Cooking for Mr. Latte, Amanda Hesser
I’m no foodie (read: I don’t have a favorite butcher and I’ve never cooked with truffle oil), but I love a good foodie memoir (is it aspirational, or do I just love reading about food and family meals?). This story was sweet and funny and charming. Romance, family memories, recipes (many complicated, but a few I want to try), and some honest, witty admissions about what food writers really eat.
The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, Uma Krishnaswami
The author sent me this book to review, and I so enjoyed it – a bright, fun, whimsical modern-day fairy tale about two best friends, a Bollywood actress, and a little town in India where anything can happen. I’m fascinated by India, but I’ve mostly read adult novels about it (The God of Small Things, Interpreter of Maladies, The Space Between Us, etc.) – so I loved reading a children’s story set there.
The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, Alan Jacobs
After reading Alissa’s review, I knew I’d love this book – and I was right. Jacobs encourages us to “read at whim,” to savor good books, to enjoy the deep concentration reading can bring. He muses on e-readers, the Internet, taking notes (in the margins or elsewhere), and reading for information and understanding versus for enjoyment (and they are different). A paean to the joys of reading, and an urgent call not to lose them.
Maman’s Homesick Pie, Donia Bijan
I adore foodie memoirs (see above), and I savored every exotic page of Bijan’s journey from Iran to the U.S. to France and back again. She writes with grace and lovely detail about her mother, her childhood memories, her time at Le Cordon Bleu and her apprenticeships in various kitchens, ending each chapter with a couple of delectable-sounding recipes. I can’t wait to make her orange-cardamom cookies.
Lost in a Good Book, Jasper Fforde
I read The Eyre Affair about a year ago, and liked it – but this sequel was way better. Funnier, sharper, more complicated, more interesting. Literary detective Thursday Next and her quirky family (and her dodo, Pickwick) are even more fun the second time around. Plus, Miss Havisham as a novel-hopping guide and the Cheshire Cat as a librarian? And trips inside Sense and Sensibility, Great Expectations and The Raven? Yes, please. Can’t wait to pick up the third one.
A Continual Feast, Jan Karon
Just what the subtitle says: “words of comfort and celebration, collected by Father Tim.” It’s a pleasure to browse these quotes, written in Father Tim’s loopy cursive or typed on his typewriter (whose “i” key tends to stiick). Thoughtful, often funny, heartwarming, inspirational. And I love the garden notes and Christmas shopping lists at the back. Recommended if you’re a Mitford fan.
Kayak Morning, Roger Rosenblatt
Grieving the death of his daughter, Rosenblatt writes about family and kayaking (his new hobby), and muses on grief – but I found these musings often disconnected and detached. Disappointing. (Maybe I’d have liked it better if I’d read some of his previous work.) I received an ARC of this book, but won’t be reviewing it for the Shelf.
Endangered Pleasures: In Defense of Naps, Bacon, Martinis, Profanity, and Other Indulgences, Barbara Holland
I saw a link to this book on Sarah’s blog ages ago, and finally got it from the library. Witty, thoughtful musings on our often puritanical (and pleasure-deprived) culture. Nostalgic (sometimes quaintly dated), but also frequently sarcastic. It inspired me to savor the pleasures of my own life, and make a list of the ones I overlook. I think Holland would be proud.