How to Be a Victorian: a Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life by Ruth Goodman
A very readable, often entertaining look at daily life in England in Victorian times. Ruth Goodman, a historian, has spent considerable time immersed in Victorian life for British television series, including Victorian Farm. Goodman’s experiences provide added interest, although there were things she didn’t experience, such as the London smog. Several families are described at different points in the Victorian era, which lasted 63 years, and the reader learns about their typical diets, working and living conditions, and even different modes of transportation. The hardest part to read is about the lives of children, including the lack of modern medicine and knowledge of nutrition, opium tonics for babies and long hours of work for children as young as six. Conditions and education for children did improve over time, and the section on education is quite interesting. The format, taking people through a typical day from dawn to bedtime, works well. On a chilly day like today, I’m happy to live with central heating and hot running water, the things Goodman missed most while re-enacting Victorian life, but she does succeed in making the idea of a visit to the Victorian era sound appealing.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
Auri is waiting for Kvothe, musician and university student, who is the narrator of Rothfuss’ acclaimed, lengthy fantasy novels, The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear. Auri’s book is a 176 page novella, has only one character and a simple plot, and yet the reader worries about her and rejoices in her small triumphs. Once a student at the University, which teaches magic and alchemy, she now lives beneath the school, in abandoned rooms and passages called the Underthing. Auri strives to set things to rights in the Underthing, and some of her alchemy skills come in handy, such as when she finds a leaky pipe. Auri regularly discovers new objects and passages, keeps the rooms tidy, and practices a placement art similar to feng shui, but her work is hampered by her obsessive compulsive disorder. Auri is searching for the right gift for Kvothe’s visit in a week’s time, and care for herself takes second place. Well worth reading, and re-reading; a lovely gift for Rothfuss’ many fans.
Lives in Ruins : Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble by Marilyn Johnson
This is an engaging look at the lives of archaeologists, a combination of armchair travel, popular science, and history. I enjoyed reading it very much, especially the author’s travels to visit archaeological sites and interview archaeologists in the Caribbean, Peru, a tiny island in the eastern Mediterranean, South Dakota, Fishkill and Fort Drum in New York, and the harbor of Newport, Rhode Island. The author audits classes, goes to field school before volunteering at a dig site, attends conferences, and visits museums. Other than the weather and working conditions, it sounds like fun. As a group, archaeologists are highly educated, passionate about their work, and grossly underpaid, if they’re even employed. They eat sandwiches, swat mosquitoes, work under hot sun or in the rain, often with a developer’s bulldozer looming, drive old vehicles, and tell great stories and drink beer at the end of a long day.
The reader learns about the discovery of an unknown Revolutionary War cemetery in New York, and how a civilian archaeologist working for the Department of Defense is helping soldiers learn to protect sites of cultural and historical importance with decks of playing cards. Many sites have been lost to development, while others are waiting for funding, such as the search for explorer James Cook’s Endeavour in the Newport harbor. This is a November Library Reads pick.
Here is a varied list of some of the best cookbooks published this fall. Enjoy! -Brenda
The Baking Bible. Rose Levy Berenbaum
A collection of recipes from simple to elaborate from an author known for her foolproof recipes, with plenty of baking advice and gorgeous photos.
Impressive but not too fussy recipes for a variety of French desserts from a well-known cookbook author who lives part-time in Paris.
Holiday Cookies. Chicago Tribune staff
Three decades of award-winning cookies created by Chicago Tribune readers.
How to Cook Everything Fast. Mark Bittman
Clear, step-by-step recipes with variations make efficient use of a cook’s time, but some of these delicious recipes are not what I’d consider fast.
The Kitchn Cookbook. Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand
Part cookbook and part friendly advice on stocking, organizing, cleaning, and designing kitchens, from the editors of a popular food blog.
Make it Ahead. Ina Garten
One Pot. Editors of Martha Stewart Living
120 recipes for weekday dinners, including desserts, using skillets, slow cookers, large pots, roasting pans, and more.
Plenty More. Yotam Ottolenghi
New recipes from a London chef known for his very creative Mediterranean and Middle Eastern-inspired vegetable dishes.
Prune. Gabrielle Hamilton
Unconventional, minimalist recipes with hand-written notes from a New York chef.
Twelve Recipes. Cal Peternell
Originally written for his son in college, these detailed recipes (actually several dozen) may inspire a love of food and cooking.
In November, the library’s book discussion groups will read and discuss three very different books, set in Australia, New York City, Iceland, and England. On November 18 at 10:00 a.m., the Tuesday Morning Book Group will be discussing Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, a historical novel set on the north coast of Iceland in the 1820s. Based on a true story, Agnes Magnusdottir and two others have been convicted of killing two men, and are awaiting final word of an appeal from Denmark. Here’s my earlier review of this remarkable first novel, from an Australian author.
On November 25 at 7:00 p.m., the Tuesday Evening Book Group will be discussing The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, a heartwarming romantic comedy, also a first novel by an Australian author. It’s rare for this type of book to be substantial enough for a book discussion, but I think this one truly is. My earlier review is here.
The Crime Readers are meeting at Home Run Inn Pizza on Thursday, November 20 to discuss The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey. You may have previously read and enjoyed this classic mystery about Richard III, which was published in 1951. Detective Alan Grant, recovering from injuries in a hospital, is fascinated by a portrait of Richard III, and decides to analyze whether or not Richard was guilty of murder. Here is author Jo Walton’s review .
Copies of these books are available now at the Adult/Young Adult Reference Desk, but they are going fast. Enjoy! Brenda
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Petronella comes to Amsterdam in 1686 as the young bride of merchant Johannes Brandt, with only her parakeet for company. Johannes’ sister Marin rules the household, frowning on sweets and nagging her brother to find buyers for a recent shipment of sugar from South America. Marriage to Johannes is not at all what Nella had expected, and servant Cornelia is her only friend. A replica of the Brandt’s house in miniature is an extravagant wedding gift, and Nella writes to a miniaturist to furnish the little house. The elusive miniaturist seems to be either a spy or a prophet as the figures and objects delivered mirror people, objects, and tragedy which soon visit the household. Johannes is accused of a serious crime by the owners of the sugar in his warehouse, and many secrets are gradually revealed. The 17th century city of Amsterday is vividly described through Nella’s eyes, with its emphasis on order and cleanliness, prosperous yet rigidly moralistic. The atmosphere is dark and wintry, the pacing picking up speed as Johannes’ trial approaches and Nella struggles to find answers to the family’s dilemmas. While not all questions are answered by the end of the book, this first novel is impressive and memorable. A good read-alike is Tulip Fever, by Deborah Moggach.