Tuesday, January 18, 2022

2022: January, Fanuary

 Bookworms! I'm off to such a great start in 2022. Although the year has only just started, my reading journal is already full of such delectable reads. Even the cat, who is not much of a reader (that I've noticed), wants to knead his claws on the cover of said journal while purring rapturously and chewing on the little red ribbon bookmark.

I'm discovering new writers and rediscovering old favorites. Making lists and wanting to do deep dives. January is Fanuary.

What I read: 

Taste: My Life Through Food - Stanley Tucci. Memoir. I knew this book was going to be great (I wrote it down 3 times in my wishlist journal) and I was right. In fact, it was even better than I had imagined. Beginning with the delicious meals his mother and extended family prepared...created when he was a child, through his days as a struggling actor and the delis and restaurants he frequented during that time in New York City, through movie shoots in foreign locales and discovering the local cuisine to his own development as a cook, it's all about the food. (An amusing refrain would occur when Tucci would talk about being away working on a movie and wouldn't mention the movie by name, but would go into mouthwatering detail about a terrific restaurant he discovered while on location.) His discussion of learning how to make a frittata perfectly led me to track down his movie Big Night, arguably the most perfect foodie movie ever made. I watched it twice. Can I just say...timpano? It's now on my EAT THIS  bucket list. Tucci even fed into my cheese fantasies: When he got married to his second wife, Felicity Blunt, instead of a wedding cake, they had a cheese platter! But then life dealt Tucci the most cruel and ironic blow: He was diagnosed with a tumor at the base of his tongue. Cancer in the salivary glands. Going through chemo and radiation caused him to feel nauseous at the mere scent of food. This went on for more than a year, but he slowly recovered and got his gusto for food back again. Even though I have just told you the whole book, you should still read and savor it. Enjoy the recipes. Watch Big Night. And don't cut up your spaghetti.

Who Were The Navajo Code Talkers? - James Buckley, Jr. Nonfiction. This book really appealed to the linguistics/language learning part of me.

Who Is Queen Elizabeth II? - Meghan Stine. Nonfiction. Too many pages devoted to Prince Charles, otherwise, enjoyable. Long live the Queen!

What Was The Plague? - Roberta Edwards. Nonfiction. A well-done retrospective of The Black Death that doesn't shy away from the grisly bits.

Billy Summers - Stephen King. Novel. Audiobook. Billy Summers, a hitman that only kills "bad people" signs up for one last job. While waiting to do the hit, he begins writing his own life story.  There is a lot of violence, but there is just as much humanity. This is a solid, action-packed road trip novel with none of King's usual horror or supernatural elements. Well, okay, there is a nod to the ruins of the Overlook, which sit across from one of Billy's hideouts. I'm eagerly waiting for the movie/miniseries version.

Matrix - Lauren Groff. Novel. The story of a woman who may or may not have been poet and fabulist Marie de France. This Marie, who is royal by blood and illegitimate by birth is exiled from the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine and sent to a rundown Benedictine abbey as its new prioress. Although she isn't at all religious and not at all inclined to monastic life, Marie turns the fortunes of the abbey around and makes it a success. Shrewd, sensual, and intelligent, her greatest gift is knowing how to harness female power to its fullest advantage. For a book set in the late 12th century, it feels modern without being a bit anachronistic. Matrix has made me a Lauren Groff fan, and I can't wait to explore her other novels.

What I'm reading:

Memoirs of Stockholm Sven - Nathaniel Ian Miller. Novel. Sven doesn't seem to be able to fit in anywhere in his native Stockholm. In his 30s, he goes north to work in a mining camp. After a near-fatal accident that puts an end to that particular career, he ventures farther north to learn how to be a trapper. At this point in my reading, he's started to make friends, and now he's got a dog!

The Fran Lebowitz Reader - Fran Lebowitz. Essays. Some of the essays feel quite dated. Intermittently funny. I'd rather get on YouTube and listen to Lebowitz talk for hours and hours rather than read her writing.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette - Maria Semple. Novel. I joined a book group and this is our first read. According to my reading journal, I read this novel back in 2012 but don't remember much about it. We'll see how it goes.

Chasing the Last Laugh: Mark Twain's Raucous and Redemptive Round-the-World Comedy Tour - Richard Zacks. Nonfiction. Audiobook. Mark Twain was a brilliant writer and performer, but had a genius for the bad decision when it came to business. At the age of sixty, he became bankrupt because of an investment in a printing press. His wife was determined that they would pay back the thousands owed to creditors, so Mark Twain reluctantly decided the best way to accomplish this was to "mount the platform" -- go on an extended speaking tour. 

What I want to read:

Fates and Furies - Lauren Groff. Novel.

Today Will Be Different - Maria Semple. Novel.

The Lincoln Highway - Amor Towles. Novel.

Little Big Man - Thomas Berger. Novel.

Stanley Tucci cookbooks

Happy Go Lucky - David Sedaris. Essays.

What I DNFed:

Who Was David Bowie? I paged through this book, but had to say no because the author didn't mention Bowie's appearance on Bing Crosby's Christmas special and their strange though excellent duet of "Peace On Earth/The Little Drummer Boy". Also Labyrinth wasn't mentioned. The Goblin King? Really? Another thing I would have liked to have seen discussed was Bowie's interview with MTV, calling them out for not playing Black artists. I know the writers in this series have to stick with the constraints of the 108-page limit, but that's leaving too much out. Cut some of those dreary sidebars!


Jeane said...

I keep wondering if I should read Where'd You Go, Bernadette? It appeals to me because I grew up in Seattle, but not sure otherwise how much I'd appreciate it. I've heard it's quite funny, though my sense of humor is not always the same as what an author is pitching at.

Bybee said...

So far, I'm struggling with it. It's a brittle sort of humor. Maybe I'm expecting too much and should just unpack and have fun.

Care said...

Hope book club was a success. I loved Matrix, too.