What are you reading? After seven straight years in higher education, the freedom to read for fun is a blessing. An overwhelming blessing, as the unread stack of books recommended to me (or found during my guilty pleasure of pouring through bookshop shelves) has gotten quite high. In the past I never seemed to be able to deny myself a book. I love the smell of a new, old book from a used book shop. But living in England posed challenges to this favorite of pastimes as the heaviest thing to mail or pack away in luggage is a stack of paper. Figuring this out early, we banned the buying of new books, deciding instead to photograph ones we found interesting in shops and add to an ever growing list.
Now back in America, settling into an unsettled life has left me free to splurge on books once more. A trip into The Professor’s University City last week found me in a favorite old haunt of mine, a used bookstore downtown. My finds? Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire, for one. Living in Northern England finds one often on the sprawling grounds of Dukes and Duchesses, Lords and Ladies, as many of their historic properties are opened to visitors. The Devonshire’s estate was high on my list of favorites while in England and the infamous Duchess’ biography high on my list of delayed reads.
Another find was Women in Berlin, an anonymous diary kept by a German women during two months of the Russian occupation post-World War II. Post-War Germany was the subject of one of my theses and I was really happy to find this story.
I am most excited about my third find. I love looking for cookbooks at used book stores because many times new versions are overpriced. You never know what you’ll come across at your local used shop and I discovered The Merrie Christmas Cook Book from 1955. The beautifully decorated, slender book will be a perfect decorative addition to a future kitchen and fun to pull out during vintage-inspired parties. One of the recipes is actually for cheese cubes. Seriously, cube cheese, it was that simple! Although I love healthy cooking, it’s so curious to see a time before low-fat, low-cal; when chemicals in food was brand new and cheese triangles with bacon and sardine canapés were fantastic additions to any good hostess’ Christmas party.