Nature, Buddhism, and Philosophy from Gretel Ehrlich

Book review: Islands, the Universe, Home, by Gretel Ehrlich (Amazon / Book Depository)“Some days I think this one place isn’t enough. That’s when nothing is enough, when I want to live multiple lives and have the know-how and guts to love without limits. Those days, like today, I walk with a purpose but no destination. Only then do I see, at least momentarily, that most … Continue reading Nature, Buddhism, and Philosophy from Gretel Ehrlich

“A Young Black Chef” Finds His Place in Fine Dining

Book review: Notes from a Young Black Chef, by Kwame Onwuachi with Joshua David Stein (Amazon / Book Depository) A groove had formed in the linoleum in front of the stove where Mom spent hours cooking. Next to that were four indentations from the little wooden step stool on which I often stood to watch her. Chef Kwame Onwuachi was born to an American mother … Continue reading “A Young Black Chef” Finds His Place in Fine Dining

The View From Tehran

Book review: I’m Writing You From Tehran, by Delphine Minoui (Amazon / Book Depository) The taxi rolls along gray lines. That’s all we can make out in the darkness: gray lines, as far as the eye can see, marking out the road to the airport. Outside, beyond the window, the night devours the last forbidden words I heard. How many will still dare to shout … Continue reading The View From Tehran

Culinary and Travel Stories, from Al Dente to Zucchini Blossoms

Book review: The Bread and the Knife, by Dawn Drzal (Amazon / Book Depository) Former cookbook editor Dawn Drzal’s memoir is structured around 26 dishes or ingredients of significance in her life, matched up to the letters of the alphabet. Although the alphabet theme is a bit gimmicky, the writing is anything but. Drzal draws powerful metaphors from the role food has played in her … Continue reading Culinary and Travel Stories, from Al Dente to Zucchini Blossoms

Notes From Self-Imposed Siberian Exile

Book review: The Consolations of the Forest, by Sylvain Tesson (Amazon / Book Depository) I’d promised myself that before I turned forty I would live as a hermit deep in the woods. I wanted to settle an old score with time. French author Sylvain Tesson felt an itch familiar to many: to escape the stress of modern city life, to retreat to the middle of … Continue reading Notes From Self-Imposed Siberian Exile

Family Stories and Recipes, From Belarus to Brooklyn

Book review: Savage Feast, by Boris Fishman (Amazon / Book Depository)  Food was so valuable that it was a kind of currency—and it was how you showed love. If, as a person on the cusp of thirty, I wished to find sanity, I had to figure out how to temper this hunger without losing hold of what fed it, how to retain a connection to my past … Continue reading Family Stories and Recipes, From Belarus to Brooklyn

Light Recollections of Growing Up Arab in America

Book review: The Wrong End of the Table, by Ayser Salman (Amazon / Book Depository) If you’ve ever felt like you’ve been at the wrong end of the table – whether you were born in an Iraqi dictatorship or hail from Lexington, Kentucky – this is for you. Though I can’t speak for all of us, I can at least tell you my story. Ayser Salman, a … Continue reading Light Recollections of Growing Up Arab in America

A Forensic Anthropologist on Her Life’s Work in Death

Book review: All that Remains, by Sue Black (Amazon / Book Depository) As the product of a strict, no-nonsense, Scottish Presbyterian family where a spade was called a shovel and empathy and sentimentality were often viewed as weaknesses, I like to think my upbringing has made me pragmatic and thick-skinned, a coper and a realist. When it comes to matters of life and death I harbor … Continue reading A Forensic Anthropologist on Her Life’s Work in Death

Family, Race, Violence, and the Calculations Made to Survive

Book review: Survival Math, by Mitchell S. Jackson (Amazon / Book Depository) Sirens scream (for who else in the world but you?) in the distance. In a prose style unlike any I’ve encountered before, Mitchell S. Jackson, novelist and writing instructor at New York and Columbia Universities, writes a memoir of his life and tumultuous upbringing in Portland, Oregon. His story is interwoven with those … Continue reading Family, Race, Violence, and the Calculations Made to Survive

5 Mini-Reviews from the Did-Not-Finish Stack

I used to hold myself to a strict standard of finishing every book I started. It was painful. Why insist on spending precious time finishing something I’m not enjoying just because I made a decision one time to read it? Abandoning feels freeing in its own little way. Time for another look into some of the books I’ve tried and put aside over the past … Continue reading 5 Mini-Reviews from the Did-Not-Finish Stack

A Life-Saving Medical Treatment, Both Cutting-Edge and Historical, Succeeds Where All Else Failed

Book review: The Perfect Predator, by Steffanie Strathdee and Thomas Patterson (Amazon / Book Depository) In November 2015, globetrotting epidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee was on vacation with her husband, psychologist and psychiatry professor Tom Patterson, exploring pyramids in Egypt when Tom fell suddenly and violently ill. They initially suspected food poisoning, but it quickly became clear that something more sinister was at work. In a Luxor … Continue reading A Life-Saving Medical Treatment, Both Cutting-Edge and Historical, Succeeds Where All Else Failed

Poet Ross Gay Writes His Delights

Book review: The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay (Amazon / Book Depository) It didn’t take me long to learn that the discipline or practice of writing these essays occasioned a kind of delight radar. Or maybe it was more like the development of a delight muscle. Something that implies that the more you study delight, the more delight there is to study. A month … Continue reading Poet Ross Gay Writes His Delights