Tag Archives: reading

Women’s lib

This goes out to the ladies out there.

Fire up your Kindle, visit the library, dash over to Barnes & Noble, however you hook your ladyself up to a good read, and get The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted And Other Small Acts of Liberation, a collection of short stories by Elizabeth Berg.

You might know Elizabeth Berg. She’s written more than 20 books. Some years ago, my mother gave me a copy of What We Keep. I started reading it to a hospice patient and loved it. Well, I loved the first few chapters anyway. My patient passed before we finished and I’ve had trouble picking it back up.

While I was browsing in a bookstore with my sister-in-law this summer, The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted called to me from the shelf.

It’s not a diet book or a self-help book or even a poor-me chick book. It’s a rich collection of hilarious short stories, each funnier and more touching than the last. Not every chapter has to do with food, but Berg’s characters do a lot of living—for better or worse—at life’s table.

One chapter is simply a letter from a woman to her granddaughter, instructing the girl on “How to Make an Apple Pie.” The chapter is 12 pages long–and one of the most entertaining recipes I’ve ever read.

So what’s with the book title? Each chapter includes, implicitly or explicitly, one small act of liberation. You don’t always see it coming but, before you turn to the next chapter, a well whaddaya know, along with a sweet bite of inspiration, will pop. There’s even a section in the back for book club discussions.

Do pick up a copy. I promise you’ll find it delicious. And, if not, you’ll have yourself one peach of an apple pie recipe.

Gentlemen, join in the fun. You might even get a chuckle or two. Or rack up a few sensitivity points with your sweetie.


Filed under Reading

Lil something for everyone

The other day I complained to you about a recent case of writer’s block. You reassured me with good advice.

Truth be told, I’ve also been suffering from acute reader’s block—provided that too isn’t a made-up disease of lazy people.

While I usually read more than ever in the summer, I’m still reading a book I started last December, while nibbling bits of other books and articles in between.

I’m three months behind on my Vanity Fair and two months behind on Esquire and, these days, it takes me longer than usual to get through The Washington Post in the morning—sometimes until well into the evening. Or the next morning, when I feel I must read it before starting that day’s paper.

I know this all seems strange; I know it’s strange for me. I’m still reading; I’m just reading a variety of things in no logical order. Habits change, I suppose.

All this said, a magazine has come into our house that recently captured my attention.

In April my husband received a birthday gift subscription to Garden & Gun. Perhaps you’ve seen it.

I know, Garden & Gun doesn’t sound like reading material suitable for a household of flaming libs. Well, maybe the gardening part. Our household is, however, composed of one native North Carolinian, one recently-returned North Carolina transplant and one whom my father calls the “Beltway Baby.”

The magazine’s full title is Garden & Gun: The Soul of the South and, obviously, covers all things Southern. This week I decided to crack open the last two issues—while I was in the middle of reading something else, no doubt.

I commend it to you. Rest assured; you won’t see Larry the Cable Guy or read anything that reveals, “You know you’re a redneck if…”

G&G a rather nice piece of publishing and superb writing on some interesting subjects.

Granted, you’ll be shown the anatomy of the perfect hush puppy and learn the characteristics of the ideal tomato and maybe learn something you didn’t already know about rhubarb.

You’ll also get to meet Nashville painter Emily Leonard; Merigold, Miss., pottery artist Lee McCarty; Athens, Ga., fabric designer Susan Hable; and Steve Huff, thought to be the Best Fishing Guide Alive.

If you pick up these latest issues, you’ll read about the so-called Memphis Mafia, learn the Rules of Yard Art and get a glimpse into Livestock of the Rich and Famous. This Beltway baby was tickled to see a spread on the Washington, D.C. dining scene.

Moseying through Dixie on your summer vacation and want to know where to find a good barbecue joint? I recommend their list of the 20 best, in part because Red Bridges of my husband’s hometown of Shelby is featured.

Last night I was finishing an article on Gregg Allman when I wondered why I hadn’t seen anything about guns. Then, near the back, on page 108 of the April/May issue, I saw a piece about Griffin & Howe, a famous gunsmith and store—in Greenwich, Connecticut. Maybe it’s in south Greenwich.

The piece notes that Griffin & Howe “is presided over by Guy Bignell, president and CEO of G&H and a Brit of such surpassing handsomeness that he is often assaulted on the streets of Greenwich.”

Am I the only person who finds that funny?


Filed under Family and Friends, Food, Reading

A wicked good read

In December, I received the book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West for my birthday. I had just seen the play and had heard the book upon which it was based was excellent.

It’s now March and I’m on page 28. At this rate, I’ll do well to finish the book before my next birthday.

This isn’t because I’m not enjoying Wicked. On the contrary, it’s because I am.

I like to read, but I don’t finish more than about two or three books a year. The better the book, the longer it takes me. Sure, I can polish off a Nora Roberts trilogy in one beach vacation. That’s like slurping up a triple scoop hot fudge sundae—no chewing involved, except for the crunchy sprinkles of guilty indulgence.

Newspapers, magazines and online news and opinion consume a healthy share of my reading.

Books are different. For me, a really good read isn’t always a page-turner. It’s not always a sundae. It’s a protracted dinner composed of superbly seasoned courses, savored slowly to appreciate each nuance. Like a good dish, a well-written sentence might hit the cranial taste buds with a burst of garlic, and leave a hint of smoked poblano on the back side.

The reason it’s taking me so long to read Wicked is that I am re-reading—and re-re-reading—each sentence. I enjoy each one so much that it pains me to move on.

To say author Gregory Maguire has a way with words is akin to saying Julia Child made a decent bowl of onion soup.

Let me feed you a few bites, just to whet your appetite:

“In the kitchen yard Malena floated gently, not with the normal gravity of pregnancy but as if inflated, a huge balloon trailing its strings through the dirt. She carried a skillet in one hand and a few eggs and the whiskery tips of autumn chives in the other.”

“In the minister’s lodge, Malena struggled with consciousness as a pair of midwives went in and out of focus before her. One was a fishwife, the other a palsied crone.”

“’Look, a rainbow,’ said the senior, bobbing her head. A sickly scarf of colored light hung on the sky.”

“After the double blow of the birth and his public embarrassment, he was not yet up to professional engagements and sat whittling praying beads out of oak, scoring and inscribing them with emblems of the Namelessness of God.”

“Malena, groggy from pinlobble leaves as usual, arched an eyebrow in confusion.”


Watch for a full review, likely around year’s end.


Filed under All Things Wordish, Food, Reading

Artifact check

A few months ago I threw out a question from my Facebook:  “What is the strangest combination of foods you’ve eaten when unusually low on groceries?”  The replies were hilarious.   

So here’s another one. 

Everyone has a magazine rack or basket of reading material in at least one room of the house.  In a shared space, it might contain material of interest to multiple household members.  I recently contemplated what the one in our house might reveal about our family if it were discovered after our hypothetical demise (or, less morbidly, what a passing stranger might learn).  I challenge you to do the same.

What is in your magazine rack and what, anthropologically speaking, might it say about you or your family?

I will start the bidding off with:  a book of New York Times crossword puzzles, Lake News by Barbara Delinsky (been there for seven years with a bookmark about 75 pages from the end), two back issues of Vanity Fair, a country ham catalog, the current issue of Playboy and A 40-Day Lenten Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  You tell me.


Filed under Family and Friends, Reading