What I’m Reading Now

May 8, 2012 4:59 pm
Posted in: Happening Now
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Okay, so the title of this post is a little misleading. Perhaps it should be “Let me share with you the big pile of books on my bedside table right now.” But that’s a little unwieldy.

Some of these I’ve read, and some I’ve only had time to give a cursory look so far.  Although I received free review copies of most these (except where noted), I’m genuinely interested in them and believe they’re worth the read or the recipes.  (I politely decline offers of books when I don’t care to read them).  If you’ve read any of these, please chime in with a comment and let us know what you think!

Links to Amazon are affiliate links (thanks for your support!).

Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables

Cheryl Sternman Rule and Paulette Phlipot
2012, Running Press
Available on Amazon

I adore my friend Cheryl, author of the blog 5 Second Rule. She is a positively radiant woman who writes with a  whimsical charm that breezily brings you into her world. I love the choice to organize this collection of recipes by color, starting each chapter with a stunning photo of a perfect fruit or veggie specimen. Somehow Paulette’s photos find a way to take the ordinary and make it jaw-droppingly, mouth-wateringly gorgeous.

To give you just a taste, here’s Cheryl’s tip on Mangoes: ”Picture a soapy baby. Now prevent this baby from wiggling. Isn’t that fun? Handling a peeled mango approximates this challenge.”

I’m not sure whether to keep this book on my recipe shelf or my coffee table. If ever there was a perfect advertisement for fruits and vegetables, this would be it.

Herbivoracious: A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian RecipesHerbivoracious

Michael Natkin
2012, Harvard Common Press
Available on Amazon

Herbivoracious is a beautiful new vegetarian cookbook based on the popular blog of the same name. I attended Michael’s book signing and cooking demo last week (full disclosure: they gave us free food), and was impressed by his simple, clean approach. Case in point: The cooking demo was an appetizer dish of chevre and briefly sauteed grapes. Tasty, simple, and a bit different. Nice.

The photography in the book is very good, though not the highest level of “food porn” out there. I actually appreciate that: It looks much more like what would actually come out of my kitchen than some overly styled fantasy creation that I could never achieve. (Okay, Michael’s pictures do look better than what would actually come out of my kitchen.)  Comparing the cover photo (taken by Sabra Krock, styled by Roscoe Betsill) to Michael’s photo of the same dish (Basil Gnudi with Summer Squash) is a fascinating foodie exercise in and of itself.

Thumbing through the pages, Matty and I both immediately started dog-earing corners of recipes we want to try: Peppery Absorption-Cooked Red-Wine Capellini? Roasted Maitake Mushrooms in Smoky Tea Broth? Yes, please!

Real Food: What to Eat and WhyReal Food: What To Eat And Why

Nina Planck
2006, Bloomsbury
Available on Amazon

I picked this one up from the library based on the recommendation of my friend (and October Unprocessed Guest Author) Margaret Floyd. the author of Eat Naked and The Naked Foods Cookbook.  As I was checking out, the usually surly librarian (I’ve actually seen her “shush” people, accompanied with an eye-roll) saw the book and perked right up, telling me about how wonderful this book is and how it changed how she eats (for the better, clearly). She and I are friends now, I think.

I’m pretty sure Nina is a disciple of the Weston A. Price foundation, with a big dose of Paleo to boot — she’s most definitely a fan of real meat, real butter, real fruit, and real vegetables. My feelings on “Paleo” aside, this is about as unprocessed as it gets, so I’m clearly a fan.  This book is not about recipes; rather, it’s about the world of whole, nourishing, real ingredients.

Real Food All Year: Eating Seasonal Whole Foods for Optimal Health and All-Day Energy (The New Harbinger Whole-Body Healing Series)Real Food All Year: Eating Seasonal Whole Foods for Optimal Health and All-Day Energy

Nishanga Bliss
2012, New Harbinger Press
Available on Amazon

I met Nishanga at a food blogging conference a couple of years ago, and was captivated by her energy and enthusiasm — and interest in helping others.  Bringing us back to cultural traditions, and real, wholesome food (in the original sense of the word), she organizes the book by the four seasons. Considering that fruits and vegetables are available year-round for many of us these days (but at a cost of quality and price — and perhaps our health), it’s a great reminder to follow the cycles that nature created.

More information and advice than recipes (though there are quite a few), she ties everything together with Chinese Medicine, pointing out that “Chinese medicine offers an important complement, and counterpoint, to Western allopathic medicine in that, like most other non-Western medicines, it is truly holistic…”  Sounds good to me!

People Before ProfitPeople Before Profit: The Inspiring Story of the Founder of Bob’s Red Mill

Ken Koopman
2012, Inkwater Press
Available on Amazon

You already know I’m a huge fan of Bob’s Red Mill and their products (and they’re a paying advertiser on Eating Rules), and was lucky enough to get a private, behind-the-scenes tour last year. A couple of months ago at the Natural Products Expo West show, I met Bob and he gave me a signed copy of his new biography.  As the back cover says, “In an era of corporate greed and CEOs behaving badly, Bob Moore’s philosophy of putting people before profit is a shining example of what’s right about America. His unconventional thinking and passion for healthy living are an inspiring story.”  Word.

Change Comes To Dinner: How Vertical Farmers, Urban Growers, and Other Innovators are Revolutionizing How America Eats

Change Comes to Dinner Katherine Gustafson
2012, St. Martin’s Press
Available on Amazon

Considering that the introduction is subtitled “Our Country Deserves Better Than Cheetos,” you can see why I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

This book takes a look into America’s food revolution and gives us hopeful alternatives to the industrial food system, and takes us into food innovators’ farms, markets, organizations, businesses and institutions across America that are pushing for a more sustainable food system in America.  Nice to see an optimistic outlook for a change.

An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies

An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday FoodiesTyler Cowen
2012, Dutton Books (Penguin Group)
Available on Amazon

The geek in me loves it when economists take on mainstream subjects to question everything — and uncover new and unconventional wisdom.  Here, Cowen applies the most fundamental economic principle of supply and demand to being a foodie:  ”Try to figure out where the supplies are fresh, the suppliers are creative, and the demanders are informed.”

Although it’s quite readable and accessible, it’s a tricky book to summarize, since it hits such a wide variety of foodie topics. As the liner notes say, “Cowen offers insights into the world of everyday foodies from agriculture to gourmet culture, from slow food to fast food, and from modernist cuisine to how to pick the best street vendor.”  Foodie geeks, rejoice!

The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to our BrainsNicholas Carr
2010, Norton Press
Available on Amazon

Okay, so this one isn’t really about food. It’s about how our brains are, quite literally, being rewired by the 24/7 “always-connected” internet lifestyle.  Carr writes: “Over the last few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going — so far as I can tell — but it’s changing.”

I can relate. When I was still fairly new on Twitter, I attended a particularly twitter-intense food blog conference. There were about 150 of us, all in the same room, and there would sometimes be 40 to 60 tweets per minute with the conference hashtag. By the end of that weekend, while waiting at the airport to head home, I actually felt a physical, tangible change in my brain (on the right side, a couple of inches above my ear).

This is fascinating stuff — and maybe it’ll convince you to stop eating lunch in front of your computer.

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11 Comments on "What I’m Reading Now"
  1. Comment left on:
    May 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm
    LiztheChef says:

    Super cool post…OK, now MY pile grows higher ;)

  2. Comment left on:
    May 8, 2012 at 6:19 pm
    sippitysup says:

    Great summer fare! GREG

  3. Comment left on:
    May 9, 2012 at 10:56 am
    cheryl says:

    Andrew, thanks so much for sharing Ripe with your readers.

    This is a wonderful list, and I love seeing Michael’s book and Nina’s here as well. So many great reads to add to my summer list. Provocative, inspiring, and each one different from the next.

  4. Comment left on:
    May 9, 2012 at 8:52 pm
    Lee says:

    I recently read “An Economist Gets Lunch” and, to be honest, didn’t learn anything from it. It’s very basic tips for how to get tasty food cheaply. I guess I was hoping for a book that would bring some economic common sense to some of the ethical dilemmas around purchasing food; Cowen doesn’t address any of those issues.

    I did like Nina Planck’s book (and am surprised you haven’t read it yet, seems like a nobrainer for what you’re doing) and it persuaded me to eat full-fat dairy, so that was excellent.

    Thanks for the other book recs; I look forward to reading them.

  5. Comment left on:
    May 9, 2012 at 9:32 pm
    Rebecca says:

    Terrific Post, some of these books are going on my list.

  6. Comment left on:
    May 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    I wish I had more time to read! I am really interested in the book, “An Economist Gets Lunch.” Is it just me or is that a play on the saying, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”? So funny! I will have to find that one.

  7. Comment left on:
    May 15, 2012 at 10:54 am

    What no trashy novels or murder mysteries?! Just bookmarked a couple of these to read for myself. Since I have dropped reading fiction for leisure with 3 kids around, I always have time for food books!

  8. Comment left on:
    May 16, 2012 at 1:34 pm
    Lee says:

    Aha, I found the book that does some of what I was hoping Cowen would do. It’s “How Bad Are Bananas” by Mike Berners-Lee, and it gives the carbon footprint of many, many things, not just food. Highly recommend.

  9. Comment left on:
    May 21, 2012 at 8:02 pm
    Betsy says:

    Thanks for the recs! Adding to my amazon cart now……

  10. Comment left on:
    June 20, 2012 at 9:07 am
    Lisa says:

    Great book list. Thank you! Adding them to my library list now.

  11. Comment left on:
    September 26, 2012 at 6:06 am

    My reading is definitely suffering from the Shallows, leading to a big pile-up on my bedside table.. should I lol, or should I be afraid?

    Great list, can’t wait to read (skim for ideas that confirm my already formed opinions?) An Economist Gets Lunch…

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