Our Year in Books: Brooke

Article by brooke

Every great book should contain a description of food. I love to hear what people are eating, whether it’s those Proustian madeleines or green eggs and ham. And when I read about food, it makes me hungry. It’s one of the great trials of my life that it is almost impossible to literally eat and read at the same time. Ride the bus and read, sure. Sit in math class and read, definitely. But it’s pretty difficult to cut steak and read Marilynne Robinson simultaneously. Still, even if you have to juggle cutlery, there’s nothing better than a tasty snack and a good book--and what better place to consume food for both the body and the mind than at a local eatery? Grab a book and indulge in a tasty treat at one of these great local spots.

Loitering: New and Collected Essays By Charles D'Ambrosio Cover Image
ISBN: 9781935639879
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Tin House Books - November 11th, 2014

I fell in love with essays this year, and Charles D’Ambrosio’s collection tops the list. D’Ambrosio’s essays are funny, moving, and subversive, whether the author is wondering where he can find just “a pork chop’s worth” of whale for dinner or ruminating on the Seattle of his childhood, where there was “an abundance of clams and a paucity of culture.” Chuck is just great, and you’re going to love him.

The Snack
Goode Company Seafood
In a nod to the nautical themes of these essays, go eat some seafood. It might come from the Gulf instead of Seattle’s fish markets, but hey, we’re trying to keep things local. In addition to trying to hunt down some whale meat for dinner, at one point D’Ambrosio roasts a piece of fish over a fire using the dipstick from his truck as a skewer. See what I mean? This guy is awesome.

Staff Pick Badge
Faces in the Crowd By Valeria Luiselli, Christina Macsweeney (Translator) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566893541
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Coffee House Press - May 13th, 2014

No one can make a cigarette sound more delicious than Valeria Luiselli. I was hooked on the novel when I hit this description of the office where the narrator works as a translator: “It was a pleasant, comfortable place and, what’s more, I was allowed to smoke...I would sit down at my desk, roll a cigarette of Virginia tobacco, and work late into the night.”

The Snack
Smoke a Cigarette at Agora
Back in the day, everyone was allowed to smoke inside the Agora. I remember walking into it for the first time to a haze of blue smoke drifting skyward to the balcony. Now you have to sit on the patio--but what a pleasant patio it is. Light up and linger in the fractured, beautiful world of Luiselli’s fiction. Get a cup of coffee or a beer to go with that cigarette. This book is pretty short and fueled by cigarettes and coffee, you’ll probably motor through it and want some more. You’re in luck because Luiselli wrote a fantastic book of essays, SIDEWALKS, released at the same time. Go on a bender and read them back to back. You won’t regret it.

Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau By Andrea Beaty, David Roberts (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Andrea Beaty, David Roberts (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781419712197
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Harry N. Abrams - September 2nd, 2014

I’m a sucker for picture books. I think I like them more than most kids do. Madame Chapeau is a lonely hatmaker who has lost her prized birthday bonnet. Packaged in pale pink and filled with pictures of outlandish headwear and delicious cakes, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MADAME CHAPEAU is so pretty you’ll want to eat it.

The Snack
Croissant at Common Bond
Don’t worry about strangers judging you for reading a picture book to yourself! Tote your copy of HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MADAME CHAPEAU to Common Bond where you can get a delicious croissant the size of your face.

Fourth of July Creek: A Novel By Smith Henderson Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062286444
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Ecco - May 27th, 2014

It’s manly, it’s gritty, it’s got guns and vicious dog attacks. FOURTH OF JULY CREEK is also a beautifully written adventure yarn (plus romance, plus addiction). Smith Henderson’s debut about a Montana social worker and his run-ins with a wily mountain man and his young son made a big splash this year, and lucky for you, we’ve still got some signed copies.

The Snack
Whiskey at Poison Girl
You better drink some whiskey with this one. Please drink responsibly. Or don’t. No one in this book does.

Weasels By Elys Dolan, Elys Dolan (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Elys Dolan, Elys Dolan (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780763671006
Availability: UNAVAILABLE
Published: Candlewick Press - February 25th, 2014

Another fantastic picture book! These weasels are bent on world domination, but something has gone terribly wrong with their machine. Fueled by massive amounts of coffee, the weasels scurry around trying to find a solution. This book is chock full of hilarious details that reward repeat readings.

The Snack
Cortado at Catalina
These weasels are cracked out on coffee for most of this book, so you’d better go to Catalina and get a cup yourself. Every cup of coffee from Catalina is like Mary Poppins--practically perfect in every way--but the cortado is especially choice.

On Immunity: An Inoculation By Eula Biss Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555976897
Availability: UNAVAILABLE
Published: Graywolf Press - September 30th, 2014

Another great essay collection. Eula Biss's essays about the immunization debate range from the personal to the body politic and back again. Drawing on her experiences as a mother and an astonishing diversity of sources, Biss plumbs our ancient fear of infection. Acknowledging the permeability of our borders and bodies, she arrives at the conclusion that "immunity is a shared space--a garden we tend together." Biss's precise language and wry humor make ON IMMUNITY as engaging as it is informative.

The Snack
Cheese from Houston Dairymaids
Bear with me here--this one is going to be kind of a stretch. Eula Biss talks about early vaccinations, and of course, she talks about smallpox. You know the story: milkmaids never seemed to get the disease, and eventually this guy figured out it was because they were exposed to cowpox, which immunized them against smallpox. At any rate, milk comes from cows and cheese comes from milk. Voila. Eat some cheese with this book. The cheese from Houston Dairymaids is so delicious that whenever we get a cheese plate for an event, we secretly hope no one will show up so we can keep the cheese for ourselves.

Lila (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel By Marilynne Robinson Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9780374187613
Availability: OUT OF PRINT - Not Available for Order
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 7th, 2014

Return to Gilead in time for the holidays. The latest from Marilynne Robinson, LILA is the history of John Ames’s wife. In GILEAD, she mostly just sits on the porch, but now she gets a voice of her own. Lila’s history is pretty salty, but you know Marilynne--she’s not much for dishing. Although Lila is a former tramp and prostitute, the book is full of hope and redemption (but not in an annoying way).

The Snack
Wine at Camerata
Lila eats a decent amount of corn pone in this book, but no one is excited about that. Have a big glass of red wine because, you know, John Ames is a preacher. Communion and whatnot. Plus, Marilynne Robinson’s novels are slow-moving beauties and should be savored like a fine wine.

Staff Pick Badge
Inside Madeleine By Paula Bomer Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616953096
Availability: UNAVAILABLE
Published: Soho Press - May 13th, 2014

Normally I don't recommend books based on their ability to induce vomiting, but in this case, I feel it’s apt. Paula Bomer’s new short story collection is not for the faint of heart. These gut-wrenching stories about girls at work, in school, or at loose ends will make you laugh out loud and possibly throw up as her characters share the gritty, strange, and poignant details of their lives. Bomer writes with equal power about the tough girl, the quiet girl, and the wild child. The title novella is a heartbreaker about the eating-disordered and lonely Madeleine, whose story loops right around to the opening short story. A stunning collection that you won't forget anytime soon.

The Snack
Phoencia Specialty Foods
Madeleine eats just about everything in this book (until she eats nothing), so you’ll want an array to choose from. Phoenicia has it all: meats, cakes, pies, bread, tea, wine, coffee, beer. Go wild. Just don’t purge afterwards.

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