Favorite Books 2011

I noticed the other day on goodreads that they’re challenging people to set reading goals.

I’m not going to do that.  My free reading in 2011 was pitiful- I probably read 5 books.

But I’m also not going to let that get me down.  With a new Kindle in hand, I’m able to get access to English books, and I’m re-discovering the whole free reading, devouring a book experience (check out On my Nighstand for what I’m currently reading).

Despite my pitiful total in 2011, several of that slim count were truly excellent. And if you like to read about food, farming, and family, these three are definitely for you!

So here are my recommendations from 2011…what are yours?

The Language of Baklava: A Memoir by Diana Abu-Jaber

  • MY TAKE:  A light, alluring read sprinkled with recipes and family figures who loom larger than life. Abu-Jaber’s complicated relationship with her idiosyncratic father is a captivating and refreshing one, and her reflections on their mutual existential crisis- caught between their Jordanian homeland and their new American life- are powerful and drip with the nostalgia of a fictional, less-complicated time and the promise of an especially complicated, but ever idealized future.

The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball

  • MY TAKE:  It seems all too highly-rated to be true, but Kimball’s prose really is vivid, tantalizing, seductive.  She makes dirt under your nails, the rough life of farming, and her whirlwind romance with her farmer husband romantic, yet real.  It’s a light, quick read, but one you’ll want to return to, and one that will make you think twice about the value of simple farmfresh produce.

This Life is in Your Hands: One Family, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone by Melissa Coleman

  • MY TAKE:  This is the heavier side to Kimball’s story, and all the more poignant for it.  Hauntingly beautiful depiction of the thrills and costs of farming. You’ll ache for Melissa and her family, yet feel inspired by their passion for this hard life. Part poetry and part prose, Coleman writes with an earnestness that is both heartbreaking and powerful.
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