Monday, January 24, 2011

Booking at Yellow House Books in Great Barrington, MA

Last Fall I had my annual Ladies Weekend getaway with my band of girlfriends. We've been vacationing together each November for the last twenty years, and while I haven't been able to attend each jaunt, it's always a treat to get away to a new locale, reconnect with my ladies and have a giant gab fest back at our hotel rooms. And drink copious amounts of wine and sample new varieties of cheese.

This past November we picked Great Barrington, Massachusetts as our destination and while most of our party enjoyed the nearby shopping outlets (blah!), my buddy Linda and I headed for our favorite kind of shopping: bookhunting.

We were both able to while away a pleasant couple of hours at Yellow House Books, a small used and rare bookstore located at 252 Main Street in downtown Great Barrington. The shop is small, but has a carefully selected range of interesting and unusual books. The front room has a nice selection of art and music, while the second room contains a fine array of antique children's books and illustrated volumes.

I spent most of my time in the innermost third room, which contained the history and cookbook sections, picking up some local history titles for the shop and a handful of unusual books for my personal collection. I was psyched to find a signed copy of John Thorne's book of autobiographical food essays "Outlaw Cook", a Sherlock Holmes cookbook and a delightful
"Cookbook for Booksellers", by Craig Claiborne, which was a promotional book handed out by the publisher to booksellers perhaps en masse at a large book fair or individually by a book sales rep to bookseller clients. This bibliophilic treat contains book quotes and recipes for such literary eats as Proust's Madeleines, a Virginia Woolf-inspired Boeuf en Daube, Clifton Fadiman's Yorkshire Buck, Lord Byron's Oyster Stew, Bookbinder's Soup, Tobias Smollett's Vitello
Tonnato and a Madras Curry for William Makepeace Thackeray.

The bookshop also had a nice selection of Modern Library editions (see above photo) which are one of my husband's favorite things to collect, so I will be bringing him back here to visit soon.

Yellow House Books is owned by Bonnie and Bob Benson, who were doing a brisk business on the Saturday morning I was there, so I did not get a chance to chat with them. The shop is open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm and on Sundays from noon to 5 pm. The phone number is: 413-528-8227.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Books I Read in 2010

I didn't think I had read as many books as I thought, but I guess I found time to read 106 books last year. I know I get a little obsessive when I find a good mystery series and start popping books down like candy. Such was the case with Michael Dibdin's excellent Aurelio Zen series set in contemporary Italy which I had started at the tail end of 2009 and finished up early in 2010. I dove deeper back into Italian history with Steven Saylor's crisply written, wonderfully detailed mystery series featuring ancient Roman detective Gordianus.

I read a fair number of books about books and biblionovels, the best of which was Geraldine Brooks' "The People of the Book". It seems everything that Brooks and her husband Tony Horowitz writes is wonderful and that spans humor, fiction, and non-fiction. The funniest and most enjoyable biblionovel series I discovered last year was Ian Sansom's books about London transplant Israel Armstrong, who takes a job as a bookmobile librarian in Northern Ireland and is just overwhelmed by things.

Foodie novels and memoirs were also much appreciated in 2010. My favorite foodie read was Madhur Jaffrey's "Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India", which I read and cooked from for the best darn virtual foodie book club out there, Cook the Books.

Here's hoping I get time to read the slew of great books that are weighing down my nightstand in 2011!

Medusa, by Michael Dibdin

Back to Bologna, by Michael Dibdin

End Games, by Michael Dibdin

Outside of a Dog: A Bibliomemoir, by Rick Gekoski

The People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks

March, by Geraldine Brooks

Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden Lives of Islamic Women, by Geraldine Brooks

The Girl of His Dreams, by Donna Leon

About Face, by Donna Leon

Murder is Binding, by Lorna Barrett

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie

The Dew Breaker, by Edwidge Danticat

Turning the Tables: Restaurants From the Inside Out, by Steven A. Shaw

Codex, by Lev Grossman

Deadly Slipper: A Novel of Death in the Dordogne, by Michelle Wan

The Dante Club, by Matthew Pearl

The Pedant in the Kitchen, by Julian Barnes

Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression, by Mildred Armstrong Kalish

Pomegranate Soup, by Marsha Mehran

Rosewater and Soda Bread, by Marsha Mehran

Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel

Death of a Maid, by M.C. Beaton

Death of a Village, by M.C. Beaton

Death of a Dustman, by M.C. Beaton

Roam Italy: A Teacher and His Students Take the Ultimate Class Trip, by Michael James D'Amato

India Exposed: The Subcontinent A-Z, by Clive Limpkin

Through Travel and Error: Confessions of an Asylum-Seeking Canadian, by Matt Hamilton

Letters to Zerky: A Father's Legacy to a Lost Son and a Road Trip Around the World, by Bill and JoAnne Walker Raney

Johnny Cash and the Paradox of American Identity, by Leigh H. Edwards

Nish'Ki: Cheyenne Grandmothers, Pillars of Strength, by Kay Schweinfurth

Close Calls and Happy Landings: Adventures in Boatbuilding, Flying and Life, by Fred McCarthy

The Case of the Missing Books, by Ian Sansom

Mr. Dixon Disappears, by Ian Sansom

The Book Stops Here, by Ian Sansom

The Bad Book Affair, by Ian Sansom

On the Road with Washington Irving, Chiefly in 1832, by Mary Weatherspoon Bowden

Eating for England, by Nigel Slater

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, by Vicky Myron

Somewhere South of Tuscany, by Diana Armstrong

A Thousand Days in Venice, by Marlena di Blasi

The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood, by Sy Montgomery

The School of Essential Ingredients, by Erica Bauermeister

Wrong About Japan: A Father's Journey with his Son, by Peter Carey

Secrets of the Tsil Cafe, by Thomas Fox Averill

Understood Betsy, by Dorothy Canfield

The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Hiding Place, by Trezza Azzopardi

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, A History, by Lewis Buzzbee

It's Never Just the Food: Recipes, Memories and Funny Stories of my Grandmother and Me, by Gregory Gallerano

Pass the Polenta and Other Writings from the Kitchen, by Teresa Lust

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney

Second Hand, by Michael Zadoorian

Lantern for the Dark, by Jessica Stirling

Spotted in France, by Gregory Edmont

How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved my Life, by Mameve Medwed

The Road from Coorain, by Jill Ker Conway

The Owl and Moon Cafe, by Jo-Ann Mapson

A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini

Gluten-Free Girl, by Shauna James Ahern

Plague: A Story of Science, Rivalry, and The Scourge That Won't Go Away, by Edward Marriott

Life Evolving: Molecules, Mind, and Meaning, by Christian de Duve

The Dawn of Symbolic Life: The Future of Human Evolution, by Jon Beach

Deep-Sea Detectives: Maritime Mysteries and Forensic Science, by Peter R. Limburg

Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India, by Madhur Jaffrey

Murder with Peacocks, by Donna Andrews

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

Mapping Human History: Discovering the Past Through Our Genes, by Steve Olson

Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess, by Gael Greene

Pomodoro! A History of the Tomato in Italy by David Gentilcore

Roman Blood, by Steven Saylor

The House of the Vestals, by Steven Saylor

Arms of Nemesis, by Steven Saylor

Catilina's Riddle, by Steven Saylor

The Venus Throw, by Steven Saylor

Murder on the Appian Way, by Steven Saylor

Rubicon, by Steven Saylor

Last Seen in Massilia, by Steven Saylor

Mist of Prophecies, by Steven Saylor

The Judgment of Caesar, by Steven Saylor

The Triumph of Caesar, by Steven Saylor

Exile in the Kingdom, by Robert Harnum

All Mortal Flesh, by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Luncheonette, by Steven Sorrentino

The Discomfort Zone, by Jonathan Franzen

Don't Try This At Home: Culinary Catastrophes from the World's Greatest Chefs, edited by Kimberly Witherspoon and Andrew Friedman

The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett

Brick Lane, by Monica Ali

The Big One: The Earthquake that Rocked Early America and Helped Create a Science, by Jake Page and Charles Officer

No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach, by Anthony Bourdain

Triangle: The Fire That Changed America, by David von Drehle

Alligators, Old Mink & New Money: One Woman's Adventures in Vintage Clothing, by Alison and Melissa Houtte

London Holiday, by Richard Peck

Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, by Nicholson Barker

Dial 999: A Jon Hunter Mystery, by H.L. Raven

The Last Templar, by Michael Jecks

The Merchant's Partner, by Michael Jecks

A Moorland Hanging, by Michael Jecks

The Bookseller and Other Stories, by Gunilla Caulfield

The Ghost and Mrs. McClure, by Alice Kimberly

Messages Found with the Carving Knife, by Pam Maneeratana

Cheese, Pears, and History in a Proverb, by Massimo Montanari

The Tin Roof Blowdown, by James Lee Burke

Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast, by Bill Richardson

How to Cook a Tart, by Nina Killham

The Farmer's Wife Guide to Growing a Great Garden and Eating From It, Too!, by Barbara Doyen

Connie Cobbler, Toy Detective, by James DeSalvo