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52 in 52: January Books Read

Like last year, I'm embarking on the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge. I'm actually going to aim for 75 books this year as the big goal, but I'll be happy if I can average a book a week. For the most part, this month's themes were food and fantasy.

  1. White Truffles in Winter by N.M. Kelby:  Famous French chef Auguste Escoffier (1846–1935) is writing his memoirs and in them he describes his love for two women, the actress and celebrity Sarah Bernhardt, and his wife, the poet Delphine Daffis. The book is full of food, full of love and fascinating historical details. It's a romance of the most lush and delicious kind.
  2. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen: I ran across an article about how Emma Watson is executive producing the movie for this book and I became intrigued. I read this book in a day or two, enchanted by the main character, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn. At the age of 19 she's pulled out of hiding to become the ruler to a kingdom rife with all sorts of terribleness. She has assassins after her, a neighboring queen who wants her dead, and people desperate for a leader that we all hope Kelsea will be. I am anxious to start the second book. I think these books will be the next big franchise hit in the vein of Hunger Games.
  3. A Taste of Molecules: In Search of the Secrets of Flavor (Women Writing Science) by Diane Fresquez:  Diane and I share an agent, Amaryah Orenstein at GO Literary. Amaryah has been telling me that I need to read Diane's book (and hopefully meet her someday as well!). She was right. This book is right up my alley...all about food, the science of food and more importantly, the emotional connection we have with food. Diane satisfies this last condition through vignettes of her travels, of the individuals that lovingly create food and beverages and by tugging on our own sensory memories and desires about food. I've always liked mead but after reading this book, I have a renewed interest in seeking out some of the craft varieties and giving the beverage a new try.
  4. The Oddfits by Tiffany Tsao: If you are an Amazon Prime Member you get the chance to pick one free book a month to have out of six or so choices. This was the book I snagged for January. I enjoyed it a great deal. It reminded me a bit of Marukami's 1Q84 in the strangeness of it. Murgatroyd Floyd, the son of British ex-pats living in Singapore, has always been an odd bird. It turns out that's because he's an "oddfit," or someone who doesn't really belong in the main world, but instead a person who should be following "the quest." It's a great urban fantasy with an unexpected, bumbling hero. I'm looking forward to book two.
  5. The Flounder by Gunter Grass: This was on a list of great food-related books that caught my eye. Sadly, you can't get this big tome on Kindle, so I had it on a wishlist to snag at some point. My best friend came through for me and bought it for me for Christmas. It's a crazy book! Nobel Prize winner Gunter Grass wrote it as a present to himself for his 50th birthday. It's a humorous and strange story of an immortal fisherman and a talking flounder (seriously!) and the seven women, all cooks, with whom they are inextricably linked with throughout time. The book is a bizarre history, an exploration of gender and sexuality and oh! the food! The book reminds me a bit of Italo Calvino's fantastical, whimsical writing. I think this is a book that every lover of literature and every lover of food writing should pick up.
  6. La Cucina, a Novel of Rapture by Lily Prior: Set in the early to mid 20th century, La Cucina is a lovely book about Rosa Fiore, a Sicilian girl who expresses herself through her cooking. She falls in love twice in her life, with two men that the mafia doesn't want her to have. This is another book full of delicious food--I swear, you could get fat just reading about all the wonderfulness Rosa cooks up. It's also about love and the pain and joy that love can bring. It's all yum.