Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Holy season of good reading (and cooking)

Have you heard about the crop of delicious cookbooks coming out this fall? No? There are a few in this month’s Bon Appetit, but Eater really did it up, selecting a whopping 43 titles, divided into geographic regions. Brilliant. At the top of my list: Dominique Ansel, Prune, Baked, Fat Radish and a new one from Ina Garten – hooray!

The sad reality is I haven't fallen in love with any novels as of late. I just finished The Goldfinch, which came after Delicious!, and Gone Girl. All entertaining, but not as earth shattering as anticipated (damn anticipation). My most exciting books, in fact, have been non-fiction.

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation – My idol, Michael Pollan’s, treatise to making that final connection of sourcing and eating food through… cooking.

Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time – An essential examination of having a balanced, fulfilling life in America’s always-on, 50-plus-workhours-a-week culture by Washington Post journalist Brigid Schulte. Love.

Otherhood: Modern Women Finding a New Kind of Happiness – I thought this was going to be more empowering, an ode to women who have created really cool, fulfilling lives that don’t include having babies, but it’s more of a lament. Still, Melanie Notkin’s book makes for fascinating reading, diving into everything from the contemporary New York dating scene (god help us) to the new generation of women who are freezing eggs (planning for it in their 20s, no less).

Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage – A foodoir about Molly Wizenberg and her husband opening their first restaurant together.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t StopTalking – Susan Cain’s thoroughly cool look at being an introvert in relationships, the workplace and life.

The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves – Beautiful, moving, compelling – it’s a simple book about life’s big themes by psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz. I read it twice in a row.

And speaking of books, we have a winner of the Gag giveaway! There were 20 wonderful, thoughtful responses to Melissa’s question: What activity is the most transporting for you and/or makes you lose track of time?

But we liked this lush, sensory (not to mention humble) response from Diane:
Oil painting is the most transporting for me. Smelling the paint, mixing the colors, and applying the paint on the canvas. After finishing, wondering, did I just create this wonderful painting?

Congrats, Diane! For anyone who missed the giveaway, you'll definitely want to check out this incredible novella and read about her Seymour Projects.

And happy reading and cooking to all!


  1. "Fat Radish" love that! I remember reading about one celebrity who confessed to reading cookbooks in bed at night. Made me smile - it had this decadent feeling... but what if it just made you crazy hungry? : )

    Always like your book recommendations. How was Quiet - saw the TED talk and have been thinking about getting the book. And I really liked Molly Wizenberg's first book. Off to reserve some at the library - thanks!

  2. Thanks for the book recommendations. I always love to get new ideas! Amy, I was wondering if you have read the novel "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr (I believe that's his name). I just finished it, and it's the best book I've read in a long time! It's set mostly in France during World War II. Beautiful language and memorable characters. I highly recommend it!

  3. Karene, thanks for the book rec - I had not heard of "All the Light We Cannot See" - will check it out, for sure!

    Kif, LOVE the idea of nightstand cookbook reading - utterly decadent. Though I suspect it would send me on more than one midnight refrigerator raid! Quiet, on the other hand, was just really enlightening. I love books that are 'psychological' without overtly being so. Susan Cain is a good writer and storyteller, so it didn't feel dull or boring on any level. I give it an enthusiastic thumbs up!

  4. Oh that's good to know about Quiet - thanks!

    And Anthony Doerr is one of my faves also - his book About Grace lingered with me for a long time after I had finished it.

    p.s. Exactly - midnight refrigerator raid indeed! : )