Ethiopian Coffee, Black Cake, Gilded Age Reads, Jet Lag & More: Endnotes 04 February

Ethiopian Coffee, Black Cake, Gilded Age Reads, Jet Lag & More: Endnotes 04 February

Friday, 4 February, 2022

Every Friday, we celebrate the weekend — and all the reading and relaxing and daydreaming time ahead — with Melissa's favorite book- and travel-related links of the week. Why work when you can read fun stuff?!

This post is part of our Endnotes series.


The US has coffee breaks, Sweden has fika, and Ethiopia has the buna ceremony. Three times a day, fresh coffee beans are roasted, crushed, and brewed, then poured — preferably from a height of about one foot (!) — into small, handleless cups. It’s often sweetened with sugar or, in the countryside, flavored with salt or clarified butter; snacks like groundnuts, popcorn, or a cardamom-flavored pastry called himbasha might be nibbled on the side. The most important thing is that the ritual and aroma bring together relatives, friends, and neighbors for essential socializing time. Here’s an in-depth look at the ceremony, and this short, charming video will make you wish to teleport to Ethiopia for a nice sit and a warm cup.

  • Win books for life from! In honor of its second anniversary, is offering one lucky reader $600 in books every year for the rest of their life — and the grand prize winner also gets to award $500 to their favorite independent bookstore. Winning all around! The drawing runs through the end of February; you can enter right here. The indie bookselling site has raised almost $19 million for local bookstores since its launch. We’re proud to be affiliates of, and when you buy books using the links on our site, you’re also supporting independent bookshops.

  • I’ve been dipping in and out of the book Extinct: A Compendium of Obsolete Objects, and it’s very good. This article in Baffler gives you a peek inside. ‘The essays in Extinct often answer two questions: What was it that has disappeared and why? And then, what was the significance of this loss?’ The book includes technical, emotional, and anecdotal answers to those questions.

  • This is a delightful episode of the 99% Invisible podcast: It’s a deep dive into the story of the only cookbook in the Soviet Union. The show starts with a Russian babushka speaking Russian, and you will feel your heart warm. ‘There are recipes for lentils and crab salad and how to cook buckwheat nine different ways. But this book was meant to do so much more than show people how to make certain dishes — it’s a Stalinist document aimed at addressing hunger itself in the USSR.’

  • The Center for Fiction in Brooklyn is offering some fantastic online reading groups this spring; you can check out all the offerings here. I’m particularly taken with The Novels of Ruth Ozeki (Tales for the Time Being) and Modern Houses: four books from the early- to mid-twentieth century with houses at their heart.

  • This seems like it could be the catalyst for arguments and delicious research: The Best Burger in Every State.

  • Somewhere in Paris, a croissant baker is crying. (But this does seem sort of yummy, and the tiny croissants are very cute.)

  • James Van Der Zee was ‘the photographer of Harlem.’ I want to jump into these photos like they’re a time machine. ‘Van Der Zee was a studio portrait photographer, but he was also a vital member of the Harlem community who created pictures that were sources of pride. He was the photographer of choice for religious groups, social clubs, fraternal organizations, sports teams, and others.’ The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC has his photos on exhibit until May 30, 2022.

  • This seems very handy for when jet setting is once again part of our lives: The TimeShifter Jet Lag app. The best endorsement? ‘Avoid jet lag the way astronauts do.’

  • Enjoy this quick peek at life in Lagos, then give our podcast episode about Nigeria a listen.

  • The fabulous travel-centric bookstore Stanfords Travel has announced the nominees for their 2022 Travel Writing Awards. So many great books: fiction, memoir, children’s, illustrated, and more.

  • The Top 10 Cooks in Fiction.

  • Sort of related: I’m very excited to read the new novel Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson. In this essay, she explains how a family recipe inspired her novel, and this one delves into the language of food.

  • A Case for Collecting Agatha Christie Cover Art. ‘From occult imagery to psychedelic references and sexual innuendos, Christie fans have seen it all on her covers. Our favorite era for the books might just be the iconic 1960s and 1970s covers that incorporate everything from handguns to cadavers to hypodermic needles to create truly stylized tableaux akin to surrealist collages… reminding us that perhaps we should judge a book by its cover.’

two examples of agatha christie papeback book covers


Take a walk, make some art, be happy.

Top image courtesy of Zeynep Sümer/Unsplash.

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Every Friday, we share our favorite book- and travel-related links. This week, we've got a walk in Bucharest, the history of the potato chip, Pride and Prejudice Day, old-timey vocab, visiting Mongolia, and more.
Every Friday, we share our favorite book- and travel-related links. This week, we've got the fun of biphasic sleep, famous letterhead, the joy of travel disasters, food grammar, 19th-century street style, and more.
Every Friday, we share our favorite book- and travel-related links. This week, we've got the Prague Times podcast, 100 best books by women, thinking like an elephant, responsible travel in 2022, cozy words, and more.

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