Monday, November 14, 2011

Quirky Bookworm

If you happen to stumble across this blog, and wonder "whatever happened to Jessica?"...

the answer is I'm now blogging at Quirky Bookworm!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Best Books of 2010

I really love this man.

In case you don’t know who he is, he’s Bill Bryson, arguably my favorite nonfiction writer. I always swore that I would name my first son Bryson after him, and actually I seriously considered putting Bryson on the boys’ list when we were coming up for names for Eleanor, but it joined the annoyingly trendy Jaden/Braden/Bryson/Mason crowd, so it had to go.

Anyway, Bryson finally had a new book out last year, At Home: A Short History of Private Life, and it is hands-down my pick for best nonfiction book I read in 2010. It’s quite different than other books of his I’ve read— it’s a sampling of an astounding range of topics, Victorian poorhouses to the 17th century spice trade to 18th century wigs to American millionaires to why British people don’t use ice cubes to how many dust mites live in your pillow. The book is grouped into chapters by rooms in his house; “The Dining Room” is a history of food, crops, and dishes. “The Stairs” is a history of architecture, “The Bedroom” a history of social interactions and sexual mores, etc. A fantastic book.

Other honorable mentions for nonfiction: The Know-it-all by A.J. Jacobs (he decides to read through the entire Encyclopaedia Brittanica in one year—hilarious factoid overload ensues) and The Imperial Cruise: A True Story of Empire and War by James Bradley (a history of American expansionism into Latin America and Asia. A fascinating read, but the rampant racism of Roosevelt and Taft is hard to stomach sometimes).

Fiction is a lot harder to pick for me, probably because 84 of my 105 books were fiction. The most engrossing book I read all year was definitely The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson; I read it all in one day, and then promptly ordered the next 2 books in the trilogy on Amazon as soon as I was done. Lisbeth Salander, the main character, is a tattooed, antisocial, bisexual, 4’11” hacker who rides a motorcycle and has a photographic memory. She’s one of the most amazing and unique fictional characters I’ve ever encountered. But, I hesitate to make it my book of the year, because the language is really rough, and the sexual violence described is horrifying.

Hm. Ok, I’m gonna call it a four way tie for best fiction of the year.

1. The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson (see above).

2. False Colours by Georgette Heyer (this feels slightly like cheating since it was a re-read, and Heyer is my favorite author, but I hadn’t read it in more than five years, so it counts!). Set in Georgian England it tells the tale of Kit and Evelyn Fancot, who are twins. Evelyn is engaged to Cressida, a lovely young lady, Kit has returned from serving as a diplomat because of unease about his twin, and the twins’ mother has run up a lot of debt. Hijinks ensue, Austenesque minor characters abound, and the dialogue is Heyer at her witty best.

3. Speaking of Austen, Emma by Jane Austen is third on my list. (Somehow I had never read this—or I read it so long ago that I don’t remember it). Miss Emma Woodhouse is a schemer, who has the best intentions of matchmaking those around her…although somehow her plans always go awry…

4. The Shetland Quartet by Ann Cleeves. Raven Black, White Nights, and Red Bones are the only 3 published so far. These are excellent mysteries, starring the emininently likeable Detective Jimmy Perez, who goes about solving crime in the tiny, insular society of the Shetland Islands. The imagery in these novels is so vivid that I really want to visit the Shetlands now. I can’t imagine living somewhere so far north that it never gets dark in summer, or somewhere where there are no trees for that matter.

All right, there you have it, my book picks for 2010. If you’re only going to read one off each list, I’d say go for At Home and False Colors.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Baby oh baby

I haven't done much baking since I last posted. I have a tiny excuse.

I'm still reading a lot though (since I read while feeding the tiny excuse, and she eats A LOT). So maybe one of these days I'll get around to writing some more book reviews. In the meantime, hope you can find some delicious recipes elsewhere!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The blogging thing has felt like more of a chore to me than anything else lately. So I think I'm gonna give it a break. I may pick it up again, I may post recipes or book reviews here and there, but for now, don't count on new posts!

If you're looking for other food blogs to read, I really enjoy Orangette, The Wednesday Chef, and Everybody Likes Sandwiches.

Or if you're looking for book reviews, I recommend Goodreads, it's really easy to create a profile and then review/read other reviews of books.

My latest book recommend, by the way, is A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg, the genius behind the aforementioned Orangette. A Homemade Life is basically a collection of essays, similar to her blogposts, that chronicle Molly's journey through childhood, adolescence, the death of her father, and the meeting and marrying of her husband. Food has always been integral in her life (she even met her husband through her blog!) and so each chapter involves a description of foods that she remembers being enjoyed at various points of her life. At the end of each chapter is a recipe--some of which sound completely delicious! I highly recommend the book, and some of the recipes! Her lemon yogurt cake has become a staple of mine.

Good reading and eating!