Sunday, January 5, 2014

December Reads

December reads . . . a week late and slightly random.

I had originally planned on reading biographies in December, but it didn't exactly work out that way. I usually pick a theme at the end of the previous month, look for recommendations and do a bit of research on my local library catalog and book blogs. In November I ordered, from the library, a bunch of books and none of them came in until the middle of the December, by then I was already involved with other books, my oh my, I have such loose and fickle relationships with books. So my December reads didn't follow a theme, unless you call wild crazy random, a theme. Let's do that.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
First, no, I have not seen the movie. Second, I loved the concept of this book. The entire book is made up of  interviews from people from different countries regarding the world wide zombie outbreak. It is a quick read and not made to be too entirely deep, plus, uh, zombies.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
This one is a leftover from my YA reading month. This is the type of book that I wish I had when I was teenager. It is a realistic book about two teens falling in love, which is the plot of 98% of teen fiction. I think what has made this book so popular is that it more relateable to not only teens that may have been underrepresented in literature, but also  just the awkwardness of being a teenager. The title characters, Eleanor and Park,  aren't brooding vampires, they don't have superpowers or super fierce arching skills saving the world.  They are an overweight red head from an abusive family and an Asian kid growing up in Nebraska in the 1980's. And the boy Park makes Eleanor mixed tapes. This would of made my little 16 year old heart would swoon, hells bells, my heart would still swoon if I guy would make me a mixed tape. True story: years and years ago I made a guy I liked a mixed tape. We would talk about music a lot, so I made him a tape of songs that I  thought he would like. And since this was back in the dark ages, this meant sitting on the floor in front of the tape recording hit play, record, stop, play record, a lot. He, however, thought I gave him the tape just to listen to, so he . .  . gave it back me after he listened to it. Uhh, that it what I meant it be . . like . . .all along. What. {{run away, run away}}.

But anyway. Eleanor & Park has received a lot of attention, not only because it is a heart wrenching story, but also because it has landed on the dread "banned books" list. Book Riot has a wonderful article, way better than I could ever put it, about why teens need books like this. Included in the article is a quote from the the author of book that I love and agreed with whole heartily:
   "When people call Eleanor & Park an obscene story, I feel like they're saying that rising above your    situation isn't possible. That growing up in an ugly situation, your story isn't even fit for good people's ears. That ugly things cancel out everything beautiful. "

Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton
I usually am not a fan and don't even bother with books from bloggers. They are usually just cash cows, taking advantage of momentary popularity, and filled with repetitive material that is on their blogs anyways. However, a big, big, BIG exception is Humans of New York. I am a huge fan of Stanton's blog where he documents people and their stories found in the streets of New York City. This book, and the blog is not only a love letter to one of the most fascinating cities in the entire world, but also the human story. Everyone has a story, and that story is worthing telling.  I will admit, seeing pictures of wildly different beautiful people made me miss living in a big city and inherit melting and mixing of cultures and lifestyles.

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan
During the last couple of years of WWII a super secret facility was built in Oak Ridge, Tennessee to aid in the development of the nuclear bomb as part of the Manhattan Project. Like much of the war time workforce with the men off fighting across the seas,  this atomic workforce was made up of young women, who had absolutely no idea of what they were working on other than it was aiding in the war effort, you know loose lips sink ships and all. Turns out they were enriching uranium to aid in making the bomb. THE bomb.   This fascinating book follows the lives of a handful of women with varying roles in the complex spanning from janitors to nurses to scientists who came to work at Oak Ridge.  There is a lot of science talk in the book, which as a daughter of a scientist I loved, but at times it did slow the reading down a bit, it's not like you can really make nuclear science fluffy. Overall it was a super interesting book that shines another light on the role that woman had in the war effort.

And a couple of cookbooks:

Sweetie-licious Pies: Eat Pie, Love Life by Linda Hundt
My new favorite pie cookbook. Written by Lind Hundt, 16 time national pie-baking champion and the owner of Sweetie-licious Bakery Cafe in Michigan, and filled with recipes named after family members.  It definitely has gone from the-- borrow from the library list-to buy for my personal collection list. Look out Pie Day 2014, I am getting ready for you! Also, man, I love pie.

Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Because of a long story that I still don't really understand, a couple of years ago I received the British edition of Ottolenghi's book Plenty way before the American version was even out (so very hipster of me) and loved, loved, loved it. I don't eat a whole lot of meat, so a beautiful and well conceived vegetarian book is a God send in the kitchen and keeps me from giving up and eating chips and salsa for dinner. Knowing my love of Middle Eastern food and of Ottolenghi's cookbooks, my sister gave me Jerusalem (which isn't vegetarian) for Christmas and I have already tried a couple of recipes; the Parsley & Barley Salad (similar to tabbouleh) caused serious happiness to the taste buds.

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for introducing me to HONY. I now follow them on Instagram. And that pie book...WOW!