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"The joy of lemon cannot stand alone; it needs sugar or olive oil, something to bring it back to earth. Vinegar literally cries out for fat. Fat falls flat without salt or sugar. Chile heat sings with brown sugar. And bitterness, well that needs it all"
For many years Thielen and her sculptor husband Aaron Spangler left New York City and her jobs in the kitchens of famous chefs, to summer in their native northern Minnesota, in a remote cabin without phone service, electricity, refrigeration or running water. Despite the challenges, or because such constraints force creativity, she turned her cabin in the woods into a great kitchen in the great Midwest. An absorbing and lyrical memoir of working the line in the man's world of Manhattan kitchens, and homesteading the coldest place in the continental United States. One day into reading Give a Girl a Knife I realized that my favorite magazine recipe for a modernized (leeks!) "hot dish" --made again by me that week-- was one of hers. There were no leftovers.
An enjoyable book on tax policy! No, that statement is not an oxymoron. Reid reveals the truth: the U.S. taxpayer pays a lower percent per person than all but two other developed nations. We give large tax breaks to our richest citizens, such as the mortgage interest deduction. We allow private equity employees to declare their management fees as "carried interest," and have those fees taxed as long-term capital gains--half the rate that regular income is taxed at! Our theoretical corporate tax rates are high, but the largest companies have found legal ways to shelter cash in other countries. Reid covers all of the ways that governments of wealthier countries tax their companies and citizens, and measures how effective their taxes are at achieving a "broad base and lower rate." He argues, for instance, "The flat tax works in a country that is a former Communist state, with no investment capital and low wage rates, which needs to build a capitalist economy from a base of approximately zero." That might benefit someday....... Cuba? Reid comes to a surprising conclusion that there is one tax system that works fairly for all. No spoilers from me: when you are done with this book, pass it along to your congressperson.
Television cooking shows are a favorite of many middle schoolers, and thanks to One Hundred Spaghetti Strings, girls, at least, will no longer have to turn to cozy cupcake mysteries alone to get their foodie fix from books. Steffy, our eleven year old heroine--and a good cook--and her older sister Nina, are living with their Aunt Gina. Their mother has suffered a traumatic brain injury, which has left her doing long term rehab in a nursing home. Steffy and Nina's mostly absent dad has some problems of his own. Struggles like his are more often explored in young adult novels, but are certainly part of the experience of millions of real middle schoolers. I like that this novel treats life's bumps in an optimistic but never saccharine fashion. No perfect happy endings, but there are recipes!
The Boy Scouts at Wisconsin's summer Camp Chippewa practice their knot tying every morning at reveille. The knot that they don't practice is the one that will bind generations of Chippewa's scouts to each other through wars and family upheaval.The cruelty of bully campers, the surprising loyalty of lightly made friends, the feckless absent fathers, the lonely heroism of soldiers and their mothers--the patterns repeat, each family generation sharing some of the blame, some of the glory. You may anticipate the classic reckoning at the end among scoutmaster, scout, single mother, and sociopath Like me, you may wonder off stage, if today's scouting, with the 130+ different merit badges that can be earned, is desperately seeking a relevancy it no longer deserves. Yet I was still completely won over by Butler's novel. The movie plays in my head. An original coming of age novel that deserves a place alongside of A Separate Peace.
In Dumas' The Three Musketeers, novice adventurer D'Artagnan leaves Gascony to find his fortune in Paris. In Duck Season, Chicago journalist McAninch reverses course by leaving Chicago with his wife and grade school daughter to live in an old mill in Gascony for 8 months. We learn along with the author, about the local specialties foie gras (now mostly made with ducks and not geese), duck confit, the micro distilled brandy Armagnac, slow and low cooked meat stews, and gateau a la broche (Google image it).The author is a master at describing food, as well as portraying the generous Gascons who share their homes and kitchens with him: "I realized I'd stumbled into the Alexandria Library of canning cellars." A rare and addictive look at the agricultural region of France that shares its border with Spain.
The life and death and signs of life of Anchor Hocking Glass Company, serves as a platform to tell the story of how trickle down Reaganomics and private equity raiders ("Barbarians") stole most of the financial capital from a company, and social capital from a thriving Ohio Town, capital that took decades to build, but only a few years to destroy. There's lots of heroin, too, of course. This is a more difficult read than "Hillbilly Elegy," but a far more honest and encompassing book. Put it together with Jane Mayer's "Dark Money" to understand much of our current economic and political crisis.
Drop the Ball is a book for every girl who has ever been called bossy, for every female employee who uses the phrase "I'm sorry more times in a day than a male employee uses it in a year. For every neighbor woman whose first words to a guest are "my house is such a mess." For every wife or mother whose husband has never sent the thank you note or scheduled the dental appointment. This is a book filled with insights and strategies for women who have already "leaned in," and for those who don't believe that they can. Dufu is a popular speaker and leader of female empowerment non profits. With stories, advice, and aphorisms from her Sage Mentors ("Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.") , she urges women to "drop the ball" and become less "communally minded" in their home lives. With women still only one in five top executives, allowing men to assume more responsibilites for children and chores is the best path to more equity outside the home.
The very first management book that I ever read was "In Search of Excellence." I owned no shares of any of the companies that were featured. I'd never been in a Walmart. I took all of the anecdotes about best practices, like "management by walking around," as gospel. Many years later, having worked for a large corporation, suffered through consultants, owning mutual funds with most of the companies in "Search," and having read more about American businesses than most people my age (I had to tell my broker who Fastenal is), I come to Stretch, and I think it's one of the better written, more inspiring books on successful companies that I have read. Its axioms about identifying and repurposing the resources that you have can be applied to daily living. That said, I cannot separate a company's political or environmental record (e.g. Yuengling) from its financial performance, and in one business case, I know enough of the backstory to disagree with a conclusion or two about that company's demise- they certainly "chased" the wrong things, but the examples given were only a blip in their race to ruin.
Five years ago Michael Lewis (The Blind Side, The Big Short) profiled psychologist Daniel Kahneman in Vanity Fair. Kahneman had just written a book, which he was sure few would read. That book, Thinking Fast and Slow, has now spent most of the past five years on bestseller lists. Lewis's new book is part joint biography of Kahneman (who won the Nobel prize in Economics) and his major collaborator Tversky (a "Genius Grant" winner). It's a moving look at friendship enduring in the academic marketplace. But Lewis also takes great care exploring their major contributions to decision-making science. His stories and examples, some drawn from sports, medicine, and the Israeli military, contribute to making this a book most will think about for a long time.
If the last gardening age was a nod to the tropical look (the bigger the better) then rock gardening should be our next one. The "art of growing alpines and other miniature plants"--rock gardening is a flexible enough canopy to shelter xeric gardening, native plant collectors, perennial border builders, fans of garden rooms and modernism, bonsai enthusiasts and conifer coneheads, rooftop, urban, and even fairy and railroad gardeners. The author even gives you permission to mix in your big box plants and American cacti. There is also just the right amount of helpful and deliberately plainspoken information on propagation, soil and climate, garden design and plant selection. I wish I'd had this book 20 years ago: it would have saved me from many mistakes. Buy it for the gardener you love.
After decades in bookstores, I am perhaps not surprisingly immune to picking up a new book by a prolific author. I tend to assume, as with rock songwriters,that an author's best work is always behind them. If that is true, then I have seriously missed out by not having looked at a work by Hoffman before. I pretty much inhaled this book. Faithful, although destined for the adult fiction section, reads like a smart YA novel and would be a perfect pick for a mother/daughter book club. Real teens, real young adults and their parents, and one life-shattering mistake. The young Laura Bush, was famously at fault in a car accident that killed another teenager. I always wondered: how does someone recover from that? This book imagines it for me.
Take a glance at the index. Gottlieb edited the books of most of those authors and celebrities.The best editor of his generation, and if you've opened Look Homeward, Angel lately (sorry, Maxwell Perkins) the editor of the most best books of the past century. And he's still going. In his own telling, Gottlieb is a quirky, nerdy guy, and as interesting to this reader as the parade of famous names. He brakes for garage sales and collects plastic purses from the 50s! He writes a column on dance. Although he was famously fired as editor of The New Yorker in favor of Tina Brown, Terry McDonnell (the Gottlieb of magazine editors and author of the new memoir Accidental Life) could tell him how unusual it is to last as editor of any major magazine. A must for all students of publishing and media.
Foremother of new urbanism, Jacobs is best remembered for Death and Life of Great American Cities, and for her showdown with the imperious Robert Moses, one that that halted construction of a Detroit style expressway, that would have eviscerated lower Manhattan. Writer first, but self taught scientist, planner, and economist, Jacobs left New York City in 1968, along with her family (including 2 draft eligible sons). Her activism against urban "renewal" projects continued for another four decades. A marvelous and surprising look at a thinker whose ideas were often disparaged by the established city builders in their day, but are now orthodoxy.
Moving to a tiny house? This articulately voiced cookbook would satisfy as the only one you need for a decade. It's hard to break into the cookbook market without a television show or a hot restaurant, but this is the book that is worthy. Turshen has helped develop recipes for both Ina Garten and the PBS show "The Kimchi Chronicles".Still have most of your bottle of fish sauce, or an old can of chickpeas, or have you noticed that mussels at the supermarket are a lot cheaper than king crab legs? With all of her recipes, Turshen includes treasured tips ("small victories") and improvs ("spin-offs") that will make you feel you got your time, money, and tastebuds' worth with each recipe.
"Tempered" first makes me think of chocolate. Rose, however, equates his more novel use of the word to the English title of Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier. A city is thus well-tempered by the relational adjustments that must be made to its "notes"--for instance, housing, transportation, jobs, green spaces, water, and waste management--to retain or achieve a more pleasing composition. Unusual for a book on urbanism, Rose nimbly covers the entire history of the city from ancient peoples to our time of "VUCA," a military acronym he introduces, which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. His perspective as a developer gives him additional authority beyond his amazing mastery of his sources: the bibliography could serve for an entire degree program syllabus. But he also emphasizes the dangers that economic inequality and climate change are bringing to our cities, which are indisputably a more efficient and environmentally sound way of organizing ourselves for the future. This is a book that I would like to see in many people's hands.
Recently on HBO's "Last Week Tonight," John Oliver put forth that North Carolina's new requirements for proof of registration at polling places had in effect "Moneyballed racism." With that coinage (borrowed from Michael Lewis's chronicle of the uber use of statistics in baseball), Oliver has also summed up the heart of this book: the unintended and unfair consequences of using big data in rating our schoolteachers, deciding who goes and serves how much time in prison, and who pays the most for college. Read WMD (author O'Neil's term for an ever more complex statistical model that renders great harm to our society) and weep. You probably already know about the misuse of supposedly neutral data and its complicity in the recession of 2008. But you will never see prison and recidivism, college football and student loans, or even car insurance, in the same light again. O'Neil is a former quant and author of the Mathbabe blog. She proves to us that statistics not only lie--they steal.
The 1986 Chernobyl disaster has been in the news again since Svetlana Alexievich, author of Voices from Chernobyl, won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature. What we forget is that although Chernobyl was in Ukraine, much of the nuclear fallout also affected the neighboring state of Belarus. The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko is first time novelist Scott Stambach's unforgettable imagining of the mostly interior life of one horribly deformed adolescent inmate at a Belarus hospital for abandoned babies and "Gravely Ill" children. Graphically told, unshirkingly honest, Ivan's grim days are enlightened by three great loves: literature, the maternal love of the kind nurse who sneaks him books and treats, and a recently orphaned girl with leukemia. It reminded me of The Tin Drum--stick with it a couple chapters, and I dare you to put it down.
Like millions of other people, I read Tracy Kidder's The Soul of a New Machine over thirty years ago. I never imagined how much computers would be a part of my life and career in the decades to come. And that's kind of the point: it takes someone with extraordinary gifts to imagine so much change. Kidder's newest book will not seem as groundbreaking as Soul. It's an extended profile of a genius serial entrepreneur (who coincidentally worked once at Data General, the featured company in Soul). What makes this somewhat different for a business profile, is that the subject, Paul English--one of the co-founders of the Kayak travel website--is on the bipolar spectrum. He gave Kidder unique access to himself and others to tell his story--depressions, hypomanic episodes, dangerous rages, and business failures are all included. English is a compassionate, philanthropic figure, with a little band of well chosen business partners, who have sensed what he needs without having to ask him about what's wrong with him. They form a "skunkworks" that would follow English even if he didn't have a magnetic attraction for trucks full of money.
Rolling Stone, Outside, Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and even Us Weekly: McDonell took a stab at editing them all. McGuane, Harrison, Hunter Thompson, Tom Wolfe, George Plimpton, Peter Matthiessen, Richard Price, James Salter, and Jimmy Buffett. This is a testosterone name check and memoir of the golden age of New Journalism, before the corporations and the Internet decimated the band. A must read for all of us who still browse the newsstand with affection.
Just in in time for Brexit, we have the paperback version of Misbehaving, as good an explanation as any of the neurological and psychological biases that cause people to act against their own economic interest. Part autobiography, Thaler's career almost perfectly aligns with the start and almost universal acceptance of the new field of behavioral economics. Incidentally, Thaler advised both the Redskins and David Cameron. You can lead a horse to water....
Focusing on outstanding contributions made over the past half century to applied economic theory, the authors introduce the concept of markets for non economists, and then explore interlinked examples of how markets work in POW camps, used car lots, medical resident "Match Days," food banks and hazardous waste disposal. For fans of Freakonomics and The Undercover Economist, this classroom worthy introducation will give readers a more ordered overview of what drives our organizations.
I am not a fan of the twee school of travel narrative. I don't want to hear about handsome Pierre at the Cafe. I run from empty castles and chateaux--give me a museum with good lighting or a cottage garden. But this book changed my mind. Deftly moving back and forth between Carhart's boyhood in France and a return 30 years later, Carhart immerses us in the town, the 900 year history of the chateau, and the ongoing renovations. Go ahead and sign me up Viking River Cruises! A joyful reminder of the importance of historic preservation at a time when it is once again under attack.
I had family members who had to drive to the Detroit Airport the morning after the crash of Northwest Flight 255, the plane crash infamous for both a sole survivor, and the cockpit crew's fatal mistake: not using the runway taxi "checklist" to extend the plane's wing flaps. Monday morning the wreckage was still visible by the side of the road. Duhigg's essays and observations in Smarter Faster Better--including another look at Air France Flight 477's more recent oceanic crash and the "cognitive tunneling" that lead to another avoidable tragedy--are the kind that you will feel compelled to share with others. The various motivational strategies and theories, you may want to test in your own life. Whether it's a look at how the Frozen movie team rescued their storyline, or a good explanation of why professional poker players bet when an individual Texas Hold'Em hand's odds are only 20% favorable, fans of Gladwell, Gawande, and Thinking Fast and Slow will all enjoy this well researched book.
Ripert has always struck me as the sunny silver fox of TV chefs, so I wasn't expecting 32 Yolks to be part This Boy's Life or even Alan Cumming's more recent dark memoir Not My Father's Son. But Ripert is also the owner/chef of NYC's highest rated restaurant Le Bernardin. His recounting of an abusive home life, and his escape to the "Survivor"-like but better ingredients kitchen of legendary chef Joel Robuchon, shows how he developed the toughness to succeed in the cruel world of Michelin stars. It ends with a still very young Ripert leaving for America to work in the kitchen of Jean-Louis Palladin (The Watergate Hotel).l hope there's more in a future volume.
McDowell reminds us of what our first 6 presidents had in common: they were all serious gardeners. And contrary to what we popularly suppose, there were many changes to the White House landscape before Michelle Obama put in a vegetable garden. And many different visions: an Olmsted style public park, Victorian, neo colonial, suburban, memorial grove, and Versailles formal are a few. More than 200 years of American history is sampled in this book. It should interest both gardeners and history lovers.
Duckworth is the MacArthur "Genius" grant recipient who has developed the Grit Scale that is popping up everywhere in psychology, business, and sports. This is her theory, her research, and her examples, in a fun book for the general reader. The good news--students don't need new textbooks and computers as much as they need bands and clubs and other . extracurricular activities that teach them to model the best. The bad news: you can't just claim you can't do it anymore--research has shown with effort, you probably can.
My psychology professor Uncle introduced me to the case studies in Berton Rouche's Medical Detectives (and later Oliver Sacks), and I've been hooked on the genre ever since. Here Kalb focuses on 12 historical figures whose admitted behaviors or belated diagnoses from their biographers illustrate psychological disorders cataloged in the DSM. From Howard Hughes' OCD to Frank Lloyd Wright's narcissism, there's a chapter to interest all of us. It's also fun to speculate about which living celebrities could be featured in the sequel.
As beautifully constructed and fluidly readable as any book by Robert Caro or David McCullough, I see a Pulitzer Prize in Mayer's future: it seems to be about the only award that she hasn't won. Everything negative that I see in the news seems to lead me back to what's covered in this book--the changes in our tax code that have fostered the growth of extreme right wing foundations that mask as charities, but are really tax shelters. From Citizens United, record income inequality, our embarrassing season of primaries, and even the Flint water crisis--learn how we got there.
I didn't expect to be reminded of Edie Sedgwick, an Andy Warhol protege of the 60s, twice in consecutive months. There Edie was in a 50 year retrospective of video art in the very earliest featured video at Lansing's Broad Museum. And her name surfaced again for me as I read West of Eden: An American Place by Jean Stein, an enormously engaging and moving oral history of several of the houses and families, and thus the names behind some famous streets and institutions of Los Angeles. Looking at Stein's credits, I discovered that Jean Stein had also co-written Edie: American Girl, one of the few oral histories I enjoyed reading cover to cover. If you know Brooke Hayward's memoir Haywire, some of the families in Eden will be familiar. Surely Jennifer Jones, the ex-wife of actor/suicide Robert Walker (Strangers on a Train), and widow of both David O. Selznick and museum founder Norton Simon, is one of Hollywood's strangest and most enigmatic stars. The glamorous lives of these Hollywood families are heavily laced with mental illness, abandonment, and suicide. West of Eden is a gripping cultural history behind the front doors of a city that through its movies, came to define us to the world.
A shocking, addictive account of Wariner's childhood growing up in a polygamist community in Chihuahua, Mexico in the 1970s, part of a splinter sect that left the LDS Church after multiple marriage was banned. The high church status of her biological father--murdered by his own brother--does not protect her from poverty or abuse from her stepfather. A couple of her siblings are obvious victims of malnutrition, leading to diminished lives. The epilogue is both uplifting and sadly ironic. It's clear that women and children suffer the most in this community. Perhaps the most powerful memoir that I've read since The Glass Castle.
I grabbed a review copy of this, thinking it was short, I could read a couple stories on my plane, and then leave it at my destination. Glad I did not get around to reading it then. TOO good to leave at my destination. Too funny to read on a plane, if you burst out laughing out loud as I did, upon reading the very first story about an email war that escalates between two wealthy co-op owners.
I grew up on top 40 radio, hearing "Strangers in the Night" way too many times. (Sinatra was also sick of it.) The great 2015 HBO documentary "Sinatra: All or Nothing at All" led me to learn more about the man, who along with the microphone, has had the greatest influence on popular singing in the past century. If you've let Sinatra's sometimes ugly personal life interfere with appreciating his oeuvre, this is an easy introduction to Sinatra's innovations and the best of his recordings. Lehman is the series editor of "Best American Poetry," so this book is also elegantly written and organized.
Chanticleer is a "pleasure garden," and perhaps America's finest small public garden. It's also only a day's drive from Ann Arbor. Almost unique among historical gardens, Chanticleer has curator/designers allowed great latitude in their planting choices and design. And every few years they switch out who is responsible for which garden within a garden, which keeps it all fresh and inspirational to home gardeners. Filled with plant selection and cultivation advice, and beautiful photographs, I think this is the gardening book of the year
My love for this book was somewhat unexpected. It's the "Cards Against Humanity" version of a caretaking memoir. This is the "ice bucket challenge" as a lifestyle. And even if you aren't usually a fan of the scatalogical, you will not fail to laugh. A lot. Especially at the most tasteless moments! Five youngish siblings, who have little in common but their love for their Dad, take care of each other through a family's worst nightmare. And they screw up: they drink too much, they fight too much, they act selfishly...and magnanimously. In other words, they're just like the rest of us.
A worthy addition to the growing shelf of books touting the health and environmental benefits of walkable cities versus parkable suburban cul de sacs. Filled with anecdotes personal (Schwartz worked under several NYC mayors and coined the term "gridlock") historical (more on streetcar conspiracies that turned our would be San Franciscos into Detroits) and political (the Koch brothers really hate mass transit). Ride the Bus!
I read a lot of food related cozy mysteries, but I like mine savory. No cupcakes. No understanding husbands. No cute pets.Until recently, there didn't seem to to be the same interest in food themed non genre novels. Then last year we had the very good Bread and Butter, the amusing Delicious!, and now the even better Kitchens of the Great Midwest. There is a doting father and a not so doting mother, who between them spawn the food prodigy Eva Thordal. From the joys of lutefisk (not) and ghost peppers (super not) to church lady bake sales, dining clubs, and pop up dinners, I loved everything about this book--funny, warm-hearted, and a definite tribute to my native Midwest.
"Ramen is one of the few foods in Japan that comes with no rulebook"
This book--under Anthony Bourdain's new publishing imprint--keeps drawing me back. Now that even small cities like my hometown are moving beyond sushi lunch and bento boxes, I want help ordering the small dishes at an Izakaya. And I want to know if I'm going to really like okonomiyaki before I order it. If you are planning on a look around at your local Asian market, an outing to a Japanese restaurant, a visit to the Japan town in one of North America's largest cities, a weekend in Tokyo, or a train tour of Japan, this book is your guide. It can be read in any order, at any speed, and you will keep coming back for more.
Finally, my dream Asian Cookbook! The suggested (scalable) pantry of ingredients--from frugal to more epic (but still found at Krogers)--come with photos so you buy the right bottle or package at the market. The recipes themselves are restaurant style Pacific Rim Asian Fusion (I think of this as the theme park school) with nods to what you secretly crave at P.F. Chang's. And no deep fryer required--only two specialized pieces of equipment needed beyond what you could find at a Residence Inn: a cheap rice cooker and a wok (we're talking $50 for the pack). Every recipe sounds delicious--and some could be made in a dorm room.
Set in mostly pre-financial crisis NYC, social media marketer Evelyn Beegan struggles to break into the social world of the Upper East Side (the recent Primates of Park Avenue mined the same territory). Evelyn's best friend could be a young Suze Orman. Her hapless suitor is like one of the rationals from Michael Lewis's The Big Short. Her mom stands in for Ruth Madoff. Clifford gets so many details right. Everybody Rise ends in 2007--I can't wait for the sequel. I want to meet these characters again.
This is Reichl's story of the year following the shocking demise of the magazine Gourmet, where she was editor in chief. This gave her much time for soul-searching and home cooking. I tried her simple 7 ingredient pancake recipe, which Reichl claims tested as the best pancake recipe "by a landslide" for the first Gourmet Cookbook. I don't know about that--I only know they were by far the best pancakes that I've ever made. I moved on to her "Easy Bolognese"--same result!
This book deserved a better fate from its publisher. The somewhat pretentious copycat cover makes it look like the recipes will take more work than most time pressed home cooks are willing to put in. The "Expat Fried Rice" (page 106) is one of the most useful refrigerator clean out recipes of all time. A sensible. frugal collection of good basic family recipes with modern flavors.
The title of Greenfeld's comic novel caught my eye, but it's the witty specificity that reels you in. Instead of Armistead Maupin's Marin County residents (The Serial), with their labeled lifestyle of superior consumption, we have corporate sponsorship and privatization of every aspect of American life: e.g. the Subway Fresh Take Paul Revere MIddle School. I will never be able to see a certain televangelist without remembering Greenfeld's character Pastor Roger: "looking like a cross between Andrew Jackson and one of the Jonas Brothers." There is some part of this satire that will resonate with evey reader.
This novel, waltzing into Updike territory,is like a perfectly plotted farce: three generations who couple and uncouple, in an ambivalent orgy of guilt and angst, The faded professor, whose greatest works are his own obsessively archived letters (carbons!) to coed seduction tagets. The stressed out, credit card maxed out couple with kids. The two younger objects of their mutual lust. This is a "twitching Prairie" styled "Smiles of a Summer Night," with a Forest of Arden resolution near Lake Superior. Charming, touching, funny.
For a major cultural capital, surprisingly little has been written about Rome in travel narrative form.So I was delighted to discover that novelist and NBA winner Doerr had actually written such a book a few years ago. In addition to hitting all the requisites of the form--an appreciation of the natural and artistic beauty. the food, the people, and lesser known historic tidbits, Doerr has written a touching memoir of the trials of new parenthood, that virtually anyone can appreciate: "Water gurgles through the gutters. Henry and Owen kick at their rain shield. The billion nightcrawlers of Rome swim beneath us, leaving their castings, navigating the oceans of the past."
Don't be put off by the ostensible subject--corpses, hearsts in the night, and creepy funeral homes. Like The American Way of Death, The Loved One, and The Undertaking, this is destined to be a classic that tells us more than we want to know about the aftermath of our death. But it is also a beautifully poetic look at a scandal, and marital strife, and a family that has lost its way.
This is blogger/best-selling author (Delancey) Molly Wizenberg's first book. Each short chapter recounts a story from her life, most of them about family, and many about her Dad, and includes at least one sample recipe inspired by the memory. These are often desserts or vegetarian, and elevated beyond the usual, with interesting dressings and unusual modern additions of common ingredients. This book can be dipped into or read straight through. Either way, you will come to love Molly and her recipes.
I'm often asked--"Can you help me find something to read?" I ask--"what have you read lately that you really loved?" A frequent answer more than ten years after it was published is The Glass Castle. This book is for fans of that book and fans of coming of age memoirs in general. It will remind you of how the roles of women have changed, and how their options have set them free from those available to their mothers.
"Habits make change possible by freeing us from decision making and from using self control."
Rubin is the author of the NYT bestseller The Happiness Project, but this is the better book. Although many books on making and breaking habits have been published, most notably Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habits, those who find well-researched popular psychology inspirational, will want to read this and even return to it.
This is hands down the gardening book that I pull off my shelves to look at the most--year after year. Duthie lives in a simliar USDA hardiness zone to most of us in Michigan, so her plant choices can all be grown here. As each month passes in my garden, I look at what's in bloom and then use her book so see what else I could grow to fill any holes in my perennial garden beds. Useful and well-written with many addtional tips--it has it all.
Few people in America know more about houseplants than Tovah-she put in 30 years at the premier mail order nursery for greenhouse plants, Logee's, and continues to write and lecture about indoor plants that can be added (in Michigan) to your summer garden--and outdoor plants that overwinter or even stay indoors all year very happily. Before you throw out that summer annual or tender perennial, see what she has to say.
This was so wonderful!--funny, enjoyable, insightful. I bought a copy for a gift when I saw a rave from Jonathan Franzen. On hearing that it had been optioned for a movie, I finally read it myself. This is not chick lit, okay?--but Seattle lit. Read it for the tech humor, the family dynamics, and to keep up at night.
No one picks up a book about Alzheimer's until they have a friend or family member who is afflicted. Too bad. What is it--one in seven of us will get it? This book is the corrective to all of those TV commercials hawking a nursing home or some less than proven drug. Comer's husband does not go gently--he's violent, abusive, paranoid, incontinent--and outlives his doctors' prognosis by a good ten years. This is the outcome that many fmailies will face. Read this beautifully told tale of heartbreak now, and not before you have to face it for the first time,. More patience isn't what's needed--it's research dollars.
I read this book in my 50s, after seeing a "Proust questionnaire" with Nigella Lawson, who named it one of her five favorite books. There are strong female characters here, but no evil ones like Cruella DeVille in Smith's more famous book. An unforgettable coming of age story about artistic dysfunctional parents, and their children who manage to make the best of it.The 2003 movie with Bill Nighy is also worth seeking out.
The trend toward making utilitarian vegetable gardens beautiful as well, finds voice in this addictive book. Jabbour recognizes that even a few edibles grown well brightens the mood of the gardener and cook alike. Not enough sun? Not enough water? Not enough space? Not enough time? There is a plan for you!
Until his sudden death at the age of 62 in 2012, Peterson was the University of Michigan's most prominent psychology professor. Winner of the Golden Apple teaching award (Peterson presciently? chose to deliver a "First Lecture" instead of a "Last Lecture") he wrote hundreds of scholarly articles, but only a handful of books. His Value in Action Character Strengths work has spawned a whole business book industry on its own. These are Peterson's collected Psychology Today columns, general and accessible, and a perfect introduction to the positive psychology movement.
Allen sets her novels in a romantic, Spanish moss covered South that seems in danger of disappearing, whether it's old mansions, old gardens, or as in the case of Lost Lake, an old family resort. Her themes are family secrets, lost loves, the power of the feminine, and a little magic. She writes "romances" for people who won't read them, and chick lit for people who can't find any they want to finish. This is one of my favorites of her books.
Perhaps my favorite diary of gardens and gardening. English garden writer Anna Pavord is fun, inspiring, and educational--everything you'd want in gardening narrative. There's some how-to here as well, but mostly you read this book for the pleasure of it.
The hardest part is starting this book--her personal story of the day the tsunami came for her family is only the beginning. Deraniyagala plunges in immediately to the heart of her story--the aftermath, and the waves of unimagineable grief when you have lost almost everyone that you care about. Many will be reminded of Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking. I was also reminded of Stevie Smith's poem "Not Waving, but Drowning."
A prolific journalist, some of whose magazine work you have probably read, Hafner's is one of the better memoirs that I've read in recent years. Recently widowed and laid off from her media job, Hafner tries to fix many things at once by inviting her mother to come live wih her and her teen-aged daughter. Fans of the genre will be reminded of Richard Russo's Elsewhere.
Visiting gardens are also my obsession. For many years Horticulture magazine sponsored an annual lecture series/book signing/multi-author road show of the premier English language gardening authors. These are many of the same authors and the next best thing to being on this tour. You will be digging through seed catalogs and Wikipedia-ing up a storm. A beautiful book to gift and re-read.
The broad outlines of The Carriage House have been inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, but these three sisters, for all of their disappointments in life and love, are athletic and career-minded in an unfamiliar way to any Austen audience. The peripheral characters are the real stars: a withdrawn mother whose early onset Alzheimer's cruelly emphasizes her emotional absence from her family's lives; the father who expected his daughters to fill the void; the woman he should have married. A well crafted debut with characters made memorable.
Foodies rejoice! A thoughtful, authentic feeling novel by the Executive Editor of Tin House Journal, this contains three brothers, two restaurants, two female executive chefs, and enough culinary terms to send youlooking for your favorite gourmet lexicon.
I enjoyed Longbourn more than P.D. James's Death Comes to Pemberley, until now the best received continuation of a Jane Austen novel. Baker imagines the lives of the over-worked sevants in a not so prosperous gentry home with 5 unmarried (Bennet) daughters. It won't disappoint fans of the best regency romances, but it might remind readers more of Jane Eyre's Lowood than a day at Downton Abbey. Luckily, the invented and concurrent to Pride and Prejudice encounters are more fun.
I picked up a review copy of this without expectations. It starts in small town Ohio with two sisters. I come from small town Ohio and two sisters. Soon I found myself putting off reading the next chapter because I wanted the book to last longer. A combination of Ragtime meets" Little Miss Sunshine", and 1940's" Real Housewives'", Lucky Us tells the picaresque adventures of older half sister Iris, a would be famous actress, the epistolary saga of Gus, whose misadventures include a WWII internment camp, feckless father Edgar, club singer Clara, orphan Danny, and Hollywood make up man Francisco. At the heart of it all is younger sister Eva. Eva is a liar, a petty thief, a technical kidnapper, and a sham psychic: she somehow manages to save them all.
This book hit all of my buttons: a frugal (or more frugal) lifestyle, gardening and cooking, and a coming of age memoir that deftly plays out across the growing seasons. THE CSA (community supported agriculure) farm that the author works at for a year, stepping out from her usual job as a freelance journalist, is a full diet farm, that raises livestock as well as produce. They've also committed to their subscribers to provide weekly boxes year round--you will gain a new appreciation for kohlrabi here.
Reading this book will change your life. Seligman is the highly respected Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and internationally known as the leading light of the positive psychology field. This is not another "happiness" self help book, although the best of those books lean heavily on the research of Seligman and his colleagues. If you are looking for more joy and meaning in your life, this book will either give you the tools or show you that you've had them all along.
I missed this book when it published in 2014, until a bookstore customer introduced me to it. Think the "Life-Changing Magic of a Tidy To Do List." Essentialism exhibits both the strengths and a few of the weaknesses of the author's career as speaker and blogger.It's breezy, but many of the anecdotes and observations from management gurus and social psychologists will stick with you. If you are tired of the tyranny of choice in selecting an inspirational business book to read this year, this would serve well.
A highly accessible book of pop psychology with serious research behind it. Some of Pinker's arguments will seem just common sense: the importance of eating family meals; coffee breaks increase employee productivity. Some may surprise: mall-walking with a friend is quite probably better for increasing longevity than a solitary jog; a laptop for every student in every classroom seems to be lowering test scores. (And maybe shopping in your local bookstore is better for your overall well-being than shopping online...) Fans of Malcolm Gladwell, Levitt & Dubner (Freakonomics), to Gretchen Rubin, should enjoy this. Anyone involved in education should be troubled by it.
A fluidly written, engaging memoir, the author left her suburban Chicago home for what she thought was an agricultural commune at the age of 17. More cult than commune, Nolan finally escapes almost 20 years later with a small daughter and no money. She reconnects with her parents (and a couple old loves) and parlays her only real world skill-organic farming--into a business at the forefront of the edible school yard, front yard, and urban farming movements. (She put in Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's vegetable garden.) Really great lists in the back for organic gardeners who want to know her favorite tools, methods, crops, etc. are a bonus.
Reading the lengthy and lovingly recorded descriptions of meals and wine services that Andrews recounts from his many trips in Europe and especially his beloved Los Angeles haunts of yesteryear (e.g. Ma Maison, Scandia). It's clear those days are gone forever--for better and worse. Hollywood brat (his father was a screenwriter), bon vivant, journalist-at-large, founding publisher (Saveur), Andrew is also the mystery gourmand and lover whom Ruth Reichl wriote about extensively in Comfort Me With Apples. On that subject--but little else-Andrews is a bit reticent.
I wasn't familiar with Wizenberg's earlier memoir, A Homemade Life (I have since read it and loved it). This book stands on its own. This second chapter is the story of helping her husband open a small artisanal pizzeria, while maturing in her young marriage. Plenty of original and frugal recipes are included, that touch on everything from local green market improvs to the craft cocktail trend. Fans of TV shows like "Restaurant Impossible" will love all of the detail about designing and outfitting a restaurant on the cheap. Who knew that a large Hobart mixer could cost as much as an SUV? The various fiascos with kitchen and waitstaff will be recognized by the millions who've worked in a restaurant. The author's doubts and tantrums and money worries are probably familiar to all owners of a small business.
Sometimes you want to read a book of history that won't take a month to finish, that's still relevant, readable, and reliable.From the design flaws of the WTC towers that allowed their total implosion, to the neglected dams of New Orleans, McCullough's history of the Johnstown disaster reminds us that successful engineering is still a communications art, An engaging early work by one of our most popular, award-winning historians.
Watching Ric Burns' opus "New York: A Documentary History" led me to this book. A masterful biography of one of the most influential (and until this book) relatively unknown figures of the 20th century, this is both a history and an indictment of our auto-centric public works projects. The New Jersey Bridgegate scandal is a recent reminder of the ultimate power of public authorities. At times a challenging book to read, The Power Broker is also probably the best book of non fiction that I have read. It led me to new books and new ways of appreciating cities that work.
A great relatively new book for ornamental garden design from our best gardening publisher.No doubt inspired by all of those 5 ingredient cookbooks, this acknowledges that in any garden, a very few plants are the real wokhorses .Affordable, non-fussy designs for zone 4-6 gardeners (e.g. Michigan and Ohio) that recognizes texture and contrast are what really makes a garden pop.
Award-winning teacher, lecturer, author, and researcher, Armitage is arguably America's finest garden writer. This is one of the first books that every home gardener who is adding a"flower garden" should open up. Armitage, ever opinionated, tells you which plants are frankly worth it. He has also done noteworthy books on annuals and vines, but start here. These are the plants you can add and have multiply, usually for many years to come.
At the front of the sustainability revolution, Professor Tallamy is leading the charge in changing what trees Americans plant in their landscape. Did you know that oaks support hundreds of types of moths and insects that support birds (75% of a bird's diet is insects) and other wildlife. Many of the non native trees that have become popular (e.g. the Bradford Pear) support almost none. Read this before you buy another tree.
Some will know Brock from the PBS series "Mind of a Chef" or his appearance with Tony Bourdain.Charleston fans will know his James Beard Award-winning restaurant McCrady's and Husk.From pork rinds to haute cuisine, this is a cookbook you will want to own--get one for the guestroom as well. Heritage could refer not just to the Southern tradition; this cookbook deserves the title as well.
This is the way I cook now. It never used to occur to me how easy and delicious it is to roast vegetables (no pot roast required!) until I tried a recipe in The Splendid Table. If you haven't had Brussels sprouts (with or without bacon) caramelized until all the sugars come out, you've not become acquainted with your new favorite vegetable. Of course there are more than vegetable recipes in this collection that showcases a healthier, more flavorful way to cook. Added incentive for Michiganders in the winter--a nice oven-warmed kitchen.
The best book that I've read on urban planning since Lewis Mumford and Jane Jacobs, this book will explain to you why cities are greener than the burbs, our streets are too wide, and our infrastructure is too costly to replace unless we rethink how we now live. A readable, lively overview on what's new since Robert Moses inspired so many city fathers to put a highway through their downtowns.
Other than the movie "Clueless' this witty romantic novel uses general plot elements of Jane Austen to the best effect. Two sisters--the bookish one and the corporate one--more different than Austen's Willougbys, but also with lives beyond the drawing room. You get a little culinary history, and some Silicon Valley humor. I think it holds up more than the summer read of the month.
Watching a documentary about the closing of Kutsher's, the last? Catskill resort, reminded me of how much I enjoyed reading this book when it first came out. Although not set in the Catskills themselves, this Vermont resort will remind readers of other family resorts, and even the movie "Dirty Dancing." Everything you would want in light fiction--humor, romance. a sense of place. One of the best.
This is one of my favorite food-centered memoirs. Fans of Ruth Reichl, Molly Wizenberg, and Marcus Samuelsson should enjoy this. Even Kelly Corrigan fans, for the touching father-daughter relationship, and Beekman Boy followers for the city folk meet the country life. Gentle feel good memoir with some great recipes.
Growing up, my dentist didn't use novocaine or any other best practice, but he was my Dad's ham radio buddy! I've moved on from the "Butcher of Chagrin Falls", and our traffic engineering and city planning needs to continue to move on from the MLive Comments section. Speck's earlier book, Suburban Nation opened my eyes to how little this driver, pedestrian, and city bus rider really understood about her city and the true cost of parking lots and wider streets. Ground-breaking, Walkable City will have you looking for the "missing teeth" (to use Speck's expression) in every city block.
I read authors broadly and not deeply, and yet I've read half a dozen books by Augusten (does anyone call him Burroughs?). When last we heard from Augusten, readers thought we had left him happy at last with Dennis. After all, didn't he then share with us the SELF HELP book This is How, of how he got there? Prepare to be plunged into the darkness of relationships and the lightness of finding love. No memoirist has given me more hours of pleasure and insight--he's our Boswell.