Books On My Bedside Table

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater

Technically, The Kitchen Diaries does not belong in this post as it never made its way to my bedside table.

There are two reasons for this: (1) it is very dangerous to read about brownies and double ginger cake after 10 p.m., and (2) CB has banned Nigel from the bedrooom. Regular readers, familiar with my feelings for Nigel, will understand why.

Nonetheless, this summer I was often found stretched out on the sofa or hunched over the kitchen table, absorbed in this cookbook as though it was the latest who-done-it. Compelling reading for anyone interested in simple, intelligent cookery that follows the seasons. Acknowledged by Nigel himself to be his favorite among the many books he's written. What better endorsement could you want?

Piano Lessons by Anna Goldsworthy

I never took piano lessons. I spent a single school term faking the flute by pretending to blow into it while moving my fingers in sync with the girl sitting next me, in an effort to conceal the fact that I never practiced nor learned to read the music. That is the sum of my musical career.

It could not have less in common with that of pianist, writer and Adelaide-native Anna Goldsworthy.

This memoir - part coming of age story and part tribute to her extraordinary teacher, Mrs. Sivan - chronicles her path from child student to professional musician and intructor.

Witty, honest, and affectionate without being sentimental, her story and characters ring true on every page. Mrs. Sivan is larger than life and her lessons, dominated by dramatic soliloquies on music and passion, are inspiring but it is Goldsworthy's skill as a writer that leaves me in awe. A great one for teachers, students, non-conformists and lovers of music.

My Life In France by Julia Child

As someone once said, Julia Child wasn't always Julia Child.

In this warm and entertaining memoir, Julia tells the story of how she first discovered food, France, and her life's passion. It is also an endearing portrait of her nearly fifty-year marriage to Paul Child. Told with humility and joy, Julia's irrepressible enthusiasm and 'can do' attitude - often in the face of heartbreak and disappointment - leap off the page. It's no wonder she managed to single-handedly revolutionize American cooking.

Bird By Bird: Some Instructions On Writing And Life by Annie Lamott

If there is anyone funnier or in possession of more hard-won wisdom than Annie Lamott, I'd like to know. Aspiring writers: if you are looking for advice, inspiration, consolation, a teacher, or just a good kick up the pants, this is for you. A re-read and perennial favorite.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

I am probably the last person in the English speaking world to read The Lovely Bones.

A friend loaned it to me with the highest recommendation last year, and for some reason I couldn't bring myself to open it.

Perhaps it was the premise: a young girl is raped and murdered, then goes on to observe, from heaven, as her family unravels and her killer eludes police. What's not to like, right?

And then I heard this interview between Teri Gross and Alice Sebold, and it immediately became required reading.

Once picked up, it was not put down. Except to drive. Children were neglected. Everyone lived on cold cereal for three days running. I told myself that I was obligated to read it without interruption because the sooner I finished it, the sooner we could resume normal life. Glad that's over.

It's Not About The Bike by Lance Armstrong

I admit it: I went into this book thinking I would hate it.

I could not care less about cycling and had zero interest in Lance Armstrong. I was only reading it out of obligation to my book group.

I was hooked by page three.

Inspiring, well-paced, suspenseful, and a complete surprise. Love him or hate him, Lance Armstrong is a compelling character and co-author Sally Jenkins can tell a story. Astounding.


  1. On an unrelated matter - JB has requested that I get the recipe for the 'best ever cakes with cinnamon on top' that they had on the playdate. Please - high praise indeed...

  2. I love a satisfied customer. Will email you the recipe. It's WB's favorite. Happily, it is also the easiest, fastest cake in the world: Bill Granger's Cinnamon Tea Cake. 5 minutes to make, 20 minutes to bake, which means cake in under 30 minutes.

  3. Thanks yet again for the book recommendations Kate. I read 'Years of Wonder' last week whilst at the beach and thought it was sad but fantastic. Not one I would have probably picked up and read myself without your recommendation so a big thank you. I just watched the movie 'Julie and Julia' a few weeks ago. Have you seen it? I must admit I had not heard of Julia Childs before then. Hope you are all well.

  4. Sarah, SO glad you liked Year Of Wonder! An all time favorite for me. If you like that, and especially if you read "Little Women" by Louisa May Allcott when you were young, try another of Geraldine Brooks books: "March" - it tells the story from the perspective of the father, who was away fighting in the Civil War for most of Little Women. A fantastic read for Little Women fans, though I imagine less so if you haven't read those stories.
    p.s. very jealous of "reading on the beach"!

  5. Thank you for this. I often stand in a book store completely lost.

  6. Fin, Thank YOU for The Lovely Bones! loved it.

  7. I am so glad you loved Lance. I have been quoting him to anyone who will listen to me, like he is my best friend! Can't wait to chat about hime next week. As usual you won't be able to shut me up.x

  8. I am looking forward to book group, too. Lance and Baby Cakes - what more could a girl want?


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