Whiskey Women by Fred Minnick

I like whiskey.

I am a woman.

Would I recommend it? I think that you have to really like whiskey and history to really get into this one. This book takes you from ancient civilizations when women were the first brewers, through the witch hunts when women distillers were tried as witches, in and out of two World Wars,  prohibition and bootlegging, right through advertising campaigns and up to modern day practices.

Women have played a far more prominent role in whiskey’s history than one would guess and as the book follows the history of women and whiskey, it also shows women’s role in society through the ages.

It was all interesting.

It was not captivatingly told, but it was interesting anyway.

Probably the best thing you could do is get a friend to read this book and then have them tell you all the highlights. Unless you really like whiskey and history, then you should read this book too, our friends may need us to tell them the highlights!

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The Lion in the Living Room by Abigail Tucker

I live with three cats. Or perhaps it’s that I provide housing and food for three cats and also manage to have a life on the side – it’s hard to say with cats.

Since the newest one just climbed, claws out, up my back over my shoulder only to come to rest on my lap and arm and is now impeding my typing, it seems safe to point out that while I love my cats, I’m not always sure why I love my cats. 

The woman who wrote this book also loves cats but wasn’t really sure why, as whole, we love cats either. She researched the conundrum from ancient Egypt to the Internet with forays into parasitology and ecology and still isn’t quite sure.

Would I recommend it? Yes! Because even if you don’t like cats (possibly particularly if you don’t like cats) you want to know how they were used in medieval torture, the ecological devastation they have wrought around the world and how they affect our health.

The Sports Gene by David Epstein

Fair warning, it’s happened again.

I read a book that I found so interesting I can’t help but randomly throw it into conversations. Luckily for me, with the Olympics coming up, I have plenty of opportunity to chime in with random tidbits of information.

The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance

It just sounds fascinating doesn’t it?

No?

Okay…

Even if you aren’t like me, someone whose life long athleticism and latent biology background get all tingly at the title of this book, I still urge you to try it.

Then, when the Olympics are on, you can say things like, “Ahh, I knew he was a swimmer, that long torso just gave it away.”and “Did you know it’s not about height of basketball players as much as how far they can reach?”  Then once you’ve hooked people you can expound on double muscle genes in Belgian Blue Cattle and why the runners from Kenya are again sweeping the podium.

Would I recommend it? Yes. It’s time for the Olympics! Get in the spirit of things! (And it should be noted that even the person in my book club who admitted to having very low expectations of this book, said she was happily surprised with how much she enjoyed it.)

 

Do Not Wash Hands In Plates by Barb Taub

If Barb Taub and I lived somewhat close to each other (say if, for instance, there was something less than an ocean between us), I like to imagine that when Barb returned from her trip to India I would have lured her to my house with promises of cake and whiskey. We’d sit down someplace comfy, whiskey in hand and she would regale us with her travels through India.

In real life I’d likely spend the night in tears.

Tears of laughter.

The kind of laughter that lasts for so long that it gets hard to breathe and is possibly a bit painful.  Of course, that’d be in real life.

Please, read Do Not Wash Hands In Plates, but remember, you are not talking with Barb in real life. It may feel as if you are but when you “share” that whiskey, don’t forget that you are reading from a sensitive electronic device that will not like it if your laughter causes you to choke on your drink and spew it across the “page.” (Oh the things I do in the name of book reviewing… And yes, the Kindle survived!)

 

Would I recommend it?  It’s a hilariously well written quick read of a travel memoir. It’s not quite like sharing a bit of cake with Barb but it’s as close as most of us are going to get!

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review

Round Ireland With a Fridge by Tony Hawks

Prologue

“I’m not, by nature, a betting man. However, the pages that follow in this book do not bear testimony to that. In fact they exist wholly as the result of a bet.

I’m not, by nature, a drinking man. However, the making of the bet which led to this book does not bear testimony to that. Because I made it when I was pissed.

Everything you read from this moment forth is a tribute to what can be achieved as a result of a shabby night of booze.”

The prologue above made me snort.

The next pages made me smile and soon I was laughing so hard I couldn’t see to read what came next.

The rest of my book club thought it was fun and amusing, but gave me a  bit of an odd look when I told them how hard I laughed.

Would I recommend it? I would.  When responses range from fun to hilarious what do you have to lose?

Consider The Fork by Bee Wilson

Do you know how the shape of spoons relates to political history?Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson!
Have you heard the theory of knife use and how it relates to overbites?!
Did you know that there were 692 patents granted for egg beaters in a 64 year span?!
Have you heard all the different ways people came up with to turn spits?!

Ice boxes!!? Pots!!? Measuring cups!!? Forks!!?

I would be happy to tell you because I found it all completely fascinating.

You don’t even have to ask.

Just invite me into your kitchen and soon you’ll have me jumping up and down in front of you as I spout off with nerdy factoids that I remember the gist of but not enough of the details so that you will think it’s interesting as well.

It will be like the kitchen nerds version of forgetting the punch line of the joke.

Come to think of it perhaps that’s why I don’t tell jokes.

Perhaps it would be best just to read the book yourself…

Would I recommend it? Clearly!

The author does a fantastic job of relating ancient (and not so ancient) kitchen woe’s to current day practice.  I loved it in a way that had me running off to bed to see what happened next, which is impressive in a book about the “History of How We Cook and Eat!”

Fisherman’s Luck, and Some Other Uncertain Things by Henry Van Dyke

Written in 1899 this collection of essays on fishing and life was a bit different from your typical fish story – but in all the good ways. Here are a few lines from some of my favorites:

A Wild Strawberry

” I tasted the odour of a hundred blossoms and the green shimmering of innumerable leaves and the sparkle of sifted sunbeams and the breath of highland breezes and the song of many birds and the murmur of flowing streams, – all in a wild strawberry.”

Talkability

“The inventor of the familiar maxim that “fishermen must not talk’ is lost in the mists of antiquity, and well deserves his fate. … Why  in the name of all that is genial, should anglers go about their harmless sport in stealthy silence like conspirators, or sit together in a boat, dumb, glum, and penitential, like naughty schoolboys on the bench of disgrace?”

A Fatal Success

“It is just a kind of a defect, due to her education, of course. In everything else she’s magnificent. But she doesn’t care for fishing.”

A Lazy, Idle Brook

“Indolence is a virtue. It comes from two Latin words, which mean freedom from anxiety or grief. And that is a wholesome state of mind.”

The Open Fire

“Wood is the fuel for it. Out-of-doors is the place for it. A furnace is an underground prison for a toiling slave. A stove is a cage for a tame bird. Even a broad hearthstone and a pair of glittering andirons – the best ornament of a room – must be accepted as an imitation of the real thing. The veritable open fire is built in the open, with the whole earth for a fireplace and the sky for a chimney.”

Finally my personal favorite:

The Thrilling Moment

“Such is the absurd disposition of some anglers. They never see a fish without believing that they can catch him; but if they see no fish, they are inclined to think that the river is empty and the world hollow.”

Unfortunately having been written in 1899 it’s not any easy book to find at the library but Amazon does sell it and I see that you can get it free on your Kindle.

Would I recommend it? Even difficult to find I’d still recommend it to all my fishing friends and relations.