Drown – Junot Diaz: I’m in the middle of reading “Pride and Prejudice”, but it’s slow going. I needed a little reading boost, so I devoured “Drown”, Junot Diaz’s first book, a collection of short stories. I took the advice of the scores of Best of 2007 lists that declared “The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” best book ever, and read it this past summer (in 2008). I really, really loved it. And this collection of short stories has the same elements I loved about Oscar Wao – great pacing, freshness, a style that’s not distracting from the stories, heartbreaking details, etc. I think the title story “Drown” is my favourite, or maybe “Fiesta, 1980”. While doing some Internet searching, I found this youtube video from the Google campus. Turns out they get authors to come by at lunch to read and talk about their work (there are also videos for folks like Michael Pollan and Anthony Bourdain). Yet another reason to wish you worked at Google too. I would much rather listen to Junot Diaz than dial into a “lunch n learn” conference call about revenue recognition. (P.S. I think it’s funny that the Google employee describes “Drown” as “super excellent”).
Wisdom – Andrew Zuckerman: It’s kind of unfair to say I’ve “read” this book, since it’s really the kind of book that you work your way through slowly, picking and choosing. Caroline gave me this gorgeous, huge book for Christmas, and I’ve had it by my bed since then. Sometimes I flip through it to look at the photos, and sometimes I open to random pages and read. It’s a meditation on wisdom, different people (everyone from Dame Judi Dench to Desmond Tutu to Graham Nash) giving their take on wisdom. It’s especially good to have nearby on days when I’m feeling kind of down; it gives perspective.
My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals – Melanie Dunea: This is another fun book to leaf through (also, a Christmas present, this time from Andrew’s parents. Basically, books are the perfect present for me.) When you take 50 famous chefs and ask them to describe their ultimate last meal, you’re going to get a variety of answers, but you’re sure to find foodies standbys like foie gras and caviar and truffles in the mix. The accompanying pictures are amazing (yo, there’s Anthony Bourdain, naked, except for a strategically placed marrow bone) and there are even recipes for elements of the chef’s meals. Incidentally, my Last Meal would probably involve a bacon cheeseburger and an ice cream sundae. No need for foie gras. And it would be eaten outdoors, in the summer, with a glass of cold white wine, even though white wine totally doesn’t go with bacon cheeseburgers.