A Novel a Month

I am continuing to document everything I read over the course of this year. So far, I have grouped my posts by theme; Hip-Hop Memoirs, Graphic Novels, and now here are the novels I have read in addition to The Hunger Games . . .

School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

Lillian’s restaurant isn’t open on Monday nights. Once a month she uses that time to run a cooking class for beginners. This novel focuses on one of her classes. We see eight students from very different walks of life brought together for this unconventional cooking school. Lillian shares her love of cooking and is a patient and kind teacher who helps her students learn not just about food but about life.

I must admit that I picked up this book for two reasons. As a writer, I am interested in arena stories, stories where a group of characters come together due to the setting of the book. I want to write a story that takes place in one specific spot and thought this might inspire me to do that.

The second reason, I chose to read this book is because I really don’t understand the fascination with cooking. I know how to prepare a few meals and pretty much stick to those same ones over and over again. I don’t seek out new recipes or new foods. I tend to enjoy plain and easy meals. I thought by reading this I might get an appreciation of the art of cooking and see the joy some people find in it.

I wasn’t overly impressed with the book. There are some beautifully written passages and poetic metaphors but I didn’t feel that these characters were brought together for any larger purpose. The novel is more like a set of short stories. We take turns diving into the characters lives as each chapter focuses on one particular student.

Winter Town by Stephen Edmond

I knew I had to read this book when I read the inside jacket cover . . .

Told from two perspectives, this funny and honest novel . . . is a uniquer combination of text, comic strips, and art. It’s an indie movie in a book, perfect for the inner outcast and lovelorn nerd in all of us.

I love how the first half of the book is told from the boy’s perspective and how part of his thinking process is shown through his use of comic strips and sketches. We learn a lot more about his friend / girlfriend when the perspective changes for the second half of the story.

It’s a compelling story and a beautiful book.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I have been a fan of the work that Neil Gaiman has done in comics and graphic novels for a long time now. I had heard of this book and the animated film that it spawned but hadn’t paid either of them much attention. That was a mistake. This book is captivating and I found it really hard to put down.

It tells the story of a young girl who travels through a mysterious door to discover a brand new world on the other side. Things seems remarkably similar but different and interesting all at the same time. She then discovers that she has “another mother” and “another father” and that they want her to stay with them forever. Coraline has to fight “with all her wits and courage to save herself and return to her ordinary life.”

It really is a great read and although it seems similar to Alice in Wonderland or the Narnia series, it is original and wonderful executed.

2 Comments on A Novel a Month

  1. Hi Chase .. I like the sound of the School of Essential Ingredients – but only because I love food and enjoy cooking – but don't do enough of it!

    Sometimes these books work othertimes not .. if I see it – I'll check it out .. thanks for the info .. cheers Hilary

  2. Hi Hilary,

    That book was okay. I used to only blog about books that I loved but this year I am blogging about everything I read.

    You might like it though. It had some pretty good passages and moments. Overall, it wasn't great though, in my humble opinion.

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