Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Sunday Question

I was lucky enough to be asked to my first author dinner this week. Joan and I made the trek to Cambridge, where we met up with about twenty independent booksellers hailing from Mystic CT (Bank Square Books) to Portsmouth NH (River Run Books) and everywhere in between. We ate amazing, locally sourced and very fancy food at Evoo in Kendall Square (Shy Brother’s Cloumage Filled Batter Fried Verrill Farm's Squash Blossom with Pesto Dressed Zucchini "Noodles" anyone?) courtesy of the good folks at HarperCollins. And we had the great pleasure of meeting Daphne Kalotay, author of the new novel, Russian Winter. At the book’s center is an aging prima ballerina now living in Boston. She decides to auction her fairly vast collection of jewelry, which brings up blasts from the past for her, revealing the story of her defection from Soviet Russia in the 1950’s. I learned so much about the ballet, the treatment of artists in the USSR, and amber jewelry while reading the book, that it gave rise to this week’s Sunday Question: which book have you learned the most from?

Joan wisely says she can’t choose, because she learned from different books in different periods of her life, but she did mention The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Marika says Gardner’s Art Through the Ages, which she’s read from cover to cover, all 1026 pages of it, no mean feat!

Nieves also has a passion for art, and she insists that any art book she picks up educates her.

Kevin has learned the most from Mad Magazine, which, growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s, I can appreciate. Political satire has never been so much fun, even in the age of Steven Colbert and Rachel Maddow.

I’ve also learned so much from so many books, it’s difficult to choose. I think the go-to book for me as a teen was Ellen Buchman Ewald’s Recipes For A Small Planet. Ms. Ewald inspired Frances Moore Lappe to write Diet For a Small Planet, then turned out this little cookbook herself. It was the book that not only changed me into a vegetarian, but gave me the tools to be one. It had me kneading bread and making yogurt at the tender age of thirteen, and I’ll be forever grateful. I hope Diet for a Hot Planet, written by Ms. Lappe’s daughter Anna Lappe, will similarly influence a new generation to eat closer to home and discover the pleasures of their own kitchen. Yes, you too can make Shy Brother’s CLoumage Filled Squash Blossom! It might not look as pretty as Evoo’s, but it will taste just fine.

I think though, the books I’ve learned the most from have been novels. I’ve not only learned to write from the likes of Eudora Welty, Louise Erdrich and Stephen King, but I’ve learned about the intricacies of the human heart. Couldn’t ask for more from a book than that.

Let us know which books you’ve learned the most from.

~ Chrysler

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