2013 Summer Reading Guide
Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes

Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes

Imagine the best of the Food Network, with a lot more girl talk mixed in. Niequist's food writing will make your mouth water, but this book isn't just about the food. Her recipes are vehicles—to conversation, community, and all good things that happen when people gather around the table. Bread and Wine contains some great-looking recipes (Green Well salad, Michigan blueberry crisp, magical white bean soup) that will inspire you to get cooking. The short chapters make this perfect summer reading. Just clear your calendar for that dinner party you'll want to throw when you're finished with it.

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The Wednesday Wars

The Wednesday Wars

This wonderful work of historical fiction revolves around middle school drama, baseball, and the Vietnam War. You may enjoy sharing this one with the kid in your life (if they’re 10 or so or older). Fans of E. L. Konigsburg will love this funny and poignant book.

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The Kid from Tomkinsville

The Kid from Tomkinsville

In this classic sports story, teenager Roy Tucker is called up from his Connecticut hometown to help the Brooklyn Dodgers out of a slump. A baseball story for the ages (and thought to be an influence on Bernard Malamud’s The Natural).

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Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life Of A Critic In Disguise

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life Of A Critic In Disguise

When Ruth Reichl takes the plum job of New York Times food critic, she’s determined to let ordinary diners know what the city’s great restaurants are really like. What's so hard about that? But she soon discovers that the Times food critic is no ordinary diner: her headshot adorns the wall of every kitchen in the city so the staff can spot her—and wow her. Not you. So Reichl goes undercover, enlisting the help of an old theater friend to become a sultry blond, a gregarious redhead, and a tweedy brunette, each with her own backstory. Her mission: to experience the city's great restaurants as just another diner. A fascinating read for any foodie, or student of human nature.

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The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks

While shopping one night, Le Cordon Bleu grad Flinn bumps into a woman whose cart is filled with hyper-processed food. They strike up a conversation, and it turns out the woman simply can’t cook. Following this grocery store epiphany, Flinn collects 9 volunteers--all non-cooks--for weekly cooking lessons, and The Kitchen Counter Cooking School is born. Flinn’s belief in the power of home cooking is contagious, and her foundational (and fantastic) recipes might just change the way you cook.

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Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

An MMD Summer Reading Guide pick. Cooked documents the middle link of the food chain: what happens to our food after it comes out of the ground, but before it enters our bellies. The journalistic narrative is elegantly divided into four parts, each exploring a different classical element: fire, water, air, and earth. It gets a little science-y in places, yet it remains thoughtful, wise, and (unexpectedly) funny.

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Carry On, Warrior

Carry On, Warrior

Like the rest of the world, I first encountered Glennon Melton after her blog post “Don’t Carpe Diem” went viral. It appears in this essay collection, alongside other popular posts from Momastery and a good bit of new material. Funny, poignant, and brave.

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Makers: The New Industrial Revolution

Makers: The New Industrial Revolution

In this fascinating follow-up to The Long Tail Wired editor Anderson explores what it means when almost anyone can own the means of production. He examines what it looks like when the Web generation turns to the real world, covering today’s cottage industries, niche markets, the new “factories,” and what it means for our future.

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The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

The OED project began in 1857, and took 70 years to complete, even with the help of thousands of contributors. One of the most prolific contributors, submitting nearly ten thousand entries over the course of 20 years, was Dr. William Chester Minor, an American Civil War veteran from Connecticut, who turned out to be an inmate at one of Britain’s harshest insane asylums. A fascinating and mysterious true story. The audio edition is fantastic. This is the audiobook that got me hooked on audiobooks.

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Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L’Engle in Many Voices

Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L’Engle in Many Voices

For longtime L’Engle fans, and anyone intrigued/appalled/bewildered by the devastating New Yorker piece, this collection provides the ultimate (inconclusive) 360 review. More than 50 friends, colleagues, family members, and fans shed light on the real Madeleine L’Engle. The contradicting accounts (sometimes wildly so) add to the fascination.

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

This genre-defying narrative combines history, science, memoir, and biography. You’ve been affected by the HeLa cells derived from Maryland woman Henrietta Lacks, called “immortal” because they thrive in the lab: they’ve been used to develop the polio vaccine, cure cancer, and fight the flu. But her family didn’t discover anything about the cells until more than twenty years after her 1951 death. Skloot unearths the incredible story of how that happened, weaving the tale of the HeLa cells together with Lacks’ personal narrative.

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What It Is Is Beautiful: Honest Poems for Mothers of Small Children

What It Is Is Beautiful: Honest Poems for Mothers of Small Children

I knew from the first poem (“Welcome to Facebook”) that these 19 short poems were just my speed--and stage of life. The narrative threads remind me of David Whyte. This collection can be read (and re-read) all in a sitting or one poem at a time, giving you plenty to reflect on while you’re lounging by the pool. Poignant, sweet, and funny.

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Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

$4.99$2.99

You’ve heard the buzz; maybe you’ve read the reviews. What can I say? Read it. Using equal parts memoir, instruction guide, and manifesto, Sandberg tells her story of how she built a career that made it worth staying in the workplace, and she encourages other women to do the same. A timely read, for women and men.

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Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

This story-driven business book teaches you how to make better decisions, drawing on case studies on everything from whether or not to fire an employee to whether or not to undergo a risky bone marrow transplant. The Heath brothers are whip-smart and really funny, making Decisive a million times better than your typical business book. Everyone will find a useful takeaway.

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The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars

$9.99$2.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

The title of this YA hit riffs Shakespeare: wholly appropriate for this story of teenage star-crossed lovers (and cancer patients). 16-year-old narrator Hazel is smart, funny, and sincere, and she tells a great story. Quirky, charming, heartbreaking.

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The Main Dish

The Main Dish

Michael Ruhlman has written more than a dozen books on cooking and has worked with an impressive list of chefs (among them Thomas Keller, Michael Symon, Eric Ripert). Ruhlman knew since he was a kid that he wanted to write for a living, but he never intended to be a food writer. In this Kindle single (10,000 words/35 pages, and just $2), Ruhlman shares the improbable story of how he found his calling. Remember, he’s friends with Bourdain--this one’s briefly crude at two or three places.

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You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life

You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life

Roosevelt penned this book--part memoir, part advice manual--in 1960, when she was 76 years old. It’s striking how fresh and wise her insight seems today, over fifty years later. Roosevelt offers an interesting perspective on history, unique insights into her life (which contained a surprising amount of personal tragedy), and a good bit of wisdom you might just apply to your own life.

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A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, And The Things That Really Matter

A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, And The Things That Really Matter

Deresiewicz had zero interest in reading Jane Austen—he thought it was chick-lit, fluffy and boring. But then as a young grad student he was forced to read Emma for class, and actually reading Austen shattered his preconceptions. A Jane Austen Education is part memoir, part literary criticism: Deresiewicz reflects on the path of his own life through each of Jane Austen’s novels in turn. It works.

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Surprised By Oxford

Surprised By Oxford

Weber's memoir of how she converted to faith while studying at Oxford is sincere and smart. Weber clearly intended the book to be as much Christian apologetics as memoir, and the writing often has an academic, rather than a personal, feel. I’m afraid the dialogue suffers a bit for it, but it’s definitely worth a go if spiritual memoirs are your cup of tea.

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My Life in France

My Life in France

Child didn’t stumble into the world of French cooking until she was 36, when she moved to Paris with her husband Paul, who worked for the U.S. Foreign Service. It was 1948. Since she had no job and nothing else to do, she began shopping the French markets, learning the style, and taking cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu. Julia’s tales will entertain, inspire, and make you laugh out loud.

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