One Monday night a month, a group of students gather in a quiet restaurant kitchen to attend The School of Essential Ingredients. Owner Lillian tells...moreOne Monday night a month, a group of students gather in a quiet restaurant kitchen to attend The School of Essential Ingredients. Owner Lillian tells them from the beginning that she does not have a list of these "essential ingredients," nor does she offer them recipes. "All I can say is that you will learn what you need to." As the focus shifts around each of the students and Lillian, it is obvious that the essential ingredients are essential to life as well--time, patience, savoring the moment, starting fresh, doing what's good for yourself, and learning from your mistakes.
I was surprised by how much I liked this book. I am a world-class picky eater so a book centered around food should not have done anything for me. But it was written so beautifully that I was even ready to admire the redness of a tomato or the honesty of killing your own crab for dinner. I'm looking for a quote to offer up, but really, just read the book. It's all gorgeous and it's impossible to choose a little bit to quote.
I loved the way that the students grew during the class and took away exactly what they needed. The harried mother losing her identity, the grieving widower, the girl barely out of high school who needs a serious self-esteem boost, the aging woman losing her memories...they all come out of the class better able to live their lives.
There was just one little aspect of the ending that I was not happy with. It tied things up a little too neatly and didn't ring exactly true for me. I can't say more without giving things away.
When you have the time to sit down and savor a book about food and life, give this one a try. It is truly beautiful and thought-provoking.(less)
Nick Carraway moves from the Midwest to Long Island to try to make a living after World War I. He is curious about his neighbor and the extravagant pa...moreNick Carraway moves from the Midwest to Long Island to try to make a living after World War I. He is curious about his neighbor and the extravagant parties he throws every weekend. Eventually the two meet and become something like friends. The neighbor, Jay Gatsby, is shrouded in myth and legend and no one seems to know where he came from, how he made his money, or anything at all about him for that matter. Gatsby has a very specific reason for living where and how he does and his personal struggle pulls several others into his wake.
Like many others, I decided to re-read this before the movie comes out. I disliked it in school but I've changed my mind about almost all the other classics I've bothered to re-read, so I thought I might change my mind about this one too.
If you follow my reviews at all, you know that I am a very character-driven reader. Give me an awesome character and I'm happy. But there is not one likeable character in this novel. I think I kind of liked Nick in high school but now I don't even like him. He's by far the best of the bunch but that's not saying much.
Gatsby himself is kind of pitiable. He's worked hard, being pushed constantly by an overweening ambition. He seems to have been born with a desire for more than he has but circumstances cause him to push himself even harder. He surrounds himself with people who don't bother to know him and seems to think that this is what gives a man a full life. Or rather, he thinks its a step on the way to fulfilling his deepest desire. He just made me feel tired and sad. He could have had so much but in reality, he had nothing. The one sentence that sticks out for me is this: "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made...." Gatsby, being self-made, doesn't realize this about people with old money and that is his undoing.
We must have watched the old Robert Redford movie in school because I kept picturing him as Gatsby. That's just fine by me; I'd rather imagine a young Robert Redford than Leonardo DiCaprio any day!
This is a short read and I think I'm going to find it a little haunting this time around. It's beautifully written, so if you're interested, go ahead and give it a go.(less)
I chose to listen to this because it showed up in my digital library's "recently added" lists and I recognized it as having been nominated for a coupl...moreI chose to listen to this because it showed up in my digital library's "recently added" lists and I recognized it as having been nominated for a couple of Audie awards. "I can't go wrong with something that's been nominated for an award, right?" I reasoned with myself.
It was terrible.
Had it been any longer than two hours, I would have stopped after about 30 minutes. I felt the writer was trying way too hard to be funny and as a result, the whole thing just fell flat. The plot, such as it was, would circle miles out of the way to set up a joke that didn't even make me smile.
The basics are here--the evil stepmother, Snow White, the mother wishing for a child fitting Snow White's description...I guess that's about it. There were tons of other fairy- and folk tale creatures dragged in by the skin of their teeth, which I should have loved, but I didn't. I mostly didn't see any rhyme or reason for who was included and who wasn't. I honestly can't even remember what happened to most of them.
Snow White was super annoying. I believe that was kind of the point, but man, she set my teeth on edge. She's supposed to be about fifteen but she's voiced by Sandra Oh, who is at least as far from fifteen as I am, and she generally acts about two years old. Temper tantrums? Seriously? Not attractive or enjoyable.
I could go on but I won't. I'm sure there's an audience for this, I just don't know who it would be. If you're interested, don't let me dissuade you from trying it out; at two hours long, you don't have much to lose.(less)