The cold weather may have passed for now, but February is almost upon us, and I am not convinced we will continue to enjoy blue skies and sunny days for much longer, as much as I’d wish it. Those frosty days and biting nights inspired me to curl up with a good book, a hot pot of tea, and a steaming bowl of comforting soup. While working the counter and greeting Leigh’s Favorite Books patrons who braved the cold evenings to mingle among Metcalf, Bourdain and Follett, I began to imagine up my soup/novel pairings.
Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood paired with Country Style Miso Shiru (miso soup). Most people know miso soup as the starter to most yummy Japanese restaurant dinners. I grew up with a different variety, one from my dad’s home town of Nakatsugawa, a small farming town in rural Japan. This miso soup is filled with potatoes, carrots, tofu, wakame (seaweed) and age (fried tofu). It’s as comforting as Murakami’s breakout novel Norwegian Wood. Although Murakami was born a city boy in Kyoto and Kobe, and is as cosmopolitan as a person can get, his characters in Norwegian Wood seek the country side to heal from the wounds of childhood and the cut-throat environment of Tokyo. I can picture them sitting in the sanctuary dorm room, playing the guitar and gossiping while a large pot of miso shiru bubbles away in the distance, forming layers upon layers of flavor.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold paired with Colombian Sancocho. Another very personal pairing I’d like to share is one of my favorite books and one of my favorite soup memories. While traveling in Latin America, my dear friend in Bogota lent me the book Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and while I was in the middle of devouring it, she also taught me to make sancocho. The stew consisted of chicken, sausage, and beef, many different variety of potato, corn on the cob, plantains, carrots, and cilantro and we enjoyed it on the eve of the 2007 New Year. Shorty afterwards I finished Chronicle of a Death Foretold and vowed to forever after read novels that took place in the setting I currently inhabited as much as humanly possible. If you were moved by Albert Camus’ The Stranger, your mind will be similarly intrigued by this fantastic novella.
Carlos Bulosan’s America is in the Heart paired with Chicken Adobo and Rice. Maybe I am just so excited (spoiler alert!) that Sheldon Simeon won Top Chef restaurant wars with his pork belly adobo with mung bean puree and pea shoot salad that I have to throw this one into the mix. It also gives me a chance to rave about my all time favorite over-looked memoir, America is in the Heart. The book follows Carlos Bulosan through his life, growing up in the Philippines, immigrating to America and surviving the Great Depression. While it is filled with heartbreaking tales of racism and struggle, it is also inspiring and uplifting, like tucking a spoon into a heavy chicken adobo and rice and savoring every flavor. “I glanced out of the window again to look at the broad land I had dreamed so much about, only to discover with astonishment that the American earth was like a huge heart unfolding warmly to receive me. I felt it spreading through my being, warming me with its glowing reality. It came to me that no man—no one at all—could destroy my faith in America again.” –Carlos Bulosan
What would your favorite pairing be? Jack London’s San Francisco Stories and cioppino? George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones and ox tail soup? Susan Cain’s Quiet and sipping once, sipping twice, sipping chicken soup with rice*? Come on in and let us know!
*referenced with love, Maurice Sendack’s Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months
This marks the first holiday season since we expanded the children’s section into its own separate store, Bookasaurus, right next door to Leigh’s Favorite Books. Leigh Odum (pictured above) and her staff have been working extra hard to make sure we are well stocked with all the items that you and your family will want to enjoy this holiday season.
At Bookasaursus, for really young children, we have a large number of toys and games from Melissa and Doug, ranging from stacking toys and puzzles, to classic card games for older kids. For children that are starting to explore more imaginative play, we have a large selection of Playmobil sets. We also have this season’s hottest games such as Spot It!, Perplexus, Rory’s Story Cubes, and much more. This is in addition to our large selection of popular chapter books, early readers, picture books and fun activity books, including a large selection from Usborne books. Finally, we have a perfect selection of stocking stuffers for kids of all ages, from simple erasers to elaborate IQ challenge puzzles that are guaranteed to amuse.
At Leigh’s Favorite Books, we continue to carry the perfect mix of new and used books and associated gift items. Cooking remains a very popular section during the holidays, and we have added a large selection of popular cookbooks, including Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, The 4-Hour Chef and Bouchon Bakery. We also have a large selection of all the popular reads and gift books, including the ever popular cat poetry book I Can Pee On This and the ever popular book How To Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You by The Oatmeal. For non-book items, we have a large selection of fun gift items from Knock Knock and The Unemployed Philosophers Guild, among others. We also have a nice selection of notebooks from Paper Blanks and Moleskine. Finally, we have a fun selection of stocking stuffers that readers of all ages will appreciate.
We hope you will make both Leigh’s Favorite Books and Bookasaurus a destination this holiday season, as you seek out gifts and good reads that your whole family and loved ones will enjoy. And to make things easier for you, gift wrapping is always free and exquisite. Thank you for your continued support, and Happy Holidays from all of us at Leigh’s Favorite Books and Bookasaurus!
2- Fifty Shades of Gray by E L James The first book of the Fifty Shades trilogy has set the record for fastest-selling paperback of all time.
3- How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran Witty observations on the lives of women will not only make you laugh, but give you insight into what it means to be female
4-Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins The second book of The Hunger Games Trilogy continues the story of Katniss Everdeen.
5- I Could Pee on This by Francesco Marciuliano This book is seriously funny. Poems by cats for their humans, brought to you by the author of the comic strip Sally Forth. Poems like “This is My Chair” and “Who is That on Your Lap?” will have you smiling throughout this quick read.
6- Fifty Shades Darker E L James
7- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn From the author who brought us Sharp Objects and Dark Places comes a thriller about the darker side of love and relationships.
8- A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin The first volume of the epic series A Song of Ice and Fire. Full of adventure, romance, tragedy and betrayal, this is a must-read for fantasy lovers.
9- F in Exams by Richard Benson A hilarious collection of inventive exam answers submitted by students who had given up any hope of getting it right. A great back-to-school gift for students and teachers alike.
Tied for #10
Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow The best-selling author of The Drunkard’s Walk and The Grand Design is back to discuss the multiple levels of our working minds.
Star Wars Folded Flyers Check out these fun Star Wars paper airplanes.
The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau shows you how to lead of life of adventure, meaning and purpose – and earn a good living.
Lamb by Christopher Moore The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled…But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years — except Biff, the Messiah’s best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in the divinely hilarious yet heartfelt work (Philadelphia Inquirer).
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Unique and genre-busting, the novel is
A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness – The follow-up book to Discovery of Witches.
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins The first in the series.
Mokingjay by Suzanne Collins The third book of The Hunger Games Trilogy.
State Of Wonder by Ann Patchett
2 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Now available in Paperback
2 A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – Scholars mix with magic and intrigue in this first of a series.
4 Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness – The follow-up book to Discovery of Witches.
5 Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – The third book in the Hunger Games series.
5 Fifty Shades Freed by E. L. James – The third book in this incredibly popular series.
6 Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – This is a must-read for this summer. Read our review below!
6 A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin - Book 1 in the Song of Ice and Fire series.
6 Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh - This elegantly written debut novel is now available in paperback.
6 Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - The second book in the Hunger Games series.
6 Fifty shades darker by E. L. James – The second book in this Fifty Shades series.
6 Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - The fist book in the series.
Secondly, I must admit that I have not yet finished Gone Girl.
But I will bet by the time you read this I have.
Gone Girl is gripping. I cannot remember the last time a mystery got to me as much as this one. Often by the half-way mark in a mystery I am frustratedly shouting at the characters who the bad guy is and getting worried looks from my dog. But with Gone Girl, I not only don’t know who did it, I’m not even sure there is an “it” to be done! It is a beautifully written, tense, psychological look at a “perfect” marriage that is anything but.
A must read for this summer, and you can bet I’ll be picking up Gillian Flynn’s other two novels as soon as I’m finished with Gone Girl.
Now if you will excuse me, I have a date with a hammock, a tall glass of iced tea, and the last half of a great book…
2- Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
3- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
4-In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson
5- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
6- Fifty Shades Darker by E L James
7- Mokingjay by Suzanne Collins
8- A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin
9- I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll
10- The Dark Monk by Oliver Potzsch
10- End This Depression Now! by Paul Krugman
(Last two titles tied in sales)
While “1493″ is not as captivating as Mann’s previous work, “1491,” it’s still a majestic tour de force full of fascinating insights into little visited corners of world history. The idea behind “1493″ is to show the effects of the collision of worlds that occurred after Columbus (or Colon as he is more accurately referred to by Mann) stumbled upon the “New World” in 1492. It’s an ambitious under taking and Mann probably doesn’t fully succeed (the topic is far too large for one volume), but what he does present is fascinating. Mann has a knack for taking complex ideas and boiling them down into easily understood concepts. The snap shot stories of the various individuals who populate “1493″ are so fascinating that the book will make most readers hunger for more information. Perhaps not as important and as ground breaking as “1491,” but still an enjoyable and informative read.
Candy Freak is a book about many things. It’s a tour of a smaller America, where passion trumps profit, and weird candies with names like Valomilk and Idaho Spud are a part of the local fabric. This is also a book about one man’s obsession with candy and chocolate, and how it drove him to write one of the funniest and wittiest travelogues in the last twenty years. Almond’s prose is almost as addictive as the chocolate and treats he writes about. If you love great writing, and find truth and solace in all things sweet, this book will become a cherished favorite.
While books about Jesus and the origins of the Bible continue to make best-seller lists, scholarly and insightful books about Islam have been in short supply. Tom Holland (author of Rubicon) has stepped up to fill that gap, producing one of the first popular histories of Islam to utilize modern Western (and sometimes controversial) scholarship. Holland tells a complicated tale, weaving together the last days of the Roman and Persian Empires along with histories of Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. It’s fascinating to see the various threads of faith and empire coalesce into a new religion, Islam. The most controversial part of the book is also the shortest. Holland’s examination of Muhammad’s origins is slight, but revealing. Holland doesn’t dispute the “historicalness” of The Prophet, he simply places him in a different part of the world, removed from Mecca by several hundred miles. This is a book for readers of Classical History and anyone interested in the origins of the world’s second largest religion.