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A Big Novel with even Bigger Impact: Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra 

8 Sep

I love this blurb excerpted from the New York Times Book Review in the front of my copy of Vikram Chandra’s novel: “Sacred Games [is] as hard to put down as it is to pick up.”  The paperback edition I read runs to 947 pages and weighs in at 1 3/4 pounds. If the sheer size of the book is a deal breaker for you, consider the ebook; you won’t be sorry.

The story involves a Sikh policeman working in Mumbai, Sartaj Singh, and his quarry, a mafia-like crime boss Ganesh Gaitonde. It is told in alternating chapters by those two, with a few insets to fill in some back story. There is also a heavy dose of religion, and the tensions between Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh faiths is a running theme throughout. The search for a Hindu guru is also a significant plot point.

The demise of Ganesh is apparent toward the beginning of the book. But the question as to how he met his end provides the suspense. What a wild tale it is to reach that point, as the story unfolds in a largely chronological manner. You can imagine the narrative playing out like a Bollywood movie. The characters are all conversant in the classics of Bollywood and frequently quote the lyrics of the songs, refer to actresses and actors, and plot lines. Not to worry if you’re not up on them. There is an extensive glossary at the back of the book that translates the Hindi/Urdu/Punjabi words and phrases, including the Bollywood lyrics. Ganesh is involved in bankrolling a movie at one point. And characters make comparisons of movies to real life. If something is too “filmi” it could only happen in the movies.

The glossary also has translations of what I would consider four letter words in English.  If you are easily offended by coarse language, you may want to skip this one. But definitely don’t overlook the glossary if you are reading the ebook version. You may also want to avail yourself of translate.google.com or quick google searches. While the glossary is extensive, you will still find a lot of the foreign words aren’t included.

If you are going to read in ebook format, I suggest checking out the ebook version available from Hoopla (hoopladigital.com). Did you know that you can renew several times without having to worry about availability? That’s a most welcome feature in a book of this length. Hoopla also has an album of Bollywood tunes available, as well as an ebook titled Bollywood Kitchen, a cookbook that pairs some Bollywood movies with dishes to make for “Dinner and a Movie” enjoyment.  You can work off the extra calories with Hoboken Public Library’s Bollywood fitness program, you can check out on Hoboken Public Library Health and Wellness YouTube channel.

Written by:
Victoria Turk
Reference Librarian

eBCCLS is so Cheesy!: Check out these ebooks and learn all about enjoying and making cheese!

21 Aug

My family and I are all huge cheese fans. Whether you are already enjoy eating or making cheese or are just curious about trying out new cheeses beyond the plastic wrapped day-glow orange “American” then check out some of these cheesy ebooks.

A Year in Cheese: A Seasonal Cheese Cookbook 
by Alex Guarneri and Leo Guarneri
Year in Cheese
Recently my husband and I were shopping for cheese and noticed his favorite cheese: Red Hawk by Cow Girl Creamery was listed as a seasonal cheese. I often think of fruits and veggies as seasonal, but hadn’t till that moment thought of cheeses as a seasonal food. In A Year in Cheese, Guarneri looks at the optimal times to eat different types of cheeses. Things like the seasonal diet of the animal being milked and optimal maturing times both are components on determining the best times for cheeses. Summer is all about fresh cheeses like ricotta and mozzarella. Soon we will be coming on the peak time for autumn cheeses when they recommended medium-hard cheeses. Included are a variety of delicious seasonal dishes including fig and ricotta tart, cheddar rarebit with cauliflower, and baked camembert with rosemary.

Say Cheese: A Kid’s Guide to Cheese Making
by Ricki Carroll and Sarah Carroll
Say Cheese
My son loves cheeses; his favorites are Midnight Moon and mozzarella. Recently we bought a kit to make our own mozzarella, but felt a bit intimidated since we’ve enjoyed eating cheese, but never tried making it ourselves. Say Cheese makes cheese making look fun and easy. Though cheese making is something best done with some adult assistants for younger children, all ages will enjoy the fun fact the book contains such as that eating cheese helps to neutralize acids that cause cavities and helps create a protective film on teeth. Besides recipes for cheeses like feta and ricotta it also contains kid friendly recipes like quesadillas and mac and cheese.

Homemade Cheese: Recipes for 50 Cheeses from Artisan Cheesmakers
by Janet Hurst
Homemade Cheese
For those ready to move on to more complicated cheese, Janet Hurst’s Homemade Cheese has recipes for everything from Cheddar to Brie and Blue Cheese. She discusses a variety of topics including molds, aging cheeses and rennet- an ingredient used in the cheesemaking process. I also found interesting her descriptions of the cheesmakers she encountered some of whom provided recipes for the book.

Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge
by Gordon Edgar
Cheesemonger
Hurst’s book gives insight into those making cheese, but if you are curious about the life of the cheesemonger who sells you cheese then check out Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge. Gordon Edgar, the cheese buyer for Rainbow Grocery Cooperative in San Francisco, was not a typically trained culinary expert, but started out as a punk rock activist. The memoir details his quirky experience working in San Francisco as well as his passion for fromage. Although the book is not intended to be a guide book, it does give overviews at the end of chapters of some of the cheeses that Edgar’s discusses.

Composing the Cheese Plate: Recipes, Pairings, & Platings for the Inventive Cheese Course
by Brian Keyser and Leigh Friend
Cheese Plate
One of my favorite things to share for entertaining are cheese plates. We like to bring cheese with us when we go to conventions and we know we might have friends hanging out in our room after panels (a step up from chips and dip). Whether homemade or bought from a store, cheese plates provide a variety of taste to choose from, are elegant without seeming too fussy and allow your guests the fun of trying something new. Brian Keyser and Leigh Friend step readers through the process in Composing the Cheese Plate with information on topics including the different categories of cheeses, recommendations about lactose intolerance and eating cheese during pregnancy, and suggestions for accompaniments, presentation, how to wrap cheeses, and more. Included are all sorts of accompaniments for your cheese plate such as herbes de provence caramel corn, brown sugar fudge, and rosemary pine nuts that can also be used in a variety of dishes.

Other ebooks available from eBCCLS include Vegan Cheese: Simple, Delicious Plant-Based Recipes by Jules Aron, The Book of Cheese: The Essential Guide to Discovering Cheeses You’ll Love by Liz Thorpe, Sheridan’s Guide to Cheese: A Guide to High-Quality Artisan Farmhouse Cheeses by Kevin Sheridan and For the Love of Cheese: Recipes and Wisdom from the Cheese Boutique by Afrim Pristine. You can even read The Cheese Trap: How Breaking a Surprising Addiction Will Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Get Healthy by Neal D Barnard which won’t stop me from enjoying cheese, but is a reminder that all things are best in moderation.

Besides eBCCLS, Hoboken residents can also check out ebooks from eLibraryNJ and Hoopla!  Plus you can borrow magazines from RBdigital including foodie favorites like Bon Appetite, Cook’s Illustrated and Food Network Magazine.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

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