Friday, February 22, 2013

Reading nonfiction

Because Anarda and I are mostly fiction readers (particularly because we run three teen book clubs whose members read almost exclusively fiction), the reviews on this blog are dominated by fiction. But there is a segment of teens out there who really enjoy reading nonfiction, and we don't want to leave them out of the mix. So in the library and on this blog we are going to start including some nonfiction choices.

First, inside the library:
Last week, I did something I've been wanting to do for awhile, but couldn't because of lack of shelf space. But having reacquired some "real estate" from our former teen area, I relocated both the paperback classics and the paperback fiction, and created a "browsable nonfiction" area in the Teen Scene at the Central Library. We do buy a lot of good nonfiction for teens that isn't curriculum-oriented (i.e., not for school), but because all the teen nonfiction is interfiled with the adult nonfiction, we're afraid it never gets found, noticed, or read. So I'm hoping that having 50-75 books out in the open, featured with a face-out display, will inform teens about some nonfiction reading choices.

So...what's on these shelves?

BIOGRAPHY
PERSONAL ESSAY
TRIVIA
FASHION
LINGUISTICS
AUTOBIOGRAPHY
COOKBOOKS
CRAFTS
ART
PHOTOGRAPHY
MUSIC
FILM
WRITING
MEMOIR
HISTORY

I called the display "GET REAL." So come and get it!


Second, here on the blog:

For my first nonfiction review, I'm choosing something prosaic: a cookbook. It's by one of my favorite cookbook authors, Anna Thomas, and it's a vegetarian cookbook for making soup, called Love Soup: 160 All-New Vegetarian Recipes. This is kind of a gourmet cookbook, and the recipes are not the simplest, but if you want to learn to cook in a way that will keep you healthy while you're, say, going to college, living in an apartment, and crazy busy trying to keep up with schoolwork and hold down a part-time job (which is a lifestyle many of you will soon encounter), making soup is a great start. For one thing, you can spend Sunday afternoon concocting a big pot of soup, and then it's there in your refrigerator for the rest of the week whenever you need a quick and filling meal, either by itself or paired up with some salad and bread to make a "real" dinner. Very efficient! (And if you are still in middle or high school, I guarantee you that the rest of your family will equally appreciate a nice big pot of savory soup!)

Why vegetarian? Several reasons:
  1. Meat is expensive. You are broke.
  2. It's healthy. Counterbalance all that fast food with a few vegetables, already!
  3. I'm a vegetarian, so that's what I'm going to recommend!

Seriously, though, Anna Thomas is an amazing cook, and even though some of her recipes have many ingredients, she is also good at explaining thing step by step, and you will be SO happy with the results! If you are ambitious and want to segue into baking, try making some of her fabulous bread as well.

If you take a look at this cookbook and decide it's just too much for you, here's a teen title to try instead: Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs, by Rozanne Gold. Simpler, more basic, but also some great recipe choices, and constructed especially for teen cooks.

If any of you teen readers out there would like to contribute a review of a nonfiction book (for instance, last year in high school book club we read The Tao of Pooh, and it got the only 10 rating ever in our history as a book club), we would be happy to publish it! (and give you service learning credit) I'm hoping this opens up the blog to a new readership and gives you more scope for your reviewing skills (and ours).

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