Weekend Reading

Chris Schluep on June 22, 2018

This weekend, we're all reading older books. Jon is returning to a previously-abandoned existential quest (published 2011). Adrian is reading about the chef behind one of the all-time best New York restaurants (published 2012). I'm also reading a food-related book, by the author of Madeline (published 1964). Erin is reading a book about reading a book (published 2016). And Sarah is reading a book published way back in the 50s.

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Summer started yesterday, so that means that I only want to be outside or to read about it. But as a native Seattleite, I’ll keep a little darkness in it. My choices often carry elements of catastrophe. This weekend, I’ll return to a book I started years ago but put down for no good reason at all. Finding Everett Ruess is the biography of a young man who spent years exploring the wilderness of the desert southwest, becoming famous for his adventures and associating with the likes of Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, and Dorothea Lange. Then he vanished without a trace sometime in November, 1934 (aged 20), becoming something of a folk hero in the process. Don’t worry about me, though. I’m much too old to think about becoming a folk hero. — Jon Foro

The food-and-travel book club I belong to has picked Marcus Samuelsson's memoir, Yes, Chef, as our next book, and I’m literally salivating just thinking about it. Adopted from Ethiopia, Samuelsson grew up in Sweden and there developed his fascination with food and cooking. He moved to New York, transformed the iconic restaurant Aquavit, and then opened his own restaurant, Red Rooster, in Harlem. Some of our book club's favorite food-related books have been chef memoirs, from Julia Child's My Life in France to Jacques Pepin's The Apprentice to, of course, Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, so I have high hopes. Plus, I can't wait to eat the food we'll make to accompany our book discussion.
Adrian Liang

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I ordered a book off of Amazon the other day, because I'd seen Anthony Bourdain recommend it on a television show. It's called La Bonne Table, and it's by Ludwig Bemelmans. Although he is most famous for writing the Madeline series, Bemelmans also wrote about his love for great hotels and restaurants. He had been trained from his youth to work in restaurants, and it's all captured in this book: the great food, the big characters, and the stunning settings. The era he's writing about is both familiar and strikingly different from the one we live in today. So far, I think of La Bonne Table as a nonfiction companion to Amor Towles' A Gentleman in Moscow. It is transporting me and making me happy. And there are illustrations. Next, I guess I will have to pay homage at Bemelmans Bar in New York. — Chris Schluep

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We’re in a celebratory mood this week after releasing our Best Books of the Year So Far list, and it has me thinking: why do certain books resonate with us? This is something Will Schwalbe writes about in Books for Living. Schwalbe really believes that reading can make you a better, more compassionate and well-rounded person. In Books for Living, he asks why we choose to read what we read -- and expounds on the almost uncanny way that books we’re drawn to can help us solve our deepest questions. It’s not just great works of literature that have come to Schwalbe’s aid: it was Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train that taught him a thing or two about trust. Books for Living will make you ponder which books have held the most meaning for you, and will spur new questions that your to-read pile just might answer. — Erin Kodicek

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Don’t you love it when your book club introduces you to an author you’ve never read before? I’ve been enjoying A Legacy, a novel Sybille Bedford published in 1956, which my book club, in its wisdom, chose to read this month. New York Review Books has a pretty paperback edition with an introduction by Brenda Wineapple that makes clear that many of Bedford’s characters reflect her own peripatetic, polyglot, Catholic-Jewish European family. Bedford is shrewd about people, but she’s happy to be charmed by them -- even when their foibles are obvious to everyone but themselves -- and she writes hilarious dialog. All in all, I’m looking forward to spending more time in her company this weekend. — Sarah Harrison Smith

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