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Frozen Literary Treats to Check Out from the Hoboken Public Library: The Ice-Cream Makers, Sweet Spot, and The Everything Ice Cream, Gelato, and Frozen Desserts Cookbook

20 Sep

I’ve always been a huge fan of ice cream; I’ve taught two ice cream making classes at the Library and even recently had a poem published in a collection of ice cream poetry. If like me you are mourning the end of the warm weather, you can keep the summer months going a bit longer by checking out some of these cool literary treats.

The Ice-Cream Makers by Ernest van der Kwast/ translated by Laura Vroomen

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The Ice-Cream Makers is the second novel and international best seller by Indian born, Dutch author Ernest van der Kwast.  It tells the story of a family of Italian ice cream makers who for several generations has been creating frozen treats in the Netherlands during the summer months.  The extensive research done by the author comes through in the details of their lives and will make you think twice about wanting to open up your own shop due to all the hard work it requires.  The tension and drama in The Ice-Cream Makers comes from the relationship of the two brothers who both are in love with the same girl as well as the one brother, Giovanni’s eschewing of the family business to instead become immersed in the world of poetry while his dutiful brother instead stays and creates ever more elaborate flavors such as fig and blue cheese.  I found the portions of The Ice-Cream Makers dealing with Giovanni and the poetry festivals he was involved with to be some of my favorites.  I am curious to check out his similarly delicious sounding debut novel from 2010 Mama Tandoori, inspired by his Indian mother.

The Everything Ice Cream, Gelato, and Frozen Desserts Cookbook by Susan Whetzel

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After reading van der Kwast novel, you might be craving some actual ice cream so go to eLibraryNJ and check out The Everything Ice Cream, Gelato, and Frozen Desserts Cookbook as an eBook.  Food Blogger Whetzel’s entry into the Everything series of books will provide you with what you need to know to make ice cream and more including tips on storage and a brief history of ice cream.  She includes basic ice cream recipes for flavors like vanilla and several for chocolate, as well as more fanciful flavors like Sage Blackberry Swirl Gelato, Orange Infused Olive Oil Gelato, and Cucumber Mint Frozen Yogurt for those with an adventurous palate.  Besides granitas and sorbets, which are always dairy free, there is a whole section on vegan ice cream including scrumptious flavors that will tempt those beyond vegans and the lactose intolerant such as Cinnamon Swirl Cheesecake and Pineapple White Chocolate Macadamia.  For diabetics and others watching their sugar intake there are tasty recipes including Peanut Butter and Jelly, Decadent Dark Chocolate Raspberry, and Coffee Chip.  Plus you can learn to make ice cream accouterments like your own homemade magic shell, waffle cones, flavored whip creams, and sugar cookie cups to make your desserts even more special.  For those looking to make a celebratory treat there is a section on ice cream pies and cakes perfect for your loved one’s next birthday.  Recipes for milkshakes and their slightly healthier siblings smoothies are also featured in this work that truly does seem to live up to its “everything” claim.

Sweet Spot: An Ice Cream Binge Across America by Amy Ettiger

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For those looking for a fun nonfiction account about ice cream, you will enjoy Amy Ettiger’s Sweet Spot which takes a look at the history of ice cream and its creation and enjoyment across the USA.  She speaks to everyone from Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s fame to Andrew Zlot, a water buffalo farmer, making made-from-scratch gelato.  Ettiger goes beyond interviews and research; she learns to make ice cream at a famous Penn State ice cream making boot camp and even rides along with an ice cream truck in Brooklyn, where she learns about the ice cream truck turf wars in the process.  A few quirky recipes, including Salty Butterscotch Ice Cream, and photographs are sprinkled throughout the book.  An index for those looking for specific topics and a list of consulted works are included, however, her account though informative, takes a very personal conversational tone which is makes it good for casual non-fictions readers.  Those who enjoy foodie memoirs should find this work a sweet treat.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

The 5 Books I Plan to Read for Summer 2017

16 Jun

Nothing makes a librarian happier than recommending books to others, so I was delighted when my niece FaceTimed last week to ask for summer reading suggestions. She starts high school in the fall and is required to read a nonfiction book and a fiction book during the summer, which she will do while she is away at camp. This also inspired me to think about my own summer reading, so I will tell you about the books I suggested for my niece, and what I plan to read.

(Don’t forget that the Hoboken Public Library is here for all your summer reading needs, with print books, eBooks, audiobooks, and more. Our Summer Reading Programs for all ages kick off Thursday June 22, where what you read this summer puts you in the running for prizes! And of course, we will celebrate our reading successes once summer ends.)

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My niece: isn’t she a cutie? ❤

Recommendations for My Niece

My suggestion for nonfiction was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. (Click here to find this title in hardcover, paperback, audiobook, large print, and eBook.) This book about Henrietta Lacks, the woman whose still-growing HeLa cell line has been used in more than 60 years of scientific and medical progress, has been a sensation since it was first published. It is a hybrid of biography about Henrietta, her family, and where she grew up in rural Virginia; history of racist practices against poor blacks in medical settings (Henrietta’s cells were taken during a medical exam and used in research without her or her family’s knowledge and consent); and science writing that is accessible and makes the reader think. This book is absolutely brilliant, and ranks among the best nonfiction I have ever read.

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This book assigned in high school classes, and a friend that teaches high school science gave this book a thumbs-up for teens. I think it will be a challenging and educational read for my niece. However, she is forbidden from watching the recent HBO movie adaptation that stars Oprah instead of reading the text. (This Librarian always prefers the book to the movie.)

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For fiction she wanted straight YA. I first suggested The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which I am currently reading. Starr is a young African American woman straddling two worlds–her gritty urban neighborhood and her pedigreed suburban private school–whose childhood friend Kahlil is shot and killed while unarmed during a traffic stop by a police officer.

The heavy subject matter yielded a nose wrinkle from my niece, and I understand her feeling. Most people want to read light, fun books in the summer. (As you read further into this post, you will see that I am not one of these people!) This book is intense, and has moved me to tears a few times while reading, but The Hate U Give is an impressive debut by Angie Thomas.

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My next YA fiction suggestion was When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (available in print and as an eBook). I haven’t read this book, about two Indian-American teens whose parents are planning an eventual arranged marriage for them who meet in a summer program before college. Rebecca and Liberty from Book Riot’s All the Books podcast say that this book is adorable, and I plan to read it myself. My niece may like the romantic elements and the teen characters. 

I will be writing letters to my niece at camp to check in on her reading progress, and to talk about what she ultimately chose to read.

Next up are books I want to read this summer.

Inspired by the American Crime Story Anthology Series

I watched American Crime Story: The People v O.J. Simpson last year and was riveted. Perhaps the series resonated because I remember the Bronco chase broadcast live on TV in 1994 (and was miffed that the chase interrupted ABC’s TGIF lineup) and the extensive trial coverage. 

In 2018 there where will be two more installments of the American Crime Story series, and I may change my cable cord-cutter status to watch them. The first is about the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace in August 1997 that was part of a killing spree by Andrew Cunanan. (Filming for this series is underway, and photos of Darren Criss as Andrew Cunanan are online.) The source book is Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Manhunt in FBI History by Maureen Orth, which reports on Cunanan’s crimes leading up to his encounter with Versace. I love a good true crime story (click here to read my review of The Lost Girls by Robert Kolker) and want to read about this case before the show airs.

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The next American Crime Story will cover Hurricane Katrina. I have written about media inspired by this devastating storm, so I am very interested in this story. The source text is The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Douglas Brinkley. This is a well-researched, dense volume that will likely take me all summer to get through. I am reading the first chapter now, which discusses the establishment of New Orleans as a port city, its flooding history, and how the vulnerable Louisiana coastline has eroded over the past 200 years.

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In case you are wondering, the source for American Crime Story: The People v O.J. Simpson was The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin.

A Wildcard Pick

My father will happily tell you that he has been exposing me to 1960s music since my early childhood. In the car, the radio was always tuned to 101.1 FM, which was New Yorks’ Oldies station. Now that he’s upgraded to satellite radio, he always listens to the 60s on 6 channel, and sometimes First Wave (the 1980s alternative channel, which is my influence on him).

This exposure has definitely fostered my appreciation of 1960s music. In particular, I am a fan of Otis Redding. This past spring Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life by Jonathan Gould was published. I want to read this well-reviewed biography to learn more about one of my favorite artists, who died in a plane crash before his signature song “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” was released in 1968 and became a hit.

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So, this is my summer reading list. I am also duty-bound to read the books for the Library’s Mile Square City Readers Book Club, the Lady Memoir Book Club at Little City Books, and the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge I’m following. So I have no shortage of books to read!

Tell me reader, what are you reading this summer?

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

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