Uniquely Tasty Cookbooks

If you browse the cookbook section of the library, Amazon, or any bookstore you are liable to run into a wide variety of cookbooks about traditional cuisines and diets that are intended to make you healthier. However, there are also a large number of less expected cooking1or strangely specific titles that tend to get lost in the shuffle, such as recipes all featuring nutella or using a waffle iron with unexpected food. Here are some of the most unique and tastily temping or worrying cookbooks that I have seen go by at the circulation desk.

1. Nutella: the 30 Best Recipes edited by Johana Amsilli

2. Will it Waffle?: 53 Unexpected and Irresistible Recipes to Make in a cooking2Waffle Iron by Daniel Shumski

3. The Mac + Cheese Cookbook: 50 Simple Recipes from Homeroom, America’s Favorite Mac and Cheese Restaurant by Allison Arevalo and Erin Wade

4. Melt: 100 Amazing Adventures in Grilled Cheese by Shane Kearnscooking3

5. Weelicious Lunches: Think Outside the Lunchbox with More than 160 Happier Meals by Catherine McCord

6.Meatloaf: Recipes for Everyone’s Favorite by Maryana Vollstedt

7.Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by Dr. Seuss! concocted by Georgeanne Brennan and photographed by Frankie Frankenycooking4

8. Muffin Tin Chef: 101 Savory Snacks, Adorable Appetizers, Enticing Entrees & Delicious Desserts by Matt Kadey

9. Fifty Shades of Kale: 50 Fresh and Satisfying Recipes that are Bound to Please by Drew Ramsey, MD & Jennifer Iserloh ; with photographs by Ian McSpadden

10. No Bake Makery: More Than 80 cooking5Two-Bite Treats Made with Lovin’ Not an Oven by Cristina Suarez Krumsick

For more unique and tasty reads you might want to check out: The Book Club Cookbook: Recipes and Food for Thought from your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, The Craft Beer Cookbook: from IPAs and Bocks to Logers and Porters, 100 Artisanal Recipes for Cooking with Beer by Jacquelyn Dodd, Serious Barbecue: Smoke, Char, Baste, and Brush your Way to Great Outdoor Cooking by Adam Perry Lang, with J.J. Goode and Amy Vogler, Cast-Iron Cooking with cooking6Sisters on the Fly by Irene Rawlings, Super Seeds: Cooking with Power-Packed Chia, Quinoa, Flax, Hemp & Amaranth by Kim Lutz, Orange is the New Black Presents the Cookbook: Bites, Booze, Secrets, and Stories from Inside the Big House by Jenji Kohan, Tara Herrmann, Hartley Voss, and Alex Regnery, The Book of Burger by Rachael Ray, Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F*ck,  Insanewiches: 101 Ways to Think Outside the Lunchbox by Adrian cooking7Fiorino, Fifty Shades of Chicken: a Parody in a Cookbook by FL Fowler, Irish Pub Cooking by Larry Doyle, or Mom ‘n’ Pop’s Apple Pie: 1950’s Cookbook; Over 300 Great Recipes from the Golden Age of American Home Cooking compiled and edited by Barbara Stuart Peterson.

Jenn Reads: A Tale For the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

I love Japanese history. I loved it so much I wrote my senior history thesis in college on the court culture during Lady Murasaki’s time (Lady Murasaki wrote the first ever novel, Tale of Genji in the 900’s).

I was pleased therefore when my friend selected A Tale For the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki as her pick for my girlfriend’s book club. A Tale For the Time Being takes place partially in Tokyo, with a 16 year old narrator named Nao and on a small island off British Columbia, with Ruth.

A Tale For the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki

A Tale For the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki

Ruth discovers while walking on the beach, a plastic bag filled a Hello Kitty lunchbox and other seemingly garbage-like items. Upon opening the bag, Ruth finds that these items are from Japan, and likely floated over after the 2011 tsunami. What ensues is a non-climatic story of Nao finding her place in the world, and Ruth figuring out if Nao was a victim of the tsunami.

There is a lot of word manipulation and double meaning in this book. For example, Nao’s name in English would be pronounced now. Time beings all happen in the now. It goes on and on like this, until you’re almost ready to scream at the book, “OK! I get it!”

It should be mentioned that this book was long-listed for the Booker Prize and is very literary. Perhaps almost too literary for the particular stage I was at in my life while reading this book. It should also be mentioned that everyone LOVES this book. I can’t say I loved it, but I didn’t hate it either.

Ozeki, a New Haven native, crams a lot into this book, which is over 400 pages. There is life in modern Tokyo, life on a small Canadian island, Zen buddhism, extreme bullying, Alzheimer’s, kamikaze, physics, time travel, philosophical theory… it just had too much. After a while there were so many issues and concurring themes I wanted to give up. There were several themes I thought could have been saved for another tale, another day.

There were times when I felt Ruth’s storyline was too personal. For me, it was a look into the real life of Ruth Ozeki, without this being an autobiography. Her husband, Oliver, is a secondary, but main character in Ruth’s narrative, and at times I wanted to cringe at the interactions between the two. It was almost a place for her to air her grievances, but not the right forum.

I did however love Nao’s narrative. Being almost the exact same age as her, I could relate to the pop culture references she referred to, and the difficulties of being a teenager in the 2000’s. Nao’s life was not easy, and she had no one, except her Zen Buddhist nun great-grandmother Jiko, who completely understood her. The scenes with Nao and Jiko are the best in the story- Nao is not judged by Jiko, who listens, provides guidance, and parental affection lacking in her life.

If this book had been just Nao’s story, or we found out what happened to Nao, which to me is the great mystery of the book, I would have rated it higher. I partially read and listened to this book, read by Ozeki herself. I enjoyed listening to her inflections and pronunciations, which can be difficult for those not acquainted with the Japanese language.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

See you in the stacks,
Jenn