Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bookshelf, Library Bag, or Donation Box

While combing through Kickstarter's publishing projects, I discovered Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo. This project appealed to me right away. Author Matthew Amster-Burton had completed the manuscript for Pretty Good Number One and was looking to publish it as an ebook. He needed money to hire an artist to create the cover and pay for a professional copy editor. Better yet, he already had people in mind. Yes! My kind of project.

The premise is what truly inspired me to back the project. Pretty Good Number One is the story of the author, his wife, and eight year old daughter living and eating their way through Japan over the course of one, hot summer month in a cramped apartment. I'm an only child and all of my family vacations were confined to a small trailer camping along the Northern California coast. The cramped part I could understand, but the idea of living for a month, overseas with my parents was remarkable to me -- unfathomable even. But I have a special place in my heart for Japan. I also bought this book because I thought my husband and I would both enjoy it together -- which is exactly what we did when I would read snippets to him aloud. My husband has been traveling to Tokyo for over a decade on work-related business. He has been trying to convince me to go there on vacation with him since we started dating almost ten years ago. But this little thing has prevented me from saying yes: the 12 hour flight. And that's just flying one way. He has had to settle for taking me to Japanese restaurants, shops, and Japantown here in the city. But I think that is all going to change very soon.

Pretty Good Number One has been a joy to read from start to finish. It is the author's love letter to Tokyo -- and if you don't already have a place in your heart for the famous city, you will by the end of the book. You can easily imagine yourself there, among the people and the shops and the food. You can almost smell and taste it as Amster-Burton and his family eat through the repertoire of Japanese cuisine. More than once I looked over at my husband to ask whether or not he had tried this dish or that one, and whether or not we could find it locally -- and subsequently, how long before we could eat it. Maybe you want to purchase a screen protector for your e-reader so you don't soil it with the inevitable drool that will escape from your lips as you click through the pages. 

Another part of what makes Pretty Good Number One hard to put down is its accessibility. The author writes in a laid-back conversational tone peppered with self-deprecating humor, silly jokes, and humorous observations. There is no pretentiousness despite Amster-Burton's extensive knowledge of Japanese culture and cuisine, which is refreshing in a day and age where it's fashionable to be a foodie. He even takes the time to explain the vocabulary and pronunciations of many Japanese words you will encounter on your inevitable culinary journey.

Lastly, it's the sweet story of a husband and father sharing his love of all things Japanese with his family. It's especially endearing to read the stories centered around the author and his daughter, Iris. She's a curious and adventurous eater -- something we can all learn a lesson from.

How do you say no to this adorable face? You just don't!

The Verdict

Bookshelf. Well, let's make that a digital bookshelf since the title is only available in ebook format. Start packing your bags now because by the time you're finished, you'll be booking your flight to Japan.

You can follow Amster-Burton on Twitter @mamster or check out his website Roots and Grubs. You can also like Pretty Good Number One on Facebook.

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