• Bittersweet by Shauna Niequiest: Until I reviewed Bread & Wine last year, I’d never head of Shauna Niequist. A few pages into that book, she quickly became one of those authors who could re-write the phone book and I’d eagerly devour it. I’ve since read Cold Tangerines, and a few weeks ago finished Bittersweet. Her books are series of essays, sometimes amusing, sometimes painfully honest, and always thought-provoking takes on faith, food, family, and life in general. Whatever she writes, I will gladly read. In short, I am a big, big fan of hers.
• Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage by Allison Vesterfelt. I really enjoyed this one, as it combined something I love (travel) with something that I find difficult to do (let go of baggage, both literally and metaphorically). Finding her life in a rut, Vesterfelt took a leap of faith and embarked with a musician friend on a six-month journey to visit every state in the U.S. While her friend played gigs in cities big and small across the country, Vesterfelt helped market her shows while blogging about their adventures and misadventures. More than just a travel diary, this book was a challenge to say yes to adventure and to leave behind the things slowing us down.
• From Scratch: Inside the Food Network by Allen Salkin: I just finished this one yesterday, having checked it out from the library last week. I’ve watched the Food Network off and on over the past decade or so, and was interested to read about the network’s humble beginnings and the behind-the-scenes power struggles at play in building it into the powerhouse that it is today. While it did drag a bit in some places, I did enjoy in particular reading about the various Food Network personalities and how they really act when the cameras aren’t rolling.
• The Expats by Chris Pavone: Another library find, I just started this mystery/thriller last night and am only one chapter in, so too soon to tell if I’ll like it. It got rave reviews so I’m optimistic that it will hold my attention. [Update: Last night I had trouble getting to sleep, so, rather than continuing to toss and turn, I decided to read more of The Expats. I quickly became engrossed and finally had to make myself put the book down and turn out the light so I could get some shut-eye. I’m now 9 chapters in and having a hard time putting it down.]
• Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl by Debra Ollivier: A recent Paperback Swap freebie, this is a fun book on the characteristics of the quintessential French life, written by an American who lived in France for several years. I have long felt an affinity with all things French and long to visit Paris (any generous benefactors out there who want to make my dreams come true and send me?). In the past few years I have accumulated several books about Paris and the French life, and while this one is not my favorite on the subject, it’s still been a fun and easy read.
• Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz: Having read (and greatly enjoyed) Julia Child’s autobiography (My Life in France), I was excited to find this biography at the library and plan to start it soon. France and food…are you sensing a pattern here among my book choices?
• The Hunger: A Story of Food, Desire and Ambition by John DeLucie: Another Paperback Swap acquisition, another behind-the-scenes look at the food industry (this time, the restaurant biz). I’m hoping this isn’t one of those books that reveals a little too much about how a restaurant kitchen operates and makes me never want to eat out again.
So, have you read any good books lately? Any recommendations for what to add to my “read next” list?