To Kill A Mockingbird Read-A-Thon: Today at Barnes & Noble in Braintree

To Kill A Mockingbird book coverToday, Barnes & Noble in Braintree, will host a special To Kill a Mockingbird Read-A-Thon from 9am – 9pm, in celebration of tomorrow’s release of Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee.

If you’re on Twitter, celebrate the book by following the hashtags: #MockingbirdMonday and #GetPopCultured.

In light of the news of the past few months, and most recently the tragedy in Charleston, the objective of the Read-A-Thon is to provide a space for members of the community to gather, reflect and give voice Harper Lee’s classic, and timely novel on social justice.

By the way, despite a recent New York Times review of the new book that is shocking many fans of To Kill a Mockingbird, I still plan to read Go Set a Watchman.

Throughout the day, participating readers, including yours truly, will read passages from the book. A list of confirmed readers, and their scheduled reading times are below. I will be reading at 7:45pm.

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10:00 am: Virginia Polio, Executive Director,Braintree Community Youth Center

10:30 am: Terri Stano, Director, Thayer Public Library, Braintree

11:00 am: Joanne Tully, Vice President, Braintree Cooperative Bank

11:30 am: Jeannette Travaline, Director of Marketing and Community Relations, Braintree Cooperative Bank

1:00 pm: Clayton Cheever, Assistant Director at Thomas Crane Public Library, Quincy

1:45 pm: Meaghan Thompson, Library Director, Turner Free Library, Randolph

2:00 pm: Frank Schroth, Member of the Board of Trustees, Milton Public Library

2:15 pm: Will Adamczyk, Director, Milton Public Library

6:00 pm: Mayor Joseph C. Sullivan, Braintree

6:15 pm: Chazy Dowaliby, Editor, The Patriot Ledger, The Enterprise Newspapers

6:30 pm: Lori Earl, Quincy

7:00 pm: State Representative Tackey Chan, 2nd Norfolk District, Quincy,

7:15pm: State Senator John F. Keenan, Norfolk and Plymouth District

7:45 pm: Lisa Johnson, Attorney, Writer & Blogger, Quincy

8:00 pm: Alan Howarth, Poet, host of “For the Love of Words”

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The event is free and to open to the public. All ages are welcome, so stop by if you can!

If you have any questions, please contact Barnes & Noble, Braintree at 781.380.0914 or e-mail The location is 150 Granite Street, which is near South Shore Plaza.

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*Updated* 5/14/2016: With a new more liberal interpretation of my life list, I consider this #73. While I didn’t read a poem in public for a happy event, I did read a passage from a book for a happy event. Close enough! 😀

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Screenshot: Barnes & Noble

Recently Read: Delancey

Delancey book coverThe few times that I was able to get a seat on the T last week or when I had enough arm room while standing, I was reading Delancey.

This book made me realize that pizza has been sadly lacking from my diet as of late. Not only have I not eaten any, I haven’t made any from scratch in a while. The book has me considering both.

Delancey is the title of the book and the name of a Seattle restaurant. It’s owned by Molly Wizenburg, the creator of one of the first food blogs out there and her husband Brandon Pettit, who is the one who had the idea for the restaurant and is the force behind it.

The book is a quick read and quite enjoyable, especially if you’ve followed her blog. Two parts of the book especially struck me. The first one is how Wizenburg writes about the tension in most restaurants between the front of the house versus the back of the house.

She also mentions how after observing how a good friend’s restaurant, Boat Street, handled the situation, they decided to do the same at Delancey. It’s such a simple yet genius idea and was great to read how they put it into practice. See an excerpt below.

This tendency is rooted, I think, in industry-wide discrepancies between what cooks earn and what servers earn. Cooks work longer hours than servers, but almost without exception, they make less money. …

So we bought only one printer for Delancey, and it sits next to the bar. It’s not an ideal setup; when a server has an order for the pantry station, she must carefully escort it past the wood-burning oven, risking an accidental jabbing from the long handle of Brandon’s peel as he retrieves a pizza. … Whether by luck or by design, the system works, and the cooks and servers not only talk to one another but actually seem to like one another.

The second part was about a meal that she had at River Cafe in London. Her description of it went from thinking that the food didn’t look too wonderful and what was all the hubub about the place. To her experiencing the flavors bursting in her mouth level by level and literally making her cry with happiness and joy. I couldn’t believe it. The food was so good that it made her cry!

I’ve had some really good meals in my life, but I don’t recall ever crying over one. I would like to experience that degree of culinary delight. Maybe one day. I hope to visit Delancey. I have cousins living in the Seattle area.

But for now,  I did savor this book. Especially while riding the train to work and home again. It’s a great read for your commute. Or as the weather gets warmer, I could see taking this to the beach while enjoying the summer sun.

Recently Read: Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste

Book Cover, Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American TasteWhile looking at the new books section of the library, I happened to see Provence, 1970. The names immediately struck me and I was intrigued. The synopsis convinced me it would be good.

Provence, 1970 is about a singular historic moment. In the winter of that year, more or less coincidentally, the iconic culinary figures James Beard, M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, Richard Olney, Simone Beck, and Judith Jones found themselves together in the South of France. They cooked and ate, talked and argued, about the future of food in America, the meaning of taste, and the limits of snobbery. Without quite realizing it, they were shaping today’s tastes and culture, the way we eat now. The conversations among this group were chronicled by M.F.K. Fisher in journals and letters—some of which were later discovered by Luke Barr, her great-nephew. In Provence, 1970, he captures this seminal season, set against a stunning backdrop in cinematic scope—complete with gossip, drama, and contemporary relevance.

Great change never happens in a vacuum and no one person does it alone. So it was especially interesting to read about how these great food writers all knew one another. They worked together and socialized together.  As I was finishing up the book last night, I put on the TV to see what was on and happened to catch the last hour of Julie & Julia. What serendipity!

The book discusses how this rarefied circle of friends sometimes were not so friendly. We also see how the torch was passed with the introduction of Alice Waters toward the end. As I thought about my recent blog post on food writers of color, it made me consider how many food stories have yet to be written about.

One of the things that I found especially sad and surprising about the book is how James Beard was described. When I think of James Beard, I think of the awards and picture a very large and smiling figure. Everyone was worried about him. His love of food was killing him. He was trying to lose weight and was under a doctor’s care. His legs were swollen and his mobility was greatly impacted. Beard is so famous for the food he cooked and wrote about, but he suffered for it.

If you love food and food writing, then I highly recommend the book. Or even if you’re just interested in a slice of life piece. Learning about a very distinct period of time in a particular place.

We probably all can remember a certain time and place with good friends that we will never forget. That forever may have changed who we were at the time and led us to become who we are now. Or maybe was just a good time that now serves as a beautiful memory when we need it.

While the book describes a lot of food, there are no specific recipes. However, towards the very end, there is a very delicious sounding cocktail, on page 282, that is mentioned. I’d like to try it. Maybe you would too. So below is an excerpt in which the author describes part of his July 2010 trip to Provence.

Yet another old friend — we had a full house, even after my father and grandmother had departed the previous week — joined us in the kitchen and announced that he would be making a cocktail, a new invention in fact. It would be called “The Plascassier.” Into the blender went a basket of raspberries, fresh mint, lemon juice, and vodka. This liquid was poured judiciously into the bottoms of glasses, and then topped with Laurent-Perrier champagne.

It’s still pretty cold outside, but this sounds like a cool and refreshing summer drink that I can imagine adapting to suit my taste. Believe me. It will be blogged.

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Photo Credit: Amazon

Recently Read: Eminent Crimes

Eminent Crimes book coverWhen life is throwing you curve balls all over the place, there’s nothing like a good book to take you away. So I especially enjoyed losing myself in Eminent Crimes: A Legal Thriller by Adelene Ellenberg. You might like it too.

First, full disclosure. My mother knows the writer and was in a writing group with her. My mom heard about the book launch party and unfortunately was not able to attend, but that’s how she learned about the book. When my mom told me about it, I thought it sounded really interesting. A friend of hers lent her the book and then I read it too. I’m so glad that I did!

The writer, Adelene Ellenberg, lives in Massachusetts and is an attorney. Below is a synopsis of the book from her website.

When Robert Jaston, A Massachusetts dairy farmer, learns that the three-person board who governs the town has voted to take his land by eminent domain, making way for a gambling casino, he says, “Over my dead body!”

He hires the only attorney who will take his case, a young woman also at odds with the town establishment. She wages war in the courtroom, while he battles the underhanded maneuvers of those who hold all the cards.

In law school, I had two co-ops where I worked on land use cases. I really enjoyed the work and my 1st year property class as well. So for me especially, the eminent domain issue was quite interesting.

The Supreme Court case referenced in the book, Kelo v. City of New London, is real. You can read about Susette Kelo and the taking of her little pink house on the Institute for Justice website.

While researching this post, I found that Korchula Productions is working on a movie about the Kelo case called Little Pink House to be released later this year. Little Pink House is already a 2015 Athena List finalist.

The Athena List was created by the Athena Film Festival, which is a list of “between 3-5 screenplays with female leaders or strong female protagonists that have yet to be made into films.”

But back to the book. The worst thing that I can say about it is that the font wasn’t wonderful. If that’s the worst thing, then obviously I think the book is pretty great.

The characters grabbed me from the beginning. The plot moves forward quickly. You want to keep reading. You will love some characters and despise others. There are some interesting twists and turns that I definitely did not expect. I would never have predicted the ending. Ellenberg is a bold writer and did not hold back.

Plus, since there is a local element to the book, it was interesting seeing where she may have been inspired by certain people, places and events in her writing.

If you’re looking for a quick fun read, Eminent Crimes is the book for you! Plus, you might learn about local politics and some property law too.

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Photo Credit: Adelene Ellenberg’ Facebook Page

Recently Read: My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

book cover for Sonia SotomayorIn case you’re looking for a good book to read, I thought I’d share one. My Beloved World by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is one of the best.

My mother and I both happened to be reading it at the same time, so it was fun being able to talk about it with her. This would be an excellent choice for a book club.  My Beloved World is quick moving and reads more like a novel. I was drawn in from page one and glued until the end.

My impression of her after reading the book is that I admire her even more. From her youngest days, she had a strong survival extinct and believed in a vision for her future. Her struggle with Type 1 diabetes had a lot to do with it. We learn about her family, friends and close ties that she forms with so many people over the years.

She has a certain joy and fun that made me and my mom both feel like we’d love to hang out with her! Her compassion, intelligence, life and work experiences all run so deep that it makes me so grateful that Sonia Sotomayor is on our Supreme Court. I took the book out of the library and had to return it, but would like to read it again. My Beloved World is a book to buy and have for future reference.

Terry Gross interviewed Sotomayor about her book and life on Fresh Air and you can listen online to learn a bit more.

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Photo Credit: Random House