book review

I Devour My Favorite Books

“Reading and eating are natural companions, and they’ve got a lot in common. Reading is consumption. Eating is consumption. Both are comforting, nourishing, restorative, relaxing, and mostly enjoyable. They can energize you or put you to sleep. Heavy books and heavy meals both require a period of intense digestion. Just as reading great novels can transport you to another time and place, meals — good and bad ones alike — can conjure scenes very far away from your kitchen table. Some of my favorite meals convey stories of origin and tradition; as a voracious reader, I devour my favorite books.” (Dina Fried, Food and Fiction)

The other day, as I scanned the library shelves for something new to read, I came across Heidi Julavits’ The Folded Clock which I judged entirely by the cover only and thus ended up issuing. Thankfully, the old adage proved utter bullcrap because this book, with its pretty blue patterned cover, is a, dare I say it, complete beauty! I love Heidi. I wish we could be friends. On second thought, her success would probably frighten me. This is because over the span of a couple pages,  I’ve become a huge fan of her writing. Why can’t I write like that? (I’m not fishing). Heidi’s prose is so human and so refreshing. You see, The Folded Clock is a diary which means we are given access to Heidi’s frank, funny, and surprisingly relatable musings. Her thoughts (often irrational) hit close to home for me. Unlike some authors I’ve read, Heidi isn’t pretending. She writes what her overworked mind (much like yours or mine) thinks.
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“I am a jack-of-all-trades. I edit and teach and at times desire to be a clothing designer or an artist (one who doesn’t draw or paint or sew) and I write everything but poetry and I am a mother and a social maniac and a misanthrope and a burgeoning self-help guru and a girl who wants to look pretty and a girl who wants to look sexy and a girl who wants to look girly and a woman in her middle forties who wishes not to look like anything at all, who wishes sometimes to vanish.” (Heidi Julavits, The Folded Clock: A Diary)
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The Importance of Food Presentation by me.
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I just wanted to say I liked The Berry Shop before it was this busy!
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Soroosh’s mom taught me this salad. I think it’s so tasty. Recently, I made it for my family and they also agreed.

1 pound boiled chicken, chopped small
3-4 large stalks of celery, chopped (leaves included)
1 cup red grapes, halved
½ cup roasted walnuts, chopped
handful of fresh mint, torn
2 gherkins, diced small
1 cup greek yoghurt
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix until just combined.
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My family’s favorite foodie place in all of NZ is ZAB Thai Food Takeaway (except for my dad since he can’t handle spicy food). Oh man, it’s so good. It’s so good that I considered not posting about it. You know, in case it gets super popular and it becomes not good anymore. #padthaigamestrong

Speaking of strong food games, HERE are 8 Japanese foodie Instagram’s y’all should follow!

Let’s Love Loud

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Cheese testers galore in Geraldine. image-3
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Isn’t my daddy hilarious? This one’s for you, Lifa!
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Central otago peaches and cherries, banana, momma’s homemade muesli and unsweetened organic oat milk.
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Guys, this is Queenstown in NZ and it is one of my absolute favourites. True, it’s super touristy today but it’s so so lovely always. Thank you Delaram and Andy for organising this trip. image-1
My 2017 resolution (gosh can’t even write “2017” without thinking “wtf”) is to read a book a week. Apparently that’s 52 books in total. Today i finished A Crack In Forever by Jeannie Brewer, a love story: honestly sad, truly sweet, overly sexy and incredibly hard to forget.image-5
What A Crack In Forever taught me during its last tear-gushing chapters is to seriously appreciate each and every moment for a loved one can be taken away at any moment.

I Want To Buy Everyone This Book

Dear Liz Gilbert,

My sister and I watched Eat Pray Love on opening night. We loved it (as in actually loved it – not just saying “loved it” for exaggeration) because we both adore travel and because we both enjoy food. Of course, we were very fond of its message too. Soon after, we read the book. Your book. Since then, the answer I have given (still give today) to anyone asking, “So. Who is your favourite author?” has been/still is, you.

It was midway through my last year of university, when assignments were becoming lethal that I listened to your famous Ted talk. You talked of creativity in a way I had never heard before. Suddenly, the pressures and anxieties around writing the perfect essay were out the door. Instead, I showed up to my study table, I made time and I worked and I worked and I worked until my muse/genius/inspiration was convinced I was serious and in Maya Angelo’s words, spoke, “Okay. Okay. I’ll come.” And it did. Just as you’d promised it would. And it got me through. I passed and I felt invincible. If only I had though of creativity in this limitless way before.

One week ago, I bought your latest work Big Magic at the Geneva airport bookstore. I am in love and I don’t know how to thank you. It is liberating, humorous, inspiring and above all, real. I aspire to write like you, in a manner that’s both intelligent and conversational, serious and loving, funny and true.

I want to buy everyone this book!Processed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 preset
Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.Processed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 preset
It’s a simple and generous rule of life that whatever you practice, you will improve at.Processed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c3 preset
But to yell at your creativity, saying, “You must earn money for me!” is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about, and all you’re doing is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that.
(All quotes by Elizabeth Gilbert form Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear)

All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten

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The bookstores, the public libraries and the school libraries in rural Japan don’t really store English-language books. If they do, they’re Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood. Fortunately for me, my dear friends and neighbours, Olivier and Hiromi Charles have a small collection of which I’m able to borrow. Through limited choice, I’ve had the opportunity to read some books which I wouldn’t originally judge by the cover and pick up at a bookstore. All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things by Robert Fulghum is not like any book I’ve ever read before. In fact, I believe it is more of a blog than a novel. Each chapter, written in casual first-person covers a random topic of Fulghum’s choice. The book does not work as a whole, rather as well, blog posts, snippets of musings on the author and his/our world. As per Fulghums own advice, there is no hurry in finishing it, it is best read a little bit at a time. Seeing as you’re already here and reading this blog post, I’d say you can enjoy literature in a short but sweet dose (yes, I just complimented my own prose) which makes this book perfect for you. Also, for those of us who enjoy learned advice, life wisdom and killer quotes.

“These are the things I learned (in Kindergarten):

1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don’t hit people.
4. Put things back where you found them.
5. CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
9. Flush.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
11. Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
12. Take a nap every afternoon.
13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Stryrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.”

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

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“When winter came, I decided to read.”- Anisa Kazemi

According to Mark Haddon himself, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003) is not based on Asperges nor any other specific disorder, “if anything it’s a novel about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way.”

Which is an accurate way of putting it for it’s definitely not the same as another. Firstly, the chapters aren’t like usual chapters. Instead, the story progresses through prime numbers: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17 etc. Next, Haddon challenges typical story conventions. His chapters are often too short, his sentences too lengthy and his prose/his protagonist, Christopher’s prose, too random. However; that is what I (and many others since he’s won loads of awards) consider so refreshing about it. Haddon’s mystery novel really does make you see in a new way.

Haddon achieves this by comparing most people’s thought processes to that of Christopher’s: which is paying immaculate attention to detail and living in the moment. While most people would be thinking “I’m worried that I might have left the gas cooker on,” and “I wonder if Julie has given birth yet,” in a cow field, Christopher would be inspecting/admiring the different shades of grass and the contrast of the surrounding flowers, sky, animals and architecture against them. In other words, Haddon/Christopher examine the every-day and the mundane so closely and so objectively that they become extraordinary again – since we tend to overlook/ignore them in this busy busy day and age.

I laughed, I cringed, I empathised with the Christopher and I continued to think about him after the book had ended – all the good things. I totes recommend it and so does good ole Ian:

“A superb achievement. He is a wise and bleakly funny writer with rare gifts of empathy” -Ian McEwan, author of Atonement.

3.8/5