Cooked by Michael Pollan

CookedI’ve been fascinated by Michael Pollan’s books about food (The Botany of Desire, The Omnivore’s Dilemma were my favorites.) Here is another, this one about how we, meaning humans, have prepared food. He divides the book into sections by what element is used in cooking — fire, as in barbeque, water, as in soups and stews, air, as in bread baking, and earth, as in fermented foods like pickles, cheese, and home brews.

He includes chemistry, history, and cultural viewpoints. I particularly like reading about his “field trips” to visit experts in the various types of cooking. You’ll have to wait in line for this one, but it’s worth it. It may even tempt you with the recipes included to try some of the techniques at home.

Reviewed by Sue D.

Female Chauvinist Pigs: women and the rise of raunch culture by Ariel Levy

An inquisitive look into the image of the 21st century “liberated” female, Ariel Levy’s book “Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture” discusses some of the biggest questions in culture and feminism as they pertain to the media’s representation of women in America. Levy’s book outlines and scrutinizes the growing trend of lewd self-objectification by today’s women, both by those with considerable power and without, with an approachable humor and undeniable logic. Her thorough investigation at the way American society treats women and sex reveals a complex cultural dilemma that casts the (seemingly) most promiscuous as role models for today’s women and girls. In addition, Levy explores the notion of sex as a cultural currency for women rather than as a tool for pleasure – as it is represented for men. Overall, this book takes a look at our modern popular culture through a forward-thinking, logical feminist lens and is a great read for those who wonder why we choose people like Kim Kardashian and the women of Jersey Shore as our female role models.

Reviewed by Ariel