Cookbooks, in general, are resistant to close reading, if only because their authors are barely present in the text, if at all. Yet sometimes we can discern a personality through the measurements and shopping lists. At Page-Turner, Kathleen Alcott reads the cookbooks of Nigel Slater. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen on reading cookbooks as literature.
Is envy really the worst form of pettiness, as Kierkegaard suggested? Maybe. The great Roman philosopher Cicero had his own, fairly radical thoughts on envy — namely, that “compassion and envy are consistent in the same man; for whoever is uneasy at any one’s adversity is also uneasy at another’s prosperity.”
Ever since the advent of modern neuroscience, the language of the brain scientist has entered our common vocabulary. Words and phrases like “synapse,” “chemical imbalance” and “hardwired” point to its relevance in contemporary culture. At Page-Turner, a look at how cognitive language and our notion of attention affects the way we think about fiction and music, with particular reference to On Beauty by Zadie Smith and Orfeo by Richard Powers.
Nominees for The Bookseller Diagram Prize for the Oddest Title of the Year have been announced. My favorite, which to me is not odd at all actually, is Bacon: A Love Story. Scatology abounds in this list, including: Peek-a-poo:What’s in Your Diaper, and The Origin of Faeces.
Ian Thompson for The Telegraph has written a fantastic, comprehensive piece on the fabulous allure of the Cuban-born, Italian writer Italo Calvino. Head back to The Millions for a couple of pieces on Calvino’s sixth memo and science fiction masterpiece, respectively.