Trying to finish reading the stack of books balanced precariously on my desk…

1) Milk-The Surprising Story of Milk through the Ages, by Anne Mendelson

I read this awhile ago but forgot to write about it. A “a recipe book that is part cultural critique and part culinary history”, the writing is a little too academic for my liking. I struggled to finish the book and skimmed through several paragraphs in my haste to shut the book. Perhaps it is also because I have never really liked milk. -_-

Still, it does provide a comprehensive picture of milk and other dairy products. The recipes are pretty tempting too.

2) When We were Romans, by Matthew Neale

A very provoking read that made me want to dig out my old Literature notes and start doing some Practical Criticism.

“Lawrence is a nine-year-old whose mother, Hanna, has convinced him and his younger sister, Jemima, that their estranged father is poisoning their food, turning the neighbors against them, and stalking them. To escape his alleged behavior, she takes them from London to Rome, a city she knew as a young single woman. Hanna often experiences ‘blackouts’—she sits and stares, refusing to move or participate in daily activities. Life in Rome is initially better: Hanna’s friends from the past come to her aid in finding housing and a job. But things soon deteriorate and Hanna once again relies on Lawrence to act as the adult. Lawrence’s feelings are symbolized through the scientific and historic facts he reveals throughout his narrative.”

The story is narrated by Lawrence, “a 9-year-old British schoolboy on whom the reader is entirely dependent. That dependence requires us to hack through a narrative environment thick with run-on sentences, erratic spelling and a child’s-eye view of turbulent and sometimes disturbing circumstances with his loving but chaotic protector, his ‘mum,’ Hanna.”

I enjoyed the narrative bits on Roman history as well. Told through a 9-year-old, it becomes all too clear how stupid adults can be, and how adults in distinguished positions continue to make stupid mistakes.

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