Reader: Sydney Hendrix, Mansfield University.
What I read: "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer.
Synopsis: National bestseller "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer is a nonfiction novel that focuses on the social science of, like the title states, eating animals.
Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of multiple fiction bestsellers, including "Everything is Illuminated" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," both of which have been adapted in to films.
Stats: Paperback, published by Back Bay Books, 368 pages, $14.99.
What I thought: "Eating Animals" was published in 2009 and received positive reviews. Foer takes the reader on a journey through his research, like exploring various factory farms and the techniques they use and studying ancient civilizations and their diets.
"Eating Animals" starts off with a section called Storytelling. Foer tells the reader his experience with food and why it is so significant to him and society. He weaves his story of what food means to us culturally with the story of what food has meant to his grandmother, who has survived the Holocaust. He also tells us his history with vegetarians and his own vegetarianism.
"We were honest people who occasionally told lies, care friends who sometimes acted clumsily. We were vegetarians who from time to time ate meat," Foer wrote.
After having a son, Foer thinks about what he wants to feed him and what he wants him to believe in. This sparks Foer to question why food matters so much and why animals matter so much to society. He questions some of the things some people think about everyday like "why do we eat pigs and cows but not dogs?"
Foer then takes the reader with him as he tours various factory farms and fisheries, factory farms for fish, and finds out how meat goes from being livestock to being cooked and served. He examines humane methods of slaughter and animal welfare.
Throughout the book and tour of the farms, Foer features the stories of the farmers and employees there. Their view on why they do what they do and what they believe in gives the books a educational yet friendly outlook.
Foer, who now is a full-time vegetarian, gives us a surprisingly unbiased view of how food makes its expedition from the farm to the plate.
"Eating Animals" is very well written and organized in such a way that seems more like a story than a nonfiction book.
The book perfectly educates us on slaughterhouses and things most people do not know much about. Personally, I have read it twice and I recommend it to people every chance I get.
Though it is written by a vegetarian, it is not pro-vegetarian diet book. It simply gives information on the ethics of meat eating. I was a vegetarian before reading this book and I still am after it, but I don't think this book is designed to make meat eaters feel guilty.
Reader: Keri Edsall, Mansfield University.
What I read: "Keep Holding On" by Susane Colasanti.
Genre: Fiction, young adult.
Synopsis: "If you see someone being bullied, make it stop. Why is that so hard for us to do?" said Susane Colasanti's main character in her newest novel, "Keep Holding On." Colasanti shies away from her fictional, fairytale-like teenage romance plots and dives into one with tragic realities in "Keep Holding On." She tells a haunting story that opens readers' eyes to reality.
Stats: Hardcover, published by Viking Juvenile, 224 pages, $17.99.
What I thought: The main protagonist, Noelle, cannot seem to escape from - the theme of her life being bullied. She is a small-town girl who is dying to escape from her awful life at school and her regretful, self-centered single mother.
To top it off, Noelle is impoverished.
Noelle is just about to lose it when she learns some devastating news. A tortured classmate thought the only way to escape bullying was suicide. This information gives Noelle the strength to keep holding on. However, she feels guilty thinking that she could have prevented her classmate from taking her life. Noelle knows that the only thing she can do now is finally stand up for her own self.
Colasanti's characters keep you on your toes because you are never sure what they are going to say, or do, next. She also gives a little taste of what her readers expect when they pick up one of her books: romance.
The romance does not take over the main theme of the book, but adds a little twist that leaves readers with a sense of hope. "Keep Holding On" is a lovely addition to her five other young adult fiction novels.
Colasanti does a wonderful job getting the message out that people need to start standing up for themselves and others who do not have the strength to do so.