Monday, June 20, 2011

Seriously Literate, June'11

Yes, I still read...and I'm trying to get back to reading regularly. Like writing, it seems to be something I'm struggling with lately. (Oh, you HAVEN'T noticed I haven't posted in two months? You're sweet. And a liar. But thanks all the same.)

But it's summer, and summer is perfect reading time. I like having a book to take with me outside, to lie on the couch with, and to take to the gym. But since soooooommmmeone forgot to return a book on time and therefore wasn't allowed to borrow any more til the fine was paid (Um, oops...though I paid it under was NOT a week late. It was like, two days. Come on.), I haven't been at the library until recently. I will also apologize in advance that ONCE AGAIN, I read an Anita Shreve and a Sarah Addison Allen novel...I'm a little short on recommendations lately, so I'm happy to take any and all suggestions! In the meantime...enjoy.

A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
This book was actually a highly thoughtful gift from the Boss Lady—I love that a memoir about learning to cook while discovering one's lost culture made her think of me. And it was so good. Written by an ex-fashion writer from New York (and Singapore before that), Cheryl comes to realize she not only cannot cook (a shame on its own!), but cannot cook the Singaporean dishes she grew up on and misses in her life in the US.

After realizing the best way to learn is by experience, she sets off on a roughly year-long journey back and forth between her homeland and home, learning from the best—family, chefs, and friends. It's funny, clever, and sweet. I also love that the book has a collection of the recipes she attempts to master...I'm hoping to try one or two when I get the book back from Boss Lady (it seemed the least I could do was loan it to her when I finished!)

A Change in Altitude, Anita Shreve
Finally, a story by Shreve set somewhere other than the North East coast! It's funny, because I was just reading some reviews about this novel on Amazon, and it's very split...I'm wondering if that shift is part of the reason. For me, I found it refreshing. Set in Kenya several decades ago, the story revolves around a young married couple—the husband Patrick has signed on to a Doctors Without Borders-like program, and the wife Margaret, a photographer, has come along for the bumpy ride.

Of course, through a series of events, including a beyond-disasterous (non-spoiler:someone dies) hike to the top of Mount Kenya, their marriage is tested, strained, and irrevocably changed. Some of you may find Margaret's actions and feelings bordering on the inappropriate, but I found them frighteningly honest and even understandable, especially as her marriage grows more and more unlike what it once was.

It's not an uplifting story, which isn't exactly surprisingly for Shreve, but it's an interesting one.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon, Sarah Addison Allen
Allen's stories are just. so. cute. As usual, this one takes place in a small town full of 'unexplained' going-ons...wallpaper that changes according to the tenant's mood, lights that dance through the forest at's fantastical without being what I consider "fantasy"—there are no demons, trolls, or spells in this world; it's got just enough magic to make it a fairytale without being completely out there.

I didn't like it as much as I loved Garden Spells, but it was delightful all the same. If you're looking for an easy, sweet way to immerse yourself into a summer book, I definitely recommend.

1 comment:

  1. So glad you enjoyed the book! Looking forward to seeing how the recipes turn out in your kitchen. Bon appetit...