Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
A new book by Mary Roach is always a treat, and her latest volume is no exception. This weekend I Gulped it down with great pleasure. Previous books have focused on death, sex, the afterlife, and space travel. This time she examines digestion, with all the glee of the 19th century doctor she describes who seemed to take unprofessional pleasure in igniting stomach gases (p227).
My favorite part of this book is getting to know her “favorite snake digestion expert” (p172), who pops up throughout the book with, among other interesting and sometimes gross tidbits, a biological explanation of dragons (p230). If you are familiar with Mary Roach’s work, you are likely a fan, and may already be on the holds list for Gulp. If not, why not grab one of her earlier works and dig in.
Bagels may not often described with the above adjectives, but Sharon Kahn’s Fax me a bagel definitely fits the bill. The first in her Ruby, the rabbi’s wife series, it is a quick and enjoyable read, with quirky characters and old technology (published in 1998 – can that really be fifteen years ago already – facsimile technology and the necessary accoutrements of a business have come a long way). If you enjoy this title, you’ll be pleased to know that we have the rest of the series, which are six in total. Just beware: you may finish reading with a craving for bagels, though you may be as lucky as I was – and coincidentally be offered one. Just in case it wasn’t a coincidence, my next read may be about winning the lottery!
Fax me a bagel
I was excited to discover that Fay Weldon has a new novel out, Habits of the house, the first of a planned trilogy. Set in England at the end of the 19th century, it follows the attempts of the Earl of Dilberne to solidify his family’s financial situation. From a brief summary I’ve read, it sounds like a rich American heiress might save this titled British family teetering on the brink of financial ruin, but in Weldon’s hands, it is sure to be a compelling and surprising read (and surely all the Dilbernes’ problems will not be solved by the end of the first book).
When I learned of the existence of this book, I immediately placed a hold on it, and I’m going to read it while I await the arrival of Mary Roach’s newest book, Gulp.
Habits of the house
Culinary Visions® Panel says pickling and fermenting are going to be big in 2013. Get on board with The art of fermentation, the latest book from Sandor Ellix Katz, an expert in the fermentation field.
The art of fermentation
…the library has you covered. The world may end in nine days (and many of our survival skill books are checked out already), but if it doesn’t, you may want to check out The worst-case scenario survival handbook: holidays. According to the cover, it will show you how to prevail against hordes of shoppers OR reindeer. I think it also has tips for tough family situations.
The worst-case scenario survival handbook. Holidays
Have you ever read a romance novel? Romance is the highest selling segment of all published fiction. From Whitney, my love to the currently trending 50 Shades of Grey (73 holds on it as of this writing), one feature they all seem to share is poor communication between star-crossed lovers. If they had self-awareness and the ability to communicate honestly and openly, there would be a very different story, of course, but whenever I have picked up a bodice-busting paperback the most notable feature is an astounding lack of communication. This results in several hundred pages of uncertainty and misery. To help you avoid these pitfalls in your own life, take a look at some of our books on communication skills. The book I have featured here, Conversation Transformation, is one place to start.
[The Life is not a romance novel series started with Only connect, continued with Into the kitchen and Not so fast. Stay tuned for further installments, and please leave suggestions for future topics in the comments. Or comment on my reading choices.]
Conversation transformation : recognize and overcome the 6 most destructive communication patterns
New relationships are exciting, but before moving in together, check out Living Together: A Legal Guide for Unmarried Couples. You may be great at cooking with your special someone, but merging lives is a bit more complicated. While an unsuccessful omelet can be tossed in the trash or fed to the dog, a relationship is harder to dispose of (and you may be more eager to avoid disaster; an egg is $.25, but true love is priceless). If you plan on merging assets, raising children, or writing a will, some legal precautions are in order, and Nolo will give you excellent information.
This book would be handy for relationships other than romantic. Cohabitators of any ilk could benefit from perusing it.
Living together : a legal guide for unmarried couples
Now that you've all had time to put tips from the book I last blogged about into practice, here's the follow-up you’ve been waiting for. Your time to cook : a first cookbook for newlyweds, couples & lovers by Robert Blakeslee will tell you everything you need to know to keep yourself and your new friend(s) fed. It could just as easily be titled So you’ve never used a stove: what to do when you’ve just moved out of your parents’ home and all you eat now is take-out, for this well-illustrated tome will walk you through every step, almost as though you are in the author’s kitchen. On my to-try list: stuffed mushrooms, and basil & cheese twirlies. Yum!
To justify the name, before every chapter is a page with marriage trivia, some romantic and some shudder-inducing, but really this book is just a solid introduction to culinary magic with a few exciting frills.
Your time to cook : a first cookbook for newlyweds, couples & lovers
Last year when we got 11 points guide to hooking up (by Sam Greenspan, who created the site 11points.com, where he posts funny lists of 11 items “because top ten lists are for cowards”), I thought it would be funny to put it here on the blog, and then I promptly forgot all about it. Last month, while looking up relationship books for a patron, I stumbled across it again, and checked it out for a fun, fast read. I wasn’t expecting it to contain much in the way of helpful advice, but it actually does, with lists including "11 Ideas for Fun, Memorable Dates", "11 Tips for Proposing, Wrangling, and Shining during a Threesome", and "11 Ways to Transition a Friendship into a Relationship". You’ll find it shelved with humor books, and it definitely entertains; it also hits home a lot of the time.
11 points guide to hooking up