Tag Archives: Book Clubs

Review: Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Kitchens of the Great Midwest
By J. Ryan Stradal
(Pamela Dorman Books, Hardcover, 9780525429142, July 28, 2015, 320pp.)

The Short of It:

Food has a way of bringing people together but in this novel, not only do they come together, but they continually evolve to discover who they really are.

The Rest of It:

Lars Thorvald, a chef, spends his days consumed with the beauty of the bounty before him. His wife Cynthia, an aspiring sommelier, appears to be his perfect match, but when their daughter Eva is born, Cynthia realizes that motherhood is not for her and abandons both her husband and infant daughter to pursue a life elsewhere.

This was a wonderful read. Many have said that it reads like a collection of short stories but I didn’t get that feeling at all. Each chapter is based on an ingredient that becomes very important at the end of the novel, but it lends a certain mystery to the story as new characters are introduced and the pieces begin to come together.

If you are a foodie, you will enjoy this book. Even if you’re not, you will enjoy this book because it’s smart and the characters are a little quirky and flawed but they all meld together to tell a really good story.

It’s about family and friends and really, the pursuit of happiness and whatever your definition of happiness may be.

This is a debut novel for Stradal but you’d never know it while reading it. It’s a delightful read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Make sure you check out these additional resources:

Fun Resources for your Book Club!

Online Book Club Kit (recipes, wine pairings, playlists!)
Q & A with J. Ryan Stradal

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

2012 Book Club Reading List (and some for 2013)

Norwegian Wood

You might recall this post, where I asked your opinion on which books to pitch at my book club’s yearly selection meeting. The book that I most wanted to read, was also the book that I feared would get overlooked because of its content, its overly depressing nature… the fact that it’s about yet another school shooting. Well, I was right. It didn’t go over well. There were some who wanted to read it, but when it came down to it, We Need to Talk About Kevin was voted out. I think I stared off in space in disbelief.  Oh, that was the wine.

My second pitch was The Sense of an Ending, but another member pitched it right before me. That left me with Lamb, which would have been a fabulous choice for discussion, but as soon as I mentioned that it involved an older man and a young girl, I saw the eyes looks elsewhere. Good lord! I just about lost it. Not because I was mad. Certainly not, but because it seems as if anything somewhat controversial gets shot down.

In my head, I was dying. I had about five other books in front of me so in a last ditch effort to get a book chosen, I pitched Norwegian Wood and it made it in. Now THAT surprised me. I haven’t read NW myself but if it’s like Murakami’s other books these folks are in for a wild ride. Plus, it’s sexually charged. Well, that’s what folks tell me.

We picked twelve books but we had books for this year already chosen so there is some overlap into 2013. Here is the list:

2012 Book Club Reading List

Jan – The Lost City of Z by David Grann [review] (chosen last year)

Feb – The Surrendered by Chang-Rae Lee (chosen last year)

Mar – The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds (my pick from last year)

Apr – The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan

May – The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Heidi Durrow

Jun – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (my 4th time reading it)

Jul – The Moon and Sixpence by Somerset Maugham

Aug – Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Sep – The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

Oct – The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Nov – The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Dec – The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

2013 Book Club Reading List (to be continued)

Jan – Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Feb – The Submission by Amy Waldman

Mar – Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) by George Orwell (my 4th time reading it)

At first, I felt so-so about the list. I went home and tried to decipher my chicken scratch (apparently, the chicken was on crack) and it just looked okay to me. Now that I have the official list, I am liking it more. It’s varied and balanced from what I can tell and should, for the most part, generate plenty of discussion.

Now, if I could just pull myself out of the reading rut I’ve found myself in, I’d be thrilled to pieces!

Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.