How To, Musashi-Miyamoto, Non-Fiction, Self-help

#976 The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi

The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto MusashiThe Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi

In this book Miyamoto describes all the ways in which you can take down your opponent. It’s best to stay on the point and always try to keep the upper-hand or advantage. He describes moves you can use on your opponent divided into five individual books inside of this book. There is the book of the Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Heart…joking, it’s actually the book of the Void, which was what the last Planeteer was named before everyone found the Planeteer of the Void too sulky and emo, then they got a Planeteer of the heart instead.

What I liked

For a  book that ended up being about sword fighting, this wasn’t so bad. This was probably one of the older books I’ve read. It was written in 1645. Apparently, it had developed a following among business people as well as swordspeople.

What I didn’t like

You can tell, quite easily, that this book was written by someone who did not speak English. While it may be endearing in ways, it does make the book more difficult to read as an English speaker. This book has been translated many times, so it’s not necessarily Miyamoto’s fault. He knew Japanese, so he wrote in Japanese, which makes complete sense. Whoever translated didn’t exactly do a wonderful job of making the words flow in English, but maybe the entire point of translating the way it was translated was to let people know that a Japanese person had written it, but not in English. If that was the case, then they did a great job, whoever “they” was/were.

I’m not a sword fighter, so  a lot of the information seemed irrelevant to me.

Overall

Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them, but when the world needed him most, he vanished“…sorry, wrong story.

Weigh In

If you were a Planeteer, what would you want to be the Planeteer of?

Have you found books about war and fighting to be helpful in other areas of life?

#976 The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi was originally published on One-elevenbooks

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How To, Linett-Andrea, Non-Fiction

#734 The Cool Factor by Andrea Linett

The Cool Factor by Andrea LinettThe Cool Factor by Andrea Linett

Andrea decided to get together with her fashionable women friends and find out what makes them fashionable. It’s not the fact that they follow so-called fashion rules. They seem to make their own style for what looks good on them. Andrea decided to get them all together one day, take pictures, and do interviews.

The first chapter of Andrea’s book is about denim. She extols the virtues of picking a good pair of blue jeans, and having different pairs of jeans for different types of occasions. She does a little explaining on how you can mix and match denim with other denims. The following chapters are on leather, button-down shirts, and other staples as Andrea sees it. There are included pointers on how to mix something edgy with something hippie, or mix edgy pieces in with professional settings.

Andrea repeatedly mentions that one doesn’t have to spend a lot of money on their clothes to be fashionable. Shirts from K-mart are fine as long as they’re made well and you like them.

What I liked

I consider myself at least somewhat fashionable. I have my own style. I’m artsy, so I think it’s easier for me to find things that work well together. I don’t think it’s quite as easy for everyone to do the same thing though. Books like this help with being part inspiration and part instruction, not that you always need either. I did enjoy looking at the pictures and reading the suggestions. You never know when I might use some of these suggestions with my own twist.

I do like that Andrea didn’t constantly say that you have to buy designer clothes to be fashionable. Items from thrift shops were repeatedly mentioned in the book and being creative with those items was also mentioned. Just because an item is one way when you get it, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.

What I didn’t like

It sounds as if Andrea has lots of clothes. I think I have too many clothes as it is, but I don’t think I can get anywhere near the amount of clothes Andrea has. I don’t have fifty pairs of jeans for different occasions. I keep dark-colored jeans that can be dressy or casual. I wear out jeans so fast that there is no point in having more than a few pairs, even more than one or two pairs.

I don’t think you have to have tons of clothes to be fashionable, just learn to mix and match.

Overall

Maybe you should wear that funky dress you found in the thrift shop.

Weigh In

Do you think you’re fashionable?

What is something you have in your closet that might not be considered fashionable, that you think is fashionable?

How To, Non-Fiction, Robbins-Michael W.

#729 The Hiking Companion by Michael W. Robbins

 The Hiking Companion by Michael W. RobbinsThe Hiking Companion by Michael W. Robbins

Michael likes to go hiking and wants the entire world to know that likes to hike and also how to hike. He has hiked for fun and he has hiked for research or photography. He enjoys mountain bikes the most. He’s gotten between a rock and a hard place while going off trail, which you’re technically not supposed to do.

Michael divides his advice into several chapters. He expounds upon the different places you can hike. He explains different kinds of forests. He gives advice on hiking gear. You need good shoes. Your supplies depend upon how long you’re hiking and what environment you’re hiking in.

Hiking doesn’t have to be for an end goal, it can be just for getting out and into nature.

What I liked

I enjoy hiking. I’m not all-inclusive like Michael seems to be though. I’ve had my share of traipsing through the woods and hills, not knowing where I was going. I’ve never been as prepared as Michael while hiking. I have bona-fide hiking shoes, that I had to climb a small boulder with, in the store before buying them. Maybe one day I’ll go on some longer hikes with those shoes, but for now I’ll stick with Pisgah and DuPont. I like being out in nature and I love the mountains, that’s probably why I live in the mountains, although I do currently live in town.

The point is–I like hiking, but not as much as Michael apparently. It’s relaxing, but I doubt I’ll ever go all out like Michael.

If you are new to hiking, you will certainly find some good advice in this book, and some cautionary hiking tales. Wearing bright colors is a very good piece of advice that comes from this book.

What I didn’t like

I’ve heard all of this before.

If you’re remotely into hiking, you’ll have heard all this before too. It’s not revelatory. You might even chide Michael, just a bit, for some of his misadventures.

You don’t have to have a ton of junk to go hiking, and Michael certainly acknowledges this, but as long as you’re only going on a short hike, you don’t need a whole lot. Carry what is necessary to you, and you’ll learn more about what you need the more you hike. You’ll learn that you should carry more water, or some Benadryl, or plastic bags.

That is– you’ll learn all this if you have common sense, and if you’re reading my site, you probably do, but there are people who don’t, and they need books like Michael’s to tell them to take something to start a fire if they’re going to be cooking outside, or to check the weather before they go.

Overall

Just don’t walk straight into the woods without a little preparation.

Weigh in

What do you take when you hike?

Would you go off trail?

#729 The Hiking Companion by Michael W. Robbins was originally published on One-elevenbooks

How To, Non-Fiction, Robbins-Michael W.

#729 The Hiking Companion by Michael W. Robbins

 The Hiking Companion by Michael W. RobbinsThe Hiking Companion by Michael W. Robbins

Michael likes to go hiking and wants the entire world to know that likes to hike and also how to hike. He has hiked for fun and he has hiked for research or photography. He enjoys mountain bikes the most. He’s gotten between a rock and a hard place while going off trail, which you’re technically not supposed to do.

Michael divides his advice into several chapters. He expounds upon the different places you can hike. He explains different kinds of forests. He gives advice on hiking gear. You need good shoes. Your supplies depend upon how long you’re hiking and what environment you’re hiking in.

Hiking doesn’t have to be for an end goal, it can be just for getting out and into nature.

What I liked

I enjoy hiking. I’m not all-inclusive like Michael seems to be though. I’ve had my share of traipsing through the woods and hills, not knowing where I was going. I’ve never been as prepared as Michael while hiking. I have bona-fide hiking shoes, that I had to climb a small boulder with, in the store before buying them. I like being out in nature and I love the mountains, that’s probably why I live in the mountains, although I do currently live in town.

The point is–I like hiking, but not as much as Michael apparently. It’s relaxing, but I doubt I’ll ever go all out like Michael.

If you are new to hiking, you will certainly find some good advice in this book, and some cautionary hiking tales. Wearing bright colors is a very good piece of advice that comes from this book.

What I didn’t like

I’ve heard all of this before.

If you’re remotely into hiking, you’ll have heard all this before too. It’s not revelatory. You might even chide Michael, just a bit, for some of his misadventures.

You don’t have to have a ton of junk to go hiking, and Michael certainly acknowledges this, but as long as you’re only going on a short hike, you don’t need a whole lot. Carry what is necessary to you, and you’ll learn more about what you need the more you hike. You’ll learn that you should carry more water, or some Benadryl, or plastic bags.

That is– you’ll learn all this if you have common sense, and if you’re reading my site, you probably do, but there are people who don’t, and they need books like Michael’s to tell them to take something to start a fire if they’re going to be cooking outside, or to check the weather before they go.

Overall

Just don’t walk straight into the woods without a little preparation.

Weigh in

What do you take when you hike?

Would you go off trail?

Home, How To, Katayama-Lisa, Non-Fiction, Random fact

#704 Urawaza by Lisa Katayama

Urawaza by Lisa Katayama Urawaza by Lisa Katayama

Urawaza is the Japanese art of finding a way to make more of what you have. If you have rice water, figure out something to do with it.

Lisa’s book is a list of Urawaza. Each Urawaza has an illustration, but it also has a scenario(sometimes unlikely, sometimes very realistic) for why you would need an Urawaza, how to do the Urawaza and why it works. For example, you can lessen the shock you get from getting out of a hot tub and into the cool air before sucking on a couple of ice cubes beforehand. You won’t experience quite the same shock because you’ll have cooled down at least a little.

You can get coffee stains out of carpet with spinach water and another ingredient.

What I liked

I lived in Japan for almost three years so I like to learn things about Japan. I have never heard of the concept of Urawaza, but it definitely makes sense. You take a problem and you solve it with the things you have on hand, or the things you might have thrown away. The rest of us would call these “life hacks.” There are entire websites dedicated to life hacks. Urawaza is simply the Japanese way of life-hacking, although, Japanese people do take life-hacking to the extreme, especially space wise. Apartments and houses aren’t very big. How are you going to do everything you need to do in that tiny house?

An Urawaza, that is essentially Japanese culture, is having your entire bathroom be the shower. I wish I had that. In actuality, Japanese bathrooms tend to have a toilet room, often with a small sink, or a built-in sink( you have special toilet slippers), an area with a sink/counter/mirror whatever, then the shower area. The shower area generally holds the tub and the shower. You can get the entire room wet. Sometimes, there are entire bathrooms that you can get wet. This concept is a way of making the bathroom a little more space efficient, but also making the bathroom more useful to more people at once. If somebody ate too much curry, the person in the shower doesn’t have to hurry out of the shower as a result.

I love little things that are useful. I like to know how to do things with little. For example, did you know that you can use just vinegar, water, and baking soda to get some pretty terrible stains out of your carpet? It really works. I’ve been attacking the carpet at my house with a vengeance since I moved in; baking soda and vinegar performs quite the trick.

When I was getting my first degree, an art degree, I had a professor that often said that being an artist was being a problem solver. As an artist, you thought about something, and you figured out a way to make it happen, which invariably involved solving a lot of problems. I think we should all strive to be problem solvers. We should all look at what we have on hand and decide how to better use it, or give it new life, or spend less money trying to do something.

Oh, and, I also loved that this book explains a bit of the science behind why certain things work the way they do. These things aren’t just magic; there’s science behind them.

What I didn’t like

The book could have been longer. The Urawaza could have been more detailed. I know for a fact that there are all kinds of interesting Urawaza that the Japanese people use that could have been in this book. For example, you want to grow yellow squash and goya, but you only have a five foot by five foot garden space. What do you do? Well, if you were an enterprising Okinawan, you would erect a scaffolding over your garden space. There would be four posts and a wire frame would be spanned between the posts. You would plant your plants that like to stay put in the garden plot, then plant your goya near the posts and let it trail up the posts and then grow across your wire frame. Your goya would hang down from your trellis in its bumpy glory and your squash would be all happy on the ground. I can’t tell you how many times I saw this very thing in Okinawa.

Notice, I didn’t pluralize Urawaza when I used it in what could have been a plural sense–Japanese doesn’t have plurals. You just infer from the context of the sentence if the word is meant to be plural or not. おいしいすし could be that you’re speaking of one piece of delicious sushi, or multiple pieces of delicious sushi.

In case you’re wondering what goya is–it kind of looks like a cucumber with a bad case of acne, technically some sort of squash. It’s bitter and very high in antioxidants, so it’s very good for you; it’s one of the reasons cited for why Okinawans live so long.

Overall

Urawaza–life hack–whatever you want to call it–it’s a good idea.

Weigh In

What’s your favorite life hack/urawaza?

Did your family pass down interesting life hacks to you?

Barnes-Emilie, How To, inspirational, Non-Fiction, Self-help

#692 The Quick-fix Home Organizer by Emilie Barnes

The Quick-fix Home Organizer by Emilie BarnesThe Quick-fix Home Organizer by Emilie Barnes

Ladies, it’s time to make lists and get your house organized for Jesus. Amen.

What I liked

You may be wondering how my summary can be so short, well, that’s all, that’s what the book is about. I mean some of the suggestions were interesting– decorating with a tower of unique hats? I like it.

I agree with Emilie to an extent. I think clutter and mess can dampen one’s spirit, and as a result, perhaps make you feel less close to God, or whatever higher power you may believe in. I do think that mess and clutter can have a psychological effect on us, and maybe a spiritual effect. When things are in order, your life can more easily be in order. It makes sense.

What I didn’t like

None of what Emilie wrote in this book is a revelation, except maybe the scriptures quoted from the Book of Revelations. I’m joking, she didn’t actually quote Revelations, but there was an awful lot of scripture quoting going on.

Here’s my thing, I’ve said it once, I’ve said it twice, I’ve said it fifty times–show your faith, don’t spray it. Well, I actually haven’t said that before, but it’s a shorter version of what I did say. If you are faithful in some religion, don’t go around talking about how much you love Jesus or Buddha and telling everyone to have a “blessed day.” Nope, show people that you believe. Do good things. Be a good person. If you believe that Jesus said to adopt as many kittens as you could, then adopt as many kittens as you can, don’t just talk about adopting kittens.

I don’t have any proof that Emilie is as God-respecting as she says she is. For all I know, she has a very organized, secret closet for Satanic rituals. Here’s a handy tip–put your sacrificial bloods in uniform containers with cute little devil labels, that way your ritual closet will be organized.

You don’t have to love Jesus to want an organized house. You can love Buddha and want an organized house, or the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster, whatever. Being organized and loving Jesus are not mutually exclusive.

This book is most definitely geared towards women. Books geared towards women are wonderful, of course, but organizing and cleaning and decorating are not tasks solely assigned to women. I’ve known some men who have sheds so organized that it would blow your mind. Being a homemaker is not a woman job. It’s an everybody who lives in a house job. Dad and mom and kids? It’s the job of all of them to make the house a home. There was even some trite junk in this book about organizing things the way your husband would like, so he’ll feel good, or something like that.

Look, your significant other may like things a certain way and maybe that way is a great way to organize things, but maybe it’s not. Sometimes you have to compromise, especially if your spouse thinks it’s a good idea to store all the toilet paper in the basement when there aren’t even any bathrooms down there. Maybe you compromise and store the toilet paper in the hall closet.

Overall

I love organization just as much as anyone else, but I don’t need to hear about Jesus when I’m organizing my spices.

Weigh In

Is organizing things fun?

Do you think Jesus has organized closets?

Cooking, Home, How To, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Plants, Woginrich-Jenna

#573 Made From Scratch by Jenna Woginrich

Made From Scratch by Jenna WoginrichMade From Scratch by Jenna Woginrich

Jenna moved from the mountains of the Appalachians to northern Idaho, where it’s incredibly cold. Jenna made a conscious decision to return to a simpler way of life. Her dogs could pull her on a sled. She bought household items from antique stores. She learned to can items, raise chickens, grow vegetables, and play the violin. Jenna is something of a woman after my own heart.

Jenna tries to homestead, a bit in Idaho. She learns the pitfalls and joys of raising chickens. They’re great for pest control, but they might wander into the neighbor’s yard or get eaten by the dogs. Jenna learns to bake bread. She extols the virtues of mountain music.

Suddenly, Jenna learns she has to move to Vermont. Jenna packs up her animals and instruments and goes. This is where Jenna’s other book, One Woman Farm comes into play.

What I liked

I admire Jenna so much. I enjoyed this book as much as I enjoyed her other book, and, yes, I know I read them out-of-order. I really like the idea of learning to do as much as possible yourself. It’s good to know how to do different things. It’s good to know how to bake bread from scratch and grow vegetables. I love that Jenna tackled all of this herself. It’s a big responsibility, but it brings joy and fulfillment to her life.

I love that Jenna learned to play the fiddle on her own. Seriously, I’m going to order a fiddle and that book Jenna recommends and learn myself. I’ve always wanted to. Jenna speaks of a music tradition that is part of my own family. I had a great-great uncle who was in the Foxfire books for fiddle-making. Some of his wood works are still around the area where he lived.

What I didn’t like

I liked Jenna’s book and there isn’t a whole lot of bad I can say about it. Go Jenna. Let’s have a visit one day.

Overall

We need more younger people like Jenna. Capisce?

Weigh In

Would you raise farm animals by yourself?

Do you think it’s a good idea to know how to do things from scratch? Why or why not?