I found the best AND worst book I've read this year back-to-back Cook & Book: Sushi Bake

I found the best AND worst book I've read this year back-to-back  Cook & Book: Sushi Bake

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Okay, so after this-- Just kidding. Welcome to another episode of Cook & Book. I think  this episode you might be a little impressed by   me for once. I know in previous episodes where I  attempt to cook something, it leaves people very  

worried at the edge of their seats that the food  will not turn out good or that I'll harm myself,   and that is a very valid concern. But I recently  stumbled across this recipe on TikTok, I'll link   it down below, for sushi bake. And sushi is one of  my favorite foods. I'm gonna go ahead and replicate   it for this video while I talk about the books I  read this past month. I read three nonfiction books   and two fiction books. One of them ended up being  what might be my favorite book of the year so far,   and then the other has consequently ended up being  the worst book of the year, so I'm really covering   the range here. You know what I notice every  time I read books though? Authors really love   to describe the way a characters smell. Sometimes I  feel like authors end up describing the same scents 

across characters so much that I wish for more  variety. And as a writer myself I recently realized   that a great way to be more specific and varied  when describing fragrances is to look at actual   fragrant samples. Which is why I'm so glad that  today's sponsor is Scentbird. They are basically   a company that sends you fragrance samples for you  to try out. They have perfumes and colognes and a  

lot of unisex options. With each fragrance you get  a 30 day sample and they have so many options like   Prada and Gucci. and then there are some niche  brands. Those are some of the ones that I got.   So the first one I got is called Bite Me which is  by Confessions of a Rebel. It uses strawberry, red   apple, vanilla orchid, jasmine, and golden rum. That  last part gives the perfume a little bit of an  

edge, which I think is very indicative of the  name itself. It gives it more of a sassy vibe.   And so this ended up being my favorite. The other one  that I got is Honeysuckle Dream by Skylar Clear   Beauty. This uses pear leaves, honeysuckle, and lily.  This is more of a crisp fragrance and i think the  

simplicity of just those three smells actually  works in its favor. And then the last scent that   I got is Cabin Retreat by Memoire. So this uses  atlas cedarwood, oak moss, and sandalwood. This   is like the scent that authors describe for their  love interests in their story. If you love being in   the woods and you love being in nature, this is  the scent for you. So if you're interested in   trying these out, I'll have them in my description,  but if you want to see all the hundreds of other   options I will link the site below. And I even  have a coupon code that you can try out for 55%   off if you use the code. That means you're getting  a little over $7 for your first month.  

This is available in the USA and Canada, so thank  you Scentbird for sponsoring this video and check   out the links below if you're interested. Speaking  of great smells, let's go ahead and make our sushi   bake. We're gonna use the entirety of the imitation  crab package that I got, three green onions which   I just washed, kewpie mayo which is Japanese mayo,  and I have sriracha, wasabi, and some cream cheese.   So first we're gonna mix together the crab  sticks-- wow, I really sound like a professional chef.   Maybe I really am upgrading. Is this called growth?  So the first thing that you do is actually the  

most time consuming part, so I'm gonna go ahead and  multitask during that time and tell you about the   books I read this month. The first one that I read  was Disfigured. Disfigured is a book written by   an author who has cerebral palsy and also loves  fairy tales and fantasy stories. The entire book   looks into how disabled characters have  been portrayed in fairy tales and how that   subsequently influences people's perceptions of  disabilities or mirrors what people already assume   of others with disabilities. And she talks about  her own experiences with cerebral palsy too,   and how ostracizing and lonely it is. She goes  through a lot of examples so there's, you know,  

the typical Disney fairy tales that we're all  accustomed to, but she also goes into much older   folklore and then she relates the themes of those  fairy tales to how people with disabilities are   treated in real life. I really liked the way  that she connected fiction to reality and shows   how they're really intertwined, especially when it  comes to a marginalized group like disabled people.  All the critiques that she does is very  Westernized so it doesn't focus on like,   Eastern fairy tales, because I feel like that  would probably be a separate book to dive into.  

But I feel like with what we saw the Western  fairy tales, there was already so much material   to cover. It was really eye-opening for me. I  obviously knew that a lot of times the evil   characters and fairy tales and fantasies tend  to look ugly or have some kind of disfigurement.   Something that I hadn't considered that she  brought up was the flip side, which is how   there are some good characters that you're rooting  for, the heroes, and they may have disabilities too,   but their reward for being a good person is to be  cured of the disability, and how so many times the   happily ever afters that you see in these fairy  tales are equated to beauty and able-bodiedness.   So what does that mean for someone who is disabled  and doesn't really have a choice in the way that   they look like or the way that their bodies were  born or became? Like what does it mean to be worthy   of a happy ending or not? I really like that  she brought up those things because it makes   you think about all the fucked up ways that people  subconsciously put into their stories and you know,   the fact that we have so many fairytale retellings  today, they don't really change it up that much.   Like they may change up the tropes a little bit  but for the most part so many characters are still   beautiful and still able-bodied. We really have not  progressed much because it's still the same shit. 

I feel like the only fairy tale retelling that I  recall reading recently that did have disability   representation was actually A Curse So Dark and  Lonely. That was a Beauty and the Beast retelling,   and I do not care for Beauty and the Beast. Like I just  never cared for that kind of story in general. It's   been overdone, but the main character has cerebral  palsy and came from the modern day world, so I was   really interested in that aspect and I ended up  really liking the book because it gave something   different to the story that we've seen so  many times already. Another great point that   the author brought up was how the society does  not change in fairy tales. The transformation is  

put upon the individual instead of a systematic  transformation. It also mirrors how in real life when   people talk about disabled people, you talk about  it in a way that seems like this person overcame   their disability, it was something to beat or  battle or conquer rather than just like a reality   that people live with. And it also shows how the  society that we live in isn't actually interested   in being accessible to disabled people. That's a  responsibility that's brought on upon themselves   to be like stronger. Overall I just found the book  to be so interesting and informative and I think   it very clearly shows how the connection between  society and fiction is very cyclical. Sometimes we  

say that fiction is very different from reality  and you should separate the two but that's almost   too simplistic to say because in a way, when we  look at our history and our culture, they really   do go hand in hand. I would definitely recommend  this to readers who regularly read fantasy   or fairy tale retellings, and I would recommend  it to writers as well. As someone who is writing   a young adult fantasy, that was part of my interest  in wanting to pick up the book because I wanted to   check to see if I had any subconscious biases and  I feel like it really helped for me to make a   better story. Because one of the side characters  in my story are not great people, but they did have   certain disfigurements on their faces because they  got into this battle with one of the characters   that you do root for, who is disfigured herself,  and her kind of fucking up their faces was almost   like revenge. And so when you see those characters  and you see their disfigurements it's supposed to   be kind of like a mystery for how their faces  came to be like that in the first place, and   I feel like I added that more as revenge for the  other disfigured character that you're rooting for   and to add a little bit of mystery for how  this happened before you find out the battle   that these people had. But as I reflected on what  I read from this nonfiction book, I realized that  

it wasn't worth it for me to add that because  being disfigured shouldn't be a punishment   no matter how shitty or evil those characters are.  And I feel like if those characters are evil, their   shitty personalities and intentions and actions  can speak for themselves. I don't need to change   their appearances to add on to that. So I decided  to remove those things and I feel like I was able   to prevent myself from unintentionally harming  actual disabled readers who constantly have to   read this kind of shit. On a similar level to  storytelling, the next book that I read is Story Genius.   This was a book that was recommended to  me by my mentor. I recently got accepted into a  

writing mentorship program. What I really needed to  improve upon for my story is adding more depth to   the main character, because I wrote her a long time  ago and when I got back to the story I added these   perspectives of other characters who subsequently  became more fleshed out, because by then I was an   older and more experienced writer and I feel like  they got better treatment into really developing   their characters. Whereas my main character kind  of got left in the dust because she was still   a product of someone I had written a long time  ago when I hadn't been actively reading books   and hadn't been like as critical of storytelling.  My mentor had pointed this out to me which I feel   like was super valuable, and one of the books  that she had recommended to read in order to   think more deeply about your characters and how  to make them more driven in their own stories   was Story Genius. This is written by an author  who is a story consultant for a lot of writers,   whether that's for novels or for tv shows and  movies. Her approach is a little bit different  

because it emphasizes characters above everything  else. Usually I think writers think of the plot   first, whereas this author is really getting you  to figure out who your character is first and   that will determine the rest of the story. I think  what i really liked was that the author had a very   different take on story structure because a few  months ago, I did read the Save the Cat book, which   I think is kind of like the default book that  a lot of writers go for. That book pretty much  

just outlines the story structure that you need  to follow and certain beats for you to hit in   order to be like a cohesive story. But my problem  with that kind of approach is that it's almost   like a paint by numbers and it's almost like  limiting in a way because you're just following   examples of what other books have done in a very  specific Westernized rubric or standard for good   storytelling. And also why my mentor wanted me to  read it in the first place is the author's concept   of a misbelief, which is the worldview that the  main character has that has flaws in it, but that   misbelief had to have been shaped by something  that happens in the main character's past for   them to believe that. That misbelief will also play  into the character's development. How are they gonna   have their worldview challenge, what are they  gonna unlearn by the end of the story? Thinking   about those things will help you build out your  character arc and the world around that character.   I definitely can see how I need that to be more  explicit with my main character. Like by the end  

of the story I want you to feel like she really  has changed and developed and grown as a person.   I feel good about how I've revised it now that  I look back on it because what I decided the   main character will do in her very first chapter  is something that's so different from what she   does in her last chapter. Where she did something  very selfish in the first chapter that completely   screwed over a poor innocent woman for the sake  of benefiting herself versus what she does towards   the end that is very selfless and something that  she would have never done if you were reading   her from the first chapter. And that's because the  misbelief that she had about the world and about   herself has changed. But there were a lot of things  in the book that I wasn't so sure about. The first  

was that the author only walks you through one  example of another author that has applied her   method. Some of the decisions that the author  decided to do to improve her story because she   wanted to like, work on the characters development,  were decisions that I felt like were forced just   for the sake of the character developing. It just  felt like a very ridiculous plotline that   came from a Hallmark movie. So I would have liked  to see other examples from different genres.   The thing is I feel like storytelling is so subjective  and can be so unique and different that bolstering   some kind of method as like a one-size-fits-all  solution does not ring true to me. Another thing   that I didn't care for was just the way that  the author really emphasized on this book having   science-based insights, because this just felt  more like pseudoscience. Because the author is not   a neuroscientist, and I looked at her other books  that she's published. She has only published these  

guides for how to write better books but  not actual novels herself. So I'm just like,   how much should I really trust you? And then  the last nonfiction book that I read for the   month was The Art of Drag. This is a really fun  colorful illustrated book that goes into the   culture of drag and how it came to be, so  we look at historical events, we look at big   influential people who really pushed boundaries and  set the bar. Most of it does cover Western events  

and people, but there are some inclusions  of Eastern influences like with kabuki   and South Asian dancers and even Thailand's Miss  Tiffany Universe, which I hadn't known any of these   things. I know nothing about drag history. I also  didn't even know that there were drag kings, which   were women who dressed up as men and performed  as men. There were other genderqueer performers   that try to do like a mishmash of gender and just  playing around and deconstructing the binary that   I thought was really fun. I really love art that  challenges you to think differently of things.  

And a lot of the people featured in this book  were women and people of color, so I was happy   about that too. I feel like because we get more  history and inspirations of drag and cultural   movements throughout time, this gives the story  a little bit more depth compared to other coffee   table books. But it's still very pretty. The art is  so fun and bright and bold, I'm gonna put together   some pictures that I took just so that you get  a feel of the art style. And the artists come   from a variety of different genders and race so I  really liked the diverse team behind the book too.  

Also just seeing the connection between queer  liberation history and drag really makes me   have a deeper appreciation for drag itself because  it has impacted so much of the LGBT community.   So as someone who knew nothing about drag culture,  I had such a fun time learning more about this.   Alright, I have put all of the ingredients in my  bowl, so we're gonna mix it together. This part also   takes a long time, so I'm gonna go ahead and tell  you the best book thatIi've read this year so far.   That book is Our Wives Under the Sea. This is a  very short book that is a little bit of literary,   a little bit of horror, and all amazing writing.  It is about a woman who just got her wife back  

from an undersea mission that the wife was on that  went terribly wrong. Their submarine went below the   ground, they were only supposed to be there for  not that long of a time in order to do research,   but their submarine fails because all the lights  go off, the computers don't work anymore, and they   end up being stuck there for six months. Can you  fucking imagine being stuck below the sea, trapped   in a submarine for six months? You literally  can't even tell what time it is because it   is completely dark. I would not fucking survive. I  do not have that great of a will to live. I would   have fucking open that door and just bounce the  fuck out. So you jump between the perspectives   of the main character dealing with her wife today  who has returned, but she's obviously not the same   anymore because some shit went down below the  sea. The wife has just been acting really weird,  

not really present. She keeps on locking herself  in the bathroom and putting herself in the tub   and turning the sink on so their water bill is so  much higher than it needs to be, and she just stays   there in the bath the whole time, and the main  character doesn't know how to communicate with her.   And it's about her dealing with the grief of  essentially losing her wife and the person   that she had been when they married. And it really  brings up an interesting point with how a lot of   times when you marry someone, as you two get older  certain life events can happen that can completely   transform them as a person. And what happens when  the person that you initially loved or married is   not the same person anymore? And I can see a lot of  the connections to that with people getting older   and dealing with dementia or Alzheimer's. I mean,  that's not what the wife is dealing with, but I can  

see like the real life connections there. Then the  other perspective that you get is the wife from   when she went down in her submarine with two other  people and you see these vignettes of what happened.   Nothing too juicy or scary, there's definitely some  horror elements because it is pretty terrifying to   be stuck there for six months. One of her crewmates  will hear this constant sound that just happens   like over and over, and they don't know where the  sound comes from and it kind of feels like their   mind is going wild. I am done mixing together the  bowl which means I'm gonna go ahead and put the   rice on top of my baking pan. So what I really  loved about this book that made it five stars  

was the writing. The writing was so fucking good.  The moment I started reading it, I was just so   completely immersed every time I picked it up. What  I want to warn you though is that this book is not   for everyone, because it's very slow and there are  long paragraphs. Pretty much every paragraph is a   long ass paragraph. And nothing much happens,  but if it hits for you, it fucking hits. I feel   like when you read a lot of other books, you can  tell when an author is trying really hard to be   descriptive and poetic. But when I read this  book, I felt like the writing was so natural   that I couldn't even comprehend how the author  was able to put these strings of words together   to make these beautiful sentences. It almost seemed  like it was so innate to her. And what's wild is  

that this is her debut novel. I was talking about  this with someone who also loved the book. She   described it as how when she read it, the flow  was seamless like ocean waves, and that it felt   like she was floating while reading. And I feel  like that's such a powerful experience that only   super extremely skilled writers can pull off. I  would never be able to pull off that shit in my   life, but damn. When I was reading that I was like  how does she do it like an icon? Making the rest   of us look bad here. I mean, sad lesbians, what more  could you want? There's a quote that i found from  

an interview that she did about why she decided  to make a gay ocean horror book. And she said: "I   think it also has something to do with the fact  that the sea can be many things at once. It can   be very calm on the surface and something can be  going on underneath that speaks to the way that   we as queer people have to be so many different  things to so many different people. To our parents,  

at work, to society, to our partners. etc. It's a really  useful tool in queer storytelling which is why   people return to it." So she used the ocean as a  setting for this queer romance or horror because   it's like the symbol of something forbidden. One  of the quotes I really liked from the book that   one of the characters said was: "I think that the  thing about losing someone isn't the loss but   the absence afterward. The endlessness of that. My  friends were sad, people who knew my sister were   sad, but everyone moves on after a month. iIt's all  they can manage. It doesn't mean they weren't sad,   just that things keep going. It's hard when you  look up and realize that everyone's moved off and  

left you in that place by yourself. Like they've  all gone on and you're there still holding on to   this person that you're supposed to let go of."  I feel like these discussions about grief are   so poignant and nuanced, and overall it's just an  amazing book. The crab meat is all spread out on   top of my rice. I'm gonna put some more furikake  on it, and then I'm gonna put some more sriracha on  

top, and then just a little bit more kewpie mayo.  Okay, I fucked up my kewpie mayo but i'm actually   trying to not use that much because this shit  is kind of expensive. It's still gonna turn out   good though okay? Trust. Trust the damn process. I am  gonna put this in the oven for 10 minutes to broil. While we wait for our stuff to bake, I'm going  to talk about the last book that I read which   was Baby Teeth. It was so bad and ridiculous that I  plan on making a separate video about it. It is a   horror book about a woman who is struggling to  take care of a child who acts like a demon. The  

child is seven years old and while she terrorizes  her mother both mentally and physically, whenever   the dad is around she puts on this innocent face  and pretends to be this sweet angel. And the dad is   like the dumbest fucking person ever. His only  personality trait is that he's Swedish. And   I'll talk more about that in the video but god is  he so dumb. Like the mom will literally tell him,  

hey our kid is torturing me by fucking trying to  kill me, and the dad is like nah she's just playing   around. And it's like hello? You should be taking  this shit more seriously. She would like go on   the dad's computer and look up these scary things  like this one particular story about a witch that   lived in France who was executed because people  thought that she was a witch, and so the witch   would chant things in French. This seven-year-old  child would start chanting in French as if she   were the witch. The mom is horrified because she  thinks how can this child speak such fluent French?  

But then when we read the kid's perspective she's  literally just repeating what she heard to scare   the mom. So she's just fucking around. So she's not  even actually possessed by a witch or a demon.   She just is like seriously fucked up and has  mental issues or whatever, and is just trying   to like scare the mom and fucking kill her. And it's  just so weird because it's like what is the point   of this book? And also how is a seven-year-old that  advanced? How could she speak fluent French just   from hearing it a few times? How can she plot out  to kill the mom in such advanced ways to the point   where it seems like she's a child genius? And the  mom surely must have a lower IQ than child herself   because why the fuck is she not pulling out her  phone to record any of this happening? Don't you   have a baby cam or something? Don't you have a Ring  camera? Can't you just set your camera on the whole   day and show the wild shit that's happening to  your husband? But she doesn't. It makes no sense. The  

child fucked up the mom so much that she becomes  like, increasingly disabled a little bit. Like the   kid will mess around with the mom's medication  and then the mom will end up having a bunch of   diarrhea and then the kid will also put a bunch of  thumbtacks on the ground and get the mom to come   out. And so the mom ends up stepping on all the  thumbtacks and then now she has to wear crutches   because she can't like, fucking move anywhere. It's  just like a freaking mess by the end of the book.   As you go through these increasingly sophisticated  methods of torture, and the whole time the husband   is like nah the kid is just messing around,  like she doesn't know what she's doing, I'm   like dude you're so fucking stupid. Go eat your  Swedish meatballs. Where the hell do you even go   during the day, Ikea? The entire plotline just  relies on impossible circumstances. Things don't   make sense. It was definitely trying to be shocking  but it didn't have any actual substance or message  

or purpose. Because the whole time reading this  I'm like what is the point of this? Nothing. There   was no point. You're just seeing a seven-year-old  child torture the mom for the entirety of the book   and there's like no meaning to come out of it.  I would recommend this book if maybe you want   to read it to go insane. I would especially  recommend to listen to it on audiobook. The   writing is already ridiculous but then when you  listen to the narrator it just like enhances it   even more, because the narrator is like "I'm gonna  torture Mommy! I only want Daddy to myself! [snickers]"  What a hot mess. But you know what won't be a  hot mess? My cooking for once in my goddamn life.

It is a little burnt. But I don't mind  because I do like it a little burnt anyway.   Isn't this so beautiful though? It  looks so good. Okay, so after this-- Just kidding. Clearly after the sushi  bake is done, you collapse the camera   into your sink. Then after you're done moving  on from that moment you cut up some seaweed.  

I'm gonna put my sushi bake inside one of the  seaweed pieces, and then you have your sushi bake. Cool, so that's how you make sushi bake. I'll  put the TikTok video that I followed in the   description. I'll put the other books  in the description too if you want to   check them out. Thanks for watching. Go ahead  and unsubscribe from my channel, and goodbye.

2022-08-12 11:30

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