Month: January 2009

Today, I am listening to the audiobook for Charlaine Harris’s Club Dead and reading some Casino Royale. I think I’ve given up A Christmas Carol; I’m going to pick it up in July or something.

These streets in the 7th.

Last weekend, I was actually reading in Paris, France. I had brought one book with me and that is my copy of Adam Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon which is one of my favourite collection of personal essays and books about Paris. It’s very funny and pleasing to read about the places he writes about such as the Jardin du Luxembourg, Café de Flore, Les Deux Magots, Musée d’Orsay, and others and actually go there later in the day. Reading while on a voyage is not uncommon to me or any other bibliophile, but I think it was the first time that I had read so much of the place I was actually in. Since the book was written ten years ago, I noticed a lot of changes. I have read a lot of travelogues and travel nonfiction, but I do not travel to these places all that much so it was refreshing to read and contemplate the changes presented while noticing what was very true. I have actually yet to read anything very London since getting here since I acquire and read fiction here.

Speaking of which, I acquired a few books this week by chance, mostly ones that have gone on Bookmooch. I am pleased to say that in the pile was Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander which I had listened to audiobook last spring and enjoyed so I’m glad to own a copy as well as the next book in the series Dragonfly in Amber. This works out perfectly since I own the next two books Voyager and Drums of Autumn which are back in Canada. I have enough books on small tiny shelf here in London and my limited free time that I shouldn’t get more book nor think I’ll actually get through them all before the end of 2009.

On a final note, I usually leave these things in the Literary Links, but I have to plug The Guardian’s 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read. I have penchants for book lists and this is one I can get behind whether you agree with the selections or not. Here is the definitive list and you can search if your favourites are there, or browse through the novels by category/genre.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Literary Links:

ZenHabits has a How to Instill Love of Reading for Your Child or Yourself

I think I linked this before, but it’s a good list: ZenHabits’s 50 Amazing and Essential Novels to Enrich Your Library – A directory of web 2.0 book sites.

15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else

Duck Noodle Bowl, Noodle Inn, London Dim Sum at Noodle Inn, London

Noodle Inn
25 Oxford Street,
020 7287 5953
Tube: Tottenham Court Road

The Cost & Date: Tuesday December 16th 2008 for lunch :: £20.90 for 2.

Food & Drink: For appetizers, we had steamed pork & chive dumplings (you get four, we had eaten two in the photo). I had a duck la-mian soup (above), and my friend had a pork/chai siu la-mian soup. We also had some tea.

Setting: Small, relatively clean. Small toilet though.

Service: Straightforward, not bad.

Story: Another connection through my flatmate, but this restaurant is fairly well known and popular due to its central location. My flatmate actually met one of the cooks that actually does make its specialty, handmade la-mian. Whenever you pass by the window on Oxford Street, it’s all steamed up due to the hot food and the noodle making. It’s nice, warm, and cozy. A good respite from the insanity of Oxford Street. I liked the noodles. You can tell it is handmade and not from a premade package. It’s not too salty either. The dim sum was not bad at all.

Overall: I’d definitely come back, but it can be a bit busy on the weekends and later weekdays. It’s not too expensive, but I think it’s more or less a good deal considering London restaurants. Better than some Chinatown establishments.

Magic Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

This is a staple for one of my friends. She’s a domestic goddess and excellent at baking. I’ve had this cake before and I did mess up on my own versions only because I realised my dish is too small. This is a cake that requires no solid chocolate which is good if you all you have on hand is cocoa powder and you don’t want to chop up chocolate or can find mass quantities of chocolate chips (why is it that I can only buy it in 100 grams bags here?). I think this is a pretty inventive cake probably from an old vintage cookbook of my friend’s mum. It was a hit at the birthday I baked this for. As usual, I cut out a lot of sugar, and while I usually use brown sugar in my recipes, I followed the recipe and used white for this one.

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Image courtesy of RSC

Image courtesy of RSC / Daily Mail / Alastair Muir

Due to the beauty that is the Royal Shakespeare Company’s special student rates where you can see £5, I was able to score two tickets for their 2008/09 London season at The Novello Theatre on the Aldwych. Words can not contain how much I wanted these tickets when I first heard about the cast and the fact I was going to be in London at the same time. Both performances had me in bliss for 3 hours 30 minutes. The two nights I went were December 30, 2008 and January 10, 2009 (the last performance). The difference between the two are mainly focussed around the fact that David Tennant was still recovering in the former replaced by Edward Bennett, but was back for the latter. I also had opera glasses (£3.99 at the NT shop) for the second showing which allowed me a view of their faces, making it even more interesting. As a preface, I must admit that I have not seen any Shakespeare play of this caliber, and as much as I love the performing arts, I have not been able to indulge in as many shows as I would like especially given I lived in a town not as cultural as London. Therefore, this was quite special for me.

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Oh woe. I can not wait until I am no longer a graduate student so I can go back to reading. I am exactly where I was two weeks ago at my last Salon. I have read all of three chapters in Casino Royale, Club Dead is still on hold in audiobook form, it’s well past Christmas but A Christmas Carol is stacked underneath CR, and Paris to the Moon is on top urging for a little reread because I will be going to Paris this weekend. I never actually finished that reread of Hamlet in time for either two performances that I saw (review tomorrow!).

I read an interesting article on buying books called In Defense of Buying Books which sparked a discussion on that particular blog about books as indulgences, the values of library, overspending, frugality, etc. I really did not start buying books seriously until a couple years ago, and the majority of my books are used books from fairs. I rarely buy new books because they aren’t in my budget. I love libraries, and I grew up and lived within a municipality with an exceptional library system for years, not so much now (more on that in a bit), but I also like owning books. I think many people will argue that buying books and putting them on shelves is a bit of a waste especially if you have not read the books. This is a common affliction among bibliophiles: the buying and hoarding of books. I, too, am afflicted with this disease, but in all honestly, books are my luxury a lot. I do not shop for clothes or accessories all that much, and books are one of my few entertainment sources. Cable tv vs. used books: I know which I would want more. In my poorest days, I wouldn’t give up buying a used book or two. Libraries are sublime, but there are circumstances wherein you can’t use them all the time.

In an earlier salon, I said the likihood of me using the London library system is slim. Well, I applied for one library card this past week and it’s coming into the mail. That is only for one borough of London, and there are two more I’d like to apply for. The libraries in my particular area are farthere away and not as good. It’s not comparable to what I grew up with, and in any case, when do I have the time to read for fun any more? Still, the library cards would be nice to have.

In other news, I won a Bookmooch point and I joined, but I hardly have any books to give away since most of them are across the pond.

Have a good week!

Literary Links:

BBC News has an article about Donkeys boosting Ethiopian literacy rate

My ongoing series of knitting books that I consume and like, but do not list in my official book lists. The first knitting books list is here.

Ravelry or Amazon links

The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns by Ann Budd – The books gives basic instructions for all kinds of patterns in any size and gauge.

Knitty Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush – Bush’s sock books are all popular for a reason; they feature interesting and nice sock patterns.

Son of Stitch N’ Bitch by Debbie Stoller – The SNB books are not great for patterns, but they usually have a couple of gems though. This one has Uncle Argyle Scarf and Smoking by the extraordinary Jared Flood.

Folk Vests by Cheryl Oberle – It seems I like knitting things that I never really wore before I started knitting. I got this book and wanted to knit 80% of it even though I hardly wear vests or know people who do.

Wrap Style ed. Interweave Press – I made the Shetland Triangle, and I hope to make the Lady Eleanor Stole one day along with a couple of others.

Vogue Knitting on the Go Pattern Books – Portable and small pattern books. Here are some that I’ve consumed.

Weekend Knitting by Melanie Falik et al. – Filled with lots of useful and lovely quick knits.

The Knitter’s Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes et al. – A great resource as it details lots of info about fibres. It also has some fantastic patterns.

Viking Patters for Knitting by Elsebeth Lavold – Do you like cables? This is your book.

101 Designer One Skein Wonders ed. Judith Durant – Lots of nice stashbusters like the first book.