What’s on your bookshelf #10

It’s time again for what’s on my bookshelf, a monthly round up of books read – enjoyed or otherwise hosted by hosted by SueDonnaJo and Deb. I have to say that I have not read much this month: other things seemed to get in the way but here is my small list nevertheless.

So to the non-fiction first, starting with Siri Hustvedt’s collection of essays Mothers, Fathers, and Others. As ever with such a book, there are some pieces that stick in your mind more than others. My particular favourite was Translation Stories, about words and translation. Hustvedt writes beautifully, so even the least interesting essays are still worth reading.

And so to Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob, apparently in its fourth edition. The blurb on the cover sold it to me – a book about food writing, something I would like to explore more in my year of ‘creation’ (see Word of the Year). However, apart from a few of the writing exercises, I got very little from the book. The book is also so US biased, you would think that no-one outside that country had ever written on food (Nigel Slater does get a one line mention to be fair). I would say you would be much better off reading a general book about writing, and browsing Skill Share or other similar platforms to get your creative juices going. Better still, pick up some great food writers’ works – Nigel Slater, Elizabeth David, or Sophie Hansen for example – for inspiration.

And so to fiction, and first up Australian writer Jessica Stanley’s political thriller A Great Hope. John Clare, the head of a powerful trade union and a key player in the election of Kevin Rudd as prime minister in 2007, is found dead. Is it suicide or was he pushed? The story unfolds through the eyes of his wife, his children and his mistress and other characters, with a bit of a surprise end. A good read when you just want to lie on the sofa with a pot of tea.

I have read a few Elizabeth Strout’s books now, and have tuned in to her themes and characters, all of which appear in Anything is Possible – the small town, the people who live there, issues of poverty and mental health. This is also the second book featuring Lucy Barton who returns to visit her siblings after seventeen years of absence. If you like Strout, you will like this, but you do need to read My Name is Lucy Barton first.

This month’s cook book is My Indian Kitchen by Ashia Ismail Singer, which I bought at the class I was at a couple of weeks ago (see post here). It is full of simple dishes which are easy to make in a home kitchen, such as a take on a traditional shepherd’s pie, which I tried the other week. I was a bit disappointed with a lamb dish I made, but will still have a go at some other things which look tempting.

The book club I am part of uses a three ‘star’ system to rate books but instead of stars, we pick something associated with the book. So for this month:

  • Siri Hustvedt Mothers, Fathers, and Others: 2.5 essays
  • Diane Jacob Will Write for Food: 0.5 wooden spoons
  • Jessica Stanley A Great Hope 2 politicians
  • Elizabeth Strout Anything is Possible 2 novelists
  • Ashia Ismail-Singer My Indian Kitchen 2 butter chickens

So that is my reading for this month. Have you read anything good, or any of the books I have read?

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram @thistlesandkiwis.  As for Twitter….am totally inactive these days.  If you want to get in touch, email me on thistlesandkiwis@gmail.com


  1. Thanks for the reminder I’ve been meaning to read My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout! I enjoyed your post and love your bookclub’s way of raring books – so clever and fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve not read anything you’ve read and all the books look fascinating. Thanks for the suggestions. I did read Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout and liked it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I too haven’t read any of the books you mention though will search them out in Goodreads. The book I am nearly finished is “The note through the wire” by Doug Gold was made more interesting while reading it the Russian invasion in Ukraine began. A book worth reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoy your book reviews and I’m bummed that “Will Write for Food” was so disappointing. (The title is amazing.) You already are a darn good food writer: your attention to details of color, texture, aroma and place evoke the food even before you talk about its taste. So, your “practice” might be your best teacher.

    I’d even welcome seeing you write about something WITHOUT showing us the photo. That’s a sacrifice for me, because I love your photos. You’ll give us well-crafted pictures with words!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your idea of practising writing about a dish without a photo….might give it a go on Monday;s post 🙂

      I was disappointed in “Will Write for Food” though I did do.a few of the exercises.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I look forward (as always) to reading whatever you write!

        I’m rereading “Crying in H Mart,” by Michelle Zauner (of the indy band Japanese Breakfast). It’s a short, lovely memoir about her relationship with her Korean-born mom, and there’s a lot of food writing in it. It’s worth reading for many reasons! (It was one of President Obama’s top books of 2021!)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. More “Crying in H Mart” — just after writing to you, I read this appealing sentence in the book: “The rice at the bottom of my dolsot crackled and my mother’s seafood noodle soup bellowed a steam bath from its bright red surface.” (p. 61). I love the phrase “bellowed a steam bath”….


  5. A Great Hope is going straight to my TBR list. Love your ranking system, and that’s so disappointing about Jacob’s book. I adore the food writers you’ve mentioned – and would add a couple more to the list – and inhale their words.

    Liked by 1 person

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