Saturday, June 22, 2013

so many books, so little time

I have been reading. Including Cloud Atlas, eight books already this year. That's about 1.33 a month. Not a lot, but some of us have a social life, y'know...

The rundown:

1. Tigerlily's Orchids by Ruth Rendel: Hot Tuna brought me four books from London back in January. Two of them, I asked for specifically and he ordered them on Amazon. The other two, he admits to picking them up from a bargain bin. He started to read them and decided they weren't to his liking. I read anything in print-- part of being OC-- so he left them with me. Oy, it was like beating my head against a wall. The writing is too chatty in an alcoholic grandma kind of way, the characters are insipid and can't make you care about them, and the plot... zzz. Nothing happens. OK, someone dies in Chapter 17, but who cares?

2. Portobello by Ruth Rendel: Immediately after I finished the first one, I started on this. Why? Because I am always compelled to finish what I begin. Plus, I wanted to make sure that I appreciated Hot Tuna's gifts (all the way from London!) to the best of my ability. I am gratified to learn that I still know how to speed-read.

3. Margaret Atwood's Dancing Girls: The whole world knows Atwood. Her novel The Handmaid's Tale is a modern classic. She's brilliant, effortlessly dropping gems like "Children have no charity; it has to be learned." And "Everyone thinks writers must know more about the inside of the human head, but that is wrong. They know less, that's why they write. Trying to find out what everyone else takes for granted." When I grow up, I want to write like her.

4. Rashomon And 17 Other Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa: I really, really wanted to like this short story collection, but I just couldn't get into it. As soon as I finished one story, I completely forgot all about it. Each one left the barest impression, hardly a ripple. Perhaps I was distracted. Perhaps my timing was off. Perhaps I should bring this book to Japan and read it there. Yes, I shall do that.

5. The Soul Of A Chef-- The Journey Toward Perfection by Michael Ruhlman: I bought this book because Ruhlman is one of Anthony Bourdain's best friends. Surprise! He's an excellent writer. This is must-reading for any culinary student, home cook, wanna-be chef, foodie, gourmand, connoisseur, or just about anybody who's interested in reading about perfecting a craft-- any craft. The first part of the book is about observing the Certified Master Chef exam at the Culinary Institute of America; the second is the story of Michael Symon, award-winning chef-owner of Lola, before he became a Food Network hack. Both sections are insightful, inspiring and riveting, but it's the third and last part that blew me away-- Ruhlman writes about Thomas Keller. The Thomas Keller of French Laundry. And he writes about him well. Ruhlman rocks.

6 & 7. Philippa Gregory's The Virgin's Lover and The Kingmaker's Daughter: Stories about English Royalty of the Late Medieval Period are my crack cocaine. I really can't explain why I am so enamored. Some people like The Real Housewives; I prefer Anne Boleyn, Bloody Mary and Elizabeth I. Thanks, Hot Tuna, for feeding my obsession. Unfortunately, my relationship with Gregory is about to come to an end. She has just about run out of Plantagenets and Tudors to write about.

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