Feeling My Shelf is a bi-weekly newsletter about books, life, and well, life with books. Grab your favorite caffeinated beverage and get comfy. First up, some recent reads.
Real Love by Rachel Lindsay
While I do not watch The Bachelor or The Bachelorette (I tried. Couldn’t do it.) I still found myself intrigued by the premise of Rachel Lindsay’s debut novel. It follows a successful financial adviser on the verge of 30 who reevaluates her life after turning down the lead role on a reality dating show. I went in expecting a romance. Instead, it was more about finding oneself, which I loved.
There Goes the Neighborhood by Jade Adia
A 15-year-old and her two friends notice that their South Los Angeles neighborhood is rapidly changing. To slow the looming evictions and scare off developers, they decide to start a gang. A fake gang. The plan is kind of brilliant…until a murder gets pinned on the fake gang. And then all hell breaks lose. It’s an incredibly creative take on gentrification, full of hard truths, humor, representation, and even a bit of romance.
The Unfortunates by J K Chukwu
Content warning: suicidal ideation, depression, self-harm. This follows a second-year college student at an elite school in Chicago who’s battling depression, which she calls her Life Partner. She is dangerously close to joining “the unfortunates,” aka the Black students who keep transferring, dropping out, and dying after growing tired of the constant racism, microaggressions, and medical discrimination at the university. It’s chaotic, messy, and hard to read at times. But the writing style, coupled with playlists, emails, and artwork captivated me.
Not many things come close to the feeling of finishing a really good book. Like the kind of book you stayed up all night reading and neglecting all types of responsibilities for. But for me, baking does. That’s probably why I spend so many weekends destroying my kitchen and setting off the smoke detector (its finicky, not a reflection of my skills 🙃). It’s a very in-the-moment activity, and as someone who’s mind is constantly, like go, go, go, in the moment is often what I need.
An audiobook or podcast goes perfect with baking. Even true crime. Especially true crime.
Patience is a virtue…and a bitch. Baking is a lot of whisking slow and waiting. And waiting. And oh, look, stir, and then wait again. I hate it as much as I hate slow burns in romance.
Never bake on an empty stomach. I mean this is also true for reading! Nothing worse than having to stop just as things are getting good to nourish yourself.
Don’t Google replacements for butter. Just don’t. They don’t work and you’ll end up with weirdly oily brownies that taste…interesting.
On that note: keep your pantry stocked with the basics. Flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and of course, butter.
Add more sugar. Even if your mom is on FaceTime telling you to stop pouring.
Putting powdered sugar on the top shelf in your pantry = a dumb way to destroy a clean kitchen. Deep heavy sigh.
While baking isn’t exactly a new hobby for me baking using a cookbook is. Before, I would struggle to read recipes via my phone or use a boxed mix. Whatever. It was convenient. Not anymore. We’re strictly baking from scratch, which has been a hit or miss. But we’re doing it!
My small but mighty cookbook collection consists of a few standout baking books I often return to.
Life Is What You Bake It by Vallery Lomas: From the winner of The Great American Baking Show it features stories about persistence, perseverance, and passion with nods to her Louisiana roots.
Favorite recipe(s): Cinnamon rolls, dark chocolate sea salt brownies,
100 Cookies by Sarah Kieffer: From the baker behind The Vanilla Bean Blog. It contains lots and lots of cookies, but also brownies and bars, which have become a favorite of mine to make.
Favorite recipe(s): Brown butter chocolate chip cookies, brown sugar cookies, lemon oat bars
Black Girl Baking by Janelle Guy: From the founder of the food blog Chocolate for Basil, this book reimagines dishes from the author’s childhood. It also includes plenty of vegan and gluten-free options.
Favorite recipe(s): [Not an] Easy Bake cake with raspberry glaze, pop biscuits
What’s your favorite baking book? Reply directly to this email, or if you’re reading on Substack, drop in the comments below.
Our Place Ovenware Set: A five-piece set that features an oven pan for baking that also works as a stovetop griddle, along with three stoneware baking dishes, and a reusable oven mat. And they match my Always Pan!
KitchenAid Stand Mixer: A gift from my mom, who grew tired of me struggling to mix with a spoon in bowl on FaceTime.
Crate & Barrel Maeve Dipped Ceramic Measuring Cups: Purchased on a whim, because I liked the colors.
Crate & Barrel Maeve Dipped Ceramic Measuring Spoons: Same as above.
Other things not pictured: My green KitchenAid mixing bowl set. A wire rack, which is a must have when baking cookies, a fine-mesh sieve, a zester, and a juicer. Plus the usual spoons and spatulas.
Love sweets, but not into making sweets? These novels give you a peek into the world of baking, you know, without the powdered sugar mess.
If you like cupcakes 🧁: Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley, which I wrote about in the last chapter of this newsletter.
If you like donuts 🍩: Donut Fall in Love by Jackie Lau. A professional baker crosses paths with a famous actor, and there’s lots of, you guessed it, romance! And donuts!
If you like cookies 🍪: One Tough Cookie by Delise Torres that follows a carefree 20-something who doesn’t really believe in love, set at a small family-owned cookie manufacturing plant. (A pre-order!)
What friendship means to an introvert. Everything that goes into the Real Housewives series' cast trips. Why the word "ambitious" may no longer serve the women who seek it out. Why is oat milk so much more expensive than dairy? The Disney Channel was the original Disney multiverse. The 12 best cookbooks of Spring 2023. “Hulu’s UnPrisoned taught me how to forgive my father.” It’s Michelle Yeoh’s universe. We’re all just living in it.
Got questions? Need to vent about something you read? Reply directly to this email.
I love this week’s newsletter! Definitely need to add these cookbooks to my collection! ✨
100 Cookies is so good! I'm not a big baker but I love making cookies with my mom at Christmastime.