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From the Desk of Duncan Smith: You Are What You Read

Post by Duncan Smith
Posted November 04, 2013 in NoveList Plus, Readers' Advisory News

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We all know the old saying "You are what you eat" but an important variation on that saying is "You are what you read." An appropriate example is the story of Mia Bauer. Mia was featured on NPR's business-oriented radio program, Marketplace, in a segment about how books influenced the careers of successful business leaders. For Mia, that book was Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence. One of the reasons she loved Wharton's book was the description of the food and the role it played in the daily life of the characters. After reading The Age of Innocence, Bauer made a commitment to not end up like the characters in the book; she resolved not to live a life of regret. She directly attributes Wharton's work with giving her the courage to abandon a successful but unfulfilling legal practice and found CRUMBS, the bake shop that pioneered the gourmet cupcake craze.

Food-related are among the most popular in our collections. In Library Journal's survey (February 15, 2013), 81% of respondents indicated that cooking was in the top five nonfiction topic areas circulating in their libraries. The article doesn't indicate whether or not "cooking" was limited to cookbooks but the November/December issue of RA News indicates there is a lot more going on in kitchen literature than recipes.

As Jennifer Brannen points out in "History by the Slice," food has been a popular topic for the microhistory subgenre since it came to prominence. Maureen O'Connor's article on culinary awards contains background on the history of the James Beard awards that you will want to share with anyone interested in borrowing food-related titles. And finally, Nanci Milone Hill and Bethany Latham have written articles which the fine art of dining plays a key role. Both of these articles are book displays just waiting to happen.

So as we approach the busy, food-filled end of the calendar year, I hope you will find a few minutes to sit back and savor the November/December issue of RA News.