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Truffle Boy

posted by: April 6, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for Truffle BoyIan Purkayastha’s background is unusual for a powerful player in the world of fine dining. He shares his remarkable story and the crazy adventures along the way in Truffle Boy: My Unexpected Journey Through the Exotic Food Underground. The son of an Indian immigrant father and a Texan mother, Ian was 15 when his family left Houston for rural Arkansas. While he'd always loved cooking and eating well, it was his uncle, an avid outdoorsman, who taught him how to forage for wild mushrooms. When he first tasted a black truffle ravioli dish with foie gras sauce, he was instantly obsessed with the earthy, unusual truffle flavor.

 

Truffle Boy is part coming-of-age story, part elite restaurant tell-all, part travelogue. Readers journey with Ian from Manhattan to Oregon, from Serbia to Hungary. The characters met along this adventure are larger than life, ranging from shady businessmen to raving chefs to colorful gypsies. Despite setbacks and failures, Ian rebounds and achieves astonishing success at a young age in a ruthless world. He now owns Regalis, a specialty food company, which sells not only truffles but also caviar, wild mushrooms, Wagyu beef and other nearly unobtainable ingredients demanded by his Michelin-starred clients.

 

In a recent interview, Ian encouraged those who haven’t tried this delicacy to do so. “I would say if someone is wanting to try an ingredient that literally smells like nothing else you've ever had, then the truffle is the ingredient for them. Truffles have been, you know, lustful and highly regarded for centuries for having this intoxicating aroma and flavor. So I would definitely encourage interested, adventuresome eaters to seek out truffles.”

 

Meet Ian Purkayastha at the Towson Branch on April 9 at 2 p.m., where he will be in conversation with Doug Wetzel, the executive chef at Gertrude’s at the BMA. This program is just one of the many events scheduled for BC Reads: Eat Up!, BCPL’s month-long community discussion promoting reading and the arts.


 
 

Cook Korean!

posted by: April 4, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for Cook Korean!Even novice chefs won’t be intimidated by Korean cooking thanks to Robin Ha’s inventive and colorful introduction to the basics behind this challenging cuisine. In Cook Korean!, Ha instructs the readers in a charming and unique graphic novel format containing recipes and ingredient profiles narrated by a lively character named Dengki.

 

Vibrant, humorous comics illustrate all the steps and ingredients necessary for 64 recipes. Her presentation is concise, with no more than two pages devoted to any one recipe. The book is divided into 10 sections with subjects ranging from snacks to street food to, of course, kimchi. Even those unfamiliar with Korean food have probably heard of kimchi, which Ha calls "an indispensable part of any Korean meal." This cookbook stands out from others because of the illustrations, but also because Ha shares cultural context in an introduction to each section, in addition to listing recipes.

 

Ha, a professional cartoonist and amateur chef, gained online popularity for her Tumblr, Banchan in Two Pages, a weekly comic with illustrated instructions on how to make specific Korean dishes. Ha spent more time drawing comics for Marvel than in the kitchen and is not a graduate of culinary school. She started cooking as an adult when friends asked her to cook Korean food for them. She wants you to know if she can cook Korean, so can you. "I know what it's like to be afraid of cooking, because I was like that most of my life," she says.

 

Meet Robin Ha at the Catonsville Branch tonight, April 4, at 6:30 p.m., where she will talk about her book, her art and her love of food. This program is just one of the many events scheduled for BC Reads: Eat Up!, BCPL’s month-long community discussion promoting reading and the arts.


 
 

Shirley Jackson

posted by: April 3, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted LifeAlthough many readers still retain mental scars from Shirley Jackson’s chilling story The Lottery, fewer are familiar with the woman who wrote it. For those readers, Ruth Franklin’s Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life tells the story of one of America’s most controversial and tragically short-lived authors.

 

Who is Shirley Jackson? Even her fans can’t agree on that. Was she a serious writer of literary fiction such as We Have Always Lived in the Castle? Was she a practicing witch who wrote ghost stories like The Haunting of Hill House? Or was she the musing housewife who wrote humorous essays like Life Among the Savages? This fractured identity would suit one of her characters, who were often women pushed to their mental limits by society. And Jackson was not without her demons. She felt the judgment of others sharply — her two most vocal critics were her mother and her husband, which unfortunately would lead to her agoraphobia late in life. But Franklin’s biography doesn’t make the mistake of confusing Jackson with her characters. Instead, it presents her as a modern master whose talents harnessed, but were not indebted to, her demons.

 

Franklin’s book is not without it’s shades of light. We’re also treated to samples of the cartoons that Jackson drew of herself and others (yet another side of her creativity) and stories of Jackson’s troublemaking sense of humor (she would frequently present herself as a witch to the press and claim to have cast spells on critics of her work). It’s a biography worthy of one of America’s best and most debated writers. And it pairs well with The Lottery: The Authorized Graphic Adaptation, a visual retelling of her most famous story by artist Miles Hyman, Jackson’s grandson.


 
 

This month's BCPL's Reading Challenge is inspired by this year's BC Reads theme of food. Here are some of our suggestions. Select any title to learn more or to request a copy. Be sure to follow the BCPL's Reading Challenge on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #Bwellread to earn prizes at the end of each month!

 

 BCPL Reading Challenge 2017 In Partnership with WBALTV

Cover art for Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Cover art for The Arrangement Cover art for Best Food Writing 2016  Cover art for Chesapeake Oysters  Cover art for The City Baker's Guide to Country Living Cover art for Cook Korean! Cover art for Cooking for Jeffrey Cover art for Duck Season Cover art for Eight Flavors Cover art for Fast Food Nation Cover art for Fresh Off the Boat Cover art for Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe Cover art for Gulp Cover art for How to Hygge Cover art for The Hundred- Foot journey Cover art for An Irish Country Cookbook Cover art for The Joy Luck Club Cover art for Julie & Julia Cover art for King Solomon's Table Cover art for Kitchen Confidential Cover art for The Kitchen House Cover art for Kitchens of the Great Midwest Cover art for Kosher USA Cover art for Like Water for Chocolate Cover art for Maryland's Chesapeake Cover art for Mastering the Art of French Cooking Cover art for A Moveable Feast Cover art for My Life on a Plate Cover art for My Mother's Kitchen Cover art for The Omnivore's Dilemma Cover art for Palestine on a Plate Cover art for The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake Cover art for The President's Kitchen Cabinet Cover art for The Red Rooster Cookbook Cover art for Red Sparrow Cover art for Soul Food Love Cover art for Soul Food Odyssey Cover art for Sweetbitter Cover art for Tender at the Bone Cover art for Truffle Boy

 


 
 

This month's BCPL's Reading Challenge is inspired by this year's BC Reads theme of food. Here are some of our suggestions. Select any title to learn more or to request a copy. You can participate in BCPL's Reading Challenge with the help of a parent or guardian on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #Bwellread to earn prizes at the end of each month!

 

 BCPL Reading Challenge 2017 In Partnership with WBALTV

Cover art for Andrew Zimmern's Field GuideCover art for Ball Park Eats Cover art for Bee-bim Bop! Cover art for Believarexic Cover art for Bittersweet Cover art for Bread and Jam for Frances Cover art for Can I Eat That? Cover art for The Candymakers Cover art for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Cover art for Crash Cover art for Dim Sum for Everyone Cover art for Dragons Love Tacos Cover art for Eat Your U.S. History Homework Cover art for The Edible Pyramid Cover art for Everyone Loves Bacon Cover art for Everyone Loves Cupcake Cover art for Farmer Boy Cover art for Food Wars Cover art for Gazpacho for Nacho Cover art for Green Eggs and Ham Cover art for Growing Vegetable Soup Cover art for Henry and Mudge and the Funny Lunch Cover art for How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? Cover art for How to Eat Fried Worms Cover art for Hungry Cover art for I Really Like Slop! Cover art for I will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato Cover art for If You Give A Mouse a Cookie Cover art for In My Momma's Kitchen Cover art for Julia Child Cover art for Just Grace and the Trouble with Cupcakes Cover art for Lunch Lady Cover art for Lunch Will Never Be the Same Cover art for Food Chain Cover art for Max Celebrates Ramadan Cover art for National Geographic Kids Cook Book Cover art for Noodle Magic Cover art for Original Recipe Cover art for Pancakes, Pancakes!  Cover art for Peanut Cover art for Pie Cover art for Pizza, Love and other stuff that Made Me Famous Cover art for President of the Whole Fifth GradeCover art for Rainbow Stew Cover art for The Real Story of Stone Soup Cover art for Relish Cover art for Rotten Ralph Feels Rotten Cover art for Rutabaga The Adventure Chef Cover art for Rutabaga the Adventure Chef vol 2 Cover art for Sad Perfect Cover art for The Seven Silly Eaters Cover art for Shoo, Fly Guy! Cover art for Stef Soto, Taco Queen Cover art for The Story of Seeds Cover art for The Super Chef Contest  Cover art for Taste Test Cover art for The Thing About Leftovers  Cover art for A Tiny Piece of Sky Cover art for The Truth About Twinkie Pie Cover art for The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook Cover art for The Cupcake Club Cover art for What Happened to Goodbye   Cover art for Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar? Cover art for Wintergirls Cover art for The Young Chef Cover art for Your Food is Fooling You Cover art for Tops and Bottoms Cover art for Yoko Cover art for Eating the Alphabet Cover art for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs


 
 

The Empty Ones

posted by: March 29, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for The Empty OnesRobert Brockway’s The Empty Ones is a punk rock take on a weird and spooky world full of butt kicking, hard drinking and surprising emotional investment. This book will turn the volume up to 11, and follow it up with a punch straight to the heart when you least expect it.

 

A continuation to the first book in the series, The Unnoticeables, this book picks up shortly thereafter. Telling the next step for our rough–around-the-edges “heroes,” it also tells a little more of their history. Brockway does a great job of gradually revealing the mysteries of its world and the nature of the eldritch enemies his characters face while darkly foreshadowing the future ahead of them. The ending completes a satisfying story while setting up the next chapter, leaving readers excitedly waiting for the third and final volume of the series.

 

Readers who enjoy more bizarre humor and “out there” fiction will enjoy it for sure; this book is weird and there’s just no way around it. Joyously counter-culture and unrelentingly vicious at points, it balances this with surprising heart and depth of character in ways you won’t always expect. It’s is a heck of a ride that readers may just need to strap in for and enjoy. Brockway also does a good job of capturing the unique feeling of the exhaustion you get when it feels like the world has nothing but further misfortune for you, no matter what you do — but you push on anyway.

 

I highly recommend reading The Unnoticeables before starting on this one — the mythos is convoluted enough that it could be a little confusing to try and jump in midstream. If you enjoyed this title, you should also try David Wong’s John Dies at the End, which similarly is a story full of strange humor and surprisingly dark moments. Both Wong and Brockway write for the internet humor site Cracked, and they share an esoteric style of writing. Readers might enjoy other stories of magic and adventure, such as Jim Butcher’s Storm Front or Daniel Polansky’s Low Town.


 
 

The Bear and the Nightingale

posted by: March 27, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for The Bear and the NightingaleKatherine Arden’s enchanting debut novel buries readers in the freezing winter of medieval Russia, a place still steeped in myth and fairy tale. The Bear and the Nightingale is an atmospheric debut that brings to life 14th century Russian history, makes it relatable to readers and fills it with magic.

 

Vasya grows up in the northern wilderness, the daughter of the wealthy lord of a remote village. The family’s wealth doesn’t spare Vasya’s mother, who dies giving birth to her, or the children from spending long winter evenings huddled together around the giant kitchen stove as their nurse spins folktales about demons and sprites.

 

Their kind but distracted father lets the children, especially Vasya, grow untamed. She may be a little unusual, but she is also brave, intelligent and kind. She tells no one, not even her brother, that she actually sees and speaks with the sprites in the house and the horses in the stable.

 

When her wild behavior starts to scare off potential suitors, her father is finally convinced he needs to remarry in an effort to tame his youngest daughter.

 

His new wife, a deeply devout woman, forbids the villagers from honoring the old traditions by leaving out dishes of food for sprites in the house or barns. Vasya realizes it isn’t because her stepmother doesn’t believe they exist, but because she sees them too that she is determined to rid the village of these old customs. However, by starving the spirits that have kept them safe and prosperous for years, the village allows an ancient evil to creep back into their midst.

 

Because she can see what is happening, it's up to Vasya to save herself, her family and her village from demons straight from her nurse's stories.

 

The Bear and the Nightingale is perfect for a cold winter night. The compelling plot and lyrical writing will hold readers under its spell, unable to put down the book or go to bed at a decent hour. Vasya is an unforgettable heroine who Arden has crafted so carefully, she seems like a real person. While readers are supplied with proper villains, their evil is complex and nuanced.

 

Readers who enjoy books by Neil Gaiman or Naomi Novik’s Uprooted will enjoy this title.


 
 

New Next Week on March 28, 2017

posted by: March 24, 2017 - 8:00am

The following titles will be released next week. Select any title to learn more or to request a copy. Be sure to visit our Hot Titles webpage for more exciting upcoming titles.

Cover art for Almost Missed You Cover art for The Ashes of London Cover art for Before This is Over Cover art for Black Book Cover art for Casey Stengel Cover art for Change of Seasons Cover art for A Crown of Wishes Cover art for The Devil's Feast Cover art for An Extraordinary Union  Cover art for Hashimoto's Protocol Cover art for How to Be a Bawse Cover art for It Happens All the Time Cover art for Miramar Bay Cover art for Mustache Shenanigans Cover art for My Darling Detective Cover art for A New Way to Bake Cover art for a Perfect Obsession Cover art for PhenomenaCover art for Red Clover Inn Cover art for Richard Nixon Cover art for The Satanic Mechanic Cover art for Strange The Dreamer Cover art for The Women in the Castle


 
 

Normal

posted by: March 22, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for NormalWarren Ellis has a dark view of the future, and he wants to give you the inside scoop. In his newest book Normal, the prolific author of dozens of graphic novels shares his creepy and worryingly plausible view of the future of surveillance and technology in the world.

 

The book begins at Normal Head, an isolated facility in the Pacific Northwest. Normal is where futurists, people whose job it is to look forward and prepare for catastrophes, go to recover when the pressures of their jobs drive them to depression, exhaustion and madness. The protagonist is a newly arrived patient who investigates a strange disappearance of another patient at the facility.

 

While not being an uplifting tale, the book does present an interesting take on where the future of technology may head. Normal is almost more an education on problems humanity may face in the future than a story. It stares unblinkingly at a future that the reader may feel is implausible, but can’t entirely dismiss as impossible. Though it sounds grim, the book is full of memorable and funny — if bizarre — characters, each defined by their quirks and their fears.

 

Overall the book is a great read, especially for fans of speculative, near-future sci-fi. Not truly dystopian, it shows how we got from present day to a world destroyed. Normal is weird and quirky and dark but ultimately delightful.

 

Readers who enjoyed this are also likely to enjoy some of Ellis’ other works, such as Trees, a graphic novel set in a near future where our world has been irrevocably changed by massive technological columns (the titular Trees) from space. They might also enjoy Transmetropolitan, another graphic novel by Ellis that is set in the full on dystopian future, though that series is a good deal more crude and adult than this book. For something a little more hopeful, though no less dark, readers could also try Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. This book, also set in the near future, discusses the dangers of government surveillance through the eyes of a teenager living in San Francisco in the wake of a terrorist attack.

 


 
 

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