Sept. 25 2014 12:00 AM

Jazz, With an Egg on Top


THURSDAY, SEPT. 25 — Here is what we're reading:

Marie-Helene Bertino

Twenty four hours (Christmas Eve Eve, to be exact) in the life of Madeleine Altimari; nine-year-old misanthrope, bully and aspiring jazz singer. Life's dealt her a difficult hand; she lost her mother at a young age, and her father has been a grieving recluse ever since. She has a couple of caring adults in her life who look after her out of lingering affection for her mother, but at her parochial school she's an object of fear and derision, and Christmas Eve Eve is the day she gets expelled

Across town is The Cat's Pajamas, one of the last remaining clubs from Philadelphia's golden age of jazz. All the greats played there, but on Christmas Eve Eve, it's in danger of being closed forever, unless the current owner can pull off a financial miracle. As Madeleine learns of the club's existence, one of her teachers, Sarina Greene, attends a dinner party where she runs into an old flame and events start pulling the characters toward the Cat's Pajamas on what may well be its final night. Ms. Bertino's prose, which at times jumps and scats like the jazz music at the center of the story, is especially effective. Some dreams begin, others end, and life continues to be a magical puzzle for these endearing characters. Delightful and recommended. kobo eBook

Jordan Ellenberg

There are a lot of books out there on this same theme - how a deeper understanding of math will help you to better understand the world around you. As regular readers of this newsletter know, I not only enjoy this sub-genre of science, but feel it's important as well.

Mr. Ellenberg just happens to be the guy who was the technical consultant on one of my favorite TV shows, NUM3ERS. Even though he claims to not have been a big fan of the show, he at least made sure the math was correct. In his new book he does a great job of taking mathematics out of the boring confines of the schoolroom (he's a math teacher, by the way) and offering entertaining examples of the application of mathematical thinking and concepts to things like sports, politics, health issues, crime, and social media - all areas where not understanding statistics, bell curves, even algebra will cause us to misread the the bottom line with embarrassing, and occasionally dangerous, results. Is this the best book on the subject? There are too many good ones out there to say, but it's another very fine addition. kobo eBook

Andrea Slonecker

It was purely a personal bias that made me pick up this charming cookbook and start flipping through. I have a thing for eggs, and believe they can elevate nearly any recipe. The first part of the book is taken up with Ms. Slonecker's instructions for perfecting all of the ways we traditionally cook eggs, from soft-boiled to shirred. Valuable enough, but the rest of the book is where the magic happens: crispy lemon eggs on avocado toast, eggs pickled with beets, dilled eggs with lentils, eggs slipped into and on top of soups and stews and fried with chiles and garlic. We're not just talking breakfast any more, obviously, and if the delicious and unique flavor combinations alone don't put you in the mood for taking an egg-citing adventure, the incredible photos of the dishes will. kobo eBook

Let's stay with the books and food theme this week. What's your most-used and trusted cookbook?

Until next week,


NeilNeil Rajala is Currently Director of Community & Business Services for Schuler Books, Neil's decade with the company has included the wearing of many different hats - and lots and lots of reading.