Reading Funk – Lost My Mojo

I barely read the months of April and May.  The stack of books behind my bed on my window seal has continued to grow and yet I haven’t even bothered.  I have thought about picking up books multiple times and there the pile remains untouched, overdue and dusty.   These aren’t just any books – these are books I have been waiting for months to come out.  Yet there they remain.  This happens sometimes – I lose my reading mojo.  Is it the famous librarian burnout?  Maybe.   Is it me spreading myself too thin? Perhaps.  Reading has been put on the back burner, which makes me sad to write and yet when I think about picking up a book I just shrug – maybe tomorrow.   If you find it let me know!  Instead, I have been working on my Python skills, Spanish language skills, and honestly watching a lot of Westworld and Handmaid’s Tale. What things do you do to get your reading mojo back?

 

 

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Cookbook Haul!

Here are the four cookbooks I recently checked out from the library!  The library can be a great resource for finding testing out new cookbooks before you purchase them!  Or trying to make a new cuisine!

Will a make any recipes out the books?  Maybe and maybe not.

I am one of those people that likes to read cookbooks for their authors stories about how the recipes where developed, what connections the authors have to food and my love of food photography.

  • Chinese Soul Food: A Friendly Guide for Homemade Dumplings, Stir-Fries, Soups, and More by Hsiao-Ching Chou35850771

    • Chinese food is more popular than any other cuisine and yet it often intimidates North American home cooks. Chinese Soul Food draws cooks into the kitchen with recipes that include sizzling potstickers, stir-fries that are unbelievably easy to make, saucy braises, and soups that bring comfort with a sip.  These are dishes that feed the belly and speak the universal language of “mmm!” You’ll find approachable recipes and plenty of tips for favorite homestyle Chinese dishes, such as red-braised pork belly, dry-fried green beans, braised-beef noodle soup, green onion pancakes, garlic eggplant, and the author’s famous potstickers, which consistently sell out her cooking classes in Seattle.
  • Jacques Pépin Poulets Légumes: My Favorite Chicken Vegetable Recipes by Jacques Pépin36483977

    • The legendary cooking teacher whom GQ calls “the most impactful living chef in America” shares his favorite chicken and vegetable recipes from a half-century career spanning two continents. Some, like Poulet à la Crème and Baker’s Wife Potatoes, recall the country French dishes of his childhood, while Chicken with Cognac Sauce and Velvet Spinach come from his days in fine French restaurants. Most, though, are born in his contemporary Connecticut kitchen. All have that trademark Pépin touch: made with just a few steps but sublime enough for company, from Roast Split Chicken with Mustard Crust to Caramelized Tomatoes Provençal. Charmingly illustrated with Pépin’s paintings, this little compendium is perfect for revitalizing every cook’s repertoire.
  • Hawker Fare: Stories & Recipes from a Refugee Chef’s Thai Isan & Lao Roots by James Syhabout, John Birdsall

    • 35008540After the success of Commis, his fine dining restaurant and the only Michelin-starred eatery in Oakland, Syhabout realized something was missing—and that something was Hawker Fare, and cooking the food of his childhood. The Hawker Fare cookbook immortalizes these widely beloved dishes, which are inspired by the open-air “hawker” markets of Thailand and Laos as well as the fine-dining sensibilities of James’s career beginnings. Each chapter opens with stories from Syhabout’s roving career, starting with his mother’s work as a line cook in Oakland, and moving into the turning point of his culinary life, including his travels as an adult in his parents’ homelands.From building a pantry with sauces and oils, to making staples like sticky rice and padaek, to Syhabout’s recipe for instant ramen noodles with poached egg, Hawker Fare explores the many dimensions of this singular chef’s cooking and ethos on ingredients, family, and eating well. This cookbook offers a new definition of what it means to be making food in America, in the full and vibrant colors of Thailand, Laos, and California.
  • Between Harlem and Heaven: Afro-Asian-American Cooking for Big Nights, Weeknights, and Every Day by Alexander Smalls, J.J. Johnson

    • 32673677In two of the most renowned and historic venues in Harlem, Alexander Smalls and JJ Johnson created a unique take on the Afro-Asian-American flavor profile. Their foundation was a collective three decades of traveling the African diaspora, meeting and eating with chefs of color, and researching the wide reach of a truly global cuisine; their inspiration was how African, Asian, and African-American influences criss-crossed cuisines all around the world. They present here for the first time over 100 recipes that go beyond just one place, taking you, as noted by The New Yorker, “somewhere between Harlem and heaven.  This book branches far beyond “soul food” to explore the melding of Asian, African, and American flavors. The Afro Asian flavor profile is a window into the intersection of the Asian diaspora and the African diaspora. An homage to this cultural culinary path and the grievances and triumphs along the way, Between Harlem and Heaven isn’t fusion, but a glimpse into a cuisine that made its way into the thick of Harlem’s cultural renaissance.

If you are looking for a cookbook that reads more like a memoir Vivian Howard’s 576 page cookbook Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South is always a must.  Plus the recipes, I have made from the book are super tasty!

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Organized by ingredient with dishes suited to every skill level–from beginners to confident cooks–DEEP RUN ROOTS features time-honored simple preparations alongside extraordinary meals from her acclaimed restaurant Chef and the Farmer. Home cooks will find photographs for every single recipe.
As much a storybook as it is a cookbook, DEEP RUN ROOTS imparts the true tale of Southern food: rooted in family and tradition, yet calling out to the rest of the world.
Ten years ago, Vivian opened Chef and the Farmer and put the nearby town of Kinston on the culinary map. But in a town paralyzed by recession, she couldn’t hop on every new culinary trend. Instead, she focused on rural development: If you grew it, she’d buy it. Inundated by local sweet potatoes, blueberries, shrimp, pork, and beans, Vivian learned to cook the way generations of Southerners before her had, relying on resourcefulness, creativity, and the traditional ways of preserving food.

Birthday Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

Every year since 8th grade, I have reread Pride and Prejudice for my birthday “week.” A total of 15 times. Each time I read it, I leave with something new and yet the same comforting feeling of something old and familiar. Pride and Prejudice has guided me through friendships, romances and learning to be an independent person. It has taught me that it is okay to say no, even when your family expects something of you. To say no when someone pushes it on, not believing you the first time due to your gender.

“Really, Mr. Collins,’ cried Elizabeth with some warmth, ‘you puzzle me exceedingly. If what I have hitherto said can appear to you in the form of encouragement, I know not how to express my refusal in such a way as to convince you of its being one”. – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

I have collected copies of Pride and Prejudice since my first read.  Each copy having different covers, footnotes, and even languages.  I have around 40 copies now; each of which I love something about.  Yet the copy I come back to each time is the the one I read the first time.  Covered in highlighter, chicken scratch and held together with neon pink duct tape, this book is my birthday week companion, and I cannot wait to start it again this today for what I hope is a most excellent year.

 

I will leave you with my favorite quote – one that I need to remind myself of this upcoming year

“I must learn to be content with being happier than I deserve.” -Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

Books made into TV Shows

I have a confusion to make…
One that is often not a popular opinion in the library world (at least in mine). I love when books become TV shows. I get where people and my fellow librarians are coming from when they say “BUT THEY RUIN THE BOOK.” Sometimes the TV show is different than the book. Sometimes the TV SHOW is wayyyyy different than the book. Sometimes the TV show sucks.
But when it does go right, and people who are typically not readers might just decide to pick up the book and maybe even try to find books that are similar to those books. I see it as a significant win. You cannot make people read. You can try, but trust me when I say it may or may not work. I date someone who get this has read a single book for every year we have been together. AN ENTIRE THREE BOOKS! Yup, that’s it. Three. I, a librarian who reads at least 65 books a year (on a slow one at that) dates someone who reads a single book a year.

Why then do I love TV shows that are from books?
TV shows can motivate people to read books! The book becomes less of a scary item and more of something familiar. Something that lets you become a real fan!

Here are my favorite TV SHOW BOOK COMBOS:

What are your favorite TV/Book Combos?

 

 

James Joyce – an Irish author

James Joyce is not an author everyone wishes to tackle.  Specifically, his work, Ulysses41tv-iswx-l-_sx318_bo1204203200_.  I distinctly remember going to the campus bookstore to pick up my copy of the Ulysses and the assigned book of notes, Ulysses Annotated: Notes for James Joyce’s Ulysses Revised by Don Gifford and Robert J. Seidman for an English Literature class I was taking for the second year of college. The book of Notes was larger than the book itself. Each sentence Joyce wrote had ten possible meanings. I didn’t know literature could be this complicated. Have this many puzzles. Be this utterly mind-boggling. I had read plenty of the literary canon by then, but this was a first. It took us a month to read the book. A month in which I learned how much more literature could be than mere words on a page.

The book itself has a tumultuous history of getting banned in the United States for obscenity in 1921 until 1933.  The post office burned copies it found. It is considered by many to be one of the most important works in modern history.  Trying to summarize this book is in a chore in itself. The book divided into parts I, II, and III within those three parts are 18 episodes, much like 51xhe7w-pclHomer’s Odyssey is divided into 24 episodes, takes place over a single day, June 16th, 1904, and follows Leopold Bloom as he goes about his day. That is the summary. That is it.

A single day.
One man.
One Irish city.

“Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.” ― James JoyceUlysses

Ulysses is a book everyone should try to tackle in their lifetime. It will make no sense until it finally does. Though each time you read it, you might just come away thinking the book is about something completely different than the previous read.  Or come away a person with a new perspective on life.  Guaranteed.

Reading Rules

Perhaps rules is too harsh of a word.

That being said I have two simple rules when it comes to reading

1. No dogs. I do not read books about dogs. I do not care if it’s a happy book about dogs. No dogs. The dog always dies. Each and every time! No matter what! Even if it lives to a ripe old age of 150 in dog years. After the book, I am left in a puddle of tissues, red faced balling my eyes out and unable to sleep. No dogs ever. Or cats or elephants or ducks or tigers for that matter. Just no animals.

2. I stop reading if I don’t like the book after the 2nd chapter. I’ve been told this is one wasteful and two what if it gets better. It won’t. It rarely does. It must be noted that there is a difference between a slow start and just bad writing. A slow start I can handle. Bad writing is a no go.

2.5 Ok maybe I have three… we will just go with 2.5. I rarely read books about war or soldiers. Just not my jam nor my cup of tea.

Do other people have reading rules when it comes to picking out books?