Shopping in cookbook stores, those places dedicated solely to culinary books, is a pilgrimage of sorts for home cooks and chefs: Hours can disappear pulling books from the shelf and pouring over the labors of the writer. Most of these bookstores are owned by people who have an encyclopedic knowledge of books, both those currently for sale and those long gone from the shelves, and can quickly size up a customer’s appetite, steering them in the direction of a tried and true cookbook or toward a lesser-known culinary treasure.
Contrast that experience to the surge of endorphins elicited by hitting the golden “add to cart” and “proceed to checkout” buttons on Amazon: There, one of the pioneering consumer tracking and recommendations systems tailors specific suggestions for each user, with algorithms standing in for booksellers’ tastes. Add the fast shipping perks of Prime membership, and in less time than it takes to marinate meat or make a sourdough starter, the cookbook is in the kitchen.
It was in the last year of my tenure-track chase that I finally accepted my identity as a professor without books. But a professor without books isn’t much of a professor. And I accepted this too. I had moved into my office at my new job at a liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. “Moved in” is a stretch though. There was none of the romantic chaos described by Walter Benjamin in “Unpacking My Library,” none of the anticipation, none of the intimacy, none of the memories that emerge from handling one’s carefully acquired tomes and gradually subjecting them to “the mild order of boredom.” I walked into the recently built, pristine space, put my bag on a chair and logged into my desktop for the first time. My bookshelves were gunmetal gray and cold to the touch. They were completely empty and I had nothing to put on them.
To call a novel childlike isn’t to say it’s simple, especially if we’re talking about Gingerbread, a book that whirs through mythic lands and spikes its many plot twists with the enchanting allure — and nightmarish tinge — of a fairy tale, to be absorbed in a pleasant, sleepy daze before haunting its reader’s dreams.
Fairness matters to monkeys; when food offered to their social partners is of higher quality than what they themselves receive, they become highly agitated.
Pigs experience hope, which we know because if raised in decent conditions they anticipate that pleasurable things will happen to them.
As primate behavior researcher Frans de Waal writes in his new book Mama's Last Hug, publishing in early March, "emotions are everywhere in the animal kingdom, from fish to birds to insects and even in brainy mollusks such as the octopus." Through colorful stories and riveting prose, de Waal firmly puts to rest the stubborn notion that humans alone in the animal kingdom experience a broad array of emotions.