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Welcome to a fresh new decade. Somehow, 2020 has inspired us to look for new ideas and habits and travels. And when we are looking, we turn to books. Here a few we found that we hope will have us thinking, doing, seeing, and acting with a slightly new lens. Not because we think resolutions are a must, but more because we know viewing the world and people with a new lens (even if only every once in awhile) is a spectacular thing. Happy 2020 from the Book Jam (even though all of today's picks are selected by Lisa Cadow)!
A Year of Good Eating by Nigel Slater (2015) - Oh how I would love to spend a year in British food writer Nigel Slater’s kitchen. Savoring this book over the next twelve months just may be the next best thing. Readers should be aware that Slater is not shy about incorporating meat and cheese into his dishes (especially in deep winter) but they should also know that he is artful and elegant in his approach. He makes short ribs sing with honey and cauliflower purée, and he makes lamb hearty with beer and shallots. These 250 recipes read like cozy journal entries and pull readers into Slater’s flavorful world which is full of inspired meals, a veggie garden, and an old stone house. Just reading the erudite prose would be enough, but his writing is inspirational. I already want to make the New Year’s Day Poppyseed Crisp Bread and can’t wait for July when the diary pages are full of “courgettes” - British English for zucchini - encrusted with black olives, Parmesan, rosemary, and breadcrumbs and with aubergine - British English for eggplant - and melted Mozzarella drizzled with basil infused oil. I can tell that it is going to be quite a delicious year. ~Lisa Cadow
Year of Wonder: Classical Music to Enjoy Day by Day by Clemency Burton-Hill (2018) - My husband and I have been having a rich and melodious time over the past week enjoying this book together each day. Author Burton-Hill, a host on BBC radio, has brilliantly curated a varied and fascinating collection of 366 classical works that take the reader on a journey to learn about the wonders of classical music. Her page-long descriptions of the pieces are informative and full of fun facts and allow readers to consider and discuss pieces as they listen (works are easily pulled up on YouTube or Spotify). New Year’s Day started off with Bach’s Mass in B Minor (did you know that Bach wrote over 3,000 pieces and had 20 children?) and tonight we will listen to Poulenc’s “Les Chemins de l’Amour (January 7, 1899 was Poulenc’s birthdate). We already feel enriched by this book and feel lucky to be sharing this musical learning experience over the year to come. After only one week, we would give this book a standing ovation. ~Lisa Cadow
Afoot and Lighthearted: A Journal for Mindful Walking by Bonnie Smith Whitehouse (2019) - “Solvitur Ambulando.” Translated from the Latin, this phrase roughly means ”it is solved by walking.” As an avid perambulator, I couldn’t agree more with this premise. This lovely little book walks the reader through ways to be more present, to ease anxiety, to inspire creativity, to increase productivity, and to step away from their phones. It also includes interesting exercises and spaces for written reflection. A wonderful gift for yourself to encourage a more active and mindful year or for the friend you know who loves to take a stroll to help solve it all. Whether or not you decide to bring this book into your life, be sure to remember as you step into 2020 that “there is pleasure in the pathless woods” (Lord Byron). ~Lisa Cadow