Dying by Cory Taylor
How rare and wondrous to read a book reflecting on life in the midst of death—but this is exactly what Cory Taylor delivers in this jewel of a book. I picked it up because I liked the cover and kept reading because it was insightful, tender, and full of self-reflection. Taylor was an Australian novelist and screenwriter who died in 2016, a few months after the book was published. She writes, “I’d like to be remembered by what I’ve written. As somebody once warned, if you don’t tell your own story, someone else will. But I know I will have no real say in how I am remembered. It is in the nature of memory that different people will remember different things, and that none of what they remember will be verifiable or true.” This book is a way of inhabiting this rare space with her, this liminal space where she confronts her own death and reckons with what her life has meant to her. It was a gorgeous and gentlebook. I read it slowly, but it is short enough to be devoured in one sitting.
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie
Sherman Alexie has written beautifully and hilariously on many subjects, and some of his short stories are worthy of reading again and again. It was an interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air that made me aware of this new memoir, and I checked it out of another library as soon as I could find it. In the book he undergoes brain surgery, grapples with the death of his mother, and recounts terrible memories from his childhood. This sounds depressing, but Alexie intersperses prose with poetry in unexpected and delightful ways, providing a spaciousness that allows the reader to absorb some of the darkness in the book (and in his life story). He has a wonderful sense of humor and can make you laugh at things you aren’t even sure you should be laughing at. “My late mother was once/Interviewed by the local news/About her son, me, the poet.//When asked if she knew/That I would become a writer,/She said, “I thought he was//Going to be a pediatrician./There’s still time for him/To become a doctor, I think.” I’m so grateful Alexie became a writer and not a physician, because his way of confronting and reckoning with his life through his writing offers the world a hilarious, dark and true vision of what it is to be human.
Back Pocket Pasta by Colu Henry
Are you hungry? You will be if you take some time to peruse the recipes and photographs in this delicious book of pasta recipes. This book is meant to provide quick recipes for hearty and delightful meals. With pasta as the base, Henry delivers an eyeball feast of variations from Grilled Squid with Chiles & Mint to Cockles & Chorizo. The dishes are inspired by her Italian ancestors and by her present home, in upstate New York. I am suddenly craving fusilli.
Heirloom Wood by Max Mainbridge
Have you always wanted to make your own wooden spoon? My grandfather was a skilled whittler but when he died his knowledge of the craft died with him. This book aims to educate the wood enthusiast in the craft of turning wood into usable objects—among them spatulas, bowls, boards & butter knives. Each project includes a tool list, a suggested wood type for the project, and directions and photographs to lead the way. A tool care section ensures that readers who decide to take on carving do so with well maintained and sharpened tools. This book is an excellent resource for beginning a love affair with carving wood.