Victoria’s May Recommendation

Life From Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness by Sasha Martin

life from scratchRead a sample here!

It was a culinary journey like no other: Over the course of 195 weeks, food writer and blogger Sasha Martin set out to cook–and eat–a meal from every country in the world. As cooking unlocked the memories of her rough-and-tumble childhood and the loss and heartbreak that came with it, Martin became more determined than ever to find peace and elevate her life through the prism of food and world cultures. From the tiny, makeshift kitchen of her eccentric, creative mother, to a string of foster homes, to the house from which she launches her own cooking adventure, Marin’s heartfelt, brutally honest memoir reveals the power of cooking to bond, to empower, and to heal–and celebrates the simple truth that happiness is created from within. – from publisher


Weekly Spotlight On…Traveling through Reading

I’ve always felt that reading has helped me become transported into another land.  I feel even more refreshed when I get to experience the nature of another place through words whether it’s a sandy beach, a distant cottage on the sea, or a trek through the wilderness with mosquitoes nipping at me. But reading indoors is much more climate controlled and insect repellent!

I have selected books that have a very strong setting in a natural environment, to help you, the adventurous reader, smell moss and salty air, and feel the humidity of jungles and the dry heat of the desert, simply by reading a good book.

I’ve included some titles to help you plan some of your own travels, plus information on exploring museums and zoos nearby with the library’s museum passes. 

All of the book titles include hyperlinks to our catalog, so you can find the book on the shelf, or request it!

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

The Lost City of Z by David GrannSetting: Amazon Jungle

“After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, New Yorker writer David Grann set out to solve “the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century”: what happened to British explorer Percy Fawcett. In 1925 Fawcett ventured into the Amazon to find an ancient civilization. For centuries Europeans believed the world’s largest jungle concealed the glittering El Dorado. Thousands had died looking for it, leaving many convinced that the Amazon was truly inimical to humankind. But Fawcett had spent years building his scientific case. Captivating the imagination of millions, he embarked with his 21-year-old son, determined to prove that this ancient civilization–which he dubbed “Z”–existed. Then he and his expedition vanished. Fawcett’s fate–and the clues he left behind–became an obsession for hundreds who followed him. As Grann delved deeper into Fawcett’s mystery, and the greater mystery of the Amazon, he found himself irresistibly drawn into the “green hell.” “–From publisher description.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild by Cheryl StrayedSetting: Pacific Crest Trail, Western U.S.

In this powerful memoir, the author tells her story of hiking 1,100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to Washington.  Cheryl decides to hike this trail alone to block out the grief of her mother’s death and her own recent divorce. Armed with a giant, too-heavy backpack she refers to as “Monster”, a pair of too-tight boots, and a pink ski pole, she discovers brutal winds, intense heat, blisters, wild animals, other hikers, and more importantly, herself. This book was an Oprah’s Book Club pick.

The Places In Between by Rory Stewart

The Places In Between by Rory StewartSetting: Afghanistan

The author sets out across Afghanistan in January 2002, just weeks after the Taliban was ousted, following the trail of 15th century emperor Babur from Herat to Kabul. His experiences highlights the lands and the peoples, but also shows how it was at times both reflective but scary to cross through an unsettled land. He also acquires the friendship of a dog, which he lovingly names Babur. He sleeps on villagers floors as he crosses the countryside.

The Paradise Guest House by Ellen Sussman

The Paradise Guest House by Ellen SussmanSetting: Bali

Jamie, a tour guide, returns to Bali one year after the terrorist bombings of 2002. She was a victim of this terrorism, and her fiance at the time was killed. During that frantic search for him after the bombing, she meets a Bali native Gabe, who helps care for her in a remote cottage. She leaves him abruptly, only leaving a goodbye note, but hopes to find him again on her return back to the beautiful island that is still reeling from the tragedy. Parts of the book are narrated by Gabe, who questions whether or not he should give Jamie a second chance.

Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town By Paul Theroux

Dark Star Safari By Paul TherouxSetting: Africa

The author hitches rides for hundreds of miles in Nairobi, by bus, canoe, cattle truck, armed convoy, ferry and train. Along the way he learns about the history of the country, the beauty of the land, and the stories of it’s people by talking with the natives, but also tourists and missionaries. In the course of his journey, he endures both danger and enlightenment.

The True History of Paradise by Margaret Cezair-Thompson

The True History of Paradise by Margaret Cezair-ThompsonSetting: Jamaica

This historical novel is set in Jamaica during the 1980s, and explores the violence in the country. The author is from Jamaica and weaves in the true terrors, menaces, and seductions that abound even on a beautiful island of paradise. Her main character Jean has strong ancestral ties to the island and is conflicted about leaving her homeland. But when her pop singer sister Lana tragically dies, Jean rides cross-country with her close friend Paul while they reflect on the past and her sister.

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

Assassination Vacation by Sarah VowellSetting: United States assassination sites and memorial locations

This author is known for her irreverent sense of humor. Her dark wit shines in this memoir of the author’s visits to sites associated with the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley.  Providing history on these deaths, she also explores the ways in which American culture has profited from these murders through historical tours and architecture/museums/literature.

The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville

The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart NevilleSetting: Belfast, Ireland

In this thriller, ex-IRA hitman Gerry Fagan becomes haunted by the ghosts of the 12 people he killed. The only way to appease the spirits is by killing the men who ordered the hits in the first place. The author seamlessly and hauntingly depicts the dark and violent atmosphere of Northern Ireland.

A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horwitz

A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony HorwitzSetting: United States “New World”

In this historical narrative, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz sets out to retrace the steps of early explorers, and explores the myths and truths of The New World. He starts with the Plymouth Rock, which actually was not the first discovery of the New World. Parts of his book are dedicated to each area of conquest: Gulf Coast, Southwest, the South, the Mississippi, Roanoke, Jamestown, and Plymouth. This smart read helps to educate the reader, and includes 15 maps and a rich bibliography.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters

Beautiful Ruins by Jess WaltersSetting: Italy; Hollywood

A love affair with an actress picks up again in Hollywood fifty years after beginning on the Italian coast of the Ligurian sea. A small town hotel owner with hopes of expanding his business meets a beautiful young actress, one of the few celebrities to come to the area. The novel switches back and forth between 1962 Italy and present-day Hollywood, providing the reader rich settings and intricate character backgrounds.

Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff

Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell ZuckoffSetting: New Guinea at the end of WWII

This true story, written by Zuckoff, a former reporter and a Pulitzer prize nominated writer, follows three survivors of a plane crash towards the end of WW II. These US military survivors crashed on a sightseeing trip in the New Guinea jungle, known for its cannibalistic tribes.. A paratrooper rescue group jumps into the jungle with supplies, and the two groups are trapped on the ground waiting for a dangerous plane rescue.

Travel Guides 

Museum Adventures

Don’t forget that you can come into the library to check out Museum passes!

List of participating museums and details:

Kimberly’s May Recommendation

Le Road Trip: A Traveler’s Journal of Love and France by Vivian Swift

“This is a very charming traveler’s journal that incorporates a personal story, interesting facts, wry observations, and wonderful drawings.  I read it cover to cover quickly and felt transported to France. It is also very browsable!  Pour a lovely glass of Bourdeaux and enjoy the journey.”

Read about it or request it from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

1) Paris In Love by Eloise James (Access to library catalog here)

2) Blossoming in Provence by Kristin Espinasse (Access to library catalog here)

3) French Lessons by Peter Mayle (Access to library catalog here)

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

1) The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher (Access to library catalog here)

2) French Lessons: A Novel by Ellen Sussman (Access to library catalog here)

3) Black Girl in Paris by Shay Youngblood (Access to library catalog here)

Victoria’s April Recommendation

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

A powerful and moving memoir of one woman who, after experiencing her mother’s death and a painful divorce, decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone.  With no real experience in long distance hiking, Strayed takes on the 1,100 mile journey as as last ditch attempt to piece together a broken life.  This has been described as “A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again”.  This would appeal to readers of inspirational literature, travel writing, and memoirs.

Read about it or request it from the library catalog!

Joanna’s November Recommendation

Traveling with PomegranatesTraveling with Pomegranates: a mother-daughter story by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor

Sue Monk Kidd, author of popular novels The Mermaid Chair and The Secret Life of Bees, teams up with her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor to write a memoir about the changes and transformations they encounter at various stages in their lives. In alternating chapters, Sue and Ann reflect on their travels together and their relationship as mother and daughter. Elegantly written, each woman describes her relationships and the powerful feminine role models who inspire them.  I enjoyed this book and appreciated the honesty with which each woman wrote about her relationship with the other.  This would make an excellent read for a book group or for mothers and daughters who enjoy reading and sharing together.

Read About It

Request It

You can find this book at call number BIO KIDD in with the new books.

Claudia’s April Recommendation


geography-of-bliss1The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner

“Written by a long-time correspondent for National Public Radio, this book explores how “place” can shape and define us.  It is a very personal glimpse into other cultures in a thoughtful and often humorous way.”

Read About It

Request It

or Find it in the Library at call number 910.4 WEI

Kimberly’s January Recommendation

mangoesAn Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude by Ann Vanderhoof

As the cold snowy winds blow, you can be transported to the warm waters of the Caribean!  In addition to detailing a very intriquing story of leaving the 9 to 5 grind for life on a sailboat, this book provides wonderful information on rum punch, conch, hurricanes, and yes, mangoes.”

Partial review from Library Journal: “If one ever had dreams about stepping out of the hustle and bustle of the daily grind and living in the Caribbean for a year or two, this book by writer and editor Vanderhoof is essential reading. Vanderhoof and her husband quit their jobs, rented out their Toronto home, and sailed south (literally) on a two-year adventure to the islands. Along the way, they encountered storms, crushing poverty, mishaps on board their 42′ boat (a stalled engine, a backed-up toilet, and torn sails) but also have the time of their lives experiencing foods, festivals, and, most important, the people on their 16-nation, 47-island, 7000-nautical mile journey.”

You can find this book in the library at Call # 917.29 VAN. 
Find this book in the library catalog.