When I was younger, I used to read all the time, about anything, and it was unbelievably fun. I read dystopian novels and fantasy novels and all those books where a misunderstood main character unexpectedly gets chosen by a prophecy to save the world from destruction and with some magical friends along the way, he/she obliterates the bad guy off the face of the Earth (or whatever make-believe planet they're on). I would be sitting on the couch looking at ink on a paper and yet, at the same time, I was looking in on this shattered world from the outside. I lived vicariously through books!
After a while, I stopped reading as much, mostly because I have a terrible time choosing books that I enjoy. I had read all the famous novels and didn't really have any left. Whenever I picked up a new book, they were all the same plot- a great plot- but I had read too many of the same dull thing. I didn't have the patience to explore the book world and keep reading until I found something new that intrigued me. Every now and then I'd get something to read, but nothing especially cool. A school reading assignment here, a book lying the house there... and that's all.
I started reading more when got to my new school that had an entire public library built into it and therefore had an entire public library's worth of books stacked into its shelves. On display, I found a bright book with pictures of melting ice cream laced all over the cover. If you know anything about me, you know I love ice cream! So, naturally, I was drawn to the book, titled Sweet Spot. I was delighted to see that the subtitle read "An Ice Cream Binge Across America" because that meant that it was literally just a novel about ice cream, and of course, I picked it up. Generally, people say "Don't judge a book by it's cover" but to be honest, if I was writing a book, I'd make the cover as appealing as possible because it's the first thing that somebody sees. Sort of like how you dress classily for job interviews to give a good first impression. You have to look good- and this book definitely did.
I have never been a big fan of nonfiction. As much as I love to learn, I'd really rather watch a documentary or hear an expert speak about a topic than read about it. I find that it's hard to make an educational book that isn't dry throughout the entire 200+ pages. I think it's mostly because it's hard to take one topic and write about it in a way that it can appeal to anybody from anywhere, although this is certainly possible. An awesome example of this is the TV Series "Cosmos" (both the old and new versions), because it shows otherwise unaware people how important and gripping astronomy can be. The only difference is that "Cosmos" is on TV and other stories are in words, with fewer fascinating pictures. That's why nonfiction authors have a slightly more difficult task at hand.
I tend to think of myself as a curious person, so although I had doubts that I would enjoy this ice cream book that was probably just filled with bullets of facts and information, I brought it home. I ended up being stunned by how interesting it turned out to be. It was written remarkably, and it made me really admire the author, Amy Ettinger. She's a journalist who, like me (and probably you), lives for ice cream, and because of all the detailed research she's done for the book, she probably knows more about ice cream than either of us ever will. There's also probably more to the dessert "industry" than either of our minds could begin to fathom- but this book is a start.
You can see Ettinger's dedication throughout the entire story: She visits a university meant to teach people how to make ice cream. She learns the difference between gelato and ice cream and frozen yogurt. She tells tales about decade-long feuds between ice cream truck vendors. She tries peculiar ice cream concoctions like goat's milk ice cream and mealworm ice cream. She learns where ice cream came from and where it's going. But the most important part of the book- and what makes it surprisingly serious- is how Ettinger crafts a story based upon America's long, loving relationship with everybody's favorite frozen treat- traced all the way back to George Washington. This book is breezy, funny, educational, and even if you hate ice cream, you should read it (especially during the summertime or at the beach).
Thanks for joining me for my first February post! Come back next week for more!!