Book Reviews: Down and Out in Paris and London & How Not to Die

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell 

The narrator, an aspiring writer, moves to Paris and rents a room at a motel. He came with a modest amount of savings which he thought would last him until he finds a job. His life takes a downward twist when all the motel guests were robbed. Having to live from hand to mouth, he finds work at the bottom of the culinary stratum as a dish- washer. The dullness of all work and little rest prompts him to move on. In London, he finds himself in a worst predicament – jobless, homeless and forced to live like a tramp in a different lodging house each day.

In spite of the depressing nature of the book, the writer narrates without self-pity, and even with humour. He retells many of his encounters in great detail and with great believability. Many of the incidents that he encounters provide a rare perspective of one’s descent into poverty. This book will be an eye-opener to many readers.

Yet under such harrowing conditions, there is no blame for lack of wealth, no envy for the rich. The narrator believes, and looks up to those who share his belief, that education is the crux to a meaningful life. The subtle message about positive thought and knowledge over material possessions that runs throughout the book is something one can benefit from.

Considering that the story is set in the 19205, there is some inevitable display of xenophobia and lack of understanding towards foreigners and minority groups.

How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger and Gene Stone

Author Dr Michael Greger is the physician behind online book for healthy eaters NutritionFacts.org. The Cornell University-educated physician is also an internationally recognised speaker on a number of public health issues.

In this book, he shares how diseases and premature death can be prevented through certain diets, evidenced with scientific facts. The book explores 15 top causes of premature deaths. The diseases include heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, high blood pressure and some common cancers.

Here is a look at some of the advice he provides:

– Less dairy, more flaxseed in a diet for one with a family history of prostate cancer
– Hibiscus tea is more effective than hypertensive drugs in controlling high blood pressure. Best of all, it is without all the unpleasant side effects.
– Drinking coffee reduces liver inflammation
– Soy helps to prolong survival in breast cancer patients.

Overall, it is a helpful book with suggestions that are easy to follow. Advice is backed by explanations, which is important especially when it comes to a controversial topic like diets.

– These book reviews first appeared in a lifestyle magazine.

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