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books about books

book review, recipe

The Library of Lost and Found + Toffee Apples

When I was invited to join the blog tour for Phaedra Patrick’s The Library of Lost and Found, I couldn’t turn it down. It was a book about books! I’m a huge fan of bookish novels — as I’m sure you are too. I haven’t read Phaedra’s bestselling The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper (yet), but based on its popularity, I knew I was in for a wonderful story.

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

Martha Storm is a librarian with a huge heart, who bends over backwards for others, even though they don’t often recognize her efforts. Caught in a bit of a rut, without many friends or close family, Martha craves meaningful relationships. When a mysterious man leaves her a tattered novel on the library’s doorstep, it’s a sign her life may be ready for a change.

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book review, recipe

The Bookshop of Yesterdays + Fig and Goat Cheese Muffins

Though I enjoy books about books, it’s rare that I read one right on top of the other. It felt as though I’d just finished Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore when The Bookshop of Yesterdays and The Diary of a Bookseller came in from the library. I ran out of time and didn’t get a chance to get to Diary before it was due back, but I made sure to tackle Amy Meyerson’s novel so it didn’t slip away too.

The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson

Miranda Brooks has fond memories of trips to her Uncle Billy’s bookstore, Prospero Books, when she was growing up. But when she finds out she’s inherited the beloved bookstore, she hasn’t set foot inside in over 15 years. Uncle Billy was always a lover of riddles, and he is no different in death. Along with the bookstore, he leaves Miranda an obscure message that sends her on a scavenger hunt to discover the truth behind old family feuds.

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book review, recipe

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore + Cider Donuts

I suppose I expected a book about books when I chose Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore for the Book Challenge by Erin bonus round, but beyond that I didn’t have much background. Everyone else who’d previously read it for the challenge had nothing but good things to say, so if nothing else, I had high hopes. Matthew J. Sullivan’s novel is a low-key thriller — and yes, a book about books — but it’s also about choosing your family and finding out where you belong.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J Sullivan

Lydia, who has my dream job as a bookstore clerk, works at Bright Ideas, where she does her best to blend into the background. For the most part, she’s successful, but to the lonely regulars known as the BookFrogs, she’s special. When Joey, one of the BookFrogs, commits suicide in the store just before Lydia’s closing shift ends, her life takes a series of unexpected turns. He’s left her all of his possessions — mostly books full of coded messages — and she begins to unravel the mystery around his death. Lydia is alarmed to discover that it’s mystery that entwines with her own childhood trauma.

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book review, recipe

A Literary Tea Party + Mini Cherry Cake Stacks

Happy Tuesday, Hungry Bookworms! I’m excited to share this brand new literary cookbook with you. From Alison Walsh, A Literary Tea Party, brings together many of your favorite books and pairs them with recipes and tea blends.

From childhood favorites The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, and Treasure Island to adult classics like Romeo and Juliet and Sherlock Holmes, this cookbook has something for everyone! It’s a short little cookbook (76 pages in my digital version), but I found it to be a perfect length to keep it from getting overwhelming.

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book review, recipe

How to Find Love in a Bookshop + Gingerbread Books

I think fall may be officially here (weather-wise), and I’m pretty excited about it. Fall is the best time of year for baking and soups and comfy sweaters and cozy books. Bring it on! Veronica Henry’s How to Find Love in a Bookshop is one such cozy book, and as chance would have it, an excellent conduit for baking as well.

From the description, Nightingale Books is an idyllic bookshop – one I definitely wouldn’t mind spending a few hours in! Set up in the Cotswolds by Julius Nightingale and now passed on to his daughter Emilia, it’s a charming little store, one that is everything to the townspeople. As the story unfolds, we discover more about Julius, Emilia, the employees of the bookstore, the local chef, the lady of the manor, and so many more.

It really is as if we’re welcomed into the town alongside them. In its entirety, it reminded me a bit of Stars Hollow crossed with Love Actually. The end wraps up quite neatly but that didn’t bother me at all. Quite the opposite, I may have been disappointed if this wonderful story didn’t leave me feeling as cozy at the end as it had throughout.  

A heartwarming novel like this one definitely deserves something welcoming to accompany it, and though the story features a magnificent chef who makes mouthwatering food throughout, the recipe that stuck out to me most was the gingerbread (cookie) books she created near the end. It just felt so perfect to create cookie books to go along with a novel about a bookshop.

I’m not the best decorator, so the descriptions of the beautiful, intricately detailed cookies made me a bit nervous, but I decided to push along anyway. I found a recipe for soft gingerbread cookies from Bless This Mess, ordered a couple of adorable book-shaped cookie cutters – an open book and a stack of books – and got to work.

To start, I put my softened butter in a large bowl and creamed it, adding the sugar gradually. Then, I added an egg, the molasses and white vinegar, beating until well-blended.

I used a mesh colander to sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Because the one I have only holds about 1 cup, first I did 2 cups of flour, followed by all of the spices, salt and baking powder, and then the remainder of the flour.

Once the cookie dough was well-blended, I wrapped it in plastic wrap and allowed it to chill in the fridge for about 45 minutes. (Note: I ended up needing an additional cup of flour because my dough was too sticky to properly roll and cut out. I realized this after refrigeration and several attempts to roll it and cut it. I then added the additional cup of flour, allowed it to chill again.)

Since I prefer my gingerbread cookies soft, I followed the suggestion from the original recipe and kept the dough approximately ¼” thick when I rolled it out. Using my adorable book-shaped cookie cutters, I ended up making just under 30 cookies. The amount of cookies you get will depend on the size of your cutters. Mine were about 3-4 inches.

I baked each batch for about 11 minutes, allowed them to cool, and set to decorating. After a few practice cookies, which Scott was only too happy to help taste-test, I decorated some cookies worth photographing. I created a tribute to this week’s book, and of course, one for the blog. 🙂

Soft Gingerbread Cookies

  • Servings: approx. 2 dozen (3-4 inch cookies)
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup dark molasses
  • 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions

  1. Cream butter, adding sugar gradually. Beat until well combined and light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Beat in egg, molasses, and vinegar.
  3. Sift all of the dry ingredients together and then blend sifted dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
  4. Divide the dough into two even pieces, wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 90 minutes.
  5. When the dough is done chilling, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Working in sections, roll the dough 1/2″ thick on a floured surface; cut into desired shapes. Place shapes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes and then move to a cooling rack.
  7. Repeat with remaining dough. Decorate cooled cookies with royal or buttercream icing, or eat them as they are.

From: Bless This Mess

Notes: If you like your gingerbread on the crispy side, roll it 1/4″ thick and bake for 11-12 minutes. If you like it nice and soft (though still very sturdy), roll the dough 1/2″ thick and bake for 10 minutes. If you play around with the thickness of the dough and the baking time, you’ll discover a cookie that meets your liking.


This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books That Feature Characters Who Love Books

Hi everyone! It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time again for my monthly Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme that was created at The Broke and the Bookish. I participate about once a month, but each week there is a new, fun bookish topic for bloggers to create literary lists about. If you’d like to know more about it, check it out here.

Today’s topic is a bit of a freebie, where we’re able to fill in the blank in Ten Books That Feature Characters ___________, so I’m going with a super bookish list here. Books about books are among my favorites, but sometimes there are characters that come along in other kinds of stories that love books as much as I do, and I wanted to recognize those wonderfully bookish characters in Ten Books That Feature Characters Who Love Books.

In no particular order, let’s begin:

1. Matilda from Roald Dahl’s children’s novel of the same name: She is many children’s first exposure to how wonderful the world of books can be and how sometimes it can be a welcome escape. I think I actually saw the movie as a kid before I read the book, and since then I’ve also seen the Broadway musical, but the message remains the same – it’s okay to be different, you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to, and of course, there’s nothing quite like a good book!

2. Hermoine from (do I even need to say it?) the Harry Potter series: Hermoine is synonymous with reading. She can often be found in the library, or at the very least, pouring over a large volume somewhere. Books are an important part of many of her adventures (thank you, magical bags!) and usually hold the answer to help her and her friends get out of a sticky situation.

3. Anne of L.M. Montgomery’s beloved series, Anne of Green Gables: Anne has always been one of my favorite characters. Like Matilda, she used stories and her imagination to get her through tough situations, and like Hermoine, she is a lover of learning. Anne is a precocious trouble-maker who is also utterly charming, and as a result, worked her way into the hearts of readers everywhere.

4. Jo from Little Women: Not only a reader, but a writer as well, Jo was modeled after Louisa May Alcott herself. She is “boyish” and strong-willed, eschewing the traditional trappings of young women of her time in order to pursue a literary career. Jo is one of the reasons I wanted to become a writer when I was a young girl.

5. Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird: The daughter of a lawyer, Scout is intelligent with an inquisitive mind and reading comes as second nature to her. In fact, this wonderful quote is attributed to her: “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” I mean, that pretty much sums it up.

6. Hazel from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars: Hazel and Augustus’s relationship blossoms after they agree to read each other’s favorite novels. Her last wish is to meet her favorite author, whose novel she gave to Augustus, and much of the story takes place in pursuit of that dream.

7. Henry from The Time Traveler’s Wife: Henry has a disorder that causes him to involuntarily travel through time, and his position as a librarian allows him a quiet place to disappear when he happens to. Not only does he work in a library, but Henry meets his wife Clare there for the first time, leading to one of my favorite love stories.  

8. All 6 main characters from The Jane Austen Book Club: This novel is full of Jane Austen fans and one newbie, who nevertheless dives into her novels wholeheartedly. This book makes me want to read Austen every time, and I love how deeply they feel about her novels.

9. AJ Fikry from The Storied Life of AJ Fikry: AJ Fikry owns a bookstore. He transforms many of the people into his town from non-readers into readers. The entire book is like a love letter to reading and he’s at the center of it.

10. Emilia from How to Find Love in a Bookshop: Another bookstore owner, Emilia Nightingale, rounds out my list. Like her father before her (also a wonderful bookish character), Emilia loves reading and spends much of the novel rescuing her father’s and their town’s beloved book haven.

Who are some of your favorite characters who love books?

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

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Top Ten Tuesday (Back to School Edition) – Books to Spark a Love of Reading in Anyone

Hi everyone! It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time again for my monthly Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme that was created at The Broke and the Bookish. I participate about once a month, but each week there is a new, fun bookish topic for bloggers to create literary lists about. If you’d like to know more about it, check it out here.

Due to a short hiatus, I haven’t participated since June (here’s a refresher), but TTT is back again – just in time for back to school! Can you believe it’s that time of year already? All of the school supplies in the stores makes me wish I were going back to school, or that I had kids to get excited about it with… we’ll get there eventually. Excuse me while I go put a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils on my desk.The month’s theme is a “freebie,” so anything back-to-school is fair game. I’ve actually been thinking about what to do for a while now, and after going back and forth on a few options, I finally settled on: 10 Books to Spark a Love of Reading in Anyone. I know not everyone loves to read, but I truly believe it’s just because they haven’t found the right book (or type of book) yet. While many kids love reading as they grow up, it often becomes a chore in school, and sadly, that love dies.

This list includes some of my favorites, in a variety of genres, that hopefully – when recommended to the right person – can help them fall in love with reading all over again 🙂 Let’s get to it!

(These are in no particular order this week, just numbered so I can keep track.)

1. For the video game lover or people who like to get nostalgic about the 80s: Ready Player One

For a while I was recommending this book to everyone because I loved it so much. (And, yes, everyone who I told to read it loved it too.) It was immersive and imaginative and so good I didn’t want to put it down – everything a reading experience should be.

2. For fans of The Big Bang Theory and/or romantic comedies: The Rosie Project

I don’t remember how I stumbled upon this one, but it’s another one I’ve recommended widely since reading it. It’s a nerdy love story about an out-of-touch scientist trying to find “the one.” It also features a strong female character. It’s quirky and funny – I remember laughing out loud on the NYC subway as I read it. As a bonus, it’s a super quick read, so it won’t bog you down.

3. For someone looking for a beach read: We Were Liars

This young adult novel has intrigue, gossip and a surprising twist I didn’t see coming. Because it’s YA, it’s written in a really relatable way that’s easy to get into and stick with, and it’s not too long. It’s also won tons of awards and has almost 4 stars on Goodreads. Do yourself a favor and avoid spoilers!

4. For history buffs: 11/22/63 or The Nightingale

These are two very different books, but I really enjoyed them both.

Stephen King’s 11/22/63 tells the story of a man who goes back in time to prevent the Kennedy assassination, so it takes place mostly in the last 50s and early 60s (over and over again) and can get a bit into the nitty-gritty of the events leading up to that fateful November day. I was riveted and learned some interesting things too.

I read and posted on The Nightingale last year, but briefly it’s about a pair of sisters in France during WWII. It’s well-written and the story is worth reading, but given the subject matter, it can be tough to barrel through. This book has become a recent favorite for a reason, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone interested in WWII-era history. (Full thoughts and recipe here.)

5. For someone who wants to get into the classics: The Jane Austen Book Club

Classics are often tough nuts to crack – the language and references can be obscure and sometimes the pacing is slower than our modern attention spans are used to. That’s why I love this book. The readers in this book love (and I mean love) Jane Austen. You get to know a bit about each of her novels as the book club reads through them, but only enough to get you interested because you’re so engrossed in what the characters are doing. It always leaves me wanting to pick up a Jane Austen novel. (I recommend Pride and Prejudice, but this lovely book recommends Sense and Sensibility – you decide.)

6. For Leslie Knope-wannabes: Yes Please

Amy Poehler’s memoir is not only funny and endearing, it makes you think. Amy fills it with stories that will keep you entertained, but she also talks about what it’s like to succeed as a woman in a man’s world, how to have an amazing female friendship and why it’s ultimately rewarding to follow your passion (even if it’s hard). A quality read for any budding feminist.

7. For sci-fi lovers, or someone who was obsessed with yesterday’s eclipse: The Martian

Honestly, from page one of this novel I was hooked. People who don’t usually even read sci-fi (and I can probably be counted among them, since I read it pretty rarely) love this book. I don’t know much about science, but from what I’ve heard, the science is actually pretty solid so people who do know something about it won’t roll their eyes as they read it. It’s a survival story too, so once you’re in it, you won’t want to put it down until you know how it ends.

8. For your friend who’s always hungry: The Omnivore’s Dilemma or I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti

I was a little nervous to read The Omnivore’s Dilemma initially, but I was too intrigued not to. I loved that it really dug into where your food comes from and why quality is important. It wasn’t like a scary documentary, and it’s definitely not about giving up meat. Best of all, it’s written in a really approachable way, so you don’t slog through it like some other nonfiction books. So if you know someone who cares about what they eat and wants to learn more, this one’s for them.

On a slightly different part of the food spectrum, Giulia Melucci’s memoir pairs humorous bad relationship stories with delicious and comforting recipes that will have you wanting to run to the kitchen. It’s funny, uplifting, and there’s food. What more can I say?

9. For citizens of the world: The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

This true story by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon follows young female entrepreneurs in war-torn Afghanistan. Lemmon helps to expand on what we usually see in the media, showing Muslim women as individuals, not necessarily beholden to the men in their lives. They are optimistic, savvy and resourceful. They are survivors. It’s nonfiction that reads like fiction, and it will leave you enlightened and inspired.

10. For anyone: Harry Potter

Now, this may be a bit presumptuous – I get that not everyone loves Harry Potter, but I do think that it’s a series everyone should read (or at least try). If there are hesitant adults out there, find a kid in your life and read it with them. The quality time is unbeatable, and hopefully it will spark a love of reading and imagination in them too. JK Rowling’s books are not only entertaining, they’re insightful and full of lessons to be learned. If nothing else, there’s this: reading Harry Potter actually makes you a better person, so get on it. 🙂

I hope this list inspires you to share some wonderful books with budding readers out there, or even to create your own so you can wholeheartedly recommend amazing books you’ve read to others!

Until next time…