Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A graphic memoir exploring love, art, loss, memory, and mortality.

What made me pick it up: I can’t seem to pass up a graphic memoir.

My favorite things: Radtke’s art is done in a simple grayscale that perfectly complements her story. I loved the way she tied together her own restlessness with an examination of mortality. The way she chronicles her own loss and grief through a growing fascination with deserted towns is honest and compelling.

Who it’s great for: Readers looking for an engaging exploration of mortality and meaning. Fan’s of artists’ memoirs.

Abby’s rating: four-shells


Pick up a copy of this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Words in a French Life by Kristin Espinasse

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Originally published in: 2006

What it’s about: Former Arizonan and current ex-pat Espinasse tells about her foibles in her adopted land of Provence, especially with the language.

What made me pick it up: I am a lifelong Francophile and practice my ever-improving French daily. I tend to gather up any book about living in France that I can, and this one was no different. As soon as I found her blog and found out about this book I knew I had to have it.

My favorite things: This book is mostly in English with a spattering if French phrases sprinkled throughout and then translated either in text or at the end of each chapter. I enjoyed every aspect of this book, from its conversational tone to her slightly clumsy transition from American customs and language to French. She writes with candor and humor and in doing so you believe it just might be possible to move to France yourself and make your way there. In addition, she paints a beautiful picture of her new home region of Provence. You’ll want to visit and experience the sun and the sea and the wine that she talks about. It’s also just a really great peek into French life and how it is different from life here.

Who it’s great for: Francophiles. Anyone working on learning, and stumbling through, the French language.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Delicious by Ruth Reichl

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Originally published in: 2014

What it’s about: A novel about Billie, a food writer hopeful, who goes to work for a prominent gourmet food magazine as an executive assistant and stumbles upon some letters from World War II between a girl in the Midwest and legendary chef James Beard.

What made me pick it up: I was listening to Ruth Reichl’s most recent memoir My Kitchen Year and googling all sorts of details about her and her life. I decided to see what else Overdrive had of hers and this novel was available in audio. Boom.

My favorite things: If you are a foodie or a lover of Manhattan then this is for you but my favorite part was the shout out for Ohio. The young girl writing letters hails from Akron and in researching what happened to the letter writer heads back to the Buckeye State to explore Cleveland. I always enjoy when books, or even part of them, are set somewhere other than New York. While most major developments were predictable the weaving of story and development of characters was charming and you really are happy when everything turns out all right in the end.

Who it’s great for: Cooks. Clevelanders. Foodies. Fans of charming stories of finding yourself again with the help of good friends and good food and some historical intrigue.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Pick up this book from Amazon (affiliate link) or your local library.


 

Pretending is Lying by Dominique Goblet

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Originally published in: original 2007, in translation 2017

What it’s about: A graphic memoir chronicling relationships and family dysfunction, love and heartache.

What made me pick it up: I gravitated toward it the moment it showed up on our cart of new books – the bleak cover art was immediately compelling to me.

My favorite things: The art, the art! Written over the course of twelve years, the art varies in style and medium and still somehow fits together to paint a portrait of a life through time. Complexities and heartaches of real life, honest about flaws, weaknesses, and mistakes. I love the use of handwriting rather than a font for an even more expressive read.

Who it’s great for: Readers looking for an emotionally engaging exploration of family and relationships.

Abby’s rating: four-shells


Pick up a copy of this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.

Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

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This post contains affiliate links.

Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: How Sandberg found resilience while grieving the sudden death of her husband. It also has personal stories from other individuals, as well as psychological research on what helps build resilience.

What made me pick it up: This got a lot of good reviews and I’m a big fan of Grant’s (if you haven’t, pick up Originals).

My favorite things: This book is so raw and honest I was in tears in places. Sandberg manages to effectively write about her grieving process and do so while providing hope for others in grief. It was a beautiful combination of vulnerable personal storytelling and incorporation of useful research.

Who it’s great for: Anyone grieving a loss or recovering from trauma. Readers who enjoyed Sandberg’s previous book, Lean In.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book at Amazon or in your local library.


 

Providence Act 1 by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows

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Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: A reimagining of many of HP Lovecraft’s stories through the lens of Robert Black. Black is a journalist and would-be author living in the 1919 world of Lovecraft’s fiction. Act 1 compiles 1-4 of 12 issues in the Providence series.

What made me pick it up: I just rediscovered it on my bookshelf, it was next on my TBR list at some point last fall.

My favorite things: The art is bleak and ominous. There is an unsettling recurring theme hinting at the coming rise of Nazi power in Europe. I love the inclusion of journal entries and paraphernalia from the world Robert Black is exploring.

Who it’s great for: Devotees of Lovecraft’s stories and fans of Alan Moore’s comics and graphic novels. Readers looking for a short but captivating creepy series to become immersed in.

Abby’s rating: four-shells


Pick up a copy of this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.

My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl

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Originally published in: 2015

What it’s about: Legendary chef, restaurant critic, and foodie magazine editor-in-chief Reichl detailing the year after she lost her job when her beloved magazine Gourmet folded during the recession.

What made me pick it up: I was looking for a new audiobook so I was scrolling through new arrivals on Overdrive and there it was. It was also less than seven hours, which is perfect.

My favorite things: I shouldn’t be surprised that such a prolific and talented writer was able to write a memoir and seamlessly incorporate recipes into the story, but it is still so admirable. Reichl writes very honestly of how hard it was to lose her job and face purposelessness and how cooking brought her back to herself and gave her a new focus in life. Also, fans of Gourmet will adore all of her recipes and want to concoct and devour them as she lays them out. I personally can’t wait for summer to put together her Apricot Pie. It is read by the author, so you get an added treat of being told the story by the writer herself.

Who it’s great for: Foodies. Cooks and wannabe cooks. Anyone going through an unexpected life situation who needs a positive role model.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.