Comfort food and comfort reads


I am feeling under the weather. It’s a combination of the changes in weather, my insanely-busy schedule over the last couple weeks, my detour from working out regularly and probably lack of vitamins. Regardless, this past week was not stellar, and today I feel awful. Cancel class awful. I don’t ever cancel class, but I am having a colleague put a note on my classroom door. I feel so guilty, but I just would not be on top of my game today.

When I don’t feel well, I crave certain foods – baked potatoes, macaroni and cheese, soup. Basically, I want fattening starchy foods without a lot of nutritional value. I want my reading material the same way.

Last Monday I finished Peter Robinson’s A Dedicated Man which was good, but oddly enough for Robinson, it was the type of mystery where all is revealed at the end in an Aha! moment. I typically do not like these mysteries, but as it is Peter Robinson, I’ll let it slide this time.

Then I picked up Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty. My mom bought this book for me because she enjoyed it so much. The book begins on Gemma’s 16th birthday, her mother and she arguing in the street markets of India. Gemma wants more than anything to go to London, where her family is from, but her mother refuses. In a quick twist of events, Gemma’s mother is killed, and Gemma realizes she has an odd power. She is sent to a finishing school and learns more about her power and herself, while navigating the dangerous tides of adolescent girlhood. The book was a fast, enthralling read. The book is rated YA; however, the only YA aspects of it were, to me, Gemma’s naiveté and Bray’s interference in the story, “conveniently” pointing out things Gemma has missed. Without those two elements, I would have enjoyed this book much more. I believe this is a series, but I’m not sure if I would read the others unless Bray steps it up a notch.

Yesterday, after throwing a baby shower Saturday, I recuperated all day with another Mom-Recommended Book – Adriana Trigiani’s Very Valentine. I was reluctant to pick it up because I thought: Valentine? Valentine’s Day? My least-favorite holiday? But Valentine is a 33-year-old, single woman who quit her teaching job to apprentice under her Gram, a master shoemaker. This book was fantastic. A comfort read? Yes. Chick lit? Not really. It didn’t feel formulaic. The main character, Valentine, is just as concerned with making a name for herself in the world of shoe design as she is in finding a boyfriend (sometimes to her relationship’s detriment), and strong, independent women are scattered throughout the book, tempered and complemented by boyfriends/husbands. Plus, much of it is set in Italy, and after three trips to different regions, Italy is a place I feel even more “me,” if possible. Since I am not financially able to take a big trip this year, it was such fun to relive Italy through Valentine’s eyes. If you need a break from something more literary but don’t want the tripe that is chick lit, I highly recommend this. Plus, it’s a series! I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one. Thanks, Mom.

Today, I will try and finish The Brothers Karamazov Part Three in order to post on Thursday. Until then, I am going to fortify myself with Vitamin C, B12, juice and whatever else I can to feel better. Happy reading!

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16 responses to “Comfort food and comfort reads

  • Marlene

    KNEW you’d love it!!! It’s wonderful, and most all her others include Italian scenes, and are just as good…..I have the sequel on Kindle, so I think you can ‘share’!!! 🙂 It’s one of my all-time favorite feel good books!!!! Sorry you’re feeling rotten…I slept through yesterday and last night, and still feel pretty beat-up….mega shower did us in!!! Wanna share lunch…I’ll bring, my treat?

  • Marlene

    PERFECTLY vague enough….but I am convinced!!! LOL…..lots of luck, and enjoy the veggie soup!

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  • theliterarylollipop

    A Great and Terrible Beauty has been sitting on my shelf for ages. I really ought to pick it up!

  • atla

    I hope your spirits and health are soon restored.

    I’ve not heard of any of those books. When I’m under the weather, I often turn to a specific comfort read: Rosalind Laker’s “To Dance With Kings.”

  • Nymeth

    I was a bit let down by A Great and Terrible Beauty. Perhaps I expected too much, I don’t know. But ultimately I didn’t bother to continue with the series, though I’ve heard good things about the sequels. I agree that the narrator’s interventions were off-putting. I’d have preferred it to be more subtle.

  • iliana

    Hope you are feeling better now!

    Are you reading the Robinson series in order? I don’t think so right? I finished one of his recently and really liked it – Cold is the Grave. Big stuff happens in that one! 🙂

    Take care ok.

    • pickygirlfoodfilmfiction

      I am slowly feeling better after lots of meds and a trip to the doctor. Thanks for checking!

      I actually just finished a Robinson today – Past Reason Hated. I haven’t really read them in order; it’s not a must. I really enjoy his books. Banks is such a complex detective, and PR tells such a good story.

  • Sommer

    Just read A Great and Terrible Beauty…not bad. The 2nd book is Rebel Angel and the 3rd book is The Sweet Far Thing. I’m going to see if the library has them. I’ll let you know how they are… 🙂

  • Bellezza

    I’m sorry you’re not feeling well; it’s a good opportunity to grab those comfort foods, though, and a hot cup of tea.

    Take your time with The Brothers. Whenever you want to post is the best time, not any silly constraints from me! Sending lots of love your way.

  • Elena

    Hehe I love your analogy of books as food (something I do as well :p) although I recently read ‘The second-last woman in England’ by Maggie Joel and found it crass and trade-y, as opposed to the literary style I was expecting. So I totally understand that for ‘starchy’ books, one must be in a certain frame of mind…such as illness. LOL. Hope you’re better (although i’m commenting late, so you probably are :p)

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