Jan Stafford Kellis
Improve your reality–read a book

Improve your reality–read a book

I don’t know who this woman is–she appears in a few of my great-grandmother’s photos, none with any clue as to her identity, but she always looks the same. Her facial expression inspired me to create a few different bookmarks in the fashion of Maxine, the saucy old cartoon lady of Hallmark fame.

Right now I’m escaping from reality by reading Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell, about the year she cooked every single recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It’s fabulous! I love the way Julie writes, and although we would probably not be friends (she makes no secret about her democratic political leanings, and although I have plenty of democrat friends, it works because we don’t mention politics), I am really enjoying this voyeuristic view of her life in New York City and her flashbacks to various childhood scenes. I’ve read a few memoirs in the past year, and a few books about cooking in the past year, and these two subjects may be my current obsession. I had a long-lived fascination with all things Jewish for a while and read everything I could find about Jewish families and their intricate rituals (Bee Season by Myla Goldberg comes readily to mind, but there were many). Even though I’m not Jewish, will never be Jewish, and don’t even know any Jewish people, I was compelled to read novels populated with Jews. Now it’s cooking. I don’t like to cook and cook only to prolong my life and avoid headaches from low blood sugar, but I’m fascinated for some reason by people who like to cook so much they actually write about it. And, it’s interesting when they do it! Way more interesting than when I’m cooking.

So, if you haven’t read this one yet, I recommend it for the reading pile. If’ you’re cooking-obsessed, you may also like The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry which is another cooking-themed memoir by a woman who was lucky enough to lose her job at a point when she was able to move to Paris and attend Le Cordon Bleu for a year. I’m sure now, if there was ever a doubt, I do not want to go to cooking school, but her journey through it will improve reality, at least for a short while.