Sunday, Apr 22, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Mary Bilyeu


So many books, so little time

Read and reward yourself with a knish when done



I take inordinate pride in finishing a book anymore. I know that’s a very sad statement, and one I wish I weren’t making.

‍I have an English degree, so reading is one of those things I really like to do, obviously. But it’s also one of those things I just don’t seem to have enough time for.

‍‍I’m very goal-oriented and self-disciplined. Once, my New Year’s resolution ‍was to read one book per week. I kept track of the titles as well as the pages, which totaled 20,000. I read an average of nearly 400 pages per week that year.

So why do I have so much trouble finishing a book now?

My life is very different, for one thing. I’m no longer the mom who sits by the pool reading while‍ my son and his friends swim. I’m no longer the mom who sit‍s and waits and reads during music lessons. I spend so much of my time typing, typing, and then typing some more. And every so often, too, I do need to interview someone for a feature story or I need to plate food for a photo session. Job requirements — sheesh!

And I spend a lot of time cooking, baking, and/or eating delicious things, though that’s always been a constant‍.

And I do a lot of judging at food competitions and festivals (pierogi, pizza, kuchen, and ribs are all on my summer’s menu‍).

And I’ve been invited to speak to a number of groups.

And I’m ‍planning a short fall class for Lifelong Learning at Lourdes University.

In my head, I hear Ado Annie singing, “I’m just a girl who cain’t say no.” But I wouldn’t really get to know Toledo, and get to make so many wonderful friends, if I didn’t have so many different adventures.‍ If I didn’t‍ go out and about in the city, learning my way around and learning about all the fascinating food-related stories here, I’d just be writing for myself, wouldn’t I, rather than for you and about you.‍‍

Truth be told, too, my eyes aren’t quite what they used to be, either, especially after spending hours staring at a computer screen each day. Since I’ve been wearing glasses from the time I was in kindergarten, my eyes were never spectacular specimens anyway. Age is simply wreaking further havoc upon them, though there has to be some euphemistic way to say, “I’m getting old and decrepit‍.” Eye strain impedes my reading progress, admittedly.

I start books, but often I find I only have a few minutes to read before I go to sleep at night. Needless to say, then, I doze off with my glasses on and lose my place in the book. And so, in Sisyphean fashion, I reread while trying to continue forth a little further each time.

So as much as I love knishes — dough packets usually filled with potatoes — I haven’t yet finished reading‍ about them in Laura Silver’s Knish: In Search of the Jewis‍h Soul Food, a book I received in the mail several weeks ago. Jewish food is a particular passion of mine, so I should have devoured this book (pun intended) in a day or so.

I’d rather eat the knishes, though, than just read about them; and the book only makes me miss them more. It’s universally agreed that in the non-New York City diaspora, knishes are nearly imposs‍‍ible to find. I must make a pilgrimage to the anti-Ann Arbor and go to Columbus to find Katzinger’s Deli‍.

I’m also part-way through Grant Achatz’s autobiography‍‍, Life on the Line; The Sorcerer’s Appre‍ntices, about working at Ferran Adria‘s now-closed restaurant, El Bulli; and The Bloomsbury Cookbook, which tells the story of Virginia Woolf and her cohort.

The old saying, “So many books, so little time” certainly applies here. And these are just the food-related ones

I suppose I should stop dissecting the reasons that I haven’t finished reading about knishes yet, and just sit down and start turning the pages of the book.

And then I can reward myself with a knish when I’m done.‍‍

Contact Mary Bilyeu at
 or 419-724-6155 or on Twitter @foodfloozie.

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