Happy Canada Day, kids! I love it when it falls on a Friday and we get an extra long weekend in the summer.
I mentioned yesterday how I’d like to get more social in regards to books and reading – normally such a solitary activity – so I’m going to try a new series I’m calling Shelf Life.
Each month I’ll post brief notes and reviews of the books I’ve read, and solicit recommendations from you guys.
June was an eclectic month, reading everything from cookbooks to novels to poetry. A couple of humour books, and two graphic novels which did not live up to their potential.
Yes, it is possible to read a cookbook.
56. Gourmet Preserves Chez Madelaine, by Madelaine Bullwinkel
I’m rather inexperienced when it comes to making jams, jellies and preserves – in fact, I wasn’t clear on the difference between those three terms before I read Gourmet Preserves. I didn’t know how to tell if a batch has reached its gel point. Or what that even meant. I’d made exactly one jelly before, and I required my hand to be held throughout the entire process. It turns out it’s not actually that hard.
The introductory chapters give clear step-by-step instructions for everything you need to know to make preserves work, and the recipes are delicious. I’ve tried three so far: two batches of strawberry jam, a rhubarb and fig jam, and a blueberry jam – all came out fabulously.
57. A Storm of Swords & 58. A Feast for Crows, both by George R R Martin
I read the first two books, A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, in May, and they were followed closely by the final two books in print so far (the fifth volume, A Dance with Dragons, comes out in July).
Initially I began the first one to prepare myself for the show (which was excellent). I’m not a huge fan of fantasy, but this series largely revolves around political intrigue at court with an extensive cast of characters who can – and do – die.
Ok, ok, there are hints of wights and, eventually, dragons, but they take backstage to war, betrayal, honour and, above all, complex characters worth knowing. I’m hooked.
59. A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan
It’s billed as a novel, but it’s really more a series of linked short stories spanning several decades. Characters weave in and, more often, out. Narrator changes; point of view changes from first, to third and, yes, even second. One story is told through PowerPoint. The concluding tale is
kind of sci-fi speculative fiction. It’s crazy.
It won this year’s Pulitzer Prize. I’m not sure how much that means. Prizes are notoriously inconsistent and given for various reasons, but I enjoyed Goon Squad. A very different sort of book.