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27. Falcon, by Helen Macdonald
28. Bee, by Claire Preston
29. Otter, by Daniel Allen
30. Snake, by Drake Stutesman

Another batch of Animal books. I'm moving through them quickly, as long as I can keep them coming from the library. This was another good batch. I hate snakes, but I still think they're beautiful, and very interesting to read about. Birds of prey are, of course, fascinating. I've long had a soft spot for books about bees and honey. And how can you not love a book with lots of lovely pictures of otters?

31. And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie

I had never read a book by Agatha Christie before. Oh, I saw Mousetrap when I was in London, but that hardly counts, especially since I can't remember what happened in the end. This was probably a good choice for a first Christie, since I loved it and added a bunch more of her books to my queue right away. You know, I'm not much of a mystery reader, but this one certainly worked for me.

32. The Zen of Fish: The Story of Sushi, From Samurai to Supermarket, by Trevor Corson

This book was later republished as The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice. Neither is an accurate representation of the actual content of the book. Expecting a nice history of sushi? You won't really get it. Instead, it's mostly about one particular class of an American sushi school that trains sushi chefs in three months. There are scattered bits of historical information about sushi, and practical information about fish in general, but they're drowned out by the school storyline. This wouldn't have been so bad if it were entirely focused on the actually interesting students. Takumi, say, a former Japanese pop idol turned chef who has already mastered Italian cooking. Or the Danish ex-supermodel. Or the (never named) pregnant woman who is unable to actually eat what she makes (she spits it out). Or anybody, really, except Kate. I'm not sure why the author chose to focus on her, except that she's cute (he's quite eager that we know exactly what she wears in her off hours, especially that it's tight). She doesn't know that much about sushi when she starts- she thinks bonito flakes are bacon. She doesn't know anything at all about cooking. She's so afraid of her knives she holds them at the very tip of the handle. I have no idea how she didn't cut something off of herself, holding her knives like that for over two months of the three month class. She's shocked- shocked!- and disgusted to learn that she'll have to cut up a whole fish. She wants to be a sushi chef because it's yummy, she likes interacting with people, and she has absolutely nothing else to do with her life. Now, I'm happy that she's apparently doing well now. But when I read about food, I want to see someone who is talented and devoted, not somebody who bungles her way to competence. I guess she's still a sushi chef. She's probably also learned that, when you comment on Amazon.com, your username appears with your comment, and it is therefore not a good idea to claim that you are your own hero when somebody criticizes your portrayal in a book.

33. The Black Book of Secrets, by F. E. Higgins

Interesting premise: the main character attaches himself to a pawnbroker who deals in secrets. The pawnbroker himself is a pretty secretive character, and it's not until late in the book that everything comes out. I understand there are companion books, and I'll have to look those up. I'd almost consider this magical realism, just from the very heavy hand of fate in the events of the book.
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September 2011

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