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'the kind of book that, discovered unexpectedly on the shelf in a friend's guest room during an overnight visit, will make you happily late for dinner, and eager to turn in early after the meal is done."
That's the author writing on a less celebrated mystery novel, but it could be about Mustich's brilliant book. The familiar, the forgotten, and the undiscovered all make their appearance here in a book that took fourteen years and a lifetime of reading to compose. I've long been a fan of Workman's addictive "1,000 Before You Die" series. This is now my favorite. It includes " if you like this" suggestions, and a review of TV and movie adaptations when available. A book for every compulsive reader on your gift list from about age ten and up. (P.S.- and it's too heavy to easily fall off the bed!)
Silicon Valley and its job status merry-go-round, international banking fraud, family drama and relationship hilarity, and most central, the story of Chinese Americans melding old traditions and new realities. Matriarch Linda, while navigating a dating site for Asians, is working to get her children Fred and Kate to safeguard a family inheritance from their new stepmother, before ailing father Stanley dies. All things will do not go well. Read it on your next airplane flight: "since this was American Pacific, the stewardesses were either preemptively hostile or undergoing the slow inertia of death.” A fast and furiously funny read.
Things you probably won't feel the same way about after reading this book: --the Cabinet Departments of Energy, Agriculture, and Commerce (an insider's look at what they really do is the focus of Lewis's book) --AccuWeather --big data --Chris Christie (who briefly ran the Trump team's transition) --inorganic kitty litter Things you will probably feel the same about: Donald Trump's fitness for office. No one explains the intersection of science and economics in a more powerful way than Michael Lewis. A look at how an incoming administration's ignorance, greed, and laziness are putting America at risk.
The last couple years I have been drawn to memoirs about women farmers, whether they work on a commune, a CSA farm , or now the hardscrabble Kansas family farm that Sarah Smarsh grew up on. Kansas was the first state to hold an all state referendum on women's suffrage in 1867, and the 6th state to pass the doomed equal rights amendment in 1972. But now when many of us think of Kansas, we think about "what's the matter with Kansas," and its obsession with controlling women's reproductive freedom. In her very original and dare I say elegiacal look at the generations who shaped her, the author understands her family members belief that their hard work will pay off, but she knows the odds are it won't. Her memoir is addressed to the child she never had, escaping the single mother trap of her forebears, who cling to a sentimental belief in the pioneer spirit, and are unable to rise far from the poverty they grew up in. This is long listed for the National Book Award.
From "Gidget" and "The Flying Nun" to "Norma Rae" and Mary Lincoln, Sally Field is one of the few female actors to transition from pablum television to lead dramatic roles in big films. Raised by an alcoholic mother who did B movies and guest roles on television, and a stunt man stepfather who sexually assaulted her for much of her girlhood ( this is the first time that Field has talked about this), it's not a stretch to say that the chapter about her paparazzi catnip relationship with Burt Reynolds is only one of a dozen of the most unforgettable parts of this memoir. Not since Brooke Hayward's "Haywire" have I read a memoir by an actor that so captures an era.
We now know that it wasn't sixteen Puerto Ricans that died as the direct result of Hurricane Maria: it was at least 2,975. That's almost twice as many as died in Louisiana from Katrina. As a leading chef and restaurateur with a charitable foundation focused on feeding families caught in natural disasters, Jose Andres put himself and his other employees and friends on the ground in the immediate aftermath, delivering millions of hot meals and sandwiches to many who had lost power, water, and gasoline. A day by day first person account of those first critical weeks, a how-to for other disaster response groups, an indictment of government and Red Cross response: I think this is the most important book that I have read this year. You cannot read this book without thinking that Puerto Rico needs its own senators and representatives to end the economic apartheid that makes its citizens de facto colonists.
- Yeah, you will want to read this. Since Michael Wolff's unfairly maligned book "Fire and Fury" came out, a raft of people have left the HMS Trump, including, most important to sourcing this book, chief economic advisor Gary Cohn and White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter. Whether it's saving the world economy, or just the world, each "ground hog day" in "Crazytown, USA" features Trump in another lather, spit, repeat cycle of failure: failure to listen, failure to learn, failure to turn off his TV. As Senator Lindsey Graham explains our foreign policy to a petulant Trump: "It's good versus evil. Good versus evil never ends." As for Trump, himself, a better title for Woodward's new book would be "Liar." If you don't know Trump by now, you can either read the whole book for the longer view, or just flip to the last page for a summary.
Both fable and origin story, "She Would be King" combines historical details about the creation of English-speaking colonies of emancipated slaves, colonies which become Liberia in 1847, with an unforgettable fictional tale of three young people. June Dey ("Moses") is the child of a slave and a Virginia plantation owner; Norman is the child of an English researcher and a Jamaican slave. Once transported to Africa, June and Norman meet up by chance with each other and with Gbessa, a Vai tribe member, exiled for her alleged witchcraft. Together they become part of the country's independence movement. The author shares a wealth of detail about the violence of the slave trade in the Americas and Africa, the politics of self-determination, and the culture of indigenous tribes in West Africa. None of it gets in the way of an absorbing and very moving look at how the human spirit survives the unspeakable.
"Quixotic: marked by rash lofty romantic ideas or extravagantly chivalrous action."
Nowhere, Arizona is a poor town comprised of run down trailers, run down people, and cactus. Gus lives alone with his grandmother, and spends a lot of time studying for the SAT, suspecting that a college scholarship might be his only way out. When a good Samaritan girl named Rossi swaps her dirt bike to save Gus from a bully's ambush, Gus embarks on a dangerous treasure hunt in an abandoned mine, to buy her bike back in time for the big race. The author contrasts the beauty of the desert, with memorable details about the harsh realities of thrift shop living, and absentee parents. The author subtly breaks through cultural and gender stereotypes, in a fun adventure that should appeal equally to boys and girls.
Clark puts together two stories: the Flint water crisis and the plight of Midwestern cities since the decline of the auto industry and other manufacturing. These two stories alone would take a dozen books to tell in depth. She does a laudatory job laying out the timeline of Michigan government malfeasance regarding Flint (The Center for Public Integrity ranked Michigan dead last in 2015-even before Flint made national headlines). However, her lack of interviews with the best known clean water activists -who may have their own books- leads her to dismiss them unconvincingly with a "white savior " trope. She does give a good overview of the longterm consequences of redlining, the real reasons so many Michigan cities end up with emergency managers, and why Flint water costs so much. A good introduction to all of these topics.
Growing up in a small town in the sixties, my first experience of Chinese food served table side in a grand manner was on our annual vacation to visit family. Just like the suburban D.C. Duck House in Lillian Li's poignant novel "Number One Chinese Restaurant," the Empress restaurant--near the White House!--boasted about its Peking Duck. My inexperienced tastebuds usually skipped it for salty sweet Mu shu pork, a big step up at least from the canned chow mein at home. The Duck House connects three generations of a restaurant dynasty and three star-crossed pairs of lovers, lovers who are about to find out, that like a good stir fry, timing is everything. This is a masterful debut. I came for the fun Chinese restaurant setting, but I stayed for the characters.
"Read before you write, find people who know the truth, or a truth, and let the facts tell the story." We have Dick Cheney to thank for Seymour Hersh's new book. Protecting sources who were still in powerful positions in the military and government, became too great a challenge to writing a book on Cheney (for now). Knopf said don't return the advance, write a memoir instead. In his look back at 50 years as a correspondent for wire services, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and as a freelancer--Hersh got the Pulitzer for his investigation of the My Lai massacre as one--he has little good to say about American foreign policy and the architects of our failed modern wars, and no administration from Kennedy through Obama escapes. This should join "All the President's Men" on the short list of must read books about reportiing. I loved it.
World famous artist, female entrepreneur, one of the "Rosies" during WWII, and of course advocate for the natural world, Michigan's Gwen Frostic did all of this while suffering from a cerebral palsy-like illness that made it harder to use her hands. She lived and worked to a very old age, and also left millions to Western Michigan University. I've read this picture book half a dozen times now, and also watched it read to a group of eager elementary school children. An inspiring debut by former Ann Arbor resident Lindsey McDivitt. The illustrations from Eileen Ryan Ewen deserve some extra study as well. If you go to Meijer Gardens, make sure you check out the shade garden named in Frostic's honor.
The GM plant in Flint, Michigan stopped using city water to build trucks in October, 2014, because it corroded vehicle parts. Flint's State Office Building ordered purified water and water coolers for its employees in January 2015 (and kept it quiet). And still the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Governor, the Governor's appointed City Managers, the (mostly powerless) Mayor, and the EPA told residents their water was safe: safe to drink, safe to cook with, safe to mix with powdered baby formula, safe to bathe in. The criminally negligent poisoning of tens of thousands of Flint residents, and the stonewalling and criminal cover-up, became international news. "What the Eyes Don't See" from leading Flint activist and researcher "Dr. Mona," is the inside story of the fight to make the crisis public and the facts irrefutable. Part memoir and part thriller, reading her book is to experience equals parts anger, admiration and inspiration.
Silas House is a novelist new to me. In Southernmost, a devastating flood, its aftermath, and the recognition of his own morally compromised reaction, causes Asher, a fundamentalist preacher in Tennessee, to have a change of heart about his congregation and his marriage. Searching for the brother he cruelly rejected, he takes an ill-considered road trip with his son to Key West. Like a literal coming into the light, Key West is beautifully limned, and the non fairy tale ending is surprisingly satisfying. Of Asher's son we read "The thing Justin can never say to anybody is that he's glad it all happened the way it did." So am I.
It's the on call economy: nannies who must be available any time any day; 24 hour "extreme" day care; teachers who spend their evenings driving for Uber; sales clerks who get their work schedule for the next week only days before. And everyone from lawyers to nursing home aides is in danger of losing their jobs to AI software and robots that don't call in sick or unionize. Compared to 40 years ago, American families in the bottom 80% are making $11,000 less a year, and those in the top 1 percent are making $750,000 more. Author Quart wants us to know that we live "in a country whose inhabitants have been taught to seek only individual solutions for problems that are often collective or systemic in nature." We increasingly are a nation that produces worthless college degrees (and only 1 in 6 professors now have tenure) and spiraling student debt, but not enough affordable housing, quality childcare, or healthcare. Quart makes the case that it will take our collective will to stop blaming ourselves or worrying about others cutting in line. It's now a line for many that leads to much less than their parents could count on.
I picked this book up only knowing that its setting was in a Japanese convenience store. Photos of mysterious, beautifully packaged snack products and onigiri (rice balls) arranged in artful displays, in flavors that will never reach our shores, have always intrigued me. In this little gem of a novella, we follow the life story of Keiko, a probably high-functioning autistic woman (although this is never mentioned) who has found a measure of fulfillment the last 20 years, working part-time shifts at the Hiromachi train station "Smile Mart." The employee manual is her Bible--and almost as long. This is not enough for Keiko's friends and family, who want her to have a husband and family, or a career. The comedy is served both light and dark, as Keiko polishes her "normal" act.
In June of 1962, a chartered Air France jet crashed trying to abort its takeoff from the Orly Paris airport. Aboard were over one hundred mostly wealthy white patrons from Atlanta's charity art scene, mostly women and mothers, who had just finished a three week tour of a lifetime to European art museums. Only two flight attendants survived. "Visible Empire" is an imagining of the traumatic weeks that followed "the day Atlanta stood still." Pittard weaves together the interconnected fictional stories of society matrons and surviving family, journalists, and the city's black and white working class. A few characters, like progressive Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. are real people. This lesser known chapter of recent American history is fascinating, and the author has painted a perfect narrative of Jim Crow and civil rights unrest, moral failure, and unexpected love.
A self described "projects" rat from South Boston (gangster Whitey Bulger's stomping ground), Lynch is Boston's most successful chef/restaurateur, responsible for half a dozen venues.( She is also the mentor of Michigan raised Kristen Kish, the "Top Chef" winner in season 10.) A high school drop out and juvenile delinquent, Lynch had no culinary school training. Despite her dyslexia, she taught herself from books and jobs in private and public kitchens, where she was often the only, or one of the only females. "Out of Line" is a humorous and inspiring memoir of a self-made working class woman making it all the way to the top of the restaurant world. And it has a few recipes!
This book is a carefully penned memoir by a gifted teacher. It's well worth reading whether for a book club selection, for a seminar on law, leadership, or politics, or just with popcorn. Comey's career has put him at the center of many big stories: Whitewater, CIA torture, the Gambino trial, the Ashcroft hospital ambush attempt. But of course he is best known for the Clinton email investigation and being fired by Trump. I was open to his side of the story, his apologia for the F.B.I.'s 2016 election interference. Comey has added more evidence that Trump is the least qualified and most unethical U.S. President of all time. I closed the book, however, convinced that he probably did hand the election to Trump. It was a failure of his F.B.I. leadership to not include the right people to make the estimate about how long it would take to go through thousands of Clinton emails, and not assume that most would be duplicates, right before the election. He inadvertently makes the case that his lack of tech savvy lieutenants cost Clinton the election.
Seligman helped to coin the term "positive psychology" and its principles, and is probably the leading figure of the last few decades in what has become a dominant school in therapy and research. This book, his memoir, is filled with stories of important psychologists after Freud, including serendipitous moments of discovery, and academic jealousies and intrigues. Seligman explores how his own much vaunted co-discovery of "learned helplessness" was 50 years later proved to be 180 degrees off by neuroscience advances. He also details his work with the Army, and a controversial episode with the CIA, which still stings him, an alarm bell for other academics working with our government. He shares his own experience with depression and lapses in judgment, along with his many accomplishments. This is both a riveting piece of social history and a complex self-portrait.
"Fair Cuba sits enthroned in an ocean of light"--these were the lyrics to a popular song about the the island's enchantment taught in grade schools before Castro's time. (Yes, just like Puerto Rico, there's an ocean between us..) I don't remember reading a mystery that struck me with such a strong sense of place as does this novel about mostly impoverished Havana set in 2003. It makes me root for better relations with the US and Cuba--neither side has anything to lose and Cubans have much to gain. Yarmila, author of the blog "Yarmi Cooks Cuban" is found dead by her California journalist boyfriend. Matt has just come to Havana to propose despite having only visited her once before. The police, the Cuban secret service, and a Santeria diviner for hire all investigate The blog posts complete with recipes and her followers comments are a bittersweet highlight. You can do a lot with canned milk.
Casey Pendergast is the creative director at a Minneapolis ad agency run by the hilariously named Ellen Hanks. Casey is young, clever, confident, and a bit callow. Her blithe manipulations are about to snowball into career suicide. Fans of comic mysteries will recognize her wise-cracking, and fans of workplace novels will enjoy author Franson's fun with recent corporate tropes. The manuscript for "A Lady's Guide" was clearly written before the #metoo movement exploded, which makes a sexual harassment episode in its pages difficult to read in context. But this novel's satiric look at brand management and book publishing kept me reading.
This is a really intelligently designed guide to either renovating or re-inventing your garden and yard. Most of Schwartz's examples are either smaller projects or adaptable to a more affordable scale, whether done DIY or by a landscape company. She is particularly strong on advice for hedge materials, how to correctly plant trees, and patio decisions. The author is both a landscape designer and plant enthusiast working out of Northern, Ohio, so her plant choices and design ideas all translate well in Michigan's similar climate (and other zone 4-7 areas). A book that I will return to as I re-imagine my own garden.
Bust and boom, drought and flood, gushers and sandstorms: not much about West Texas isn't extreme. Bryan Mealer has written his own family's saga from his great-grandfather to present day, and given us a regional history of West Texas to boot. These are diasporas of desperation, bungee tethered to oil town Big Spring, as cotton and cattle die, and oil wells and reservoirs run dry. The prayers of their Pentecostal congregations can't stop their ranches from going seven years without rain. Bob Wills's Western swing band makes an extended appearance, as does an unforgettable wildcatter amalgam of James Dean's Jett Rink and "Dallas's" Cliff Barnes. But you'll keep reading most for the family members, like sixteen year old Homer, who drives a cattle trailer solo from Texas to the L.A. stockyards and back.
As Some Hell unfolded, I couldn't stop triggering my own reader savior complex, imagining how I might rescue the novel's family members who are drowning in myopia and self-loathing. There's a depressed father we only get to know through his notebooks, a bitchy teenage daughter and a severely autistic middle child who are both out of reach and out of control, and mother Diane and fourteen year old gay son Colin. Diane and Colin are wracked with survivor guilt and struggling for love and a lifeline. They embark on a road trip from the Midwest to California, hoping to leave their heartbreak behind them. A powerful debut coming-of-age novel whose shocking ending will haunt you.
I had to preorder this from another Independent bookstore, since I would be traveling on the laydown date. It was hard to wait a few days, but I had museums and sight-seeing to do. Don't believe the jealous rap, alt-right trolling, or false equivalency media that talks about errors or lack of verified sources. And don't believe that because you've read many excerpts and seen the author on every television news show that you've already been exposed to all the juiciest bits. You still need to read the book! Behind the palace intrigue is the rarely made argument for career politicians and federal bureaucracy.
As one of the 14% of people who self test as true early birds (or larks in Daniel Pink's phrase) I am organized enough to remember to write this blurb at 7am, but you won't see my best creative work: larks are more insightful in late afternoon. Also: you should eat lunch not breakfast like a king; the mid-life crisis as we understand it is a myth; naps are necessary, but only if you keep them between ten and thirty minutes. And synchronicized activity, be it group dancing or singing, or a drum circle, or maybe even getting a shipment of new books on the shelves with co-workers while you work the register and phones, might be more important to your health and happiness than even mindfulness. A fun, thought-provoking book, that will probably cause you to experiment with changes to some part of your daily activity or your job. Tip to would be parents--if you like to sleep in, have your baby in the summer.
Despite the millions of people who work in Human Resources departments, I can't think of any other novels that are mostly set in one. This Could Hurt is about the HR employees in a mid-sized market research company, one still reeling from the last big recession. At its center is long-tenured VP Rosa, a manicured vision in her St. John's suits and matching pantyhose, and her dedicated seconds Lucy and Leo. The book is punctuated with a few org charts as the department implements "reductions in force" and consolidates job descriptions: the personal losses and self-inflicted embarrassments will be familiar to readers who have survived similar corporate outrages. The heart of this tender but comic novel though is a secret employee conspiracy to save one of their own from a calamity, because "it is easier to ask forgiveness than beg permission."
Fagan is cofounder of the money website" The Financial Diet," which is appropriately heavy on motivational "listicles" like the 5 or 10 things you need to do to start saving now. Her book is an appealing beginning personal finance book. It's a shame it naturally has the word diet in the title, with all of the baggage that word now brings. It's not all about suggesting minor deprivations like cutting out cable and macchiatos. This is really a book about developing a healthy relationship with money, with maybe its most important advice that it's important to break the taboo and talk openly and freely about money with friends and family, particularly when there are income disparities or differing goals. The author includes her own advice as well as short interviews with her financial mentors. "The Financial Diet" provides a good beginning for those supporting themselves for the first time, as well as some new tips for veterans of financial checkups.
"Peonies are stunningly beautiful, easy to grow, relatively carefree, and adaptable to any garden style. They are a favorite flower everywhere they can be grown" The Midwest has one of the best climates in the world for peonies. While gardeners fuss with roses that get blackspot and Japanese beetles, or those with forgettable little blooms and no fragrance ("Knockout"), peonies, which star in all of those amazing Japanese style gardens, have been neglected in our country. Don't just keep passing along cuttings from your grandparents' garden peonies, either. There are now over 4,000 named varieties, with stronger stems that don't flop, blooms (if you have several different kinds) that can carry you from April through June, and bold colors. And unlike many Dutch bulbs, peonies retain a pleasing shrubby appearance until they disappear at frost (or lose their leaves if they are a tree form). The authors --a curator at Matthaei's world famous peony garden, and a long-time peony grower--pick the 200 most garden worthy peonies. Get this book now and make some plans for spring.
Michigan has great soil and an abundance of fresh water. It's no surprise that we have an unusual wealth of independent growers and garden centers, including the author's family run Steinkopf Nursery in Farmington Hills. With our freezing winters, most of our year round local nurseries have greenhouses filled with tender perennial or tropical "houseplants." This book guides you through plant selection and maintenance, including the arts of repotting and propagating. Plants are categorized by how difficult they are to grow or keep alive. On the back cover is a ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamifolia), which I highly recommend if you want a plant that keeps on giving no matter how much you neglect it.
I buy few huge compendium cookbooks,but this is a big cookbook to cherish. Reading through the recipes I travel back in my mind to where or with whom I first had the dish: lobster rolls at the NMAI with my sister, New Orleans style pralines that my father brought home from a business trip, a frisbee-sized pork tenderloin sandwich in Missouri last spring. When we road trip, I look for regional specialties. This book combines the ease of the Internet search (it has an exemplary index), the armchair dreams of a Rick Steves book, and a large cast of James Beard Award chefs giving you recipes they feature in their restaurants, but that you can also recreate in your kitchen. This is a book I can cook from and that I'll return to after each new trip. I've got 7 states left on my bucket list, and Clam Pie, West Indies Salad, and Knoephla Soup, too.
A riveting look at building an award-winning restaurant from conception to surviving the first year, Generation Chef is a reality show in book form, if one reality show could combine all of the elements of Shark Tank, Top Chef, and Love It or List It. Stabiner follows young NYC chef Jonah Miller's dream of opening a Basque style restaurant. Remodeling nightmares, Byzantine liquor boards, sweating out media reviews, and the impossibilities of finding staff who can afford to live anywhere near their job and/or pay off their culinary school loans-- this book may discourage a few from pursuing the same dream.It shouldn't discourage you from reading one of the best books ever written about restaurants. When you are done,you can look up all the photos on Yelp of the very yummy-looking food.
Publisher, author, web pioneer, technology conference organizer and lecturer: Tim O'Reilly is most passionately an educator. "WTF" is part memoir and part history of the early days of designing the tools and "owner manuals" for the Web, and about how the author came to redraw the maps that he uses to spot important trends and cultural shifts. Famous and controversial Silicon Valley titans and their new business paradigms (on-demand, the Internet as software platform, the trust marketplace) make appearances. We also hear from economists, speculative fiction, politicians, and everyday people (dairy farmer!). Some of the lessons we already know: the U.S. economy is a stupid Ponzi scheme. Some are revelatory: there is only an upside to preparing for climate change even if you do not believe in it. And manufacturing jobs in the US are poised to come back-not from Mexico and China, but from a local small shop renaissance driven by new technologies like 3D printing--if we can reskill workers in the US to fill them. O'Reilly quotes Bill Gates: "We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten." "WTF" --thought-provoking, wide-ranging, clear-eyed, but optimistic --is a good starting point for mapping the next decade.
It's been almost 40 years since the publication of the first Tales of the City novel, Armistead Maupin's innovatively topical and infectious creation, first serialized in a Marin County paper, and then the San Francisco Chronicle. Maupin (and yes, Armistead Maupin is not a pen name) covers his early years in North Carolina as a young Republican trying to please his unreconstructed father--segregationist and toxic homophobe Senator Jesse Helms was even a family friend. College, Naval officer school and Vietnam, beat reporting and feature writing, and the journey from 26 year old closeted virgin to activist member of the gay community in San Francisco, all follow. There are memorable stories with famous friends like Rock Hudson, Ian McKellen, Harvey Milk, and Christopher Isherwood. There are sad vignettes with a biological family that won't accept Armistead's homosexuality. And we meet the close friends (the "logical family") who will in some cases fall victim to HIV/AIDS. An expert at holding an audience, Maupin's relatively short memoir makes you want to hear more.
At the turn of the 19th century, George Washington Vanderbilt moved into Biltmore, the largest then, and still largest now, privately owned home in the United States. This is a colorful history of the family, famous friends, and workers who played a part in creating the Asheville area chateau. Biltmore's architect was AIA founder Richard Morris Hunt and its vast acreage was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Much of Vanderbilt's brief remaining life was spent immediately paring down his overly ambitious plans for a self-sustaining estate. To further economize, he spent more time living elsewhere. His widow Edith still became an effective Lady Bountiful for local schools and charities, and later a Senator's wife, as she struggled to retain possession of the house for George's heirs. But George and Edith's only child Cornelia left two sons and her husband for Europe. (Her English husband, ironically, chose to spend the rest of his years in Biltmore's "bachelor" wing.) Author Kiernan takes the story up to the year that Biltmore first turned a profit ($16.32) as a Downton Disneyland. Thanks to Cornelia's business savvy sons --whose story is told in the book "Lady on the Hill"-- Biltmore now has over a million visitors a year.
I mostly missed the "Little House" books and saw perhaps a handful of episodes of the TV series, so I wasn't primed to read McDowell's new book. But I admired her last garden history book, All the Presidents' Gardens, so I eventually picked up her new book on Laura Ingalls Wilder's pioneer homesteading, gardens, and love for nature. Now I'm planning a prairie road trip, another look at the "Little House" books, and learning more about her emancipated daughter, the author Rose Wilder Lane. This is one of the most beautifully produced books of the year (as befitting Timber Press). The carefully chosen and copious illustrations, engrossing biographical narrative, and sidebars from McDowell's own life, will have you sharing this book with anyone interested in our pioneer life, Wilder and her books, and our natural world. A gift for all ages.
Untold numbers of poor Americans, many of them seniors, are now living in run-down vans and campers, bunking at one week and out public campgrounds, Walmart parking lots, and even suburban streets. White vans are their camouflage. Often the consequence of bad investments and foreclosures, or ill-considered loans to family members, there is nothing romantic about this life on the road. Author Bruder gets to know and travel with people who do seasonal work in Amazon warehouses (branded "CamperForce"), and the privatized and poorly paid campground jobs at state parks. She even takes a job with migrant farm workers processing sugar beets: it's just as bad as you expect it to be. Bruder's subjects don't whine. They share their skills for cutting hair, small space cooking, and solar power collection. Still, you can only imagine what the people who wouldn't talk to the author might have to say. Both disturbing and uplifting--these "workampers" are resourceful in a country that has given them less than they are owed.
It's no surprise that Harford's book is based on a series of podcasts that he does for the BBC. Harford's writing has the same engaging appeal as the best of those. Although the number of case studies has increased since his earlier book The Undercover Economist, more of this book will stick with me. Many of the inventions he cites are not things normally bought at a store--tradable debt, double-entry bookkeeping, intellectual property. Many are: batteries; clocks; the IKEA Billy bookcase. Some are mentioned for their unexpected value: Selfridge's department store and the emancipation of women; M-Pesa and the reduction of civic corruption-- and some for undesirable consequences: leaded gasoline and the gratuitous poisoning of people; antibiotic use in livestock. Finally, since most of the inventions that Harford cites are by men, he makes a plea to educate and empower more women. Worsening crises like climate change, antibiotic resistant bacteria, and cyberwar (or worse) from malignant nation states will need many minds and governments.
Despite having read about Alice Waters for years, I only managed to eat at her famous Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse, just once: for lunch in the cafe on May 21,1983, when she may well have no longer been working in the kitchen. (With no reservations, we waited for two hours for a table.) Her career as chef was fairly short-lived, but those of restaurateur, cookbook author, and food activist, are ongoing. Coming to My Senses is about a young person finding her way in a world where sex and politics, and the role of women was a spin of the roulette wheel. Waters takes us up to the opening of her restaurant in 1971, and not much beyond. Readers will want to compare this to Ruth Reichl's Comfort Me With Apples and Tender at the Bone. Waters is too modest to belong in the pantheon of great memoir writers--this is more a perfect peach fondly remembered than an elaborate tasting menu-- but her place in the pantheon of great Americans is assured.
The July 1964 issue of National Geographic had a photo of the world's tallest tree on the cover. I don't remember that story, but their illustrator, Pierre Mion, imagined Mrs. Lowell Thomas, Jr.'s first person account of being almost swallowed by a crack in the earth in Anchorage during the "Good Friday" earthquake on March 27th. That illustration was so powerful, that I mistakenly assumed for decades that buckling buildings and caved in landscapes, and not drowning, were what killed most earthquake victims. Much of today's knowledge about earthquakes, and important confirmation for the theory of plate tectonics, came from the fieldwork that government geologist George Plafker did in coastal Alaska, just days following the quake. Author Fountain focuses on Plafker and the unlikely path that he took to geology, as well as the personal stories of Alaskan families, many from tiny tribal fishing villages, who were the most affected. The Great Quake is both accessible earth science and a dramatic history.
I venture that most people in the US get their gardening advice from two places: the big box stores and commercials for chemicals (e.g. Round Up, Miracle Grow, Preen). That's unfortunate, because as environmentalists and too few gardeners know, it's the necessary balance of various plants and animals (including insects-not just bees-and rodents) that make a garden thrive. This is a great book to give anyone just starting out with their first garden-and a palatable and beautifully produced message that too many other gardeners need to hear.
When Mitt Romney was secretly videotaped dismissing 47% of Americans as whining "victims" who think that government "has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it" he was paraphrasing beliefs spread by an increasingly powerful group of wealthy free market followers of Charles Koch and proteges of Robert Mercer (e.g. Steve Bannon, Mike Pence). Their roots, as exposed in Democracy in Chains, go from slavery defender John C. Calhoun, to segregationists who fought "Brown versus Board of Education," to a small group of economists whose most influential members may not be F.A. Hayek (The Road to Serfdom) or Milton Friedman, but the less celebrated James McGill Buchanan (d. 2013). Author MacLean followed the trail to a neglected archive of Buchanan's correspondence and papers at George Mason University. What she found was the playbook of the so-called alt right, a group working to empower the very wealthiest and disenfranchise those who do not agree with privatizing government services-- excepting the police and military. A disturbing look at the intersection of social history and economic philosophy, and a riveting and cogent call to action, to take back government for all of the people
"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.
Despite a subtitle with the word "Selling," a term as loaded as they come, this is a fair-minded love letter to grocery stores and the many positive changes that they've made in the past couple decades. It will have you planning a field trip to Cleveland, and maybe forgiving Wholefoods for some of its prices. This is part memoir of life with a grocery store loving father, part history of the grocery store and innovations like frozen foods, cardboard boxes, and the shopping cart, and part exploration of the decisions and suppliers of each section of the modern grocery store. We meet among others, a rancher who grazes his pristine sheep on federal land, and a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic who has a very different take on the problem with GMO food. Ruhlman even gives you in the footnotes (all of them worth reading) the recipe for the single best-selling recipe at Heinen's, the family grocery chain who give him full access from fancy food shows to a stint as a grocery bagger. Ruhlman masterfully connects how we shop to how we live best, in this worthy update to Michael Pollan's Food Rules.
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 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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
I worked in a hotel laundry in the 70s and if I finished early, I pitched in and helped clean guest rooms. Adjusted for inflation, I made at least 25% more an hour than author Land did as a housecleaner ("maid') in the years after the 2008 recession. In addition, I got a hot meal at lunch. And health insurance. I had a set schedule of normal weekdays. And I didn't have to drive (unpaid) sometimes long miles from house to house in my own car. And, most important, I wasn't a single mother of a young child. If you've never earned a "living" cleaning other people's houses --or their bathrooms--or been told by someone that you should appreciate "my taxpayer dollars" supporting someone like you, this book will be an eye-opener about how America is still "nickel and diming" its most vulnerable workers. No prince ever comes to Land's rescue as she shares her story about her years of great risk and transformation.
The author's mother was a Numbers "banker," the "House" if you will, in the illegal betting that people make on their lucky numbers, or hunches. Fanny Davis, part of the postwar migration north, survives poverty, the disadvantages of being a black female entrepreneur, and the decline of Detroit, only to meet her greatest business challenge-the Michigan State Lottery. This is a fascinating inside look at a little known path for black Americans to the middle class: if all you know is "Guys and Dolls," you don't know. An historical look at the last few decades of Detroit, and a beautiful family memoir with great relevance to our fractured civic discourse.
If you've been mesmerized by those European river cruise commercials that sponsor "Masterpiece Theater," if you are thinking about taking one, and particularly, if you are ready to explore the Rhine River, this is a great book for you. Coates manages to glide from pre-Roman history right up to recent EU elections, as he covers the waterfront towns and cities of one of Europe's longest rivers, from Dutch seaports to the Rhine's source in the Swiss Alps, as well as the complicated relationships past and present among their people. He walks, jogs, bikes, and takes ferries through five countries, imparting a memorable geography lesson along the way. And he manages to give much better information for tourists about embarkation stops than my usual go to guides like "Rick Steves." I hope Coates goes on to take tours on the Danube and the Loire in future books.