Sunday, August 9, 2009

Too Hot to Stay in the Kitchen? Three Novels for the Food Lover

It had been a while since I read a real novel. I usually spend my spare time baking or reading cookbooks like novels. It's not extremely diverse, I'll admit. But since summer began, I've been reading a bit more. I finally finished Pillars of the Earth (for the second time) while we were in Florida. The book is so big, I left it there rather than bringing it home on the plane. It might've pushed my bag over the 50 pound limit! It was an excellent book, but a little long and not about food so much. The books I'm going to talk about are much better for a summertime read and major parts of these books do revolve around food.
During that trip to NYC with the 4th graders, I made a friend who is a photographer of still life, interiors, and food. Telling her about my interest in all things edible, she recommended two books to read. I always appreciate a book recommendation mostly because I never know where to begin when I walk into a library or bookstore.

One of those books is Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. It's about two sisters who find themselves living together after being apart for a long time. Claire is a caterer who is believed by the townspeople to be able to change the way people think and act by the unusual ingredients she grows in her garden and uses in her cooking. Sydney (the wild sister) and her young daughter are trying to escape an abusive relationship and find refuge with Claire in the small town where her family is from and discovers her own special talents. This book is a perfect novel to read on your hammock in the backyard under the apple tree or among your own magical garden.

The second book is The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister.
"The School of Essential Ingredients follows the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian’s Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen." The food lover in you will appreciate the decriptions of culinary creations prepared by the cooking class. The romantic in you will love the way the students come together to help each other find what's missing in their lives.

Sufficient Grace by Darnell Arnoult is a book I randomly picked up at the library. There was a pie on the front cover that caught my eye, although I had no idea what the book was about. Tell me you've never chosen a book by the art on the cover! Sometimes you get a winner, and sometimes you don't. I really loved this book and it turned out to be my favorite of the three. I was skeptical at the beginning and thought it would be too religious in content, but it turned out that it was not an overly-religious story and the characters made me laugh out loud at times. I couldn't put it down and I didn't want the story to end! Basically, it's about a woman who becomes mentally ill later in life. She leaves her home without telling anyone and a chain of events lands her in a house in North Carolina belonging to a woman who used to care for her as a little girl. Here's where the pie enters the story: The ill woman leaves behind a husband who doesn't know how to boil an egg for himself. He starts watching the Food Network and becomes a very accomplished cook. I was humored by this storyline, being one who has watched much too much of The Food Network in the past.
I thought this book is very well written. It explores the mentality of a schizophrenic wife and mother and at the same time makes you laugh at the personalities so well described in the story.

So instead of turning on the oven this month, open up one of these great reads and let the writers do the cooking. If you happen to read one, let me know how you liked it!


  1. oooohhh!!! I will put these on my "To Read" list....even though I've only been averaging 2-3 books per YEAR lately :( I just got Julie & Julia last week......wanted to read it before I saw the movie...but at my pace I'll probably be getting the dvd!!

  2. I'm famous for choosing books for cover art :)

  3. I, too, am known to pick out books based on the covers! I will definitely be checking these books out. I always have my nose in a book. My favorite part of the day is right before we go to bed when I take my bath and read. As a result of this, every book and magazine I own is ruffled at the bottom from getting wet!! :)

  4. Thanks for the reviews...I'm always looking for a good book!

  5. Thanks for the book suggestions! I will definitely check these books out :)



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