One Curious Incident

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? A looooong while. I could say I’ve been busy on spring break (traveling abroad, browsing cookbooks, knitting, reading tons, etc.), and you could believe me if you so choose. You don’t have to, though. I read enough in the meantime that I have a lot to write about.

 

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Let’s get better together.

Well, for those who may not understand the title (AKA most of the world), I just finished Atul Gawande’s book Better. And if I wasn’t already considering medicine as a possible profession, here he goes, both oddly convincing me and pushing me away from it simultaneously. Somehow. That’s just what happens with this book. Really great book in general. But I can’t tell if I’m encouraged or discouraged by it.

better(Yes, I was reading this sitting on my bed. And yes, I was too lazy to get up to get my camera and photograph someplace else. That’s this afternoon, in a nutshell.)

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If Mindy Kaling Ran the World….

If Mindy Kaling ran the world, then…

  • there would be no cockroaches
  • teenage girls would carry her picture in their purses and use it for style advice
  • book covers would all be colorful and decorative
  • actresses would not all be sample sizes
  • the most beautiful dresses would be in sizes six to twelve
  • there would be a string of best-selling novels based off the revenge fantasies she has while jogging
  • the public would torture Rainn Wilson for her
  • and so on and so forth

In the seventh grade, my friends Div and Louise wanted to run the world. They said I could be their royal advisor. That is probably as close as I have come to world royalty. Yet why am I thinking of this? Particularly of Mindy Kaling running the world? Oh yeah, I just reread her autobiography Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).

 

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I am not an animal person.

I’m not an animal person. At all. I suppose I could give most of the credit to my dad for this one, as he passed that gene on to me for sure. My friends all go, “What?! How can you not like animals?!” Then I just say, “I don’t. I’m not an animal person.”

Therefore, Cathy Woodman’s book titled City Girl, Country Vet was probably not the best book for me to buy. Yet guess what? I did it anyways. It was sitting on my shelf at home of “Books to Read” for a very long time, and then when I was home over break a couple weeks ago, I picked it up and it was over within two days.

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Chicago Doesn’t Grow Mangoes! (AKA Why I Love Sandra Cisneros)

So. Sandra Cisneros. She’s awesome. Yeah. And that title about tropical fruit agriculture in the American middle west? That’s just because I read The House on Mango Street (set in Chicago) and fell desperately in love with the writing of Sandra Cisneros.

 

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What (or rather, Who) I’m Reading

A quick look into my book-reading brain. Well, reading in general. I read other stuff too.

Flannery O’Connor has taken over my literary standards of what makes short fiction amazing. I love her. So much. Only two stories into Everything That Rises Must Converge and I cannot possibly stop now.

Sandra Cisneros. On a quest to find more of her stuff to read. The House on Mango Street kept me spellbound and she might beat out Frank McCourt in talking about childhood poverty, which is a feat.

 

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Talking with my Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater

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I could have made this title much longer by adding (AKA Why I Love Gail Simmons) at the end of it, but I decided to spare it today. The holiday season means you see a lot of things in excess, so a super-long title needn’t be one of them.

Hi!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

I’m sorry I haven’t written in a while. I’ve intended to, but haven’t. Awww. There was other work going on, including a creative nonfiction piece to write and math homework to do and an extra alternative proof of the Pythagorean Theorem. Then I got home, baked a bunch of cookies, and settled into Vacation Mode. How to tell? I have flour in my hair (not at this moment, but typically) and the callouses on my feet are not from dancing but from pacing the kitchen floor barefoot.

We had a so-called Drop Holiday last week, which meant that I got to read this lovely book. I love Gail Simmons so much. She is a great writer, a wonderful television personality (one of the few I can stand), and a beautiful person inside and out. This is her autobiography that came out last year (though almost two years ago at this point).

Gail was born and raised in Toronto in a family that loves food. She has two brothers, an adventurous appetite, and more currently, a husband named Jeremy. She works for Bravo on the TV show Top Chef (where I first saw her), as well as hosting Top Chef: Just Desserts and writing. She has previously been the head of the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen, CO and trained as a chef and worked in professional kitchens. She set four goals for herself in her parents’ house once she graduated from college that she’s since been trying to live up to: “Eat. Write. Travel. Cook.” This book charts her life’s adventure to secure all of those things and find balance and happiness in her busy life.

I think Gail is such an inspiration. She’s a lovely woman who went to culinary school, cooked in kitchens as the only girl in the savory kitchen, written fiercely, and knows tons of amazing chefs (can you say Daniel Boulud and Eric Ripert and Hubert Keller and Dave Chang? Yes, and more). Her knowledge of food and the little quirks of the industry is undeniable. She’s a fantastic female role model, and has a humble and wonderful balance of self-confidence and admitting that she makes mistakes.

I give her book four of five stars. There are some great diagrams in it, and the “life in a day of meals” idea at the very end is unique and really well thought-out. The writing rambles a little bit at parts, and I would love for her to share a bit more of her culinary education along the way. She does in small spurts, but cumulatively, more could be useful. However, that said, loved this book as a quick, easy read, with wonderful messages and lessons in body image and humility and growing up and figuring out what you want to do with your life and working with food and valuing yourself.

I will post later this week with a couple end-of-year lists. I’m thinking Best Things I’ve Read This Year and maybe a What I’m Looking Forward to Reading: 2014. I promise there won’t be quite so long a gap between posts, as that was unsightly.

Have a wonderful week! Read fantastic things!

-Nicole