Ella Minnow Pea takes place on the fictional island of Nollopton, off the South Carolina coast. The island is named Nevin Nollop, the guy who came up with the linguistic marvel, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog," one of the shortest sentences in English to use all 26 letters with minimal repetition. The residents of the island are linguistically advanced and put language on a pedestal. Until the letters of the sentence, stuck to a cenotaph, begin to fall off!!! Then the government decides to expunge those letters from their language as the falling of the letters must be a sign from the great Nollop himself from beyond the grave.
It sounds all light-hearted and fun, but this is a timely satire. With gun control and healthcare debates waging this book really offers an interesting take on civil rights, freedom of speech, and lots of other big issues. The once-peaceful island essentially becomes a police state over a philosophical and linguistic cause. Really poignant stuff.
The book is arranged in epistolary format, which grated on my nerves a bit by the end of the book. I did think it was clever of Dunn to exclude the fallen letters of the alphabet as the book progressed. By the end of the book it was quite hard to read as residents had to write to one another phonetically using the leftover letters or use similar-sounding words to their intended word choices.
For a really lovely, sophisticated review of this one, check out Aarti's Musings over at BookLust.
Deceptively Delicious is a cookbook authored by Jessica Seinfeld (though I could care less about the near-celeb authorship). Basically, it's about sneaking veggies past our kids to introduce more nutrition into their lives. The basic idea is that one prepares any number of veggie purees, mostly in 1/2 cup servings, and they can be easily incorporated into the recipes.
I realize some parents detest the idea of "sneaking" veggies past their kids. But, for some of us, this is a very real problem. The truth of the matter is that I "sneak" veggies past Greyson as often as humanly possible. I also present vegetables to him in a straightforward, "there they are on the plate" kind of way, too. But if he's not eating the straightforward veggies, a mama's gotta improvise.
I'm really interested to try several recipes in this book -- for Greyson and for myself! There's everything from hamburgers to pasta dishes to desserts (brownies with beets and spinach!). I do wonder with only about 1/2 to 1 whole cup of veg in a given recipe how much good it's doing? But, I also know that I pack in the nutrition wherever I can -- Greyson gets green smoothies that he loves, and I haven no problem getting him to eat fruit. It's a fun cookbook, and I hope our family will really dig the recipes.
The final book is barely a book, but it was a quick, practical read. The Little Book of Living Frugal by Dr. Charlotte Gorman is full of tips for ongoing frugality. Truthfully, I already do most of these. I shop for long-wearing clothes that I can use in multiple ways. I save gas when I can by making fewer, shorter trips. Not much new information here, but it was a nice reminder for the new year
So that's my reading to cap of 2012. As I mentioned in my Faves of the Year post, it wasn't a big year by the numbers, but overall I was consistently happy with the quality of my reading, and that's the biggest battle!
Did you squeeze any books into the final hours of the year?