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Craig's Book Club
Book Recommendations

Spotlight on: Uncommon Grounds by Mark Pendergrast
Alternate: The Godfather by Mario Puzo


To arrange to have products considered for review, send an email to craigsbookclub@yahoo.com.


Uncommon Grounds by Mark Pendergrast Mark Pendergrast, Uncommon Grounds

Coffee is a universal drink. Odds are you have already had a cup today. Many of us use it to keep us alert so we can do our work efficiently. But did you know that doctors used to prescribe it for ailments? I didn't either, until I read Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World.

This is only one of the many interesting facts you could learn about that ground-and-boiled-bean drink we call coffee. Author Mark Pendergrast goes into great detail about coffee's history, where it comes from, and its many varieties. If you've drunk much coffee, you know that different brands have different tastes. Well, he explains how the different beans are blended together to give us a certain flavor. Also, the growing season, the weather, and when the bean is picked can all cause variances in the flavor of the final product.

One of the more interesting areas of research gone over here involves the marketing of coffee through the years. From the first mass-produced brand through the the present day, coffee has been advertised as an elixir. With expressions like "The best part of waking up is Folger's in your cup" and "Good to the last drop" (the latter generally attributed to Theodore Roosevelt), coffee sellers have been trying to get us to associate their name with our morning beverage--our total morning experience, even--from the beginning.

Pendergrast also delves deeply into the process involved in creating that elusive "great cup of coffee." From the temperature of water to the type of filter to the order of the introduction of additives (i.e., cream and sugar), he takes great care and emphasizes that your opinion of the taste is the most important. Drink what you like, how you like it. He is merely giving us a good starting point.

At over 600 pages, this was a long read. But I felt as if I were being educated by a coffee expert, and his writing style is very easy to read, so I enjoyed every page. There are also many photographs (in glossy sections) to illustrate the many subjects being expounded upon.

If you are curious about coffee more than the average person, this is the book for you. This same author has also written the definitive history of Coca-Cola called For God, Country, and Coca-Cola.


The Godfather by Mario Puzo Alternate Recommendation: Mario Puzo, The Godfather

I know you've seen the movies, but have you read the book that began it all? The Godfather is really quite a gripping read.

Mario Puzo is not a great writer by any means--in many places, his prose could rightly be called "purple"--but he knows how to tell a story. This story in particular.

It pretty much tells the story as told in the film adaptation classic The Godfather (except for the story of young Vito, which isn't told until Part II), there's just more detail. If you were ever interested in more information on the career of Johnny Fontane, this is the book for you.

The Godfather is not literature, by any means, it is simply an epic story told in a riveting style by a master storyteller. Puzo obviously knows his material, as the details are wonderfully evocative and the characters are wonderfully drawn.

It's as if they were based on real people.....


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