Tasty tidbits for those who love to read | TheUnion.com

Tasty tidbits for those who love to read

“Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Following a failed marriage and a fall into the depths of depression, Gilbert needed a big change in her life. She quit her job, sold all her worldly goods, and set off on a yearlong solo trip around the world. Her dream was to spend four months in just three special places – Italy, India, and Indonesia – working on an aspect of herself while absorbing the culture; there she found balance, 23 extra pounds, and unexpected love. This is a touching and truly enjoyable memoir by a woman taking charge of her own life.

“The $64 Tomato” by William Alexander.

Do you love growing and eating fresh fruits and vegetables? With a large vegetable plot and a small orchard, Alexander thought he was ready for life as a gentleman farmer. But battles with earthworms, groundhogs and freezing weather proved that it’s not all fun. The kicker was his cost analysis that showed the production of a single tomato costs $64. This is a very funny and self-deprecating book in the spirit of Bill Bryson.

“The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell” by Mark Kurlansky.

The Big Apple is really the Big Oyster, according to Kurlansky, the historian who penned the food histories “Cod” and “Salt.” Until the early 1900s, the oyster played a dominant role in the city’s kitchens, economy and ecology. Kurlansky again delivers an absolutely fascinating read about the ordinary oyster and its extraordinary affect on the people and history of New York and America, as well.

“A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveler” by Frances Mayes.

On a trip to Sardinia, the author of “Under the Tuscan Sun” asked her husband, “What if we didn’t go home?” This book answers that question deliciously with essays on the many places they visited during the year. Blood oranges in Spain, a literary pilgrimage to Burgundy, a bougainvillea-covered house in Crete, and the rainbow colors of Fez are just some of the stories, tastes, and adventures you’ll experience in Mayes’ poetic journey.

“Weird California” by Greg Bishop, Joe Oesterle and Mike Marinacci.

California is the land of sunshine, redwoods, beaches and mountains. It is also home to some of the wackiest people, sights and legends to be found anywhere. Looking for the perfect gift? Try the gift shop at the L.A. County Coroner’s office. The roadside distractions, funky architecture and crazy people are so much fun. Even the dentist’s giant statues in nearby Auburn are part of the wonderful weirdness of California.

“Saving the World” by Julia Alvarez. Alma is a successful Latina novelist, much like Alvarez herself. While researching a book about the Spanish doctor who tried to eradicate small pox in the New World, she discovers Isabel Sendales y Gomez, the only woman on the doctor’s team. Alma is inspired by her courage and finds her own life, and that of her AIDS activist husband, paralleling that of Gomez. Alvarez is a fine writer who confronts our do-gooder desire to save the world without losing ourselves.

“Broken For You” by Stephanie Kallos. When 80-year-old Margaret Hughes is diagnosed with cancer, she decides to live the rest of her life as she pleases. With only a collection of priceless antiques for company, Margaret creates a family from an unlikely cast of characters. Although I found some of the plot turns implausible, I simply didn’t care. This is a lovely and moving story about the joy of living. New in paperback, it is a great choice for book groups.

“Dirty Job” by Christopher Moore. Fans of “Lamb” and “The Stupidest Angel” will rejoice that cult hero Moore has a new book. Moore’s wacky and weird story focuses on Charlie Asher, a recent widower and newly named merchant of death. It is his job to gather up the souls of recently deceased San Franciscans before the demons do. Moore is always irreverent and over the top, but his satirical fiction is great fun!

“Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro. I know that Stacy from Harmony Books wrote this up last week, but it is so good that it bears repeating. This is an absolute gem from one of my favorite authors ever. Ishiguro, known for “The Remains of the Day,” tells a story of love, innocence and heartbreaking loss set in a deceptively idyllic English boarding school. The writing is spare, suspenseful and simply superb.

“The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” by Kate DiCamillo. Here is another winner from the two-time Newbery medalist. Young Abigail Tulane adores her vain, cold-hearted china rabbit Edward. When he falls into the sea on a family outing, Edward is given a second chance for redemption. Beaten and battered, he discovers his inner beauty and the power of love. The novel, a tribute to the author’s childhood imaginary friend, is beautifully illustrated, but it is her lyrical language that really soars.

Compiled by manager Alison Jones-Pomatto at The Book Seller, 107 Mill Street, Grass Valley, 272-2131. Hours are Mon. through Fri. 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

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