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THE WHATCHAMACALLIT Those Everyday Objects You Just Can’t Name (And Things You Think You Know But Don’t)
By Danny Danzinger and Mark McCrum
$22.99 Hyperion
www.HyperionBooks.com

Remember Cliff Clavin of the TV show Cheers? He was the resident know-it-all, making things up when the facts eluded him, all the while being confident that his invented explanations were as viable as the real thing. Know anyone like that? Well if you do, you can now own the perfect little tome that will set them straight on the facts: THE WHATCHAMACALLIT Those Everyday Objects You Just Can’t Name (And Things You Think You Know But Don’t).

Writers Danny Danzinger and Mark McCrum have taken time out of their already burgeoning careers as all-around writers and wise guys (they know a lot of stuff between them) to compile this compendium of little known names and the trivia that surrounds them. For instance, did you know that there’s an actual term for the piece of bread you use to sop up the last drops of sauce on your plate or soup in your bowl? Well there is and it’s called a Scarpetta. Or how about a Cradle Switch, which is “that part of the telephone on which the receiver-cum-mouthpiece rests”? Most of us would describe the Terminator as a robotic humanoid who comes from the future to save the earth and who says “I’ll be back,” but in actuality it is “the name for the line that divides the dark and the light parts of the moon.” Take that Arnold! And speaking of moons, a Moonbow is “the nocturnal equivalent of a rainbow,” which I’ve always just called a “ring around the moon.” Shows you how much I know.

But the question is: how much do you know? Enough to get by, I am sure, but with the help of this fabulous and fun-filled book, which is veritably bursting with definitions and explanations about dozens of things, you will certainly be able to amaze and amuse your friends and possibly even be the next Cliff Clavin on your block.

NOT BECOMING MY MOTHER And Things She Taught Me Along The Way

By Ruth Reichl
$19.95 The Penguin Press
www.penguin.com

Ruth Reichl, estimable editor of Gourmet Magazine and food critic at large for the New York Times comes to us with a powerful and deeply insightful memoir about her mother and the life she led, NOT BECOMING MY MOTHER And Things She Taught Me Along The Way.

While going through boxes of her mother’s belongings on the anniversary of her 100th birthday, Ms. Reichl came upon a box of personal papers, scribblings and letters that gave the author new insights into the woman who she thought she knew so well. Having come of age during the depression, her mother had wanted to become a doctor. For her family, who was traditional in every way, this was an unthinkable profession so she settled for marriage, a job she was hardly cut out for. But she continued to assert herself as an independent woman and saw her first marriage come to an end, opened a bookstore and then closed it to marry a second time, becoming a mother along the way. Although she encouraged Ruth to be a working woman who thought for herself, the author took for granted the many ways her mother led her to be the fully realized woman she is today with a successful career and a family of her own. And upon discovering her mother’s letters Reichl realized that she hadn’t fully known or appreciated the woman who had given her the gifts she herself had so desperately needed and never received. As the author explains “As I came to know this new person, I began to see how much I owe her…she made enormous emotional sacrifices to make sure that my life would not turn out like hers.”

Filled with insights about how women of previous generations have paved the way for independent women of today, NOT BECOMING MY MOTHER will certainly strike a chord with any of us who have discounted our mother’s sacrifices and will bring home the joy that is at the core of relationships between mothers and daughters everywhere.

BOOMER YOGA Energizing The Years Ahead For Men and Women

By Beryl Bender Birch
$19.95 Sellers Publishers
www.sellerspublishing.com

I am a baby boomer and proud to be a part of that venerable generation, but because I grew up in an era of privilege I was spoiled by the vast array of the good things life had to offer me. Somehow I got it in to my head that my youthful energy and physical strength would go on forever and I know I’m not alone in this. Unfortunately, however, many of us have come up hard and fast against the changes our bodies are experiencing as we head into our fifth and sixth decades of life, and we are shocked to find we are subject to the ravages of time just as previous generations have been. To that end, Beryl Bender Birch has written a book just for us, BOOMER YOGA Energizing The Years Ahead For Men and Women.

Due to an old injury received during a car accident ten years earlier, Ms. Birch began to discover inconsistencies in her body she had never noticed before. Specifically, she had developed a problem with her hip and the teacher, practitioner and author of the highly successful book Power Yoga was suddenly unable to do many of the poses she had come to count on as a part of her daily yoga practice. So she did what any practical boomer would do: she adjusted her practice and more importantly, her way of thinking about her body, designing a great 40 minute workout that will suit every level of yogic practice. Complete with more than 100 photographs of poses and postures, anyone with a floor and some time to devote can become a yoga practitioner quickly and fairly easily. The author is thorough in her teachings and takes into account any and all possible health problems one might be struggling with and she makes it clear that you can adjust any of the exercises for your aptitude and physical limitations.

Ms. Birch’s approach, not only to yoga but also to life, is joyful and energetic and her outlook is one of never ending optimism combined with a bit of pragmatism, which she threads gently throughout this great book. It’s a real winner, in my opinion, for anyone who wants to begin a physical transformation or is just looking to improve the practice they have already begun.

THE DIVORCE PARTY
By Laura Dave
$15.00 Penguin Books
www.lauradave.com

Two couples, one embarking upon a new life together and one on the verge of ending theirs come together in a story about love, redemption and fate in the new book by Laura Dave, THE DIVORCE PARTY.

In the little town of Montauk sits a grand and stately old Victorian home known as Huntington Hall. Built by Gwyn Huntington’s in-laws, she and husband Thomas have lived there for thirty-five years. They’ve raised their two children and thrown many parties for their numerous friends and relatives there. But now, all that is about to change as the morning of Gwyn and Thomas’ 35th anniversary has arrived and with it a celebration unlike any other they ever have had: a divorce party. Having become all the rage in their social circle, the couple insists that this is the civilized way to end a three-decades-plus marriage—with dignity and grace.

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, Maggie Mackenzie and her fiancé, Nate Huntington, are at the opposite end of the marriage spectrum. Having given up her career as a travel writer on the west coast, she and Nate have moved to Brooklyn to open a restaurant together and begin their life as husband and wife. But before they can do so, they must make the journey to Montauk to attend the divorce party. Maggie, who will be meeting her future in-laws for the first time, is trepidacious at the prospect of doing so, at what she considers to be an awkward social occasion. But Nate assures her all will be well. Of course, all is not as it seems with Gwyn and Thomas, who are parting under supposedly amenable circumstances and the ensuing twists and turns of their secret agendas catch Maggie and Nate unawares. This brings up many feelings Maggie has tried to sweep under the proverbial carpet of her past. Meanwhile, secrets Nate has kept from her come barreling headlong into their lives, threatening to ruin their hopes and dreams for the future.

Immensely engaging and well written, Ms. Dave takes us on a circuitous romp through the wilds of Montauk, making us wonder if a divorce party is really an ending or simply a way to celebrate new beginnings on the road of life.
www.Dishmag.com / Issue 98 - September 2018
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