Sunday, October 20, 2019

Review: Women on Food: Charlotte Druckman and 115 Writers, Chefs, Critics, Television Stars, and Eaters

Women on Food: Charlotte Druckman and 115  Writers, Chefs, Critics, Television Stars, and Eaters Women on Food: Charlotte Druckman and 115 Writers, Chefs, Critics, Television Stars, and Eaters by Charlotte Druckman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Charlotte Druckman gathers a wide swath of women who have food-related careers. There are essays published previously other places, interviews with specific characters, and group answers to some of her questions.

There is most definitely a certain amount of tension in these pages - female chefs are always asked about the female part of being chefs. So even in this attempt to bring more attention to them, they are forced into this position of answering the questions they always answer. And the answers are both important/expected and unimportant/mundane.

At one point, Charlotte asks them about how being female has impacted their career and almost to a face, all chefs of color are quick to respond that they are seen as their race first. (I sense Charlotte may have learned something about her own assumptions, based on her reflective essay on complicity, including her own, that is included later in the collection.)

This took me a long time to read and it is probably best as a coffee table book, one you pick up and read bits from, rather than trying to read it cover to cover. But I've added many restaurants to visit, cookbooks to try, publications to read, from the names in these pages.

I had a review copy so I can't quote directly but one of my favorite moments was when Charlotte asked which genres of food writing that are (erroneously) consistently assigned to men, and Jordana Rothman responds that she hopes to never read another article about a "bro discovering noodles." Hahahaha.

One essay I really enjoyed was "The Months of Magical Eating" by Tienlon Ho, about the medicinal nature of Chinese cuisine, a relationship between the writer and her father, and her pregnancy.

Another one was "Trapped In, Dining Out" by Osayi Endolyn, depicting what it is like to eat alone at a restaurant as a woman of color. (Spoiler alert - it is super frustrating and full of intrusive white people.)

I'm not a member of the Abrams Dinner Party this year, but I know those that are got this book this season! I got a review copy from the publisher through Edelweiss this time. There were a few pages that didn't display well in my eARC but I'm assuming it looks gorgeous in print. This comes out October 29, 2019, but I finished it early so I could include it in an upcoming foodie recommendations episode of the Reading Envy Podcast.

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Review: I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World

I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World by Kai Cheng Thom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an interesting read because I've read Kai Cheng Thom's work and was blown away by her in previous years. This essay collection pulls back the curtain to the trauma that accompanies fame whether that comes from the work or being a SJW on the internet (self-declared, since I think of this as a negative term), questions the assumed safety inherit in queer communities, and proposes a few approaches of restorative justice moving forward.

Out from Arsenal Pulp October 8, I had a copy through Edelweiss.

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Review: Red at the Bone

Red at the Bone Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A brief novel that starts with a 16 year old putting on a dress that should have been worn by her mother, but wasn't, and the story unfolds from there. This is an author I've always meant to try! I liked how complex her characters are and how their relationships shift in subtle ways. Do you have a favorite Woodson?

The book came out September 17, 2019 and I did have an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Review: Meet Me in the Future: Stories

Meet Me in the Future: Stories Meet Me in the Future: Stories by Kameron Hurley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kameron Hurley has this incredible ability to occupy the spaces known to the science fiction canon but somehow occupy them subversively. Just like the novels I've read by her, the stories are violent and gritty, and not always hopeful.

Some favorites:

*Elephants and Corpses* could live in the universe of Altered Carbon but with a twist.

*The Plague Givers* deals with a fallout of a relationship that might have the power to destroy the world.

*Tumbledown* features a paraplegic warrior on a frozen planet.

This collection came out August 20, 2019, and I had a copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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Review: The Painted Forest

The Painted Forest The Painted Forest by Krista Eastman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Krista Eastman revisits the area she grew up in rural Wisconsin and tries to see the land and the Midwestern mindset through the lens of an outside perspective. Her research spans historical farm texts and artwork hidden inside an aging members only type club (Woodmen).

Plus one essay about working in Antarctica.

I like the impulse of seeing a childhood place through other perspectives, and I think it's especially challenging when that place is rural and not a frequent focus of research or writing.

I think Krista really shines when she writes about people and includes her own experience (which made me like the Antarctica essay best.)

I had a review copy from the publisher because I made a comment in Twitter.

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Reading Envy 168: TBR Explode 3

Jenny uses part of her Fall Break to record a bonus episode that has some end of the year stuff but is almost all the third part of her 2019 TBR Explode Project. Jenny mocks herself for thinking she'd ever want to read philosophy, and tries to use less harsh language to talk about an author she doesn't care for.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 168: TBR Explode 3.

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Link to Best of 2019 contribution form

Books Discussed:


The Jung Cult by Richard Noll
Eros and the Mysteries of Love: The Metaphysics of Sex by Julius Evola
Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
You Are Not a Stranger Here by Adam Haslett
Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
American Genius: A Comedy by Lynne Tillman
The Master by Colm Toibin
The Infinities by John Banville
Mortals by Norman Rush
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


The Statement by Brian Moore
The Animal-Lover's Book of Beastly Murder by Patricia Highsmith
Islandia by Austin Tappan WrightThe Accordionist's Son by Bernardo Atxaga
Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music by Greg Milner
Divine Music by Suruchi MohanEverything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower
The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer
Concrete Island by J.G. Ballard
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Egan, Timothy


The Onion Field by Joseph Wambaugh
Family Pictures by Sue Miller
The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine
Flatterland by Ian Stewart
The Wind in the Woods by Rose Senehi
Vurt by Jeff Noon
Night Sky Mine by Melissa Scott
Miles from Nowhere by Nami Mun
Come to Me by Amy Bloom (September)
Princess Noire by Nadine Cohodas

Other Mentions

Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett 

Related Episodes:

Episode 149 - TBR Explode!
Episode 158 - TBR Explode 2

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Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy  

Monday, October 14, 2019

Review: Girl, Woman, Other

Girl, Woman, Other Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I snuck one more book in from the Booker Prize shortlist before it is awarded tonight. This book doesn't come out in the United States until December 3, but I was able to get a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss.

Girl, Woman, Other follows a string of women in the UK, and all are women of color with a fair amount of varying sexual orientation. Each section has its own voice and style while the characters interact with each other throughout (so the reader gets different versions/perspectives of some of the characters.) I thought it was very joyful to read and it has become a favorite from the shortlist, when my assumption before starting was that it would be too UK oriented to be relevant. (So give it a try!)

TW for sexual violence, transphobia, various forms of racism, and suicidal ideation.

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