Summer Reading! A great idea, so variously interpreted. Reverie, which is one of Summer's finest virtues, takes me back to such a wide swath of reading styles that were perfect for my summer reading: Crawlspace, a terrifying thriller I read at the beach in New Jersey as a teenager; Moby-Dick -- one of the most absorbing, astonishing, and transformational of summer reads -- read mostly in an armchair in a dormer, surrounded by a lamp, a small bookcase and a stereo; and Of Human Bondage and the poems of Fernando Pessoa, read between swims and grilled mackerel in the Algarve in Portugal, at the beach.
So, whether it's a cookbook or poetry, grand classic novel or page-turner thriller/mystery/fantasy novel, summer reading can be a riveting delight, steeped in the sunlight and seaspray. And let's not forget the deep dives -- philosophy, science, politics, spirituality -- which in that sun-driven fever, can open up new worlds, new paths, new choices, ending Summer with an evolved sense of your responsibilities, your engagements, your joys and your relationships.
Let's talk Summer reading the next time you come to the store. We've all had great experiences. Let's trade them and we'll recommend the right ones for you, for this Summer's read.
John & all DIESELfolk
A small-town family drama set during the depression in West Virginia, where everyone has a secret and they're all willing to rewrite history to keep the truth to themselves. This is a charming and funny story with hidden depths reflected in the likable female characters that propel the plot through the larger themes of heady romance, loss, class-politics, coming-of-age and "the truth." The book is underpinned with weighty historical research, which keeps the context well-grounded, without being dull. But the best thing about The Truth According to Us is that no part of the story feels overblown -- it is all very possible and the drama nicely underplayed. I highly recommend this book as a satisfying read for your vacation and beyond. -- Clare D. (Larkspur)
Station Eleven opens with a production of King Lear and the end of the world. At the conclusion of the first chapter, a deadly plague is just beginning to sweep across the earth -- and the sense of anxiety and uncertainty Mandel evokes is so intense that I got chills. But instead of dwelling on the horrific events of the apocalypse itself, she chooses instead to spiral around this central milestone, following a variety of characters both in the world before and the world after. The result is a beautiful book about survival -- the survival of art, and the survival of hope. Station Eleven is gripping, heart-wrenching, and ultimately life-affirming. Fans of sci-fi and literary fiction alike should share those chills -- the feeling that comes from reading something truly affecting. -- Anna K. (Brentwood)
The Physics of Sorrow, by Bulgarian author Georgi Gospodinov, is a chimeric work. It is a strange beast of a memoir, mixed with observations and family legend, that is is more than the sum of its parts. Centered around the myth of another bestial mix, the minotaur, it seems appropriate that Gospodinov's ruminations should digress and wander, pursuing the twists and turns of memory, all while seeking the center of the labyrinth: the creature at the heart, the heart of the creature. And if this sounds heavy, don't worry. Gospodinov's writing is light and humorous, directed toward the self without being self-absorbed, wandering through the foreign country of his own past, marveling at its strangeness. -- Chris P. (Oakland)
This is a wide-ranging, in-depth look at the life, art, writings and critical reception of Agnes Martin. Written in an almost conversational style, Prencenthal presents the contradictions, profundities, and mysteries of this enigmatic artist, prompting curiosity, wonder, and even joy.
Relievedly restrained from sensationalizing and manufactured dramatic tension, this biography is more of a delicate unfolding and revealing of the complexities, and simplicities, of this fascinating artist and her stunningly beautiful and evocative work. At the same time the author sketches a picture of the art world in America in the last half of the past century, which provides both context and contrasts to Martin's work and life.. -- John E.
For three wintry weeks in 1974, German filmmaker Werner Herzog walked some five hundred miles, from Munich to Paris. His friend and mentor, Lotte Eisner, was gravely ill in France, and Herzog believed his journey might save her. Few filmmakers so completely embody their own cinematic intensity as Herzog, and the impressionistic journal of his walk is a much-beloved document of those who have set out on foot in search of something only they could articulate (or possibly even understand). Helen MacDonald (of H is for Hawk fame) describes it as "one of the great modern pilgrimages -- a record of physical suffering, of hallucination and ecstatic revelation, of portents and animals, of the wreckage of history and myth." This new paperback edition is a true treasure. -- Brad J. (Oakland)
Chicken. One of the most versatile ingredients to ever grace our plates, yet we can easily get stuck in a rut returning to the same dishes over and over again. A Bird in the Hand is the perfect solution, with its myriad of recipes great for easy weeknight suppers to fancy dinners. In dishes from Portugal, Italy, Mexico, India, France, Vietnam, Jamaica and many more countries, you'll enjoy diverse flavors and your palate will never be bored. Whether grilled, roasted, stir-fried, baked or braised, Diana Henry walks you through a variety of techniques with easy-to-follow directions. Most recipes are accompanied by easy-to-prepare side dishes that complete the meal.
This really is a must-have cookbook, and one you will turn to again and again. In fact, after writing this review, I bought the book. Now I just have to decide which yummy recipe to prepare first! -- Cheryl R. (Brentwood)
Pip Bartlett is a young girl who lives in a world much like ours, but with one huge difference: in Pip's world, magical creatures are real. People keep griffins as pets and show unicorns competitively -- there are even special vets for magical creatures. Pip is really excited when she gets to spend the summer with her aunt who is a magical creatures vet. Pip loves all the creatures, plus she can talk to them (although no one believes her). Unfortunately, she arrives in town at the same time as an infestation of Fuzzles, tiny, adorable creatures who burst into flames at the slightest hint of excitement. Can Pip get to the bottom of the mystery of where all the Fuzzles are coming from? And will there be enough time to save the Fuzzles before they are exterminated?
I love this book. It's packed with humor, as well as crazy but simple illustrations. The characters are very easy to love, and although the concept is simple, the language is complex enough to make this a stretch for some younger readers. A hit waiting to happen. -- Clare D. (Larkspur)