Lake House Library

Back in September I wrote this post on curating the perfect beach house library.

Well, another month, another season and another friend’s renovation project (my friends are big into tearing down walls!) has just wrapped up.  This was a special project in that it’s a house I practically grew up in, owned by a woman who had a huge role in shaping the person I am today.  The house is completely changed – all for the better – and this friend, too, is planning to dedicate an entire room to books.  While a beach house is obviously a place for summer reading – the lake house has always made me think of Fall and changing leaves and the romance (though not the practicalities!) of a wood burning stove.

This is definitely the library for large, heavy hardcover door-stopper novels.   And knowing the tastes of the people who’ll be using it, it’s also a place where I imagine edge worn sci-fi paperbacks by Jack Vance & Fritz Leiber side-by-side with contemporary examples of narrative non-fiction.  A whole row of cookbooks and a stack of…. enough.   Let’s do this right.

  • A subscription to The New York Review of Books – perfect for Saturday morning reading between sips of coffee.

  • Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall & Bring Up the Bodies for all the obvious reasons.
  • The Complete Annotated Short Stories of Sherlock Holmes (W.W. Norton) – They’re huge, unwieldy and don’t make for the most comfortable reading, but I’m partial to the annotated volumes in this boxed set.
  • Jack Vance, Fritz Leiber, Douglas Adams and that guy who wrote the Conan the Barbarian series – classic American sci-fi and fantasy.  I always feel nostalgic in the Fall.
  • Murakami – not 1Q84 so much, though I don’t rule it out of hand.  I’m thinking of his earlier books with their themes of isolation and loss.
  • I know Cloud Atlas is EVERYWHERE at the moment so I won’t insult you by recommending it. A novel by David Mitchell is perfect for this (or really any) time of year.   I wonder if they were written while the leaves changed color?  The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet or Black Swan Green… reader’s choice. 
  • The Hangman’s Daughter mystery series from Germany – decidedly middle-brow, but well done and a lot of fun for all that
  • I still haven’t discovered cookbooks I like better than The Canal House Cookbook series.  New books come out twice a year.  An added (and, admittedly, obvious) benefit is that you can read them while cooking up a fabulously delicious meal.
  • Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume One should have a permanent spot on the table next to your favorite reading chair.  Just waiting for you to dip into on a long, cold night.  A cat and a snifter of brandy is recommended but completely optional.
  • Any book from the collection of authors born out of the imagination of the French author Antoine Volodine.  I’ll be reviewing We Monks & Soldiers by Lutz Bassmann later this week. Atmospheric and strange and more than a little bit creepy.





 

Do you have a favorite book for this time of year?  Something you recommend for when the nights begin to turn cold?

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It’s Official! Fall is here – Canal House Cooking Volume No. 2

CHC vol 2 cover hi rez

It has been months… and the tomatoes are all gone.  Thank goodness the ladies over at Canal House have released the newest volume of their Canal House Cookbook No. 2:  Fall & Holiday (all decked out in gold).  Volume No. 2 is the perfect holiday gift, but don’t wait until Christmas to begin giving out copies.  These dishes look delicious and we recommend sharing them with family and friends in the upcoming weeks.

We loved the simplicity of the ingredients and the easy preparation we found in the Summer volume’s recipes.  Volume No. 2, though, is an entirely different animal.  Fall & Holiday are for entertaining in a big way – and Hamilton & Hirsheimer provide everything you need to know to host an unforgettable Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year’s celebration.  The dishes are bit more complicated and labor intensive than those in the previous volume… we spotted several French recipes – coq au vin (made with rooster), etc.- which might intimidate the casual cook.  But the authors do a wonderful job of holding the reader’s hand and walking him/her through the steps gently.   They’ve also included familiar favorites like sweet potato pie, turkey and homemade cranberry sauce.  All the traditional staples of the season are represented – and a generous assortment of baked goods and mixed drink recipes that your guests will  appreciate.

Normally, we’re not big cookbook fans.  So we’re not sure what it is about the Canal House Cookbooks that’s grabbed us.  It could be the beautiful photographs and illustrations, the yummy recipes or the warm and friendly way they are written.  It could be how this particular volume has somehow captured that sense of coziness associated with cooking at home – don’t ask us how.  Or the way the recipes feel so traditional, yet modern at the same time – again, don’t ask us how.  Whatever it is, we recommend you experience it for yourselves.  Here’s a link to Canal House Cooking Vol. No. 2 – Fall & Holiday. The authors have provided some sample recipes from the book, including Roast Duck & Potatoes and a Chocolate Gingerbread.  Mmmmm…. sounds like Sunday dinner.

The 2009 Man Booker Prize Winner… & My Apologies to Canada

So Hilary Mantel won the Booker Prize…   I don’t think that came as a big surprise to anyone who has been reading the press for her novel Wolf Hall.  Or kept an eye on the Bookies.  I’m just thrilled because it means I can put aside The Children’s Book without guilt (or with less guilt) and admit defeat… at least for now.

And I almost forgot about the Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist which was announced today…

  • The Bishop’s Man by Linden MacIntyre
  • The Disappeared by Kim Echlin
  • Fall by Colin McAdam
  • The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon
  • The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels

I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t read any of these books and I’m not familiar with any of the authors.  But my review of Amphibian goes up tomorrow… so perhaps my support of another Canadian author will make up for my neglect.