Sunday, July 29, 2012

Circle of Friends Book Club: Feeding Mind and Body

             Circle of Friends, the book club of which I’m a member, has met for almost fifteen years.  It is composed of bright, educated women who share a passion for reading and discussion. We also share another passion: food. Cooking it and/or eating it! Each month, along with our book discussion, we enjoy a wonderful potluck meal in a member’s home.

            Our book selection for July was In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. To avoid a lengthy post, I’ve provided a helpful link to a synopsis. Although the book is a #1 New York Times Bestseller, it received mixed reviews from our members. Providing a look at the Nazi’s rise to power in the 1930s, the book is a well-researched and documented account of a perilous and confusing time in world history. For those who are drawn to this period and seek answers to how such atrocities could have occurred, the book provides some revealing insights. And Larson is to be admired for his unbiased, almost journalistic approach to the subject. Obviously, this is not light reading. It is not even inspiring reading, as it serves up few heroes during this tumultuous time. So while some members found the book intriguing, I think others were in the mood for something more entertaining or uplifting. However, the book did generate interesting and thought-provoking discussion, and I think one way to keep the tragedies of history from being repeated is to keep the conversation going.

            While reactions to the book were mixed, our salad-and-dessert luncheon received five-star reviews. One dessert that garnered many recipe requests was Shelley’s Pink Lemonade Gooey Butter Cookies. With a name like that, how can they be anything but melt-in-your-mouth delicious? Shelley tells me there is a Pink Lemonade Sugar Cookie mix, but it is not nearly as good as this recipe made with cake mix. And she says these cookies freeze well. Once again, for the sake of space, I’ve provided a link. Thank you, Shelley, for introducing us to these scrumptious cookies! And btw, I can tell you this recipe is basically “idiot”-proof. I tried it and the cookies came out tasty, if not quite as pretty as Shelley’s. J


A Good Read


  1. Images from Larson's Devil in the White City still give me nightmares. This one is going on my list.

    Thanks for the recipe, too. Why am I not surprised it has cream cheese in it? It's bound to be delicious!

  2. I agree. I can't think of anything made with cream cheese that isn't yummy!

  3. I loved In the Garden of Beasts. I read it years ago, then picked it up and read it again. It was the type of war novel true to the grim war narratives like "Night Over Day Over Night". That is the ending doesn't wrap up the way we'd want it to, and people in it are far more real in their reactions than otherwise. I have recommended this to several people, but avoid bringing it up to sensitive hearts.


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