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July 18, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Beat the Heat

Posted by emily
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To us, Throwback Thursday is a day of celebration, of fond reminiscing, of laughter and friendship and of avoiding the sweltering outdoors in whatever ways we can. So join us as we throwback this week from the cool spots right in front of our computer screens. We've got saucy chefs (yes, that was a pun), girls learning to be true to themselves (whether that means being witches or being turn-of-the-20th-century smalltown girls) and reluctant basketball superstar dads --- really, something for everyone. So settle in next to the nearest fan and do the coolest thing you could possibly be doing on a hot Thursday afternoon --- #TBT: Books Edition!

Nicole: BLOOD, BONES AND BUTTER: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef
I first heard about Gabrielle Hamilton when I saw Anthony Bourdain's name on a Barnes and Noble Author Talk schedule for the Union Square, NYC store. I love Anthony Bourdain. He's hilarious, well-spoken, strangely personable and raw (and is a silver fox!). His show "No Reservations" was every foodie/travel guru's dream job. His books mimic his TV personality. If I swooned over him so much, then I knew I would have to like Gabrielle Hamilton if they were going to be in conversation together. I attended the talk with no prior knowledge and left with my next book lined up to read, BLOOD, BONES AND BUTTER: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef. Hamilton's memoir was just as I expected --- personal, intelligent, comprehensive and entertaining. From her childhood interactions at family dinnertime to the opening of her first restaurant Prune (of which I've eaten at several times --- it's AMAZING --- and happens to be around the corner from my apartment), Hamilton's debut novel is a foodie's masterpiece. She is the male counterpart to Anthony Bourdain. So in this Throwback Thursday, I return to the fall of two years ago (anything from the past is a throwback, right?) and whet my appetite...and hopefully yours, as well...for some culinary inspiration.

Emily: BETSY IN SPITE OF HERSELF
It’s hard to choose just one book out of Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy collection because, honestly, the whole series is more of an experience than anything else --- and I say that without a trace of irony. I feel like I grew up with Betsy and Tacy even though the books were published from 1940 to 1955, pretty much around the time my grandma was blossoming into womanhood (I know how corny that sounds, but that’s just how grandmas did). So what exactly did I, a Jersey-born Jewish girl, have in common with Midwestern Betsy, who came of age in the early twentieth century, waaay before Internet chat rooms and pogs and Nick Carter? Some of the details in the books are dated, but most of them feel universal anyway (in spite of themselves…?). BETSY IN SPITE OF HERSELF is the sixth book in the series, and Betsy Ray and BFFAEAE Tacy Kelly are in tenth grade at Deep Valley High. After a visit to her more sophisticated friend Tib over Christmas break, Betsy decides she needs to reinvent herself, so naturally she adds an e to the end of her name (that would be my first move, too) and smiles less in an effort to be more mysterious. She attracts the attention of the wrong guy --- a real retro bro with a fancy car --- but, of course, she can’t keep up the charade, so decides in the end that being herself is really the only way to play it. You can keep your Bellas and Katnisses, because Betsy Ray was gettin’ it done way before they ever were, and having some good, old-fashioned fun doing it.

Chris: MIRACLE ON 49th STREET
All throughout grade school sports were my life. I remember waking up on summer mornings and tossing the ball off the side of my house, shooting baskets for hours in the afternoon and joining pick up soccer games until the sun went down at night. Then I would return home and pursue my other passion --- reading. By the age of 13, I was already an avid reader. Except at this age all I read were books about sports. Reflecting on my childhood made me nostalgic, so I decided to browse through my old bookshelf for a trip down memory lane. After wiping the dust off dozens of my childhood favorites, I came across a book that really made me reminisce. I held in my hands a copy of MIRACLE ON 49th STREET by Mike Lupica --- a well-written teen read with a suspenseful and unique plot. I remember feeling sorry for Molly Parker when her mother dies and she struggles to fill the void in her life. When Molly decides to reach out to Josh Cameron --- her mother’s old college boyfriend and the Boston Celtics MVP --- I was shocked to learn that he was supposedly Molly’s biological father. Naturally, as a sports obsessed adolescent, I thought it would be pretty awesome if my father played for the Boston Celtics (sorry, Dad). However, when Josh refuses to believe that he’s Molly’s father, I realized that maybe having a basketball- crazy superstar as a father wouldn’t really be so great. Molly faces many obstacles as she tries to prove that Josh is her father, yet she remains determined to have a real family once again. Lupica is a skilled storyteller and his book taught me a valuable childhood lesson --- no matter how passionate I felt about sports, my family must always remain my top priority. Lupica helped me keep everything in perspective during my transition into adulthood.

Meghan: T'WITCHES
After Harry Potter, the T’WITCHES books by H.B. Gilmour and Randi Reisfeld have got to be my favorite YA series. Invoking the classic literary trope of identical twins separated at birth, the 10-part series tells the story of teenagers Cam and Alex, who meet by accident and realize that they are not only long-lost twins, but also, shockingly, witches (hence the clever title). Total opposites in style and personality, the two girls put their gifts --- psychic visions and telepathy --- to good use defending victims of injustice at school and on the soccer field, as well as protecting the world from the devious plans of their evil uncle, Thantos. This series has it all: super powers, girl power, PG-13 fun and historical references to the Salem witch trials. It doesn’t get much better than that.