Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at the Delaware County District Library! I know that many of our patrons include a stop to the library in their holiday and travel plans, so I wanted to be sure to let readers know that all locations of the Delaware County District Library will close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 22, and remain closed through the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, Nov. 23. Branches reopen with their regular operating hours on Friday, Nov. 24.
This week, I had the pleasure of talking with one of our staff members who is an expert in the area of food. As we spoke about beloved family recipes and holiday traditions, she couldn’t help but gush over some of her favorite cookbooks that hit the shelves in 2023.
At the top of her list was “Start Here: Instructions for Becoming A Better Cook” by Sohla El-Waylly. This incredibly popular cookbook will probably not make it to your table in time for Thanksgiving meal planning, but it may help you gather some new ideas for next year. El-Waylly teaches you foundational techniques and basic food science to help you hone your skills and intuition.
Whether you’re a skilled veteran who wants to look at things from another perspective or you’ve never even boiled an egg, the topics in this book are indispensable to any cook. El-Waylly believes a good cook should be afraid of anything in the kitchen, and that every skill you learn will help you confidently try new cuisines, get creative in the kitchen, and – most importantly – make dinner.
Next up for best-of-the-best of 2023 cookbooks was “Go-to Dinners: Make Ahead, Freeze Ahead, Prep Ahead, Easy, Assembled” by the one and only Ina Garten. Though Garten’s recipes in the past may have seemed difficult or “too fancy,” the ones within these pages are tried and true. In “Go-to Dinners” the popular cooking show host and New York Times bestselling author shares her strategies for making delicious, satisfying, and uncomplicated dinners, including such dishes as overnight mac & cheese, Tuscan white bean soup, chicken in a pot with orzo, and roasted vegetables with jammy eggs.
Rounding out the top three is the also very popular “Make It Japanese: Simple Recipes for Everyone” by Rie McClenny. Eighty-five satisfying, soulful, everyday recipes are presented by the beloved BuzzFeed Tasty food personality. “Make It Japanese” reflects Rie’s journey living in the United States for over 15 years and learning to cook heartfelt recipes from home from scratch, often using only ingredients from her local supermarket. Check it out for the bright, beautiful photography alone.
If you find yourself with a minute to spare, try a biography or memoir this week. Here are some that recently made their way to our shelves, and books similar to them.
• “Everything/Nothing/Someone” by Alice Carrière. Alice Carrière recounts her privileged yet dysfunctional upbringing as the child of actor Mathieu Carrière and artist Jennifer Bartlett, her battles with dissociative disorder, and her journey toward healing in this unflinching debut. Read-alike: “Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls” by T Kira Madden.
• “Talking To My Angels” by Melissa Etheridge. Grammy- and Academy Award-winning rock icon Melissa Etheridge follows up her 2001 memoir “The Truth Is…” with further candid reflections on her life and career. Read-alike: “Saved by a Song: The Art and Healing Power of Songwriting” by Mary Gauthier.
• “Wifedom: Mrs. Orwell’s Invisible Life” by Anna Funder. Prizewinning author and former human rights attorney Anna Funder’s insightful biography of writer Eileen O’Shaughnessy, George Orwell’s first wife, reveals the invaluable influence she had on the 1984 author’s life and career. Funder’s evocative account includes newly discovered letters O’Shaughnessy wrote to her best friend. Read-alike: “Orwell’s Roses” by Rebecca Solnit.
• “Chinese Prodigal: A Memoir in Eight Arguments” by David Shih. In his thought-provoking debut memoir in essays, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire English professor David Shih, born to Chinese immigrant parents, explores his complex relationship with his Asian American identity. Read-alike: “Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning” by Cathy Park Hong.
• “Thicker Than Water” by Kerry Washington. Emmy Award-winning actor Kerry Washington intimately charts her path to self-discovery in this moving debut memoir. Read-alike: “Finding Me” by Viola Davis.
If you have a question that you would like to see answered in this column, mail it to Nicole Fowles, Delaware County District Library, 84 E. Winter St., Delaware, OH 43015, or call us at 740-362-3861. You can also email your questions by visiting the library’s web site at www.delawarelibrary.org or directly to Nicole at [email protected]. No matter how you contact us, we’re always glad you asked!