What’s on My Cookbook Shelf: Second Edition

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a little old-fashioned. My organizing system is mostly paper-based, I like to send Christmas cards and handwritten notes, and I believe there’s some truth behind old adages. (That’s how they got to be sayings in the first place, right?!)

Cookbooks, too, seem like they’re becoming things of the past with the proliferation of cooking shows, recipe sits and foodie blogs. (Gulp.)

There’s something to be said, though, about the sheer pleasure of reading a physical cookbook. It’s not just about reading the recipes- it’s the layout, the photos and the stories that make reading a cookbook such a unique experience. They’re still my go-to source of inspiration whenever I’m looking to bake for the blog.

I share some of the titles that have a standing reservation on my bookshelf last year, but today I thought I’d share a few more recent additions that have been getting my taste buds going.

One of my favorite places in Toronto has finally published their first cookbook. Bobette and Belle, located in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Leslieville, is famous for its fabulous cupcakes and French macarons. I’ve yet to attempt any of their classic recipes, but if they turn out even half as decent as the originals, I just might have to open my own shop.

Further north of the city of Toronto is the region known as Muskoka, or what Torontonians like to call “cottage country”. We Canadians live for our cottages and summer homes, so it’s not surprising that Marty’s World Famous Bakery, located in the heart of it all, would become just that- world famous. Chef Marty’s specialty- the butter tart- is a Canadian favorite, but I’m personally head over heels for his carrot cake. It’s about the best I’ve ever tasted.

Some of the pleasure of poring over a cookbook is the photography and Hello Cupcake! doesn’t disappoint. Of course, it’s easy to take good photos if you have amazing art direction, and the cupcakes featured in this book pretty much put every cupcake I’ve made to shame.

I do a lot of baking, but I like reading cookbooks just as much, if only to gain inspiration. (I’m not a very ambitious cook, I’m afraid.) However, I have attempted a few recipes from David Rocco’s La Dolce Vita and they’re surprisingly simple, delicious and oh-so-Italian. Some of these dishes have even made it to my own cooking repertoire (which is saying something)

But I wasn’t always so adventurous- when I was first learning how to cook I relied heavily on The Joy of Cooking (which contains recipes for just about everything, including possum) and How to Cook Everything (which is geared towards a more modern crowd and to the best of my knowledge contains no possum). They might not be the most fascinating reads, or are the prettiest of cookbooks, but these ones were valuable to my culinary education and I’d recommend everyone get at least one of them- even if it’s just to brush up on the basics.

I love to read and I love sharing my favorite books with you. (For more reading inspiration click here or here.) These lists are totally my own creation and I was not paid or perked to share my opinions with you by any author or publishing company. Full disclosure: I do receive a small commission from Amazon when you choose to buy from my site. It keeps this blog running and food in my dog’s bowl, but rest assured I would never suggest you buy something I wouldn’t buy for myself. Enjoy!

Décor Books to Die For

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I wasn’t always that interested in decorating- sure, I liked nice things, but I guess I felt that decorating was reserved for those who had lots of spare time and money.

Then for whatever reason, I ended up with a copy of Shabby Chic by Rachel Ashwell. Everything felt so dreamy and ethereal and almost accessible (minus the incredible house) for someone like me with limited resources. I was totally hooked- frayed linens, frills and all.

Although my tastes have become a little varied over the years, I still try and hunt down her stuff every time I go into a used bookstore. Copies of her older books have become harder to find, so I was pleased when she came out with The World of Shabby Chic; I was starting to get hungry for more. What can I say? Old habits die hard.

It wasn’t until I started reading D.I.Y. blogs that I became more interested in what my own home looked like. I loved Jon and Sherry Petersik’s blog Young House Love and their subsequent book of the same name. I was so in love that I dragged my sister to the book signing when they came to Toronto and you better believe we fan-girled so hard. (I’ve already used up my fifteen minutes of fame posing for a photo with Sherry that ended up on their on blog.)

It was from their blog and other similar blogs of the time that I discovered (too late) the wonderful magazine that is Domino. Thankfully, it had since relaunched but until then I had Domino: The Book of Decorating to tide me over. Not only does it showcase some fabulous designs across a variety of styles, it’s also a great primer for those starting out on their decorating adventure. (There’s also a companion book here.)

Books are such a big part of my life that it’s hard to imagine not living with them. I think it was the type of audience author Alan Powers had in mind when writing, researching and photographing Living with Books. If you’re a bookworm too then you’ll find its gorgeous images of unconventional collections and libraries from around the world almost painful to look at. It’s probably one of my favorite books I own, period.

There are so many more decor books that I’d love to collect and peruse but limited funds and space limit my collection to only a few. While I’d love to draw inspiration from even more of the creative resources and guides out there, it’s kind of nice to restrict your purchases to the things you love so much you’ll revisit them again and again. Hopefully they can serve as a starting point for your own ideas on how to cultivate a home that is unique to you and your style.

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I love to read and I love sharing my favorite books with you. (For more reading inspiration click here or here.) These lists are totally my own creation and I was not paid or perked to share my opinions with you by any author or publishing company. Full disclosure: I do receive a small commission from Amazon when you choose to buy from my site. It keeps this blog running and food in my dog’s bowl, but rest assured I would never suggest you buy something I wouldn’t buy for myself. Enjoy!

If you’ve been bitten by the decorating bug, I may have something for that bite: click here for a quick tutorial on choosing the right paint color, here for the most productive ways to organize an office, and here for other projects and tips on keeping your home happy and organized.

Romantic Reads that Will Melt Your Heart

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Even at my most bitter and cynical, I have never been able to resist a good love story. I guess I’ve just always had the ability to look at the world through rose-coloured glasses. Romance novels indulge this part of my personality or at the very least provide me a means of escape when my outlook is looking a little less rosy.

Variety is key to keeping things spicy in a relationship; I feel the same way about the books I read. The occasional bodice-ripper has found its way into my collection once or twice, but these I kind of regard as one-night stands of fiction because they’re short and satisfying, and you’ll probably never read it again.

Other books featuring romances are more like long-term relationships: as you learn more about the characters your affection for them grows, and the more you become invested in their relationship.

For example, in his novel One Day, author David Nicholls chronicles through the history of two best friends whose timing never just seems to be quite right. The more we see their lives take shape over the years, the more we want them to be together. Oh yes, we do.

Other relationship stories feature protagonists that are slightly quirkier and less likely to be so intrinsically linked, like The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano or The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (whose lovable characters have spawned a sequel). In both cases, the reader falls in love with the people more than the actual love story itself, and it’s because of our concern for their well-being that we want things to work out so badly for them. If they’re lucky and things do work out, it feels like emotional catharsis for us.

If things don’t work out, it’s a different kind of emotional catharsis. For example, Claire Calman’s Love is a Four Letter Word had me sobbing by the end, as did The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. (I still can’t bring myself to watch the movie.)

None of these books, however, moved me as deeply as The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. It has got to be one of the most beautiful and devastating books that I have ever read. Every so often I found myself having to pause and look up from the page so I could soak it all in. What is it about forbidden love stories that makes them so enticing?!

It’s not hard to be enticed by romance novels, really- the desire to love and be loved is universal. All the heartache, the longing, the disappointment, the hope- we’ve all felt that way at one point or another in our lives.

No wonder Harlequin makes so much money.

Honorable Mentions

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson is proof that love can exist after age 65.

This husband has a strange way of loving his wife in So Much for That by Lionel Shriver, but their relationship is still oddly touching.

If you’re looking for the kind of angsty, teenybopper romance that keeps you on your toes (will they? won’t they?) then you’ll love The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. There’s enough butt-kicking and smooching to keep you hooked through all six novels, and if that wasn’t enough for you, The Infernal Devices trilogy can be read as a prequel or as a stand-alone series (although trust me, you’ll want to read them all together).

KBwB-BFlower-50I love to read and I love sharing my favorite books with you. (For more reading inspiration click here or here.) These lists are totally my own creation and I was not paid or perked to share my opinions with you by any author or publishing company. Full disclosure: I do receive a small commission from Amazon when you choose to buy from my site. It keeps this blog running and food in my dog’s bowl, but rest assured I would never suggest you buy something I wouldn’t buy for myself. Enjoy!