September: Tolkien Lembas Bread

The best part about fantasy and science fiction writing is that the details don’t have to be tethered to reality – and nobody creates a more detailed world than J.R.R. Tolkien. As an avid student of mythology, language structures and etymology, Tolkien was adept at weaving these themes throughout his works, especially in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Lembas bread, or waybread, is created by the elves of Middle Earth and used for long journeys because they will stay fresh for months. It is said that one small bite of lembas is enough to fill the stomach of a grown man. The bread is first mentioned in The Fellowship of the Ring, which was published in 1954, so enthusiastic fans have had plenty of time to come up with a real-life recipe for this fictional food.

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September: Barley Soup and Brussels Sprouts with Béchamel

It’s 11 AM on the morning of September 1, which means that the Hogwarts Express is leaving Kings Cross station right now, bringing eager young witches and wizards to another year of school. One of the ways J.K. Rowling is able to paint such a rich, detailed picture of this fictitious universe is by using food – Harry, who has never known an abundance of food, suddenly experiences sumptuous feasts, holiday treats and hearty meals. I love this cookbook because it emphasizes how intertwined food and literature are, and the best meals are made with love and shared with others.

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2015 Reading Challenge: July and August

Here it is! The final installment of ridiculous haiku book reviews to chronicle my epic reading quest. I wasn’t able to write up each of the 52 books because sometimes I like to leave my house, but I am looking forward to reading what I want at my own pace. It’s not so bad when I first started my reading list, but as I continued to cross books off my list, it got harder and harder to have specific books lined up. I’m planning a conclusion post about what I learned and timely coincidences to neatly sum up everything, so stay tuned for that.

Without further ado, I present the last set of haiku I will ever post publicly (if you’re lucky):

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2015 Reading Challenge: May and June

When I first saw the list of 52 books, I figured I could do it in a year. Averaging one book per week – pretty simple, right? As I began to work my way through the list, I began to see that I couldn’t just start at #1 and work my way through in numerical order. For starters, I wanted to save the book set during Christmas for, well, December. I read the books that were difficult to obtain or more specific first, and now I’m left with an interesting mix of literature to cross off my list: a book based entirely on its cover, a book with bad reviews… and that Christmas book I will end up reading sometime in August.

I am very nearly finished with the reading list I’ve adopted – I’m averaging 1.4 books per week! – only time will tell if and how I choose books will change forever. But I probably won’t write any more haiku reviews about them, so enjoy them while they last.

2015 Reading Challenge

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2015 Reading Challenge: March and April

I found a list online of 50 types of books – 52 books in total (a trilogy only counts as one) – designed to get readers out of their comfort zones. I had the bright idea to read 1 book every week and check off every criteria on the list by the end of December 31, 2015. As someone who usually gravitates towards mysteries and memoirs, I was excited to try out genres like graphic novels, a book originally written in another language, or a book with magic or nonhuman characters.

So far, I am ahead of schedule: I’m working on book #28 – a book that became a movie. I’ve crafted more responses and reviews in haiku form, because, as the old chatterbox Polonius said, “brevity is the soul of wit.”

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2015 Reading Challenge: January and February

I found a list of 50 criteria designed to expand your “reading comfort zone” – genres and authors I wouldn’t otherwise pick up, different formats like plays and graphic novels, and old books that might have been forgotten. I decided to turn this reading list into my 2015 “To Do” list, and I’ve been working my way through it since January 1st. Here are some select reviews from the books I read during January and February.

2015 Reading Challenge

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Better Off: the Minimite Approach to Technology

Eric Brende began at MIT to understand and deconstruct what media theorist Neil Postman calls our Technopoly, “a way of life that seeks technological answers first before other means, or even before thinking through the questions.” Since the relatively recent introduction of modern technology into our society, Moore’s Law (named appropriately for Intel’s co-founder) dictates that electronic tech grows exponentially: as our tech becomes more sophisticated, it is used in turn to produce even more complex systems. This expansion was a catalyst for Brende; he writes, “What I wanted to discover was a balance between too much machinery and too little, or better yet, how to arrive at it wherever one found oneself.” And so, tired of being surrounded by people who drive their cars to the gym to get exercise, Eric and his new wife decided to experiment with living completely tech-free.

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