Tag Archives: adult non-fiction

From Page to Screen: Cookbook Edition

We’ve all heard of books being adapted into Netflix series or blockbuster franchises, but what about cookbook authors who make the leap from page to screen? The media landscape for foodies is rich and varied. More and more, food writers are being asked to extend their skills to media production. I wanted to share some of the books and authors who have meant something to me in my life because of both the quality of their writing and their charismatic presence on my computer or television screen. 

Claire Saffitz 

Cover image for the cookbook Dessert Person.

After the fallout at Bon Appetite magazine and YouTube channel regarding allegations of inequitable practices and unfair treatment of racialized staff, Claire Saffitz made the move to her own YouTube channel, penned Dessert Person. Her new cookbook of the same name arrived shortly after. Dessert Person videos are somehow both calming, leisurely strolls through a recipe and, at the same time, bely an immense need to achieve perfection at all costs. Saffitz is methodical, analytical, and measures every ingredient to several decimal points (I’m mostly kidding). 

The great thing about her recipes is that she embodies something Julia Child would have loved, which is scientific workability, or the ability to reproduce anything she makes in your kitchen at home. She includes a lot of detail, specific descriptions of how things should look, and alternative methods if you don’t have the time or equipment to make it her way. Saffitz is in no hurry with her baking, which over the years I have found is a good mindset for baking. If you’re in a hurry for your dessert to be done, the dessert doesn’t care. It simply deflates, overcooks, undercooks, doesn’t combine properly, or the carrots in your carrot muffins turn green. Don’t get me started. Don’t be in a hurry. Let your ingredients and recipe set the pace for you. Your baking will turn out better for it. 

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The Indubitable Value of Reading Without Finishing the Book

There is, without a doubt, a stigma against not finishing books. Unread tomes on our bookshelves are often alluded to in hushed tones, guilty secrets only we know about, like that dentist visit we keep putting off. (Who would do such a thing? Not me, of course.)

Lately, I’ve had the conviction that this is nothing to be ashamed of. I have started and not gotten to the end of many a book in my time, and I will most likely do so for the rest of my life. I read a book up until the point where I decide it’s not worth its remaining hours. There is also a different sort of timing to consider. As in the realm of relationships (what is reading if not a relationship you have with a book for a period of time), sometimes you’re not at the right point in your life’s trajectory to connect with a story and appreciate it for how great it is.

As a result, there are several books that I have spent a good chunk of time with and never finished. Many of them I would recommend to anyone, but I just reached a point where my interest waned. More than that, I felt satisfied by what I’d read up until that point, like a seven-course tasting menu that fills you up by the third dish. I’m highlighting them here because they are all worth any amount of time you have to spend. Given that there are so many books in VPL’s collection, especially when you include digital subscription content, you don’t always have endless hours to read everything to completion. Nor do you necessarily want to. Don’t let that stop you from reading or listening to an audiobook of whichever work has grabbed your interest in the present moment. Seriously, don’t.

Conversations with Friends

Book cover image for Conversations with Friends.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with Normal People — Rooney’s literary romance bestseller. I listened to it on audiobook and found it quietly heartbreaking, an almost ironic lack of romanticism audible in the Irish narrator’s voice. That sharply trained focus on realism and melancholy vision of high school love kept me listening the whole way through.

Before Normal People, there was Conversations with Friends. In the beginning, I was really excited about its narrative voice, which was dry, witty, and intelligent. The main character is Frances, best friend to Bobbi and aspiring professional writer. The two become entangled with older couple Melissa and Nick (a successful journalist and actor respectively). I read to about halfway, to a point in the plot where it’s clear where the relationships are headed. This is often where I leave stories like these. Once I know where we’re headed and the majority of how we’ll get there, it’s hard for me to persevere to the end. I very much enjoyed the part I read, however. As they say, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey, and this book was like a road trip filled with stimulating dialogue and gorgeously-written scenery.

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Way Back When: Discovering 1923 in 2023

Well, it’s 2023, which feels like a strange and unwieldy number for a year to be after the neat symmetry of 2022. I thought for today’s post it would be interesting to look at different events that occurred exactly 100 years ago, and feature various books, movies, and resources for you to explore corresponding to those events. For one thing, ‘those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it’, and for another…this makes learning history fun! (For me, at the very least, but hopefully for you too). Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

cover of Red Star Over Russie by David King

January | The USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) aka the Soviet Union is established after a period of revolution. Red Star Over Russia by David King has a self-explanatory subtitle; it’s a Visual History of the Soviet Union From the Revolution to the Death of Stalin: Posters, Photographs and Graphics From the David King Collection. I’m a visual learner myself, and this graphic book is eye-catching and eye-opening, and reminds readers of the intersection of art and politics as a revolutionary incentive, as propaganda, and as an art movement in and of itself.

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