Wasn’t I just here? It’s December first as I write this and like November 1st it is raining in the parched Bay Area, even in our rain shadowed valley. It’s a bit too chilly for the cat — and for me — to have the window open but I will anyway because the smell of rain is one of my favorite parts of being a human and I don’t get to indulge in it often these days.
November was a bumper crop reading month. A new round of podcast interviews, new installments in things I love, and just diving into some fun and edifying reading for myself in between.
As is the usual custom now, links are to Bookshop.org or the independent author’s website and I don’t get a cut of sales. I do encourage you to purchase books directly from your local book store if you are fortunate enough to have one. As I am still reluctant to be indoors anywhere I don’t have to be, I order from Bookshop.org and have designated Black-owned Marcus Books in Oakland as my local book store to support. I can also recommend Parnassus Books in Nashville and Union Ave Books in Knoxville, TN, as good people to support as they were my locals in the past. I’m also a big reader of eBooks both purchased from Apple Books or on loan from the library.
On to the reads.
Falling Through the Tree of Life by Jane Meredith — a podcast interview read. Jane’s take on Qabalah is personal and universal. Each sephirot is given an opening essay, an exercise in embodying it, a disk to be decorated, and a memoir of Jane’s experience of embodying that sphere. I am not a student of the Qabalah or Kabalah but this book brought me closest to having an understanding of it, coupled with Enfys J. Book’s Queer Qabalah that I read early on in the podcast days.
Modern Witchcraft with the Greek Gods by Astrea Taylor and Jason Manley — podcast read and second book of Jason’s to appear on the podcast. The book is divided into sections of different types (classes?) of deity, such as the Olympians. The authors take turns driving the main essay on each deity and swap off adding a spell or ritual for that deity and what it is like to work with them or be a devotee. Several other contributors also add their experiences and magical workings to the mix. The book is a good intro to the Greek gods for those who are unfamiliar but it is really meant to bring these ancient deities into the now and does an excellent job of it.
Too Hot to Handle by Tessa Bailey — fun book club read. Fun romance read that requires a bit of work your suspension of disbelief. The MC is a chef so there is some fun there but she is a frustrated chef which hit close to home. The main romance story pales in comparison to the dysfunctional family at the heart of the story arc over the series and I found myself much more interested in the side characters. This seems to be my forever issue with a lot of mainstream contemporary romance. Also heads up that this is a steamy romance and the bedroom talk may make you laugh more than it turns you on. Let’s just say the male lead’s way with words isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.
Here we enter the Victoria is still trying to get her cooking mojo back:
The Book on Pie by Erin Jeanne McDowell — I love her on Food52’s YouTube channel. She just has the come sit by me and let’s talk about life vibe and like her kitchen would always smell amazing. This book is for the pie fearful and fearless. Highly recommend.
Pieometry by Lauren Ko — You have probably seen her punny pie pictures on Instagram if you’re into that sort of thing. Her pies are beautiful. This was more of an art book of pie than something I will cook from but there are some great ideas to take from it to make your pies more beautiful — not just for the autumnal and winter holiday season.
The Instant Pot Meals in a Jar Cookbook by Pamela Ellegen — I am sucker for BookBub offers on weird cookbooks. Appealing idea to have things ready to go. The problem I find is that often the whole slow cooker or Instant Pot approach to cooking everything at the same time can make for sludgy unappealing flavors. There are some great ideas for food gifts in here and I may yet try some of the soups. Did I mention I love soup?
Soup Club Cookbook by Courtney Allison, et al. — Again suckered in by BookBub and a 1.99 ebook. I do love a good soup and this book has some great and unusual soups with toppings and servewiths. I also love the idea of a meal club with friends and making a giant batch of something isn’t that much more work than just cooking and allows someone else (and then me) a night off KP duties. Now I want soup.
Small Batch Baking by Saura Kline — I love to bake, even when I don’t like to cook but it’s really hard to get excited about baking a giant cake or five million cookies when there are only two of us. I don’t need that many carbs lying around but when you want something or want the kitchen time, it’s nice to have options and baking recipes for home cooks aren’t always easy to scale. Pro recipes are based on baking percentages which are complicated on the surface but pretty easy to understand once you crack the code (Flour — usually unless flour isn’t involved — is listed at 100% and then the other ingredients are like eggs 30% by weight, if you’re really interested message me and I’ll geek out about it with you). This book has some easy quick bakes that are just enough for two or one for now and one for later.
Mastering Magick by Mat Auryn — podcast read and a follow up to his Psychic Witch which I also re-read in a skim. There are spells in this book but I think of it more as an extension of Psychic Witch and how Auryn views magic and how it works. One of the interesting things about this book is that he talked with neurodivergent folks and those who have aphantasia (the inability to create mental images at will) and utilizes that feedback to offer alternative techniques. That, to me, makes this a welcome addition to the witchcraft book abundance we find ourselves in.
Outside the Charmed Circle by Misha Magdalene — a podcast read and one I wish I had picked up sooner. It’s a great read for anyone interested in magic (or just living) wherever you are in the constellation (thanks Yvonne Aburrow for that turn of phrase) of sex/gender/orientation/presentation. Misha starts with magic is queer and moves on from there. I’m still processing my take aways from this book and I will just say go get it and read it.
Sew Witchy by Rachael Henderson — podcast read but a book that has been on my dangerous teetering to-read pile for a while. My favorite thing about this book is the melding of the everyday and the magical through the crafting and making you may already be doing. It’s gloriously illustrated with pictures taken by Rachael (and if you listen to the podcast episode when it comes out you’ll get to hear a story about that). This is a great book for homebody witches and makers.
Unf*ck Your Body by Faith G. Harper — super quick read from a giant Humblebundle of self-help, witchy, and writing books. Harper’s take no prisoners honesty about how our health choices are in our control but the outcomes aren’t always due to things like the environment, economic stressors, genetics, etc, is refreshing and helpful. There are steps we can take to improve our health and most of them don’t cost much or anything. Maybe it’s turning 50 and realizing that no matter what I do at this point I’m probably past the half way mark on my personal timeline but I’d like this second half to be as good as it can be without falling prey to snake oil and hucksters making promises nothing in a bottle or regimen can keep. There’s also a workbook.
Radical Sewing by Kate Weiss — from the same Humblebundle as above. Great intro to making your own clothes, mending, etc. I’m not particularly in need of a 101, but I can always use some encouragement to scale the pile of projects (see: baby t-shirt quilt haunting me for 20 years at this point). And, of course, I’m always here for some punk anarchistic thoughts on DIY.
Rivers of London 10: Deadly Ever After story by Ben Aaronovitch — yes another dip into the Rivers of London series, this time in graphic novel form. I’m a Rivers of London fangirl and this was a fun bit of side character development while Peter and Nightingale are preoccupied with other things. The story comes out episodically as individual comics but I always wait until the collected volume is available.