Weekend Reading

Erin Kodicek on February 02, 2018

In this edition, why we push the limits, two very different food memoirs, natural history's golden age of color, and more.

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Limits of the Known by David Roberts

As a mountaineer, author, and co-author of over 20 books—many about climbing and exploration, including Alone on the Ice and Alex Honnold’s Alone on the Wall, though not all of them are about being alone on something—David Roberts has spent his life trying to understand the motivations behind with adventure-seeking, including his own. Following a diagnosis of throat cancer, that search took on both greater meaning and urgency. Limits of the Known examines some of history’s groundbreaking achievements on glaciers, the high seas, and even underground, seeking the reasons for risk-taking, both in the past and in the modern world. --Jon Foro

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My American Dream by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich

Most of you know her simply as “Lidia”—world-renowned chef, television host, author, and restaurateur. Her memoir, My American Dream, chronicles how Ms. Bastianich achieved her extraordinary success, and it’s a charming, occasionally harrowing, and very inspiring story. Lidia grew up in Pula, once an Italian city that became Yugoslavia when Josip Broz Tito, a communist revolutionary, came into power. The family eventually fled to Trieste, and after living in a refugee camp for two years (formerly a Nazi concentration camp), they had the opportunity to immigrate to the United States. Right now I’m reading about the first restaurant she and Felice Bastianich opened, and how Lidia balanced a burgeoning career with a growing family. The thing that resonates most, not surprisingly, is her passion for food and how it’s an expression of life and love. Whether you’re familiar with Lidia the chef or no, this memoir is a really compelling read. --Erin Kodicek

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Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll by Andrew Friedman

I just finished Tara Westover’s remarkable memoir, Educated, so I’m looking for a new non-fiction read. And it’s going to be something totally different: Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll. The book comes out February 27th and I’ve been really looking forward to reading it and harkening back to the grittier, grass roots era of the restaurant industry that was part of 1970s and ‘80s pop culture. I guess gritty is kind of my thing this weekend because the other book I’m going to finish is Only Killers and Thieves. I have a weird fondness for dark westerns and loved The Sisters Brothers so I’m dying to find time to sit down and read all of Only Killers and Thieves since the other editors also loved it. --Seira Wilson

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The Natural History of Edward Lear by Robert McCracken Peck

You know how some people take a weekend break from social media? Well, on Sundays, I try to set aside new and forthcoming books and read something that’s been out for a while (like, maybe a couple of centuries). I’ve had a gorgeous book on my bedside table, just waiting for some attention, so this weekend, I’m reserving Sunday night for The Natural History of Edward Lear, by Robert McCracken Peck. Lear (1812 to 1888) was a brilliant writer of nonsense verse, but many people don’t know that he was also a successful visual artist. Peck’s book, which David R. Godine published in 2016, reproduces many wonderful examples of Lear’s pictures, from travel scenes to children’s illustrations and animal studies, and charts Lear’s artistic development from his precocious childhood to his posthumous influence on later illustrators. The Natural History of Edward Lear is really a special book that deserves special attention. What a treat for the end of the week!--Sarah Harrison Smith

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