After lunch, we popped into the library for a quick pick-up of books and a wander around the puzzles area. Then it was home for nap time! I had some holds come in! Woohoo!
L.A. son : my life, my city, my food – Roy Choi with Tien Nguyen and Natasha Pha
Oh so apparently I put this on hold and forgot about it. Good thing then that it’s come in just in time for Nonfiction November!
Los Angeles: A patchwork megalopolis defined by its unlikely cultural collisions; the city that raised and shaped Roy Choi, the boundary-breaking chef who decided to leave behind fine dining to feed the city he loved—and, with the creation of the Korean taco, reinvented street food along the way.
Abounding with both the food and the stories that gave rise to Choi’s inspired cooking, L.A. Son takes us through the neighborhoods and streets most tourists never see, from the hidden casinos where gamblers slurp fragrant bowls of pho to Downtown’s Jewelry District, where a ten-year-old Choi wolfed down Jewish deli classics between diamond deliveries; from the kitchen of his parents’ Korean restaurant and his mother’s pungent kimchi to the boulevards of East L.A. and the best taquerias in the country, to, at last, the curbside view from one of his emblematic Kogi taco trucks, where people from all walks of life line up for a revolutionary meal.
Filled with over 85 inspired recipes that meld the overlapping traditions and flavors of L.A.—including Korean fried chicken, tempura potato pancakes, homemade chorizo, and Kimchi and Pork Belly Stuffed Pupusas—L.A. Son embodies the sense of invention, resourcefulness, and hybrid attitude of the city from which it takes its name, as it tells the transporting, unlikely story of how a Korean American kid went from lowriding in the streets of L.A. to becoming an acclaimed chef.
In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast’s memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.
When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the “crazy closet”—with predictable results—the tools that had served Roz well through her parents’ seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed.
While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies—an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades—the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care.
An amazing portrait of two lives at their end and an only child coping as best she can, Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant will show the full range of Roz Chast’s talent as cartoonist and storyteller.
Seconds – Bryan Lee O’Malley
I think I first heard of Seconds from Beth Fish Reads’s post
Katie’s got it pretty good. She’s a talented young chef, she runs a successful restaurant, and she has big plans to open an even better one. Then, all at once, progress on the new location bogs down, her charming ex-boyfriend pops up, her fling with another chef goes sour, and her best waitress gets badly hurt. And just like that, Katie’s life goes from pretty good to not so much. What she needs is a second chance. Everybody deserves one, after all—but they don’t come easy. Luckily for Katie, a mysterious girl appears in the middle of the night with simple instructions for a do-it-yourself do-over:
1. Write your mistake
2. Ingest one mushroom
3. Go to sleep
4. Wake anew
And just like that, all the bad stuff never happened, and Katie is given another chance to get things right. She’s also got a dresser drawer full of magical mushrooms—and an irresistible urge to make her life not just good, but perfect. Too bad it’s against the rules. But Katie doesn’t care about the rules—and she’s about to discover the unintended consequences of the best intentions.
From the mind and pen behind the acclaimed Scott Pilgrim series comes a madcap new tale of existential angst, everyday obstacles, young love, and ancient spirits that’s sharp-witted and tenderhearted, whimsical and wise.
Cleopatra: A Life – Stacy Schiff
This is one of two readalongs for Nonfiction November. I’m not sure if I can finish this book in time but I’ve been curious about this book for a while, so this is probably a good time to try it!
Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnets, and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator.
Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as well; incest and assassination were family specialties. Cleopatra appears to have had sex with only two men. They happen, however, to have been Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, among the most prominent Romans of the day. Both were married to other women. Cleopatra had a child with Caesar and–after his murder–three more with his protégé. Already she was the wealthiest ruler in the Mediterranean; the relationship with Antony confirmed her status as the most influential woman of the age. The two would together attempt to forge a new empire, in an alliance that spelled their ends. Cleopatra has lodged herself in our imaginations ever since.
Famous long before she was notorious, Cleopatra has gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. Shakespeare and Shaw put words in her mouth. Michelangelo, Tiepolo, and Elizabeth Taylor put a face to her name. Along the way, Cleopatra’s supple personality and the drama of her circumstances have been lost. In a masterly return to the classical sources, Stacy Schiff here boldly separates fact from fiction to rescue the magnetic queen whose death ushered in a new world order. Rich in detail, epic in scope, Schiff ‘s is a luminous, deeply original reconstruction of a dazzling life.
Some e-book holds came in too! As they say, when it rains….
Old Man’s War – John Scalzi
Aha! I am excited to read my first Scalzi! I’m not sure if I picked the right one to start with. Anyone have any idea?
John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army.
The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce– and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.
Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity’s resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.
John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine–and what he will become is far stranger.
War Horse – Michael Morpurgo
A powerful tale of war, redemption, and a hero’s journey.
In 1914, Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges toward the enemy, witnessing the horror of the battles in France. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey’s courage touches the soldiers around him and he is able to find warmth and hope. But his heart aches for Albert, the farmer’s son he left behind. Will he ever see his true master again?
Just a few books for the kids today, as they still had plenty (PLENTY!) books left from last week’s loot:
Have you read any of these books? What did you get from the library this week?