’Tis the season! The season of mouthwatering pies and Thanksgiving leftovers. The season of candy canes and gingerbread cookies. The season of egg nog and peppermint mochas. The season of …what was I saying?
Oh, yes. Food. Between holiday parties, cookie swaps, and the shamefully alluring Hickory Farms kiosks that crop up this time of year, it’s hard to go anywhere without being tempted by hordes of extravagant treats. If you’re planning on hibernating over the winter, all of this decadence might do you some good. If you’re not a bear, however, you probably can’t afford to over-indulge. The good news is, there are plenty of amazing food-themed books (that AREN’T cookbooks) that will satisfy your inner foodie, without the added calories! Here are a few of my favorites:
For the chocolate-lovers, Joanne Harris’s 1999 novel “Chocolat” tells the story of Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk, who move to the sleepy French-Catholic town of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes and turn it upside-down by opening a chocolaterie during Lent. The book is filled with mouth-watering descriptions of every type of chocolate imaginable. I also highly recommend the film adaptation, which stars Johnny Depp, Juliette Binoche, and the always wonderful Judi Dench.
For a more recent read, try “The Food Explorer: The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats” (2018) by Daniel Stone. The author describes the adventures of David Fairchild, a 19th-century botanist who traveled the world in search of diverse crops (avocados, mangos, and pomegranates, to name a few) to introduce to the American plate. The book is unexpectedly fascinating, well-written, and full of interesting information about foods that many of us taking for granted. And, while we’re on the subject of fruit and food origin stories, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a little book that has become a Westerly Library treasure: “The Perfect Fruit: Good Breeding, Bad Seeds, and the Hunt for the Elusive Pluot” by Chip Brantley. It’s worth checking out.
Ruth Reichl is a name that has become almost synonymous with “food writer”; she was the editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine, a well-known restaurant critic, and she has also written a number of fantastic memoirs and cookbooks. In “Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise,” Reichl reminisces about her time as a high-profile food critic. In addition to the hilarious stories, she also includes some of her favorite recipes. If you are a fan of memoir/cookbooks, you may also enjoy “Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin,” a charming and entertaining collection of short stories celebrating her love of good food.
If you’re interested in something a bit more eccentric, I would also recommend Jim Gaffigan’s appropriately named book “Food: A Love Story.” Gaffigan, a comedian, often jokes about food (“hot pocket”); here, he rhapsodizes about the many unhealthy foods that he is passionate about. It’s absolutely hilarious, from beginning to end. For added laughs, check out the audiobook, narrated by the author!
1. “Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty
2. “The Reckoning” by John Grisham
3. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama
4. “Fear: Trump in the White House” by Bob Woodward
5. “Past Tense” by Lee Child
6. “A Spark of Light” by Jodi Picoult
7. “Dark Sacred Night” by Michael Connelly
8. “Kingdom of the Blind” by Louise Penny
9. “Unsheltered” by Barbara Kingsolver
10. “Long Road to Mercy” by David Baldacci
1. “Crazy Rich Asians”
2. “The Equalizer 2”
3. “Incredibles 2”
4. “Mission Impossible: Fallout”
5. “The Meg”
6. “Christopher Robin”
7. “Ant-Man and the Wasp”
8. “A Simple Favor”
9. “The Wife”
10. “Mile 22”
For All Ages
MONDAY — 10-10:45 a.m., Sensory Storytime – A fun and interactive storytime designed for preschool aged children with sensory challenges; 4-7 p.m., Quiet Reading & Homework Hour – Teens can “read off” their library fines, or just take advantage of the quiet space to get some work done; 5:30-7 p.m., Conversation Class – A free conversation class for English Language Learners; 6-7:30 p.m., Adult S.A.G.A Meeting – A discussion and support group for those who identify as LGBTQ+, are questioning their sexuality, and allies; 6:30-7:30 p.m., The 1938 Hurricane: A Rhode Island Family’s Enduring Legacy – Tom Verde, a Rhode Island born journalist, will share the story of his family’s tragic loss in the 1938 hurricane that devastated the east coast.
TUESDAY — 10-10:45 a.m., Family Storytime – Enjoy a story and craft for all ages; 5:30-7:30, Knit & Crochet Club – Bring your project, work on a project with others, or swap yarn and ideas with fellow yarnies; 6-7:45 p.m., Quilters Corner – Bring a project to work on while socializing with others in the Makerspace; 6-7:30 p.m., Renaissance Toastmasters of Westerly – This group gathers twice a month to share stories and learn to be more comfortable and confident public speakers.
WEDNESDAY — 10-10:45 a.m., 1-3 Year Old Storytime – Join us for stories, songs, and fun with books; 10-10:45 a.m., November Homeschooler’s Book Club (Ages 11+) – This months’ book is Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne; 4-6 p.m., Teen NaNoWriMo Drop In – Drop in to the space for time, help, and idea sharing writing for National Novel Writing Month; 4:30-7:30 p.m., Shoreline Robotics Practice – For teens interested in STEM and Robotics; 6-7 p.m., Introduction to Patenting – In this free workshop, Scott Keeley will go over the basics of patenting.
THURSDAY — 10-10:45 a.m., 3-5 Year Old Storytime – This storytime is jam packed with stories, songs, play and crafting; 10-11:30 a.m., Conversation Class – A free conversation class for English Language Learners; 3:30-5:30 p.m., Teen Anime – Come watch Anime, snack on Pocky, and draw/craft; 5-7 p.m., Alzheimer’s Community Forum – The Alzheimer’s Association invites you to the community forum, to discuss your needs caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease in the state of Rhode Island; 5:30-7:30 p.m., Chess Club – All ages and experience levels are welcome, no sign-up required.
FRIDAY — 12:45-2:30 p.m., Art with the Olean Center – Create fun and original art work at this community art class with the Olean Center. Materials are free, but preregistration is required; 3:30-5:30 p.m., MASK OFF: Teen Masquerade – Decorate masquerade masks in the teen space, and snack on wintry treats. In partnership with the Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County; 4-5:45 p.m., Shoreline Robotics Practice - For teens interested in STEM and Robotics.
SATURDAY — 9 a.m.-4 p.m., First Day for Santa Mail – Write your letters to Santa and drop them off in our special Santa Mailbox in the Children’s Room from December 1st-15th! Leave an address and you may even get a letter in return; 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Make & Take Crafts – Drop in at any time to create with other children; 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m., Adult Writers Workshop – A group-led prose writing workshop; 1-3 p.m., Dungeons and Dragons (Teen Led Program) – No prior experience with the game is necessary.
Cassie Skobrak is a reference librarian at the Westerly Library.