Holidays on Ice

David Sedaris

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I like David Sedaris. His off-beat humor matches up with what I think is funny. I don’t like it so much when he ventures into fiction, although I have to admit his Six to Eight Black Men and The Cow and the Turkey were spot on. The Monster Mash just didn’t click with me, but the SantaLand Diaries was worth the price of the book.

Sedaris is meant to be heard, and I can hear his voice reading these short stories as I read them. His unique speaking voice and writing voice are unmistakable. Nobody sound just like David Sedaris. Funny and poignant, both voices combine into a reading experience like none other.

Julie & Julia

Julie Powell

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I never read Julie’s blog, and I never saw the movie, but I read about it. So when the book was listed for $1.99 I figured it was worth a try. I’m glad I bought it, because it is an entertaining account of one woman’s obsession with cooking every recipe in Julia Child’s magnum opus, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Setting aside one year to accomplish this feat, Julie bravely begins with page one and works her way through all 524 recipes. It’s a wonder she and her husband didn’t die from high cholesterol eating all this rich food

An amusing account of what started so light-heartedly and came to be a way of coping with a dead-end job, the trauma of living in New York during 9/11, and trying to cook in a tiny kitchen which was never designed for this. Day by day, week by week, she works her way through the book, sharing with us her failures and successes, until she at last emerges, a sadder but wiser women, at the end.

 

The Tale of the Dancing Slaughter Horse

Victoria Shade

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Unable to afford a horse of her own, Shade accepts her trainer’s suggestion that she ride the abandoned horse, Moonshine. Abused by her former owners, Moonshine presents an almost insurmountable challenge to the girl’s determination to turn him into a proper dressage mount. Along the way, she learns about the true challenge of dressage and her own abilities. As a half-Thoroughbred, half-Quarter horse, Moonshine matches no one’s ideal of a dressage horse. Competing head to head against warmbloods, the duo overcomes the challenges to go as high as they can, eventually competing in the Junior Olympics.

I knew that dressage riders have to work hard, but I had no idea how hard it is to compete at the highest level. Victoria meets challenge after challenge head on, overcoming her own shortcomings as well as that of her horse, to rise to the highest level of competition.

Delights and Prejudices

James Beard

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This book, written in 1964, hasn’t aged well. As a memoir with recipes, it fulfills neither of its functions very well. His memories of his mother, who introduced him to great cooking and set him on his way, are interrupted by rambling accounts of his travels and later experiences as a chef and writer. The recipes are dated and the memoir is unsatisfying. I know James Beard’s place in the pantheon is cook is secure, but this book made me wonder why.