Born in The Netherlands, raised in Ireland, and currently living in France, Yvette Van Boven has no shortage of inspiration for her fantastic books. Each of her three volumes includes straightforward recipes for seasonally-relevant comfort food, party food and drinks, and just about every kind of meal in between. She goes to great length to create step-by-step instructions (with pictures!) to help anyone make their own cider, breads, and canned goods. I live, breathe, and swear by all of her books, and I can’t wait to see what she’ll make next.
Jess, her older sister, and her parents are traveling from Alabama to California to witness the rapture and the return of Jesus. Jess, a begrudging believer and all of fifteen years old is one of the most interesting narrators I've had the pleasure of hearing from in a good, long time. The story focuses tightly on Jess's family and their three-day pilgrimage towards the end of the world, but never for a second did I want Mary Miller's story to move from them. She writes with such purpose and such attention to the story as a whole, and I'm very, very excited for whatever Miller creates next.
If you spend your time thinking about space and stars and space travel and cats, then this book will fulfill all of your dreams! Professor Astro Cat takes his readers across the galaxy and teaches them everything they could want to know about space with some of the most exciting space illustrations since HA Rey (who is also really really good).
Flipping through my well-worn copy of French Milk I find myself reading it all over again, compulsively and joyfully. Part mother-daughter memoir, part travelogue, part gastrologue, and all her own drawings, this is writer and artist Lucy Knisley’s account of a month-and-a-half-long trip she and her mother took to Paris during her senior year of college. Smart and snarky and slightly full of its Parisian self, Knisely reigns in distaste for being “young” and the apprehension of becoming “old” familiar to anyone who doesn’t want to admit to having had a quarter-life crisis. Also a very good book for anyone who really likes pictures of food.
This second book by artist and writer Lucy Knisley is a memoir about being a child raised by foodies and caterers, as well as a look into the art of being well fed in New York and Chicago (where Knisley grew up, and where she went to college). If you read French Milk and loved it as you ought to, then reading Relish will be another encounter with an old friend, whose artwork has matured and whose storytelling skills have doubled – if you can believe it. If you did not read French Milk then a) you really should, but b) you’ll adore what she creates for you in this newest of food-writing classics.
It’s no secret that I love food and all that goes with it - cooking, baking, photography, and definitely books about all of the above. Gabrielle Hamilton’s memoir Blood, Bones & Butter is a great example of everything chefs’ memoirs have to offer. Food is, it seems, inextricably linked to family and the past. Hamilton does an incredibly heartbreaking job of explaining her path from being abandoned by her parents on the family farm - and possibly the world’s worst waitress to boot - to the chef and owner of the highly successful restaurant Prune in New York City’s East Village. Besides being one of the most interesting memoir’s I’ve read, this is also one of the most intimate and thoughtful.
Factually speaking, Andrea Gibson is awesome. A spoken word poet by trade, her written work is meant to be heard and seen and sung. This volume is physical and exciting, and I’ll just leave this with a quote:
I’ve never seen a bomb drop. I’ve never felt hunger.
I’ve also never seen lightning strike
but I know we’ve all heard the thunder
and it doesn’t take a genius to tell something’s burning.
Behold! A highly readable, interesting, and humorous account of all of history! Or, nearly all of history, as the title would indicate. This book will be enjoyed by anyone who has ever paused and contemplated just how much the human race understands, or how we’ve gotten to where we are.
Many things that started on the internet have become books, and Working Class Foodie is arguably my favorite. My cooking and baking desires almost always outweigh my monetary restrictions, but cookbook is a gateway to cheap (and tasty!) eating and living. Lando includes not only recipes but cheap pantry basics and alternatives, which is awesome for those of us who’d like to be a bit more self-sustaining that Ritz Crackers and TopRamen want us to be. Definitely a must-buy for college students and recent grads.
Kublai Khan sits down with young Marco Polo – one, as old and melancholy as his waning empire, the other young and filled with stories of his travels. These fantastical tales of fictional cities serve as a guide, on behalf of Marco Polo for the emperor, to traveling and to noticing, even when some situations make those things very, very difficult. I read this in the earliest days of my poetry-writing education, and though they are not poems as such, the book builds on itself the way the best volumes of poetry do as well.
Welcome to Savannah, Georgia: they have bacon-jam empanadas, peanut-butter-and-jelly bars, and some of the best cupcakes known to man (sorry, Molly’s). The husband-and-wife team of Cheryl and Griffith Day have stuffed this book with awesome recipes, and kept the anecdotes to a minimum - sometimes, recipe stories are fun, but this book is all business when it comes to accessible and delicious sweet and savory baked goods.
This is far and away one of the best cookbook investments I’ve made. I bought this when I was living abroad for half a year and left all my own cookbooks at home (cooking off a laptop screen is harder than I thought it would be). In here are some fantastic burger recipes, gluten-free cake, and my favorite recipes for mussels. This is for beginners and the most well-trained chef, including both instructions for basics and traditional fare turned on its head.
Part Alice in Wonderland, part Jungle Book, this series is an underrated classic. Elmer runs away from home to rescue a baby dragon and finds more adventure on his way than he could have anticipated. This is a great series those just starting chapter books, or just anyone who really loves dragons (that’s me).
Ursula K. Le Guin is a giant of science fiction, and this book is probably my favorite of hers. Set on the planet Winter in some kind of not-so-distant future, an ambassador from Earth is sent to negotiate a peace settlement, but finds himself wrapped up in confusing new kinds of people, a disorienting government, all combining to make one of the best science fiction-thrillers I’ve ever read.
Getting tired with your run-of-the-mill fantasy series? Valente is known for her adult science fiction and fantasy books, and this new series for younger readers is so smart and funny and exciting that I’d recommend it for anyone looking for a new adventure. September definitely ranks up with Alice, Hermione Granger and Lyra Silvertongue as one of my favorite young heroines.
This book is a fairytale for those of us who took a break from believing in them. A woman (who is also a star) falls to the sky into a mythical land (in England) and is kidnapped by a young man to impress his true love – all while being hunted by kings and witches and pirates. This story is painfully hilarious, and excellent for a chilly day spent in with a book. Full disclosure: I love everything of Neil Gaiman’s, so if you haven’t read his books, I recommend ALL of them. Yes. All of them. And the graphic novels.
Autobiography is a coming of age story told as poetry dripping with mythology. It’s heartbreaking and generous and unlike most kinds of poetry circulating today. A professor of Classics, Carson raises everyone’s expectations, and exceeds anything you could have expected. Like this: “His mother saw it mothers are like that Trust me she said Engineer of his softness You don’t have to make up your mind right away Behind her red right cheek Geryon could see Coil of the hot plate starting to glow.”
This anthology is exactly what you want it to be: a fleet of famous writers came together and written short stories based on their favorite songs. Johnathan Lethem, Aimee Bender, JT Leroy and Lester Bangs, amongst others, open up in a way people rarely do – except when trying to talk about their favorite song. I highly recommend this for music and book lovers alike.
I love this book so much; it’s taken me months to be able to verbalize it for the sake of this staff review. Among the seas of coming-of-age novels, this book shines above as one of the most successful and beautiful coming-of-college stories I’ve ever read. Filled with kind, strange, and broken characters, Fangirl invites us into one small group’s freshman year of college, and what it means to fit in on your own terms, outside the seemingly-endless days of high school, and the permanent arms of your family. This book’s equal is probably only found in Rowell’s other young adult novel, Eleanor and Park.
This book is the perfect graduation from middle grade science fiction and fantasy into young adult fantasy – Riggs writes an incredibly intelligent and powerful story for those of us willing to set aside what we think is “reality” just long enough to consider a whole slew of other possibilities. For anyone who has read (or might someday read) Neil Gaiman and his contemporaries, I highly recommend this book – and good news! This is merely the first in a series, so there will be more fantastical kids and strange photographs and parallel universes to come!
I was extremely excited for this book, and thank goodnessit paid off many times over. This an identity story, and a migration story, and a kind of war story. Masha, the main character, feels like both a part of myself and a friend I hope never to have - the kind of heartbreakingly honest embodiment of what a person wants, and what they're hopelessly striving for. All this to say - it's only January 2014, but this is without a doubt one of my favorite books of the year.
Have you ever thought, “man, this Shakespeare guy, his stuff could be way better if there were more jokes and sass and Ophelia kicking butt and Hamlet's dad being silly?” Well you are in luck! This is a Chose Your Own Adventure edition of Hamlet (iambic pentameter not included), and at the end of every “story” is an illustration done by some all of the story endings are illustrated by one of the awesomest cartoonists around – including Kate Beaton and Nicole Stevenson!
I am aware that some people of a certain age are required to read this book for school, and if you are one of these lucky individuals, then REJOICE because this is one of the most hilarious and interesting and books that you will read. BUT! If you are not required to read this book – you should read it anyway, because Alexie's ability to write books for adults is directly transferred into his young adult literature, and this is not a book to be skipped.