotak
52 Books in 52 Weeks - 17
100+ Books - 26
150+ Books - 26
Audio Book Challenge- 6

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