Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Behind the Bookshelf: Interview with a bookseller, Liberty Hardy


Given the upcoming holiday weekend (yay), I decided to post this next bookseller interview a little early. I may also be a tad excited to feature another awesome lady. Meet Liberty Hardy, aka The Demon Bookseller of Fleet Street. Liberty is a bookselling beast. She's a bookseller at RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth, New Hampshire where she runs a popular book recommendation service called Paperback to the Future. Let's all pause and sign up for this immediately!

I'm nowhere near done telling you about Liberty's book cred. She also finds time to write the Well-Readheads column on Book Riot with another person we stalk follow, Rebecca Joines Schinsky. As if that weren't enough, she also runs a couple of her own Tumblrs. Basically, listen to what this lady says.

What are you currently reading? Thoughts on it?

Let's see. I just read Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet, which was flipping fantastic. And I'm going to start The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez, as soon as I finish answering these questions. Which I hear is also flipping fantastic.

What books are you most looking forward to this year?

Well, it had been The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I have read her first book, The Secret History, once a year since it was released, so I was foaming at the mouth for her new one. And because I am a lucky, lucky girl, I got to read an advance copy of it and it is AMAZING. Loved it so hard. Other books I'm excited for are the new Margaret Atwood and the new Catherine O'Flynn. I want everyone to read Catherine O'Flynn. She's amazing! And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a wee bit curious about Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining. And Melville House is reprinting The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley - I can't resist a book about a bookstore. Oh, and the new Lauren Grodstein! Love her, love her, love her. I'm going to stop there, or we'll be here all day.

Did you set any reading goals for 2013? If so, what are they? 

I set the same goal every year: read 250 books. Most years I meet it, some years I far exceed it, and some years I fall a little short. I don't beat myself up about it too much - as long as I'm reading, I'm happy. Damn it feels good to be a reader.

What three characters would you invite to the bar for a drink?

Ohhhhh, good question. I'm just going to say the first three that come to mind: The Judge from Blood Meridian, Shem Shem Tsien from Angelmaker and Asher Lev from My Name is Asher Lev. There's one table that would tip in favor of evil. I would have said Turtle Wexler from The Westing Game, but she's not old enough to drink.

If you could convince any two authors to write a book together, who would it be? Why?

Chuck Wendig and A. S. King! Because I think they are two of the most innovative, kick-ass, conscientious authors out there and they would make an awesome book! It would be unstoppable. I'm imagining it now like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters II. Only nicer. And with tattoos. It would rule the world.

What's the most annoying book you see flying off the shelves?

I don't know about annoying book, because people read what they want to read, and that's great, because YAY BOOKS. I will say it's a little frustrating when it seems like almost everyone wants the same book when there are so many other amazing books out there. That's one of the great things about working in an indie bookstore - we can tell people about books we love that they may have never considered on their own.

If you could give people one piece of advice to prep them for entering a bookstore, what would it be?

ASK QUESTIONS. Ask a bookseller to help you locate a book - it may not be where you think it is because it's on the staff pick table, or the new hardcover table. ASK. And ask them to help you remember the name of a book. We love this game, and we're good at it! You'd be amazed what we can figure out from a few adjectives. And ask for recommendations! I guarantee some of the best books you'll ever read will be recommendations from a bookseller. Booksellers love to talk about books like Dobby loves socks. We never get tired of making suggestions. ASK.

Monday, August 26, 2013

On missing my grandma

 I've been missing my grandma lately, and this evening it hit me that maybe it's because the anniversary of her death just passed. She shares that with Teddy Kennedy.

Maybe it's because the Simpsons have been airing daily in syndication on one of my non-cable channels. She loved Bart Simpson something fierce and even had a stuffed doll. I never did understand her love for the Simpsons.

Maybe it's because Tiger Woods has been in the news. She used to love to watch Tiger Woods play golf. I never understood that either.

Maybe it's because I edited the first few pages of my novel (for a thing), and the grandma character is based almost entirely on my own.

Maybe it's just because I love her.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Parasite by Mira Grant


I devoured Parasite, the first book in Mira Grant's new Parasitology series. The thing I enjoy about Grant's books is her attempt to create a plausible scientific explanation* for the crazy scenarios she throws her characters into. Her use of the interaction between the cure for cancer and the common cold as causation for zombie-ism drew me into her Newsflesh series**, and Parasite didn't disappoint.

Parasite begins in 2021 with Sally Mitchell, our main protagonist, slowly awakening in a hospital bed after being in a coma, confused and surrounded by family who were preparing to say goodbye and remove her from the life support machines. The story jumps ahead and follows Sally as she struggles to build a life despite remembering nothing of her existence prior to the accident. Her world is one in which SymboGen, a major pharmaceutical company, has created a genetically engineered tapeworm that is designed to keep its human host healthy. The company has managed to convince huge swaths of the population to infect themselves with what they believe is a beneficial parasite. As you can imagine, things quickly get all Harry Carry.

Grant crafts an exciting story with plenty of quirky characters. She uses a similar tactic she employed in her Newsflesh series by kicking chapters off with excerpts from books, diary entries and other historic documents to fill in the back story and help us figure out how they got themselves into this mess. This actually seems a popular trend with dystopian titles. Can one of you research and let me know who started this? Max Brooks with World War Z?

It should come as no surprise to the folks who know how much I love Outbreak that I enjoyed this. Can you piece together what will happen before Grant leads you there? Absolutely. That doesn't make it any less fun.

Parasite comes out on October 29, 2013.

*Yes, yes. I'm sure real scientists scoff at the ideas she throws out.
**Feed (book #1) is the best at this. My love tapered off with each new addition.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Vedge, a review

Remember when I said I was no Ruth Reichl? Don't worry, I haven't started suffering from any grand delusions. However, the meal I had on Saturday was too good not to tell you about!

Vedge is a vegan restaurant housed in one of Philadelphia's historic buildings and is evidently hot right now. I hear one of the chefs won one of the cooking reality competitions (not my bag), and it definitely took about a month to get a reservation that wasn't for 10PM. Personally, I'll admit that I was a little worried. I'm no stranger to vegan food, but I really did expect to have to suffer a bit and leave hungry.

sweet potato pate
wood grilled sweet potato paté, grain mustard, jerk cashews, toast

As soon as the smoky flavor of the sweet potato hit my tongue, I knew I was in good hands. Was that bacon? I mean I know it wasn't, but that rich hint of campfire could allow me to delude myself. I can't explain it, but combining all of these things on a wedge of toast was pretty damn fine. Like I could eat it every day fine.

fingerling potatoes
fingerling fries, creamy worcestershire

When I worked at the bookstore, a few of us would go to the local Fridays after work for an adult beverage and orders of fries with honey mustard. I used to love those fries. On Saturday, I discovered the grown up, more sophisticated version of this fry combination. I have this tell when I eat something particularly special. It's really sort of embarrassing. My cheeks flush a brilliant red, and there is a small smile that I can't keep off of my face. Despite my best attempt at a poker face, the fries (above) elicited that stupid blush.

spicy grilled tofu, gochujang, edamame, smoked miso, yuba cracklin

What can I say, even the spicy tofu was pretty fantastic*.

The restaurant, itself, was straightforward, modern and comfortable. The waitstaff were friendly and efficient. I'm not even holding it against them that our neighbors received a complimentary amuse-bouche, while we did not. The bottom line is that Vedge excelled at pulling off creative flavor combinations that didn't taste anything other than plain delicious. Vegans and non-vegans alike should make sure not to miss out when traveling to Philadelphia.

*Dude, descriptors for food are hard.

On finding my grandma in Philadelphia

street artThe minute he eased himself onto the bench beside me I began to feel uncomfortable. I looked up at The Book Trader storefront, willing Ravena to walk out. He mumbled something to himself, but I was too wrapped up in my own awkwardness to make out what he was saying. 

"That guy looked just like Tiny Tim," he said again, clearly lobbing the comment in my direction. Hasn't this guy heard of stranger danger? Those early lessons my mom taught me have stuck. My nodding head, however, was not going to be enough. "Didn't he?" Tiny Tim was someone I'd heard of, but I couldn't match that with a face. Bench man indicated that I must be too young (I am) and not so subtly asked if I had "the internet with me" and told me to look it up. Evidently, I was in this conversation.

It turns out stranger danger wasn't the only thing on my mind. In the few seconds during which this transpired, I remembered my grandma and the fact that she never met a stranger. That one was always eager to talk to any and everyone. I thought about how I'd want someone to respond if this were my grandma sitting on the bench, trying to make conversation, and about how old people can sometimes be lonely. I turned to look (really look) at Bench Man. Beside me sat an older gentleman with a Long Island accent, oddly reminiscent of my constitutional law professor. He had tortoise shell "Jackie O" sunglasses on over his glasses and a baseball cap perched on his head. You'll think I'm embellishing, but he really did have on shorts and those white, athletic socks pulled up as far as they'd go.

So, yeah, I was in the conversation, and what followed was a 5- to 10-minute discussion that ranged from Tiny Tim to whether Lady Gaga was just a wannabe Madonna to how crazy it was that Diana Ross was touring this summer. Before I knew it, he got up, thanked me for a lovely conversation and disappeared into the throngs of pedestrians along the street.

That conversation--sitting on a park bench across from The Book Trader in downtown Philadelphia--ended up being one of the best parts of my entire weekend.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Books and food in the City of Brotherly Love

I took a quick trip to Philly on Saturday, pretty much for the sole purpose of eating at Vedge.  
[This is a lie. It wasn't quick. It took 5 hours to get there.] It's one of those cities where, each time I visit, I explore a new corner. I never seem to be there very long, so it's kind of a slow courtship.

Before heading up, I looked up local comic book stores. This write-up was really helpful. A description of the neighborhood and its proximity to a used bookstore and Shane's Confectionery made visiting Brave New Worlds a no-brainer.

The Book Trader

It turns out there were two bookstores nearby, one with a focus on used art and films books (how cool!) and The Book Trader. If not for a touch of claustrophobia, The Book Trader might have been a dream. Books crammed in every imaginable crevice, playing a precarious game of chicken with the ceiling.

shelves at The Book Trader

The only repeat visit this trip was lunch at Blackbird Pizzeria. They serve mighty fine vegan pizza and have me wishing they'd open a branch down in VA. Of course, maybe then it wouldn't be quite as special. ;-)

vegan pizza @ Blackbird Pizzeria

I'll post a review of Vedge later this week. It was fantastic enough to warrant its own post.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Behind the Bookshelf: Interview with a bookseller, Kelly Justice

Photo by Scott Elmquist
We're hanging out in one of my favorite cities again this week. Meet Kelly Justice, owner of Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia. Yep, that's right. This badass lady owns a bookstore! Raise your hand if that's ever been your dream.

Kelly bought this Richmond institution (it's been around since 1978) in 2008 but began the process of turning the bookstore into a community destination in 2000. Lucky for you, if you can't make it down to Richmond, you can visit the Fountain Bookstore's online home.

What are you currently reading? Thoughts on it?

Right now I'm reading Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him. Many years ago I was half owner of a comedy booking agency and the number of my comics that looked to Pryor for inspiration was astonishing.  His life parallels the racial struggles of the nation at the time and his interactions with friends and acquaintances are like viewing a snapshot of an entire generation of entertainers.  It is an ultimately sad book, too.

What books are you most looking forward to this year?

I can't WAIT to sell Want Not by Jonathan Miles.  It's a tough book that won't be for everyone, but, man, is it a mammoth success for the type of reader that is not afraid of a bold message.  Also, The Disaster Artist.  It is revolting, hilarious, wildly improbable, and inspirational.

Did you set any reading goals for 2013? If so, what are they?

Not really.  I'm pretty satisfied with my reading attitudes and habits.  I should probably read more poetry.  And business books.

What three characters would you invite to the bar for a drink?

Hmmmm...a lot of authors come to mind, but I do that pretty regularly.  Let's see....let's have a dangerous evening, shall we?

1. Hannibal Lecter
2. Dorian Gray
3. Tom Ripley

Just to see who survives the night.  Villains are always more interesting than heroes.  Of course, I might not live very long with these three as bar companions, but all of them enjoy interesting conversation and company.

If you could convince any two authors to write a book together, who would it be? Why? 

I'd like to see China Mieville write a picture book with Adam Rex.  Wouldn't that be wild?

What's the most annoying book you see flying off the shelves? 

Any political "hate book" from either side.  Just watch TV, it's easier.

If you could give people one piece of advice to prep them for entering a bookstore, what would it be?

Any bookstore, or mine?  OK.  Two answers:

1. Any bookstore: The person behind that counter/shelving that book/cleaning that cat box is a human being with feelings.  So is everyone in service.  It takes less effort to keep your mouth shut than to say something mean and unnecessary.  "No thanks, I'll just get it on Amazon." is on the top of this list of crappy, unnecessary things to say.  I don't come into your house and explain how I'm going to take food out of your child's mouth, do I?

2. My bookstore: Open your eyes! Don't just look at the size of the shop and say, "They don't have anything." (See 1.)  People who give us a shot realize that it's a browser's paradise of colorfully showcased books that are carefully selected to satisfy and delight!  The store says "I love you! I picked these out just for you!"

What's your catnip, that familiar plotline or genre you can't help but pick up and devour? 

Here's a sample from the teaser copy of the upcoming Parasite, which I loved, by the way.  Just got a star in Publishers Weekly, too. 

This is my crack:

"A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.
We owe our good health to a humble parasite - a genetically engineered tapeworm ..."

Hit me.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Everything is the same


"I do not create. God creates. I assemble, and I steal from everywhere to do it." 
                                                                                              - George Balanchine via Austin Kleon

Struggling to be unique or carve out a niche can feel insurmountable. Maybe it's just me, but I'll have a BRILLIANT, AMAZING idea only to discover someone else has attempted something similar. The self confidence of my inner trailblazer waivers a little each time this happens. It's heartening to know I'm not alone. Hell, Austin Kleon dedicated swaths of his book, Steal Like an Artist, to the idea that nothing is truly original. And, if you're looking for really original source material, Ecclesiastes (1:9 NIV) warned us about this way, way back.

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."

It certainly helps explain the growing sense of deja vu when it comes to the art making it onto my radar screen. I started saving these to a secret Pinterest board just to assure myself I wasn't losing my mind. I'm not. There is definitely a faceless trend happening in at least a corner of the art world. In a funny way, they're kind of the antithesis to the visibility we yearn for when trying to be unique. 

I purposefully chose not to link to the artists for the pieces above because I don't want the artists to think I'm slamming them. Several of the pieces above would look great on my walls. It's just that, when viewed as a group, I find the repetitive concept a bit stale. If you're interested in tracking down the original artists for the pieces above, I've unlocked my Pinterest board, which includes links and artist names.

Monday, August 12, 2013



This summer I rediscovered my local used bookstores, which means I've been adding a few backlist titles to my reading list. I have all of this renewed excitement to tackle books I've meant to read for years! I remember working at the bookstore when Middlesex came out and adding it to my mental rolodex. It never made it further than that until now, but it was certainly worth the wait.

Middlesex (by Jeffrey Eugenides) is a Greek family saga and a coming of age story...with a twist. [Sidenote: Kids read this in school now, right? I wonder how it's taught.] Cal Stephanides, our intrepid narrator, let's us know right out of the gate that there's something unique about him.

"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974."

Tracking the journey of a chromosomal mutation through generations of Stephanides, we move through the incestual relationship between brother and sister (Cal's grandparents) fleeing war-torn Greece in 1922 to kissing cousins (his parents) in Detroit to the birth of a beautiful daughter. As Calliope navigates adolescence and the beginnings of puberty, hints of Judy Blume and Are You There God? It's me, Margaret come through as we see her struggle with her boyish figure and lack of a period. Woven throughout are glimpses into the life of modern-day Cal, still searching for fulfilling love.

I can't not mention the city of Detroit. More than just a historical backdrop, the city felt like a living, breathing character, playing an important role in shaping this immigrant family. Eugenides took us from the Black Bottom neighborhood of 1932 Detroit to the rise of the Nation of Islam to the 1967 riots and white flight to the suburbs. Between that and the peek into Greek culture, Eugenides dangled catnip in the form of plenty of "googlable" historic trails.

Finally, I wanted to give the author a standing ovation for knowing how to end a book. Too many of the books that I read these days just seem about a chapter or two too long. It's like authors feel some internal pressure to wrap everything up in a neat bow and don't trust readers enough to get what the author intends.

Bottom line? Read it. Eugenides earned that Pulitzer.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

List: Articles Rocking My Socks, 08.08.13


Slate's Dan Kois is blogging his beach week mass-market reading marathon.

15-million year old whale skull found on banks of the Potomac.

Molly Crabapple has been knocking it out of the park with her court drawings and reporting. Her Paris Review piece on the Bradley Manning verdict.

NYT piece on history's well-known authors as marketers.

Elisabeth Donnelly creating a connection between a bat and Nathan Fillion that I didn't think possible.

Housekeeping: To check out the articles I'm reading in real time, you can always follow me on Scoop.It. Also, if you're really into lists and have more follow through than I do, check out the 30 Days of Lists project.

Inspired by the Slate Culture Gabfest endorsements (and the numerous other lists that circulate online).

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Search for Stars Hollow: Cumberland, MD

You've probably noticed that most of my Search for Stars Hollow posts are focused on the Mid-Atlantic. Don't get me wrong, I'm not convinced my mythical town is nestled between the Appalachian Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay. I've just discovered that, in order to really know a town and be able to tell you about it, I need to get in more than one visit. And, despite how much I get around, most of my repeat visits are in and around my adopted state.

Cumberland MD

Cumberland is a small, historic town in western Maryland nestled beside the Potomac River. Rounding a corner on I-68, the city suddenly unfolds before you. Wander too far and you'll find yourself in West Virginia or Pennsylvania.

Initially, Cumberland was a town I blew through on my way to elsewhere. The church steeples caught my eye, but I would soldier on. I had bigger fish to fry. However, as a work project in the area began to take off and I found myself spending more and more time in the town, its charm and quirks began to burrow under my skin. Sitting around a table, sharing a drink with a few locals a couple of months ago, I was struck by the undeniable fact that Cumberland was as close to Stars Hollow as I'd ever come.

downtown Cumberland

Unlike most of the other small towns I've highlighted, Cumberland lacks some of the big box retail that is a drain on my soul. There are no Wal-Marts or Targets. There is no Starbucks. Instead, I grab my dirty chai from the cozy, well-appointed Cafe Mark or walk a few blocks over for the old-fashioned soda shop feel of Queen City Creamery. It's not the most vegan, vegetarian-friendly town, but if you indulge in the meat from time to time, you can grab a casual meal at The Crabby Pig (awesome crab cakes) or Curtis' Famous Weiners.

Luckily, Cumberland has also become somewhat of a hotbed for outdoor recreation. Situated along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath, it's the perfect overnight stop for biking from DC to Pittsburgh, as well as a good place to launch a day excursion. If I have my way, it's also going to a place to go for water recreation.

titans of industry

The people of Cumberland?! You guys! I wish I could tell you all about them, but I don't want anyone I'm working with there to take it the wrong way. Let me just say that the town is full of awesome, quirky characters. I've met Taylor Doose, sat through the town hall meeting, and talked squirrel hunting over bbq. While I haven't spotted a troubadour (the dream), the guys of Grand Ole' Ditch provide for lyrical storytelling. The Allegany Museum even has creepy dioramas.

Now let's talk festivals. The hottest ticket in town is the annual Delfest, three days of music, camping and adult beverages. I've yet to attend, but almost everyone goes. Two weeks later and folks were still talking about the after parties and late night venues (and these weren't folks in their 20s). Cumberland is also home to the Tri-State Wing-Off and Heritage Days festival.

Seriously, Cumberland just may be the Appalachian version of Stars Hollow.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Behind the Bookshelf: Interview with a bookseller, Rebecca Joines Schinsky

rebecca headshot
Continuing the trend of people I'm really excited about, meet Rebecca! Rebecca Joines Schinsky is the director of content and community for Riot New Media Group, where she writes for and edits Book Riot and Food Riot and oversees social media strategy. Prior to joining RNMG, Rebecca wrote about books, publishing, and the reading life at her popular literary site, The Book Lady's Blog, for four years.

I first stumbled across Rebecca a couple of months ago while on a quest for new book podcasts and am so glad I did. She has such an affable demeanor, and her enthusiasm for books is contagious. Scrolling through some of the recs she makes below, I'm also realizing there's a little bit of overlap in our book DNA (Margaret Atwood, FTW). I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I do!

What are you currently reading? Thoughts on it?

I’m in the middle of some good stuff! Merchants of Culture is a fascinating (if a little dry) history of the publishing industry. & Sons by David Gilbert is a gorgeous literary novel about a Salinger-esque novelist who reassesses his life and the mistakes he made with his sons after his lifelong best friend dies. Eloisa James’ When Beauty Tamed the Beast is a rollicking good time of a romance novel dressed up as a reworking of the fairy tale. The love scenes are pretty, erm, tame, but it’s a super fun story.

What books are you most looking forward to this year?

Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam, the final book in the eponymous trilogy, and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I’ve read the latter already, and it was exactly what I wanted from a long-awaited Tartt novel.

Did you set any reading goals for 2013? If so, what are they?

My goal every year is to read more than I read the year before, measured in pages rather than books. I start a lot more books than I finish, so pages read is the most reliable measure for my activity. I also set a less measurable goal to read more books outside my literary fiction wheelhouse, to experiment with genre, and to get familiar with romance and erotica writing.

What three characters would you invite to the bar for a drink?

Fun question! I’ve been in a lot of bars with authors, but never with a character. Let’s see. Owen Meany because can you imagine how hilarious his VERY LOUD voice would be when he got drunk? Sugar from The Crimson Petal and the White because girl has got some stories to tell. And I’m going to cheat now and say the whole cast of Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow because it’s one of my all-time favorite novels, and I’d want to see the characters interact with each other IRL.

If you could convince any two authors to write a book together, who would it be? Why?

There are a million possible answers to this question! Today, I wish for a book by Cheryl Strayed and Terry Tempest Williams. Their books Tiny Beautiful Things and When Women Were Birds both made huge impacts on me, and I’m blown away by the prospect of what they could do together.

What's the most annoying book you see flying off the shelves?

Does not compute. What’s good for books and reading is people buying books and reading them. I’m not about to tell people their choices are bad or annoying. I’d rather use my time, energy, and voice to talk about the ones that are awesome and hope more people read them.

If you could give people one piece of advice to prep them for entering a bookstore, what would it be?

Trust booksellers, and let them do what they’re good at it. Walk into a bookstore and ask a bookseller what they’re really excited about right now, and buy that book. You’ll rarely be disappointed.

What’s your catnip, that familiar plotline or genre you can’t help but pick up and devour?

Oh man, I cannot resist a coming-of-age novel that features punk music. I also love books within books, nonlinear storytelling, and novels that present stories from multiple characters’ perspectives or with multiple lines of narrative.

Speaking of devouring, you appear to read a crazy number of books! I’m fascinated by how people read and how prolific readers retain details about what they’ve read. Do you have mystical powers or, you know, any tips to offer?

Nope, no super powers here. I try to read for at least an hour a day (there’s an alarm on my phone that goes off every evening telling me to “Go read a book!”) and for a couple hours a day on the weekends. I don’t always succeed, which is a great irony of getting paid to write about books. There are weeks when I go several days without reading time, and that's just life. No matter what tricks I try to pull, it seems that I read about 100 books a year, and that’s a number I’m happy with. In terms of retention, writing about what I read helps a great deal, as does talking about books on the two podcasts I’m a part of--Bookrageous and the Book Riot Podcast.

I notice you’re also involved with Food Riot, Book Riot’s sister site. Do you have any recommendations of novels for foodies?

I’m not so into novels for foodies, but I loooove a good food memoir. Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential is a classic. Ruth Reichl’s books are all fantastic, too. I like her first, Tender at the Bone, the best. If you like to eat as much as you like to read, don’t miss it.

[Serena here] I recommend all my bookseller friends read the archived Adventures in Bookselling series on Rebecca's old blog. You'll get a kick out of it!