Some Good Reads {Winter 2014}

  I hope you had a happy holiday season and have had some time to spend reading! Like the rest of the country, I’m completely captivated by the Serial podcasts and have been inspired to read other true crime inspired books like A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald and The Journalist and the Murderer. The other usual suspects of biographies and popular fiction are here too and I’m continuing to read parenting books, next up solid foods! If you like my literary tastes and want more, you can check out my master list here. As always, send any recommendations/questions my way or tweet me @sally_cooks.


Happy reading!

A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald From Amazon: “Early on the morning of February 17, 1970, in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Jeffrey MacDonald, a Green Beret doctor, called the police for help.  When the officers arrived at his home they found the bloody and battered bodies of MacDonald’s pregnant wife and two young daughters. The word “pig” was written in blood on the headboard in the master bedroom. As MacDonald was being loaded into the ambulance, he accused a band of drug-crazed hippies of the crime. So began one of the most notorious and mysterious murder cases of the twentieth century.” I can’t believe I didn’t come across this book until it was recommended on a list of “books you’ll like if you like Serial”  Dad was one of Judge Dupree’s law clerks and this was his first case with the Judge.  I wish Sarah Koenig and her team would take on the MacDonald case for the next season of Serial.

The Journalist and the Murderer is about the same MacDonald case as A Wilderness of Error and is based on interviews with the principals, their lawyers, the members of the jury, and the various people who testified during the trial.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail is next on my list to read and I’m hoping to get to it before I see the new movie with Reese Witherspoon.  From Amazon: “At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone.”

In Rendez-vous with Art Philippe de Montebello, past and longest-serving director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and author and art critic Martin Gayford explored what it feels like to experience pictures and sculptures in museums, galleries, and churches around the world.  I’d never thought too much about how works of art are classified, how art is displayed and how this affects our perception of it.

Food: A Love Story is comedian Jim Gaffigan’s second book.   It is really funny with insights such as: “why he believes coconut water was invented to get people to stop drinking coconut water, why pretzel bread is #3 on his most important inventions of humankind (behind the wheel and the computer), and the answer to the age-old question “which animal is more delicious: the pig, the cow, or the bacon cheeseburger?”

Yes Please by Amy Poehler is very, very funny, as you’d expect and full of her life stories and advice.

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”  is Lena Dunham’s first book and reading it felt a bit like reading her diary.  If I could take what I’ve learned,” she writes in the introduction, “and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine was worthwhile.” Predictably she describes cringe-worthy dates and experiences and chronicles her innumerable doubts, fears and neuroses.

Gray Mountain: A Novel is less a traditional Grisham legal thriller and more a defense of social advocacy (with a strong anti-Big Coal flavor.)   This was my least favorite Grisham book of his work so far.  I was disappointed that there was very little courtroom drama and found the characters to be very one dimensional.

I’m admittedly a little late to the PostSecret party but I really liked his latest book, The World of PostSecret.  PostSecret began ten years ago as an art exhibit concept during which the author, Frank Warren, invited strangers to write a secret anonymously on postcards and send them to him. Warren received thousands of responses which he shared on  The World of PostSecret is the latest collection of this postcard confession art.

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting  is by a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal.  During her time as a French resident, she set out to learn the secrets of French parenting.  I think her insights are interesting and worth a try, like breast-feeding only  3-4 times a day, around meal times or later, not prompting your toddler to snack in between meals.

Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting breaks down Bringing Up Bebe into quick lessons for parents and caregivers.   I’m willing to try anything to give my child patience, get him to like vegetables and most importantly how to have a child and still have a life.

Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods – and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater seems like an intuitive approach to introduce babies to solid foods by skipping the endless purees and going straight to solids that baby can feed himself.

The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook: 130 Recipes That Will Help Your Baby Learn to Eat Solid Foods – and That the Whole Family Will Enjoy has simple ideas for family meals based on the principles of baby-led weaning from the book above.