As is my yearly tradition, I have compiled a list of book recommendations that will cover off absolutely everyone on your last minute shopping list. I kid you not. Buckle up and hang on – here are my book recommendations, in no particular order:
Book Recommendations for the Food History Buff
First up – Coming to My Senses The Making of Counterculture Cook by Alice Waters The founder of famed restaurant Chez Panisse tells her story in her own words. Ms Waters is the original proponent of organic, local agriculture. Long before it became a hip marketing slogan, she made it her mission to change the way we think about food. While I don’t agree with all of her views on organic agriculture, I find it fascinating to read the story of someone who has been so influential that the White House adopted her ideas into their own garden.
The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek is definitely geared towards the heavy duty history buff with a foodie bent. Very few Canadian homes don’t have some form or another of Kellogg’s products in their cupboards. The story behind how a pair of brothers – one a doctor, one a revolutionary food industrialist – managed to put aside their significant differences to cure the ‘great American evil – indigestion’. Fair warning: the jumbled timeline and extensive details don’t make this a book for everyone. People who like to mull over what they’ve read and debate ideas will appreciate this.
Book Recommendations for Tween and Teen Readers
The Silent Boy by Lois Lowry is the re-telling of a haunting and tragic event in a young girl’s youth. Now a grandmother, Katy shares the story of Jacob, and an injustice that would forever shape her life. The book centres around a child we would now know to be Autistic. The lack of understanding and compassion of the community, in contrast to Katy’s own understanding of her friend, stand in sharp contrast to one another. I would recommend this book for tweens and up. Adults could definitely benefit from what should be a intellectually easy, but emotionally wrenching read.
Touching on so many contemporary issues, What To Say Next tells the story of David and Kit and their unlikely friendship. This book is pretty text book teen angst/romance material, with some Asperger’s and parent death thrown in to round things out. It is definitely an interesting read for both parents and teens. Hopefully it will spark some conversations around the ‘others’ in our children’s world. If not, at least they will have read a book that uses full sentences, instead of texting emojis for hours.
Books for Adult Readers
Is this a true crime novel/memoir or is Run, Hide, Repeat something else? I’m not quite sure what to call it, but Pauline Dakin’s re-telling of her unusual childhood definitely had me turning pages to the end. The complexity of the narrative does not make it a scholalstically difficult read. The revelation, the truth of her entire life, landing like a small bomb in her lap, is a moment that will cause your head to reel and your heart to both pound and break.
From the author of The Colony of Unrequited Dreams and The Custodian of Paradise, comes First Snow, Last Light. I have not read the first two parts of the Newfoundland Trilogy, but they have definitely been added to my TBR pile. This novel finally wraps up a mystery that has dogged the heels of Ned Vatcher since he was just fourteen. An interesting novel set primarily on Canada’s East Coast. A great winter read.
Book Recommendations – Unusual Cookbooks
The Geeky Chef Strikes Back is everything your favourite nerd needs to be convinced to try their hand at cooking. Filled with unofficial recipe adaptations from everything from Minecraft to Twin Peaks, this cookbook is the first one that my 12 year old son loves. The majority of the recipes do not require any sort of mysterious ingredients or complex cooking skills. They each have just enough of a twist to make them fun and interesting.
Every Canadian woman over the age of 12 needs to own this book. The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook: CharmingRecipes from Anne and Her Friends in Avonlea. Who hasn’t wanted to replicate Raspberry Cordial? Nobody, that’s who. Written by L. M. Montgomery’s granddaughter, this cookbook combines recipes taken directly from the beloved Anne books and four new ones from L. M. Montgomery’s own kitchen.