2 Books for Your Holiday Wish List

Dec 172013
 

Do you make a list of what to buy friends and family at the holidays? What about your own wish list?

On my desk is a list of names I wrote by hand on a long, yellow lined sheet. I’ve checked off all of them now, which is good because Hanukkah is long gone, and Christmas is a week away.

My personal wish list is new. I started it last year, buying myself one (pricey) book I’ve coveted in December, and vowing to do so every year. In 2012 it was the cookbook Plenty, since I already had Jerusalem, and have been enjoying both ever since.

This month I’ve been lusting for The Most of Nora Ephron, a collection of her work, published posthumously. Ephron was my writing hero: sassy, funny, and so right about women, love, and politics. At $35, it’s a tome, but I bet the pages aren’t as yellowed as her old paperbacks on my shelf. There’s a section on food writing, including her hilarious novel, Heartburnabout being a food writer and divorcing journalist Carl Bernstein.

So if no one gifts you with the books you want this holiday, get one for yourself. If you need inspiration, here are two to consider:

Naked-Drunk -and- Writing1. Naked, Drunk, and Writing, by Adair Lara. After a colleague mentioned she uses it to teach her essay writing classes every semester, I read this book. I waited too long! I could have been recommending it since 2009, when it first came out. Here is a witty, practical book that answers questions such as:

          • Where to start and end a piece?
          • How do I make myself write? (Her answer is hilarious.)
          • If I show my work to my mother, will I ever be invited to a family gathering again?

Even if you don’t like self-help books, you’ll find that Adair is your encouraging friend, patiently cheerleading you to be a better writer, get work finished, and get it published.

The-Flavor-Thesaurus2. The Flavor Thesaurus, by Niki Sengit. You might already own The Flavor Bible, but this book is different: a British writer’s creative and global recommendations for food pairings. It’s organized like a dictionary, and leaves you to your own ideas about proportions. Here are two samples of her lively voice and culinary point of view:

Potato & Nutmeg Nutmeg is used to obscure some of potato’s ruder, earthier flavors. It’s often given the same purpose with pumpkin or spinach. A little grating should do the job. But then nutmeg is so lovely with all these ingredients, why restrain yourself?”

Walnut & Shellfish There’s a dish they serve in American Chinese restaurants that tends to divide humanity fairly straight down the middle: deep-fried shrimp tossed in honey and lemon mayonnaise and mixed with candied walnuts. Tribe A sees the potential in chewy, salty shellfish mixed with sugar-crisp, slightly spicy nuts. Tribe B suppresses instant emesis at the thought of the calories and sheer inauthenticity. I’m with Tribe A.”

I hope you’ll treat yourself this month. And if you need more inspiration on great writing books, please see:

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

  24 Responses to “2 Books for Your Holiday Wish List”

  1. I want the Nora Ephron book as well. Larry has hidden a couple of my other picks, “Bountiful” is my cookbook choice and the 1970 Provence book, the year I lived/studied in Provence.

  2. I want the Nora Ephron book too! As well as her memoir…among the many books on my eternal wish list. It seems to never end!

    Happy Holidays Dianne!

    • It doesn’t end, and that’s what makes it fun. I wonder which memoir you mean? She has written a few books of essays, right? And Heartburn qualified as a fictionalized memoir.

  3. Nora Ephron…one of my favorite writers. I loved her book on memory loss “I Remember Nothing” Her take on a “Senior Moment is a Google Moment” was what sent me to Verizon to upgrade to a phone with internet. I haven’t looked back.

    • I haven’t read those yet, but they sound good. I became her accolyte in the 1970s, when she wrote for Esquire. I wish I had read her blog regularly. Apparently many of her most popular posts appear in the collection.

  4. Naked, drunk and writing…..so many ideas in the title! Hope you have a lovely Christmas Dianne.

    • It’s a strange title for a how-to book. She explains how she came up with it in her introduction.

      Happy holidays to you as well, Sally.

  5. I have Naked, Drunk and Writing and it is a great book! And it is very entertaining and extremely inspiring as well. Absolutely love it!!!

    • Oh good, at least one of my readers has this book. It’s a perfect one for you, Jamie, since you write long personal narratives. So glad you’ve found it valuable.

  6. Thank You Dianne! Your Post arrived just before my husband went Christmas shopping for me this afternoon. Wishing you the very best and a Happy Holiday season!

  7. I started the same thing last year but do it in January as a way of celebrating making it through another year of holiday stress. I have to say Daniel: My French Cuisine is sitting pretty at the top of my wish list this year.

  8. Heartburn has long been my favorite piece of food writing ever. Nora Ephron’s love of food was so genuine, and unpretentious, and I absolutely love how she wove actual recipes through the book. I always want to make those recipes, but never want to stop reading to do it.

    • Oh how wonderful, Nicole. I never expected Ephron to get into food writing, but when she did, she was fantastic at it. The movie was a riot too.

  9. These look intriguing, especially The Flavor Thesaurus, I can’t wait to dig in.

    • Thanks Jordan. I’ve been waiting for Ephron’s book for a while. After she died all her essays disappeared from the Internet.

  10. Dianne, thank you for asking this question. It brings all kinds of nice memories in my life. Indeed, I have this very special ritual to make a wish list for myself at Christmas time. My birthday is shortly after the New Year, so I have all good reason give myself this very special treat: the pleasure to get a spectacular cookbook. This Christmas, I decided for Hank Shaw’s Duck, Duck, Goose: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Waterfowl, Both Farmed and Wild:

    http://www.amazon.com/Duck-Goose-Ultimate-Cooking-Waterfowl/dp/1607745291

    Usually, I get one book in English and one in French, as I’m a passionate lover of the cooking style of Alain Ducasse.
    So, what I’m doing right now, while sitting in an airport internet hotspot, is the review of the online ELLE a TABLE magazine that presents the 2013 food-focused books in France that topped the list of the ELLE cooking book experts:

    http://www.elle.fr/Elle-a-Table/Les-dossiers-de-la-redaction/Dossier-de-la-redac/Cookbooks-de-Noel-les-experts-passent-a-table

    I can hardly wait to arrive in France and hit the bookstores: -)

    I love the Jerusalem book!! It this was the book that I got last year. Since then I have tried more than 40 recipes and they all turned out extremely well.

    I wish you and all readers a happy holiday season full of all those things that matter most to you!
    Much health and prosperity in 2014!

    • Wow. So you’re off to France, and buying cookbooks in French. I so admire someone who can cook in two languages. I know you’ll enjoy Hank’s book, as he is an excellent writer and recipe developer, and this is a new subject for adventurous cooks like you. I’m still exploring the Jerusalem cookbook. It will take me a long time to get to 40 recipes, but the ones I’ve tried have been fabulous. Happy holidays.

  11. I saw Nora Ephron’s book at an airport book store today and immediately wanted it. I’ve been reading (and listening to) her for years, from “Heartburn” to “I Feel Bad About My Neck” and enjoy her work immensely. It was a little big to lug home in my already too heavy luggage, so I’ll get it later. I’d also love to have the “Naked, Drunk and Writing” book. Thanks for the recommendation! That said, I’m still wading through the big pile of food books I treated myself to in 2013; then again, it’s good to have a pile of books waiting to be read. I can’t think of anything worse than running out!

    • Me too! No possibility that I will run out as well. There’s a book on my nightstand, a pile next to my bed, and another 20 or so in the bookshelf in my bedroom, not to mention books on another bookshelf in my office that I haven’t read.

      The Ephron book is huge, so I don’t blame you for not buying it at the airport. On my last trip, a publisher gave me a gigantic novel and I had to repack my luggage 4 or 5 times to get it to fit.

  12. Wonderful book suggestions … Nora Ephron is a must have for me. My problem is my stocking is already bulging with self-bought pressies and there won’t be enough funds left over for anyone else if I don’t stop! Am currently reading your book “Will Write for Food” which is great, very informative and full of lots of good advice and ideas. I’m particularly interested in your chapter on food blogging as I’m currently in the process of setting one up. This is an excellent resource for anyone engaged in that particular challenge! Am also about to start the Grad Certificate in Food Writing at Adelaide Uni, which of courses uses your book as its textbook. Best regards, Anne Green

    • Hello Anne, yes, this is the problem. Once I start shopping I see lots of things that I would like, versus buying for others.

      Thanks for the kind words about my book, and good luck with the food blog and your class at Adelaide University. I’ve no doubt it’s an excellent program.

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