Staff Choices

Posted by Katie M on 12/19/17
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Paula Wolfert is “the most influential cookbook author you’ve probably never heard of,” according to Emily Kaiser Thelin, the author of the biography and cookbook, Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life. She never had a TV show or a restaurant, but over four decades published eight ground-breaking cookbooks, with multiple reissues and numerous articles. Her work helped popularize foods we now take for granted, including couscous and cassoulet, and her influence has long been felt in the elite circles of well-known chefs, and their books and restaurants.
 
Known for her acute memory, Wolfert was diagnosed with dementia in 2013, but she suspected something was wrong long before. Family and friends dismissed her symptoms early on, citing her aging and “senior moments.” Since her diagnosis, she is determined to do as much as she can for the prevention, treatment and cure of Alzheimer’s disease, advocating for early intervention.
 

I enjoyed this book that provides a detailed biography about someone whose influence is felt, but whose name we may not know; for the well-tested recipes that celebrate her life and ideas; and for the direct way she is addressing her Alzheimer’s diagnosis, sharing her diagnosis and advocacy openly.

 
Posted by SherriT on 12/18/17
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Richard Paul Evans writes a Christmas themed book every year. He writes about life experiences that anyone could have, from the very deepest tragedies to life changing events. This year, his novel The Noel Diary is a sweet, touching read that can be savored in one sitting.
 
The Noel Diary has three well-developed characters. Jacob, a young man who is a very successful writer, despite childhood trauma and neglect. Sarah, a young woman, who is searching for her birthmother. Noel, a married woman who lives in the suburbs and is in need of healing. This is a story of hurt, overcoming obstacles, healing, resolution and growth. Set in Salt Lake City during the month of December it was not necessary a holiday book, but the story line took place around Christmas.
 
I really enjoyed this quick and easy read. I highly recommend this book for all the Hallmark movie lovers out there. This book is right up your alley. This was a great feel-good book to read at Christmas time.
 
 
Posted by jonf on 12/07/17
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 Mary Doria Russell follows up on her novel Doc, telling the story of when Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil first move to Tombstone in 1881. The well researched historical novel is told through the voice of Josie Marcus. Josie was the daughter of immigrants from Russia who lived in Brooklyn and San Francisco where Josie followed her dream of becoming an actress and on a tour ended up in Tombstone where after an affair with Sheriff John Behan she fell in love with Wyatt Earp.
 
The book explains how America in 1881 was a deeply divided nation, with an unpopular president, partisan media and a dangerous border with Mexico. The town was also divided by the "Cowboys" who ran rough over the town with the Earps providing the so-called law. The faction led by the Earp, though no angels were the balance against the lawless cowboys lead by the Clanton family, Curly Bill Brocious and Johnny Ringo which culminated with the at the Gunfight the O.K. Corral
 
A very well written American epic brought to life with the authors fleshing out of legendary characters and the lifelong love affair of Wyatt and Josie.
Posted by jlasky on 12/05/17
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 Although she says she is “not a reflective person by nature”, Alice Waters is a writer, an advocate and a chef. Her new memoir Coming to My Senses: the Making of a Counter Culture Cook tells a natural, graceful story of her life, and the various paths that led her to open the world- renowned restaurant Chez Panisse. Looking back from her early years in New Jersey, to European travels and eventually landing in Berkeley California, Waters shares tales of a true free spirit who is open to new experiences in all aspects of life. Falling in love with everything French, and finding a passion for organic and locally sourced food, leads her to open the now iconic Chez Panisse. At the age of 26, with no formal training, she embarks on opening a French restaurant with the simple goal of cooking for her friends. Now 46 years later, with dozens of prestigious awards, the restaurant is as strong as ever.  
 
Since opening, she has been credited with introducing mesculan salad to the US, as well as starting the Edible Schoolyard Project. Her passion and involvement in locally sourced organic food, as well as the Slow Food Movement has changed the way Americans eat. The beauty of a well written memoir is the thrill of being a fly on the wall through an interesting life well lived. This book is one of those.
memoir
Posted by eakdeniz on 12/04/17
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I ran across The Piano Guys on Pandora a few years ago.

The Piano Guys are an American musical group consisting of pianist Jon Schmidt, cellist Steven Sharp Nelson, videographer Paul Anderson, and music producer Al van der Beek. They make excellent music to study and work by. The music is always uplifting and is a mix of classical music and popular tunes.

You can also watch their videos on YouTube. They are not only creative in their music but also in their videos. You will find amazing scenes along with beautiful, enjoyable, and fun music. I would suggest you listen to “A Sky Full of Stars” and “A Thousand Years" by them. A very talented group. Enjoy!
 
 
 
 
Posted by Katie M on 11/20/17
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If you love reading cookbooks and have an interest in Southern cooking, there are 2 excellent additions to our collection:
 
First up is Princess Pamela’s Soul Food Cookbook by Pamela Strobel, which was out of print until the Lee Brothers discovered a copy of the book and had it reprinted. Starting with a detailed introduction that tells you about Princess Pamela and her beloved recipes and restaurants, it also provides notable information about the history of soul food cookbooks. The Lee Brothers have tested many of the recipes and the result is a series of helpful instructions, and while there are no pictures, there is a poem by Princess Pamela for nearly every recipe, full of self-deprecating humor and witty observation. Overall, I found it to be a fun and informative read. I made the Sauce Beautiful and Hot Slaw, which were both tasty, and plan to try more recipes, like the Brown Coconut Pie that calls for freshly grated coconut and the Molasses Pie with pecans.
 
Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner by Ashley Christensen is a picture-filled tribute to her Raleigh, N.C. modern diner, Poole’s. This beautiful book is full of Southern-influenced recipes and ingredients, with many professional tips and tricks, and a focus on fresh ingredients. I made the Chow-Chow, a Southern pickled staple, and the Marinated Avocados with Apples, Blue Cheese and Almonds, which uses sorghum in its dressing; both were wonderful. The book has what looks like a definitive recipe for a savory tomato pie, Homegrown Tomato Pie, and a recipe for Chilled Corn Soup with Cherry Tomatoes that recommends a professional cream whipper for best results, as well as a host of other drink and food recipes. I think these recipes span both home-style Southern staples and aspirational reinterpretations, and I found the instructions, notes and pictures useful.
Cookbooks
Posted by Lucy S on 11/16/17
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This is a peculiar story about a woman who has been gifted a tantalizing sourdough starter by two brothers who ran a delicious but illegal restaurant out of their home kitchen. Starter is a living thing and this one makes sounds as it ferments and gurgles in an almost melodic tone with a hint of gleaming light emanating from the brew. Each time the bread bakes a distinctive face appears on its crust. In her day job, Lois is a software engineer who programs robotic machinery and is now compelled to bake.
 
Veering away from the breadline, the book also brings up issues of following your own path in life, being creative, exploring the relationships you make and finding satisfaction in the work that you do.
 

An enjoyable, wholesome, quick read that just might make you hungry. Fans of author Robin Sloan’s earlier novel Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Book Store and Brian Doyles’ Chicago will enjoy reading Sourdough.

 
Fiction
Posted by SherriT on 11/13/17
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Karolina's Twins by Ronald Balson is a different sort of Holocaust novel. The contemporary/historical legal thriller is third in a series dealing with the cases of private investigator Liam Taggart and lawyer Catherine Lockhart. The story centers on locating twins who have been missing since WWII.

Lena Woodward, a holocaust survivor, asks Catherine and Liam to help her find twin girls that her best friend, Karolina, lost during the war. Part of the novel is Lena telling her story of what happened to her during the war. It flashes back in time to Poland in the late 1930s and early 1940s when Lena was a young Jewish girl who came from an influential and wealthy family. This is a completely captivating tale about survival and sacrifice. The other part of the story takes place in the present and centers on Lena's adult son, Arthur, who claims his mother suffers from a senile obsession with the past, and that the investigative couple are trying to fleece her out of her money. Balson is a Chicago trial attorney, and he skillfully leads readers through the tangled legalities of Arthur’s petition and Catherine’s daring response to it.

I have read quite a few novels on WWII, yet I still found myself completely caught up in Lena's story. Lena’s account of survival and immense bravery was inspired by the real-life experiences of Fay Scharf Waldman, a Holocaust survivor. Fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, Martha Hall Kelly’s The Lilac Girls, and Peter Golden's Wherever There is Light, will delight.
Posted by eakdeniz on 11/09/17
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Life is never perfect! When option A is not available, there is option B…

Sheryl Sandberg is Facebook’s chief operating officer. Option B is about how Sheryl Sandberg was able to put her life back together after the unexpected death of her husband Dave Goldberg.

Sheryl is extremely open throughout this book, which makes you feel that you are reading her memoir. She explains her own experiences along with research and principles for building resilience in personal lives and in workplaces. Sheryl Sandberg questions what helps people cope with distress and move on. Self-esteem, optimism, or self-compassion? Why do we only find compassion for others, but not ourselves? She tells us how self-compassion and journaling became a key part of her recovery.

This book is beneficial for both men and women. It is not only for people who suffer from losing someone, but also who lost a job, has a serious illness, or is a victim of sexual assault…
self help
Posted by NealP on 11/02/17
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The Velvet Underground didn’t sell many records, but everyone who bought one went out and started a band...
 
Rolling Stone music critic Anthony DeCurtis’ new biography on Lou Reed is essential for fans of the iconic rocker.  Tracing his life as a troubled teenager in postwar suburbia, complete with electroshock therapy, through his years with the Velvet Underground, and later solo work, DeCurtis makes a case for Reed’s enduring influence.
 
The intensely private Reed despised rock critics, so it’s striking that he respected DeCurtis’ work enough to open up to him.  Their introduction came at an airport bar, both of their flights delayed, with Reed asking how many stars DeCurtis gave his latest album New York (he gave 4).  Reed declared it was a masterpiece, and he should have given him 5. 
 
This book will be fascinating for fans of Lou Reed, as well as, anyone interested in rock music.  Anecdotes about Andy Warhol and the factory scene, David Bowie, Nico, and others display the intersection between the art and music scenes in New York in the 1960s-70s.  DeCurtis does a nice job of providing backstories to some of Reed’s most famous songs, giving us a glimpse at his creative process.
 
Reed’s music can be challenging -- however, it is never ordinary.  If you are a fan of his or just a fan of music, this book is worth your time.  Do yourself a favor and pick up some of the excellent music he created, too.  You can find those here.
 
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
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