Posts in Book Lists
Foreign Authors and Their Most Loved Books
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This past year of studying diversity and multiculturalism in literature, has completely reshaped my reading life. Everything seems to take on a deeper context than I've ever known before, thus I'm craving new and different things. Thankfully, that's where the beauty of Bookstagram comes in.

One afternoon, I was looking up a writer whose book I recently read. As I was scrolling through her feed, I stumbled upon a post about Marguerite Duras. I had never heard of her before, so I immediately took to the web to find out who she was and what she had written. As it happened, my library had her memoir, The Lover, so I read it immediately. 

I've read so many diverse novels (many young adult) this past year from the courses I was taking. Books that had a centralized theme on social classes, race, culture, mental illness, sexuality, all of which included writers from different backgrounds and regions as well. My desire for this type of literature has grown immensely. So I reached out on Instagram and asked for your favorite foreign authors and received great recommendations!

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The Lover | Marguerite Duras - French - This can be a difficult story for some to read if the age gap bothers you, but being autobiographical, I find I am much less critical of the content, and for what it was, she wrote it well. Despite that, her prose is sparse, beautiful, and all told in retrospect of a particular time in her life. I fully appreciate her writing and look forward to exploring more of her work.

Neapolitan Novels | Elena Ferrante - Italian - A much loved series of Ferrante's, her books are packed with a depth and richness unmatched by others. Navigating two women's lives, and their friendship, her thought-provoking quartet is so well loved.

The Eyre Affair | Jasper Fforde - British - A unique, on-going series from Great Britain, Frorde uses time travel, suspense, and often humorous prose to pull characters from some of the best loved and well known literature, and throw them into outlandish scenes and stories.

Little Jewel | Patrick Modiano - French - An intriguing mystery of a young girl in Paris who thinks she sees her long lost mother. On a quest to remember the past, Modiano masterfully creates atmosphere, using the city as a main focal point of the story, to aid his unreliable narrator and unique plot.

Les Miserables | Victor Hugo - French - A timeless book that moves readers through its strong prose, redemption, and fight between good and evil. Set in 19th century France, there is a strong undertone of political injustice that Hugo was critical of.

The Heart | Maylis de Kerangal - French - A truly heart wrenching story of love, loss, and survival. A quick and emotional read that has surprised many with its literary merit.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being | Milan Kundera - Czech - Set in Prague, this is a tale of two couples during the Soviet occupation in the '60s. Described as rich, beautiful, complex, and intellectual, all with a metaphorical philosophical twist using the characters and loose plot.

The Idiot | Fyodor Dostoyevsky - Russian - A unique tale of a man that is genuinely innocent in nature, ends caught up in a love triangle and other tense societal situations he has to navigate. It's remarkable and complex, often the way Russian literature is.

Resurrection | Leo Tolstoy - Russian - A look at the darker emotions of guilt, anger, and social injustice, Resurrection is about a man on jury to convict a woman he was involved with. Now determined to right his wrongs, he fights to appeal her.

The Red and the Black | Roger Gard Stendhal - French - Hailed as having one of the most intriguing characters in European literature, this novel navigates a man attempting to be better than where he came from, but then commits a terrible crime. Filled with wit and satire, there is also an abundance of subtext on France after the Battle of Waterloo, which highlights important elements that is said one should research if you're struggling to find this book interesting.

Kafka on the Shore | Haruki Murakami - Japanese - A young and old man drawn together in a clever story that is as loved as it is hated. I've seen it written that you often have to read certain books of Murakami's before reading others, to better understand the context, so be sure to do your research. His bizarre storylines are woven with fantastical imagery and insight, full of metaphors and are fully unconventional.

A Man Called Ove, Beartown | Fredrik Backman - Swedish - The first is a charming, heartbreaking and heartwarming tale of a man throughout his life leading to the present moment in which we find ourselves converging with new and different characters as they interact with the main character. You'll be hating and loving him with such intensity, you won't be able to put the book down. The latter is a long, layered, rich story of a town navigating through their shared love of hockey as something tragic happens and threatens their unique structure holding everyone and everything together.

The Shadow of the Wind | Carlos Ruiz Zafon - Spanish - Post war in Barcelona, a secret book society, and vanishing books, this book is woven with family, grief, and deep dark secrets. Described as having a complicated plot but with some of the best loved characters in literature.

Inkheart | Cornelia Funke - German - When books actually come to life. A man reading to his daughter unleashes a villain that is after his special gift, then leads you on a tale of conquering evil.

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Note on translations: Most of these books need to be thoughtfully selected with the translator in mind. Each version will provide a unique and different reading experience. You can read a post we wrote on how to do that and the importance of it right HERE.

Best Books For Foodies & Lovers of Food Writing
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For a peek into the kitchen

Kitchen Confidential | Anthony Bourdain- This is pretty much a classic of the genre, and was my personal gateway drug. Bourdain chronicles his life in the kitchen and doesn't hesitate to dish on the sex, drugs, gratuitous cursing, haute cuisine, general atmosphere and culture of the profession. I really enjoyed his honest peek behind the curtain and it shows off exactly what it was like to work in the kitchen before the age of celebrity chefs. 

The Making of a Chef | Michael Ruhlman- Ruhlman decides to engage in a bit of stunt journalism and enroll in the Culinary Institute of America to look at what the process of becoming a chef is really like. This book is full of detailed information about the processes of cooking, the skills he learned, and the chefs he met. It was intimate and fascinating. 

Delancey | Molly Wizenberg-  When her husband decides to open a pizza restaurant in Seattle, Wizenberg is less than thrilled. However, she writes about the process of recipe developing, what it takes to open a restaurant, and then what it's like to actually work in it in a way that is so visceral and human. She is a superb writer, and this was the perfect look at what the journey of opening a restaurant entails from a very personal point of view. 

Food and the City | Ina Yalof- This one looks at what's happening behind the scenes in the world of food in New York City. It's almost like short stories; every chapter reads like a conversation with someone in the industry, and is chock full of great storytelling and interesting tidbits. If you crave an insiders look at the industry as a whole (it runs the gamut from food cart vendors and dishwashers, to fancy chef people), this is the book for you. 

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For a look at life as a celebrity chef

Yes, Chef | Marcus Samuelsson- Samuelsson has led a really interesting life, and he discusses his background, his choices, and the things that inspired him to become a chef. If you're interested in what the road to modern celebrity chef status looks like, this is your book. 

My Life In France | Julia Child- We both really, really loved Child's memoir about her life and how she got her start in cooking while living in Paris with her husband. She is shockingly warm and funny, and this book was a complete delight to read. She is easily one of the most likable narrators I've ever read, and the world of post WWII Paris is richly drawn. If you're at all interested in food writing, this is a must. 

Coming to My Senses | Alice Waters- Ultra famous chef Alice Waters pens a memoir about what it was like during the tumultuous 1960's and 1970's, the opening up her passion project of a restaurant, the food counter-culture she was a part of, and how it ended up changing the food world forever. This book is very much about her life, and her life was very much about Chez Panisse, so this one is particularly interesting to read.

The Devil in the Kitchen | Marco Pierre White- White is like the bad boy rocker of the celebrity chef world, and his memoir proves he's worthy of his reputation. He honestly has a great sense of humor, and name drops in the best ways, so this one is extra fun to read. Like most memoirs, it recounts his early years and his rise to fame, but he's so unusual and fascinating, this book is far from ordinary. 

32 Yolks | Eric Ripert- On the lighter end, Ripert focuses on how his tumultuous childhood shaped his love of food, his stint in culinary school, what it was like to work in some seriously world famous restaurants, his various failings and missteps, and more. What sets this memoir apart from the pack is how ridiculously wonderfully he describes food, and how amusing his anecdotes are. That, and the entire book is set before he gets ultra famous, which was refreshing.

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For a taste of what it's like to be in a world class restaurant

Garlic and Sapphires | Ruth Reichl- If you ever wanted to know what life is like for a food critic, pick this up immediately. Reichl excels at describing food, and really brings the reader with her into the highfalutin restaurants she critiques for the New York Times, and the hole in the wall places she frequents for herself. She also makes you keenly aware of all the things that make a great restaurant---and it's not just the food. 

The Sweet Life in Paris | David Lebovitz- Food + Paris...what's not to love? Lebovitz moves to Paris after decades of dreaming about it, and chronicles his culture shock in all it's foodie glory. He's funny and warm, and his adventures around Paris and Parisian culture are just fun. Plus, he is, of course, a world class pastry chef and cookbook author, so the city is especially interesting through his eyes.

The Tummy Trilogy | Calvin Trillin- This was written in the 1970's, but Trillin basically gets paid to traipse around the country trying food everywhere he goes. Dream life, right? He's another author that writes these essays with a lot of warmth and humor as he eats his way across the US. Hardcore foodies will recognize familiar landmark restaurants and pine for the food scenes of decades ago. 

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If the sommelier is your favorite person in a restaurant

Cork Dork | Bianca Bosker- I loveeeeeed this book about wine. Instead of being stuffy and pretentious, Bosker is ridiculously relatable as she takes a deep dive into the world of wine and the people who live for it. I learned so much, not only about how to taste and appreciate wine, but about the real culture in that world underneath it's prim exterior. I mean, at one point she is at a high class wine event that devolves into popping thousands of dollars of booze and group singalongs of drinking songs. It's seriously great. 

 

For inspiration in your own kitchen

My Kitchen Year | Ruth Reichl- This cookbook is half recipes, half memoir, largely about the impact of food on Reichl's life the year following the demise of Gourmet, the food magazine she headed for many years. A good mix of accessible and aspirational, she makes you want to pay attention to and connect more fully with food in your everyday life without being intimidating. She also does a wonderful job of capturing the seasons and cooking seasonally, if you've been (like me) trying to get better at that. Bonus: we did a dinner party for this book!

Here Let Us Feast | M.F.K. Fisher- This was recently reprinted by Counterpoint Press who kindly gifted us a review copy and it's basically a giant toast to the pleasures of food. Fisher is the grandmother of food writing, and this is a collection of  lighthearted essays that capture a wide variety of food writing. In it, she references and takes excerpts from books, famous chefs of times long past, movie stars, ancient writings, Shakespeare, and more.. Read this is you just plain want to get excited about food. 

 

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If fun foodie fiction is more your style

Sweetbitter | Stephanie Danler- A book that centers on a young woman working in a restaurant in NYC? Yes, please. If you're enamored with restaurant/wine/food life and books that revolve around that stuff, this is for you.  I'm a sucker for Danler's beautiful, lush, heavy writing style, and Tess's breathless, relentless pursuit of that unidentifiable something more.

Garden Spells | Sarah Addison Allen- This one is pure, warm, lighthearted fun. Enchanted apple trees,  family secrets, romance, and a caterer named Claire who can cook emotions into food, so that when it's eaten you feel what she infused into it. I love this book, it's one of my favorite comfort reads, and is just chock full of magical food.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake | Aimee Bender- Fun useless fact: this was the very first e-book I ever read, way back in like 2008! In it, nine year old Rose discovers she has the ability to taste the emotions of whoever made the food she eats. This knowledge gives her unexpected insight into the deeper workings of her family and the complex dynamics swirling beneath the surface. Ultimately, it uses food as a vehicle to explore emotions, and the impactful, complicated role they play in our lives.

The Mistress of Spices | Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni- A classic of the magical realism genre, this novel follows an immortal named Tilo who has a special gift with spices. Magic powers, surprise romance, and heavy decisions make this a fun and memorable read. 

 

BONUS: foodie documentaries

Chef's Table- The production value of this docu-series is unreal. Each episodes highlights a different chef and they do sincerely gorgeous filming, interviewing, and showcasing of that chef's story, food philosophy, and their restaurant. You get ridiculously good behind the scenes looks at famous restaurants and the genius of these people. I've never seen anything live up to the standard this series has set. Just go watch it. 

Somm- Hands down my favorite wine documentary, this is similar to Cork Dork. It follows 3 sommelier candidates as they prepare for and take the test to become certified wine masters. It's dramatic and human and fulllll of wine information.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi- Sushi lovers, if you ever wanted the most in depth look at the art of sushi, this is your film. This family takes their restaurant and the making of sushi seriously. Plus, I learned so much about the process and etiquette of eating sushi.

A Chef's Life- I've heard great things about this series, and it's next on my watch list! It looks like its part documentary, part cooking show as it follows one family and their restaurant. It seems to have a focus on southern storytelling and has won all sorts of accolades. 

Check out Anthony Bourdain's pet project that looks similar to Chef's Table, and this great list of food documentaries on Netflix, if you need more!

 

What are your favorite foodie books or shows? I'm always on the hunt for more!

 

 

Wrap Up | July 2018
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*some links are affiliate, and we deeply appreciate your support

Michaela

Tin Man | Sarah Winman- We received this in our complimentary Deep Readers Club box for May, and the theme was "Contentment" so I was just not expecting this book to be what it was...and what it was was a grief novel. I can absolutely see why people say this book is warm, and it does do a decent amount with the story for it's short page count, but for me it lacked enough depth to truly stand out. On the plus side, it has that melancholy, bittersweet tone I tend to be drawn to, but it wasn't enough to save it. Pick this up if you want to read a book that's like if Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance and The Heart's Invisible Furies had a grief novel baby.

Empty Set | Veronica Gerber Bicecci- We were gifted this by Coffee House Press a few months ago, and I finally picked it up! It's such an interesting blend of visual and language arts, which I was not at all expecting. A flip through it's pages will reveal diagrams that connect marvelously to the words on the page, illustrating the webs of relationships and ideas being expressed. This book is focused on exploring emptiness in the form of both literal physical and figurative emotional space. It's style is highly experimental, but effective, and I've never read anything quite like it. I admit it won't go down as a favorite, but I'm glad to have read it, and the uniqueness will stay with me for a long time. If you're looking for a really interesting, outside of the box take on a novel about relationships, this could be for you. 

A Midsummer Night's Dream | William Shakespeare- A re-read of my favorite Shakespeare play! Just as fun and rom-com-y as I remembered, and I completely love the imagery in this, so expect a dinner party soon.

Norwegian Wood | Haruki Murakami- Wow. I expected to love this one, and really did not. I'm actually left feeling kind of gross about the whole thing. Where do I start? Trite, unlikable characters (and I am usually all about unlikeable characters), a narrator that was passive and dull, but who was supposed to be deep, lots of random sex that didn't do enough for the plot to justify the focus on it, pedestrian philosophy presented as something with gravitas, stale, overdone, heavy handed metaphors, and an oddly repetitive storyline. It was clearly heavily influenced by Gatsby and Brideshead Revisited, but was a much, much less brilliant version. It just didn't do it for me. HOWEVER. I do see potential in Murakami as a writer, he paints gorgeous scenes and I can see maybe liking one of his more fantastical works. We will see. 

Northwood | Maryse Meijer- First off, no question, it was ABSORBING. The book uses really, really unique formatting, but fair warning: the story it tells is intense and dark. It puts Fifty Shades of Grey to shame, and trigger warnings abound. The prose jumps between long stream of consciousness paragraphs, to experimental poetry, to more standard formatting of narration in order to present a clear storyline. It follows a woman who goes and lives in a cabin in the woods for a year, her relationship with a man she meets there, and the aftermath. The different formats and writing styles genuinely enhance the story and the intensity of it rather than being confusing or disjointed, and I especially loved how bits of standard fairytales are mixed into the twisted tale. The shock value in this one is high, but a lot of the emotions in here are surprisingly relatable and universal. Thanks to Catapult for providing a complimentary early copy of this one!

Convenience Store Woman | Sayaka Murata- Unexpected, insightful, and with a little edge to it, this one is a short, quirky read that’s full of great observations about the physical world, society, and emotion. I love when books are tightly written, and this one neatly packs a whole lot into it’s 170 pages. In the end it’s about the pressure to conform, but there is so much more inside this little world of a book. Definitely recommend. Thanks to Grove Atlantic for the complimentary review copy.

The Hour of Daydreams | Renee Macalino Rutledge  - This is a reimagining of a Filipino folktale about a man who falls in love with a Star Maiden, but manages to be a much deeper exploration of love, relationships, and identity. I really enjoyed how layered this one was, and though the prose was a little dense, it was beautiful. Rutledge does a wonderful job weaving myth and fantasy into the story of an everyday couple, who maybe aren't so ordinary. If you like fairytale retellings, and don't mind some density, this could be for you. Especially recommended for fans of the Snow Child. Thanks to Forest Avenue Press for the complimentary review copy.

Circe | Madeline Miller- Easily my favorite book this month, Circe was absolutely lovely. Prose that skims along, but is beautiful enough to warrant re-reading sentences, a lot of plot without being confusing or tangential, and overarching themes of quiet strength and feminism. There are lots of familiar myths, legends, gods and goddesses in here all reworked from a new perspective; I did a lot of Googling for a refresher on some of these characters. I've seen some criticisms of Circe not being flashy enough with her powers, or not standing up for herself enough, but I think the point of this book was that she wasn't interested in flashy heroics, she defied the gods quietly and only to serve herself. So much of this book is focused on the strength of women in so many different ways, and I thought it was very well done. 

 

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Rikki

The Astonishing Color of After | Emily X.R. PanI really loved this book. Pan took a difficult topic/event and turned it into a creative and colorful story with a lyrical tone that shows the innermost side of working through grief as well as the power of friendship and family. It's beautifully done and I loved every minute of it.

Cannery Row | John SteinbeckAh, to be in Steinbeck's world again was purely delightful. I truly love his fluid writing and effortlessly descriptive atmosphere that takes me through interesting narrative interwoven with descriptive scenes. While reading, I'm equal parts taking my time to enjoy it and can't put it down. I could read Steinbeck forever. 

Growing a Farmer | Kurt Timmermeister A local foodie and entrepreneur once owned a bakery in our beloved Seattle, followed by a restaurant. Decades later and he's now a full-fledged farmer on a local island, a mere fifteen minutes away from our home. While this isn't a telling or gripping memoir, it was fun to fall into his organic, dreamy, and novice shift to becoming a farmer. As a gardener and small homesteader, stories like this hold a lot of appeal for me.

The Girl in the Garden | Melanie WallaceA long awaited read, that was not exactly what I was expecting. It was a curious, character-driven story, written in long flowing detail. Thankfully, I was in the right mood for this style of book: patient. It was quite good overall, but by the very last page as the story wrapped itself up, what I expected to happen turned into a controversially morbid ending. 

The Power of Habit | Charles Duhigg I soaked up this book like a sponge! It's fascinating to learn how our brains work, and even more so, what makes us do the things we do.  Having studied and ran my own business for so many years, marketing and learning to lure people in, was a big part of my regular work routine. This book dove all in, in a really understandable way, as to how companies and people have done that for for over a century for all sorts of reasons. If you have any inclination to this sort of thing, I highly recommend picking it up. I'm ordering a copy to annotate and use as a reference right now.

Northwood | Maryse MeijerThis book. Oh my god. I loved it's unique, (partially) abstract-written format, poetry, and creativity. BUT, the storyline details this woman's autobiographical account as a nymphomaniac, off-and-on addict, and an affair with a married man she could never quite get over, even after she got married. Aside from the crass absurdities in her behavior, I liked the concept, but even then it was dark and disturbing.

Hillbilly Elegy | J.D. Vance - A last minute quick read for the month, this was another not-what-I-was-expecting book. A story brought together by vignettes of J.D.'s life and the culture surrounding him as he grew up in the South as a self proclaimed hillbilly. J.D. draws from societal facts that examine the life of his deep-South demographic, which I found fascinating. Really glad I read this.

 

What did you read and love this month?

Summer Books + Cocktails 2018
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*some links are affiliate, and we deeply appreciate your support. Some of these books were gifted to us by the publisher.

With summer in full swing, we're finding we just want to be outside with our books, ice cold drink in hand. Can you blame us? We rounded up a few of the books we've been loving lately and paired them with some drinks that match them perfectly. Got a cocktail shaker handy? Let's do this!

P.S. Check out last year's summer books , book flights, and summer cocktails!

 

You Think It, I'll Say It | Curtis Sittenfeld

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Timely and pitch perfect, this short story collection explores the intimate corners of people's lives in a way that is nuanced and relatable. A trendy wine mixed with a jumble of flavors that meld together perfectly? Sounds like the perfect alcoholic embodiment of this book!

 

Rosé Sangria

  • 1 bottle of dry rosé wine
  • .5 cup brandy
  • .5 cup Grand Marnier
  • 2 cups club soda
  • 2 oranges, sliced
  • 2 limes, sliced
  • 1 cup melon cubes
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced

Add all the fruit to the bottom of the pitcher. Top with liquors and club soda. Stir, then refrigerate at least 30 minutes to let the flavors blend. Serve in wine glasses with ice. 

 

Social Creature | Tara Burton

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Social Creature is one of summer's hottest thrillers and calls for a cocktail that is as sophisticated and trendy as Louise wants to be. We think a classic daiquiri fits perfectly with this novel and could easily be Louise's go-to bar order when she isn't quaffing free champagne. When served in elegant stemware this is timeless sophistication with a touch of glamour; it's not the strawberry pink slushy monstrosity you're imagining, but a drink that is simple, elegant, and not particularly sweet.

 

Daiquiri

  • Crushed Ice
  • 2 oz light rum
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • .5 oz simple syrup

Put the ice in a cocktail shaker, add the rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass.

 

A Midsummer Night's Dream | William Shakespeare

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Mortals and fairies, a summer night, an enchanted forest, star-crossed lovers, beauty, love potions, magic flowers, and happy endings all around make this whimsical play one of my favorites. It's the perfect fantastical story to read under the stars on a warm summer evening. Cocktails for this book should be herby, fizzy, and fun: we recommend a rosemary gin fizz.

 

Rosemary Gin Fizz

Rosemary Simple Syrup

  • .5 cup sugar
  • .5 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary

Combine in a saucepan and heat over medium until sugar completely dissolves while muddling rosemary. Let cool. 

Gin Fizz

  • .25 cup gin
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T fresh lime juice
  • .25 cup seltzer

Combine gin, citrus juices, and 2 tablespoons simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well, strain into a rocks glass over ice and top with seltzer. Garnish with a rosemary sprig if desired. 

 

Brideshead Revisited | Evelyn Waugh

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Waugh is a gorgeous writer and recounts the relationship between two young men (one of whom is very rich, and very complicated) in the waning days of England's great houses. The book takes you from Oxford, to the English countryside, through Venice, on cruise ships to New York, to Morocco, and back into the "present day" where Charles, our narrator, is a Captain in the British army. Warm, nostalgic, and full of art, love, complicated friendships, grandeur and loss; it's just gossipy and opulent enough, but grounded with heavier themes. A classic Gin and Tonic is the perfect pairing; stiff and simple, yet luxurious.

 

Gin + Tonic

  • 2 oz gin
  • 3 oz good tonic water
  • 1/2 a lime, juiced

Add all ingredients to a highball glass with ice. Stir and garnish with a lime wedge. 

 

Circe | Madeline Miller

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Circe is a reimagining of the classic Greek myth, so we chose a cocktail that incorporates classic Greek flavors and is as yellow as Circe's famous eyes. Honestly, it tastes like a tasty, alcoholic falafel. Something about the herbs and all the botanicals in the gin just mix up nicely together, and give a really mediterranean feel. I guarantee this drink will be on repeat this summer around here! 

 

Cucumber Mint Gimlet

  • slices of cucumber
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1.5 tsp simple syrup
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1.5 oz gin

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint, cucumber, and simple syrup. Fill shaker with ice, then add lime juice and gin. Shake, strain into a martini glass, and garnish with mint. 

 

Everything Here is beautiful | Mira Lee

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We were recently lucky enough to be sent a complimentary box from Bad People Book Club to test out! They design a cocktail to pair with a book and send you both the book and the ingredients (minus the alcohol) with a handy recipe card. We can 100% get behind their mission to encourage a chill night with friends discussing books with a cocktail to match.

The book we got was Everything Here is Beautiful, and the cocktail has some color changing wizardry involved to reflect one of the main character's shifting personality due to mental illness. Pretty cool, right? This was definitely one of the more inventive cocktails we've ever made ourselves, and it was super smooth and balanced with interesting flavors and not too much sweetness. Thanks again, Bad People Book Club!

 

Do you have a favorite drink you like to mix up in the summer? Or a great idea for a cocktail + book pairing?

We'd love to hear!

 

 

 

 

Wrap Up | June 2018
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Michaela

A Closed and Common Orbit | Becky Chambers- Ahhhh it feels so good to be back enveloped in Chamber's warm, delightful worlds. Her novels are the absolute best place to put my brain; they're just so comfortable. I don't know how she does it, but I'm so so glad that she does. She has the same knack that JK Rowling does for imbuing her world with a lot of interesting detail without beating you over the head with lengthy descriptions. It's magic, and I can't recommend her books enough. This one was a very different plot than The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, though no less powerful. Frankly I did enjoy Long Way's plot a bit better, but the plot is sort of beside the point with these books. Regardless, I can't waaaiiitttt to read the third one this summer!

Amulet | Kazu Kibuishi- This is a middle grade graphic novel, and while I like a lot of those, this one was a bit too straightforward, albeit beautiful! If you have a kid at the right age, I could see them loving this, but it wasn't something I'm particularly interested in continuing. 

Lumberjanes | Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Watters- This was pretty much like an episode of Adventure Time, but with badass lady friends. Hilarious and absurd, it definitely kept me laughing.

Eeeee Eee Eeee | Tao Lin- I read this at my brother's request (it's a favorite of his) and while I understood what it was doing, and it did it well, it was not for me. This falls under Auden's category of "I can see this is good, but I don't like it". If you want to bend your brain a little and put it in a weirdly specific mood, try it out. I do see why my brother specifically loves it, so it was a worthwhile read in that sense. One of the coolest things about a reader's favorite books is you see so much of them reflected in what they love. 

Less | Andrew Greer- Like everyone else, I read this because it won a Pulitzer. I wasn't sure what to expect, and honestly my first thought was "I hope this isn't a pretentious version of Eat, Pray Love", but what I found was warm and clever, with writing that felt effortless, but was playful and funny and layered. The love story in this was really unique and well done, and THAT ENDING. Ugh so lovely; I completely understand why this was Pulitzer worthy. 

Swimmer Among the Stars | Kanishk Tharoor- This collection sort of blew my mind. It took me a long time to finish because I would read a story and then sit and savor it for a while, sometimes for days, before moving on to another. I really loved the writing, and every story has at least one really thought provoking element or twist. A couple of these completely took my breath away, sometimes in the very last sentence. Worthwhile if you're in the mood for some beautiful, but heavier short stories. 

DNF: The Merry Spinster. Thoroughly mediocre in every way. I'm on a mission to not read forgettable books, and this just wasn't worth it for me. 

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Rikki

Homegoing | Yaa GyasiThis book was AMAZING. One of the most powerful, timeless, incredible pieces of literature I've had the pleasure of reading. Spanning generations of two families from Africa to America and back, and the harsh reality and truth of African culture and life in the 19th century to 20th, this book is sweeping, emotional, and yet, you cannot turn away. During an interview, Gyasi said she had visited Ghana and decided to tell an untold story that didn't have faces and names, and she felt compelled to tell a version of their story.

This One Summer | Mariko and Jillian TamakiFor book club this month and one of M's favorite graphic novels, I really enjoyed this shift in what I was reading and explore something different. The artwork is incredible and I really loved "figuring out" a relatively heavy story between words and images. And I say "figuring out," because it takes equal parts visual attention to the artwork as well as what you're reading to get a full, rounded perception of the story.

Meet the Frugalwoods | Elizabeth Willard ThamesAn impulsive read I was sure I'd skim through, but I actually enjoyed it from cover to cover. It's a bold, yet inspiring reminder to live life within your means and how to cut down on useless material things. The older I get, the more I appreciate things like this. Their family is on Instagram and so fun to see their story come to life through photos of life on the farm.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society | Mary Ann Schaffer - A reread for me, because I am so anxious and excited to see the movie! I still love it as much as the first time I read it. One of my all time favorites.

Beartown | Fredrik BackmanI hadn't gotten to fully read all of Beartown before, because library due dates had this book in constant rotation. I finally took my time on each and every page, and this book is so good. Backman's writing is phenomenal, the story is second to that, and worth the time to slowly work through, appreciating all of his words and layers of creativity.

The Wonder | Emma DonoghueI was SO curious about this book, and finally read it through. It was painfully slow for me, a constant build to the mystery of the story, which is revealed at the TAIL END of the book. It is well written and detailed, but kind of weird. I kept wondering how on earth this story had formulated for the author, being so packed with minuscule details.

Spin the Golden Light Bulb | Jackie YeagerA buddy read with my oldest, it took me a while to get through because I kept pushing it down the pile. It's a fun, creative story that is solidly for middle grade kids. It's a futuristic, yet relatable, story of five kids competing in an invention contest to get into a sought-after school. My kid loved it and it was great to talk about, so that's a win for me.

The Help | Kathryn StockettWhat a great story! I am so happy to have finally read this. It's a courageous and honestly bold portrayal of life in the south in the '60s. It's not easy for those who might be sensitive to racism during that time. Yet, it's well done. I researched the background of this book and was surprised to learn that Stockett actually took inspiration for the main help from a real life maid in her family, and was sued for not respecting her anonymity. How ironic.

Historical Fiction Books That AREN'T About WWII
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I am a huge historical fiction and non-fiction fan. Like, I could read this one genre every day for the rest of my life and never feel as if I'm missing out on anything. I love to read, I love a good narrative, and I love to learn. So it just makes sense. As it would happen, the most common historical fiction to to be found out there, revolves around World War II. It's a heavy, well-explored topic that can never really be overdone, at least in my opinion (Michaela, on the other hand, hates it). But, I really love variety too, so I reached out to our Bookstagram friends and asked what else they knew about. I received an excellent feedback and compiled this list for your reading pleasure.

The Cove | Ron Rash

The Welsh Prince Trilogy | Sharon Kay Penman

The Franciscan Conspiracy | John Richard Sack

Shadow of a Century | Jean Grainger

I Am Livia | Phyllis T. Smith

The Glassblower | Petra Durst-Benning

Bohemian Gospel | Dana Chamblee Carpenter

The Five | Hallie Rubenhold

Ahab's Wife | Sena Jeter Naslund

Are there any others you'd add to this list? Bonus points for middle grade or young adult I can buddy read with my kids.

The Highly Anticipated Sequel to Beartown, Us Against You
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I read A Man Called Ove a few years ago. I was down to the final hundred pages or so and couldn't put it down. I told my husband to take over dinner, I had to finish my book. Since then I've read all of Backman's novellas and a few of his other novels. Then, I read Beartown and did the exact same thing. I've never been so powerfully immersed in 400 pages in my life.

The thing with Backman, is that he has this magical, yet incredibly real way of writing stories that feel as if they're completely alive. I live for stories like this. Writing like his is the definition of "books that make you feel something." The atmosphere is less about place and more about the people, but it's beyond invoking. He writes sentences that start in one part the story and circle back around, and you'll find yourself re-reading them and just wondering how. How can all this come from one person? How did this story come to you? I find myself yearning to know everything, how it all came to be. Then I want to read it again!

For people who have read Ove and other Backman novels up to Beartown, I've heard don't like Beartown (you can read the description here). Spoiler alert: it's not like his other books. You can't finish Ove and have all these warm, fuzzy feelings, and expect that to carry into Beartown. But like all of his books, there's a heavy central theme or event and it navigates the power of working through that with those around you. Beartown and Us Against You are dynamically layered, passionate, and even though it's centered around hockey, don't let that fool you. We all love The Mighty Ducks!

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How exciting, then, that Beartown has a sequel. The highly anticipated Us Against You, is released today (you can read the description here)! The awesome perk of being obsessed with books and apart of the Bookstagram community, is getting to read books before they're officially released. We can't thank Atria Books enough for sending us a complimentary copy! And honestly, thanks for believing in Ove and picking up all of Backman's books over the years!

After Beartown and Us Against You, you can't help but carry the story... the characters... the atmosphere with you for a long while. It's powerful. Even if you feel the story is a little slow to start, maybe some redundancy even (none of which I personally felt afflicted by), you'll find yourself wanting to laugh and cry and root for the characters you love most. There's a slow build, but a huge pay off, as with most all of Backman's work. You'll be holding your breath, wondering what happens next. You get completely sucked in and don't even realize it until you come rushing out and gasping for breath. And unlike any book that's full of struggle and redemption, the endings are never what you expect.

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If you've never read any Fredrik Backman novels, start with A Man Called Ove and work your way through the others to Beartown, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry and Britt-Marie Was Here. I particularly loved And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer. If you've read his novels, then you're in for a treat. I cannot wait to see what he writes next!

 

Wrap Up | May 2018

Michaela

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Garlic and Sapphires | Ruth Reichl- Although the writing can lean a little cloying and self satisfied, even veering into trite when she describes the crafting of her various disguises, there's no way around the fact that Reichl truly excels at descriptions of food. I sincerely enjoyed every bit of her food and restaurant descriptions, and the life of a food critic is one I hadn't gotten a glimpse into before this, despite my food writing obsession. She is so clearly knowledgable about food (without being preachy), and combined with her obvious passion for it, her writing is infused with so much life that I could overlook the parts of the book I didn't care for as much. 

What Should Be Wild | Julia Fine- The best way I can describe this is that it reminds me of Neil Gaiman’s books and of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted. It’s a gothic/dark fairytale/mystery/family novel mash up that plays with bloodlines, the nature of time, magic, control of female bodies, curses, and secrets. A little spooky, a little magical, and definitely interesting. I appreciated the twist on control of female bodies and the mystery in the story, as well as how dark it got. Thanks to the Harper Collins for sending us a free review copy!

The Smell of Other People's Houses | Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock- This was a good one! The prose was dripping in poetic sadness as it wove together the lives of four different characters as they meshed and overlapped. Each character had their own turmoil and voice, but the work as a whole felt cohesive and deeply true. This is YA, so the emotions in here border on the technicolor angst that the genre does so well, but it was tastefully done. Highly recommend if you want a quick read with some feels. 

My Friend Dahmer | Derf Backderf- This was a pretty fascinating look at an infamous serial killer before he was a killer, but the author's armchair psychology and overall tone can be a little off putting. If you're a little obsessed with serial killers, this graphic novel would be a good pick, because it is truly a great window into the life and mind of Jeffrey Dahmer before he truly descended into the darkness. Also the art is spot on and really enhances  the overall tone of the novel. 

Roller Girl | Victoria Jamieson- I picked this up for a nice light reprieve from some of the heavier stuff I was reading (I'm in the middle of like 5 books right now, ugh). I love fun graphic novels so much, especially memoirs, and this was was one of the better ones. The message in here is great, especially for kids and young teens, and I can absolutely see how it won the Newbery! Plus, how badass is it that there's a graphic novel about roller derby aimed at pre-tees? I love it. If you like Raina Telegemeier this is absolutely one you'll want to pick up. 

 

Rikki

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Elizabeth and Her German Garden | Elizabeth Von ArnimI started this book in preparation for The Enchanted April. I anticipated loving it, since all things garden related in books is pretty much my favorite thing to read about. And well, it was interesting and solidly written, but honestly, a bit of a slog to get through. Elizabeth is a less than desirable character throughout, and while I still loved the garden explorations, she was also a very unreliable narrator and this just didn't do it for me.

Hidden Figures | Margot Lee ShetterlyI ended up watching the movie I waited so long to watch, so I could finish the book first. This is one of the rare instances the movie is more enticing. As much as I enjoyed learning about the women computers behind the first space shuttle launch, the story seemed redundant as it crossed the lives of each of the four women. Overall, you hear these things over and over and over again: black women, smart, math, struggle, teacher, space. We get it. 

Americanah | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - By the time I passed 100 pages, I was fully invested in this story. While I think there were parts that unnecessarily went on, the life of Ifemelu was so interesting to follow. I'm constantly fascinated by descriptive cultural difference one experiences when living abroad, and there was so much of that in this book.

The Handmaid's Tale | Margaret Atwood - It wasn't until recently that my interest was peaked to read this. It's a dystopian future world that doesn't usually hold much interest for me. Yet, I had to know. Atwood is a master storyteller, with incredible detail and prose. This story isn't for the faint of heart, but it's immersive and unique.

Unaccustomed Earth | Jhumpa LahiriI first fell for Lahiri's writing in The Namesake, which we read for book club last year. I didn't realize at first that this was a collection of short stories, but interestingly, it's a series of characters interwoven in each other's lives, as told throughout the eight stories in the book. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. If short stories aren't quite your thing, this would be a good one to start with.

 

Guest Reviewer

Lori | @thenovelendeavor

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I am a wife, mom, adoption advocate, and book blogger who loves all bookish things (even the really nerdy ones - like tote bags - in fact, I especially like tote bags). Unfortunately, my passion for reading wasn't fully realized until after I graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Mathematics; I have since spent the last ten years making up for all that wasted time on math! I am an INTJ who follows the rules I like and ignores the ones that just aren't for me. When I'm not racing around after a three year-old you can find me blogging about books, diversity, and the reading life at The Novel Endeavor

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For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Eenuf | Ntozake Shange- This famous choreopoem was recommended to me by a good friend and it did not disappoint. While for colored girls is meant to be experienced as a performance, there is still so much emotion, vitality, and tragedy that seeps through each and every poem. The title hints at the content, but it's difficult to describe the sense of foreboding and menace that followed the women throughout these pages. Even while they were living their best lives, darkness threatened to overshadow them at every turn. I don't often read poetry but found this collection to be extremely accessible and worthwhile; the introduction by the author helped me to understand the foundations of her work, as well as her goals in writing it.

All the Names They Used for God | Anjali Sachdeva- All the Names They Used for God was gifted to me in April from my Diverse Books Club teammates and I couldn't wait to dive in. First of all, that cover is simply amazing; secondly, when you remove the dust jacket, it is still absolutely beautiful! This short story collection absorbed me every time I picked it up. I love that about short stories - you can let yourself get sucked into stories knowing that they will end thirty minutes to an hour later. Sachdeva's stories were beautifully haunting and kept me meditating on them long after I finished.

Reading People | Anne BogelReading People was my in-real-life book club's May selection. Honestly, I've had it on my shelf since it came out (in fact, I pre-ordered it) but just haven't found the right time to dive in. I mainly read fiction so a non-fiction book has to be pretty captivating to keep me reading. I enjoyed Anne's book even though I was already pretty familiar with most of the personality frameworks she described. However, my mind is a bit blown by the Enneagram! Until Reading People, I had never encountered it and now I see it's implications throughout my everyday life. (I'm a 4 in case you're wondering.)

Half a World Away | Cynthia KadohataHalf a World Away brings together two of my greatest passions: middle grade fiction and adoption. My husband and I adopted our daughter over three years ago and are currently waiting for our second child through adoption as well. Adoption one of the messiest and most beautiful things I have ever experienced; as a reader, I am always on a quest to find books that accurately illustrate this beautiful mess for the world to read. In my last couple of years of searching, I have found that young adult and middle grade books showcase adoption and foster care most accurately. Half a World Away continues to prove this point with its complexities of emotion, relationships, and memories of the past. 

Other Notes

We will be styling and photographing the Spring edition of Browser's Cookbook Book Club this coming week, and we couldn't be more excited! This is one of the warmest, most enjoyable events we attend, and we always look forward to it.

We had some great dinner parties in May, kicking off the warmer season ahead of us including My Kitchen Year as well as another that you'll be seeing soon!

We have some collaborations in the works as well, so look out for more from us as the summer heats up.

What was the best book you read this month??

Wrap Up | April 2018
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Michaela

My Kitchen Year | Ruth Reichl- This cookbook is largely about the impact of food on Reichl's life the year following the demise of Gourmet, the food magazine she headed for many years. A good mix of accessible and aspirational, she makes you want to pay attention to and connect more fully with food in your everyday life without being intimidating. I also really enjoyed how vividly she brought the seasons to life, especially when she talked about her farmer's market finds, and the dishes she made with seasonal produce. I'm absolutely inspired to be better at practicing this in my own life! 

All The Names They Used For God | Anjali Sachdeva- I read this in one sitting, and really enjoyed the writing and concepts in this collection, but they were all just vague enough in a way that made it clear they were supposed to be deep, but without any real heft behind them. So, the result was interesting and pretty, but low in actual substance. Funnily enough, my favorite story was actually the shortest one, and the least vague. It took a clear concept and executed it succinctly, but with room to think about it afterwards, without resorting to open ended dramatics. This was on the verge of being great, but landed firmly in the mediocre for me. Thanks to Random House for sending us this one!

This is How You Lose Her | Junot Diaz- I was shocked at how much this collection burrowed into my brain. Diaz is clearly a ridiculously gifted writer, and the stories are compelling in a way that I almost never find. Yunior's voice is so electrically alive as he talks to the reader about losing love, about his various identities, about his alienation, his family, the complexities of his life and the tumbling mess of his emotions. I loved this one and can't wait to read more from Díaz. It's been weeks now, and I'm still finding myself thinking about and unpacking these stories. 

Aetherial Worlds | Tatyana Tolstaya- This is a gorgeously, intelligently written collection of remembrances and musings. While there is little in the way of action plot, the writing, insight, and pure strength more than make up for it. Dense, but worth it for sure; Tolstaya is a keen observer and puts words to feelings you hold deep in your heart. Extra points for the focus on nostalgia, cause we all know I'm a sucker for it. Thanks to Knopf for sending us this one!

Her Body and Other Parties | Carmen Maria Machado- Our friend Morgan convinced me to pick this one up and oh man am I glad she did! Gothic, powerful, fresh, and so so good. These stories play with unique formats and blur horror and love into a gorgeously realized collection. It honestly felt like reading modernized gothic literature, but with an edge of fantastical. I loved it. I will say that it is VERY graphic, so read at your own risk if you're sensitive to that! 

You Think It, I'll Say It | Curtis Sittenfeld- Finally! Sittenfeld finally feels like she's realizing her potential in this collection; this is easily the most sophisticated piece of work I've seen from her. This collection explores the kinds of things you'd only tell your best friend, MAYBE, about the inner workings of your life, brain, and relationships. The characters in these stories are all experiencing things that veer into the zone of things that are too personal or too hard to explain to even try to confide in someone else. The strength of this collection is how insightfully Sittenfeld writes about those intimate corners of people's lives, and with a deft and nuanced hand, renders them completely relatable. Relevant, a little snarky, very real, and absolutely worth picking up. Thanks to Random House for sending us this one!

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Rikki

Digging In | Loretta Nyhan - I read this along with some friends for a virtual book club. I knew I probably wouldn't like it much going in, but I'm a sucker for books with gardens, so I read it. It was okay. A fun, fluff read that was a bit entertaining. I wanted to put it down quite a few times, and I kind of wish I had. If you know of more books with gardens involved that are good, I'd love to read them!

A Good Man is Hard to Find | Flannery O'Connor - This is a phenomenal set of short stories. Everyone, it seemed, was recommending O'Connor on our Instagram and I finally picked her up. Wow. Completely thought-provoking, impactful stories that seem like they could've happened anywhere, to anyone, and was just the right amount of their story.

The Red Umbrella | Christina Diaz GonzalezI'm a big history buff and love to find it in my everyday reading material. Learning from what I read is my biggest pleasure, and this story was excellent. It gave me a great intimate portrayal of Castro's revolution; it was heartbreaking, but a real part of Cuba's history as it bled into the United States' history. Gonzalez's own family was apart of the displacement as thousands fled the country back in the 1960's, with research from her in-laws and grandparents. This is also the final YA book for my class, and while I'm happy to be done with assigned reading, I've learned a lot and will continue to seek out YA novels like this.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle | Barbara KingsolverI stumbled upon this book while looking for another fiction novel of hers, and I'm so glad I did. I'm already a passionate gardener, with hopes of one day sustaining most all of our produce from my garden. Imagine my surprise that Kingsolver and her family have done just that for an entire year. It's long, and at moments, preachy, but it's packed with what it really means to eat seasonal (another concept I've been slowly adopting) and support local farmers (stepping up my game). The insight into how small farmers suffer when a commercial truck of tomatoes undersells the organic ones hit the spot for me. If this type of book is hard for you to read, consider listening to it on audio and speeding it up a bit. So good!

Lincoln in the Bardo | George Saunders - What can I possibly say to do justice to George Saunders' incredible talent and creativity?! While I do feel you have to be patient with reading this story, and even if it's not for you, it's 100% phenomenal. I love history, so the factual elements in the book held my interest the most, but the fictional side of "the bardo" was so unique and captivating. Just wow. Thanks to Random House for sending us this one!

The Bell Jar | Sylvia Plath - I read this on a whim this month. I'm glad I did, but it really wasn't for me. I did appreciate Plath's well-written and intimate portrayal of mental illness, but you have to read this knowing about the very unreliable narrator that takes you through the book. I also felt like maybe this story was a bit about Plath herself, through the lens of her character, Esther.

Landline | Rainbow Rowell - I love you, Rainbow Rowell. Landline wasn't my favorite story of hers, but it was creative and interesting and I fully enjoyed it. Can't wait for the next!

 

Guest Reviewer

Tara | @taraqhiggins

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My name is Tara and I’m a blogging, backpacking bibliophile. When I packed my bags to move across the world a
few years ago my luggage was heavily literary. I decided that I wanted to spend my life reading books in beautiful
places and that’s what I’ve been working toward with every new destination I visit. I write about my adventures, both
on the road and between the covers of whichever book I’m reading in my online space called
www.ReadToTravel.com. Recently I’ve started trying to uncover my bookshelf blind spot and read authors or about
locations I’m completely unfamiliar with.

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Terra Nullius | Claire G. Coleman - This book portrays so horrifically and wonderfully the terrible treatment of the Aboriginal people by the first settlers of Australia. Terra nullius is a Latin phrase meaning “nobody’s land,” something declared by the first white people moving to the continent to justify settlement and taking over. I was able to picture perfectly how individuals on both
sides felt and behaved. Then Claire hit me with a huge plot twist. I loved it and want it to be read by all.

Down Under | Bill Bryson - Bill is one of my all time favorite travel writers. He is snappy, witty, intelligent, and seems to possess an endless supply of random facts. I loved his ode to Australia because I am just getting myself settled here and am feeling a bit
overwhelmed with all of the possibility and potential for adventure in this country. I absolutely love how much he tried to discuss the current issue of Aboriginals place in society with white Australians and how blunt he was about their discomfort with the topic. Read anything and everything by him because I’m certainly going to!

No More Boats | Felicity Castagna - I picked up this book with zero expectations and found that I enjoyed it quite a lot. There are some serious themes within these pages that resonate with me intensely as a daughter of a refugee and with the way that society—and the individuals who comprise it—talk about immigration. It feels like a book that no one I have ever met up until this point
in my life would have read, but I truly hope that someone does.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society | Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - The islands in the English Channel have never ever crossed my mind and it sounds like they didn’t much cross the minds of many during WWII. I saw a preview for this movie last week and was smitten with something about it. The next day, in my new favorite secondhand book shop, I found this on the shelf and knew I had to buy it! I absolutely love it and have been spending every spare moment reading it. It makes me want to pick myself up, move to a tiny island, and write the book I have been procrastinating since the day I started it.

Other Notes

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We can hardly believe we are finally saying adieu to winter and beginning to enjoy the fullness of spring!

It's been a great reading month for us, filled with more short stories than we can count! It's been a fun exploration into them, and they've helped with some current reading slump feelings!

The end of the month was a time to celebrate Independent Bookstores and we were thrilled to meet Sandra Evans, author of This is Not a Werewolf Story, at Liberty Bay Books

What was the best thing you read this month? 

The Importance of Diverse Young Adult Literature
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Reading nearly a dozen young adult novels over the last few months has put a huge spin on my reading life. I previously considered Young Adult novels to be full of angst, drama, and stereotypes worthy of a dramatic eye roll. Not kidding. Clearly, I wasn't picking up the right books. Thinking back, I'm not even sure what gave me these impressions, but clearly I was tainted. Although not completely wrong.

I'm currently taking a class called, "Teaching Young Adult Literature" for graduate school. I'm halfway through a Masters in English, and most every class thus far has left an impact on me, but none so much as this one. We are required to read six diverse YA novels that have a central controversial topic. So far I've just been picking up everything that's been of interest to me from the reading list. I've only put down two. The professor made this list for us, if you're interested in seeing the reading selection. I've loved Eleanor & Park, Turtles All the Way Down, The Sun is Also A Star, and Brown Girl Dreaming. I read many others that weren't on the reading list, but some of which she discussed as we started the course and learned the history of YA literature: The Outsiders was an amazing read, and The Smell of Other People's Houses was a great coincidental library find.

What I've learned is this: YA novels can actually mean something. These books discuss difficult topics that better reflect the real world. The actual genre has been dubbed "New Adult," and holds value for topics that are important in today's society. Many of the books that are being published are giving a voice to minority writers. Not only are we seeing a growth in diverse writers, but in diverse characters as well.

What shocked me the most was that I nearly snubbed an entire genre of literature based on a few books that simply weren't for me. There are seemingly infinite books within each genre, and they are always worth exploring more. From books written in verse, poetry, fiction and non, I've felt like I've really learned something about literature as a whole. I could go on and on about the importance of what I've learned over the last month of taking this course, but I'll spare you. Mostly, I just want to encourage you to try something new, pick up something you don't think you'll like or are wary to try, you just might be surprised.

Additional resources:

Chimamanda is not only a great writer, but has this phenomenal TED Talk. I'm reading this book of hers this month.

An article on the .