In Praise Of Love—But What Is It, Really?

If Àlain Badiou, greatest living French philosopher—that is, according to his compatriots—writes a book called In Praise of Love, wouldn’t you pay attention? After all, love is an ever fascinating subject and some of the greatest philosophers are French (Voltaire, Descartes, Sartre to name a few). And the French are up there as some of the world’s greatest lovers (after the Spaniards, Italians, and Brazilians—all … Continue reading In Praise Of Love—But What Is It, Really?

Hemingway’s Paris of the Twenties: A Moveable Feast

In the cramped studio we rented when we first stayed in Paris a few months, a well-worn paperback of Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast lay on top of three or four books on a night table. The intriguing title was familiar, the first few pages beguiling. I “knew” Hemingway, having read two of his books. Reading about 1920s Paris in Paris? Who could resist? Besides, … Continue reading Hemingway’s Paris of the Twenties: A Moveable Feast

The Existential Life: Left Bank: Art, Passion and the Rebirth of Paris 1940-1950

Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. I heard those names spoken with some reverence by my professor of Western Thought, a course deemed essential to round out all college degrees by the university I was attending. In the next breath, the professor uttered, “Existentialism.” Even now, I’m not entirely sure what the word means although its precepts (or at least some of them) are … Continue reading The Existential Life: Left Bank: Art, Passion and the Rebirth of Paris 1940-1950

My Paris Kitchen by David Leibovitz

I can’t remember the last time I bought a cookbook. Until My Paris Kitchen, by David Lebovitz. The ones I have, I hardly ever consult anymore, since I have my own collection of recipes all organized in my iPad recipe app. But for me, if you throw in certain magic words, then I could be tempted to shell out a few dollars—I splurged on a … Continue reading My Paris Kitchen by David Leibovitz

Stark Truth: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

I suppose in a large country like India you can see life in as many ways as you can imagine it to unfold. But in the poorest hovels of that huge country the reality is that life unfolds in ways you’ve never imagined. Ways that make you wonder how people can endure them. Ways that coax your admiration for a resilient social class whose existence … Continue reading Stark Truth: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

The French do it again: An irresistible Story of Sex

How much do you know about sex? Probably less than you think. That’s how I felt, anyway, after reading The Story of Sex, a delightful book on sex. I first came across The Story of Sex in an article in theguardian.com with a long, formidable title: A graphic history of sex: ‘There is no gene that drives sexuality. All sexuality is learned. As if that … Continue reading The French do it again: An irresistible Story of Sex

Lolita

Mature Iranian Women’s Kinship with Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita—Reading Lolita in Tehran

I anticipated a great read with Reading Lolita in Tehran. It tackles two of my main interests—a woman’s journey through life, and her experience living in a culture quite different from that I live in. I strongly empathized with what I saw to be its underlying themes. But after reading pages and pages full of details to support those themes, I thought, okay, I get … Continue reading Mature Iranian Women’s Kinship with Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita—Reading Lolita in Tehran

Thierry de Duve: Kant After Duchamp

I read art books. Not often. Sometimes I just need a break from made-up stories. My interest in artsy pursuits dates from childhood. I got into drawing growing up with three brothers who refused to play with me. Today, I have pretensions to being a painter of sorts. Anyway, I read this book—all 500-some intimidating, fascinating pages of it. It teased me into expecting that, … Continue reading Thierry de Duve: Kant After Duchamp

Loving A Prince And That Summer in Sicily

How many ways can you get to know a culture different from that in which you grew up? One delectable way described in this review is through cuisines, which I’ve amplified in another post. Marlena DeBlasi takes a different tack in her memoir, That Summer in Sicily. While she does sumptuously describe sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures in earlier chapters, she seduces you into experiencing … Continue reading Loving A Prince And That Summer in Sicily

Nancy Singleton-Hachisu’s Japanese Farm Food

Who expects to be entertained reading a cookbook? Hungry, perhaps and eager to try out recipes from it. But, in fact, some cookbooks do more than give you recipes and possibly some background story behind them, so they’re not only informative, they’re entertaining. One such book is Japanese Farm Food. I know little about Japanese farms and indigenous Japanese culture except for what I’ve seen … Continue reading Nancy Singleton-Hachisu’s Japanese Farm Food