The debut novel by renown food critic and best-selling author Ruth Reichl lives up to the name: Delicious!. I don’t know what part of me loves this book the most: the foodie; the library-lover; or story junkie. Reichl mixes the simplest ingredients to create a word feast that is both decadent and satisfying: an unminted journalist with an unusual flavor palette; a struggling food magazine; a small, family-owned cheese and delicacy shop; a locked library; and letters from a precocious aspiring cook to James Beard during WWII. Lulu’s letters and recipes paint a clear picture of wartime America; and baker-turned journalist Billie Breslin’s experiences at Delicious and the Fontanari’s shop are a fun foray into the flavors and textures in the modern food-world.
ON SUCH A FULL SEA
China controls most of the world, including North America. Temperatures increase because of global warming, and cancer runs rampant—a fate generally accepted as unavoidable. Books have all but vanished, along with domesticated animals and outdoor farming. All food is grown in sterile tanks, tended to by working-class citizens living in worker-settlements, while the bulk of the food carted off and sold in the upper-class, wealthy communities. When Fan, a young tank diver, leaves her working-settlement (known as B-Mor) to find her vanished lover, she sparks a thought-revolution among those left behind. Both a folk-tale and an alarming prediction, this remarkable novel reminds me of a Margaret Atwood and Kazuo Ishiguro. Haunting, devastating and hopeful, this story lives far beyond the confines of the book. –review by Becky
Warning: Reading this book may cause elevated heart rate and/or dry-mouth—and cost you a day off and/or a night’s sleep. From the first shocking pages, Lexicon exerts a mind-control on the reader—making us helpless to resist Barry’s warped, alternative reality. Connecting ancient concepts of language and persuasion with modern issues of data mining and privacy, this is a wholly original and smart thriller. Barry rigged explosions in all of the right places and threw plot twists fast and hard over the plate, reminding me of a cross between Chris Cline and Neal Stephenson.
ARCADIA, by Lauren Groff
Set on a commune in New York State during the 1970s, Groff’s prose simultaneously romanticizes and illuminate the realities of rural community life, finding a balance between the hilarity and tragedy of living off the land in a mostly commercial and industrialized world. Wide in scope, full of heart and quirky humor, the rise and fall of the Arcadia House community is narrated by the ever lovable Bit, the first child of Arcadia, who stole my heart from the first page. If you like Brady Udall, Tom Perrotta or loved, The Monsters of Templeton, read this original coming-of-age tale next!
THE ROUND HOUSE, by Louise Erdrich
Returning to the Ojibwe reservation (rez) in North Dakota for the first time since The Plague of Doves, Erdrich’s newest book is a luminous tale of familial love with a terrible accident at the heart. Part mystery, part Native American history and part coming of age tale, Erdrich’s story captures the complexity of human relationships, our frailty and resilience and the place where the two meet. This book brings up morality and mortality without preaching, and beautifully evokes the traditions of Native American culture. I love this book and cannot recommend this highly enough.