Saturday, October 03, 2015


Brandon Sanderson has a knack for making epic fantasy books that are a joy to read. Elantris was his first widely published book. Elantis was once the home of the magical beings. Being "chosen" to go to Elantris was a special privilege. However, a few years ago, it lost its magic. Now, it is a great curse to be required to join Elantris. (However, it is something that cannot be avoided, because a body "changes" making it obvious that they need to be taken there.)

In the story, a betrothed heir to the throne wakes and finds he is Elantrian. He maintains his leadership skills and continues to learn and build up an "educated" group in Elantris. His fiance (whom he has never met) goes into Elantris to see what is up, and we get plenty of the Shakespearean relationship comedy as they finally work things out. There is also an evil Ninja-priest sect that is trying to overthrow the village and Elantris. Luckily, the heroes (through their learning) figure out why the magic disappeared and help save the day.

It is a long, well-written story with a Rune-based magic system.

Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Chese belong in a healthy diet

This is a "diet" book without being a diet book. It dives deep to understand the science (or the lack thereof) in many of the dietary recommendations today. Many of the heavily pushed recommendations (such as the low-fat diet) were created with flimsy dietary underpinning. However, once the establishment started running with these ideas, the burden of proof was on all challengers to "prove" that their option should even be listened to. (Even more amazing was that these recommendations seemed to go against very well entrenched industries such as beef packers.) This history shows how little you can truly take "government standards" at face value. Science is often very political, with the "best campaigner" often winning out over the "truth".

The author advocates a "high fat, high protein diet". Cholesterol and saturated fat are not the enemies. Bacon and eggs are more filling and provide plenty of nutrients, providing a better path towards weight-loss than low fat candy. (I love how sugary candy advertises that it is "low fat") Snack food producers have gone out of their way to substitute different "fats" because one is deemed healthier at the moment. (Coconut oil? Margarine? Butter?) In the end, the snack is the snack, and the changes are made more for marketing than for our benefit. I like to go with the simple test: 1. Do I enjoy eating it? 2. Do I feel good afterwards. (Now if I would just focus a little more on #2 than #1...)

The Seven Hidden Secrets of Motivation

These hidden secrets of motivation are based on the author's review of scientific literature. (However, he does not go into much detail as to how the review was done.) Religious faith is one of the "Secrets" of motivation, though the other tries to make it clear that a non-religious person could also use this "secret". (He does do a good job of making it accessible to all, but it feels like he does have to do some reaching to get there. There was nothing groundbreaking, but the work was made very accessible.

Fantasy League

This is a lot like his other books. Kid overcomes hardships and has all sorts of great things happen in the world. Kid's sports team wins the championship. And just for drama, some big medical thing is involved. I guess when you write for the young crowd, you can get away with just recycling the same story over and over again. (Is this the boys version of the Rainbow Fairies?)