Monday, February 1, 2010

Book 9 - Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously - Julie Powell

I am ridiculously slow on writing reviews because I finished this book weeks ago. Other than this cannonball read, I haven't written book reviews or term papers for at least 6 or 8 years. I still have my 10th grade English teacher snarking in my brain whenever I try to write anything, telling me that it's not good enough. Now, I am the same age that Julie Powell is in this book. I will hit the big 3-0 in August, and I'm probably having my own mini mid-life crisis. I'm trying to figure out when I started giving a shit about what people think of me. I never had that problem before. I guess that's why I joined roller derby, because everybody said I couldn't, shouldn't, or wouldn't do it!

Julie Powell is a low-level secretary who works in NYC. She answers the phone and takes citizen's comments on how the city should handle the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. The comments range from heartbreakingly sad to disturbingly stupid. She is constantly stressed out, and the only outlet for her stress is cooking. One particularly bad day, she blindly picks up ingredients from the market, and unconsciously has grabbed everything to make Julia Child's recipe for potato soup. That's when she comes up with the idea to cook every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and write a blog about it. However, the blog slowly begins to take over her life. I enjoyed reading about how old-fashioned some of the recipes were, and how hard it was to track down some of the ingredients. It reminded me of when I wanted to make a raspberry tiramisu that Giada DeLaurentis made on The Food Network. I went to 5 different stores to track down all of the ingredients, and that damn tiramisu ended up costing about $35. But I had to make it, to prove that I could.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read, and I thought it was cute. Not awe-inspiring literature, but enjoyable. I saw the movie first, then read the book. I enjoyed the movie more, but probably because I was more interested in the Julia Child parts than the Julie Powell parts. The Julie Powell in the book is more fun than the one in the movie. The one in the book is stubborn, swears a lot and has a deep-abiding love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I can relate.

Book 8 - Tell Me Where It Hurts: A Day of Humor, Healing, and Hope In My Life As An Animal Surgeon - Dr. Nick Trout

Awww, look at the cover. How could you possibly NOT want to read this book???

When I decided to become a dog trainer, a lot of my family and friends said, "Why don't you just go to vet school?". As though those two professions are the same thing. I help with a dog's mind and behavior. Veterinarians help with what is physically wrong with the dog. Don't get me wrong, I toyed with the idea, but after reading this book, I'm glad I decided on training, not vet school. Let's face it, I'm awful at giving my dogs medicine. Pill Pockets may be the greatest invention of the last thousand years. I can't even trim my dog's nails! (Yes, I know, I'm a hypocrite...)

Dr. Trout tells the story of a typical day working as an animal surgeon. His day starts at 2:47 AM when he gets a call that there is a German Shepherd that needs emergency surgery for Bloat. Bloat is a condition, common in large breed dogs where their stomach basically twists and flips so it can't function. It has a high fatality rate. If you read Marley & Me *spoiler* that is how Marley died. *end spoiler*

Dr. Trout tells more stories of patients and owners, some of which are sad, and some of which are downright funny. He seems like the kind of guy that I could hang out with at a bar, exchanging weird pet owner stories. I could tell him about the lady at my store that was opening all of the bottles of doggy bath spray and holding them under the nose of her spoiled Pomeranian so he could, "pick the smell that he likes". I could also tell him about the lady who has a Schnauzer that lunges and bites when suddenly woken up, but she can't bear to kick him out of her bed, even after he bit her on the face! Let's face it, we're all nuts about our pets.

My favorite story in the book was just a quick paragraph, but it was funny and sad at the same time. Apparently, after a lady's precious kitty passed on, she had him professionally stuffed by a taxidermist. Well, a few months later she took him to the vet clinic because he had a chronic skin infection. Imagine that scene in the waiting room! If this lady ever comes into my store, she will inevitably find me to talk to - I attract Crazy Cat Ladies.

Dr. Trout also talks about important issues facing both veterinarians and pet owners today - the rising costs of veterinary services, the explosion of animal obesity, and the upside/downside of pet parents who get their information from the internet. I thought this book was very informative, but maybe a little too technical. I enjoyed it, and it was a quick read. Anyone considering a career in veterinary medicine should read this book, it was very candid.