52 weeks. 52 books.

Last year I set a goal to read 26 books for the year. After discovering the magic of audio books on my iphone and reading while I run, I was easily able to up the goal to 52 books and made it there with time to spare.

If you have any books you recommend, I’m always on the lookout for good ones! Please leave me a note in the comments. Must read!

2011 Books Read:

52. Heston Blumenthal At Home by Heston Blumenthal
Even though his approach to cooking as about as far from minimalist as you can get, I still love Heston. This book is one of his best for combining his love of science with simple tips for improving your home cooking.

51. Anything you want by Derek Silvers
A super shot, but engaging insight into the mind behind the successful CD baby business.

50. Churchill by Roy Jenkins
I was inspire to read more about Churchill after reading something about his excellence as a writer and general command of the English language. As a fellow lover of Pol Roger Champagne, I’ve found this weighty tome far more interesting than a regular political biography.

49. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Another re-read this time inspired by the Millionaire Upgrade. A book I think I’ll be needing to re read a number of times before I fully grasp its contents.

48. The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
I actually read this a few years ago but was inspired to dig it out after being lucky enough to meet Ferriss recently. Still just as insightful and inspirational as the first read.

47. Tales from the Tummy Trilogy by Calvin Trillin
To be honest I found Trillins world view on food a little depressing. Still some good insights into classic American food from the bagel to the Buffalo wing. And enjoyed the NYC references.

46. Millionaire Upgrade by Richard Parkes Cordock
Interesting tale of a software employee who gets upgraded on a flight and sits next to a successful entrepreneur. Some interesting lessons on the keys to success.

45. Winning by Jack Welch
Actually just an interview of the author by Harper Collins CEO. Inspiring none the less.

44. The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater
I’ve been saving this book for quite a while now. And it’s just a good as I’d hoped. Love the day to day notes of what my favourite food writer cooks and the inspiration behind his meals.

43. Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way by Francis Mallmann
A great read for anyone who has an interest in cooking with fire. The surprising thing is that even though there are heaps of tips for cooking meat, I actually learnt more about cooking vegetables and sauces.

42. Spiced: A Pastry Chef’s True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes on in the Kitchen by Dalia Jurgenson
A surprisingly great read which is more than just another expose into the world of kitchens and chefs. The passion, for want of a better word, of Jurgenson shines through and is a great reminder of why cooking is so much fun.

41. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
Based on the New Vegetarian column in the Guardian newspaper, plenty is well worth a look for lovers of vegetables. The good news is the food photography in this book is far more pleasing to the eye than the first Ottolenghi missive.

40. The River Cottage by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
A birthday gift from my Irishman, I’m a later comer to the whole River Cottage phenomenon. Love HFW’s approach to growing his own food & livestock.

39. Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson
After attending a book signing for Swanson in Seattle, I was even more excited to read this book. It doesn’t disappoint. Love the focus on natural foods and ingredients.

38. The Steve Jobs Way by Jay Elliott & William Simon
Loved this insight into the success of Steve Jobs’ career.

37. Food Politics by Marion Nestle
A fascinating delve into the way that nutrition policy is influenced by the food industry and government. Not exactly surprising though.

36. Eat that frog by Brian Tracy
A straight forward system for being more productive and getting things done. Love this simple approach.

35. Win: The key principles to take your business from ordinary to extraordinary by Frank Luntz
After reading and enjoying Luntz’s words that work last year, I found this book to be just as insightful.

34. The Seven Lost Secrets of Success by Joe Vitale
If you’re interested in learning more about the world of advertising this is worth a read. Focuses on the life and lessons of forgotten advertising genius Bruce Barton.

33. Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin
A woman after my own heart, Colwin has a wonderful writing style that draws you into her world from the very beginning.

32. Salt by Mark Kurlansky
I found this interesting but quite heavy going. Am sure if I hadn’t been listening to it as an audio book I wouldn’t have made it all the way through.

32. Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler
A brilliant collection of essays on cooking for one. This was my first book club book from the Kitchen Reader.

31. The Essence of Happiness by The Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler
I’ve been meaning to read more about The Dalai Lama for quite some time. And so far enjoying it even more than expected. As a minimalist, love the instruction that to be happy we need to learn to want what we already have.

30. Tender Volume 2. A cook and his fruit garden by Nigel Slater
Even though this is a massive tome, I found myself rationing the last few chapters because I didn’t want it to end. The man can write about food. That’s for sure. If I had to choose one Nigel Slater book for a dessert island, I preferred volume 1 with the focus on vegetables. But that’s not to say this second volume doesn’t live up to expectations.

29. Ideas in Food. Great Recipes and Why They Work by Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot
I was really excited when I came across this book in the Moma shop in NYC. And a little suprised that I hadn’t come across this blog. An interesting read for any fellow food nerds out there but not as mind blowing as I was hoping.

28. Momofuku by David Chang & Peter Meehan
The best and most inspirational cookbook I’ve read in ages. Strikes the perfect balance behind sharing the secret of David Chang’s restauranteering success and how the dishes at Momofuku manage to taste so delicious. Was surprised that the Momofuku approach to food can help home cooks with some simple creative ideas. Although it probably helped that I was going through as serious Momofuku addiction while I was reading this during my stay in NYC earlier in the year.

27. Influencer by Kerry Patterson
Covers many aspects of how to use influence more successfully. Looks at some great examples of people doing amazing things to influence their environments and the people around them to achieve some really great and noble results. Also has valuable insights into how to influence yourself to make changes in your own life.

26. Click By Ori and Rom Brafman
Another social science book looking at what makes some people click and form strong relationships and why others don’t.

25. Buy-ology by Martin Lindstrom
Another great social science look at the science behind why we buy things. Some cutting edge research using MRI and other equipment to measure brain activity in response to advertising and different products.

24. Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini et al
Some fascinating insights into human behaviour from one of the masters of the science of persuasion.

23. The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki
I found this to be a little repetitive. Like the long tail, once you get the concept and overall premise for the book, the added examples are nice but don’t really expand your understanding of the basic concept. Although that being said, the basic concept that crowds are more intelligent than even the smartest individual is fascinating in itself and comforting in a strange sort of way.

22. First Things First by Roger Merrill & Stephen Covey
If you haven’t read any of Covey’s work, I’d recommend the 7 Habits over this volume which focuses on the first habit. Still interesting read on setting priorities.

21. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
Really enjoyed Millers conversational writing style and being drawn into his slightly unusual situation. Some great life lessons.

20. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
LOVED this book. Rubin is a woman after my own heart. Especially enjoyed reading about a native New Yorker while I was staying in the city.

19. Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton.
I read a review of this on Chocolate & Zucchini and since I was heading to New York where Hamilton has her restaurant, decided to give it a go. So far really enjoying it but am only a few pages in.

18. Doing Business the Jamie Oliver Way by Trevor Clawson
Sometimes an unauthorised biography is so much more fun. Focusing on the business life of Jamie Oliver, I found it a little repetitive but did appreciate the behind-the-scenes insights into how Jamie runs his ship(s).

17. Ferran by Coleman Andrews
After eating an amazing meal at elBulli in 2009, I couldn’t resist reading more about Ferran. An insightful biography. Particularly loved that the author ate at the restaurant the same month as I did and shared his experience – so many thing bought back to life.

16. My Grandmother’s Kitchen by Laura Clarke & Claire Wallace
A wonderful book written by my friend Laura. If you missed it I recently wrote a post about the book on Stonesoup over here.

15. The Little Big Things by Tom Peters
Really enjoyed this book of ideas from management consultant Tom Peters.

14. The Intelligent Entrepreneur by Bill Murray
For anyone who has ever dreamed of starting a business, this is a brilliant insight into the road to success for three very different Harvard Business School graduates. Also enjoyed Murray’s analysis of the characteristics that make a successful entrepreneur – it’s not necessarily what you’d think.

13. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Dodgy title, but interesting read none the less.

12. Risotto with Nettles by Anna Del Conte.
An Italian-born friend recommended checking out del Conte’s work and I’m really enjoying the story of her life. As an Italian who married a Brit and ended up living in Dorset, she offers a wonderful insight into the food cultures of both countries.

11. Reading Jackie by William Juhn.
While I’ve never wanted to life Jackie O’s life, it’s hard not to admire this remarkable woman, even if just for her fashion sense! An interesting biography that tells the story of Jackies life through the books she published during her 20 year career as an editor, which she embarked on after the death of her second husband.

10. Slim and Sexy Forever by Suzanne Somers
Another book read in the name of diet research. Somers has been a fan of a low carb diet since the 90s. I found the chapters on the effects of hormones on our weight and health as we age quite interesting (for future reference!) but the actual diet made me tired just thinking about it. Lots of rules! Although I was glad Somers spoke about eating real food and growing her own veggies, there were many plugs for her own line of products that made me skim quickly.

9. Screw It, Let’s Do It. by Richard Branson
The by line is lessons in life and business and I have to say the book lives up to its promise. A fascinating look into the world and philisophy of Richard Branson.

8. The Atkins Essentials by Atkins Health
In my quest for understanding about low carb diets I read this to find out from the source exactly what Atkins is about. Surprisingly there’s more to it than just eating lots of meat! I find the whole concept of counting carbs quite tedious but apart from that the diet seemed to make sense.

7. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
Several people have recommended this book to me and I can see why. Even if you have only a casual interest in running its hard not to get drawn into Murakami’s world. Some wonderful insights on the life of a novelist as well.

6. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.
The whole premise of this book is to challenge the assumption that in life we need to work to achieve greatness and only then will we be successful. Achor believes and proves it’s the other way around, we become successful after we find happiness.

5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
A classic for a very good reason. Enjoyed it as much for the common sense approach to dealing with people as for the insights into some of the early US political leaders and what made them great.

4. The Clatter of Forks & Spoons by Richard Corrigan
A birthday gift from my beloved, I saved this treasure of a book for holiday reading when we were in Ireland over Christmas. While I haven’t been inspired to try many of Corrigans recipes, it’s a stunning looking book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this very opinionated Irish chef’s views on food and life.

3. Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes.
A must read for anyone who has ever struggled with their weight. Debunking the theory that to lose weight we need to eat less energy than we use, this book explains the role of insulin in our bodies and how a low carb diet can promote weight loss. This is the second book that inspired me to run Reclaim Your Waistline at the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School

2. Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson.
A brilliant little book from the creator of one of my favourite food blogs, 101 cookbooks. It details 5 simple ways to get more natural whole foods into your diet. I learnt a HEAP of things from Heidi and chronicled some of the highlights in this post on Stonesoup.

1. The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss.
After inspiring me to quit my day job last year with his first book, the Four Hour Work Week, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Ferriss’ latest literary endeavor. As an avid self-experimenter, Ferris doesn’t disappoint with this inspirational guide to hacking the body. Everything is in there from how to lose weight effortlessly, to the 15 minute female orgasm, to running a marathon, to learning to swim, to combating insomnia – there’s something for everyone. This is one of the books that inspired me to run a class at the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School called Reclaim Your Waistline.

2010 Books Read:

To meet my goal of reading 26 52 books in 2010 I am cultivating the habit of reading for an hour at lunch time. Part of the habit change process is public accountability so I’ve setup this page to chronicle my reading.

52. The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau
As a big fan of Chris’ blog, I purchased a copy of his Empire Builder Kit during the year and have really been loving his daily business emails. Lots of good concrete advice and examples. This book, Chris’ first print book is an interesting insight into Chris’ philosophy but won’t have any surprises for anyone who has read his blog. Still worth a look though.

51. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwatrz
Recommended by Tim Ferriss in the 4 Hour Work Week, this book is an absolute inspiration! I wish I’d discovered it earlier but better late than never. Loved it so much that I’ve dedicated 2011 as the Year of Thinking BIG!

50. The Story Of Sushi by Trevor Corson
A wonderful book that follows the story of an American girl through three months of training at the California Sushi Academy. I can’t tell you how much I learned about fish and rice and seaweed. Fun and educational. But be warned, you’ll be craving Japanese food and dying to go to a sushi bar and order ‘omakase’

49. Committted by Elizabeth Gilbert
One of the things I love about Elizabeth Gilbert is that she’s a serious writer first and hasn’t let the wildly successful Eat Pray Love take her over. I also love her openness in sharing her quest to as she say, ‘make peace with marriage’. For anyone who has a healthy weariness of the institution, this is an eye opener not only in terms of Gilbert’s own journey but her incredibly thorough investigation of the history of marriage.

48. Crust it! by Gary Vaynerchuk
Even if you find Gary V’s personality a little over the top, you have to admire his energy and passion. I was a little surprised that he admitted that wine wasn’t his number 1 passion, but business development apparently is. An interesting insight into how Gary has become ‘the wine guy’ on the internet and grown his family business dramatically over the last few years.

47. Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
Another brilliant book that I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to read. Love the whole concept of different types of intelligence and why IQ is such a poor predictor of success in life outside of academia. If only I’d read this before I married my first husband ;)

46. The Long Tail by Chris Anderson
I find the whole concept of the long tail fascinating. The idea that by removing the bottlenecks of distribution, the market for things that aren’t hits expands but never actually becomes zero is truly eye-opening with the rise of the internet and digital products. Some interesting example of how long tails apply to different industries and markets but overall I found it a bit repetitive – one for scanning through rather than detailed perusal.

45. Trust Agents by Chris Brogan & Julien Smith
If you’re interested in social media and blogging, this could be a great read for you. I’m really enjoying the insights of two pioneers of blogging.

44. The Referral Engine by John Jantsch
By the author of duct tape marketing, the referral engine is a must read for any small business owner. Completely inspirational, I love the simple insights into why people refer goods and services and how you can turn your business into a referral machine. Especially love the sentiment that if people aren’t talking about your business it’s because your business is boring. Words to live by.

43. River Cafe Green by Rose Grey and Ruth Rodgers
Every time I read a River Cafe book I kick myself for not ever getting organised to eat there when I’ve been in dreary London town. Along with the Petersham Nurseries, Moro and Ottolenghi, its now firmly on the list. Since I’m trying to get more veggies in my life, this was a timely read. Loved the focus on different seasonal produce and found some surprising twists to Italian classics, still keen to try their tomato sauce with ginger and have bookmarked their marmalade and jam recipes for when the time is right.

42. Grazing: The Ramblings and Recipes of a Man Who Gets Paid to Eat by John Newton
So full disclosure, I’m a friend of John’s. I actually took one of his classes in food writing years ago. Let’s just say that if my writing ever gets to be 1/10th as good as John’s I’ll be a very happy girl. Grazing is a collection of essays on food. Filled with John’s wonderful personality and politicism. I particularly love the chapters from his years living in Spain. Be warned, anyone with a soft spot for the Iberian peninsular will be well and truly itching to return to her shores. Some wonderful insights into Australian food culture and its history also make this a wonderful read.

41. Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
You can’t help buy love Bourdain’s turn of phrase and his conspiratorial tone. No one could ever accuse him of not telling it exactly like it is. Often educational, and semi autobiographical, you’ll find yourself sometimes wishing you had Bourdains life (well maybe except for the suicidal junkie years). I loved this book so much, it’s a breath of fresh air and made me want to dig up a copy of kitchen confidential. Particularly loved his self confessed love-hate relationship with Alice Waters.

40. Smart Pricing by Jagmohan Raju
An interesting read if you’re into business and thinking about different pricing options. Particularly like the examination of Radiohead’s ‘pay what you think it’s worth’ model, but overall more of a big business focus.

39. The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers
Years ago, when I was living in California, I was lucky enough to dine at the Zuni Cafe. While it was a wonderful experience, I only now wish I’d read the book before I went. Never mind, I’ll just have to plot an excuse to travel to San Francisco so I can sample the Zuni’s world famous roast chicken with bread salad and their Zuni burger. In spite of only having very limited photographs, I love this book. It’s a wealth of both general cooking knowledge AND fresh, relatively simple recipes. Definitely worthy of adding to your collection.

38. Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights by Sophie Dahl
Another book I picked up by chance from the library, I’m so glad I did. I felt a surprisingly strong affinity for Miss Dahl and really enjoyed her frank, often humourous insights into her life and her food. The recipes are right up my alley. Simple and wholesome and focused on letting excellent ingredients do all the talking. I particularly love that she’s included a lamb recipe for her brother in spite of being vegetarian herself. Beautifully designed and photographed with some illustrations also by Dahl, it’s well worth checking out for yourself.

37. I only eat Bertoni: Italian Home Cooking by Alberto Iacano
I can’t believe there is a brilliant cafe in Balmain that I hadn’t heard of until I picked up their book at the library. While it’s a lovely read with the family story behind the cafe, the recipes didn’t exactly inspire. But then again, they were meant to be representative of the cafe and tell the story. Better to support these guys by visiting their cafe, rather than reading the book. Apparently they’re poised to open a new venture around Balmoral, so sounds like business is going well for them thankfully.

36. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get to reading this book. Probably because I thought it was going to be full of overhyped, misgiuded advice. But I couldn’t have been farther from the truth. I love Covey’s approach of living a principle centered life and all that goes along with it. Not only does he inspire you to be your best possible self, he also give you some tools to help you on your path. I particularly enjoyed his story about how he and his wife spent a year living on Hawaii and made a commitment to spend at least an hour each day just talking and getting to know one another better. This year of ‘deep understanding’ is an inspiration for couples everywhere. I’m sure the divorce rate would be dramatically different if we all took the time to really understand our partners.

35. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child et al.
You have to hand it to Julia for all her persistence in getting this book to print. Love her practical, no-nonsense approach to some very un-minimalist cooking. Quite like her unusual ingredients list / method layout and that she makes a note of what can be prepared ahead. Some of the recipes seem very dated – hello aspics? But the classics are still classics and well worth a look.

34. Linchpin by Seth Godin
I love Seths concept of Linchpins. It’s very refreshing to read of a solution to the endless drudgery of ‘working for the man’ that doen’t involve quitting your job to follow your dreams. Found his explanation of our lizard brain and ‘the resistance’ to creating things and getting them out the door incredibly insightful and useful. We could all benefit from applying the principle that ‘perfect is the enemy of done’.

33. The Food I Love by Neil Perry
While I’m a big fan of Neil Perry’s restaurants, especially both Sydney and Melbourne versions of Rockpool Bar & Grill, I’ve never been that excited by any of his books. Maybe it’s the male pony-tail thing? But I came across Food I Love at the library and decided to give it a go. And I’m really happy that I did. A great collection of classic recipes, with a few interesting twists. But the thing I really loved was Niel’s conversational style and the way he explained his reasoning for many different cooking things. It’s also a truly beautiful book with gorgeous light-filled photography – what more could a girl ask for?

32. Predictably Irrational – The hidden forces that shape our decisions by Dan Ariely
You have to admire Dan Arielly’s slightly nerdy love for social science. But his insights as well as his subtle sense of humour will have you fascinated and learning from start to finish. Love his approach to dealing with our irrationality in planning and putting processes in place rather than trying to fight a loosing battle. Anyone looking to sell things should at least read the chapter on the power of free.

31. Pork & Sons by Stephane Reynaude
This book should be mandatory reading for anyone who professes to have a love for all things pork. A gorgeous book of seriously tempting recipes coupled with the wonderful story of a family in the pork business and the people who are passionate about bringing their pork products to the world. Can’t wait to try the black pudding with walnuts & chestnuts.

30. The Tipping Point – how little things can make a big difference by Malcolm Gladwell
A fascinating look into what causes different phemonemon to occur. From the reduction in crime in New York city in the 90s to the reincarnation of Hush Puppies as a fashion statement it’s all there.

29. Julie & Julia: my year of cooking dangerously by Julie Powell
Given that my name is Jules and I love to cook, its hard not to feel an affinity for both Julie Powell and Julia Child. I’ll admit I didn’t really get into the blog – not enough pictures(!) but I loved the movie and decided to give the book a go. With fewer references to Julia Child’s life than I was expecting, I still enjoyed the book immensely. There’s something about Julie Powell’s honesty and lack of pretense that makes for compelling reading. I think her stories of her lack of ‘house-keeping prowess’ would make even the most slovenly of us feel virtuous by comparison, especially when you get to the maggot episode towards the end.

28. Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath
Absolutely mandatory reading for anyone who has a message they want to communicate. Love the approach of the Heaths in that they break down the key elements that make messages ‘sticky’ or memorable so that you don’t have to be a communications wizard to get the benefits of their wisdom. Some brilliant and entertaining examples pepper a well written, informative book. Probably the most useful book I’ve read this year, possibly this decade.

27. Real Fast Food. by Nigel Slater
I actually picked up this paperback version in Dublin but have been saving it for a special occasion. After the depressing Toast, Real Fast Food is an inspirational little book, packed with the type of food I love. Apart from the occasional use of sun dried tomatoes, it doesn’t show its age at all. Well worth a look.

26. The Google Story. By David A Vise
Something I picked up from the library as an audio book that has been surprisingly interesting. Really enjoyed the inspirational story behind the rise of Google. Especially love that the company mantra is ‘Don’t Be Evil’. A bit nerdy but fascinating at the same time.

25. Words That Work. By Frank Luntz
A book my Irishman recommended. Fascinating look at the way language shapes culture and politics. The whole premise is that ‘it’s not what you say that’s important, it’s what people hear’. Words to live by for anyone who hopes to make a living by the pen.

24. The River Cafe Classic Italian Cookbook by Rose Grey and Ruth Rogers
A beautiful collection of classic Italian recipes from the lovely River Cafe ladies. Love having all the well known Italian classics in one place along with a few new-to-me classics I’m excited to try. Also love reading about Grey and Rogers’ favourite Italian haunts. I need to find myself a job that requires an annual visit to Italy to choose olive oil.

23. Permission Marketing – Turning strangers into friends and friends into customers. by Seth Godin
I’m a fan of Seth’s blog and love hearing his perspective on the world in general and marketing in particular. Some excellent insights in the book as to the best way forward in marketing and how the internet can facilitate these strategies. The first audio book I’ve listened to in years.

22. Ottolenghi – the cookbook.
This is the most disappointing book I’ve purchased in years. Serves me right for buying it online without doing more research. The cover is beautiful and I’d heard rave reviews but the layout and food photography inside is mostly so bad I struggle to look. If it had have been unillustrated I think I would have warmed to the recipes much more. Call me superficial, but I expect my cookbooks to be a visual feast as well. I loved the story behind the London cafe and its founders and will definitely be visiting next time I find myself in that part of the world. I’m just stuggling to get the enthusiasm to cook anything out of the book. Would love to hear if someone else has had any successes with it.

21. Jamie’s America by Jamie Oliver
You have to love Jamie. When I first heard about this book and the series I had zero interest at all, but after watching a couple of episodes on a flight somewhere, I was hooked. It’s a real eye opener how diverse the American food scene really is when you take into account all the different migrant populations. After living in California for a few years, I developed a real love of the influence that the Mexican population has had but I hadn’t thought about all the other influences. Can’t wait to try the ribs and there are a few recipes using avocado cooked and served hot that I am curious to try.

20. Toast. The story of a boy’s hunger. by Nigel Slater
I had assumed that I would love this book. I mean any words that come from St Nigel are bound to capture the imagination. But for me, toast was mostly depressing. Sure there were some gems, like the way he remembers his Mum always burning the toast and as an aside says ‘I am nine years old and have never known butter without black bits in it’. It’s beautifully written, with that wonderful Slater sense of description that puts you immediately in the scene. But I found the experience of sitting in on Slater’s childhood terribly sad. The thought of a Dad who was distant I could cope with, and a mother who couldn’t make toast without burning it I was OK. But there’s a real loneliness that come through and an absence of a mother’s nurturing that is the polar opposite of my own childhood and it just made me feel sad. If you like your memoirs with gritty realism then this is a book for you.

19. What Einstein Told his Cook Kitchen Science Explained by Robert L Wolke.
Catchy title for a great little book of food science for the lay person. Really enjoying being reaquainted with the science behind so many cooking phenomenon.

18. Marcella says… by Marcella Hazan
Am very excited about discovering Marcella and have completely fallen under the spell of this legendary Italian cooking teacher who is now based in Florida of all places. A wonderful insight into traditional Italian food through the eyes of someone who has lived in the US and understands the difficulty of sourcing some ingredients outside of Italy. Very excited about making her veal and mushroom lasagne tonight!

17. Nose to Tail Eating – a Kind of British Cooking by Fergus Henderson
I absolutely loved this book. It did seem a little strange to be reading a book about all sorts of crazy offal on my last weekend as a vegetarian but I quickly got over any hesitation. I love Fergus’s approach to food and the respect he shows to his produce. There were actually quite a few delicious sounding vegetable dishes between the nose and the tail. I now have a whole pigs head on my list of things to cook before I die but I think I’ll try out his bone marrow on toast first up.

16. How to Cook The Perfect… by Marcus Wareing
My Irishman is a big fan of Marcus, as is Gordon Ramsay apparently. I picked this up from the Irishman’s collection and really enjoyed reading cover to cover. A few interesting tips but nothing world shattering. It did inspire me to make an old school baked pasta with bolognese sauce and a decadent cheesy topping. A good reminder of why spag bol is such a popular dish.

15. My Life in France by Julia Child
After seeing Julie and Julia last year, I’ve been curious to know more about the lady who taught America to cook French food. I love that she didn’t start cooking or writing until she was in her mid 30s. What a dynamo. Absolutely loving seeing post WWII Paris through her eyes. Also loving the experience of navigating the perilous seas of book writing, recipe testing and publishing with a master. A complete inspiration.

14. Appetite by Nigel Slater
I’ve been rationing myself through Nigel Slater’s back catalogue and it’s difficult not to devour everything he has written in one go. I thoroughly enjoyed Appetite. Some great simple recipe and tips and techniques. I love that after reading Mr Slater, you feel like you’re his new best friend. I also love his casual approach to cooking. He even inspired me to get into bread making. Now I just need to revisit it when I’m not being a vegetarian.

13. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I’ve always been a big fan of Oscar Wilde’s witty quotes. I especially like ‘All things in moderation, including moderation’ and ‘The only way to remove temptation is to yield to it’ but for some reason have never read any of his work. Being in Dublin inspired me to pick up a copy of Oscar’s only novel as they are featuring it as their book of the year. Wonderfully written as one would expect and interesting premise. One of those classics that is actually also a good read.

12. The Art of Bring Minimalist by Everett Bogue
I’ve been a big fan of Everett’s blog, Far Beyond the Stars since I discovered it in November last year. Everett is a much more hardcore minimalist than me. He stick to the 30 day rule of getting rid of anything you don’t use after 30 days and he has his personal posessions down to 75 or so. His first ebook is an inspirational collection of essays on the benefits of becoming a minimalist and how to go about reaching minimalist nirvana. He is a big advocate of following your dreams and his own personal story of how he quit his job with only $3000 in the bank and the goal of making a living solely from his writing and his blog has been fascinating to follow.

11. Family Food – a New Approach to Cooking by Heston Blumenthal
Family Food: A New Approach to CookingThis is a book that just happened to cross my path and I’m sure glad it did. I loved Heston’s books to accompany the TV series In Search of Perfection so when I found a copy of Family Food I just had to read it.

The focus of the book is on how Heston and his wife get their children involved in the kitchen. It’s full of classic recipes like roast chook and mashed potato. As always Heston adds a bit of science to explain the benefits of a particular method which I find fascinating. He also includes a heap of little taste experiments that both young and older cooks will learn from.

10. The Mindful Way Through Depression by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel V. Segal, Jon Kabat-Zinn
The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness: Guided Meditation Practices for the Mindful Way Through DepressionOK so first up – I’m not suffering from depression although the black dog has had a strong grip on my family with my Dad and brother both in treatment. So I was interested in the book from that perspective but it was recommended to me because it covers a heap about meditation and mindfulness. It’s also big on ways to become more in touch with your thoughts and feelings. Loving the guided meditation CD that accompanies the book – just the thing for dealing with sleeplessness and overcoming jetlag.

9. simply car free by tammy strobel
I’ve become a fan of Tammy’s simple living blog Rowdy Kittens and was lucky enough to do a book exchange with her for my new ebook ‘How to Bake Your Family Cookbook‘. Since I’m no longer commuting ridiculous distances I’ve been thinking about whether I really need a car and ‘Simply Car Free’ did give some very useful insights into the benefits of a car-less lifestyle and some great pointers on how to take the challenge.

8. movida rustica – spanish traditions and recipes by frank camorra & richard cornish
MoVida Rustica: Spanish Traditions and RecipesI was so tempted to pick up a copy of this book and take it with me to Barcelona last year, but luckily I was strong. A very thoughtful leaving gift from my colleagues at Arnott’s I’ve been saving this up for a while.

I absolutely loved the first Movida cookbook and from a quick flick through I’m sure this volume will be providing plenty of cooking inspiration for the coming months.

7. seasonal kitchen by Fratelli Fresh and Vogue Entertaining & Travel
As a massive fan of Fratelli’s Cafe Sopra, I leapt at the chance to trawl through Andy Bunn’s fabulous recipes. Most of my favourites from the cafe are there – vitello tonnato, shaved cabbage salad, zucchini flowers with 5 italian cheeses, beetroot salad with poached egg, italian meatballs with rich tomato sauce, baby cavalo nero with shaved brussels sprouts and poached egg, frittata and the warm salad of potato, oyster mushrooms and caccioccia.

If only they’d given the secret to their seriously amazing lamb ragu. and the orrechette with scallops, and the parsnip and gorgonzola soup – here’s hoping there’s a sequel.

6. I sang for my supper: memories of a food writer by Margaret Fulton
I Sang for My Supper: Memories of a Food WriterI actually went to the library in search of Julia Child’s biography and came home with a copy of Australia’s own cookbook writing legend. To be honest I’ve never been that keen on Margaret Fulton but reading her biography was an eye opener. I hope when I’m her age I can look back on my life with so many amazing memories.

The thing that really struck me is how global her food perspective was. We tend to think that the rich multicultural food culture that we now enjoy in Oz as a relatively recent development. But as Margaret demonstrates, the variety in Australian cuisine is not new.

5. A Day at elBulli by Ferran Adria
A Day at ElBulliThis is easily the largest book in my collection and another that’s been waiting for some attention for a while. I picked up a copy when I saw Ferran speak in Sydney in Oct 2008, had a quick flick through and then found it a useful place as a lamp stand. I had the best intentions of reading it before I made the pilgrimage to Spain to eat at the best restaurant in the world, but didn’t get to it. Kinda regretting this now.

Apart from a plethora of photos, there are some fascinating insights into Ferran’s creative process. The references to different techniques used, such as spherification and the sample recipes paint a colourful picture of how it all works. If you have any interest in getting a taste of the experience of dining at elBulli, this book is a comprehensive behind-the-scenes look – far more detailed than the minimalist review of my dinner over at breadshoes. And given that elBulli is now closing in 2012, the book is the closest I’ll ever get to reliving my most amazing food experience yet.

4. The Art of Eating by MFK Fisher
The Art of Eating This is one of those books that has been sitting patiently on my book shelf just waiting to be read. I’ve had a couple off attempts to get into MFK Fisher’s prose but she doesn’t seduce like my latest obsession – St Nigel (see below re. Nigel Slater – brilliant food wordsmith with no connection to the cricketer). This time I’m determined to at least see why she is considered one of America’s greatest food writers.

To be honest I really struggled to finish MFK. There were some interesting moments talking about frugal cooking during the war and using the liquid from canned vegetables as a stock but mostly I couldn’t get on her wavelength. ‘The gastronomical me’ was the most interesting section with autobiographical essays but even reading stories from the life of Mary Frances Kennedy didn’t make me really warm to her.

3. Tender Volume 1. A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater
Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch: v. 1 This was my Christmas gift to myself and I am well and truly hooked on Nigel Slater’s prose. The man can write. Love the whole package. Beautiful photography and type setting, interesting stories about vegetables and how to grow them and of course delicious sounding recipes that make you want to run out to the farmers market and get busy in the kitchen. Easily the best book I’ve read in years. Can’t wait to explore his back catalog.

2. Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch.
Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships May seem like a strange choice for a single divorced girl but when it comes to relationships I figure I can do with all the help I can get. Recommended by a friend. So far fascinating stuff. I love that it begins that ‘No one is ready for marriage but marriage makes you ready’.

Really enjoyed this book. Opened my eyes to the concept of self soothing and differentiation in relationships. Sounds a little heavy but basically Schnarch believes that in order to have a successful relationship both parties have to be able to sooth themselves when things are bad rather than relying on their partner to make everything OK. Some interesting stuff about intimacy as well. Particularly liked the concept of hugging until relaxed.

1. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
The Intelligent Investor The original book on value investing by the guy who taught Warren Buffet – the world greatest investor everything he knows. I thought it was going to be incredibly dry but found it fascinating. Really appreciated the modern updates by Jason Zweig. Basic lessons learned are that it’s more important to minimise losses in stockmarket than maximising profits as losses are much more difficult to come back from. That there’s a difference between ‘investors’ and ‘speculators’. And that the best strategy is still to buy low and sell high. But there’s a wealth of information in there. Best (and only) book I’ve ever read on investing.

2009 favourites

Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life The 4-hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich E-myth Revisited Rich Dad, Poor Dad Cents and Sensibility The Lovely Bones


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