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Welcome to Books R Us, a recommended reading blog from InfoSoup librarians and users and home to A Year of Listening Dangerously, the 2014 InfoSoup Reading Challenge! Find a great book to read next, add your own reviews, and check out our book related resources such as NoveList and BookLetters.

food

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Author: Nancy Fairbanks

If you like a book high in suspense with a large amount of recipees, this is a read for you. Carolyn Blue, a food critic spends all of this novel searching for her friend who disappeared. She has an unusual ability to get into a high amount of "trouble" that she doesn't even recognize including almost getting shot and falling out of a two story window into a cake of all things... and except for one Lieutenent the rest of the police seem not to believe her. Not one of my favorite reads... but you may disagree.

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Author: Barbara Kingsolver

Ms. Kingsolver has written a few novels. I had read her novel "The Bean Tree". She has won National Humanities Award from her writings.

I thought the "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" was rich with information on our food supply.  Researching the foods sold in the supermarkets in the United States provided a hard look at what our diet consists of, how money influences what we eat by a select number of large food corporations. By the time I finished reading the book, I started planting heirloom seeds for my own garden, deciding to frequent the local farm market as my main source of nutrition.

I liked the idea of differnt websites noted in the book that provided additional, in-depth information on topics from recipes to gardening. The author was honest in that some of the changes were difficult to make but will worth the end result..  Why would a large food cooperation be interested in healthy food when they can process food at a low cost, selling it to consumers at a high rate of return.

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Author: Robin Mather

After losing her job and getting a divorce, Mather moves into a tiny cottage on a small lake in Michigan with her dog and parrot. The book chronicles her journey of trying to support herself on just $40 a week, mostly by buying and bartering for local foods and services. Each chapter ends with a collection of recipes made with foods of the season. As the year comes to a close, Mather's spirit is opening up to a world that isn't so alone but, instead, is one that is filled with laughter, friendship and the kindness of neighbors.

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Author: Dierdre Marie Capone

All I can say about this book is "wow".  I grew up south of Chicago and thought I knew a lot about Al Capone, who was definitely a legend in the area.  What I thought I knew, and what many think they know, turns out to be false.  The author is the neice of Al Capone, born to his brother.  In the story, she never tries to make her uncle out as an angel, but she does succeed in showing us that he had a very soft side.  As with most Italians, family is paramount and Al was no different.  If you treated his family right, he would bend over backwards to help you.  On the other hand, harm his family and he would do what it took to get even.  The most fascinating part of the book to me covered the years that Al was in Alcatraz.  He was the only person ever sent to Alcatraz for tax evasion.  The rest of the inmates were the worst of the worst, mostly convicted of multiple murders.

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Author: Michael Pollan

This book is an expanded version of Pollan's book Food Rules.  I personally loved it!  It is very in-depth, at times scientific, non-fiction writing about what we should be eating to be healthy.  It is not a diet book, but a self-described manifesto on how humans should eat.  It goes into the "why" of not eating certain things, like anything over-processed and things that are labeled as having added vitamins.  This book is serious reading, but if you are looking for a readable manual that cuts through the modern day labyrinth of "health" information, this book is for you.  It also shows how eating healthy and lots of produce can save a huge amount of money.  I have followed some of the principles and have found that I am making my grocery budget stretch further if I am willing to do a little more cooking.  I highly recommend this book!

My favorite Michael Pollan book is The Botany of Desire.  I can't even describe it, but it goes into the social history of four plants (tulips, marijuana, apples and potatoes) and tells how they changed society.  It is a fast read and a great conversation starter.

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Title: Food Rules
Author: Michael Pollan

This non-fiction handbook is great for people who want tips for healthy eating of real food, but aren't big readers.  Each page has one sentence.  Some pages have a paragraph of explanation below.  The book can be used as a manual for eating real food, not too much of it, and tips that are great for feeding children.  It is not a diet book (as in weight-loss) but a guide to avoid processed food and the horrible stuff in it.  Examples:  Rule 2 - Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.  Rule 22 - Eat mostly plants, especially the leaves.  Rule 57:  Don't get your fule from the same place your car does.

I loved this book and refer to it often for information and inspiration to keep eating and cooking healthy foods.

If you love this book read In Defense of Food by the same author for an expanded version.

Yummy

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Author: Rick Rodgers (and Williams Sonoma)

I loved this book!  It has recipes that real people would use - from PB and Banana Sandwiches to homemade gnocchi to a chicken and dumplings recipe that I will be trying very soon, and meat loaf with gravy.  Ray Katchetorian deserves the credit he gets for the photos.  Before every recipe, there is a nice personal note from the author about the dish.

There is no pretention here, no fancy ingredients that you have never heard of - it's exactly what the title says it is.  It has large page-size photos and excellent directions.

Love comfort food?  You'll love this book.

Originally posted in: APL Picks

Under the Tuscan Sun

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Author: Frances Mayes

I admit it - I am having a long-running love affair. It's okay, though - my husband was aware of it when we got married. The object of my affections? Italy. Swoon. I will happily admit to a slight (okay, more than slight) obsession with Italy. The food, the wine, the art, the history, the architecture, the beautiful countryside. . . I love it all. So it's no surprise that I adore Under the Tuscan Sun. Frances Mayes' memoir of buying and restoring a Tuscan villa is a beautifully written ode to her own love affair with Italy - the good, the bad, and the funny. Mayes is a poet, so her language is wonderfully lyrical - rich and evocative. It really creates a visual of the Tuscan countryside and people for the reader. I find myself returning to this book whenever I desperately need, but can't take, a vacation. If you love travel, Italy, or just a good story about interesting people, you will enjoy this book.

Originally posted in: APL Picks

The School of Essential Ingredients

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Author: Erica Bauermeister

beautiful novel tinged with magic realism, The School Of Essential Ingredients tells the story of nine different individuals (don't worry, it's easy to keep them straight!). Eight students gather at chef Lillian's restaurant on Monday nights for a very special cooking school. As they learn about the magic of food prepared with love, they also learn about themselves (and we learn about the somewhat mysterious Lillian). I have recommended it to several friends, and they all said it was one of their favorite books of 2010 (and I have given up hope that my copy will ever find its way back to me). The School of Essential Ingredients is Bauermeister's first published novel, and it left me hungry for more.

Deep Dish

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Title: Deep Dish
Author: Mary Kay Andrews

This book was predictable--you knew the ending pretty quickly. But it was fun to see how the author was going to get there. The characters were one note, but likable just the same. Great beach/summer read. And the bonus is that there are marvelous recipes in the appendix.