The Dream of the Unified Field by Jorie Graham - suggested by Mallory
The Dream of the Unified Field is Jorie Graham’s Pulitzer Prize winning compilation of poetry from her first five poetry collections: Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts, Erosion, The End of Beauty, Region of Unlikeness, and Materialism. Critic Calvin Bedient speaks of Graham’s work: “The subject itself is always ‘the outermost question being asked me by the World today.’ What counts is the hope in the questioning itself, not the answers.” For those who have never been particularly interested in poetry, but a little curious, Graham’s work is very readable, calling upon earthy imagery to speak for a heaviness of being. From the poem “Tennessee June”: “This is the heat that seeks the flaw in everything/and loves the flaw./Nothing is heavier than its spirit,/nothing more landlocked than the body within it.”
Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Mara - recommended by Lynda
Focusing on a small group of Chenhen villagers and a Russian doctor torn apart by the Chechen Wars, this is beautifully written, searing story of the terrible violence, absurdity and heartbreak of senseless war.
The main action takes place over the course of five days but the author weaves the stories of the main protagonists over time so the reader comes to know how each has come to be where they are and how the war has forced them to the decisions that will either destroy or redeem them.
Illuminations: Essays and Reflections by Walter Benjamin - recommended by Lani
Includes essays such as Theses on the Philosophy of History, and Unpacking My Library: A Talk about Book Collection, where he says that “To a book collector, you see, the true freedom of all books is somewhere on his shelves.”
Entry Island by Peter May - recommended by Cosette
When his team is called to a remote Canadian island to investigate a murder, Detective Sime Mackenzie believes it to be a fairly simple case, with the man’s wife Kirsty Cowell the obvious suspect. However he finds himself inexplicably drawn to her, convinced their connection is more than just a physical attraction. Struggling to cope with the breakdown of his marriage, and battling insomnia, Sime takes solace in the stories of his ancestors, who travelled to Canada from the bleak Scottish islands. When Kirsty recognises the signal on a signet ring he wears, his conviction that they have somehow met before leads to explore his past, and the story of the man who he was named after. (Tracy Enyon - www.welovethisbook.com)
Nigellissima – Easy Italian-Inspired Recipes by Nigella Lawson - recommended by Rebecca
Ms. Lawson’s formula - large color photos, and a story accompanying every recipe - makes an encore appearance in her latest cookbook. Although British, this Food Network star is well qualified to write an Italian cookbook, as she studied cooking in Florence. From sauces, side dishes, meat, and seafood to pasta and desserts, she demonstrates the art of simple and inspired cuisine with an Italian twist. An extra treat is the last chapter – “an Italian-inspired Christmas.”
Cowgirl Creamery Cooks by Sue Conley and Peggy Smith - recommended by Rebecca
Two former Bay area cooks joined forces to found the Cowgirl Creamery shop in Point Reyes. Their latest culinary collaboration is this cookbook featuring cheese or milk in the recipes. More than a cookbook, it is a cheese bible, and includes Sue and Peggy’s personal stories, as well as notes on the organic farming movement in Marin. The last chapter is a primer on basic techniques featured in the book, such as making bread crumbs, clarifying butter and mastering béchamel sauce. The color photos are mouth watering!