Book review: A Great and Glorious Game by Bart Giamatti

A Great and Glorious Game: Baseball Writings of A. Bartlett Giamatti by A. Bartlett Giamatti

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I like baseball (a lot), but I don’t love baseball. (College basketball is my true obsession.) But Bart Giamatti’s essays about baseball makes me wish that I loved baseball as much as he did (if that is even possible). And his essays certainly make me appreciate baseball and its “deep, resonant pauses” more than I did before.
Even if you aren’t a fan of baseball or sports, in general, the author’s writing–deep, profound, yet accessible–makes this book worth reading. His love for baseball informs every sentence he writes, and his respect for the history and what the sport means to the fans–young and old, immigrant and 10th generation–is evident in his passion and his enthusiasm. I only wish I could write a tenth as well as he could.
From Yale professor to Yale president to National League president to baseball commissioner, Bart Giamatti’s musings on baseball reflect the country as it is and the country as it would like to be. Never would I have thought that I would give 5 stars to a bunch of essays on baseball. Read this for yourself and see why it is beyond well-deserved.

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Book review: Cooked by Michael Pollan

Cooked: A Natural History of TransformationCooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is not the sort of book I normally read, but my husband recommended it, and his judgment on what I would like is usually impeccable. Michael Pollan divides the origin of cooking into four areas based on the four traditional elements: fire (barbecue/roasting), water (braises & stews), air (bread/baking), and earth (pickling/fermentation). In each section, he speculates as to the origin of the technique and follows experts in that particular area while practicing his cooking skills in that particular area.
I am not much of a cook, but I do like to bake, and I found the book to be interesting, informative and thought-provoking. The author discusses the proliferation of pre-packaged foods and its impact on American society, and suggests that a return to home-made meals would do more to improve the fabric of society than merely adding nutritional benefits. It’s an interesting theory and a nice hook. I found the discussion about techniques and his experiences with learning new skills and the evolution of cooking in those four elements to be particularly interesting and entertaining.
Even if this type of book is outside your comfort zone, I highly recommend giving it a try. It is filled with interesting information and thoughtful experiences. The author also includes recipes (one for each element) at the end of the book to try. I can vouch for the sugo recipe (it’s the only one we’ve tried so far).

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