We’re nearing the end of Banned Books Week, and it seems more important than ever this year. With all the division in the country, there is always a discussion about freedom of speech, with the talk currently centering on the freedom to #TakeAKnee. Banned Books Week is nothing if not a celebration of voices and of freedom of speech. Through books, we learn the world is bigger than ourselves and that differences are good.
This year, I bought each of my stepdaughters a banned book. The fifteen-year-old received a copy of The Catcher in Rye, which is a book that I haven’t read since I was fifteen. The thirteen-year-old received a copy of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
Then I got all cutesy with the wrapping, proving that I am an almost middle-aged mom and not a rebel. I cut up red and orange tissue paper to look like flames (though I doubt actual book burnings are a common thing) and added some stickers to the gift bags. Literary themed cards were included with the books.
To all of you, I wish you a happy banned books week with great books and dangerous ideas.
Bianca Bosker was a technology editor with an average knowledge of wine when she first encountered the world of sommeliers. She related to their drive and passion, having an obsessive personality of her own, and she envied how sensory their world was, compared to her own experiences writing about technology. Soon after, Bosker quit her job at the Huffington Post to learn about wine full time, starting humbly as a “cellar rat” in a Manhattan restaurant, then befriending restaurant owners and master sommelier students and gaining entrance to prestigious wine events.
The best way I can describe Cork Dork is to say imagine Hermione Granger was a slightly hipsterish millennial aspiring to be a sommelier and then she wrote a memoir about it. It’s about a woman developing new passions and seeking new challenges, but it’s also very nerdy and encyclopedic. When Bosker learns about wine, she does what the sommeliers do and joins tasting groups; creates endless flashcards; develops her sense of smell by sniffing chives and lavender; and gives up salt, coffee, and mouthwash. But she doesn’t stop there because she wants to know everything about wine. She learns the history of sommeliers, she meets with scientists researching taste and smell, learns how science has engineered wine to be of consistent quality from year to year, and questions whether we can truly know what it is that makes a wine “good.”
While Cork Dork is nerdy, it’s never boring. Bosker’s enthusiasm is contagious and charming. It was a book that made me want to drink more wine and generally focus more on my senses. It did not make me want to follow in her footsteps and become a sommelier. She correctly portrays the sommelier’s world as disciplined and grueling, and I knew from the earliest chapters that wine would never be more than a hobby for me. I enjoyed reading her journey and I loved the glimpses into the more exclusive corners of the wine world, but I have no desire to give up coffee or drink wine in the morning. For me, that would lessen rather than increase my joy of wine.
I do recommend Cork Dork for wine lovers and foodies or for people who enjoy memoirs.
FCC Notice: I bought my own copy.
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