It's been a year since we last talked about books. Looking back on the 5 books I had to look forward to reading at that time I can say I wish I could read 4 of them all over again. I guess I could read them all over again but it wouldn't be the same because, ya know, I've already read them.
In the past year I've read some good and some not so good books (as is often the case with books). The 5 I'm going to tell you about today are at a minimum "really good" with one that I'd say is absolutely GREAT.
The Woefield Poultry Collective isn't a book that everyone would think is really good but if you read this blog of mine, chances are you will. The book is well written, funny, and revolves around Prudence Burns a twenty-something New Yorker who inherits her Uncle's derelict farm and pledges to bring it back to life without an "iota of related skills or experience". It's an easy, enjoyable, fast read. Plus of course, there are chickens in it, so .....
Sous Chef I loved. It was written by New York City Sous Chef Michael Gibney and outlines a typical 24 hours inside a restaurant kitchen in real time. I have no idea how this would read for someone who isn't a food or restaurant lover, but for someone who is ... it's a really good read. Gibney takes you through his day and life working in an upscale New York restaurant kitchen, laying out what every person in the kitchen is responsible for, how they do what they do and what kind of personalities the business attracts. What makes it exceptional is that Michael Gibney isn't just a good writer for a chef, he's a good writer period. Named one of the 10 best non-fiction books of the year by Time.
Funny Girl by Nick Hornby was recommended to me by someone I trade reading recommendations with all the time. We pretty much trust each other's judgement. I say "pretty much" because she once made me read Swamplandia which I hated and I once made her read Middlesex which I don't think she ever even got through. I had given up on Nick Hornby around 3 novels ago but my friend convinced me to give Funny Girl a try. I like Nick Hornby again. I don't About a Boy or High Fidelity like him again, but I do like him again. In Funny Girl, Hornby introduces us to Sophie Straw. A small town girl who becomes a sitcom star in 1960's London.
Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt is the absolutely great book on this list. And it's the one I recommended to my friend in exchange for Funny Girl. The book brings us into the life of a young girl whose uncle has died. Here's the Amazon description.
"1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart."
Tell the Wolves I'm Home is charming and touching and funny and sad.
City of Thieves was the book I read immediately after Tell the Wolves I'm Home, so it was doomed from the very beginning. I have no idea how I heard of it or came across this book but I loved it. Sometimes that's the way isn't it? When you have low expectations of a movie, show, song or book and then really like it .... well the good parts seem maybe even better than they really are. I don't think that's what happened with City of Thieves. I think it really is a great book that I would have loved regardless of how low my expectations of it were. The book is a fictional account based on the real life stories of the author's grandfather who lived through World War II in Russia. I haven't done the synopsis justice so read the Amazon version. I think charming is what I'd describe this book as. And likeable. And thought provoking. Had I known when I picked it up that it was written by the executive producer, writer and show runner for Game of Thrones I never would have read it. Which would have been stupid.
With those 5 books under my belt, I can now look to the growing stack on my dresser and bedside table. Which I LOVE having. For someone who loves reading, having a stack of books you're looking forward to is like a candy addict having a dresser drawer full of Snickers.
Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs is a cookbook, chicken book, garden book, story book all rolled into one. Written by chef Signe Langford (who gave me her lemon curd recipe a couple of months ago for my mother's birthday cake) and photographed by Donna Griffith (who has photographed my house many times for magazines). The book also features quotes and tips from guest chefs and chicken owners including Lisa from Fresh Eggs Daily and ... me! And yes. The lemon curd recipe is in the book.
All the Light We Cannot See is one of those books I'm so looking forward to reading that ... I don't read it. It's been on my bedside table for a good 6 months now because I know I'm going to love it. I haven't met a Pulitzer Prize winning book yet that I haven't loved. For me the Pulitzer Prize is a way better indication of quality than an Oscar is for a movie. Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan. Really??? All the Light We Cannot See fits into one of my favourite book categories, books about WWII. And that's pretty much all I need to know about it to be excited to read it. 1. Pulitizer Prize winner 2. Based on WWII.
Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling is the book I want to read but always choose a "book-book" instead. But I've made it a point that right after the heaviness of All the Light We Cannot See, I'm going to read Mindy's book. Because I love Mindy. And then I'm sure I'll order and read her latest book.
The Illegal by Lawrence Hill is the latest from the author of one of my favourite books. The Book of Negroes, or Someone Knows My Name as it was titled in America for some bizarre reason, is a MUST read for everyone. The Illegal, focuses on a runner from a (fictionalized) corrupt African country that is discovered as an illegal refugee. I've managed to make what I'm sure is an incredible book sound fantastically boring but I'm sure it will be anything but.
The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows, co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, takes place in my second favourite book setting ... the small town. I wasn't completely in love with The Guernsey Literary book, but I liked it enough to give this other small town tale of the author's a shot.
As always feel free to leave your own book choices in the comment section and by the end of the day we'll have enough book recommendations to get most of us through the next year of reading and gift buying. Speaking of gift buying, according to The Christmas Pledge today you're supposed to make a list of everyone you have to buy for. If you want to get even further ahead you can put the name of one of these books by their name, order it and have your gift buying underway.
Or don't. But remember. You could end up like Julie.