Your Very Own Cooking School

Every February my friends and I would talk about taking a cooking class in some Tuscan villa where the sun is warm, the basil abundant, the food robust, and the cooking inspiring.

Here we are in July. That conversation is still fresh in our minds but plans are again on hold. But this year, I won't mind staying home to refine my cooking skills with Linda Carucci’s Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks as my trusted guide.

At, 10 out of 11 customers gave this title a 5* review.

A Paean to Librarians and Libraries in Larry Beinhart's The Librarian

Larry Beinhart The Librarian

A university librarian is recruited to catalog the papers of a right-wing businessman. The presidential election is coming up and a conspiratorial group of politicians, bureaucrats, brutal operatives hidden within Homeland Security, and wealthy donors contribute to some very strange events: the major Democratic candidate has a fatal airplane accident just before the convention, other people die, things blow up. This group believes the librarian may have found out something he should not have and decide he needs to be eliminated. The author wrote American Hero, on which the film Wag the Dog is based.

David Hauser, the Librarian, offered these thoughts when asked what it was like to be a librarian:

Passion for Decorating

For those of us who find ourselves permanently parked at the HGTV channel, here is a good reason to take a break from reruns with Debbie, Candice and Summer and pick up a good book.

Rococo by Adriana Trigiani is in many ways a small story about a small-town decorator (excuse me – interior designer) Bartolomeo di Crespi (“B”). The fact that “B” is talented, single, and a good Catholic boy made him the only game in town, in more ways than one. This is a heart-warming story about family, faith, and going after the big dream.

The Brethren

The recent retirement of Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and the nomination of U.S. Circuit Judge John G. Roberts Jr. has put the Supreme Court in the spotlight of American politics. Read The Brethren: Inside the Surpreme Court, Bob Woodward's 1979 ground-breaking study of American jurisprudence at its highest level

The Memory of Whiteness

Kim Stanley Robinson is well known for his Mars Trilogy and The Years of Rice and Salt, but I've read some of his earlier works recently, and while markedly different from his more recent, high-profile works, both The Memory of Whiteness and Icehenge are rewarding, idea-rich reads with complex characters and political structures.

The Memory of Whiteness, his first novel, is particularly unique; Robinson envisions a future where we've colonized most of the solar system, including moons and asteroids. Rather optimistically, Robinson's story is primarily about how important live music is to this distributed culture, and if you can get past that, he's got a bit of whodunit and some genuine cultish weirdness thrown in that makes for a loopy-but-gripping read.

Did you read it over the weekend?

We know it sold a record 6.9 million copies in the first 24 hours, but did you actually have time to read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince over the weekend? I only had time enough to get through the first fifty pages, but I'm looking forward to the next 622.

Polio and its Aftermath

Fifty years ago, Jonas Salk announced a vaccine against polio at the University of Michigan. Today on the Diane Rehm Show, author Marc Shell talks about his book Polio and its Aftermath.

The Mighty Asparagus

There's an oft-reinterpreted russian folk tale about a big turnip, and lots of people try to pull it out, etc. etc. The titular Mighty Asparagus of this book is an obvious descendant of the russian turnip, but the brilliantly off-kilter style and tone of Vladimir Radunsky provide a wonderful new spin on the otherwise warmed-over folk tale that is eccentric and quite silly.

Radunsky uses famous renaissance paintings as visual fodder (and includes thanks and an apology to each pillaged artist in his dedication), and the result is a unique combination of rich texture and cross-eyed goofiness that overshadows (in a good way) whatever the parable is supposed to be about (even the smallest effort counts).

My 3-year-old son adores this book, especially the Ballad of the Mighty Asparagus at the end, but if you have a child who is into order, they may be a bit dismayed by the centerfold-style pullout of the fallen asparagus. Should that have had a spoiler warning?

Lance Armstrong


The new youth book Lance Armstrong, Cyclist by Michael Benson describes Armstrong's amazing journey from cancer survivor to today's frontrunner in the 2005 Tour de France.

The Historian

This morning Diane Rehm interviewed Elizabeth Kostova, winner of a UM Hopwood Award for the Novel-in-Progress. Kostova is the author of one of this summer's hottest reads, The Historian, currently #2 on the New York times bestseller list.

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