I have had a real craving for a certain type of book at the moment. I really want to read books with food in them, almost in a starring role of their own. If you are thinking that I have gone a little bit mad and am talking even more gobbledygook than normal then I should explain that this is in part because I am off to a cooking school in Italy next week, and also to do with a sort of Savidge Reads off shoot project that I will be doing with The Beard, but more on that in detail on Thursday as in the interim I just really want to know what books you have loved that have had food as a character/plot device or food in the title. I don’t mean cookbooks, not quite yet. I have pulled some down off the TBR already; this is in part to start reading them, and satisfy this current reading whim, and also to show any people still thinking I am bonkers that they exist.
I am sure I have more than those pictured above, and I haven’t actually gone and looked in the lounge at books that I have read already (‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ has instantly popped into my head, oh and now ‘Heartburn’ has with its recipes throughout) but in case you can’t see them they are…
Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (which I read in my teens and must re-read)
Chocolat by Joanne Harris (which is one of those rare books where I have watched the film but not read the book, I do now think it’s been long enough since I have seen it that I can read it. She has written lots of books with food in hasn’t she, should I be delving deeper than this obvious title?)
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (which I have been meaning to read for ages and ages and ages and ages)
Eating for England
by Nigel Slater (I adored his memoir of food and childhood ‘Toast’
immensely and The Beard has just started it and been howling with laughter)
John Saturnall’s Feast by Lawrence Norfolk (which is out in September but Alice at Bloomsbury thrust in my hand when I visited and demanded I read because it is apparently so brilliant. I discovered it’s like a foodie version of Suskind’s ‘Perfume’ which was all about scent, I am now very excited – in fact I think this book started the whole craving so maybe I should read it first?)
So that should really do me for now but I am desperate to know of other gems which I might be missing. I am desperate for a foodie book like the above set in Italy, as that would be too perfect for my trip away, does anyone know of any? Which books featuring food have you read and loved? Have you read any of the above and where should I start?
I have to admit I actually had to hunt around the whole house to check that my eyes weren’t deceiving me when it came to putting this month’s incoming books post together. I couldn’t quite believe the two very humble piles of new books that had arrived this month. This doubly hit me when I heard it was ‘Big Book Thursday’ yesterday. No, I had never heard the expression before, which caused guffawing laughter and comments of ‘call yourself a bookish person’ from my family, cheers thanks a lot. Apparently yesterday was the day when all the books for Christmas came out? Sounds like bobbins to me, though it was on Radio 4 apparently.
Anyway back to books that have arrived here, and first lets cover the books from the lovely publishers, note there were five more than this but I am saving them for another two arrivals which are all getting a special post of their own…
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender – This year I am loving Windmills books, ‘Forgetting Zoe’ by Ray Robinson was ace, if very dark, then there was the wonder of ‘The Borrower’ by Rebecca Makkai. Before Richard and Judy chose this I had been eyeing up this novel, about a girl who can taste the emotions of those who cook the food she eats, since I heard it raved about on Books on the Nightstand. I think this sounds really original so have high hopes.
Pure by Julianna Baggot – Yes that book is actually plain bright white. This is a very, very, very advance (unsolicited) copy of an ‘apocolyptic’ book that’s out in February. It sounds intriguing but I can’t imagine I will read it before at least January as I will forget everything about it, but who knows.
Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner – The publicist at Windmill was enthusing about this so much when I asked for Aimee Bender’s book I simply couldn’t say no.
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – This looks wonderfully creepy and comes with Victorian pictures interspersed throughout of ‘freak show’ characters from the olden days, sounds my perfect cup of tea and came all the way from America thanks to Quirk publishing. I think this will be read very, very soon.
The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue – I was thinking ‘wow, she wrote this quickly’ when this arrived, apparently this came out a few years ago and is being reissued. It sounds like a wonderful Victorian tale, so possibly a perfect read for the colder darker nights.
Collected Ghost Stories by M.R. James – I have a really battered cheap copy of this so I am welcoming its replacement and the nudge for me to finally read these spooky tales.
The Sound of Gravity by Joe Simpson – I have to admit I haven’t even seen ‘Touching the Void’ but my family have a copy of the book and the film thankfully as I am interviewing Joe at a solo gig in Waterstones in two weeks so will be having a Joe Simpson binge in advance, I have a feeling I am going to be feeling very chilly and snowbound throughout this binge, so maybe wait till the Indian Summer Manchester is having is over.
Now for the books I have been lent/given or naughtily bought, again I should add I am missing two of these which are going in a post about something else and I will also be buying ‘The Slaves of Solitude’ today by Patrick Hamilton for a book group my friend Joe has started, we are going to be called ‘The Bookaholics with Beards’ and if you don’t have a beard you can’t come in, yes this group was started after one too many drinks but it’s a great book choice from what I have heard from others (and is £3 in Fopp!, what more could you need?). I digress…
The Long Exile by Melanie McGrath – After having Melanie/M.J. at Bookmarked I was so enthralled with her tales of the arctic I was desperate to read ‘The Long Exile’ and thanks to her publicist Chloe I am, I have promised to send it back after. Thanks for the loan Chloe.
The Game/Locked Rooms by Laurie R. King – I haven’t read the first of these Sherlock spin off’s but so many people have said I would love them that when I saw these pristine for 50p each I snapped them up.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgensten – Lynne of Dovegreyreader said I needed to pop this up my TBR imminently, well I hadn’t been sent it (I think almost everyone has though, weird) but thankfully Paul Magrs has let me have his. So that’s one to read, though the hype worries me. I am trying to avoid it so the read will be based just on that, the reading.
So that’s it. What do you think? Have you read any of these? Should I get to any sooner than others? What have you had in the last month?
It seems that the day when the Orange Longlist is announced for 2011, which is today and will be in a couple of hours of this post going live I am sure, has taken a really long time to come around and then has suddenly swooped down on us fast. In fact I commented pretty much that very thing on Dovegreyreader the other day. You see I always think it gets announced in February and then there is a big lead up to June. I do wonder how my head works sometimes. Anyway… soon we will know what the twenty books that make the Orange Prize Longlist for 2011 will be, and so it’s my annual Orange Prize guess also known as ‘Simon shows how wrong he can be about women’s writing in the last year’ (see my 2010 guesses for more)…
Initially I started off getting competitive with myself over trying to come up with a list which contained the winning lot. Then I sat back and thought that seriously who else apart from the judges would know what these might be as the options are endless as are the books that could have been put forward. This year I went through all the books eligible, books written in English in print in the UK between April 1st 2010 and March 31st 2011, and came up with my twenty based on what I had read (in blue as you can read my thoughts), what was on my TBR/on loan from the library (in italics) and books I have been wanting to get my mitts on and haven’t yet (in bold – as a birthday, which is 8 days away, hint). So without further waffle here is the Savidge Orange 20 in alphabetical surname order to make it fairer…
Started Early, Took My Dog – Kate Atkinson
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake – Aimee Bender
True Things About Me – Deborah Kay Davies
Scissors, Paper, Stone – Elizabeth Day
Room – Emma Donoghue
Theodora – Stella Duffy
The Cry of the Go-Away Bird – Andrea Eames
A Visit From The Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan (which I would have but it went missing in the move)
The Cookbook Collector – Allegra Goodman
We Had It So Good – Linda Grant
The History of History – Ida Hattemer-Higgins
Mr Chartwell – Rebecca Hunt
The Report – Jessica Francis Kane
The Hand That First Held Mine – Maggie O’Farrell
The News Where You Are – Catherine O’Flynn
The Tigers Wife – Tea ObrehtDark Matter – Michelle Paver (which I would have but it went missing in the move)
The Fates Will Find Their Way – Hannah Pittard
Mr Rosenblum’s List – Natasha Solomons
When God Was A Rabbit – Sarah Winman
I did umm and ahhh about putting ‘Grace Williams Says It Loud’ by Emma Henderson on the list but I have seen that in the Orange Book Group displays in Waterstones (where I got the new Books Quarterly) so assumed that it would be off the list. I have it and will be reading it any way. I know that maybe Kate Atkinson is a random pick as its essentially a crime novel as I mentioned yesterday if Val McDermids latest is as good as ‘The Mermaids Singing’ that would be a welcome entry, I wondered also if Susan Hill’s ‘A Kind Man’ might be too short?
I wonder how I will do with this lot, can I bet my 8 out of 20 best from last year? In a weird way I hope I do the same as the last or a little worse, as one of the joys of a longlist is learning about the books you werent aware of. Which books would you bet on being in the list? Will anyone, sadly I don’t think I could, be trying to read them all?
I have of course updated the blog with the actual longlist now.