Welcome to the new Sweetness: The Just Book Club (It's Lit.!) where we'll be diving into and enjoying works from a variety of authors and formats to inspire joy, to challenge us to create a better world, and to learn from under-appreciated perspectives from all over the world.
We're archiving all of our past book club selections here on our blog, starting with this one! For the most current selection, see our top-level Book Club page.
Feel free to check these titles out at your leisure, and if you'd like to join in a virtual discussion, we'll be starting with our first book, "The Art of Eating" by M.F.K. Fisher on Thursday, December 10th at 7:30pm EST (more on the book and where to get it below, followed by our next selection). The event will happen at this Zoom link here.
The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher (1954)
This book is a collection of works by Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher, a pioneer in writing about food as a way to understand the world, and a genre-creating leader in making writing and reading about food as much an experience as tasting the food itself. She was groundbreaking in her writing and it stunned readers of the era to learn that she was, in fact, a woman. Living through both World Wars and the Great Depression, her writings offer inspiration on how, to quote Les Dames d'Escoffier International, to "revere the art of eating simply but well, of taking pleasure where it is found and of loving life with all of its challenges." The Art of Eating takes us on a journey from the gastronomic history of the world starting in 3000 B.C. in Egypt and China, to savoring and stretching food during wartime and economic shortages, to reflecting on life in many aspects through the lens of food. Of course, there are countless recipes worth trying, and especially useful during the growing cold of winter and for creating joy through the holidays as we conclude this challenging year. Here's a quote from the section "The Gastronomical Me":
“People ask me: Why do you write about food? Why don't you write about the struggle for power and security, and about love, the way others do?
They ask it accusingly, as if I were somehow gross, unfaithful to the honour of my craft.
The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I am hungry. But there is more than that. It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straighly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it...and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied...and it is all one.
I tell about myself and how I ate bread on a lasting hillside, or drank red wine in a room now blown to bits, and it happens without my willing it that I am telling too about the people with me then, and their other deeper needs for love and happiness.
There is food in the bowl, and more often than not, because of what honesty I have, there is nourishment in the heart, to feed the wilder, more insistent hungers. We must eat. If, in the face of that dread fact, we can find other nourishment, and tolerance and compassion for it, we'll be no less full of human dignity.
There is communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk. And that is my answer, when people ask me: Why do you write about hunger, and not wars or love?”
― M.F.K. Fisher, The Gastronomical Me in The Art of Eating
This was originally published in 1954, so the used book market is plentiful, and we'd recommend you start there as you can easily find quality vintage editions for well less than a pint of Sweetness! The latest reprint is also available or by order at many local independent booksellers, and may be at your local library as well.
Check out the options on Biblio, a marketplace of independent booksellers and libraries selling used, rare, and antique books. They share our vision for the role of a just business and to positively impact the world around them as a necessity of all operations. You could also check out some of our favorite merchants on Biblio, Better World Books and Thriftbooks directly as well!
Another great resource for new copies is Bookshop.com, which financially supports local independent booksellers and also has listings to help you get to know your local independent booksellers or buy directly with them! This doesn't yet include Worcester's newest one, our friends at Tidepool Bookshop we recommend you check out too! Bookshop.com is a Certified B-Corp in service of the public good and dedicated to strengthening a thriving and inspirational culture around books.
For transparency, the Biblio and Bookstore links are affiliate links, meaning that for each book purchased through Biblio, 5% is paid out by the platform from Biblio's cut to us as a little help and thank you for sharing. With Bookstore, that's 10%, and they also match that 10% commission paid to the independent bookseller on top of the bookseller's price so they earn more as well through the affiliate link. The other links are not, click wherever you like, or check out the book if possible from your library!
Previewing below our next book to start 2021 if you want a jump start or to get on a library waitlist, and this one also has a great audiobook format too!
"The Earth, The City, and The Hidden Narrative of Race" by Carl Anthony (2017)