Nod to November

What happened in November? I finished physical therapy. But really, PT is not finished with me. I signed up for a 5k in order to keep the running alive. As soon as I did that I needed x-rays for the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my hip and groin. Like stabbing, electrocuting pains. Diagnosis? More sclerosis and fusing. Yay, me! In defiance of that diagnosis I then signed up for a 21k. I am officially crazy.
Here are the books finished for the month of November:

Fiction:

  • A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (AB/print)
  • The Edge of the Crazies by Jamie Harrison
  • Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • Beaufort by Ron Leshem

Nonfiction:

  • Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher

Series continuations:

  • No Villain Need Be by Vardis Fisher (finally finished!)
  • Mrs. Pollifax on Safari by Dorothy Gilman
  • Henry James: the Master by Leon Edel
  • I Will Bear Witness: the Nazi Years, 1942 – 1945 by Victor Klemperer

Early Review for LibraryThing: nothing. I jinxed myself by mentioning the book I was supposed to receive. Needless to say, it never arrived. So I never finished it. Ugh.


Gastronomical Me

Fisher, M.F.K. The Gastronomical Me. New York: North Point Press, 1989.

Reason read: November is Hunger and Homelessness Awareness month.

This is a series of essays written about Fisher’s life between 1912 and 1941. She covers a wide range of topics; from the first time food became significant to her as a teenager in boarding school to her adventures as a newly married wife living in France. When she said goodbye to her Californian-American palate and encountered French cuisine it was like having an epiphany for Fisher. Her ears (and taste buds) were open to a whole new way of experiencing food and drink. Sprinkled throughout the stories are glimpses of Fisher’s personal history. Her relationship with sister Norah and brother David, the demise of her first marriage with Al, the slow death of her second love, Chexbres, and her awakening to a different culture in Mexico. At times I found Fisher’s language to be overly dramatic. I wondered if she spoke like that in real life.

Confessional: I found Fisher to be a bit snobbish. Every time she called someone stupid or simple for whatever reason, I cringed.

Quote I cared for, “Everyone knows, from books or experience, that living out of sight of any shore does rich and powerful things to humans (p 40).

Author fact: Fisher has written over thirty books. I have already read A Considerable Town for the Challenge and have two more to go. Another more basic piece of trivia is that M.F.K. stands for Mary Frances Kennedy.

Book trivia: Gastronomical Me has been called Fisher’s most autobiographical work and has been considered her best.

Nancy said: M.F.K. Fisher “expresses her love of good food and its importance in the lives of families and communities” (p 91).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Food for Thought” (p 91).


November Pain

The running – oops – I mean the training is officially over. I don’t know where the run will go from here. I am toying with a 5k for Safe Passage next month. To hell with toys. I WILL run for Safe Passage next month! But really, I don’t even want to think about that right now since PT has ended. For now, I still have the books. The list is long because we aren’t going anywhere for Thanksgiving. Here’s to four days off with nothing to do but read, read, read. Here is what’s on tap for November:

Fiction:

  • A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (AB) ~ in honor of November being the best time (supposedly) to visit India (AB / print). Confessional: I think I would like to remove the category of “Best time to visit fill-in-the-blank.” How am I to know when is the best time to visit a country when I have never been there myself? I’m getting a little tired of saying “supposedly” the best time to visit.
  • Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay ~ in honor of Kay’s birth month
  • Beaufort by Ron Leshem ~ in honor of Lebanon gaining independence in November

Nonfiction:

  • Gastronomical Me by M.F.K.  Fisher ~ to recognize National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness month

Series Continuation:

  • No Villain Need Be by Vardis Fisher ~ to continue (and finally finish) the series started in August in honor of Idaho
  • Mrs. Pollifax on Safari by Dorothy Gilman ~ to continue the series started in September in honor of Grandparents month
  • I Will Bear Witness/To the Bitter End by Victor Klemperer ~ to continue the series started in October in honor of Klemperer’s birth month
  • Henry James: the Master by Leon Edel ~ yes, I am still reading this. Just tying up loose ends.

Early Review for LibraryThing IF it arrives (so far it hasn’t):

  • Jam Today: a Diary of Cooking with What You’ve Got by Tod Davies

If there is time:

  • Foolscap, or, the Stages of Love (fiction) by Michael Malone ~ in honor of Malone’s birth month
  • The Edge of the Crazies (fiction) by Jamie Harrison ~ in honor of Montana becoming a state in November.
  • The Caliph’s House (fiction) by Tahir Shah ~ in honor of November being the month Morocco gained independence.

 


Don’t Eat This Book

Spurlock, Morgan. Don’t Eat this Book: Fast Food and the Supersizing of America. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2005.

Reason read: April is National Food Month

If you know anything about Morgan Spurlock you know he is sarcastic, funny and extremely outspoken. I should also mention smart and fearless.When it comes to the evils of fast food Spurlock is all of those things times a hundred. Mention health issues related to morbid obesity and you can practically hear his frustration ooze out in every written word. Spurlock is the man who decided to eat nothing but fast food for thirty days and document his journey. His findings are not earth shattering. They shouldn’t even be surprising and yet they prompted the writing of Don’t Eat This Book. Quite clearly, Spurlock had much more to say on the subject. Within these pages he explores diets around the country, particularly in schools, hospitals and other institutions across the United States. He interviews lawmakers and key decisions makers in an attempt to investigate and reveal the culprits behind our nation’s growing health crisis.

Edited to add: Right after I posted this blog I received an email from LiveStrong with the subject, “What’s REALLY inside McDonald’s chicken McNuggets?” I kid you not.
Eye openers:

  1. At the time of Spurlock’s book he reported McDonald’s had bought Chipotle. What the what?!? Not exactly. McDonald’s initially invested in Chipotle but by 2006 (a year after Don’t Eat This Book was published) they had fully divested itself from the chain. Phew!
  2. You support Philip Morris whenever you buy Altoids, Kraft products, or Milk-Bone dog biscuits, just to name a few.

Author fact: As I mentioned before, Spurlock made a movie which I’m sure you have either seen or at least heard about called “Supersize Me!” – all about what happens when you eat nothing but McDonald’s food for thirty days. He won the Best Director prize at Sundance for his efforts.

Book trivia: There are a lot of “side bar” notes. During the listening of Don’t Eat This Book they sounded like interruptions.

Audio trivia: Spurlock reads his own book.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Guilt-Inducing Books” (p 110).


April Comes Quickly

I don’t know where March went. I’ve looked under calendars and in date books and I still can’t figure it out. The month went by so fast! Here are the books finished for March:

  • Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
  • The Assistant by Bernard Malamud
  • Family Man by Jayne Krentz
  • Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (AB)
  • The Brontes by Juliet Barker (DNF)
  • Means of Ascent by Robert Caro (DNF)
  • Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan (Fun)
  • In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White (would have been an Early Review book a long time ago)

On tap for April (besides a little Noodle 5k run):

  • A Considerable Town by MFK Fisher ~ in honor of April being the best time to visit France
  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman ~ for fun
  • Green Thoughts by Eleanor Perenyi ~ in honor of gardening month
  • Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot ~ in honor of April Fools
  • Don’t Eat This Book by Morgan Spurlock ~ in honor of April being Food Month (AB)
  • The Grand Tour by Tim Moore ~ in honor of Harvey Ball passing in April

Cod

Kurlansky, Mark. Cod: a Biography of the Fish That Changed the World. New York: Penguin Books, 1998.

Reason read: Mark Kurlansky was born in December.

This is a book about all things cod. Really. Beyond the historical and ecological significance of the fish there is etymology and art and music and of course, recipes. Don’t get too excited – they’re really old recipes that do not sound appetizing! As an aside, I have a student worker who is just amazed someone could write an entire book not just about fish in general, but a specific fish at that. Here’s my reply: It’s a concise book, but did you know that color of a cod fish depends on the local conditions? Also, the colder the water, the smaller the fish because cod grow faster in warmer waters. Better yet, there are fascinating tidbits not related to cod. For example, all English towns that end in “wich”  were at one time salt producers. And did you know Clarence Birdseye of Brooklyn, New York held over 250 patents before his death and not all were related to the process of freezing food? But, back to the cod:  let’s not forget about the historical significance this fish had on the American Revolution! Interesting, right? So, in the end one can safely say Cod is not just about the historical significance of one little fish, it’s about a way of life .

Two lines I liked, “Fishermen were keeping their secrets, while explorers were telling the world” (p 28) and “Finally, in 1902, seven years after the death of Huxley, the British government began to concede that there was such a thing as overfishing” (p 144). Imagine that.

Confessional: Mark Kurlansky prompted me to Google/YouTube the song “Saltfish” by Mighty Sparrow. I learned something new!

Author fact: Kurlansky has experience working on commercial fishing boats. Cool.

Book trivia: the physical book is one of those “feels good to hold” books and it includes great photographs & illustrations.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust and Book Lust To Go. In the chapter “Mark Kurlansky: Too Good To Miss” (p 141) in Book Lust and again in the chapter “Newfoundland” (p 154) in Book Lust To Go.


October

This should be my favorite month because I’ve been so deeply tied to Just ‘Cause (think pink) and I love, love, love Halloween. But, all I can think about is the run. Here are the books, by the way!

  1. Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan 
  2. In a Strange City by Laura Lippman
  3. By a Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman 
  4. Recognitions by William Gaddis 
  5. Maus by Art Spiegelman
  6. Lady Franklin’s Revenge by Ken McGoogan
  7. Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao* by Junot Diaz 
  8. Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  9. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
  10. Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
  11. A Good Doctor’s Son by Steven Schwartz
  12. Drinking: a Love Story by Caroline Knapp
  13. Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day by Philip Matyszak
  14. Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout
  15. Treasure Hunter by W. Jameson
  16. Maus II by Art Spiegelman (Jan)
  17. The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat 
  18. In Xanadu by William Dalrymple
  19. The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  20. Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose
  21. Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore
  22. Greater Nowheres by David Finkelstein/Jack London
  23. Alma Mater by P.F Kluge
  24. Old Man & Me by Elaine Dundy
  25. Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
  26. Good Life by Ben Bradlee
  27. Underworld by Don DeLillo
  28. Her Name Was Lola by Russell Hoban
  29. Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton
  30. Fires From Heaven by Robert Jordan
  31. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
  32. Herb ‘n’ Lorna by Eric Kraft
  33. Polish Officer by Alan Furst
  34. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan
  35. Walden by Henry David Throreau
  36. Reservations Recommended by Eric Kraft
  37. Selected Letters of Norman Mailer edited by J. Michael Lennon
  38. Chasing Monarchs by Robert Pyle
  39. Saturday Morning Murder by Batya Gur
  40. Bebe’s By Golly Wow by Yolanda Joe
  41. Lives of the Muses by Francine Prose
  42. Broom of the System by David Wallace
  43. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
  44. Little Follies by Eric Kraft
  45. Literary Murder by Batya Gur
  46. Bob Marley, My Son by Cedella Marley Booker
  47. Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  48. Southern Mail by Antoine de Saint- Exupery
  49. Measure of All Things, the by Ken Alder
  50. Two Gardeners by Emily Wilson
  51. Royal Flash by George Fraser
  52. Binding Spell by Elizabeth Arthur
  53. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
  54. ADDED: Castle in the Backyard by Betsy Draine 
  55. Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan
  56. Where Do You Stop? by Eric Kraft
  57. Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren
  58. Murder on a Kibbutz by Batya Gur
  59. Flash for Freedom! by George Fraser
  60. Murder in Amsterdam by Ian Buruma
  61. Petra: lost city by Christian Auge
  62. From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman
  63. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
  64. Flashman at the Charge by George MacDonald Fraser
  65. What a Piece of Work I Am by Eric Kraft
  66. Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson
  67. Ruby by Cynthia Bond
  68. Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan
  69. Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan
  70. Murder Duet by Batya Gur
  71. Flashman in the Great Game – George MacDonald Fraser
  72. At Home with the Glynns by Eric Kraft
  73. Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme
  74. New Physics and Cosmology by Arthur Zajonc
  75. Grifters by Jim Thompson
  76. Snow Angels by James Thompson
  77. So Many Roads: the life and Times of the Grateful Dead by David Browne
  78. Short story: Drinking with the Cook by Laura Furman
  79. Short Story: Hagalund by Laura Furman
  80. Lone Pilgrim by Laurie Colwin
  81. Not so Short story: The Last of Mr. Norris by Christopher Isherwood
  82. short story: Jack Landers is My Friend by Daniel Stolar
  83. short story: Marriage Lessons by Daniel Stolar
  84. Light in August by William Faulkner
  85. Not so Short story: Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
  86. A Comedy & A Tragedy by Travis Hugh Culley
  87. Feed Zone by Biju Thomas
  88. Leaving Small’s Hotel by Eric Kraft
  89. Flashman’s Lady by George MacDonald Fraser
  90. In the Footsteps of Genghis Khan by John DeFrancis
  91. Faster! by James Gleick
  92. Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett
  93. ADDED: Families and Survivors by Alice Adams
  94. Inflating a Dog by Eric Kraft
  95. Castles in the Air by Judy Corbett
  96. Flashman and the Redskins by George MacDonald Fraser
  97. Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett
  98. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  99. Petty by Warren Zanes
  100. Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
  101. Homicide by David Simon
  102. Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman (AB)
  103. Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett
  104. Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser
  105. ADDED: A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandez (ER)
  106. ADDED: Crows Over a Wheatfield by Paula Sharp
  107. ADDED: Time Traveler: In Search of Dinosaurs and Ancient Mammals from Montana to Mongolia by Michael Novacek
  108. Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman (Nov)
  109. Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser (Nov)
  110. Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett (Nov)
  111. Andorra by Peter Cameron (Nov)

DNF = Did Not Finish; AB = Audio Book; ER = Early Review; DNS = Did Not Start; EB = E-Book