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Her bookjacketThe 2015 books are starting to arrive and I zipped through my first psychological thriller of the new year. Harriet Lane’s Her sucked me right in with a deceptively ordinary story of two mothers (though if you prefer to read about parents who dote on their children, you'd best skip this book). What a fabulously entertaining, suspenseful, well-written book. The story centers on the build-up of revenge plotted by one of the characters towards the completely oblivious other.

Told in alternating chapters by the two main characters, the interplay of reality and perception is pretty chilling. It’s sort of The Bad Seed with middle aged women. Her is a story that builds from the misunderstandings and disappointments in our lives and the twist lies in the overlooking of those matters.

I’m ready to be pulled into more psychological suspense novels in the coming year; here are a few that I'm eagerly anticipating. I hope they turn out to be as unpredictable and surprising as Her.

Garrett Morgan

Garrett Morgan Photo: Atlantafreespeech

He had a knack for fixing things. He improved the function of sewing machines and owned a sewing machine store, a tailoring shop and a country club. He invented and patented the three-position traffic light (still in use today) and the safety hood, later known as the gas mask. He and his brother used the safety hood to save the lives of city workers from a poison-filled tunnel. The U.S. Army saved the lives of many soldiers using Morgan’s safety hood. It doesn’t end there. He started a newspaper called the Cleveland Call to address racial injustice. Oh, his formal education didn’t extend beyond elementary school. That’s right, Morgan didn’t attend school beyond 6th grade!

Further Exploration: http://blackinventor.com/garrett-morgan/

Available at Multnomah County Library: Scientists, Healers and Inventors by Hudson, Wade

 


 

 

"My sadness, my story, my wantoness, my skipping
My wish and my despair, my erasure, my plantation, my chocolate
My thoughtlessness, my gracelessness, my courage and my crying
My pockets, my homework
Like lions after slumber in unvanquishable number
Oh yeah."

"Oh how your flesh and blood became the word"

Cupid Psyche 85 album cover image

By 1985, Scritti Politti's Green Gartside had fully emerged from the peripheries of the UK's indie post-punk sleeper cells into quasi-global pop brilliance.  But appearances are often deceiving and although Cupid & Psyche '85 was a top 50 LP in the States, "Perfect Way" a number 11 US single, and Green a bonafide pop pin-up for 8 months or so, it's also well-known to many of Gartside's avid disciples that Cupid & Psyche '85 was meant to operate on multiple frequencies.

Cupid & Psyche '85 is celebrated as one of the UK's most successful manifestations of pop entryism and for a couple of months that year, it seemed as though Green's cherubic smirk was on the cover of every other teen/pop music magazine.  But long-time Scritti fans knew that Green's origins came out of the late 1970s UK student/squat scene - bravely committed to a radical and austere project of DIY collectives, demystification and music that rigorously confronted its own reasons for existing (see Scritti's Early collection).  Early song titles like "Hegemony," "Messthetics," and "Doubt Beat" presumably speak for themselves. After a (now mythic and perhaps exaggeratedly apocryphal) nervous breakdown, illness, and extended convalesence, Green turned his back on "the ghetto of the Independent scene" and focused his intelligence and acumen on doing music "properly" - which (hopefully) meant hits.  Cue "The 'Sweetest Girl'" - a mellifluous, almost vertiginous, incantation to the ghostly subject of millions of pop songs.  It was a major step forward and, while not the hit Green hoped for, it was a brilliant first shot into the pop citadel.

By 1983, Green/Scritti had signed with Virgin Records and relocated to NYC - where he began to construct the individual elements that would eventually constitute Cupid & Psyche '85.  First single "Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)" rolled out in February 1984 and "Absolute,""Hypnotize," and "The Word Girl" followed - each single a carefully crafted, expensive, subtle dislocation of the norm.  Green never fully abandoned his commitment to rupture, to tracking the voids that fuel everyday emotions, the endless loops of logic that underpin our notions of "how things are."  His project attempted to embed deconstructive petroleum jelly in the dark recesses of "hyper-saccharine sweetness" with a strange bounce to the ounce.  He worked with some of the best, biggest, and priciest hit-makers in the industry and it all finally paid off in late 1985 when "Perfect Way" (only a moderate hit in the UK) nearly broke the US Top 10.

Of course this begged a major question for anyone invested in Green's purported project - when does pop entryism become tautology?  When a song - no matter how potentially subversive - transcends its origins of production to become, first and foremost, a glittering object - is
there still a project beyond entry into a value-commodity stream?  Reading interviews with Green circa 1983-85, it's clear that, despite his intial sense of excited purpose, he regularly wrestled with this contradiction.  And one might even argue that it ultimately did him in (as a pop star, at least).  Cupid & Psyche '85  was followed in 1988 by Provision - a modest commercial success, but tracked by many as an enervated doppelganger of C&P  85  (though "Boom! There She Was" is a classic Scritti hypno-pop white star). 

Green eventually "retired" from the music business, only to return in 1999 with Anomie & Bonhomie, a strange though compelling fission of guitar pop, airtight gloss and hip-hop, and then again in 2006 with the understated but gorgeous White Bread, Black Beer.
 

Scritti Politti - "Doubt Beat" (1979)

 

Scritti Politti - "The 'Sweetest Girl'" (1981)


 

Scritti Politti - "Lions After Slumber" (1982)

 

Scritti Politti - "Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)" (1984)

 

Scritti Politti - "Perfect Way" (1985)



Scritti Politti - "Boom! There She Was" (1988)


Scritti Politti - "Umm" (1999)


Scritti Politti - "Boom Boom Bap" (2006)

 

When I had a college radio show, I often played spoken word pieces by William Burroughs.  His odd cadence and bizarre subject matter made the strangeness of 3 a.m. that much more strange.  I’d broadcast the pieces into the dark quiet of the night, ghostly fog in the evergreens and the occasional glowing possum eyes outside the studio window.  After the heady description of a heroin high or alien sex, I’d follow up with something loud, dissonant and experimental.  That’s what student loans are made of.

A black and white picture of William Burroughs.  In the backgroud is a hat on a hook and an exit sign.William Burroughs instigated the Beat Generation and embodied the movement’s proclivity for drugs.  His book Junky basically made drug use glamorous.  When he lived in New York, his house (The Bunker) was like a supermarket for narcotics.  Burroughs was incredibly prolific and kept writing and speaking until his death in 1997.  His work influenced Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Steely Dan, David Bowie, Kurt Cobain and more.  Punk and heavy metal owe him a debt.  He was open about sex and his own homosexuality in an age of repression.

For his 100th birthday, the BBC made a documentary about his work, life, and legacy.  For his 101st, This American Life rebroadcasted it.  It’s an unsentimental and fascinating hour of radio.  Take a listen.

 

I know it’s February 2015 already, but I have one last “best of” list to share.  These titles might not have made the more famous year-end lists, but they are some of my favorite books published in 2014 from across the pond.

Elizabeth is Missing book jacketElizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey was billed as a psychological suspense novel, but it definitely wasn’t an edge of the seat thriller. It was an interesting exploration of aging and how disconcerting and frightening memory loss can be.  I was completely engrossed in Maud’s story and felt like I had a better sense of what the elderly go through when their minds begin to fail them.

Why didn’t anyone tell me about Jonathan Coe??? Apparently, he’s been writing novels for years, but it wasn’t until recently that I read Expo 58 book jacketone.  Expo 58 is a funny, yet serious book about a minor civil servant’s experience overseeing Britain’s pub, The Britannia, at the 1958 World’s Fair in Belgium.  Brussels is full of beautiful Expo hostesses, visiting dignitaries and Russians who may or may not be who they say they are.  Thomas Foley has no idea what he’s getting himself into when he leaves his wife and baby behind in England for six months in Belgium.

And speaking of Belgians, there’s a new Poirot! Agatha Christie died years ago and her detective supposedly had his last case in Curtain, but suddenly Hercule Poirot is back to solve another mystery in The Monogram Murders.  Sophie Hannah has done a bang-up job recreating one of the world’s most famous literary detectives.  And the plot is pretty good too.

These are just three of my favorite British books of 2014.  See my list for six more.

Portland, Oregon

February 7th, 2015

Historical Black Debutante

Photo: Oregon Historical Society

Source: www.portlandmonthlymag.com

This theme wouldn't be complete without focusing on Portland's Black Community. Despite living under the harsh burden of discrimination, racism, exclusionary laws etc. Portland's Black community continued to grow and thrive. In 1883, The Northern Pacific Railways brings jobs and more African Americans to the region leading the way for a burgeoning Black, middle class. At this time, most of Portland's Black community reside in NW Portland. The community has four churches, The Rutherford Haberdashery and many Black owned Businesses. Some years later, the community has grown to include three Black newspapers, a hotel, postal clerk, shoe clerk, attorneys, stenographers, a dentist and a doctor! it's an amazing history! Check it out here, here, and here!

Further Exploration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWC-8hvP7aY

Available at Multnomah County Library: African Americans of Portland by Oregon Black Pioneers and The Ebony Princesses of the Portland Rose Festival 1967-1982 by Morris, Lenora C.

Septima Poinsette Clark

 

Septima Poinsette Clark

Photo Credit: www.brothermalcolm.cnet

Source:  www.blackpast.org

Septima Poinsette Clark was an advocate and educator of civics education long before it became popular.  As a teacher and member of the NAACP, she pushed issues of education and equal rights. When the State of South Carolina placed a ban on NAACP membership, Septima refused to obey and lost her job and pension as a result. She, along with her cousin, started the first citizenship school to educate Black citizens in reading and writing, election procedures and government. Her name may not be so familiar, but those in the fight for Civil Rights knew exactly who she was! In fact, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledged her when receiving his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize award.

 

Further Exploration: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/clark-septima-poinsette-1898-1987

Available at Multnomah County: Lighting the Way by Schiff, Karenna Gore

Abominable Snowman Movie AdYetis sounded so much scarier when I was a kid. There was only one yeti, The Abominable Snowman, (the terror of the Himalayas!) His malicious smile was complemented by nails long enough to pierce a person’s heart.  These days, Bigfoot, Sasquatch and yetis are still popular, but they’ve been rehabilitated. Two recent books for children show the loveable side of yetis. In fact, I found I found them to be yeti-sized funny!Yeti Files cover

Kevin Sherry’s The Yeti Files overflows with illustrations of yeti Blizz Richard’s home in the big trees, complete with an “epic tire swing,”a “zippy zip line,” and a “highly polished fireman’s pole.” Blizz is a happy-go-lucky guy, except for his need to keep hidden. And keeping hidden when you’re that big is hard work! Especially when your cousins are careless...and your friend, Bigfoot, is missing. The Yeti files is a great choice for kids who are moving up from easy readers into chapter books.The Abominables cover

Eva Ibbotson’s yetis in The Abominables are also happy-go-lucky creatures. A little girl named Agatha gets lost in the Himalyas and discovers a small group of yetis living peacefully together. They shelter and feed her and adopt her as one of their own. In turn she teaches them all she knows about civilization and lives with them into her old age. But when the yetis’ lives are threatened, Agatha comes up with a plan to ship them to England. This dangerous plan that involves keeping yetis quiet, calm and hidden in a refrigerator truck and soon becomes a series of near misses and misunderstandings.

For more laugh-out loud funny reads for kids reading chapters, try the attached lists.

Depiction of Minerva by Elihu Vedder (1836-1923)Maybe there is a story you learned from your parents, or your teachers, that explains the world to you. Maybe they learned it from their parents, from their teachers. We don’t always think about these stories as stories, but we don’t always think about them as facts, either - they’re bigger than that. They just are.

We certainly don’t think of these stories/facts/truths as myths, but the ancient cultures whose mythologies we study and amuse ourselves with - the Greeks, the Norse, and all the many other cultures who may have been less dominant but who were no less creative and human - probably didn’t think of their foundational stories as myths, either. Mythology is a name we give to something of the past, but maybe right now we are creating, and recreating, new stories that will be the mythologies of the future.

I thought it would be interesting to see what books, music and movies came to mind for the Multnomah County My Librarians when they heard the word “mythology.” The results, gathered in a reading list called Multcolib My Librarian: Myth picks, are wildly varied. There are traditional Southwest and Northwest folktales (La Llorona and Paul Bunyan, respectively), reimaginings of ancient stories (The Song of Achilles), ballet scores and a comic book with golems in World War II (Breath of Bones). There are mythologies of the distant past (Homer’s Iliad) and nascent American mythologies of the 20th century (Chandler’s Continental Op).

What does mythology mean to you? What books (or movies, music, poetry) would you add to our list?

Black Wall Street

February 5, 2015

Black Wall Street Memorial

Photo Credit: www.cicinnati.com

Source: http://www.daveyd.com/blackwallpolitic.html

The year is 1921 and Tulsa, Oklahoma is booming!  As one of the most affluent Black communities in the country, Tulsa boasts of 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores, jewelry stores, 2 movie theaters and 2 newspapers. There’s a postal substation, a branch of the Y.M.C.A, a hospital, bank, post office, libraries, schools, law offices, private airplanes and bus systems.

 

Further Exploration: http://www.okhistory.org/research/forms/freport.pdf

Available at Multnomah County: Reconstructing the Dreamland by Brophy, Alfred L.

Multnomah County Library's Lucky Day service includes books for kids, teens and adults.  Lucky Day copies are available for spontaneous use and are not subject to hold queues.  Nobody can place holds on these items; it's first come, first served.  That means you might not have to wait at all for the most popular new titles!  You never know what you might find at your neighborhood library - it just might be your Lucky Day!

Hiram Rhodes Revels

Congressman Hiram Rhodes Revel 1827-1901

Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first Black American to serve in the U.S. Congress. Revels served from 1869 to 1871. A Republican from Mississippi, Revels was born free to free parents and attended school during a time when educating Black children was illegal. During the Civil War he recruited Black regiments. He was a preacher, educator and civil rights advocate.

Further exploration: http://history.house.gov/People/Listing/R/REVELS,-Hiram-Rhodes-%28R000166%29/

Available at Multnomah County Library: Black Faces, Black Interests: The Representation of African Americans in Congress by Swain, Carol M.

Chester A. Arthur photoYou remember Chester A. Arthur, right? Twenty-first president of the United States. Served from 1881 until 1885 following the assassination of James Garfield. Not really? Don’t feel too bad -- you’re in good company.

Several years ago, I set out to memorize all 43 (now 44) presidents in order, along with the years they served. I thought it would be an interesting brain exercise and a great alternative to counting sheep when I couldn’t sleep. However, I soon found that if I neglected reviewing the list from time-to-time, I would forget some of the lesser known figures like Arthur, Taft and Pierce.

Now, this phenomenon of forgetting the presidents has actually been documented in two studies on cultural memory published in the journal Science and reported in the New York Times! The long and short of the studies is that most people can identify five or six recent presidents; the founding father presidents like Washington, Adams and Jefferson; and a small number who were at the helm during huge events in our nation’s history such as Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.Image of Presidential Seal

Maybe committing the list to memory isn’t important to you, but maybe you are interested in learning more about some of our chief executives through time. Here here are some great resources

 

Siqueiros Mural

I came back from my yearly trip to Mexico recently: it’s always refreshing to walk around the city of Cuernavaca where I’m from, visiting historical sites as I do year after year. This city is privileged to host the work of two great Mexican muralists. Diego Rivera painted the history of the city at El Palacio de Cortés or the Palace of Cortés and David Alfaro Siqueiros’ mural ”The March of Humanity” is found at La Tallera cultural center. If you want to know more about this kind art, follow me!

Muralism was practiced long ago when indigenous groups painted their ideas and important events in big displays on the sides of ceremonial and burial buildings. The splendid Maya murals of Bonampak are a simple example of this kind of art.

This artistic manifestation gained more importance in Mexico during the 20th century. The first murals were created in 1921 and the last were created in 1955, when murals lost the essence of an articulated artistic movement. There were several artists who brought a diversity of aesthetics and political influences; at times the artists' were severely criticized and censured, and even destroyed, as happened with one Diego Revera's murals at the Rockefeller Center in New York.

The movement is characterized by the artists' great need to express the social and political events of their times using huge platforms. In the murals, Mexicans have the opportunity to appreciate the content of their own reality and identity. The Mexican Revolution, political radicalism as an international proposal, agrarian reform, and oil expropriation inspired nationalistic artists who presented the reality of a Mexican society so devastated by these events. A group of muralist artists created the movement using the walls of important public buildings as canvases, to exalt the art and rescue indigenous and popular traditions. The three great figures of this artistic era were Jose Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

Would you like to learn more about this great art movement? Take a look at the video lecture on Maya murals below, or explore my list for further reading.

 

Rivera's mural

 

 

 

African Americans in the Civil War

United States Black Regiment Photo:Wikipedia

 

 

Have you heard of African American troops who fought in the Civil War? The 1863 Militia Act created the Bureau of Colored Troops to ensure participation of African American men in the Union Army and Navy. All-Black regiments were formed in Massachusetts, South Carolina and elsewhere. Keep in mind, although fighting for the Union, Black and white regiments were segregated. In all, an estimated 180,000 African American men fought in the Union Army and 20,000 served in the Union Navy.

Further Exploration: http://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/african-americans-and-emancipation/essays/african-americans-and-emancipation

Available at Multnomah County Library: Black, Blue & Gray: African Americans in the Civil War by Haskins, James and Slaves to Soldiers by Black, Wallace B.

 

 

Photo: James RexroadIn all they do, the members of the heavy metal band Red Fang exhibit passion, musicality and a sense of humor to boot. Their music video for Wires has a sort of Myth Busters vibe to it, minus the hard science; and their performance on David Letterman in 2014 was electrifying, pardon the pun. When they aren't making glasses of PBR vibrate off a table, here's what they're reading.

John Sherman, drums:

Red Fang tours about 6 months out of the year, so there is a TON of time spent riding on planes, trains, and automobiles with not much to do other than read.  Even with smart phones and laptops, I’m happy to say we are a band that still enjoys the written word. We all have varying tastes, but I’ve really been getting into Sci-Fi and Fantasy books over the past few years. Here are two of my favorites from the last tour.

Robert A. Heinlein - Stranger in a Strange Land.  This book really blew me away.  It’s very different from the typical “Man from Mars” story.  Heinlein writes this Sci-Fi novel kind of like a hardboiled detective novel, reminding me of Raymond Chandler but funnier. Even though this book is about a man from Mars, it’s also about abuse of power, corrupt government, sexy ladies and pretty much everything else that’s awesome to read about. Super good, quick, fun, intelligent read. 

Ben Johnson – A Shadow Cast in Dust.  This one really grabbed me because it’s a fantasy in a modern day setting, and I can totally relate to the main character – a bartender in a band.  This dude is having a rough go of it and things quickly get worse.  And WEIRD!  All of the sudden he is thrust into a world he didn’t know existed, but was right in front of him – of ALL of us – the whole time.  The webs of the universe can be controlled, and not all who know how to control them are rad dudes, ya know?  This story has many characters and their stories all weave together and keep building and building – it’s pretty epic.  The action is intense, the plot gets thick as molasses, and the emotion is real.  And it’s only the first in a series!  I can’t wait for the second installment.  Get this book!

Bryan Giles, guitar and vocals:

One of my favorite books in recent memory was Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist, a Swedish author.  I saw the original film adaptation many times and really enjoyed it so I thought I'd read the book.  The film is compelling, but the book is so much more so. Red Fang

The story focuses on Oskar, a 12 year old who is bullied mercilessly at school, and his new friend Eli that just moved in next door to him.  It is revealed that Eli is a vampire early on as the pedophile care giver goes on an evening excursion to collect human blood. 

Incredibly gruesome and violent, I found that the themes of alienation, anxiety, and isolation were what really kept me engaged.  I felt deeply connected with the characters and tied to their fates.  At one point later in the book I literally put it down and ran through my house screaming... So good!

Aaron Beam, bass and vocals:

Being on tour, you have a lot of down time, and lots of time to spend trapped in your own head. That is not necessarily the best place for me to be, so its important to have a good escape. My favorite books tend to be ones that are still about the subject of the mind or personal identity, but about someone else's.

Cormac McCarthy - The Road. This is the book that got me back into reading novels after a very long period of reading only nonfiction and short stories. This is one of the most terrifying books I have ever read. I actually jumped a couple times from surprise. To do that with the printed word is, um...beyond words. Apart from the horror story, this book is gorgeous in its simple yet deeply expressive, nearly poetic prose. I saw the book as a positive expression of the sacrifice all fathers make for their sons. And it led me to read Blood Meridian and All the Pretty Horses, which are both incredible, yet much denser novels.

David Foster Wallace - Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.  This is a collection of short stories by one of the most innovative yet accessible writers of our generation. "The Depressed Person" captures the nature of depression more directly and accurately than anything else I have read. There is another story whose name escapes me that is simply a roman numeral outline of a story, but by the time you have reached the end of the outline, you have been moved like you would be with a traditional narrative.

Lawrence Wright - Going Clear.  Alright, this one is a bit of a departure, but a great tour book. It's about the Church of Scientology's foundations and about its current status. But it is also about religion in general, and the parallels he draws to the early stages of most major religions is disturbing and eye-opening.

Motley Crue - The Dirt. This is possibly the best/worst book to read on tour ever. Sure, it has its moments of shock and crazy debauchery. But the worst part of this book is that it makes you realize that Motley Crue are four actual human beings who experience pain and heartbreak and medical issues.

For more reading recommendations customized for you, try the My Librarian service.  My Librarian and our featured guest readers are made possible by a grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to The Library Foundation, a local non-profit dedicated to our library's leadership, innovation, and reach through private support.

Annie Burton

Annie Burton Photo: Duhaime

 

Annie Burton was born in Clayton, Alabama, in 1858. Her mother was a slave who ran away after being whipped. This is one of many childhood memories. As an adult, Annie moves to Boston where she marries and becomes a maid. She never forgets what life was like during slavery. In 1909, she authors Memories of Childhood’s Slavery Days. This book has been converted from physical to digital format and is available for free on the web.

 

Available at Multnomah County Library: Six Women’s Slave Narratives by Andrews, William L

 

Obsessive Consumption by Kate Bingaman-BurtWhat’s a zine? Generally, we think of zines as little, inexpensively produced, most often handmade print items. Is a zine a book? Well, it’s a kind of book - a self-published book that’s usually not distributed very widely, and tends toward  the ephemeral. Zines have often been made by people whose viewpoints or experiences may not have been well represented by traditional publishing. Many of them are personal. They can be mostly text, or mostly image, or anywhere in between. Anyone can make a zine! And the author of a zine is in charge of the whole process - the content, production, and distribution of the publication.

And sometimes, a person makes not just one zine, but many - zine after zine! And sometimes, the work that they’ve self-published in zine form takes new form as a book published by a publisher, whether small or large. Ok, now it’s still a zine, and also a book. 

Big Plans by Aron Nels Steinke

Here's an example: Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States, once a zine and now a book-length memoir by Pete Jordan that has been described as “part adventure, part parody, and part miraculous journey of self-discovery.” Or Obsessive Consumption: What Did You Buy Today? by Portland artist Kate Bingaman-Burt, whose zine What Did You Buy Today? Daily Drawings of Purchases documents, well, everything she purchased. Plenty of graphic novels have their origins in zines, such as Henry & Glen Forever & Ever (the fictitious cartoon adventures of Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig, available in a series of zines), and Big Plans by another local cartoonist, Aron Nels Steinke.

At the library, we have zines, and we also have books that began as zines:

Zines Become Books, Part 1

Zines Become Books, Part 2

We also have an event coming up at Central Library on February 7th at 2pm, featuring local authors who make zines, people who’ve made zines and also books, and folks who have worn all sorts of other hats in the process: small publishers, educators, community connectors. Please join us at Zinesters Talking: From Zines to Publishing!

 
Percy JulianWelcome to Black History Month 2015. Every day this month features people and events making significant contributions to American history and how we live Now! 

 

February 1st-7th, 2015 Topic: Slavery to Civil Rights

D'wayne EdwardsFebruary 8th-14th, 2015 Topic: Innovation

February 15th-21st, 2015 Topic: Fashion

February 22nd-28th, 2015 Topic: Now!

 

I had this great plan to explore the cuisines of the world with you last summer. Yet, that fall I started school again and fast food and takeout dominated my meals. Here are dishes I made last semester before midterms and finals hit:

Pati's Mexican Table book jacketMexican green rice with beans from Pati’s Mexican Table by Pati Jinich: Rice is simmered in a delicious blend of garlic, onions, poblanos, and cilantro. The addition of a side of beans completes a meal, so simple but good you’ll feel self-congratulatory. Great as a bowl or in a burrito!

Pad kee mao from Simple Thai Food by Leela Punyaratabandhu: Finally! This is the first Thai cookbook I’ve checked out with recipes that look both carefully edited and approachable. You can now enjoy the best drunken noodles at home. This also contains the author’s new-to-you childhood favorites and familiar dishes.

Curry rice from Let’s Cook Japanese Food! by Amy Kaneko: I’ve been making this downhome, savory curry since college. This is the perfect dish to make when it’s cold outside and you feel extra lazy.

Kale and white beans in cilantro pesto from Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul by Aarti Sequeira: You seem Aarti Paarti book jacketskeptical… Trust me though: this is a rich and garlicky meal you won’t regret. Extra points for being one of the prettiest cookbooks I’ve ever seen.

Crispy salmon cakes from Cook’s Illustrated: There are a lot of great recipes in here, but these salmon cakes were my stand-out for 2014. Crispy on the outside and bursting with flavors on the inside. Ingredients include scallions, shallots, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and spices.

Even if you get too busy to cook like me, try to carve out some time for yourself and make one of these recipes this year! You will feel accomplished and your tummy will thank you.

 

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