Book Shelf

Debra’s bookshelf: read

Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs
really liked it

Written by the perpetual uncool kid that was always looking in, Dave Holmes writes a hilarious and insightful look into not only his psyche but also into the music of “the last forty years” (and the pop culture) in Party of One.Holmes …

Burying the Honeysuckle Girls
liked it

Carpenter definitely is trying for the Southern Gothic tradition in this novel and I think she might almost get there.Althea Bell is the protagonist. Immediately one can sense the conflict as Althea is from a politically prominent Alab…

Brother of the More Famous Jack
Brother of the More Famous Jack was “recommended” to me by Kindle. I had never heard of the author or this book, which I assumed from the preface was widely read and LOVED in the UK. Published in 1982, it is a coming of age tale of Kathe…
The Shoemaker's Wife
This is a sweeping tale set in the Italian Alps that follows the coming-of-age of the two main characters. The plot follows Ciro, an orphan, and Enza, the daughter of a poor Italian family. The two first meet during a tragedy in Enza’s f…
something to food about: Exploring Creativity with Innovative Chefs
it was amazing

I was drawn to the cover of this book for a couple of reasons. As a child I was fascinated with the 16th century painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldo of Rudolf II of Habsburg.Does anyone else remember this painting from their old set of Ch…

The Paris Wife
really liked it
I have always been fascinated with Hemingway’s writing, literature, and life. I have never really given pause, other than knowing the names of his four wives, about what it must have been like to be married to this bigger-than-life perso…
The Wedding Bees: A Novel of Honey, Love, and Manners
liked it
The Wedding Bees follows Sugar Wallace, a woman running from some past tragedy. Her bees, specifically her queen Elizabeth the VI, lead her by map points across the U.S. At every locale, Sugar befriends, heals, and helps all she meets bu…
The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo: A Novel
it was amazing

In my very early twenties, I was exposed to Kahlo’s works at an exhibition at SMU. I was enthralled.I had never seen anything so weird or wonderful.

Since that time and long ago art exhibit, I have been fascinated with the life and w…

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint
it was amazing

What image do you have when you think of a man of the cloth?Is it a heavily tatooed, pierced woman? One who has no issues telling it like it is, even if it takes using the F-word. This is part of the point of Bolz-Weber writing Pastrix…

The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen
it was amazing

Forgive this rambling review but The Apprentice struck me as a testament to how Pépin figures into the cultural literacy of the United States, his adopted home. Read on for my quirky popular culture connections to Jacques.Pépin’s cast …

Death by Darjeeling
liked it

You see, I just don’t like mysteries.I am too impatient as a reader.

I want immediate gratification.

I want it solved now!

Needless to say, I often skip to the last part so I can figure out who did it.

But not with DbD. Not to soun…

Sustenance and Desire: A Food Lover's Anthology of Sensuality and Humor
really liked it
I sat down with Sustenance and Desire with a totally open mind. I was a blank slate. I thought I might really challenge myself and find some food inspiration in this anthology of food-centric essay and literature. As I perused the conten…
That Old Ace in the Hole
it was amazing

“You know how far Texas stretches here….it ain’t nothing but yonder.”I loved this rambling book of panhandle history and panhandle characters.

Although the tale is set in Woolybucket in the Texas panhandle, some of this saga meanders …

A Thousand Days in Venice
it was amazing

“It’s about loving your life and treating the life with the respect it deserves. Even when it is hard… and it is hard a lot.”—Marlena de Blasi (quoted from a Polish interview)A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance by Marlena …

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
really liked it

I was first introduced to Barbara Kingsolver with her novel Animal Dreams. Way back in 1990 one of my best friends from college sent it to me in a Christmas care package. I devoured it.One of the many things I was taken with in this no…

Heartburn
really liked it
I think I have dark sense of humor and cutting sarcasm. I cannot hold a candle, however, to the dark, sarcastic, snarky humor in Heartburn by the late Nora Ephron. Along with the sarcasm, though, there are sweet and telling quotes like t…
The Unprejudiced Palate
liked it

Angelo M. Pellegrini was an Italian immigrant who spent his formative years growing up in Tuscany. His family was poor and he foraged and scrounged and worked hard as a youth, gathering mushrooms and manure to help make ends meet.Pelle…

Toast
really liked it

I read this book after seeing the film version.After reading Toast, I wanted to swoop in and adopt the boy of Slater’s childhood. His mother dies at a young age and his emotionally distant father soon marries a woman that Slater can’t…

The Art of Eating
really liked it
I had purchased Fisher’s The Art of Eating a few years ago when I realized I could not be a quintessential foodie without having read her works. I was excited for another opportunity to delve into her delicious wit and revisit How to Coo…
Garden Spells
really liked it
As I read this novel, I had flashes of To Kill a Mockingbird, In the Garden of Good and Evil, and even some vague reminders of Flannery O’Connor. Put this all together with a botanical twist and you have Garden Spells. I was certainly un…
The Hunger Games
it was amazing

It really took me a while to pick up any of Collins’ books. I mean, really, it was all adolescent literature.Then I picked it up. I picked it up and couldn’t put it down.

I was amazed I loved it so much (and I am reading the second i…

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table
it was amazing

I first became aware of Molly Wizenberg from her column in Bon Appetit. (Of course, those more hip than myself knew Molly early on from her blog, Orangette.)I remember our first meeting well.

It was the Summer of 2008 and I read about…

Scarlet Feather
liked it
I am sure that you are all familiar with Binchy, the Irish treasure who wrote over thirty works including novels, short stories, non-fiction and one play. I read her Circle of Friends way back in 1990 and I know that my mother is fond of…
Harlot's Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece
it was ok
There was so much angst and drama in the first half of the book—she tries to please her Italian American parents, tries to figure out what it means to be an Italian-American and then moves on to trying to please (and re-please) her husba…
The Dinner
really liked it

Dark and deeply disturbing, this is one of those books I couldn’t put down. Kind of like a train wreck you know is coming, Koch sets the wheels in motion of a wreck that will destroy many lives.Psychological drama?

Family drama?

Yes…

Baking Cakes in Kigali
liked it
Angel Tungaraza, the main character and cake baker of the title, is an earth-mother. A native Tanzanian, she and her husband are living in modern-day Rwanda and witnessing the country’s rebirth. Angel is raising her grandchildren and run…
Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes
it was amazing
Bard’s writing style lent itself to some “aha” moments (or at least for me) as she discovered a new identity in a foreign land. My copy of Lunch in Paris began to resemble the dog-eared copies of novels that stuffed my backpack in colleg…
Not Another Book About Italy
liked it

Rickard is a travel writer (and blogger) from Australian. She is also of “a certain age.” Why did I include that last comment? Because as Rickard and her husband trek through Italy, she is often commenting about her age and body type.A…

The Hundred-Foot Journey
really liked it
I read The Hundred Foot Journey after hearing an interview with the author on the “Diane Rehm Show” in 2010. I immediately sought out the book. I have to say that while I enjoyed it, I found it a bit dark and depressing. The mother is ki…
Twain's Feast: Searching for America's Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens
liked it
wain’s early days in New Orleans begin with his arrival with little more than $9 in his pocket and an ambition to become a river boat pilot on the bustling Mississippi. Beahrs continues to trace Twain’s later voyage, not as a pilot, but …
The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally
really liked it

In this book of essays, Mather describes “How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on forty dollars a week).”Mather is plain spoken and althoug…

Outlaw Cook
liked it
Thorne had me hooked in the preface. As he wrote about the fact that he “couldn’t have too many recipes,” I knew I was reading the words of a kindred spirit. I, too, am a hoarder of recipes, cookbooks, clippings, and I am constantly find…
The Color of Tea
liked it

What a lovely book—truly lovely.I loved that Grace found her way in Macau and created her own extended family through her friends and employees.

I loved that Grace found her true being in a foreign land with foreign customs, tastes, a…

Code Name Verity
it was amazing

A good friend handed me this book and told me I must read it. She said it was the saddest book she had ever read.With the recommendation that this book would make me cry and that fact that it is classified as “Young Adult Fiction,” I r…

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
really liked it

I saw the film version before reading the book and let me tell you, reading Wild set me on a reading and viewing fury of wanderlust.Strayed writes honestly about the life that led her to hike the PCT alone and with little hiking exper…

The Baker's Daughter
really liked it

Definitely a book within a book (and then some).I would even hasten to say that there were more than two plot parallels here or at least there were more plot twists that kept me page flipping. (What do you call “page flipping” on an iP…

Yes, Chef
liked it
Samuelsson’s memoir reminded me a lot of The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin. Both books are an honest telling about a chef’s passion for food and life. Both chefs do not hesitate to highlight their mistakes and short…
Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
it was amazing
I found this book humorous but melancholy. I kept thinking about Colwin’s sudden death at such a young age. Perhaps (not perhaps—most assuredly) it has something to do with an approaching birthday that inches me toward the age of forty-e…
A Place at the Table
really liked it

Do you like a good traditional pound cake recipe and inspired Southern cuisine?Do you like a novel with Southern charm (and that Southern Gothic element as well)?

What about a good quirky character ensemble?

Susan Rebecca White’s nov…

An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude
it was amazing
I remember being an impressionable adolescent, living in the landlocked Midwest, reading Dove by Robin Lee Graham and being swept away. I was virtually mesmerized by his teen adventures, all the time wondering how he managed to slip away…
The Goldfinch
it was amazing

I love this book and have recommended it to many friends and acquaintances. Most don’t see the appeal even though it is a Pulitzer Prize winner.That doesn’t dissuade me from writing a five-star review.

Tartt made me identify with the…

The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation
really liked it

“Food is anything that nourishes the body.” –Fannie FarmerCertainly at one time in American history, this quote was correct. Food was sustenance and little more. Time had to be taken to eat, but when early colonists, settlers and pione…

How Georgia Became O'Keeffe: Lessons on the Art of Living
it was amazing
I love anything and everything about O’Keeffe. I have read a few biographies but I have to say that Karbo’s is the most entertaining. Don’t get lost in the humor because this is a comprehensive study of O’Keeffe’s life, even if it is a b…
The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee
liked it

I read this book after I read Go Set the Watchman. I became once again obsessed with Harper Lee’s life. (The last time I was obsessed was in junior high after reading To Kill a Mockingbird.)I enjoyed Mills conversational style, but thi…

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family
liked it
“Burnt toast makes you sing good,” is a saying that Flinn’s grandmother would use. It exemplifies the hardships of Flinn’s family and the practicality of a grandmother who didn’t waste anything. Flinn’s memoir is full of practical recipe…
So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures
it was amazing

If you’ve ever heard Maureen Corrigan review books on NPR’s Fresh Air, I am sure you are struck by the soothing tones of her voice.This voice comes through in her So We Read On. I swear as I was reading So We Read On, I could hear Corr…

Quest for Eden: Ukrainians' Quest for Paradise
really liked it
I may be a biased reviewer because I do know one of the family depicted in this saga of pioneers on the Alberta frontier. I bought this book after visiting this family in Alberta last summer. After visiting the landscape depicted in the …
Tacos: Recipes and Provocations

Tacos by Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman, is an informative hardcover book full of how-to photos and truly beautiful food.This cookbook might just be the only book you will ever need on Mexican cuisine. It covers everything from makin…

Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People
it was amazing

As with many books, I was led to the works of Nadia Bolz-Weber after hearing an interview with her on NPR’s Fresh Air.Bolz-Weber shows an honest voice, so honest she depicts her life in unflinchingly black and white terms. Nothing is …

The Bee-Friendly Garden: Designing a Beautiful, Flower-Filled Landscape for the World's Most Prolific Pollinator
really liked it
I have a few books on pollinator friendly plants, but this book by Frey and LeBuhn is the most informative. Not only does it list bee-friendly plants by regions, but the book also contains descriptions of all the different pollinators fr…
Sweeter off the Vine: Fruit Desserts for Every Season
The book is divided into seasonal sections featuring produce from each. The “Spring” section starts out with herbs, rhubarb, strawberry and cherries. “Summer” contains recipes for stone fruit and berries; “Fall” includes grapes, apples, …
The Wurst of Lucky Peach: A Treasury of Encased Meat
really liked it

We listen to lots of podcasts when we travel to pass the miles. Our favorites are This American Life, Fresh Air, and The Splendid Table.OK, so maybe the latter show is more of a personal favorite, but The Hubs plays along and listens t…

Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table
it was amazing
I have read everything of Reichl’s and I rue the day that Gourmet went away. About five years ago, I went on a food fanatic’s reading binge and read everything of hers along with everything of Bourdain’s (except his fiction) and numerous…
Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America
really liked it
I love reading memoirs. Dumas’ book is funny, but it is also bittersweet as she and her family try to continue their life in America during the fall of the Shah and the Iran hostage situation. She found humor in what I imagine were some …
Soup Swap: Comforting Recipes to Make and Share
it was amazing
I usually don’t read introductions to cookbooks, but Gunst’s description of how this book came to be is an interesting read. Faced with an unreasonably harsh and long New England winter, Gunst found herself having soup for breakfast, lu…
Words Works: Volume 1
it was amazing

This very short volume of quotes from Georgia O’Keeffe is a great gift for O’Keeffe fans. Each quote (most from her many, many correspondences) is accompanied by one of her works of art.I find much wisdom in your words.

 


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My Favorite Reads

Eat, Pray, Love
Running with Scissors
SantaLand Diaries
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Angela's Ashes
Naked
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
My Life in France
Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, and Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living
Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise
A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table
Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table
The Liars' Club
Code Name Verity
The Paris Wife
The Shoemaker's Wife
The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo: A Novel
Brother of the More Famous Jack
Burying the Honeysuckle Girls


Debra's favorite books »