Wednesday, December 9, 2009

On my bookshelf

Kansas City has the coolest library EVER.

You asked, I'm answering! (Questions about my former acting career will be answered on Friday, you vultures.)

Julie and Shelby asked if I had any favorite cookbooks and/or any unique, un-fashionable, non-obvious books on my shelves that I could share with you.

First, I basically don't cook. At all. I mean, I can cook to the extent that I can follow directions, but I don't like experimenting, risk-taking, or multi-tasking in the kitchen. I like baking, where I can just assemble the dish and stick it in the oven. Having lots of dishes on the stove at the same time panics me a little. So, I like Seriously Simple (hey! they have a holiday cookbook! thanks for asking the question, guys, or I would have had no idea!) and selected dishes from the Williams Sonoma cookbooks -- the older, more basic ones that have titles like PASTA and POTATOES, not the "new flavors" or "foods of the world" ones. And I love Japanese Women Don't Get Old Or Fat because on page 200, there is a recipe for the Perfect Bowl of Noodles. I don't normally link to Google reader because of all the legal issues, but I will trust you to use it wisely, and BUY the book if you like the recipe. I use udon noodles instead of soba; I use instant dashi instead of homemade (which means you don't need the bonito flakes); I skip the sake, scallions, mitsuba, and tempura; and it is hands-down the best noodle bowl I've had outside of Japan. It took me FOREVER to find this recipe.

As for some of the less predictable stuff on my shelves... well, naturally I'm going to list non-fiction first, because as a wanna-be writer, I'm of course expected to have an enormous range of novels on my shelves.

There's A Guide to Greek Traditions and Customs in America by Marilyn Rouvelas (y'all know my husband's Greek, right?)... and there's A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters (y'all know I was born in Tokyo, right?) which provides a detailed etymology of nearly 2,000 kanji and has spectacular appendixes for looking up the characters by pronunciation or by number of brush strokes...

I highly recommend The Lawyer Who Blew Up His Desk for any attorneys in your life... and from my childhood, there is the fantastic Great Pets! which has pet-care advice for everything from dogs and rabbits to geese, ferrets, and snakes. They don't cover chinchillas, which was a bit disappointing for me when I got a chinchilla in college, but if you can't decide whether you want a skunk or a tarantula, this is the book for you.

Poetry: I am apparently still the only person on LibraryThing who owns Colmez Astre's Poésie française: anthologie critique, which is a shame, because if you read French at all, it's one of the best anthologies I've come across.

Graphic novels: Has everyone here read Transmet? For the love of all that is holy, get yourself a copy of the full series IMMEDIATELY.

Audiobooks: I'm not normally a fan of abridged works, but the audiobook of World War Z is genius. Even my mom agrees. And it's not a surprise that I like Stephen King, but I have to give a shout-out to Ron McLarty's reading of Salem's Lot, because it's just masterful.

Fiction: I don't know if I have any surprising fiction. I have uber-popular books like Harry Potter, "required reading" books like Moby Dick and Les Miserables, literary fiction like Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, tons of sci-fi/fantasy, plenty of YA (check out Godless)... and that's just the stuff that's in this room. We also have a storage locker filled with books that we try to rotate stuff in and out of.

Probably the most surprising thing for many would be my lack of any classic women's Brit Lit. No Jane Austen, no Bronte sisters. I can't stand any of it.

Tomorrow: lessons learned from tonight's class on "Obsessive Writing"!


  1. Your very first sentence caught my attention. Are you in KC, or do you know about their best library from a visit? Because that's my hometown. :)

  2. Thanks for answering the random book shelf repatoire :) I love that title, Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat! That's sooooooo true.

    By the way, if you haven't stopped over at my blog, you may not realize it, but I was playing tag and YOU'RE IT!

  3. P.S. I spelled repertoire wrong. Oops

  4. Janna, it was just a cool find through Google images! I saw it and was instantly enchanted.

    Voidwalker, thanks! Now I know what to write about on Monday!

  5. An eclectic collection of books in the home is a good thing to have-- for writers, those who have kids, and everybody else.
    I had never read any of the classic Chick Brit Lit until this past summer (I always faked thru them in college cause they seemed such a bore). Then Pride & Prejudice & Zombies came out and I wanted to read it. However, to be familiar with the origin of the newer release, I pulled out my out unread college copy of Pride & Prejudice. At first it was absolute tedium. But after a while I became used to the language and writing style and I got hooked. Afterward, my wife and I watched every filmed version we could find of
    P & P and she fell in love with the story.
    P & P & Zombies was a novelty, but the source material is great. I am going to have to dig out the rest of the Austen, Bronte, and other haughty books that I have stored in my garage and read those as well. I wish I was a faster reader.

  6. It IS cool! I have never seen those books in person before, and I'm going to have to keep my eyes open for them.

  7. Am I a vulture??? Oh well :{
    I love Sci/Fi too

  8. I meant vulture in the most affectionate of ways... because my acting career is dead, not because there's anything wrong with being interested in hearing about it!

  9. I love the diverse collection of books. When it comes to japanese have you read any of the old samurai masters-Mushashi's Book of Five Rings or The Unfettered Mind by Takuan Soho?

  10. The more diverse a person's book collection, the harder they are to pinpoint, which is such a good thing. I need that simple cookbook. I'm always looking for something quick and easy when I'd rather be writing but half-starved.

  11. I totally have to buy Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat :)! I've been looking for a good, healthy Japanese cookbook, and LOVE the title/ideas in there. Lol

    Thanks for the recommendations!

  12. Cool library pic. Sorry I missed your birthday bash. Happy belated birthday! :)

  13. Oh, I AM a vulture when it comes to Pippi, my heroin! I was just embarrassed to be found out!

  14. The lawyer who blew up his desk! That's going at the top of 'to get' books.

    Hey - love the Kansas library too.. went there a couple or three years ago..fabulous all around place.

    Super cool list here.

  15. That Japanese cooking book seems so interesting! I am going to get that. You are so lucky to have such a diverse background.

  16. Thanks, I will have to check out "Seriously Simple"! It sounds good.