Taste of July
A little bit of this and that
By Shannon Jones
You’ll notice that this issue of O.Henry is packed with culinary delights and summer beverages. Since the scuppernong grape is a food and a drink all in one, who better to talk consumption and its consequences than us? The following books will see the light of day this month and we’re here to help guide you through your gustatory excesses and excitements. Yes, pleasure can have its perils, but it helps to know ahead of time what portends. Use these tomes to avoid the pitfalls of delight.
July 6: The Science of Sin: Why We Do the Things We Know We Shouldn’t, by Jack Lewis (Bloomsbury, $18). Anyone who has ever wondered why they never seem to be able to stick to their diet, who marvels at how little work some of their colleagues get away with doing, who despairs at the antisocial behavior of their teenagers, who can’t understand how cheaters can juggle extramarital affairs, who struggles to resist the lure of the comfy sofa and the giant bag of chips, or who makes themselves thoroughly bitter by endlessly comparing themselves to others — this book is for you.
July 6: Quitter: A Memoir of Drinking, Relapse, and Recovery, by Erica C. Barnett (Penguin, $17). The pleasures of drink can, of course, lead to dark and unhappy places. As author Beth Macy says of this emotionally gripping memoir, “Quitter is both a warning and a reminder: If you can stop drinking after one or two beers, you’re not better than Barnett and the more than 60 million Americans who binge drink. You’re just luckier.”
July 6: This Is Your Mind on Plants, by Michael Pollan (Penguin, $28). Pollan is a perennial Scuppernong favorite. In this new release, he dives deep into three plant-based drugs (opium, caffeine and mescaline) and throws the fundamental strangeness — and arbitrariness — of our obsession with them into sharp relief. Exploring and participating in the cultures that have grown up around these substances while consuming (or, in the case of caffeine, trying not to consume) them, Pollan reckons with the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants. Why do we go to such great lengths to seek these shifts in consciousness? And why do we fence that universal desire with laws, customs and fraught feelings?
July 27: A Chef’s Book of Favorite Culinary Quotations: An Inspired Collection for Those Who Love to Cook and Those Who Love to Eat, by Susi Gott Séguret (Hatherleigh Press, $12.50). Even though Julia Child, Irma S. Rombauer and other visionaries inspired us to think of cooking as a joy, most of us still need to be reminded that cooking and eating can be fun and inspirational as well as essential! A Chef’s Book of Favorite Culinary Quotations highlights words of wisdom from a wide variety of people, including those in the food world and beyond. Séguret was born and raised in the woods of Western North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains. Today, Susi leads Blue Ridge foraging expeditions and teaches others how to blend the elegance of French cuisine with the simplicity of mountain ingredients. She is also the author of Appalachian Appetite.
July 27: Vegan Savvy: The Expert’s Guide to Nutrition on a Plant-Based Diet, by Azmina Govindji (Pavilion Books, $17.95). Veganism is one of the fastest-growing movements across the world, with a 600% increase in the U.S. from 2014–2017. This lifestyle choice, however, is not without its difficulties. This guide is a simple, flexible and nutritionally approved way to make it easier to explore a vegan diet.
July 27: The Rocky Road to Ruin: An Ice Cream Shop Mystery, by Meri Allen (St. Martins, $7.95). OK, I’m not vouching for the contents of this book, but I am giving four stars to the title. The main character, Riley Rhodes, is a travel food blogger and librarian at the CIA. Hijinks ensue. OH
Shannon Jones is store manager and children’s buyer at Scuppernong Books.