Saturday, October 17, 2015

Lovin' the net

It's been a while since I've posted on my Internet searches.  See Lovin' the net  and Still Lovin' the Net 

Right now I'm reading The Hollow Land by Jane Gardam (2014 Europa edition). Here's the quote that sent me Googling:

      Mrs. Bateman had done Normandie potatoes and the lovely smell of cheese 
      and onions floated out of the windows and up the chimney and under the front 
      door and away over the fell. "You'd think it'd tempt them home," she said.

What a great sentence, especially since her husband and sons are on a fishing trip guided by the local chimney sweep.

While the delightful aroma didn't seem to lure her husband and sons from their soggy (it's raining like mad) expedition (perhaps they were too far away), it did lure me to the Net in search of a recipe. After all, I have the three ingredients listed and we were already planing to have fish for supper....

Search results: There are a lot of recipes for Normandy potatoes, with many variations but I like the one at French Women Don't Get Fat
and I have most of what it calls for: potatoes, apples, onion, garlic, walnuts.  No Pont l’Évêque cheese, but I do have a soft cheese that will work. No sour cream or crème fraîche, but there's some plain Greek yogurt in the fridge. I'm reasonably sure that Mrs. Bateman, being in Cumbria some time before 1981 when this book was first published, probably didn't have these exact ingredients either. 

Yes, I'll try this, but for now I must find out what happened with the Bateman men and Kendel (the sweep)....

Friday, October 16, 2015

October (first half) 2015 Reading

Several more of my requests came in at the library so I've been reading a lot and I'm splitting my monthly "reads" post into two parts. The month was off to a great start with a wonderful story collection, a great non-fiction, a lovely historical novel, and an amazing novel about the victim from Camus' The Stranger.
There were some disappointments too, but only one that I didn't finish.


Only the Animals; Dovey, Ceridwen
Ten short stories, told in the voices of the souls of animals caught up in human conflicts.excellent! Love the cover.
Library Book.


The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World; Wulf, Andrea
I loved this book. It's not just about Humboldt's life, travels, theories and writings; it also covers his influence on other scientists and scientific thinking from his own time to the present.
Library book.

The Distant Marvels; Acevedo, Chantel
I had not heard anything about this book until I picked it up from the new book shelf at a library I rarely visit. After I checked it out, I had a hard time putting it down. A marvelous story teller tells a tale about a marvelous story teller, Maria Sirena, whose story is set in the history of Cuba's struggle for independence. A tragic tale beautifully told. (The book is much better than the cover photo indicates.)
Library book.


The Meursault Investigation; Daoud, Kamel; John Cullen (Translator)
This novel tells the story of "The Arab," the nameless victim in Camus' The Stranger. The narrator, who claims to be the brother of Musa ("The Arab"), tells the story of his family and the aftermath of his brother's death. It's both a stunning homage to Camus and a striking commentary on colonialism and Algerian independence.
Library book.

Chaucer's Tale: 1386 and the Road to Canterbury; Strohm, Paul
How Chaucer became the "father of English literature." A crucial year in the life of the giant literary figure. Strohm knows his stuff and knows how to present it in an accessible manner--well researched, scholarly without being dull.
Library book.

Gold Fame Citrus; Watkins, Claire Vaye
Dystopian fiction is always a challenge for me--especially if involves drought in Southern California; so this was a difficult read. But it is very well written and worth the effort.
Library book.

Among the Ten Thousand Things; Pierpont, Julia
A sensitive story marriage gone wrong and the effects of a family's breakup on a couple and their two children. An impressive debut novel using multiple points of view. 
Library book. 

The Girl from the Garden; Foroutan, Parnaz
Story of the problems of a wealthy Iranian Jewish family in Kermanshah. Related as the memories of a descendant living out the end of her life in Los Angeles as an exile from the 1979 Revolution. It has a rather dreamy, mythic quality. A nice read, maybe three stars.
Library book.

One Day; Nicholls, David
Read this because I liked his recent novel Us. Enjoyed this one, but the newer one is better, he's tightened up his writing a bit. Will definitely read more by Nicholls. 
Library book.

Undermajordomo Minor; deWitt, Patrick
For me, the title was the best thing about this darkish, lightish fantasy. A disappointment because I liked his  The Sisters Brothers so much.
Library book. 

Man at the Helm; Stibbe, Nina
I was hoping for a light, amusing read (beware of the word "hilarious" in a book description), but this was only "ok"."  I wouldn't recommend.
Library book.

Did not finish 
H is for Hawk; Macdonald, Helen 
This was a holdover from September. The writing was fine, but not good enough to make me like the subject. I read about a third of it.
Library book. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tripping with Books

For me, books and trips just go together.  They are a mutual aid combo: the books enhance the trips, the trips enhance the books.  The books fall into several classes:

1. Books acquired specifically for the trip
    Guide books
    Books to read in transit
    Rest time reading

2. Books acquired during the trip
    Local color fiction or non-fiction
3. Books acquired after the trip
    To fill in the blanks

 4. Sometimes there's the book that made me want to take this trip in the first place.

 5. And the books read long before the trip that come back to mind during the trip.

What is selected depends on the purpose of the trip: tourism, relocation, family stuff.