EDUCATED by Tara Westover

December 12, 2018

Click book cover to purchase

A Memoir

From the publisher:

#1 NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, AND BOSTON GLOBE BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • O: The Oprah Magazine • Time • NPR • Financial Times • The Economist • The Guardian • Newsday  • Refinery29 •   Real Simple • Bustle • Pamela Paul, KQED • Publishers Weekly • LibraryReads • Library Journal • New York Public Library  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA’S SUMMER READING • ONE OF BILL GATES’S FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR • LONGLISTED FOR THE CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE

An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University

“Beautiful and propulsive . . . Despite the singularity of [Tara Westover’s] childhood, the questions her book poses are universal: How much of ourselves should we give to those we love? And how much must we betray them to grow up?”—Vogue

Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.


The accolades for this book keep rolling in and what can I say, they are all well deserved.

It was a difficult read at times, the abuse Westover went through and the accidents that happened to family members were often told in gruesome, albeit necessary, detail. Unfortunately, I know first hand what it is like for a daughter to be estranged from her father. This is a book that will stay with me for a very long time.

I have spoken to many people who have read this book, and not one could say anything negative about it. It is a difficult story, beautifully told. Dr. Westover gave us all a gift, and I am most appreciative. Don’t miss it.

12/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

EDUCATED by Tara Westover. Random House; First Edition edition (February 20, 2018). ISBN 978-0399590504. 352p.


BEST. STATE. EVER. by Dave Barry

December 10, 2018

Click book cover to purchase

Florida Man Defends His Homeland

From the publisher:

New York Times bestseller—a brilliantly funny exploration of the Sunshine State from the man who knows it best: Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Barry.

We never know what will happen next in Florida. We know only that, any minute now, something will. Every few months, Dave Barry gets a call from some media person wanting to know, “What the hell is wrong with Florida?” Somehow, the state’s acquired an image as a subtropical festival of stupid, and as a loyal Floridian, Dave begs to differ.

Join him as he goes in hunt of the legendary Skunk Ape; hobnobs with the mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs; and visits Cassadaga, the psychic capital of the world, to have his dog’s aura read (apparently, she’s “very spiritual”). Hitch a ride for the non-stop thrills of alligator-wrestling (“the gators display the same fighting spirit as a Barcalounger”), the hair-raising spectacle of a clothing-optional bar in Key West, and the manly manliness of the Machine Gun Experience in Miami.

It’s the most hilarious book yet from “the funniest damn writer in the whole country” (Carl Hiaasen, and he should know). By the end, you’ll have to admit that whatever else you might think about Florida—you can never say it’s boring.


I’m a long time Dave Barry fan. I read him when he was writing his column for the Miami Herald. I watched “Dave’s World,” the short-lived TV sitcom based on his life. I was delighted when my daughter found his books and read them all in a week, laughing the entire time. But I was surprised, and not in a good way, when I found out that the Literacy Coalition selected this book for Palm Beach County Read Together.

I had agreed to facilitate a book discussion at my library on whichever book they picked, as our publicity had to be in a couple of months before the selection was announced. After the announcement, the 20 or so regulars that attend my book discussions picked up their books, and shortly after that, began a parade of unhappy readers.

The book is cute, it definitely has its moments, but it is not, in any way, shape or form, a piece of literature in need of a discussion. One by one my book club participants returned the book and informed me they would not be attending the discussion. I understood, but my hands were tied. At the end, two of my regulars showed up, and half a dozen women who came because they thought Dave Barry would be there. Not my finest hour.

To make matters even more aggravating, the Literacy Coalition, for the entirety of this series, has made available on their website a downloadable discussion guide. But when I downloaded it, I found blurbs about the book, a brief, funny bio of Dave Barry, a handful of fun Florida facts and half a dozen Florida trivia questions. No discussion questions whatsoever. There is not a discussion question to be found for this book, and believe me, I looked. And it dawned on me that there really isn’t anything to discuss. There is no real substance here, and book discussion revolve around substance.

I didn’t love this book, which had nothing to do with the book discussion debacle. I found the essay on the Keys way too long and in need of serious editing. I liked the essay on the Villages and the one on shooting machine guns, gun hater that I am, because it was funny. But most of it just was Dave pointed out the silly things Florida is home to and the reasons people move here by the thousands. I was surprised to learn that Florida is the third most populous state in the nation so at least I learned something.

If you are a huge Dave Barry fan, then you will probably enjoy this book but then again, if you are that fan, you’ve probably already read it. And FYI, the reviews on Amazon are stellar.

12/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BEST. STATE. EVER. by Dave Barry. G.P. Putnam’s Sons; Reprint edition (September 5, 2017). ISBN 978-1101982617 . 240p.

Kindle

Audible


IMAGINE JOHN YOKO by John Lennon & Yoko Ono

November 12, 2018

Click book cover to purchase

With contributions from the people who were there

From the publisher:

Personally compiled and curated by Yoko Ono, Imagine John Yoko is the definitive inside story-told in revelatory detail-of the making of the legendary album and all that surrounded it: the locations, the creative team, the artworks and the films, in the words of John & Yoko and the people who were there.

Features 80% exclusive, hitherto-unpublished archive photos and footage sequences of all the key players in situ, together with lyric sheets, Yoko’s art installations, and exclusive new insights and personal testimonies from Yoko and over forty of the musicians, engineers, staff, celebrities, artists and photographers who were there-including Julian Lennon, Klaus Voormann, Alan White, Jim Keltner, David Bailey, Dick Cavett and Sir Michael Parkinson.

“A lot has been written about the creation of the song, the album and the film of Imagine, mainly by people who weren’t there, so I’m very pleased and grateful that now, for the first time, so many of the participants have kindly given their time to ‘gimme some truth’ in their own words and pictures” Yoko Ono Lennon, 2018

In 1971, John Lennon & Yoko Ono conceived and recorded the critically acclaimed album Imagine at their Georgian country home, Tittenhurst Park, in Berkshire, England, in the state-of-the-art studio they built in the grounds, and at the Record Plant in New York. The lyrics of the title track were inspired by Yoko Ono’s “event scores” in her 1964 book Grapefruit, and she was officially co-credited as writer in June 2017.

Imagine John Yoko tells the story of John & Yoko’s life, work and relationship during this intensely creative period. It transports readers to home and working environments showcasing Yoko’s closely guarded archive of photos and artifacts, using artfully compiled narrative film stills, and featuring digitally rendered maps, floorplans and panoramas that recreate the interiors in evocative detail. John & Yoko introduce each chapter and song; Yoko also provides invaluable additional commentary and a preface.

All the minutiae is examined: the locations, the key players, the music and lyrics, the production techniques and the artworks-including the creative process behind the double exposure polaroids used on the album cover.

With a message as universal and pertinent today as it was when the album was created, this landmark publication is a fitting tribute to John & Yoko and their place in cultural history.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Even though I requested this a couple of times, the publisher did not come through for me on this book. So I have my library’s edition in hand.

There is some strange stuff going on with this book. It shows as only being available from third party sellers on Amazon, which is very odd for a new book. There is a “collectors edition” with a different ISBN, but which looks identical, for $150 with a publication date of 11/13/18.

The reviews on Amazon, while positive, often refer to the sticking pages and the soiled cover. That said, my library cover is pristine and I am the first person to check out this book. The pages are heavy paper, but don’t feel especially of high quality, and are not sticking together in my library copy.

All you really need to know about me is that “Imagine” is my favorite song, the song I want played at my funeral. (Yes, I’m planning ahead.) It never fails to move me and will generally bring me to tears every time I hear it. This has been going on for decades. (Granted, I am an easy crier.)

I like the book. I like how, when closed, the end papers  form a blue sky with white, puffy clouds. I like all the pictures but wish some of them, all those tiny pictures, were enlarged a bit. Same with the sheet music. It is a large book, I don’t understand why so many pictures were miniaturized while a quote, “The guitar is all right as a hobby, John, but you’ll never make a living at it!” seen in many other books, is given a two page spread. But nobody asked me.

This is a book for die hard fans like me. Not sure who else would care. It’s on my wishlist.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

IMAGINE JOHN YOKO by John Lennon & Yoko Ono. Grand Central Publishing (October 9, 2018). ISBN 978-1538747155.  320p.


SARA BERMAN’S CLOSET by Maira Kalman & Alex Kalman

October 31, 2018

Click on book cover to purchase

From the publisher:

Maira Kalman, the author of the bestsellers The Principles of Uncertainty and The Elements of Style, and Alex Kalman, the designer, curator, writer, and founder of Mmuseumm, combine their talents in this captivating family memoir, a creative blend of narrative and striking visuals that is a paean to an exceptional woman and a celebration of individuality, personal expression, and the art of living authentically.

In the early 1950s, Jewish émigré Sara Berman arrived in the Bronx with her husband and two young daughters When the children were grown, she and her husband returned to Israel, but Sara did not stay for long. In the late 1960s, at age sixty, she left her husband after thirty-eight years of marriage. One night, she packed a single suitcase and returned alone to New York City, moving into a studio apartment in Greenwich Village near her family. In her new home, Sara began discovering new things and establishing new rituals, from watching Jeopardy each night at 7:00 to eating pizza at the Museum of Modern Art’s cafeteria every Wednesday. She also began discarding the unnecessary, according to the Kalmans: “in a burst of personal expression, she decided to wear only white.”

Sara kept her belongings in an extraordinarily clean and organized closet. Filled with elegant, minimalist, heavily starched, impeccably pressed and folded all-white clothing, including socks and undergarments, as well as carefully selected objects—from a potato grater to her signature perfume, Chanel No.19—the space was sublime. Upon her death in 2004, her family decided to preserve its pristine contents, hoping to find a way to exhibit them one day.

In 2015, the Mmuseumm, a new type of museum located in a series of unexpected locations founded and curated by Sara’s grandson, Alex Kalman, recreated the space in a popular exhibit—Sara Berman’s Closet—in Tribeca. The installation eventually moved to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The show will run at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles from December 4, 2018 to March 10, 2019; it will open again about a month later at the National Museum of American Jewish History from April 5, 2019 to September 1, 2019.

Inspired by the exhibit, this spectacular illustrated memoir, packed with family photographs, exclusive images, and Maira Kalman’s distinctive paintings, is an ode to Sara’s life, freedom, and re-invention. Sara Berman’s Closet is an indelible portrait of the human experience—overcoming hardship, taking risks, experiencing joy, enduring loss. It is also a reminder of the significance of the seemingly insignificant moments in our lives—the moments we take for granted that may turn out to be the sweetest. Filled with a daughter and grandson’s wry and touching observations conveyed in Maira’s signature script, Sara Berman’s Closest is a beautiful, loving tribute to one woman’s indomitable spirit.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I received this book in the mail from a publicist at Harper Gallery and was immediately fascinated. Was it a graphic novel? Was it an art book? I didn’t know quite what to make of it so I looked inside and there was no title page. I brought it to work at the library and showed it to Jessica, a co-worker who used to work as a children’s librarian. She said sometimes children’s books put the title page at the back of the book, and sure enough, that’s where it was. What I was looking for was the classification of the book, the Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress numbers.

I was shocked to see it classified as “Juvenile fiction.” Jessica explained that the juvenile designation meant it was geared for young children through third grade, and the book was meant to be read by an adult to the child. At 128 pages, that seemed a bit much to me. I took the book home and sat down and read it.

The text in the book is in cursive writing, most children at that age would not be able to read it themselves and frankly I occasionally had some difficulty myself.  The subject matter, as explained above in the publisher’s synopsis, is not child friendly, to say the least. While I really liked the book and loved the artwork, I could not imagine this as a children’s book. Interestingly, Amazon has it classified thusly:

  • Books > Arts & Photography > Collections, Catalogs & Exhibitions
  • Books > Arts & Photography > Graphic Design > Commercial > Fashion Design
  • Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Specific Groups > Women

Someone took a good look at it and came up with categories that actually fit the book. I’m guessing that the publisher gave it the Juvenile classification and for the life of me, I don’t understand why. And if that’s correct, I’m really puzzled as how I came to be a recipient of a children’s book. I rarely review them and I’m not on most children’s publicists radar. Then again, this book isn’t published by a children’s imprint, but rather an art imprint.

All that said, I loved this book. It is beautiful, the story interesting and compelling, and I think it would make a good gift book for sure. Thank you, Katherine Beitner, for sending this to me. And maybe you can get with the Library of Congress and have the Juvenile designation changed to something more appropriate?

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SARA BERMAN’S CLOSET by Maira Kalman & Alex Kalman. Harper Design (October 30, 2018). ISBN 978-0062846402.  128p.

Kindle


SALT, FAT, ACID, HEAT by Samin Nosrat

October 28, 2018

Click book cover to purchase

Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking

Illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton

I remember when this book was getting nominated for all kinds of awards, and from the reviews, I thought it was going to be a beginners cookbook so I didn’t pay it much attention. Then came the Netflix show.

My husband and I watched the first episode one Saturday night a few weeks ago. Samin is totally adorable, smart, funny and just, well, lovable. That first episode takes place in Italy, which didn’t hurt either. So we said, okay, we’ll watch the next one. That one was in Japan. An hour later, we thought, why not, let’s watch the episode in Mexico. And then there was only one episode left so we watched that, too. Yes, I lead an exciting life, binge watching Netflix on a Saturday night. It wasn’t the first time, and probably won’t be the last. But it was fun, and inspiring, and thoroughly enjoyable and it led me back to her cookbook.

To be honest, I liked the TV series more than the book, and that is a very odd thing for me to say. It is, as I feared, very much a beginners cookbook. The first two hundred pages of the book just explains salt, fat, acid and heat. The rest of the book is called, “and now that you know how to cook…” and includes “recipes and recommendations.”

The first part of the second part? Not recipes, “Kitchen Basics” starting with “choosing tools, choosing ingredients, a few basic  how-tos” with illustrations. Like how to slice an onion, how to turn garlic into a paste, how to chop parsley and other info on knife cuts. Then, finally, recipes. Sort of.

There are pages on salads but nothing that looks like a recipe you’d find in any other cookbook until you get a ways in. There are pages about ingredients used in salad, a chart with suggested combinations, and then some actual recipes. Avocado, Beet and Citrus Salad. Shaved Carrot Salad with Ginger and Lime. Then some dressings – progress! After the salads come stocks and soups. beans, grains and pasta, fish, chicken, and so forth, even a handful of desserts. There is no table of contents, but there is an extensive index.

All that said, there wasn’t a whole lot I would make. It’s just too basic, I’ve been making most of this stuff for years. So it’s not a cookbook I would cook from, if you will, and for me, that defeats the purpose.

A reviewer from the Atlantic called it a “meta-cookbook” and I totally get that. Other reviewers felt that it changed the way they cooked or even the way they thought about food. It didn’t do that for me. That said, it would make a terrific gift for a beginning cook or someone who doesn’t like to cook or even worse, thinks they can’t cook. Samin is a remarkable teacher, and that shows on every page. Her love of food comes shining through, along with her will to make everyone feel the same way – and she truly is a force to be reckoned with – but in the most irresistible way. Buy it for the novice cooks in your life. And definitely watch the show!

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SALT, FAT, ACID, HEAT by Samin Nosrat. Simon and Schuster; 4th edition (April 25, 2017). ISBN 978-1476753836. 480p.


THE ESCAPE ARTISTS by Neal Bascomb

September 30, 2018

Click book cover to purchase

A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War

Stories mainly untold about war are those of the soldiers captured on the battlefield and held prisoner until the end of the war they have fought in. Neal Bascomb has written such a book involving British prisoners held in Germany during World War One, their treatment by the German military, their thoughts and dreams and the many and varied attempts at escape successes and recapture.

The amount of research that has obviously gone into the project dealing with events of a century ago is prodigious to say the least. Drawing on documents held by museums, families of the men that lived the experience, and scholarly works as found help to bring to light stories of real people and real events during the War to end all wars.

The first section of the book involves experiences of many men in various prison camps, descriptions obtained by research of the actions involved in the attempts and of course the results. By no means a dry chronicle of old news we have the experience of meeting real young men that had faced the entrance into the horrific experience of modern combat and than being captured and imprisoned. They lived lives of complete and utter boredom in the prison camps as well as facing deprivation of normal meals, and atmospheres of filth and possible brutality at the hands of their jailers.

The final section of the book is a description of the breakout of prisoners from one of the worst of the camps: Holzminden situated about 150 miles from Holland than neutral and the planned destination of the escapees. Twenty six prisoners fled the camp at one time making it the largest escape attempt up until that time. Details of the plans, the coordination and the results are presented and make the breakout real to any reader of the book.

I must indicate that the book is nowhere near the dry tome that it might thought of as being. The young men had real lives and certainly went on from their captivity to life after the war. There is chronicling of some of them, including several that went on to present their experiences to groups of soldiers and airmen destined to take part in World War Two. The point is made that the accounts presented helped to sharpen the escape attempts of these men in their turn.

9/18 Paul Lane

THE ESCAPE ARTISTS by Neal Bascomb. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (September 18, 2018).  ISBN 978-0544937116. 336p.

Kindle

Audible


BIBLIOPHILE by Jane Mount

September 20, 2018

Click book cover to purchase

An Illustrated Miscellany 

I am a long time fan of Jane Mount’s art and often spend time drooling over her website, the Ideal Bookshelf. If you are not a complete book wonk like me, Mount offers paintings/prints similar to the cover of this book. She has hundreds of collections and books to choose from and you can create your own “ideal bookshelf”. This is my dream gift!

This book is a really fun read for any book lover. Fully illustrated, there are pages for almost every genre, like historical fiction and romance, but also super creative ones like “Book Club Darlings,” “Novels of the Millennium: Optimists Confusion,” “Books Made into Great TV,” and collections of titles with various covers, like Pride & Prejudice and 1984.

Also included are many illustrations of “Beloved Bookstores” and “Striking Libraries” from around the world. Mount offers her unique illustrations of the Strand (NYC), Librairie D&Q (Quebec), San Librario (Bogota) bookstores and the Library of Parliament (Ottowa), Seattle Central Library, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of The New York Public Library (the one with the lions) and lots more.

There are fun quizzes, like “Fictional Planet Universe” where there are illustrations of 20 or so planets and you have to name the book or comic where the planet appears. She offers insight into how books are made (“The Physical Book,”) “Designers’ Picks” and “Writing Rooms.” There are “Writers Pets,” “Read Around the World” maps, “Every Day Food Inspiration” and many more.

I could go on for days and tell you about every page in this book, but it is so much better to see it for yourself. Amazon has some of the illustrations available:

Did I mention I love this book? With the holidays right around the corner (have you seen the Christmas decorations at Costco?!) this book would make a beautiful gift for the book lover in your life.

You’re welcome.

9/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BIBLIOPHILE by Jane Mount. Chronicle Books; Illustrated edition (September 11, 2018). ISBN 978-1452167237. 224p.


DEEP RUN ROOTS by Vivian Howard

September 16, 2018

Click book cover to purchase

Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South

WINNER OF AN ASTONISHING FOUR IACP AWARDS, INCLUDING COOKBOOK OF THE YEAR AND THE JULIA CHILD FIRST BOOK AWARD

Vivian Howard, star of PBS’s A CHEF’S LIFE, celebrates the flavors of North Carolina’s coastal plain in more than 200 recipes and stories.

This was a serendipitous find of a cookbook. First, it showed up on several lists of cookbooks to look for. Then it won the IACP Cookbook of the Year award. Then I was looking around PBS and stumbled on this show called “A Chef’s Life” and it took a few episodes before I realized that this show starred the author of this cookbook I kept hearing about. Kismet!

I selected it for my cookbook discussion group (there is such a thing and I’ve been facilitating this group for several years at my library,) ordered 15 copies and waited. We met yesterday to discuss and watch the “Broccoli” episode where Vivian begins her book/food truck tour. Yes, this chef went on tour with a food truck. How brilliant was that? Made me wonder why all chefs weren’t doing that.

The consensus of the group was that we loved reading the book – her stories are just wonderful. However, cooking from the book was an entirely different thing. A few people felt intimidated by it, and remember, this is a group of people who cook regularly from cookbooks, most for many years so that really surprised me. Most people felt the recipes were overly long and complicated and a few others didn’t care for the style of the food but loved reading the book. Southern cuisine is not for everyone, and this is a very specific, eastern Carolina style of food. One of the group is actually from eastern Carolina and has relatives still living in the area and she probably enjoyed this book the most. Vivian Howard is a hero there.

So about the book – the positives. There are stories, lots of stories, and they are wonderful. The book itself is beautiful, sturdy, heavy paper sewn into the binding so it lies flat pretty much at every page. Towards the end of the book (it is a big cookbook, over 500 pages) the sheer weight of the book tends to snap it closed. There are also instructions on how to can fruits and vegetables, which seems important to a cookbook like this.

There is a table of contents (which is odd, by any standards) and then a very detailed Recipe Guide which is in a completely different order and sectioned differently from the table of contents. At the end of the book is an index, which is a sorry thing that often refers back to the page of the Recipe Guide to find the actual page number of the recipe. Confusing? Yep. So for clarity’s sake, on the left side of this picture is the actual Table of Contents, with the chapters:

Looking at just the table of contents, one would think there were no chicken, beef or fish recipes, for instance, but there are. There is an explanation given as to the way the book is organized. Vivian says,

…the way I ordered the chapters and recipes is personal, driven more by story than anything else. But it’s a cookbook, after all, and I want you to cook from it, and that’s why I’ve included this more practical guide (that would be the Recipe Guide.)

On the right side of the picture is the beginning of the Recipe Guide. It is divided into sections that make a bit more sense, more like a traditional cookbook, with sections called Breakfast and Brunch; Sandwiches; Pickles, Preserves, and Relishes; Sweets etc. I do like that she included a box at the end of this guide with “Eastern North Carolina Traditions”, a list of recipes that are truly native to that area like Collard Kraut, Fresh Corn Roasted in Chicken Drippings, Squash and Onions, and so forth.

One of my members made the Squash and Onions and said she made the rookie mistake of not reading the recipe all the way through before beginning. By the time she realized that these vegetables would be cooking for hours, she was already into it. She said that to her, a Yankee born and bred, this dish epitomized everything that is wrong with Southern food, taking beautiful, fresh ingredients, like summer squash straight from the farm, and cooking it until it is an unrecognizable mush. She ended up taking the mush, adding in quinoa and finely chopped mushrooms and turned it into a most delicious veggie burger. The mushy squash acted as the glue in holding it all together.

Another member of the group, the one from eastern North Carolina, made the Stewed Collard Greens with Ham Hock. She said this recipe is very similar to the way she grew up making this dish and it was delicious.

We all noticed that citrus plays an important role in many recipes, and we all liked that. I loved the Citrus Sweet Potato Butter although I did leave out the sugar, and found it more than sweet enough. I will be making that again. When I have some time off from work, I am going to attempt the Sweet Potato Onion Bread, which is a four page long recipe that requires a lot of attention, this is no mix it, knead it and wait recipe. I also am planning on making the Stuffed Butternut Bottoms, where butternut squash “bowls” are roasted then stuffed with a mixture of sausage, leek, turnip greens (or kale) and cheese, then topped with bread crumbs and baked again. She doesn’t specify the type of sausage so I’m thinking maybe a spicy chicken sausage would be good here. It sounds really good and winter squash season is almost upon us.

I did not care for the Watermelon Tea – basically a mixture of tea and pureed, strained watermelon that I thought would be akin to a sweet tea without adding actual sugar, but I found it an odd combination of flavors. Another member of the group made the Peaches and Cream Cake, another four page recipe (including pictures) and loved it but said it really was overly complicated. I also made “Viv’s Addiction,” a spiced pecan that was delicious. The nuts are folded into a stiffly beaten egg white with lots of spice then baked. I love these things, but this was the most complicated spiced nut recipe I’ve ever made. Breaking apart what is essentially a sweet & spicy praline required a bit of attention but I think the end result was worth it.

I mostly enjoyed reading this cookbook more than cooking from it, if that makes sense. But if you are looking for unusual recipes, and you like Southern food, and you enjoy the challenge of long, complicated recipes, you may love this cookbook.

9/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DEEP RUN ROOTS by Vivian Howard. Little, Brown and Company; y First edition edition (October 4, 2016). ISBN 978-0316381109. 576p.

 

 

 


THE DONALD J. TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL TWITTER LIBRARY

August 20, 2018

Click on book cover to purchase

Presented by The Daily Show with Trevor Noah; Forward by Jon Meacham

From the publisher:

As seen on The Daily Show, an illustrated portrait of the Donald J. Trump Twitter account, with analysis and “scholarly” commentary from the writers of The Daily Show and an introduction by Trevor Noah

In June 2017, just steps from Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah opened The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library, a 4,000-square-foot museum space that gave the 45th president and his amazing Twitter legacy the respect they deserve. In the single weekend it was open to the public, the Library pop-up drew 7,500 visitors and had to turn away countless others.

But the Presidential Twitter Library experience should not be limited to the elite coastal few. Not fair! All citizens, even the Mexican ones, should have the chance to see Donald Trump’s tweets in their rightful context—organized and commented on in the fearless, hilarious, insightful voice of The Daily Show.

This one-of-a-kind exhibition catalog presents the Library’s complete contents, including:

• The Masterpieces: In-depth critical appreciations of history’s most important Trump tweets, from “Very Stable Genius” to “Covfefe” to “Trump Tower Taco Bowl/I Love Hispanics!”
• The Greatest Battles: @realDonaldTrump’s brutal Twitter campaigns against fellow Republicans, Diet Coke, women generally, and Kristen Stewart specifically
• Sad! A Retrospective: a compendium of the many people, events, and twists of fate that apparently made Donald Trump feel this human emotion
• Trumpstradamus: DJT’s amazing 140-character predictions—none of which came true!
• The Hall of Nicknames: the greatest of Trump’s monikers, from “Lyin’ Ted” to “Low I.Q. Crazy Mika,” accompanied by original caricature artwork
• Trump vs. Trump: You’re going to want to sit for this one. Donald Trump has sometimes been known to contradict himself.
• Always the Best: the greatest boasts of the greatest boaster of all time, ever!

Comprising hundreds of Trump tweets, and featuring a foreword by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham, and even a place for readers to add their own future Trump tweet highlights—because he is making new Twitter history literally every day—The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library is a unique portrait of an artist whose masterworks will be studied by historians, grammarians, and mental health professionals for years to come.


Regular readers of this blog (and my Twitter feed) know which way my political leanings go. The only way I am surviving this presidency is by reading romance (I need the happy endings,) listening to podcasts (bless you, Crooked Media) and laughing (it beats crying.) Books like this help.

Noah introduces the book thusly:

When Donald J. Trump launched his campaign for president in 2015, I laughed at the idea. If there’s one thing I knew about Americans, it’s that they wanted their presidents to be dignified, intelligent, and black. Trump had none of these qualities. Even worse, Trump had tweets!

That made me sad, but it also made me laugh. So if you don’t find it funny, then this book probably isn’t for you.

Meacham takes his forward seriously, compares Trump to previous presidents like FDR and Woodrow Wilson, and simply nails it: “As president, he has raised narcissism to Homeric heights – a difficult thing to do when one recalls that politicians, as a species, consider public notice to be slightly more essential than oxygen.”

The illustrations are terrific, the graphs and charts intriguing and it all made me feel a little less lost in America. The old saying “misery loves company” is a proven theorem here. Thanks to Trevor Noah and the team at the Daily Show.

8/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE DONALD J. TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL TWITTER LIBRARY by The Daily Show With Trevor Noah. Spiegel & Grau (July 31, 2018). ISBN 978-1984801883. 144p.

Kindle


32 YOLKS by Eric Ripert

July 29, 2018

Click book cover to purchase

From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line

From the publisher:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Hailed by Anthony Bourdain as “heartbreaking, horrifying, poignant, and inspiring,” 32 Yolks is the brave and affecting coming-of-age story about the making of a French chef, from the culinary icon behind the renowned New York City restaurant Le Bernardin.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR

In an industry where celebrity chefs are known as much for their salty talk and quick tempers as their food, Eric Ripert stands out. The winner of four James Beard Awards, co-owner and chef of a world-renowned restaurant, and recipient of countless Michelin stars, Ripert embodies elegance and culinary perfection. But before the accolades, before he even knew how to make a proper hollandaise sauce, Eric Ripert was a lonely young boy in the south of France whose life was falling apart.

Ripert’s parents divorced when he was six, separating him from the father he idolized and replacing him with a cold, bullying stepfather who insisted that Ripert be sent away to boarding school. A few years later, Ripert’s father died on a hiking trip. Through these tough times, the one thing that gave Ripert comfort was food. Told that boys had no place in the kitchen, Ripert would instead watch from the doorway as his mother rolled couscous by hand or his grandmother pressed out the buttery dough for the treat he loved above all others, tarte aux pommes. When an eccentric local chef took him under his wing, an eleven-year-old Ripert realized that food was more than just an escape: It was his calling. That passion would carry him through the drudgery of culinary school and into the high-pressure world of Paris’s most elite restaurants, where Ripert discovered that learning to cook was the easy part—surviving the line was the battle.

Taking us from Eric Ripert’s childhood in the south of France and the mountains of Andorra into the demanding kitchens of such legendary Parisian chefs as Joël Robuchon and Dominique Bouchet, until, at the age of twenty-four, Ripert made his way to the United States, 32 Yolks is the tender and richly told story of how one of our greatest living chefs found himself—and his home—in the kitchen.


This was not what I was expecting at all. I have read several memoirs by chefs, and I expect the hardship of the kitchen. But I did not expect the hardship of a childhood, and Ripert’s was not especially pleasant. His mother was a very successful shopkeeper, so they had money, but for everyone who thinks that money is the answer to all problems, I suggest you read this book to find out why that is rarely the case.

The high pressure of the kitchen and how Ripert worked through it was inspiring to read. He holds the unique distinction of taking over a 3 Michelin star & NY Times 4 star restaurant, and holding on to those stars for over thirty years, a remarkable feat not repeated anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, the book ends just as he arrives in America which leads me to hope there will be a sequel.

Co-written with Veronica Chambers, who also worked with Marcus Samuelsson on Yes, Chef, his memoir, she does an excellent job. For foodies who want more than what’s on TV.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

32 YOLKS by Eric Ripert. Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 21, 2017). ISBN 978-0812983067. 256p.

Kindle