Saturday, May 2, 2009

Reading and baking

Much of my early adult life was spent longing for the way I used to read as a little kid-- in the living room, sprawled out in a sunny patch of carpet, so deeply immersed in my Beverly Cleary book that the hours just flew by.

Ever since college, reading has been different for me. I guess part of it is not having the same stretches of time, or that my mind is often occupied with dull things, like why I owe so much in taxes when I don't make very much, or what the cutoff point is in repair costs for our 19-year-old Honda. Maybe because a lot of my reading is done on a bus, and it's easier to read a folded-up magazine than a tome of Dickinson poetry. I'm not sure. I do know that right after college I was very ambitious in my reading and could often be found struggling my way through Tolstoy and Pynchon. Impressive, but not necessarily enjoyable.

I still spend a lot of time reading these days, but it's more often the newspaper, magazines of varying quality (high: New Yorker; low: In Style), and at work, lots of health policy stuff and articles about depressing subjects that make my work necessary. So when I pick up a book, these days I generally go for what holds the possibility of losing myself completely in it.

Mostly I go for mysteries. Say what you will, but the mystery genre gets a lot of flak. There are good writers out there--not just good storytellers, but good writers. I like a lot of different ones, but my favorite is Michael Connelly. He writes about a middle-aged, weathered cop that I have a book-crush on. The cop, Harry Bosch, has a sharp mind and like all attractive fictional men, a troubled soul.

All of Connelly's books take place in Los Angeles, which is only feeding my desire to move there. This doesn't necessarily make any sense, as the L.A. Bosch lives in is gritty and violent and sad. I have no idea why this should spur my interest in the southland more. In any case, today I read Connelly's Lost Light for a long, long time. While the husband was productively doing some kind of online programming class, I stretched out on the couch and didn't move for a couple of hours. I started to have that good, slightly distant feeling of being sucked into a great read, the kind where you come to the end of a chapter and you think, I'll just read one more. All of a sudden you've read a few hundred pages in a sitting.

After awhile though, I got hungry. I decided to make some chocolate chip cookies I had been promising the husband for a few weeks now. These cookies are from Baking Illustrated, the nerdy cook's bible. It's like "Mythbusters" for baking: the people that wrote it are just obsessed with going the extra mile and wanting to know the why of everything. I'm not like that, but I appreciate they've done all the legwork and found the best recipes for everything. These cookies are the best, and if you don't believe me, go buy the book and try them yourself.


  1. I have read Michael Connelly's Echo Park. I think I told you that. Since I grew up in Echo Park, I thought I'd like it. I did like it and I can see why you'd have a crush on him. But most of the book took place outside of Echo Park, which was a bummer.

    I like the puppy shot. And the shot of the cookies. MMM...

  2. I lov reading connelly too! I am waiting for his latest offering, Reversal ( Hope it lives up...