igloo book buzz

Friendship, Secrets & Thumps in Surgical Scrubs

Our latest Igloo Book Buzz selection is Kimmery Martin’s debut novel, THE QUEEN OF HEARTS, published by Berkley on February 13.  An emergency medicine doctor, born and raised in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, Kimmery sets her book’s narrative in a world of hospital rounds and life-or-death decisions, while exploring the heart’s capacity for forgiveness. 

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[caption id="attachment_9577" align="alignright" width="239"] Kimmery Martin Photo: © Stephen B. Dey[/caption] “My goal in writing THE QUEEN OF HEARTS,” said Kimmery, “was to create a story about female friendship that is both entertaining and smart.  The kind of books I enjoy the most as a reader are the ones that give you the sense you are learning something in depth about a particular subject, but you don’t necessarily realize it at the time because you’re so hooked in the action or transfixed by the characters. TQOH gives a detailed insider’s look at the medical world, in a way that would be difficult to do without having lived it, or at least without having done a lot of research. Interestingly, when the publisher asked me to raise the stakes for one of the characters by placing her in a difficult surgical situation, I squirmed even writing about losing a patient.” Berkley Executive Editor Kerry Donovan: “I first fell in love with Kimmery’s voice for the emotional intensity of the setting she chose.  THE QUEEN OF HEARTS offers an up-close-and-personal look at the lives of two female doctors working in trauma surgery and pediatric cardiology—and I savored this chance to learn more about the stakes of committing to a surgery career, especially when the central characters are also juggling responsibilities at home.  An ER doctor who knows firsthand the sacrifices demanded by a successful surgical practice, Kimmery’s writing hit every emotional note I craved: hilarity in the domestic scenes, the gratification of a career running along its charted course, and sudden despair after a tragedy threatens to derail everything. Kimmery puts it best in her Author’s Note where she details what inspired her to set her debut novel in a hospital environment: “Medicine is a consuming field and a career without equal in its reward. Doctors have the immeasurable blessing of seeing life in all its anguish and glory.”

A Book about Coffee? Dave Eggers and Mokhtar Alkhanshali Spill the Beans

Our latest Igloo Book Buzz selection is THE MONK OF MOKHA by bestselling author Dave Eggers. Published by Knopf, this book tells  the remarkable true story of Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a young Yemeni American man, raised in San Francisco, who dreams of resurrecting the ancient art of Yemeni coffee but finds himself trapped in Sana’a by civil war. 

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Mokhtar is 24 years old and working as a doorman when he discovers the astonishing history of coffee and Yemen’s central place in it. He leaves the Bay Area and travels deep into his ancestral homeland to tour terraced farms high in the country’s rugged mountains and meet beleaguered but determined farmers. But when war engulfs the country and Saudi bombs rain down, Mokhtar has to find a way out of Yemen without sacrificing his dreams or abandoning his people. Here is a conversation with Dave Eggers and Mokhtar Alkhanshali revolving around coffee, research for THE MONK OF MOKHA, and the road trip of a lifetime. This book is about coffee, but I understand that neither of you were longtime coffee drinkers? [caption id="attachment_9336" align="alignright" width="400"] Dave Eggers and Mokhtar Alkhanshali
     Credit: Jeremy Stern[/caption] DE: I had my first cup of coffee when I was 35. My wife and I were new parents and sleep was elusive, so to stay awake and have even a little acuity, I needed a new source of caffeine—Diet Mountain Dew wasn’t working anymore. I will say that when you come to coffee relatively late in life, it has an otherworldly kick. But Mokhtar taught me how to appreciate coffee as more than a caffeine-delivery tool. MA: I didn’t drink coffee much, mainly because the only coffee I was exposed to was cheap diner coffee that tasted like burnt popcorn. I thought coffee was too dark and bitter. One day I walked into a specialty coffee shop and had a cup of naturally processed coffee from Ethiopia’s Yirgacheffe region. I tasted blueberries, honeysuckle and it had a sweet lingering after taste. The barista spoke to me about where it was grown, the elevation, varietal, how it was processed— but most of all, how their direct relationship to these growers make it possible for the farmers to make more money and live a better life. That part of it really became my entry point to the world of coffee. Mokhtar, you discovered your family’s connection to coffee, and the Yemeni connection to coffee, when you were in your early twenties. What possessed you to actually go to Yemen and re-invent yourself as a coffee importer?  MA: That’s a question that a lot of people ask me. In many ways, I’m still trying to figure it out myself. To be honest, I didn’t have a master plan, I just felt there was a disconnect between Yemen and the world of coffee and I believed I could be that bridge. Looking back, I don’t know if I would have gone on this journey knowing all of the things I’d have to learn and go through. I was naïvely arrogant. Dave, as a relative newcomer to the coffee world, what was the research like for THE MONK OF MOKHA? DE: Mokhtar and I had met before, but the first time we saw each other after he returned from Yemen was at the Blue Bottle headquarters in Oakland. James Freeman, the founder, happened to be there that day, so between Mokhtar telling me much of his story, and the setting, it was a really immersive first step. But I was still skeptical. My impression was that there was a lot of pretension in the specialty coffee world. But I learned that the obsessive care that goes into one cup of coffee is coming from the same place much of the slow-food movement is coming from. It’s a reversal of the dehumanizing effects of industrial food consumption. When it comes to coffee, listening to Mokhtar’s enthusiasm—and utter lack of pretension—really made me a convert. With any comestible, if you care about its quality, and if the people making it care, too, it will take longer and cost more. Otherwise, the research took place on many levels, because the story has so many facets. There’s Mokhtar’s personal story—his upbringing and ambitions as a young man in San Francisco. There’s the Tenderloin neighborhood and, in contrast, the high-rise world of the Infinity, where Mokhtar worked as a doorman. There’s his extended family in the Central Valley, where we went early in the research process. Then there’s the world of coffee, from plant to cup. There’s Boot Coffee in Mill Valley, where Mokhtar learned about roasting and grading. I had to get familiar with all these worlds before we even went to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Yemen. Mokhtar, you’ve done a fair amount of public speaking, and you’d given presentations many times to various audience before meeting Dave. How was that kind of storytelling different than what you did with Dave for the book? MA: What I went through with Dave was a very intimate road trip. Dave was incredibly warm and someone I felt comfortable being vulnerable with. Some of those memories were hilarious and others required lots of tissues. Dave’s caring and loving personality were what made this book possible because I know I wouldn’t have been able to do this with anyone else. Dave, what drew you most to Mokhtar’s story? DE: For me it was first of all a story of towering will and imagination. For a guy as young as Mokhtar to simply reinvent himself, to risk so much to re-create his life, it’s astonishing. The more I learned, the more remarkable his story became. I think it was about 18 months into our interviews when he told me that he sometimes had to carry a grenade on his jacket in Yemen, just to imply he was not to be trifled with—in the pursuit of coffee beans. When I met Mokhtar, he was a doorman, so to see what he’s built in these last five years, is just awe-inspiring. Mokhtar and Dave, you two traveled to Ethiopia, Abu Dhabi, Djibouti and Yemen together. Do you have favorite stories from your travels?  MA: Hmm that’s a hard one. Besides those international trips, the local ones here were a lot of fun. Going down to visit my grandmother in southern California and hearing her tell her story, visiting my friend Jay Ruskey’s farm in Santa Barbara, probably the most impactful trip for me was Djibouti. I didn’t tell Dave this but at the time I was terrified about going. Part of my therapy was to go into these places where I had a negative association because of past trauma. I wanted to go to Djibouti and face my fears. Experiencing 130-degree weather and getting stuck in a sandstorm didn’t help, but when I left I felt a huge weight lift off of my shoulders and I’m always going to thank Dave for being there with me. DE: I have a story. We spent a few years trying to get into Sana’a together, but when the war broke out, it was impossible for me to safely get into the capital. So we went to a more remote part of Yemen, and there we encountered an Italian man who was on a quest to visit every country on earth. He was very cynical, with a mordant humor that seemed at odds with a man so curious about the world. When he heard that Mokhtar imported high-end coffee from Yemen, and that Mokhtar was a Q grader—the equivalent of a sommelier in the wine world—he scoffed. He thought this was a pretentious affectation, a sign of the world’s decadence. “A coffee sommelier? What’s next?” he asked. But then, Mokhtar told his story, and explained the world of coffee to this man—how Q graders can improve the lives of farmers, and how caring about where coffee, or any crop, comes from is actually a deeply humanistic thing. Mokhtar did all this while grinding and brewing fresh Yemeni coffee. By the time Mokhtar was pouring him a cup, the Italian wanted to know how he could invest in Mokhtar’s company. No joke, that all happened in about 15 minutes—this guy went from cynic to believer. The same thing happened to me, I guess.

Beyond Shark Tank: Daymond John Shares Life Lessons

With the New Year just getting rolling, our latest Igloo Book Buzz selection, Daymond John’s RISE AND GRIND, presents a diverse series of practical, anecdotal, and motivational success stories. 

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Published on January 23 by Crown Publishing Group imprint Currency, the subtitle of this book is “Outperform, Outwork and Outhustle Your Way to a More Successful and Rewarding Life.” ABC-TV’s Shark Tank star not only writes about himself, aspects of his multi-billion-dollar entrepreneurial career, and recent cancer scare, but he also delves inside the daily routines, work ethics and paths to personal fulfillment of a diverse mix of individuals, including television executive and woman’s advocate Nely Galan, serial entrepreneur and bestselling author Gary Vaynerchuck, Grammy Award-winning musician Carlos Santana, and renowned pastor Joel Osteen. Here Daymond talks about what sparked his dedication to books that provide inspiration, how RISE AND GRIND came to be, and what he hopes will be reader takeaways:
Daymond John

Daymond John

“I discovered the transformative power of the written word when I was 14 years old, and picked up a copy of Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.  It was just as relevant to me then – and today – as it was when it was published way back in the 1930s.   Because I’m dyslexic, I had to read it a few times to absorb it fully, but once I did, it lit a fire in me. I think that’s when I knew that I wanted to someday write books that would move people the way that book moved me. Books that would inspire people to chase the life they’d always dreamed of; to push and challenge themselves to be the best version of themselves that they can, and to believe – as I always have – that if you work hard enough, anything is possible, no matter your circumstances. “My new book, RISE AND GRIND, is all about sharing the message that my mother instilled in me as a kid – that if we think big, and strive relentlessly, we really can do anything. Another huge inspiration for this book came out of something I noticed in the many remarkable people I met while traveling around the world with President Obama as a Presidential Ambassador, and while researching my previous book THE POWER OF BROKE.  It just blew me away how all these incredibly successful people I met were so different in so many ways, and yet, they all had one thing in common: a fierce work ethic and incredible drive forward. And the more I learned from them, the more I realized that these lessons were too valuable to keep to myself. “So I decided that for my next book I wanted to sit down with people I admired to learn about what gets them going (or what I call ‘rising and grinding’) in the morning: what inspires them to push themselves tirelessly in pursuit of their goals and ambitions, how they sustain that determination and focus, and how they power through their days to get the most out of their 24 hours.  Because we all get the same 1,440 minutes in the day, no matter who we are, right? So what I really wanted to know was, how did these exceptionally successful people use that time so productively, meaningfully, and purposely.  The goal, of course, was to come away with a blueprint that would help readers implement some those habits and routines in their own lives. “So I picked about 15 people from all different backgrounds, professions, and walks of life – entrepreneurs, artists, activists, leaders, and so on – and asked them questions they told me they’d never been asked before. I asked them what they do as soon as they get up in the morning, where they turn for energy and inspiration, how they structure their days, and more. What came out of those interviews amazed me, and left me more inspired than ever to distill these insights – along with what I’ve learned about grit and persistence from pushing myself to overcome challenges in my own life – in a way that would be meaningful to readers. “There’s this great quote from the Dali Lama about how man ‘lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.’ I wanted to get inside the heads of those people who really live – people who get up every morning and live every hour of every day to the fullest – so that every one of us, no matter what we do or where we live or what obstacles we face, can learn to do the same.”

“What Happens After We Die?”

Some of the biggest questions and mysteries that many humans ponder are at the heart of Thomas Pierce’s new Riverhead novel, THE AFTERLIVES, our latest Igloo Book Buzz selection.  The author reveals, “I set out to write a story about a guy trying to find bedrock in a world that often feels so ridiculous and so full of spectacle and along the way wound up writing about love and death and ghosts and holograms.  Go figure..” 

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[caption id="attachment_9229" align="alignright" width="200"] Thomas Pierce
(c) Andrew Owen[/caption] Riverhead Editor Laura Perciasepe says, “This was the second book I worked on with Thomas but his first novel, after the story collection HALL OF SMALL MAMMALS.  It was a joy to dive back into Thomas’ writing in THE AFTERLIVES. He has a style and a perspective all his own, funny and profound, intimate and infinite. He takes this cosmic question – what happens after we die? – and makes it real and familiar. He gives you answers, and entertains along the way.” Fellow Penguin Random House author Emily St. John Mandel (STATION ELEVEN) is among the many fans of THE AFTERLIVES: “A bracingly intelligent, beautifully rendered meditation on ghosts, technology, marriage, and the afterlife. This is a remarkable novel.”

“It was Time to Tell the Truth.” Welcome to John Hodgman’s VACATIONLAND

Peddling fake facts was John Hodgman’s stock in trade on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and in his three bestselling books.  That all changed with the release of VACATIONLAND: True Stories from Painful Beaches, published by Viking on October 24 and featured as this week’s Igloo Book Buzz selection.  Hodgman writes about his journeys, navigating three distinct wildernesses: one, rural Western Massachusetts where he spent much of his youth; two, coastal Maine, home to the most painful beaches on earth; lastly, the metaphoric wildernesses of middle age.  

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Hodgman says, “My first three books were, first of all, BESTSELLERS, and second of all, packed to the margins with absurdist false history and invented trivia.  It was fun writing about the secret history of the nine US presidents who had hooks for hands.  But after my third book of false knowledge, THAT IS ALL, came out, I looked up and realized I was 40. I had changed, and the world was changing as well. Now EVERYONE is doing fake facts, at every level of our media and society. It’s neither new nor funny anymore. And disarmed of falsehood, I was confronted with the mere and awful truth: that I am a dad, husband, and middle-aged white male monster with bad facial hair facing down the second half of his life (or so I hope) who could not think of one more single joke about zeppelins or mole-men. It was time to tell the truth.” Hodgman answers the following three questions truthfully: The book's title VACATIONLAND refers to the nickname for Maine, but you also focus many of the chapters on the “vacationland” of your youth (Western Massachusetts) in addition to your wife’s (Maine), where you now spend much of your time. Do you think having those escapes can be formative in both childhood and adulthood? How has it shaped you throughout your life? Joe McLellan was the permanent French department substitute when I was attending Brookline High School. I liked him. He once told me that the academic calendar—9 months on to work hard, 3 off to recover and reflect—is the most suitable calendar for human happiness.  And he rode a motorcycle and wore a beret, so he knew what he was talking about.  I’m lucky to have married a teacher and to be sufficiently self-employed that, for now, we get to share time and travel with our kids. It is important to show them different people and ways of life, and to learn how easily one life can be left behind if it doesn’t make you happy.” Why do you compare middle age to “navigating a wilderness?” Being in middle age feels like following a path in the forest that was very clear and easy for a while. If you’re lucky, you reach some destination you were hoping for. But even if you don’t, time passes, and before you know it, night comes and you are scared. You can’t follow the path back, and you don’t know which direction to take next, or if it is better to simply stop here forever. But you have to keep going. After you have reached the age which, in previous centuries would have marked the likely end of your life, you have to find a new path forward. Like the wilderness, age is painful, full of unexpected drops and heights, and it doesn’t care whether you live or die. Another good metaphor for it would be MAINE.” You describe Maine as a hellish place, but seem to have a deep fondness for it. What is it about the state that can cause such conflicting feelings? It is undeniably beautiful, but its beauty is rugged bordering on harsh, and the sky gets gray quick and the fog envelops you. See above: it has metaphoric power if you are morbidly minded.  And then it reveals incredible beauty in the rose light across more sky than you are used to seeing. You swim in the ocean and scream from the cold but then you get used to it. Maine’s pleasure is that you survive it. “
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Discover James McBride’s FIVE-CARAT SOUL

Our new Igloo Book Buzz selection is FIVE-CARAT SOUL, the new story collection from James McBride, published by Riverhead Books on Tuesday, September 26.  This represents the first new fiction from McBride since his last novel, THE GOOD LORD BIRD, which won the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction.  He is also the author of two other bestselling novels, a James Brown biography, and his #1 bestselling memoir, THE COLOR OF WATER: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother.   In FIVE-CARAT SOUL, McBride writes stories with humor and insight, about how we struggle to understand who we are in a world we don’t fully comprehend. 

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[caption id="attachment_7917" align="alignright" width="200"] Jake Morrissey[/caption] Riverhead Books Executive Editor Jake Morrissey edited this book and says, “As James McBride is both an extraordinary writer and a talented musician, it was fascinating working with him on FIVE-CARAT SOUL to help discover the melody in the collection itself, harmonizing and counterpointing the stories, and finding the right tones for his characters. The result is a terrifically readable, even musical, riff on identity and humanity.” When McBride was asked what it’s like to write stories instead of a novel, he responded:  “Writing a short story is like picking up a 747 and flinging it into the air. You heave it skyward and hope it flies.  Except it’s a heavy item to pick up. Novels give you a runway to get started. You have the space to gather speed and get it rolling before it eases off the ground. Short stories involve a lot more muscle. They’re harder to do. You have to engage the reader and keep them engaged.” [caption id="attachment_7918" align="alignleft" width="200"] James-McBride
Credit: Chia Messina[/caption] Looking at the characters in FIVE-CARAT SOUL and their lives on the page, McBride says, “I’m every one of those characters. I’m the talking animals. I’m the toy collector. I’m the kid who thinks Abraham Lincoln is my dad. I’m all of them.  You have to be all those characters if you want them to be strong enough to get up and walk across the room.” What draws the stories in this collection together? McBride says, “The stories are drawn together by my desire to show we are more alike than we are different. We all want the same thing: love, family, comfort, comedy. The stories are meant to be funny and illuminating. They’re relief from a world that doesn’t seem to be working well. That’s why I wrote them. I wanted relief. I needed an out, and they gave me one. They allowed me to see the possibility of the good and understanding that humans are capable of. If I didn’t have the desire to feel or see that, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning.”  

RESET: Ellen Pao’s Rallying Cry and Call to Action

Our new Igloo Book Buzz  selection is Ellen Pao’s RESET: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change,  to be published on Tuesday, September 19, by Spiegel & Grau.  In 2015, Ms. Pao sued a powerhouse Silicon Valley venture capital firm, calling out workplace discrimination and retaliation against women and other underrepresented groups. Her suit rocked the tech world – and exposed its toxic culture and its homogeneity.  RESET is a rallying cry – the story of a whistleblower who aims to empower everyone struggling to be heard, in Silicon Valley and beyond. 

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[caption id="attachment_7806" align="alignright" width="200"] Emi Ikkanda
Photo Credit: Matthew Dunivan Photography[/caption] Spiegel & Grau Senior Editor Emi Ikkanda: “I was alongside the many across the country who were rooting for Ellen Pao during her gender discrimination trial, and I was thrilled when we first had a chance to meet to discuss what would become this extraordinary book, RESET. She was among the first in tech to stand up when too many were afraid to, and I was inspired speaking with her and hearing about how she wants to tell her story to help empower others. Far too many women and people of color will recognize their own office experiences when they read Pao’s book, and I love how she then talks about how people can come together to drive change. She writes about how, when she was CEO of Reddit, her team shut down revenge and child porn and the worst harassment sites. She also talks about how what started as friends sharing tech experiences over take-out grew to into a team that launched the award-winning, nationally recognized advocacy nonprofit Project Include. I can’t wait for her book to be out in the world, as so many are joining her efforts to make lasting change.” [caption id="attachment_7805" align="alignleft" width="200"] Ellen Pao
Photo Credit: Helena Price[/caption] Ellen Pao: “I wrote the book to take people into my experiences so readers can recognize their own struggles or empathize with others with similar experiences. I called it RESET because the tech world needs a complete reset. We need to clear the biases and power imbalances from tech to give everyone a fair chance to succeed. And that might mean shaking out the people who don’t believe in real inclusion, and replacing them with people who have been unfairly excluded. When I had first joined tech, I believed it was a meritocracy, and I was shocked when I was yelled at when I asked for equal pay and when I realized that there was no way for me to get promoted. It didn’t matter how much money I brought in, or how strong my relationships were with entrepreneurs. I didn’t have the right gender. Attitudes are starting to change as more voices come forward, but we have a long way to go. What’s important is that we’re telling our stories and standing up for ourselves and for one another. If we do not share our stories and shine a light on inequities, things will not change.” Here is a sampling of early praise RESET has received: “Necessary and incisive. As Pao detailed her experiences, while also communicating her passion for the work men often impeded her from doing, I was nothing short of infuriated. It was great to see a highly accomplished woman of color speaking out like this and hopefully this book will encourage more women to come forward, give voice to their experiences in the workplace, and contribute to meaningful change.”—Roxane Gay “When women assert ourselves, we confirm the bias against us, unconscious and otherwise. When we speak out, we identify ourselves as troublemakers. This is why I look forward to reading Ellen Pao’s account of her tribulations in Silicon Valley.”—Catherine Mayer, New York Times “Vivid [and] fascinating reading…The Broadsheet covered the Pao trial extensively, but it’s a very different experience to read her words now…. Her willingness to come forward paved the way for [other] whistleblowers… The ‘Pao effect’…is real—and, it seems, just beginning to make its influence felt.”—Fortune “Ellen Pao courageously confronted Silicon Valley’s venture capital world by calling out bias and discrimination. She emerged from a public trial, media frenzy, and a fierce battle against online harassment with her strength, spirit, and voice intact. In RESET, with deep intelligence and a gift for storytelling, Pao movingly and passionately recounts her path to activism and advocacy. Her book offers a rare glimpse into the gender roles and stereotypes that still pervade one of the world’s most profitable trading centers.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Nathan Englander Invites Readers to DINNER AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH

Our new Igloo Book Buzz selection is award-winning author Nathan Englander’s DINNER AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, published by Knopf to much acclaim.  This timely political thriller unfolds in the highly charged territory of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and pivots on the complex relationship between a secret prisoner and his guard.  Nathan has woven a powerful, intensely suspenseful portrait of a nation riven by insoluble conflict, even as the lives of its citizens become fatefully and inextricably entwined, interrogating the anguished, violent division between Israelis and Palestinians, and dramatizing the immense moral ambiguities haunting both sides. 

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Nathan offers personal insights into his latest novel with responses to the following three questions:
[caption id="attachment_7732" align="alignright" width="300"] Nathan Englander
Credit: Joshua Meier[/caption] How would you describe the genesis of DINNER AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH? I trace it back to the collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the end of my time in Jerusalem (where I lived from 1996 to 2001). I never got over the opportunity lost. And I’ve always wanted to explore that impossibly complicated conflict in a novel. What were the most challenging and rewarding aspects of writing this book? The most challenging? That’s easy. Part of what obsesses me about the subject, is the circular nature of the fighting. Everyone always avenging those who died avenging. Everyone, on both sides—I promise you—right now preparing for the next round. I wanted DINNER AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH to reflect that spiral in its structure. So, though it reads in a linear fashion, it’s built up of maybe a half dozen different timelines, and with characters playing dual roles. As for the rewarding aspects, it was a lot of fun to build a spy who is, in many ways—mercy upon him—as neurotic as I am. What elements of DINNER AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH do you think will resonate most strongly with readers? I’d say my guess is as good as yours. But, it’s actually worse. I’ve only done two public events so far, and I’ve already learned so many things about what’s in the book, and how it will be read. Last night, I was in conversation with Jonathan Safran Foer and he asked a question about the parallels between the two critical dinners at the end of the novel that was so smart, so different from how I’d thought about it, it made me see the ending in a whole new light.

Cooking and Activism Join Together in Alice Waters’ New Memoir

Our new Igloo Book Buzz selection is Alice Waters’ COMING TO MY SENSES: The Making of a Counterculture Cook, which Clarkson Potter published this week.  Alice retraces the events that led her to open the doors of Chez Panisse, arguably America’s most influential restaurant, in Berkeley, California in the early 1970s.  She chronicles the tumultuous times that emboldened her to find her own voice as a cook when the prevailing food culture was embracing convenience and uniformity.   

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Alice Waters’ editor, Pam Krauss, said, “Even before I had the opportunity to work with Alice on her cookbooks, I was a huge admirer of her efforts as a food activist and her determination to reshape the conversation around food in this country. So I was excited both as an editor and as a fan when Alice finally agreed to tell her own story, and sketch the circuitous route that brought her to Chez Panisse. Given the parallels between the political climate now and when she first opened the restaurant in 1972, this insider’s account of the counterculture feels incredibly relevant.” Moving from a repressive suburban upbringing to Berkeley in 1964 at the height of the Free Speech Movement and campus unrest, Alice was drawn into a bohemian circle of charismatic figures whose views on design, politics, film, and food would ultimately inform the unique culture on which Chez Panisse was founded. Fueled in equal parts by naiveté and a relentless pursuit of beauty and pure flavor, she turned her passion project into an iconic institution that redefined American cuisine for generations of chefs and food lovers. Dotted with stories, recipes, photographs, and letters, COMING TO MY SENSES is at once deeply personal and modestly understated, a quietly revealing look at one woman’s evolution from a rebellious yet impressionable follower to a respected activist who effects social and political change on a global level through the common bond of food.

Creating a Personal Playbook for Jump-Starting Each Day

Our new Igloo Book Buzz selection is Lisa Currie’s SURPRISE YOURSELF: Get Out of Your Head & Into the World, published this week by TarcherPerigee.

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 Ms. Currie, an artist and author living in Melbourne, Australia, says, “My new book, for me, is about trying to make every day feel [caption id="attachment_7591" align="alignright" width="200"] Lisa Currie
Credit: Nick Dale[/caption] special in some way. It might be a little thing, like learning something interesting about a co-worker, or something big like taking yourself on an adventure to explore a new neighborhood.  I've always loved the idea of never having the same day twice, but I'm also an introverted person who feels very snug in my comfort zone and routine. So this book grew into a collection of the little tricks and nudges and ideas I've collected over the years to see the world with fresh eyes and enjoy more of it in small ways. Like a friend who says, ‘let's try this!’ To be able to fall asleep every night and (at the very least) think, ‘oh that was fun, or that was new!’
“You know those sticker reward charts we had as kids? I love those. The satisfaction of seeing your progress visually, a little more each day or week. In SURPRISE YOURSELF, I made a few ‘reward chart’ pages with a list of every activity in the book. So the first thing I’d do is tear out those pages (they’re in the back of the book), stick them somewhere you’ll see it every day, like on the fridge, and color-in each activity as you complete it. At a glance you’ll be both proud of what you’ve already done and inspired to pick the next idea.” Marian Lizzi, Editorial Director, TarcherPerigee, offers these insights: “Working with Lisa is an editor’s dream.  She’s always brimming with ideas, and her excitement for the material is palpable. And because she creates both the words and the images in her books, I like to say she’s ‘the whole package.’ As an editor, I try to experience the material as a typical reader would. So I take a step back and pretend this is my first time seeing Lisa’s work. What jumps out as the most engaging and inviting? What’s intriguing, but could use a bit more clarification? Is there any repetition, or (this is always the hardest part) something missing that would take things to the next level? In general, I point out the places where I have a question or concern, and Lisa comes up with a solution. It’s a creative conversation, back and forth, that’s similar to hanging out with a super-talented friend (Lisa) who’s able to write and draw and entertain and problem-solve in surprising ways. It’s a fun and positive process that keeps us both in a state of flow.”