Blood, Bones & Butter


Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef Gabriel Hamilton

This is an interesting memoir about cooking and life by Gabriel Hamilton.  She begins with her unorthodox childhood.  First, her strong memories of her mother and her cooking, then later, after her parents divorced: her own childhood explorations in cooking.  Then she takes on an autobiographical trip through all of the cooking she did and finally to Italy, her husband’s home and how her only way of communicating with her mother-in-law is through cooking.  Then finally, when she takes over her mother-in-law’s kitchen, she sees the full circle between her mother and her motherhood.

The Millionaire Next Door: The surprising Secrets of America’s wealthy


Like most people in America, I am curious about the well off.  In this book, The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy, the authors have done market study on millionaires.  The results are surprising.  Many of these people are self-made, and super frugal.  They would not be easy to pick out of a crowd with their american made vehicles,  their ordinary houses, and off the rack suits.

The book is very informative and gives great advice about what to do to become wealthy.  The first point: high income: is obvious, but the second: frugal living is not as expected.  The author points out that you can’t always tell these millionaires from their middle class surroundings and lifestyles.

Some parts of this book are a little dry, but the data itself is interesting.

a few more books

Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms Eugenia Bone, 2011, Rodale Books, non-fiction. Steve saw this book  in the Star Tribune.  He got it from the library, and then, of course, I read it as well.  We both really liked it and got it as a shared Christmas gift.  I found the chapter about the future of truffle cultivation really interesting, but really this book goes into every aspect about fungi – except identification.

That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week: Helping Disorganized and Distracted Boys Succeed in School and Life by Ana Homayoun, 2010, Penguin Group, non-fiction.   Hmm, I wonder why I checked out this book from the library.  Is there a particular person I was thinking of? Anyway, this is fairly helpful book.  Some things I had already figured out, like limiting electronics while my kids studied.  If you don’t have a lot of time, most of the information I was interested was in Chapter 5: organizing binders and planners. The first few chapters deal with anecdotes and the last few with special circumstances, which fortunately we don’t have.  It is an easy book to read and I will reread Chapter 4, 5 and 8 again to solidify what I read in my mind.

The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters by Timothy Schaffert, 2002, Penguin Putman Inc., fiction.  I read the first few chapters of this book on the chapter a day emails I get.  The first few chapters were very engaging and the premise was nice.  He does maintain that sort engaging style through the whole book.  He also captures the feeling of  the feckless late adolescence – early 20s time in life.  However, although things happen in this book, they don’t seem to affect the characters.  The two main characters seem unchanged by the one meeting her mother after a long period of abandonment and the other one being separated from her sister for the first time.  There is a lack of stake in this book that I think is its failing.

The Next Decade: Where We’ve Been . . . and Where We’re Going by George Friedman, 2011, Random House.   His basic premise is the United States is a global empire and the president is the emperor. He defines what he means by an empire, and his reasons for believing the United States is one. Then he goes on to make deep detailed predictions on how the United States will be interacting with the world in the next decade.  He goes through every important country in the world, and several that I didn’t even realize their importance.  He talks about historical influences on modern situations that I had not considered such as the triad of power of Russia, France and Germany, and how that affects modern foreign affairs. He talks about cultural and economic pressures. All in all, it is a comprehensive study of geopolitical pressures in the next decade.

We the animals


We the Animals: A novel is a series of remembrances of Justin Torres’ childhood and young adulthood.  It begins with the chaos of childhood.  I enjoyed the ruckus ride of a group of brothers all tangled up in chaos in a working class, biracial family.  There were some diversions into infidelity and how adult depression affects kids.

However, the book turns toward the end about the experience of the author’s emerging sexuality.  At first this emerges as his feelings of difference which he mainly brings up as grades.  Then, finally he deals with his coming out as a gay man.

In some ways this didn’t work for me.  I felt like it was a series of memories not completely connected.  Yet, I liked the first part.  He describes his family and the chaos of children perfectly.  As often happens with people who are still alive, the book didn’t come to a conclusion in a neat way.  His clear strong feelings didn’t come through in his chapter about him coming out, which makes me believe it is too recent or too raw for him to clearly write about.

The male brain


Since I live with all males, The Male Brain was a book I hoped I could learn a lot from.  I got it from the library on tape, and I would say if you listen to your books on tapes in a semi public place this may not be a book for you.  There were some racy parts as she describes very intimately the way the male brain’s influence on sexuality. However, I learned some interesting things about the males that I live with.  For example, hierarchy is very important to males.  This is why there are so many arguments when they play games.  If the established hierarchy is disturbed, it is upsetting to all involved.  The author, Louann Brizendine M.D., has some interesting advice for maintaining intimacy as men (and women age).

(Author), Kimberly Farr (Reader)

How to be richer, smarter, and better-looking than your parents

How to Be Richer, Smarter, and Better-Looking Than Your Parents by Zac Bissonnette is a treatise on economy.  Every young person should read it as a primer on how to enter the world and excel.  As a reader, you have to get past the snarky tone of writing in it, but its underlying message is a good one: plan for your financial future so you have choices,  think about every expense no matter how trivial, design your financial life with intentionality. Even older people may find some modern tips for saving money, for example, prescription eyeglasses online.  By the way, I’m not sure how young people can be better looking than their parents except for the young thing, and I don’t remember how he addressed that part in the book.

This Life is in your hands


I have an interest in the farming movement, the hippie return to the land movement. I saw this autobiography, This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family’s Heartbreak (P.S.) at Mother Earth magazine. Melissa Coleman’s parents, Eliot and Sue, were some of the pioneers in this movement.  They moved to a small piece of land in Maine and built their farm from nothing. Yet, this is Ms. Coleman’s autobiography of this time, told first from her perspective and then adding to her memories with talking to others.  She was frustrated with her father’s drive to make the farm succeed, at, what she believes, the expense of his family.  It is interesting to read how even though she loves her parents, and she tries to understand them, she does hold them in a bit of judgement for her unconventional childhood.  It seems a reoccurring theme with the books I read lately, of the parent’s selfish dream overtaking the child’s need for a childhood.

This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family’s Heartbreak (P.S.)