You may have noticed that I don't do book reviews. The main reason is that there are so many bad ones related to aging and I don't see the point of writing about a book I threw across the room (metaphorically or for real).
But it doesn't seem fair that I rarely get around to mentioning books I like so this week I'm going to tell you about a few. Today, one for your heart and one for your heart – that is, for love and for health.
I don't know how I've missed Ilene Beckerman who has a string of books behind her including Love, Loss and What I Wore which Nora and Delia Ephron turned into a successful Off-Broadway play.
Beckerman's latest book, The Smartest Woman I Know, is a funny, charming and heartwarming memoir of her Jewish grandmother, Ettie Goldberg, and since Ms. Beckerman is 75, she's going back a long way to give us this portrait.
Ettie is a lot like most Jewish grandmothers of her immigrant, early 20th century era – and Italian ones and French ones and German ones too – dispensing wisdom in short, practical bursts filled with humor both intentional and otherwise. “Even Rita Hayworth doesn't look so good in the morning,” she tells “Gingy” - Beckerman's nickname as a child.
This is a slight, little book, just 85 pages including a lot of cute illustrations that expand on the text. It made me laugh and almost cry too. Mostly, it's about uncomplicated, loving truth. You can find out more at Ilene Beckerman's website.
When the doctor told Ettie's husband that he needed to trim down a bit, Ettie said to Mr. Goldberg: “I'll give you some free advice on how to lose weight. Don't eat so much.”
Absolutely true, Ettie, but hard to do anyway as we've been discussing here at TGB lately. That brings me to another book – a cookbook by Stephanie Bostic titled One Bowl: Simple, Healthy Recipes for One. "Simple” and “healthy” they are, and the ones I've tried are also delicious.
One reason is that Stephanie, who holds a masters degree in nutrition and has worked in nutrition research at both Tufts University and Harvard School of Public Health, lives alone and cooks most every night for herself – which is how she developed One Bowl. As she says in the introduction:
”I may occasionally still rely on takeout, but the following recipes make it easy to throw together a meal faster than a pizza would arrive.”
I was happy to find lots of soup recipes and there are others I've always thought to be too elaborate to try for just me – such as a duck breast with plum or apricot preserves and sliced almonds that took less than 20 minutes to prepare. Excellent.
One of the hard facts of getting old is that even after a marriage of decades, we can wind up alone, a widow or widower, with no experience at cooking for one. Stephanie's book includes a lot of instruction and help for easy, healthy and delicious eating in smaller sizes.
Both books are available from the usual online retailers.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Jeanne Waite Follett: Living a Dream