All posts in: book awards

16 Sep 2013

2013 Cybils Awards

Oh, 2013, where did you go? Wasn’t it just a few months ago that I was maxing out my library holds, throwing out my shoulders carrying home huge piles of weekend reading, waking up in the still hours of the freezing-cold-ass morning to plow through a quick book about the entire Civil War?

Nevertheless, it is time for the 2013 Cybils Awards. I am happy to be serving on the NEWLY CREATED (differentiated, migrated, mutated) Young Adult Nonfiction committee as a first round judge. Bring on the library holds! The spreadsheets! The ibuprofen!

Here are last year’s short-listed titles – some of my favorite reading in 2013, actually. And wow, did I learn so much about a bunch of random crap this year. Nonfiction committee work keeps you SMART, guys. I’m this much closer to being a certified genius.

Nominations for all Cybils categories will open October 1st – visit and nominate your favorite reads. If you have any early leads on a YA nonfiction title… uh… let me know. I have read all of zero YA nonfiction books this year! Which should make the next few months really REALLY fun! Right? But yeah, I’m going to need a 2 week head start, so send me any recommendations.

24 Feb 2013

Alex Awards, 2013

I think this wraps up my gaggle of ALA awards posts for the season… I could keep going and talk about them all, of course, but limits are a good thing.

I have been enjoying looking back at last years winners and seeing which books I read, which ones are still on my radar. From last year’s Alex Awards, I didn’t read anything more than the book I’d already read, but everyone and their second cousin read Ready Player One and are still talking about it from time to time, I checked out The Night Circus three times without reading it, and I just put Salvage the Bones on my eReader.

One Shot at Forever by Chris Ballard

I have been thinking about high school sports lately, because wow, is there anything I don’t understand more than high school sports? I am the least sporty person alive. I played a few years of JV tennis while not being a sporty person and not really understanding high school sports. My brain-body coordination can’t be trusted. My ability to join in on a Team Mentality is lacking.

I could take all this and say “No, I should not read a book about a high school baseball team because I just won’t get it,” or I could say “I should read a book about a high school baseball team because I would like my brain to be more open to things the world seems to understand that I don’t.” That is the difference between an enlightened, wise reader and one who is not. I am not sure which reader I am.


My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

It has just recently come to my attention that I probably know more about serial killers than I do high school sports.

This is a graphic novel about Jeffrey Dahmer, created by someone who knew Dahmer as a teen. This sounds right up my alley, but I have heard some mixed reviews from my friends on Goodreads. I will probably check it out, though, because graphic novels are just SO easy to put on hold, so check-out-able.


Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

One thing I like about the Alex Awards is that it reliably highlights some high-profile adult books from the year that have teen appeal. Secret YA books are all around us! Adults, even adults who purportedly hate YA, read them all the time! And put them on their Best Adult Books for Adults lists every year!

This book is a magical-realism, pseudo-fairytale about a crazy bookstore. I should probably read this post-haste.


Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Cut and paste first paragraph previous. This book got so much buzz in the Fall, and was written by an Arrested Development writer. Again, I post-haste.


Pure by Julianna Baggott

I recognize the name “Julianna Baggott” because she has written adult books with teen appeal before. A cross-over author. Pure is a dystopia for adults… a cross-over genre. A cross-over cross-over.

Sounds intriguing, but I pretty much don’t read dystopias any more unless there is a gun to my head, so I will probably skip it.


Juvenile in Justice by Richard Ross

Out of this year’s Alex bunch, I’ve heard the most about this title. It is purported to be powerful – photography of juvenile detention facilities, collected over five years – but is not available through traditional book vendors, really. There aren’t even any new copies on Amazon! As someone who thinks a lot about how libraries build collections, relationships between publishers and vendors and libraries, and how awards shift publication practices, I’m interested to see how this one pans out. I, for one, would love to get my hands on it for my library.


Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

I’m going to ignore the contents of this book and focus on the cover, since I am an unashamed, unabashed book-cover-judger. Love good cover art. Love love love it.

This is a great cover, right? A bear. A silhouette. A teapot (?). Ribbons. Hand-lettering. Swirly swirls. Love it. I put it on hold months ago just because of the cover. I’m glad it seems to be getting some attention for it’s literary contents because otherwise that would be a fine cover wasted.


The Round House by Louise Erdrich

The Alex Awards seem to have a steady relationship with the National Book Awards. Or, the National Book Awards have a strange favoritism for Secret YA Books. Or, Secret YA books are awesome and are universally loved.

Anyway, The Round House won the National Book Award, and here it is on the Alex List. I am number 44 in line on the hold list.


Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman

Any protagonist who is described as “the least likely of Girl Scouts” is a protagonist I’d like to meet. That is all.


Caring is Creepy by David Zimmerman

This book sounds like a completely frightening read – parents involved in drug deals, meeting strangers on the Internet, something that sounds like a teenage girl kidnapping a grown man… and I appreciate the title invoking the title of a Shins song that is probably the least frightening song in existence.


17 Feb 2013

Caldecott Awards, 2013


This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

Jon Klassen is a very clever fellow and a talented artist with style that is quite en vogue – spare white backgrounds, simple figures and color schemes, etc. I personally liked the art/aesthetic in I Want My Hat Back better, but I think that’s just because there’s so much BLACK in This Is Not My Hat. It’s jarring. But I am glad to see Klassen get his due. Especially because I am on Team Candlewick.


Creepy Carrots! by Peter Brown and Aaron Reynolds

I haven’t had a chance to look at this book yet, but I definitely flagged it some time during the Fall as one of those books that I thought was uncommonly weird. I can dig uncommonly weird books getting major awards. I can.

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

I love how simple and painterly this book is. A simple concept book that is beautiful and spare. Not even a concept book, really, just a book about green. Green! The concept of green. If you can make a book about green and rock it out, you can get a Caldecott Honor – fine by me.

One Cool Friend by David Small and Toni Buzzeo

Another one I haven’t read yet, but I worked for 2 years at a library in Western Michigan so David Small is a hometown hero. Woohoo!

Extra Yarn by Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett

This one, I like. A lot. And I’m not just saying that because I watched these two young men charm the pants off of a room of librarians. I’m saying that because it’s a book about knitting that is clever and colorful and lovely.

And also, I was one of those librarians.

Sleep Like a Tiger by Pamela Zagarenski and Mary Logue

Alright, I haven’t read this one either. I am bad at reading picturebooks. And also, this one got caught in our library-not-ordering log jam. I will judge a book by it’s cover and say that I would like it. It looks like the kind of art you might rip out of a book and frame to hang on the wall of your trendy child’s nursery.

02 Feb 2013

Michael L. Printz Awards, 2013

Awards!! Yay!!

What better a way to spend an hour on Monday morning than tuning into the livecast? Last year, I was commuting during the announcements, but this year I saved some special, boring data-related work tasks to do while I watched, and then BAM it was lunch – morning well spent.

Congrats to Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina for taking home the William C. Morris last week. Commenter Sarah pretty much insisted it would win, so I put it on hold, and then it won and I felt like a prescient rockstar, even though it wasn’t my idea at all. Shall we continue our ALA Youth Media Award Blitz with a little more YA? I think so…



In Darkness by Nick Lake

Have I mentioned how much I love awards? I do love awards, I do! In Darkness is one reason why I love awards – because even when you read and read and read and follow the buzz and there are books you just know are going to win… well, that awards committee is reading books that you’ve never even heard of. And those invisible books are awesome, so they win.

I had not heard of In Darkness, but I think I saw the phrase “drinking blood to survive” in a review, so I’m guessing intense, crazy, and awesome.


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Well, well. We meet again. This winner was the one that excited most of my friends and colleagues – I can think of two folks who read it between Monday and today, work book-club picked it for next month… and I’m thinking about how I renewed it five times and it sat on the floor by my bed, unread for all five renewals.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Well, no surprise here! I haven’t read this. I need to read it. It is sitting within my arm’s reach right now. I could reach over and read it, I could! But I’m not, because I am writing this post and watching Girls for the umpteenth time and I don’t always make great decisions with my time. There you have it.

Dodger by Terry Pratchett

I also love awards because the books and authors that are New! and Flashy! and So-Good! often obscure those authors that have chugged along, writing books that aren’t full of flash, for years and years and years and continue to do so. Like Terry Pratchett. I’ve only read Nation which also won a Printz honor – and I liked it; long, wordy but not dense, playful, funny. Dodger apparently stars both Charles Dickens and Sweeney Todd, which sounds like madcappy fun.

The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna

The dark horse of this year’s Printz. This is the third in a series, which means if you want to read it, you’ll have to get a hold of two other books first. And by “you” I mean “me” – maybe you are not such a series purist. This series is about a teenage girl with Aspergers, and in this installment, she travels to France on a babysitting job… which sounds like a book that I would love, so maybe I’ll start hunting down books one and two?

26 Jan 2013

William C. Morris Award, 2013

Did you know that this weekend is the ALA Midwinter Conference? And that on the last morning of the conference, at the crack of dawn, all of the ALA Youth Media Awards are announced?

Are you suitably excited?

I had the privilege of attending ALA Midwinter a few years ago. Those awards were announced so early, I tell you, that the conference shuttle buses weren’t running yet and I had to beg and plead my dear boy/chauffeur to drive us all the way to the Waterfront, which is an annoying trip straight through downtown Boston. Before we bought a GPS. Also, there was some sort of nasty January Nor’easter going on – I saw a girl almost get swept off her feet from the wind and the rain, I swear it up and down.

Anyway, this is how much we all love the ALA Youth Media Awards. Our moment of cultural influence, of glam, a lot of EXCEEDINGLY hard-working committee members put in the work and we will risk our lives to show up at 4:30 a.m. to hear the announcements.

I can’t wait until next week to start talking about ’em, so here is the William C. Morris shortlist for you – the top five YA books written by debut authors in 2012. In a few days, one will be the winner! I have read zero, so I have no opinion. I should really consider actually reading award nominees – I just referred to last year’s Morris Award and since that announcement, I’ve read one! One!! For shame. Anyway, more of these posts to come, because even if I never read any award books, I still love ’em.

Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby

A period piece about runaway teenagers and traveling circus freak shows. I was not at all inclined to read this book, but after reading a few summaries enough to write that pitiful last sentence, I am kind of intrigued. Also, a 20-something  guy who had no business being in a children’s bookstore bought this book when I was working, once, claiming he had no idea what YA was and didn’t usually buy books like this, and although it was a bit ridiculous, it was cute. I hope he reads lots of YA now. Probably not, but maybe this book changed his entire life and I should read it and see!


Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

This is one of my five romances, but it is still “on order,” meaning I may have months ahead of me. This is an Australian import, I believe, about an independent 15-year-old young lady and her maybe-not-so-impossible crush on her older male coworker. Can we please give a cheer for contemporary humor/romance appear on awards lists? Yay! Rah!


Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Dragons. Princes and Princesses. Characters named Glisselda, places named Goredd. Not my cup of tea. However, I have been playing a lot of Skyrim; perhaps enough that dragons seem cool. Perhaps. Oh, and everyone I know who read it has loved it. So maybe I should stop being such a fantasy stick in the mud.


After the Snow by S.D. Crockett

I am still feeling ambivalent toward dystopias and haven’t read any new ones since Divergent a year ago. However, The Boy is currently re-reading Life As We Knew it and telling me about his reading every few days, reminding me of how freaky it would be to have no sun or no power, how we need to store more food, how we should get a place with a wood stove, etc. Anyway, After the Snow sounds like a dystopia with more of a survivalist bent, like Life As We Knew It, which I appreciate.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

Put this one in the category of “Books I keep checking out/renewing but never actually reading because other books get in the way.” Yeah, I know. Sad story. Protagonist Cameron Post loses her parents and discovers her sexuality almost at the same time, and her life changes dramatically while also going through related emotional traumas. Well, I guess I’ll put it on hold AGAIN… try harder this time around!


If I had to make a prediction of which book will win, without having read any of the five, my instinct says…. Wonder Show. I don’t know why, that’s just my gut. And the guy I sold it to in June of 2012. That’s all I’m going on. We will find out in just a few short days!! Happy Awards Season!!


07 Jan 2013

Cybils YA/MG Nonfiction Shortlist

There was a strange day a few weeks ago, when I woke up in the morning and had the strangest thought:

“Gee… I don’t have to read any nonfiction books today!”

Almost three months of wild and crazy nonfiction reading, we whittled an extremely large amount of books – too many of which were just REALLY AMAZING – into a very short short list. This was especially challenging because we were reading everything beyond picturebooks – books for third-graders, books for twelfth graders, and everything in between. At times, it felt like we were comparing apples and oranges. Or Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln.

Some of these were my all-time favorites of 2012, and I was just delighted when the rest of my committee agreed. Here are the stellar books we decided on – you can read full blurbs on the Cybils page. Now it’s up to the second round committee to pick a winner – I do not envy this task, but am excited for February 14th to see which book will be the big winner!

I did enjoy my inaugural Cybils experience… but I will also enjoy reading whatever the heck I want for awhile.

Bomb: The Race to Build – an Steal – the world’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin (review here)

Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan’s Rescue from War by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch (review here)

Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loves Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson (review here)

Moonbird: A Year on the Wing with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose (review here)


23 Dec 2012

Habibi by Craig Thompson

#1: Habibi by Craig Thompson

I read Craig Thompson’s Blankets many, many years ago. I had never read a graphic novel before, didn’t really know that such a thing existed. Comics were about superheroes, were slim, made of crunchy paper as far as I was concerned. I was too busy falling in love to be surprised that Blankets was none of the above – it was a doorstop of a book full of thick lined illustrations, teenagers in love, and a protagonist that was just the kind of boy that I wished would jump off the page and just love me already.

It took Thompson seven years to complete his next book – Habibi. I was excited, but wary. From the descriptions, it sounded like a completely different story. When I find an author I love, I hope that they will keep making great books, but maybe I also hope they will keep making the same book. An autobiographical coming of age graphic novel told in the Midwestern USA begets another. Habibi was fiction – fantastic fiction, nonetheless! – about non-Western culture. I was wary.

Change of scene: Christmas Day 2011 at my parents’ house. Just like any other Christmas of my life, the day is fun because A) I get to lounge around in your pajamas all day with your family B) I get to eat delicious foods and C) there are new games to play, books to read, CDs to listen to, blankets to cuddle under, movies to watch, etc. You will never be bored on Christmas Day.

But unlike any other Christmas day before it, all I want to do on December 25th, 2011, is read a library book. Habibi.

The story is set in a fictionalized present-day Islamic world – a setting that feels more like a desert, timeless, fairytale landscape than anything else. Our protagonist is Dodola, a very young girl who has been sold into marriage to a much older man, a scribe, who teaches her to read, to write, and the relationship between stories and words to their shared religion. Dodola is kidnapped, but manages to escape and finds refuge with a very young boy – Zam – who has escaped slavery of his own; the two form a family, holed up together in a wooden ship stranded in the desert, growing up together and surviving together, even when that survival means making unspeakable sacrifices.

Over the course of the novel, Dodola and Zam are children and they are adults. They love each other as family and sexually. They are separated and reunited. They are powerful and powerless. Dodola saves Zam and Zam saves Dodola, each in turn. They travel through the desert, into fairytale-like palaces, and then urban slums. They come together, they come apart, and their story is interwoven with stories from the Q’uran, stories Dodola and Zam both turn to in their times of need. Epic is probably the only appropriate word for this story.

But all plot aside, the art. Oh, the art! What Thompson has done with his art is nothing short of breathtaking. Is there such thing as epic art? Yes, and it is here. From the end papers on through all 700+ pages, each spread is a dream, a fantasy – ornate and embellished with dizzying patterns.The single and double page spreads are a particular joy; the art extends to the edge of the page, making you want to stare into each piece until you’re certain you’ve gotten all you can from each one.

I’ve had friends and professors tell me that reading graphic novels should take longer than prose, because it takes time to take in each image and how it relates to the text, how the story moves from panel to panel. I, however, am more prone to flip through them like I’m eating a bag of chips – enjoying but not necessarily nourishing myself or feeling great about the whole greasy mess. As I entered my second day of reading Habibi, I started to think that my preference for haste had been proven wrong. But then again, maybe I’d just never encountered a graphic novel that begged me not just to read, but savor.

And with that, we have reached the end of the 2012 Best Reads Extravaganza! I am exhausted. If you missed any posts, check out this page to catch up. Thanks for playing along friends – I hope y’all had as pleasant a Reading Year as I did!

21 Dec 2012

Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet

#2: Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet

A few months after I read Life: An Exploding Diagram, I had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Peet make a small speech regarding his book. Without trying too hard to paraphrase, the gist of Mr. Peet’s message was that despite trying very hard to bore, perplex, or perhaps even offend an American audience with the content of his latest book, by gum, here was an awards committee that not only read the darn thing, but decided to give it an honor.

This book spans generations, straddles genres, is questionably even young adult literature, consists of only about 65% narrative, and stars a usually heroic young American President in a decidedly unflattering light.

But I love love loved it anyway; it’s one of those books that you tell everyone to read even though they might not like it and then your heart might break, but then they all do love it, your picky friends, your not-so-picky friends. Your sister leaves you a voicemail asking “Clem and Frankie end up together… right?” and you know immediately who she is talking about. And it warms your damn heart, restores your faith in the world a bit, that books like this can exist and you can share them with the ones you love.



Let me tell you this about my grad school experience… early in 2009, I was putting concerted effort into “reading widely across genres.” I gave myself 10 “slots” for books each month, and tried to fill in the first five with different genres – YA Fiction, Juvenile Nonfiction, Adult Fiction, etc. By April, I had set my academic course (aka wrote some deposit checks) on a path towards a children’s literature degree. By April, I’d also become weary of “reading widely.” It was hard. Uncomfortable. I would rather just read and re-read my favorite books and authors, ya know?

So one of the things I found exciting about a children’s lit degree was the prospect of a Syllabus! I longed for someone to tell me what to read (see also: Marriage). And although I watched new releases pass me by for three years, and every semester I reached a point where all I wanted was to read ANYTHING that wasn’t 19th century/realism/taking place on Mars, I discovered so many genres and authors that I never would have given a second chance otherwise.

See: Historical Fiction. If you had asked me in 2009 if I would like to read a book about teenagers in Scotland in 1952 (that starts with 50 or so pages detailing THEIR parents’ and grandparents’ heritage and history), and that can also legitimately classified as a book ABOUT the Cuban Missile Crisis? I would have certainly laughed mightily, either in my mind or later after you left the room. Perhaps I would discredit your future book recommendations completely. Who knows, it was 2009, I was ruthless back then.

However, it is 2012, and I just read Mal Peet’s Life: An Exploded Diagram and I loved it I loved it I loved it so much. It is everything I described above, yes, but don’t be afraid. The family heritage bit is actually pretty brief, and mostly humorous. The historical retelling of the Cuban Missile Crisis is actually interesting, especially for me, who felt suddenly shamed to realize that even after XX years of history courses, I knew NOTHING about this incredible moment in US history. The narrator is a likeable, knowledgeable, and cheeky guide through this all.

But what wraps it all up in a delicious package is The LOVE STORY. Oh, there is a love story, a first love story, that is so evocative, so touching, and at times, downright steamy. Peet knows what he is doing when he alternates chapters here, teasing you into being interested in JFK because you know there’s another chapter of romance when you finish.

And the ending. Agh, the ending! This is a terrible review, I realize, but after you read this ending, you will think that every other novel’s conclusion was more of a lame fizzle, a drag-out, a ramble on. Peet? He has written here an Ending, capital-E-, practically Hollywood worthy, throw your book down and gasp-worthy.

Gush gush gush glow glow glow, please drop what you are doing and pretend like you are desperate to learn more about JFK’s early presidency so you will not waste another moment of your life not reading this book! Consider it your syllabus for the month.



19 Dec 2012

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

#4: This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

I like book awards good and well, but some book awards I ignore because I assume that since a book has won that particular medal, I will not like this book. Pulitzer, Nobel, Booker, National Book  – awards that supposedly go to the cream of the crop.The dual-edged sword of book awards, I suppose.

Why? Well, I am a curmudgeon with a taste for YA, no patience for the Long and the Dense, and prefer narratives that deviate from the Western White Male experience. Also see: curmudgeon.

Junot Diaz is an author who wins these big awards. But I read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao anyway. And instead of gaining a new respect for these venerable awards, instead of saying “Well, these Pulitzer winners must not be all that bad!” Instead of either of those logical reactions, I found myself wondering why in the world these award committee and critics would latch onto  a book that is so… not long not dense, neither Western nor White? Huh?

Now, I liked Oscar Wao, yes. But This Is How You Lose Her won me over. Written as a series of interconnected short stories, This is How You Lose Her is Yunior’s life, moving back and forth from his childhood, teenage, and adulthood, and focusing on women. His mother. His brother’s high school girlfriends, hanging around the house when Yunior was a child. His own high school girlfriends, his fiancee as he begins a career as a writer and his many girlfriends on the side. The woman who is pregnant with his child.

I wish that I could do this book justice here, but I really can’t. If you haven’t read Diaz’s prose, then you are missing out – it is fluid, readable, clever, and casual. This is a book about love and its many faces, and how people become the people they are – some of my favorite things to read about. I wish that all big award winning books could be like this one, and I hope that your library’s wait-list isn’t as long as mine.


18 Dec 2012

Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach

#5: Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach

I don’t have a tremendous amount of background in this particular breed of nonfiction, but is it just me or are we in the midst of some kind of literary-cookbook renaissance? A few years ago I checked out Alice Waters’s The Art of Simple Food looking for a little kitchen inspiration (I’d probably just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, forgive me) and read it cover to cover. Read a cookbook. It was a strange feeling, but it sped by just like any other nonfiction text, only when I was done my book was full of post-it notes flagging recipes I wanted to try. I know that cooking memoirs were a thing, but this kind of book was more food than memoir, but just as readable and interesting.

Would it be cheesy to say I devoured this book? Well, I did. Ate it right up. Rosenstrach, who you might remember from this New York Times article or from her popular blog is just a ridiculously affable narrator of her own life. The book moves chronologically. Rosenstrach is a young urban professional looking for impressive dinner party recipes to squeeze in between trying new restaurants. Then she is a newlywed, beginning her life with a similarly foodie husband, their busy professional lives meeting every night at the dinner table. Then she is a new mother with a commute still determined to put something healthy on the table, then a stay at home mom. Probably drawing on her impressive Dinner Diary, Rosenstrach shares the best recipes of each season of life, the ones she relied on most, the ones worth remembering. As someone who can’t even remember what she cooked last week much less last year, this is an interesting, thoughtful way to frame a life.

I enjoyed Rosenstrach’s life story, yes, but I also appreciated the somewhat multimedia approach she gets at this story. Yes, there are vignettes, yes there are recipes. But there are also family photos, humorous conversations between Rosenstrach and her husband, handwritten bits, must-have kitchen items, etc. I especially liked her How to Feed A Family of Picky Eaters With One Dish technique of deconstructing traditional “grown-up” dishes to please most palates – any mother who can turn a frustrating dinner situation into a culinary challenge is the kind of mother I’d like to be.

This would be a lovely book even if all the recipes were complicated, gross, or inedible. But they are not. They are my exact kind of recipes – simple enough for weeknights, made of real foods, tasty and straightforward. I checked this book out and have renewed it a million times and have probably dirtied it up beyond acceptable library condition. I have little “DALS”‘s written all over my own dinner planning sheets. Favorites? Chicken and brussels sprouts and spicy zucchini eggs. You can probably find them on her website, or you could just do yourself a favor and buy the book. But ultimately, I don’t think I would have made so many of these recipes if I didn’t like the rest of the writing, the package, the Rosenstrach charm. The best part about these cooking memoirs and guides and blogs is that the writing and the stories create a sense of intimacy and trust that “celebrity chefs” just can’t do, inviting even novice chefs to try their hand at feeding themselves and their families. I make a “DALS” recipe because I trust it – Jenny wouldn’t do me wrong. I am glad that while I learn how to cook, I have these at-home chefs to ease me along and help me eventually trust myself to make tasty food, every night.