What I’ve Been Reading Lately

Still sick but slowly on the mend…this has been one doozy of a month, complete with missing a heart-breaking amount of work. No story times = very unhappy Jane. But at this point there’s nothing I can do but rest, take my medicine, and focus on getting better.

While I love Netflix as much as the next housebound invalid, reading has been what’s truly kept me from losing my mind these past few weeks. Here’s another short list of a few of the books I’ve been devouring on the couch.

52 Loaves / William Alexander


I have a soft spot for people who dedicate themselves whole-heartedly to inconsequential quests, particularly when those quests are just a little bit ridiculous. In 52 Loaves, William Alexander commits himself to the task of baking the perfect loaf of bread. Much to the bemusement of his family, he decides to bake a loaf of peasant bread every week for an entire yea, hence the 52 loaves. In between baking experiments, Alexander travels to Morocco to bake his dough in a traditional communal oven, makes his own starter using wild yeast, teaches the monks of a French monastery how to bake peasant bread, attends cooking school in Paris, builds his own backyard brick oven, and more, all in the pursuit of perfection. Madcap, hilarious and more than a little bit zany, this light-hearted romp really picked me up when I was feeling pretty sorry for myself sitting in a hospital bed.

The King of Vodka / Linda Himelstein


Worthy of a film adaptation, this sweeping saga tells the larger-than-life story of Piotr Smirnov, founder of the Smirnov vodka dynasty. Rising from the humblest of origins as a serf in the Russian countryside, Smirnov built an empire in a true rags-to-riches epic. Interspersed with some of the most famous names in Russian history, from Lenin to Tolstoy to Chekhov, and ranging in period from the 1860s to the 20th century, The King of Vodka reveals the incredible story behind this household name.

A Walk in the Woods / Bill Bryson


There are times, when you’re wallowing in self-pity and blankets, when all you want to do is escape. Somewhere. Anywhere. And ideally have a good laugh while you’re at it. At those times, few authors will serve you better than Bill Bryson. Not only will you get to vicariously travel somewhere new, you’ll have a hilarious time doing so, and you’ll learn a thing or too as well, and feel smarter for having had the experience. In this madcap yet thoughtful memoir, Bryson decides to tackle the 2,000+ mile (estimates vary, as you’ll see in the book) Appalachian Trail, running from Georgia to Maine. Out of shape, middle-aged and neurotic (in the best possible way), Bryson isn’t exactly hiking material, which makes him just the sort of guide most of us can readily relate to. Bryson’s feelings about bears in particular made me laugh out loud, having had a similar close encounter of my own in Yellowstone National Park. Escapist literature at its very best.


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