what I read in August 2022

Baking Science by Dikla Levy Frances, 2022

Even if you aren’t all that interested in the science of baking – I know my attention tends to waver – this book contains formulas for all kinds of baked goods. I look forward to trying them out.

Design Your Own Knits in 5 Easy Steps by Debbie Abrahams, 2008

Intended for knitters just beginning to draft their own designs. I’d have loved it thirty years ago.

Devotions by Mary Oliver, 2017

A nice change of pace. Contains my favourite Mary Oliver poem: ‘Don’t Hesitate’.

Edible Plants by Jimmy W Fike, 2022

This one really annoyed me for two reasons:
(1) Despite the subtitle (A Photographic Survey of the Wild Edible Botanicals of North America), every plant is described only in terms of where it can be found in the U.S. THERE IS MORE TO NORTH AMERICA THAN THE UNITED STATES. Even plants with ‘Canadian’ in the name do not mention where they might be found in Canada.
(2) The inedible portions of each plant have been coloured silver, which is both distracting and not helpful for identification.

Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers, 1931

Probably my least favourite Lord Wimsey book so far. Way way way too much neighbourhood-specific detail and Scottish dialect. It was like Sayers wanted to prove she’d actually gone to that area of Scotland to do her research.

Gardening for Everyone by Julia Watkins, 2022

Nicely designed and photographed, but definitely meant for beginners.

How to Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis, 2022

Lots of really good advice – delivered in a kind, non-judgemental voice – for anyone struggling for any reason to keep up with housework and establish productive schedules. This is not an issue for me these days, but postpartum me could really have used a copy.

The Illustrated Histories of Everyday Behaviour by Laura Hetherington, 2021

Not quite what I expected. These are lightly researched blurbs about behaviours like shaking hands, driving on the right side, baby showers, etc., accompanied by jokey cartoon sketches. Took about 15 minutes to read.

The Instant Mood Fix by Dr Olivia Remes, 2021

Short, no-nonsense chapters about how to handle anxiety, stress, rejection, loneliness, and so on. I liked the format of one or two pieces of advice to use if you’re in crisis, followed by lengthier discussions of the issue, and concluding with five more helpful strategies to consider. A useful book.

Knitting Block by Block by Nicky Epstein, 2010

Like all of Epstein’s books, this contains very few patterns I would ever consider using, but it was nice to flip through.

The Low-Carbon Cookbook by Alejandra Schrader, 2021

Examines the effect our diets have on climate change and offers recipes which might be better suited to the southern U.S. because there’s no way I could find half of those ingredients here.

Molly on the Range by Molly Yeh, 2016

I can see how she’d seem fun and hip to younger readers, but I was kind of bored by all the autobiographical rambling and her recipes didn’t appeal to me.

More Plants on Your Plate by Bailey Rhatigan, 2022

Yet another white, stick-thin, long-haired, madly grinning woman on the cover and in too many of the interior photos – these plant-based authors are starting to all blend together. The recipes were fine. Nothing earth-shattering.

The One-Bowl Baker by Stephanie Simmons, 2022

Unfussy recipes are right up my alley.

The Palace Papers by Tina Brown, 2022

I was expecting some fresh stories, but this seemed to be mostly old news. Maybe it’s hard to break fresh ground in an age of social media where anyone can share any bit of gossip at any time. Anyway, I wouldn’t want any of their lives.

Plant Power by Annie Bell, 2020

I found her writing voice cranky and unpleasant. On the old belief in the necessity of combining beans and rice to create complete proteins: “It is hard to think of a less palatable combination, in fact, the two together on a plate is a personal bête noire.”

Really? Beans and rice an unpalatable combination? I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how much of the world eats.

The Regenerative Garden by Stephanie Rose, 2022

Lots of good ideas for improving the health and manageability of a garden.

Sashiko for Making and Mending by Saki Iduka,
2021

I need to find a good source for sashiko thread so I can try this. Any suggestions?

The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1907

I had to use a photo of the first edition graciously loaned by Dalhousie U. It was a pleasure to hold.

A novel about, and written during the time of, the Million Dollar Babies (aka ‘cash for class’) – rich, young American women who married titled, but poor British gentlemen. Very occasionally, the transaction worked well, but more often, it did not. This novel is an example of the union being a disaster from the beginning.

I enjoyed the book, but honestly can’t think of many people to whom I would recommend it. It’s way too long, repetitive, melodramatic and has stereotyped characters, but there are some genuinely funny and/or horrifying passages, and it was fascinating to read something written at the time this ‘money for titles’ phenomenon was actually happening.

Things to Look Forward To by Sophie Blackall
2022

I usually hate these kinds of ‘put on a happy face’ books, but this one had more charm than usual. It’s a quick read of small pleasures the author compiled to combat feeling down and they could inspire readers to create their own lists.