Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Summer Picks

Apologies for my inactivity. I have been caught in some of life's cobwebs.

I started writing this entry at the beginning of summer. It is almost the end of it. Oh well.

Well, summer is finally here after the ghastly rainy days of March & April. So when we are lazing around on the beach or on our patio, it is nice to have a book which is an easy-read handy. Something which doesn't put us on the edge. Something which doesn't demand too much of us.

well, I have just the books for you.

The Know-It-All : One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World

We all to think that we are pretty smart. (Especially since we read books and all. Ahem) Of course we are confronted by situations/people where we are forced reevaluate that assumption. The author A.J. Jacobs was also faced with such a conundrum.

Unlike us, he didn't seek the internet for help. Instead he decided that he was going to read the 32 volumes of the Encylopedia Britanicca - 33,000 pages, 44 million words. The book is like a toned down version of the same. Of course it is filled with hilarious anecdotes, perspectives and life experiences of the author in relation to each topic at hand.

Most of us would find no joy in reading the Britanicca. That's why this book is for us. The lovely dry humor of A.J.Jacobs makes this task a truly enjoyable experience.

Garlic and Sapphires : The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise

Folks who know me personally, will understand my liking for this book. It is plain and simple - I am a huge foodie - I love cooking, love finding restaurants off the beaten path and watch a huge amount of food network. So it is hardly surprising that I find a book about the travails of a restaurant critic appealing.

The book describes the early years of Ruth Reichl after she took over as the restaurant critic at the NY Times. (She is currently the Editor in chief of Gourmet magazine.) In a city where 4 out of 5 new restaurants close down within a year, reviews are of prime importance and critics are rockstars. Restaurants will do anything within their power to earn those stars.

To counter this, Ruth Reichl came up with approach of going to restaurants once in disguise - usually as an old lady and the other time as herself. She factored in her experience from those two visits (at times there are more than two) to determine their report card.

Ruth Reichl knows not only how to rate food but also how to take the reader on a journey alongside her table. A must read for any foodie worth his salt. (Pun intended)

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