I wasn’t sure how interesting a book on store-bought white bread could be, but someone recommended it to me and I wanted to give it a chance… and it was everything I could want from the kind of book which takes an everyday part of life and digs into its history and social meaning. Bobrow-Strain lays bare all kinds of things about the US which you wouldn’t necessarily link to white bread. Or maybe, knowing the US you would — wealth, health, religion, race.
It ended up being really fascinating: rather densely written — for 200 pages, it took me a while — but in a good way, informative and considerate. Unlike another recent book on food I read, Reinventing the Wheel, it managed not to sound like it was judging everyone in the world’s bad food choices for causing problems. Instead it really dug into why white bread seemed (and seems) so desirable, and what powerful motivations lie behind the choice.
I’d really love to know more about this whole subject as relates to the UK as well, and I’m eager to explore the references for more books on food, since I’ve been finding them fascinating lately.
Well, folks, it’s been a while! I’m still really tired and not quite sure about what I want out of blogging and reviewing, but I am working on sorting out my review backlog and trying again. I seem to say this all the time, though.
How’s it going?
In any case, I thought I’d do the weekly reading update this week, since I’ve written it up for Pillowfort!
What are you currently reading?
Non-fiction: The Invention of Murder, by Judith Flanders, and A Snowball in a Blizzard, by Steve Hatch. The former is a discussion of how murder stories in all branches of entertainment (tabloid newspapers, ballads, novels, plays, poems, etc) developed during the Victorian period, and is fairly dense but enjoyable. The latter is a discussion of uncertainty in medicine and how important it is to understand that most things in modern medicine are not certainties but are instead what we hope for based on the balance of the evidence — for example, digging into the fact that screening mammography actually probably does more harm than good in a large demographic.
Fiction: A Murderous Relation, by Deanna Raybourn, and The Library of the Death, by T.L. Huchu. The former is ticking along great: maybe a bit less compulsive and attention-grabbing for me than some of the previous books in the series, but fun. The latter… I’m not yet clicking with the narrative voice, but I’m not very far in and haven’t got a good feel for the setting yet (e.g. how magic is viewed within the story).
What have you recently finished reading?
I’m having trouble calling to mind what the last fiction book I read was, which is not a great sign for whatever book it was, but I think it’s mostly that I’m kind of in a non-fiction mood. The last non-fiction book I finished was White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf, by Aaron Bobrow-Strain, which was actually recommended for me by someone else on Pillowfort who likes this kind of non-fiction, and which I really enjoyed. I’d love to read a blog post or review that relates the themes surrounding white/brown bread in the US to the situation in the UK, which I’m sure shares many similarities and some differences. It’s amazing how the stuff we take for granted can open up huge topics — not just healthy eating but racism and issues of class. I love it.
What will you be reading next?
As usual, I don’t have a very strong idea. Next month’s choice for the book club I run on Habitica is What it Means When A Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah, so I should probably pick that up… or I’m being very tempted by the third book in Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series, or a few potential rereads, or… there are so many options.