Monday, March 09, 2009

Book Reviews

Another in a series of "I don't really have anything in my life to write about" posts. I've really gotten into memoirs lately. I think this might be connected to my obsession with blogs. Memoirs are like "smart blogs." Those of you who know me, know I enjoy reading the blogs of not only friends, but also friends of friends or people I don't even know at all. Well, memoir is an even more socially-sanctioned way to be nosy and peer into other peoples' lives. Here are a few that I've enjoyed lately:

All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg
This is the memoir of a man who grew up dirt-poor in the rural Deep South. He went on to write for the New York Times and won the Pulitzer Prize, despite not having a college education. The book is really a testament to the woman who raised him and his two brothers so well, in spite of her abusive, alcoholic husband and extreme poverty. Overall, it is very sad, but there are a lot of moments of humor. Bragg's writing style is very approachable; he's maintained his Southern idioms, and the way he retains his "momma's" speech patterns and accent in dialogue is hilarious.

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
This is the memoir of a New York Times restaurant critic. (Hmmm...I guess I really like reading about people who work for the New York Times). She has to go to great lengths to disguise herself when she goes to review a restaurant. If the restaurant staff recognizes her, they won't give her the same service as everyone else. It's crazy how serious restaurant reviews are in New York City. Reichl is very witty, and it's so fun to live vicariously through her. I mean, who wouldn't want to get paid to eat at fancy restaurants?

My Life in France by Julia Child (with Alex Prud'homme)
Even though I love cooking, I didn't know much about Julia Child before reading this book. She didn't learn how to cook until she was almost 40! That makes what she acoomplished so much more incredible. It was fascinating to read about all of the work that went into publishing her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. We take it for granted now that there are tons of cookbooks and online resources that provide extremely detailed step-by-step instructions for making just about anything. But, at the time, Child's cookbook was pretty much the most comprehensive cookbook ever written. She was the first person to publish how to make mayonnaise, for example. It can be a little dry in places, but if you enjoy cooking (or Europe), you'll probably enjoy it.

You can see where my passion! If I'm not making and eating it, then I want to read about it.

Anyone read anything good recently? Leave me a comment with your recommendations. They don't have to be about food. :)


Mary Kay said...

You've probably already read this but "Same kind as different as me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore is AMAZING! Larry and I read it together and gave it to our kids to read as couples!

Love your blog, love hearing what is going on in your life! I miss you! I also love your love for food...we sure have that in common!

Anonymous said...

I second the vote for "Same Kind of Different as Me". It is really good. Our book club read it for the month of March (together, for a change!) It was very inspirational. I am also attempting to read
"The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follet. At 973 pages, attempting!is the appropriate verb. I am hanging in there, but it is taking its toll! I also have Adrianna Trigiani's newest called "Very Valentine". She mines the same territory as most of her other novels; Italian American family drama...but it is really good. As an inside joke, she mentions that a production company is filming the movie of "Lucia, Lucia" (another of her novels) near the custom shoe shop that she and her Grandmother own. Very cute...
The librarian at school loaned me "Mistress". I am anxious to finish building this cathedral in "Pillars" and start reading about the "bad ladies" of the 19th and 20th centuries...
Love you bunches,
Aunt Katina