On Rue Tatin: Living and Cooking in a French Town by Susan Herrman Loomis -- An American couple moves to France, buys a house (a really cool house from the sound of it) and fixes it up. But this is also about a lady who writes books on cooking. So this book is a nice mix of life in France with talk of French people, French quirks, fixing up an old French house, French cooking, buying school supplies for her son, her son's school experience, buying a stove and visiting Paris (and more). Curious what the house looks like? Here's a slideshow and article about it.
I enjoyed the bit on "tuyau," a system "vaguely comparable to bypassing authorities." It ranges from being part of a group who orders, say, wine in order to get a discount from the vintner to things which seem much more like cheating. But it's the way of life there - and a way to bypass the very high taxes in France. Apparently, it's just part of the culture. (see pg. 76)
Other interesting bits:
The time the author held a dinner party and invited all sorts of friends only later to be called by her best French friend informing her that that particular grouping would never happen if a French person were planning the invitation list. Why? French friend's husband is a centrist politician whereas teachers - of whom the author invited a couple - were known to be left of the left and the two always felt so much at odds with the other, they didn't mix! (pg. 125)
French teachers yell at their students, and parents in general yell at their children more. In fact the author had a hard time coming to grips with French parenting styles: leaving their children in their bedrooms to cry it out and so forth
The French simply didn't understand the reason for baby showers in the American sense. Apparently if you are middle class or lower, you got a sum from the government to purchase needed baby items.
At Any Price by Patricia Roush -- an American woman works to get her daughters back after her Saudi ex-husband takes them from the United States to Saudi Arabia; this book disgusted me on so many levels
Out of the Garden: Women Writers of the Bible by various authors (nearly thirty) -- see more in this post and this one on Hannah
Amarcord by Marcella Hazan -- "the remarkable life story of the woman who started out teaching science in a small town in Italy, but ended up teaching Americans how to cook Italian" -- Actually Marcella seemed to teach not just Americans, but people from all over the world how to cook Italian food. I enjoyed reading Marcella's story of growing up in Italy and later her life in the United States and abroad.
Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen -- the author discusses the biased slant of most of our high school textbooks and gives us a fuller picture of Columbus, the first Thanksgiving, racism, the war in Vietnam, and more.
"History is not a set of fact but a series of arguments, issues, and controversies." (pg. 41)
"Columbus is not a hero in Mexico, even though Mexico is much more Spanish in culture than the United States and might be expected to take pride in this hero of Spanish history. Why not? Because Mexico is also much more Indian than the United States, and Mexicans perceive Columbus as white and European. 'No sensible Indian person,' wrote George P. Horse Capture, 'can celebrate the arrival of Columbus.' Cherishing Columbus is a characteristic of white history, not American history." (pg. 64)
"It is painful to advert to these things. But our forefathers, though wise, pious, and sincere, were nevertheless, in respect to Christian charity, under a cloud; and, in history, truth should be held sacred, at whatever cost . . . especially against the narrow and futile patriotism, which, instead of pressing forward in pursuit of truth, takes pride in walking backwards to cover the slightest nakedness of our forefathers." —COL. THOMAS ASPINWALL (pg. 70)
see more quotes and commentary in this post