PaperBackSwap Blog

Free Book Giveaway! What book has surprised you?



We can’t imagine life without books. They’ve been with us forever– from the fairy tales we read as children, through novels and science fiction and thrillers and memoirs, they’ve offered escape, instruction, entertainment, laughter and wisdom.

One thing we keep finding out: the genre of a book doesn’t necessarily predict what it might add to your life. Young adult books can give new perspectives even to grown-ups; some humorous books can contain a deeper truth.

So it shouldn’t have surprised us when we stumbled across some serious wisdom in a cookbook! Yes, a cookbook.

It says Start where you are. Feed yourself. Do your best, and then let go. Be helpful. Slow down. Don’t be afraid of food. Those are among the notes that Alana Chernila has on her refrigerator, and they also make the chapter headings for her cookbook, The Homemade Kitchen: Recipes for Cooking with Pleasure.

The book goes right to the heart of a complex daily struggle for many. To eat organic, local, fresh and healthy — to do everything right — while the reality may be a grumpy hungry family at the end of a long day of work. Alana admits that sometimes she hates cooking dinner too! The Homemade Kitchen is a lovely cookbook — it’s beautifully photographed and includes basic recipes as well as fancier fare. But the author’s philosophy offers an extra dimension — like many books, this one is more than the sum of its parts.

Encountering The Homemade Kitchen reminded us again to stay adventurous in reading, to try books that might not be in a favorite genre, or a new author we’ve never heard of. Members have often told us that PaperBackSwap makes it easy to discover new authors or genres, since it’s not a huge commitment to get a book, and every book can be swapped again for a different one when you’re done reading.

Written as much for the reader as the cook, The Homemade Kitchen covers a globe’s worth of flavors and includes new staples (what Alana is known for) such as chèvre, tofu, kefir, kimchi, preserved lemons, along with recipes and ideas for using them. Here, too, are dishes you’ll be inspired to try and that you will make again and again until they become your own family recipes, such as Broccoli Raab with Cheddar Polenta, a flavor-forward lunch for one; Roasted Red Pepper Corn Chowder, “late summer in a bowl”; Stuffed Winter Squash, rich with leeks, chorizo, apples, and grains; Braised Lamb Shanks that are tucked into the oven in the late afternoon and not touched again until dinner; Corn and Nectarine Salad showered with torn basil; perfect share-fare Sesame Noodles; Asparagus Carbonara, the easiest weeknight dinner ever; and sweet and savory treats such as Popovers, Cinnamon Swirl Bread, Summer Trifle made with homemade pound cake and whatever berries are ripest, and Rhubarb Snacking Cake.
In this follow-up to Alana’s wildly successful debut, The Homemade Pantry, she once again proves herself to be the truest and least judgmental friend a home cook could want. ISBN 9780385346153


We are giving away a free, brand-new copy of this cookbook to one lucky member here on the Blog! Leave a comment telling us about a book that surprised you — that you didn’t expect to enjoy as much as you did– before the end of Sunday June 26th, and we’ll choose a commenter at random to receive The Homemade Kitchen . We’ll announce the winner here in the blog next week! NB: Contest open to PaperBackSwap members only (join here!).



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104 Responses to “Free Book Giveaway! What book has surprised you?”

  1. Linda E. says:

    “All the Light We Cannot See” is a WWII book so not my cuppa because I don’t usually like war books or movies. But this book is not really all about the war as much as it is a look at the lives of teenagers on opposite sides of the conflict. It is a beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose lives collide in occupied France. The book makes you think about how so many must have struggled to survive the devastation of World War II. Highly imaginative and really different, making me think of something beyond the here and now. I highly recommend this book.

  2. Arlene ODell says:

    About 12 years ago, a friend loaned me Thirteen Senses by Victor Villasenor. I was in love with it from chapter 1 and have read it multiple times because each time I go through it so quickly. I just love everything about it, from his writing style to the story itself. I can count on one hand how many books I’ve read more than once, but I’ve never read a book more than twice, except for this one. I recommend it to everyone!

  3. J.M. G. says:

    I’ve been surprised by a couple of the Man Booker Prize winners, notably Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger. Normally I wouldn’t want to read a book about slaving ships, but this was remarkably good, considering the subject matter. It turned out to be handsomely crafted, with a nice framing device, thorough (but not leaden) historical research, interesting and thoroughly humanized characters, and unexpected twists and turns. I ended up being very happy to have read it.

  4. VM Sarnecki says:

    I so enjoyed and was very much surprised when I read the book “The Dog That Wouldn’t Be” by Farley Mowat. He rights many true stories about the Eskimo’s. The above book was a true story about his own dog and he had as he was growing up. It was a very funny and true story about him and his dog. What impressed me was that it was so intellectually written that I had to look up a word or two on almost every page. What an eye opening learning experience it was. While enjoying the wonderful humorous antics of a dog and the pleasure of such a contrast to the intelligence of the writer. I don’t usually read many books written about dogs I can’t recommend this one enough. Any dog lover would find it so rewarding.

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