In light of the recent holiday here in the US, I decided to share 3 books that highlight specific moments and issues in the history of our country.
1. The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud (fiction)
Messud's book looks at the lives of 3 friends who met at Brown, live in New York City, and are fast approaching 30. They are the quintessential New York intellectuals working as a documentary filmmaker, freelance critic, and a writer who still lives with her parents.
Think over-educated Girls with (slightly) less whining and a few more boys.
The story begins in the spring of 2001 which is primarily why it took so long for me to read this book. Every reader knows what's coming, and those of us who lived that event up close, whose family, friends, and community were devastated that morning, are painfully aware of what's coming every time you turn the page.
It's a comedy of manners that comes to a screaming halt.
So why am I recommending this book? September 11th irrevocably changed our country, and this book highlights what we were before those planes hit, how we reacted, how we survived, and who we became. I admit I stay away from most books and movies about the event, but Messud deals with the complexity of its effects in a way that's manageable, understandable, respectful and most important, real.
2. Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith (Young Adult)
This book also deals with serious issues, this time class and gender in America. Ida wants to be a pilot like her father, but as a light skinned black girl in the late 1930s Louisiana, that isn't an option. When the US enters WWII and the Army creates the Women Airforce Service Pilots, Ida wants to join... but can only do so if she passes as a white girl.
This novel highlights not only the poor treatment of blacks and women during that time, but also the contribution women made during the war effort, often risking their lives. The publishing company recommends this book starting at grade 6 but don't let that put you off. I read it a few summers ago and loved it ... and I'm a lot older than a sixth grader! Even better, if you have a daughter in middle or high school, this might be a great book to read together over the summer!
3. The United States of Arugula by David Kamp (Nonfiction)
If you're a fan of any food network, love cooking shows, and have more cookbooks than you can count, this book is for you! The author chronicles how Americans cook and eat, from the very first American cookbook entitled American Cookery written by Amelia Simmons and published in 1796 through the rise of celebrity chefs in the early part of this century (the book was published in 2006).
I'm not a big fan of nonfiction (a great failing of mine), but I do enjoy the type of nonfiction that reads like a novel. If you wonder how we went from the rich French food of Julia Child to the farm to table movement spurred by Alice Waters, pick up a copy of this book. Be warned, however, that you shouldn't read this on an empty stomach!
... and now for 2 projects:
The BYOB. 2.0 market bag by Wyndlestraw Designs in Sugar and Cream cotton (this is just the bottom of the bag):
The designer of this pattern provides a LOT of instruction especially for a free pattern. I know I'm going to make more of these for myself and my daughter since we love farm and flea markets in the summer!
A test knit for Andrea of This Knitted Life in MadelineTosh Sock:
I just started this, but I do love the pattern based on what's written. Stay tuned for my progress next week!
If you'd like more projects and book reviews, check out my podcast!
Every Wednesday, I participate in the Yarn Along over on Ginny Sheller's blog. Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the contributions to the link party. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!