Medium Raw

From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author: Anthony Bourdain
Title: Medium Raw
Anthony Bourdain is not a chef. Surprised, huh? He comes right out and admits this. He is lot of things- ex-junkie, world traveler, gourmand, adventurer, and a cook – but he does not think of himself as a chef. You’ll learn all this and more in the essays that comprise this book. He discusses aspects of his life and issues that affect the world and food. There are times that instead of attending the Culinary Institute of America, he seems to have taken classes at the Keith Richards Kooking Kollege, majoring in sex, drugs and rock and roll, although he now claims to be a devoted family man. You decide.
P.S. Words of Warning- If you’ll be offended by rough language and graphic sexual references, pass this one up.

Son of a gun : a memoir

From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author: Justin St. Germain
Title: Son of a gun : a memoir
The author’s mother was murdered when he was young. He sets out to figure out why his mother dated horrible men and married five of them. When I got to the end of the book I was still waiting for something of compelling interest to happen.

Blue plate special : an autobiography of my appetites

From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author: Kate Christensen
Title: Blue plate special : an autobiography of my appetites
This is a fun book to read IMHO. The author recounts her childhood, parts of which were spent as a hippie in Berkeley, and her formative years spent in areas all over the country. There are times that it seems like she can’t wait to get away from her family, and times she can’t wait to either get back to them, or to establish relationships that are quasi-family.
When she says “appetites” with a plural, she’s not kidding – hunger can take many forms, both physical and emotional. This was a rollicking read.

Wild : from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail

From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author: Cheryl Strayed
Title: Wild : from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Having just read “Called Again” by Jennifer Pharr Davis, I thought it might be fun to play “Compare and Contrast” (as they say in essay questions) between these two books.

Jennifer David: A woman of God
Cheryl Strayed: Ungodly
Davis: An experienced hiker
Strayed: Can put one foot in front of the other
Davis: Decides to break the time record for hiking the Appalachian Trail
Strayed: Decides to see how many men she can pick up in five days
Davis: Happily married to a wonderful man
Strayed: Cheats on her husband with a heroin addict with his hair dyed blue

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Cheryl Strayed, fresh in the midst of personal loss and tragedy, decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (a trail that goes from Mexico to Canada along the West Coast) in the belief that if she does this, her life will be transformed and everything will be all right. The hike does change her life, but in ways she never would have imagined. It is an interesting and entertaining tale.

The Baroness

 

From Margaret Mezzacapo

The Baroness by Hannah Rothschild

 

This is the true story of how Nica Rothschild, of the rich and powerful European Rothschild family, chucked her husband and four children to become a devotee of jazz musician Thelonius Monk. Needless to say, this raises quite a few eyebrows, both in America and back home in Europe. Racial prejudice, World Wars and family opposition assault Nica in her pursuit of happiness. An interesting and provocative read.

 

Wave

From Margaret Mezzacapo

Wave, by Sonali Deraniyagala

Sonali Deraniyagala was vacationing on the water in Sri Lanka in 2004, when the tsunami occurred. Her parents, her husband and two young sons were lost in the powerful wave. Wave details the author’s struggle and psychological devastation in the days and years that followed. Some of the effects have been mitigated and some still persist to this day. This book is a compelling read and worth your time.

 

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

From Eileen Effrat
Author:  Robert Massie
Title:  Catherine the Great:  Portrait of a Woman
Robert Massie has spent nearly fifty years studying czarist Russia.  Tremendously enjoying  his three previous biographies—–Nicholas & Alexandra, Peter the Great, and The Romanovs:  the Final Chapter, this new biography  does not disappoint.  Balancing Catherine’s private life with her public image and political actions, Massie vividly portrays a very ambitious, well educated, and determined woman.  Arriving as a fourteen year old princess of a minor German state, she rises to Empress of all Russia.  An offspring of a cold, calculating  mother,  Catherine is determined  to transcend  her early life and make her own way.  As usual, Massie gently immerses you in Russian history and culture and the dog-eat-dog intricacies of eighteenth century politics. This is a extensively researched  biography that is a joy to read.