What I Read in January

The Assistants: I liked this one a lot. It was a quick, easy read, but with some substance. It’s being turned into a movie and it kind of felt like I was reading a movie, but that doesn’t necessarily bother me.

The Anatomy of Dreams: Hmm. I kind of liked this book but kind of didn’t. It had a good premise and it was well-written, but it also felt a little like a slog to get through. I would be interested to read her next novel – I think she’s a talented writer even though I wasn’t fully wild about this one.

My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life: I love Ruth Reichl. If you like food writing you’ll love this – she’s the master of the craft. This book details the time period right after Gourmet, the magazine of which she was editor-in-chief, was shuttered. She used food and cooking to keep herself going during that dark time, and this book conjures images of her in her cozy, idyllic upstate New York kitchen, sautéing garlic, peeling peaches for cobblers, and perusing the farmer’s market to find the crispest apples in fall. If you follow Reichl’s lovely and evocative Twitter, where she can easily make your mouth water in 140-characters, you’ll absolutely love this book (and the recipes!).

The After Party: I really disliked this one. It bothered me so much. The whole book was basically hinged upon the main character’s utter devotion to/obsession with her best friend, ostensibly because the best friend is this magnetic, exciting, enigmatic, glamorous creature…and yet, throughout the whole book, the friend never did or said anything magnetic, exciting, clever, or even particularly interesting, for that matter. Ya know how you learn in elementary school that to be a good writer, you have to “show, don’t tell?” This book was all tell, no show when it came to that character, and since the whole book was hinged on her…it just didn’t work for me.

They May Not Mean To, But They Do: Liked this a lot. The main character is in her 80’s. Her husband has dementia, she’s starting to have difficulty with mobility, and their two middle-aged kids are trying desperately to handle the situation while maintaining their own lives and trying to assuage themselves of the guilt of not doing more. That may sound really depressing but the book was actually funny – which is a feat in itself, to make this subject funny. I think it’s something everyone can relate to – the aging of family members and the loss of independence that accompanies that, wacky family dynamics and unavoidable, often unfortunate realities where the only way to get through it is to laugh.

Cooking for Mr. Latte: More good food writing. This one is by Amanda Hesser, former NYT food writer and co-founder of food52. It’s a memoir about her time at The Times and her relationship with her then boyfriend, now husband…plus her ideas and thoughts on food, and recipes. Again, I’m a big fan of food writing so I enjoyed this even though it wasn’t anything super groundbreaking.

photography by Jacqueline Clair

4 comments

  1. Carly A. Heitlinger says: February 27, 2017

    I didn’t like The After Party either!!!! Bad characters!!!!

  2. Alex says: February 27, 2017

    Thanks Jackie! I’m not a reader, but I’d like to give “They May Not Mean to…” a try.

  3. Kayla says: February 27, 2017

    I love food writing! I’m really excited to read My Kitchen Year and Cooking for Mr. Latte.

  4. Nnenna says: February 27, 2017

    The Assistants has been on my TBR. It sounds like a really fun read and I didn’t know that it’s being turned into a movie!

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