It's not often I'm eating a burrito and thinking about books.
That's a lie. I like burritos almost as much as I like books, so any intersection of the two is good news for me.
Perhaps it's no coincidence that Chipotle happens to be my favorite place to get a burrito. Besides having the best guacamole this side of the Rio Grande, they also have their Cultivating Thought series, which invites famous authors to write a short piece--something to be read in two minutes or less--to be printed on Chipotle cups and bags.
Unless I'm reading on my phone or Nook, I tend not to read when I'm eating burritos because it's difficult to wrangle a burrito and turn pages without having the mushy parts of said burrito transferred to the book's pages. That being said, I'm a big fan of the Cultivating Thought series!
In my recent restaurant visits I've read short pieces by Toni Morrison, Paulo Coelho, Malcolm Gladwell, Jonathan Safran Foer (who started Cultivating Thought and serves as its curator), and Barbara Kingsolver, whose Chipotle cup I've gotten no less than three times.
Of course, the two-minute piece on the back of a cup isn't enough reading to keep me busy throughout the meal. Even as much as I love burritos, I can't inhale one in two minutes. However, the pieces are oddly insightful for such a small space, so I usually find myself contemplating the author's shared wisdom or giggling at some funny quip.
While there are many more authors in the Cultivating Thought series whose cups and bags I haven't gotten yet, there are a few authors whom I'd love to see on the next round of cup and bag designs.
I just finished his book This is How You Lose Her, which is essentially a collection of short stories that have a character in common. I've gotta say, the man is a master of the short story. For starters, he actually knows how to keep them short. You either get a short story or a novel, nothing in between. He's not going to try to trick you into reading a novella where you're wondering whether the whole book, which doesn't have that many pages, is all one story. Nope. He knows how to pack a punch with his words, so in just a few sentences you're already immersed in the story. That's just the kind of writer you want for the limited space on a restaurant cup.
Okay, so he's basically the opposite of Junot Diaz in that he's wordy. Like, really wordy. However, he knows a thing or two about putting a story through some serious gymnastics. He can enlighten you, confuse you, and make you scratch your head in wonder all at the same time. If you've read Cloud Atlas, you know what I'm talking about. I think being confined to the space of a Chipotle cup would be a good exercise in brevity for him and would be a delight to whomever's reading it.
Between her book of essays on feminism (Bad Feminist) and her best-selling novel (An Untamed State) coming out in the same year, Roxane Gay is KILLING IT. She's seriously a one woman powerhouse of awesome. She can, in one breath, go from discussing feminist issues in a way that truly resonates with modern readers to keeping you on the edge of your seat with a story. There's no doubt about it--she's a smart lady. I'd love to see a condensed version of one of her essays on a Chipotle cup, especially since she discusses feminist issues in a really accessible way. I could see someone who's never thought much about feminism being engaged by her writing.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda is awesome in many of the same ways as Roxane Gay, though she has a different perspective since she's from Nigeria. Her prose is thought-provoking, insightful, and it cuts to the core of misconceptions about race and class in one fell swoop. She tells it like it is in the most direct way, yet she manages to say it in a way that no one could possibly oppose her. Between her bestselling and award-winning novel, Americanah and her rock star TED Talk "We Should All Be Feminists," she's the voice of a new generation of women.
I've read both of her novels, Shine Shine Shine and How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky, this year and she's just a delight to read. She has this way of writing that makes concepts like astronomy, astrophysics, space science, and being in love accessible. She's the kind of writer who brings simple, everyday magic to totally normal people and makes everyone feel like they have an important story to tell. That pretty well sums up how I'd like to feel while eating a burrito and reading a Chipotle cup.
P.S. This is not some kind of endorsement or advertisement for Chipotle. I just really like that they're featuring authors I like on their cups and bags. It's a nice touch to add to an otherwise normal lunch.