Sweet Spot

by Amy Ettinger
First sentence: “Family dinners in my house were a death match.”
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Content: I think there might be some mild swearing, but nothing significant. It is in the Creative Non-fiction section of the bookstore.

I knew I had to read this one as soon as it came in, mostly because it hits all my buttons: it’s good writing, mixing history and contemporary observations, and it’s about FOOD. In this case, ice cream. Bonus.

And it was a delightful read. Ettinger knows how to make one involved in the book (not just with recipes!), finding the words to describe the experience of eating ice cream. She’s become, over the years, an ice cream snob, on a continual search for the perfect cone (and the perfect ice cream eating experience). That leads her all over the place, as she looks into the ice cream industry. And it was fascinating. She discovered that it’s pretty difficult for local artisan shops to make their own ice cream base (and most have it shipped in from somewhere else) because of the pasteurization laws She discovered that the best frozen custard, hands down, is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She looked at ice cream truck turf wars in Brooklyn, at the frozen yogurt industry as well as what it takes to make an ice cream sandwich. She looked at corporate ice cream and artisan ice cream. And it make me, well, want ice cream, and to go searching myself for that perfect cone experience. (That said, my ice cream making has gone up since I started reading this. I recommend the Ample Hills Creamery book.)

It really is a perfect summer read.  Just expect to go looking for a perfect cone when you’re done.

Bad Feminist

badfeministby Roxane Gay
First sentence: “The world changes faster than we can fathom in ways that are complicated.”
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Content: There’s fewer than 6 f-bombs, and some other mild swearing. And there’s a whole chapter on 50 Shades of Gray which is frank, but not explicit. It’s in the Sociology section of the bookstore.

I really don’t know what compelled me to pick this up. It’s been on my radar for a while, and I always figured I’d get to it, but why now?  No idea.

I’m glad I did, though.

In this series of essays, Gay takes on not only feminism (the Establishment) but race relations, sexism, culture, and Scrabble. (Well, there’s only one essay on Scrabble.) She’s insightful about relationships, critical about the State of Culture, but most of all, open and honest about the fact that she’s conflicted. She laments the lack of people of color on TV but is critical of the idea of diversity for Diversity’s Sake. (She’s not all that impressed with Orange is the New Black. It’s still a white woman’s story and the diverse characters are often stereotypes.) She admits to finding Blurred Lines catchy, while being disgusted at the content. There’s a whole chapter about the disturbing nature of 50 Shades of Grey while addressing the fact that its popularity shouldn’t be dismissed.

And it was this conflict I found I connected with. Because I’m a conflicted feminist. I don’t live up to Establishment Ideals. And it’s so refreshing to hear the voice of someone outside the establishment — in this case, a first-generation Haitian woman — stand up and say that there’s room in feminism for those of us who don’t fit the mold.

I borrowed my copy from the library, but I need to get this one. There’s an awful lot I need to underline and mark up, and it’s definitely one I want all my girls to read.