Can We Consider This a Book?
In the conventional sense – yes, this is a book – it has a front, a back, its bounded together, it has written pages, etc; but …its not really a book. Firstly, its a series of paragraphs that are repeated about two hundred times. Theres not a lot in the way of information or evidence or reasons given, but things are stated, and we are told these four places have the highest concentration of centenarians and thus we should imitate them at all costs.
This is then repeated… with the exact same wording, or damn near it, over, and over, and over, and over, and over… and also over, and over… and over… and over… and yes… again… over, …oh, and over, and over, and over… in the book.
Statement X like the Okinawans have a “moai” and that we should do also have one. This is then stated at each chapter or near chapter, or space for it. And its repeated in the same ad nauseum way, throughout, and its done with each example. How much explanation do we get about the idea of a moai? Not much. We are just told that moais are “social groups” and that Okinawan women live to be 100+ and thus… we should have moais / social groups. Cause and correlation in this ‘book’ are relatively contextual and interchangeable. X group lives to be 100+, so we should do what X group does. “Why?” Because their 100+!
No real breakdown of reasons given, no real examination of what X does that helps them to live to be 100+, its just assumed that because they are 100+, and they do X; then X must be good.
But I am already digressing here and getting right to the heart of the matter. Lets first take a step back and kind of look at the ‘book’ as a whole first, before I do this dive into the book review so soon.
The Blue Zones Challenge
This comes off kind of as a self help book, kind of a recipe book, kind of a whole lot of things book. The idea of the Blue Zones is interesting – its taking a look at different groups of people, places, and cultures that have contributed to their citizens / people living to be centenarians (people who live to be 100+). This particular ‘book’ was in the “new non – fiction” section of the Hershey Public Library when I popped in after dropping my last bunch of books off, and I thought it was interesting, so I scooped it up. Ooof.
Firstly… …oops, caught myself digressing and wanting to jump to the book review. Let’s back up still, and go into this a bit before I dive into why this is such a trainwreck of a book. But also, friendly upfront reminder on that – I’m not much of a self help book kinda guy, nor am I a “fill out and journal” kind of guy. So for much of that, this book is wasted on me.
So what this is is a book that wants you to live like the people from those various cultures. The Ikarians, the Okinawans, Limo Lindans, and others. To do the things they do, the meals they make and eat, etc.
The GoodReads blurb on the book reads:
In this companion to the number one New York Times bestseller The Blue Zones Kitchen, Dan Buettner offers a four-week guide and year-long sustainability program to jump-start your journey to better health, happiness, less stress, and a longer life.
Get started on the path to a longer, healthier, happier life with this quick start to building your own Blue Zones lifestyle. Dan Buettner, founder of the Blue Zones and author of the New York Times number one best-selling Blue Zones Kitchen, offers the challenge of a lifetime: Build a foundation for better nutrition, more exercise, and a stronger social life that will extend your lifetime by years.
In this easy-to-implement guide, you’ll start with the rules of the Blue Zones Challenge, including tips and tricks from the five Blue Zones–locations around the world where people consistently live to 100–advice for setting up a successful kitchen and pantry, and resources for expanding you support network. Then, follow week-by-week prompts to
* Change your diet
* Increase your activity
* Update your living spaces
* Build your social life.
GoodReads: The Blue Zones Challenge: Your Guide to a Healthier, Happier, Longer Life
After four weeks–and with the help of easy-to-use worksheets and recipes–you’ll see results in your weight, your well-being, and your general health. From there, follow the Blue Zones challenge through the rest of the year with an 11-month sustainability calendar that will continue to encourage you and build upon the foundation you’ve already started. What you’ll find is living to 100 is easy–it just takes following the Blue Zones way!
The book clocks in at 240 pages, but it can be read in an hour. Primarily because its not meant to be read in just one sitting, but to be kept for a month or so, and to be “done per week”, with filling in forms, doing charts, filling out surveys, going onto social media and doing the promoting and media work for them… (oops, that last part was my cynical side coming out), etc.
Ok, I think we need to just get to the book review of this.
The problem with this book is… everything. Firstly, its 240 pages in total, but there is pages that are just chapter titles, there are pages after pages after pages devoted to just journaling and filling out forms, and writing your days, and doing check lists, and answering / filling out surveys. Words to pages ratio is probably nearly 25 to 1.
The level of repetition in this book is almost unheard of too. You want to know what a moai is? Don’t worry, you’ll be told to form one roughly every six pages. In almost the same exact verbiage. Basically you get told in one small sentence “a moai is a social group” and then you get told that all of the Okinawan women have moais, and then you are told to form one. This simple short paragraph is repeated constantly, each new chapter, each new journaling section, each new ‘week’ of the program. And this isn’t just for the moais, its for all things too, like how great walking is for you, how a plant – slant diet is best, how beans are great, etc. Just rinse and repeat.
Are you told why these things are great for you? Only in the most rudimentary ways. You are told firstly that the Okinawan women live to be 100+, so therefore you should copy, imitate, and do everything they do. And thus, thats only the truly justified reason given. Some things are explained slightly – how certain foods are high in this or that acid or protein or vitamin; and that this makes them worth inclusion in your diet. The main things we are told to avoid are the same thing any diet or trendy book will tell you to. Sugar, fats, sodas, fast food, etc.
There is also a bit of an ‘elitist’ bias to the book. Some of the ideas and recommendations aren’t exactly possible for most people in the world; ironically considering the cultures Daniel Buettner explored are below what we would consider the poverty line in the United States. The meals, the times to eat the meals, the activities, the process, etc, is not very conducive for most of the working class of America or Europe.
There is a group and an appeal to this type of book / genre / type of books. And its not just the “self help” type of crowd either. Hell, on GoodReads this book started with a 4.02 rating and has gone down to a 3.85, so its sitting on a decently high rating. I will admit, I was interested by the idea of living to be older, and in better health, with less chance of cancer, dementia, etc.
This book is skimp on the details, and more on the “hey, this is what you want, do this!” type of ideology. Its almost akin to influencers, and others on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and the various other social medias. “Do as I say and You’ll Live Forever!” “You don’t want cancer right?! Then do this!” And other over sensationalized styled headlines. And this book definitely latches onto that mindset. Short on references, short on data, short on studies, short on information, and most importantly, short on anything worth considering this a real “book” or worth reading. This is a clear money grab. There is just too much nonsense otherwise. Even the recipes contradict the sections their in. (In the Adventists section; a group that doesn’t drink, they use a recipe that calls for alcohol. In the section about not eating too much dairy, there is a recipe that uses dairy.) Theres even other lines of contradictions, in the “main body” (I use that term loosely) text of the book. There’s no other way than to call this a money grab due to its overabundance of repetition, its overuse of blank pages that are basically used for you to re – write your own regurgitations, and even their overuse of having you – the reader – go onto social media and hashtag and promote their work for them.
Sadly, I find there to be zero merit in the book. And even less reason to recommend this to anyone. I really wish I could – the premise sounds good. Finding ways to live longer, better, more healthier lives. Sadly, there’s little to no research done. There is little to no facts. There is little to no interest in this “book” that is nothing but a cheap and easy money grab.
My GoodReads Rating: *
My LibraryThing Rating: .5
Global GoodReads Rating: 3.85 (as of 2.4.23)
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Thanks For Reading
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