By NIDHA KHAN AND MARIA JI

 

The Summer of 2017 and 2018 has already seen a wide array of books published and in the homes of millions of avid readers around the world. A select few have been reviewed by two of our Mavericks here at TEARAWAY! Read them below and decide for yourself if these books are worlds you would want to explore!

 

Title: My Wide White Bed
Author: Trish Harris
Reviewer: Maria Ji
Rating 4.5/5 stars

Reading this collection of poems about the poet’s prolonged stay in hospital felt like a creative lesson in empathy. In hospitals, feelings are so often shaved into shards, labels that will fit into the brimming brains of overworked staff – Mrs. So-and-so is disappointed… Mr. So-and-so is upset… But in the pages of my wide white bed these feelings which occupy the minds of patients are given the space to breathe and spread out. Through the extended metaphor of riding a ship at sea, the hospital landscape takes on the sprawling wilderness of works like Where The Wild Things Are and films by Studio Ghibli, becoming a rich world where things you can’t imagine (or simply don’t) are part of the everyday. A great gift for friends and family members, particularly if they’re interested in working in the medical field.

 

Title: France From The Source (Lonely Planet Food)
Author: Carolyn Boyd
Reviewer: Maria Ji
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

For those interested in experiencing French culture via a kitchen-centric way, this is the perfect place to start. With recipes organized by geographical regions of France, it’s a beautifully organized, straight-forward curation of authentic recipes “from the people who know them best”. To get the best experience of using this cookbook you should do more research beforehand about dishes because so much of the artistry of the cooking seems to be between the lines. Some words of caution for students with limited budgets would be that you need to be very careful if substituting ingredients as the resulting flavors can become radically underwhelming if you opt for inferior quality produce. But of course, cooking is all about flexibility, (some) spontaneity, and making these recipes your own by trial and error. So what are you waiting for?

 

Title: Grow Your Own
Author: Angus Stewart & Simon Leake
Reviewer: Maria Ji
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

There have been many trendy movements that have flitted across our screens these last few years (tidy your clutter so everything “sparks joy”, tiny houses, capsule wardrobes…). But one of the most exciting, and hopefully enduring, of these movements, is the call for urgent action against climate change in order to protect our planet. On the personal level, there are lots of things you can do, but it’s not always easy to do them (both in terms of implementing behavior change as well as the practical difficulties). This book on how to be an urban farmer is the answer to your dilemmas. It’s a clear, easy-to-understand yet comprehensive guide (written by experts on horticulture and soil science) on how to make the most of whatever space you inhabit so that you can grow food for your table, save money, and reduce your carbon footprint. With plenty of photos, it’ll lead you through the various sections including an intro to urban farming; a practical guide; information about insects and animals on the urban farm; and a few pages on what farming might look like in the future. Suitable for gardeners of all levels, from the green-fingered ones to your friends who slaughter their cacti, as long as they’re confident readers (it’s written for the layperson, but still has a fair bit of science jargon).

 

Title: Mexico From The Source (Lonely Planet)
Authors: Kate Armstrong, Kristin Diaz de Sandi, Scarlett Lindeman, John Hecht, and Michele Peterson.
Reviewer: Nidha Khan
Rating: 3.5/5

A visually stunning book which had me hooked from the moment I laid eyes on it. The front cover bursts with the vibrant colors of the sweet and tangy yellow pineapple, the succulent deep red-amber meat, and the green citrus lime. It was an honest indication of the depth of flavors, colors, and aromas that each recipe would later contain. Before each recipe, short paragraphs explain the recipe’s origin and history. A reminder that food is much more than simply a good to consume, it’s a deep reflection of culture and history and creates a sense of place. The recipes themselves aren’t necessarily difficult – a relief to beginners such as myself. My go-to favorites included the Chocolate Oaxaquena (Oaxacan Hot Chocolate), Agua Fresca: Limon Con Chia (Lime and Chia Seed Cordial), and Pastel Del Elote (Corn Cake). However, with “authentic Mexican dishes” come “authentic” ingredients which can be hard to locate, time-consuming, and unfriendly to the budget for New Zealanders. Sadly, if you are a vegetarian or vegan, there are only a handful of recipes on offer for you.

 

Title: The Kingdom of Olives and Ashes
Authors: Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman, Colum McCann, Jacqueline Woodson, Colm Toibin, Geraldine Brooks, Dave Eggers, Hari Kunzru, Raja Shehadeh, Mario Vargas Llosa and Assaf Gavron.
Reviewer: Nidha Khan
Rating: 5/5

On the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, Michael Chabon, and Ayelet Waldman, a team of writers, and the Israeli NGO (Breaking Silence) which comprises of former Israeli soldiers who served in occupied areas released a “groundbreaking” collection of essays detailing everyday life in Palestine.

This collection succeeds in putting real faces to the occupation. Why? Because there is a humanizing power that is attached to stories, one that you can’t find in statistics. It fleshes out the “human cost” of the occupation by detailing the experiences of people ranging from poor shepherds to children detained by troops, a Palestinian American businessman, and more. Their stories are deeply unsettling, infuriating, and heartbreaking. Story after story showcase the everyday struggles of living in Palestine: violation of human rights, lack of access to water and medical care, countless checkpoints, a systematically rigged justice system, and the cruel and illegal detainment and abuse of children. The diversity of their stories also highlights the often forgotten idea that Palestinians are not a monolithic group, they all experience and process the chilling cruelty of the occupation in different ways. It’s a heavy read, so be prepared to take some breaks.

NIDHA KHAN is a public health graduate who spends her time writing about human rights, youth activism, and social issues. She’s also a lover of puns, a terrible cook, and is on a mission to hug every pug in sight. You can keep up with her antics on Instagram (@nidha01).

MARIA JI is an Auckland-based writer, illustrator, and medical student. Her works have appeared in various publications including New Zealand Poetry Society anthologies, Potroast, Signals, and STARLING. She has been a TEARAWAY contributor since 2013. Her social media haunts include Twitter (@dustyspectacleand Instagram (@maria.yeonhee.ji?

Check out some more of Nidha and Maria’s work for TEARAWAY:

Directing Change: An Interview With Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

The Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty: It’s Time to Change the World

In Review: It Was Only Ever You

We Need to Talk About Racial Identity: On White/Other By Alice Canton

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