Books, Lately

It’s a wet travel day on my way to Texas, and while I’ve finally arrived in the Lone Star State, unfortunately, I’ve arrived in the wrong city, and we’re currently sitting outside the gate waiting for a new pilot to get us from Austin to Houston. I spent a good long while chuckling as the gate manager has been ever so politely dealing with my fellow passengers, but there are oh so many times you can listen to someone say “I’m sorry ma’am, I really can’t control the weather,” and then continue to get berated by a irate traveler without starting to feel a little crazy yourself. So I thought this would be a good time to talk to you about some of the great books I’ve been reading lately!

Rain in Boston on Jet Blue

At the end of the month I finished an early galley copy of Jess Fechtor’s Stir,  and last night I had the pleasure of attending her spectacular author event at the Harvard Bookstore.

I’ve been reading her blog Sweet Amandine for nearly as long as I’ve been writing at The Second Lunch. We started writing the same month in 2009, albeit for very different reasons. I was feeling very lonely in my new city, San Francisco, and she was finding something to do after a devastating brain aneurism left her very, very sick. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time that I started reading her blog, and it wouldn’t be until much later that she started sharing more with the world. (Incidentally, I started reading her new blog in 2009 because she was writing about food from Boston, and I missed New England. It’s been delightful seeing this book come into fruition!)

Jess Fechtor Stir the Book

Her book, which I worked through in one whirlwind sitting (I didn’t get up for five hours) is spectacular. Beautifully written, will make you cry, AND there are recipes! Go read it!

I’d also like to say that as a book lover, the amount of people who came to this event gave me ALL of the warm and fuzzies. But duly deserved, because Jess is just as lovely in real life as she is on the Internet.

West Coast friends! She’ll be speaking at Omnivore Books on July 16th! Go! 

Jess Fechtor Stir at Harvard Bookstore

In Fiction, I just recently finished The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, another book that I’d held off on for absolutely no reason other than I thought that the popular obsession couldn’t possibly be warranted. I was wrong. It’s a great book!

A few other titles on my bookshelf include Americanah, and Jonathan Galassi’s Muse.

And of course by the end of this travel debacle, I’ll likely have finished the ENTIRE 530 pages of All The Light We Cannot See. I’m on page 363, and I started this morning after take off, after picking it up on a whim for David Leite’s new book club. I had absolutely no idea what the book was about before starting, and it hooked me from the first 10 pages.

What are you reading?

This Week, in Books

Every year I resolve to take a few minutes after each read to make quick notes about how I felt about the book. More often than not life happens, I forget to do it, and I move onto my next book, and promptly forget half of the things that I’ve read! For 2015, I set a personally challenging goal of 75 books on Goodreads, and I’m hoping that I take a few minutes between each for a breath and to reflect on what I’ve just read. Here’s the first book!

The Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne

#1. Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne
Paperback, 297 pages
Published in 2009 by Penguin Books
Read the paperback (owned)

I picked up this copy of Bicycle Diaries at Phoenix Books in San Francisco in 2009 – it still has the Phoenix bookmark in it – and I’m not quite sure why it took me so long to read it through! When I started focusing on cycling this year, it seemed like a good a time as any to actually pick it up again. I’ve been slowly working through the book over the past few months, as it’s served as my trusty nightstand book. (I like to read different books at different times of day, and the nightstand books are ones that are easily broken up into 10-15 page sections, such as books with very short chapters, or compilations of essays.)

The book is a compilation of travel essays, following Byrne’s trips with his bicycle around the world, exploring the history, politics, design, and culture of cities across the globe. At times rambling, always insightful, and I found myself particularly interested in Byrne’s thoughts on how city design can shape our culture, habits, and energy. It took quite a while to finish, but I generally enjoyed it.


Two other books of note tonight!

The last book I read in 2014 was Tovar Cerulli’s The Mindful Carnivore (Pegasus, 2012), which I was re-reading for the second time since the book came out three years ago. The book follows Tovar’s experiences as a vegan, to ultimately choosing to pursue hunting as an environmental and ethical path to meat eating. I’m not a vegetarian, but I believe strongly in ethical treatment of animals, a greater awareness of where our food comes from, and respect for the life lost when we eat meat. This year I tried to address the issue in our diet, and joined a meat CSA, which provides the majority of the meat we eat at home – but for years I’ve been thinking about whether or not I should take up hunting as a way to further connect myself to the food we eat. This is definitely not something I’d consider lightly, so I’ve been trying to educate myself further, and I truly value the critical thought on the subject in Tovar’s book.

The Mindful Carnivore by Tovar Cerulli

And coming out on January 6th, is my internet friend Andie Mitchell’s new memoir It Was Me All Along (Random House, 2015) which I managed to read a few months ago when I got my hands on a review copy, but will be purchasing in an independent bookstore this week to further support the book!

Andie’s brilliant blog, Can You Stay For Dinner, features excellent recipes, gorgeous photography, and candid and deeply personal reflections on her struggles with weight loss, and maintaining. (As an aside, her months long series on helping her mom with weight loss and dieting are also some of the most compassionate and loving posts I’ve read on the topic.) Her book is just as honest, and it was a total pleasure to read. Get a copy!

It was me all along by Andie Mitchell

What are you reading next?