I keep track of what I read in a Commonwealth Book, something I heard about in another book (The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin). I have always been an avid notetaker and a writer-in-books. If you are like me, once out of school, you wonder what the notes are for. Heaven forbid you do something for nothing! The idea of the CW book gave me permission to take notes for no reason ... or perhaps a reason yet to reveal itself.
I am always interested in what people are reading. You must be too if you clicked on this page. These are recent titles of books read. I will add to the list as I finish books. I hope that happens at a two-book-per-month pace. We'll see.
Dearie, by Bob Spitz. I read another Julia Child biography a few years ago, written by her nephew. That one she worked on with the author and made it to focus on her France years. That was what she wanted to remember - the formative years with her husband, Paul. This tome, on the other hand, is her entire life and even the lives of her family and Paul. It is interesting and compelling. What attracts me is not only the cooking, but also the WWII and post- periods that the Childs existed in, quite literally on the front lines of sociopolitics, anyway, if not battle. And then there is that whole thing about how Julia completely changed the way Americans thought about eating and cooking.
Cooked, by Michael Pollan. I almost felt that I didn't have to read this book because I had read and listened to so much about it when it came out. He writes extensively about barbecue, braising, and fermentation. Naturally, Pollan does extensive research and even lived "in the field," studying with, or at least interviewing, people who are masters at their craft. I found the fermentation part most interesting and, within that, the part about cheese, where Pollan goes to an abbey to study cheese-making with a nun.
Bobos in Paradise, by David Brooks. In this work, Brooks postulates that the new ruling class in the US comprises a bohemian-bourgeois mutt. Back in the day, the two were separated by birthright, which translated into money, which in turn translated into breeding and schooling and then marriage and family life. But now we have money all over the place and people end up mixing the classes until, bam, we have an entirely new class system. No more will the WASP establishment rule. Make way for the Bobos. I quite like his analysis; the argument seems to jive with reality. Brooks counts himself a Bobo, as will pretty much everyone who picks up the book, me included.
The Casual Vacancy, by JK Rowling. This books was eviscerated in review after review. I felt compelled to read it because it sounded interesting and like the kind of novel that I fancy reading. I feel no loyalty to JK, since I did not read the Potter series (*gasp*). But, I must say, I rather liked this book. I found her characters and the story interesting. I was propelled through the book because I wanted to see what would happen. It was rather bleak and depressing, but the author is British. Hell-o. Expecting a sunny resolution is quite American - should Dr. Zhivago have been more upbeat too? And I don't see how reviewers can fawn all over The Corrections and not this book. I saw parallels between how awful the people in the stories were. Are people really that petty and ridiculous and completely self-absorbed? Uh, yeah.
VB6, by Mark Bittman. A slew of fat chefs and food writers (is that redundant?) lost weight en masse, seemingly simultaneously. Several of them talked about it because, hey, they were asked. Bittman talked and wrote about his methods, too. Then he got a book deal. If you have ever read a diet and lifestyle book, the format is the same. Funny, I thought it would be more like a novel, I don't know why. He goes into personal reasons for the regimen, then physiological and environmental reasons too. Once we dispense with the whys, we get to the hows, what being vegan before 6pm and eating whatever you want (within reason) after that, looks like. It's a good read. It's a compelling argument. I might just go that way - and take Josh along with me.
The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton. A classic of American literature - that's why I got it. I was listening to some podcast and it was mentioned. I thought I should read it. I don't know that I feel especially enlightened having read it, but I feel just slightly cooler. There are several truly fantastic lines that went in the commonwealth book.
The Man Who Ate Everything, by Jeffrey Steingarten. I came to know him as the sardonic and rotund judge on Iron Chef America, but he is so much more. This is a collection of stories about food - as in, whatever in the world of food struck his fancy to write about. He includes his wife in many of the anecdotes, and I adore the playful way he talks about her and their relationship.
Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg. I like feminist literature. Lib Lit? Did I just coin a fantastic phrase?! I heard and read a lot about this book and almost felt like I didn't have to read the book itself. Then I did. She does say some brave things, and the book is an important part of the modern feminist discussion. ... And yet ...