QUARANTINE BOOK CLUB — you’re invited! Mostly food & SF/F.
a) I’ll post my schedule of books to discuss in the next month
b) I start a thread once a day on each book, so people can participate asynchronously
c) I open a Zoom chat in the evening, around 8 CST, for people who want to discuss it synchronously
Just join for the ones that interest you — I’m not expecting anyone else to read a book / day! (I have a lot of reading to catch up on, and now is a good time.)
Wednesday 3/18: BEST AMERICAN FOOD WRITING 2019, Samin Nosrat, first 5 essays. (Anderson, Arax, Aribisala, Bilger, Binelli).
“Good food writing evokes the senses,” writes Samin Nosrat, best-selling author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and star of the Netflix adaptation of the book. “It makes us consider divergent viewpoints. It makes us hungry and motivates us to go out into the world in search of new experiences. It charms and angers us, breaks our hearts, and gives us hope. And perhaps most importantly, it creates empathy within us.” Whether it’s the dizzying array of Kit Kats in Japan, a reclamation of the queer history of tapas, or a spotlight on a day in the life of a restaurant inspector, the work in The Best American Food Writing 2019 will inspire you to pick up a knife and start chopping, but also to think critically about what you’re eating and how it came to your plate, while still leaving you clamoring for seconds.
Thursday, 3/19: THRILL ME, Benjamin Percy. (Essays, so you don’t have to read the whole book to participate.)
“After writing two short-story collections and a literary novel, he delivered the werewolf thriller Red Moon and the postapocalyptic epic The Dead Lands. Now, in his first book of nonfiction, Percy challenges the notion that literary and genre fiction are somehow mutually exclusive. The title essay is an ode to the kinds of books that make many readers fall in love with fiction: science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, horror, from J.R.R. Tolkien to Anne Rice, Ursula K. Le Guin to Stephen King. Percy’s own academic experience banished many of these writers in the name of what is “literary” and what is “genre.” Then he discovered Michael Chabon, Aimee Bender, Cormac McCarthy, Margaret Atwood, and others who employ techniques of genre fiction while remaining literary writers. In fifteen essays on the craft of fiction, Percy looks to disparate sources such as Jaws, Blood Meridian, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to discover how contemporary writers engage issues of plot, suspense, momentum, and the speculative, as well as character, setting, and dialogue.”
Friday 3/20: FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOMINIDS, Nalo Hopkinson. (Short stories, so you don’t have to read the whole book to participate.)
“In this long-awaited collection, Hopkinson continues to expand the boundaries of culture and imagination. Whether she is retelling The Tempest as a new Caribbean myth, filling a shopping mall with unfulfilled ghosts, or herding chickens that occasionally breathe fire, Hopkinson continues to create bold fiction that transcends boundaries and borders.”
Sunday, 3/22: TENDER AT THE BONE, Ruth Reichl (food memoir in brief essays; content note: manic-depressive parent)
“Beginning with her mother, the notorious food-poisoner known as the Queen of Mold, Reichl introduces us to the fascinating characters who shaped her world and tastes, from the gourmand Monsieur du Croix, who served Reichl her first foie gras, to those at her politically correct table in Berkeley who championed the organic food revolution in the 1970s.”
Monday, 3/23: WILL DO MAGIC FOR SMALL CHANGE, Andrea Hairston
“Cinnamon Jones dreams of stepping on stage and acting her heart out like her famous grandparents, Redwood and Wildfire. But at 5’10” and 180 pounds, shes theatrically challenged. Her family life is a tangle of mystery and deadly secrets, and nobody is telling Cinnamon the whole truth. Before her older brother died, he gave Cinnamon The Chronicles of the Great Wanderer, a tale of a Dahomean warrior woman and an alien from another dimension who perform in Paris and at the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair.”
(I loved the linked novel, Redwood and Wildfire, so really looking forward to this. A treat!)
Tuesday, 3/24: HOME COOKING: A WRITER IN THE KITCHEN, Laurie Colwin
Weaving together memories, recipes, and wild tales of years spent in the kitchen, Home Cooking is Laurie Colwin’s manifesto on the joys of sharing food and entertaining. From the humble hotplate of her one-room apartment to the crowded kitchens of bustling parties, Colwin regales us with tales of meals gone both magnificently well and disastrously wrong. Hilarious, personal, and full of Colwin’s hard-won expertise, Home Cooking will speak to the heart of any amateur cook, professional chef, or food lover.
Wednesday 3/25: BEST AMERICAN FOOD WRITING 2019, Samin Nosrat, second 5 essays. (Carmen, Chadburn, Dyroff, Fielding-Singh, Frazier).
Thursday 3/26: THE BLACK GOD’S DRUMS, P. Djélí Clark (a novella, so short!)
“In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air–in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.”
Friday 3/27: HOW TO COOK A WOLF, MFK Fisher
“Written to inspire courage in those daunted by wartime shortages, How to Cook a Wolf continues to rally cooks during times of plenty, reminding them that providing sustenance requires more than putting food on the table. M.F.K. Fisher knew that the last thing hungry people needed were hints on cutting back and making do. Instead, she gives her readers license to dream, to experiment, to construct adventurous and delicious meals as a bulwark against a dreary, meager present.”
Saturday 3/28: THE LESSON, Cadwell Turnbull
“An alien ship rests over Water Island. For five years the people of the US Virgin Islands have lived with the Ynaa, a race of superadvanced aliens on a research mission they will not fully disclose. They are benevolent in many ways but meet any act of aggression with disproportional wrath. This has led to a strained relationship between the Ynaa and the local Virgin Islanders and a peace that cannot last.”
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2019 in Science Fiction
A Library Journal Best Book of 2019 in Science Fiction & Fantasy
A Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year in Science Fiction and Fantasy (2019)
Sunday, 3/29: A COOK’S TOUR: GLOBAL ADVENTURES IN EXTREME CUISINES, Anthony Bourdain (food memoir / travelogue essays — somewhat accompanies his TV series, No Reservations).
“Searching for the “perfect meal,” Bourdain writes with humor and intelligence, describing meals of boudin noir and Vietnamese hot vin lon (“essentially a soft-boiled duck embryo”) and ‘fessing up to a few nights of over-indulgence (“I felt like I’d awakened under a collapsed building,” he writes of a night in San Sebastian hopping from tapas bar to tapas bar)…He also reminds his audience of the connections between food and land and human toil, which, in these sterilized days of pre-wrapped sausages, is all too easy to forget.”
Monday, March 30: MAGICAL WOMEN, edited by Sukanya Venkatraghavan.
Indian women writing fantasy: “A weaver is initiated into the ancient art of bringing a universe into existence. Four goddesses engage in a cosmic brawl. A teenage shape-shifter learns to understand and control her unchannelled powers. A graphic designer duels with a dark secret involving a mysterious tattoo. A rebellious chudail makes a shocking announcement at a kitty party. A puppet seeking adventure discovers who she really is. A demon-hunter encounters an unlikely opponent. A young womans resolute choice leads her to haunt Death across millennia…”
Tuesday March 31: LITTLE AMERICA: INCREDIBLE TRUE STORIES OF IMMIGRANTS IN AMERICA, intro by Kumail Nanjiani. (Featuring me, among others — a set of short memoir-istic stories (easy reads!) from a host of immigrants. Eight of these stories were featured in the Apple TV+ Little America series as 30 minute episodes; more are currently scheduled for next fall. Book launches 3/17.)
***END OF THE MONTH***
Wednesday 4/1: Wednesday 4/1: BEST AMERICAN FOOD WRITING 2019, Samin Nosrat, first 5 essays. (Goldfield, Hill, Ho, Krishna, Lee).
Friday, 4/3: THE LUCKY ONE, Lori Rader-Day (murder mystery).
Tuesday, 4/7: A YEAR IN PROVENCE, Peter Mayle
Saturday 4/25: A GAME OF FOX AND SQUIRRELS, Jenn Reese (middle-grade fantasy) — launches 4/14, so pre-order now! It’ll be a quick read.