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The past few days I’ve been scouring my bookshelves looking for great literary romances to share with you. Of course there are hundreds, thousands, millions that I could have used, but I kept coming back to Theo and Pippa over and over again. Theo’s love for Pippa is one of the most devastating, most complicated loves I’ve ever read, it’s certainly not the kind of love you generally talk about on Valentine’s Day. Theo becomes fixated on Pippa the moment he sees her at the museum on the fateful day, and his obsession with her follows him throughout the rest of his life. Because of what happens at the museum the day he first sees her, Theo’s love for Pippa is bound up in his love for and loss of his mother, which is probably why the moments that he talks about Pippa are some of the rawest and most heart-stabbingly beautiful in the entire novel. I’ve compiled some of my favorites for you here, and yes, one of them does involve blueberry biscuits, which I highly recommend you make for anyone you love (including yourself).

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Cooking “The Goldfinch” Part 4: Hobie’s Welsh Rarebit

by Cara Nicoletti on January 25, 2014

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Two major things happen to the appetite when tragedy occurs—either it disappears completely or it is bottomless, gnawing, insatiable. After losing a friend in college, a boy whom I had loved since I was ten or eleven years-old, I was rabid with cravings for things I never ate or didn’t even know I liked—goldfish crackers slathered in yellow mustard, Little Debbie oatmeal cakes, Cadbury Cream eggs—things that turn my stomach to even think about now. In The Goldfinch, after Theo’s mother dies, he loses interest in food completely and has to be constantly hassled and reminded by Mrs. Barbour to eat. At breakfast she offers him blueberry muffins, cinnamon toast, oatmeal and waffles, but nothing appeals to him. “Food” he said, “tasted like cardboard; I hadn’t been hungry in weeks.” He loses so much weight that he has to report to the guidance counselor’s office every day to be weighed “on the scale she used for girls with eating disorders.” When he shows up at Hobie’s house Hobie asks Theo if he’s eaten.

I was too surprised to answer. Food was the last thing on my mind.
“Ah, I thought not,” he said, rising creakily to his big feet. “Let’s go rustle up something.”
“I’m not hungry,” I said, so rudely I was sorry. Since my mother’s death, all anyone seemed to think of was shoveling food down my throat.
“No, no, of course not.” With his free hand he fanned away a cloud of smoke. “But come along, please. Humor me.

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Sometimes there just really isn’t a ton to say. My brain and body are both feeling stretched pretty thin this week. Between working and teaching and blogging and trying to finish the book, I barely have the brain-power to fully comprehend an episode of The Bachelor these days. No, really. On Monday night I tried to take a break and watch it and I found myself asking an irritating number of questions, unable to turn my brain off for even a second and just bask in the glow of Juan Pablo. On Tuesday night I woke up at three in the morning inexplicably desperate to know the history of instant pudding. I actually dragged myself out of bed to go sit at my computer and read about patents for the MY*T*FINE company. On Wednesday I was on my feet for so long that by the time I got home they looked like tiny footballs and I fell asleep soaking them in the tub with chips and salsa on my lap (a very confusing situation to wake up in).

The light at the end of this exhausting and embarrassing tunnel is that someday there will be a book–a real book full of real-book-smells–with my name on it, sitting on actual bookstore bookshelves. Until that happens though, there are pancakes and good books for comfort, and the knowledge that with all of the terrifying stress and pressure of adulthood also comes the privilege of eating whatever we want, which means we don’t even have to exert the mental energy to choose between blueberries and chocolate chips.
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