When I’m not pursuing, researching or consuming food (and you know, actually doing my job), I love to sit curled up on my couch— or on top of the heating vents at my parents house- reading a good book. My reading habits started early thanks to a cash incentive program, some might say a bribe, from my mom. For every book I read, she’d fund a dollar towards an American girl doll. This backfired (for her) since I ended up with six American girl dolls and a serious reading addiction. **Thanks Mom, love you! ** Fast forward to today, and I’m still a complete and utter book worm. As summer wraps down, I thought I’d share some of my most recent reads. And yes, this is 100% because I have not been able to narrow down the whole Top 5 or best reads of your life or whatever type of list. Please feel free to share your favorite reads in the comments below.
The August Book Review
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
The “No Spoiler Alert” Synopsis: ‘Meet Ove. He is a curmudgeon. He has staunch principles, a strict routine and a very short fuse. To the world, he is bitter old man, but behind the cranky exterior there is a sad past. When a chatty young couple with two young daughter move in next door and accidently flatten Ove’s mailbox, this act uncovers a comical and heart warming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul.’
Read when: You’re looking for a good book. Seriously, I started A Man called Ove on a 1 hour flight to Montreal. I kept reading A Man Called Ove on the thirty minute bus ride to the hotel and continued reading for another— very rude–30 mins while hanging with my Mom–who I as you may recall spent the last 9 months in India— because I just couldn’t put this book down.
Read with: A cup of black filter coffee because “people d[o]n’t know how to do that anymore, brew some proper coffee.”
The Windfall by Diksha Basu
The “No Spoiler Alert” Synopsis: For the past 30 years, Mr. and Mrs. Jha have lived comfortably in their bustling, crowded middle class housing complex in East Delhi. Just as they are about to enter their golden age of retirement, Mr. Jha unexpectedly comes into a large sum of money and the Jha’s move across town to the ultra-exclusive Gurgaon. The story covers how Mr. and Mrs. Jha and their son who is off secretly failing in American business school adjust — often poorly– to their new “upgraded” lifestyle.
Read When: You need a “pure summer read” and want to escape the heat.
Read with: Fortnum & Mason Royal Blend Tea because you’re feeling FANCY AF.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
The “No Spoiler Alert” Synopsis: I got this book recommendation from a list called “21 Books From the Last Five Years that every Woman Should Read,” and it did not disappoint. The story centers around the disappearance of Lydia- the “favorite blue eyed child” of Marilyn and Lee. On the surface, the Lees seem like a perfect interracial family. But once Lydia’s body is found in the local lake- the “perfect” facade slowly unravels. As the illustrious Roxanne Gay said in her goodreads review (because omg she is so awesome and actually writes good read reviews even though she is Roxanne Gay!!): “Gorgeously written. Really subtle storytelling but the tension built in a really excruciating, smart way that kept me holding my breath. I also love how Ng approached writing the challenges of identity and difference for both women and people of color, as well as how much the burden of expectations can truly weigh.”
Read When: It’s Sunday morning , you’re in bed and want a good mystery novel with a hint of deconstructing the human condition.
Read with: A nice cup of darjeeling or green tea. Really, something you can re-heat because you’ll forget to drink it because you’re too busy turning pages.
Who Thought This was a Good Idea? And other Questions You Should Have answers to When You Work in the White House By Alyssa Mastromonaco & Lauren Oyler
The “No Spoiler Alert” Synopsis: I first heard about Alyssa Mastromonaco’s book during her interview with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. Who Thought? is a refreshingly honest account of Mastromonaco’s time working as the deputy Chef of Staff for President Barack Obama. This behind-the-scenes political memoir is filled with ‘hilarious encounters of bursting in on secret climate talks, or nailing a campaign speech in a hailstorm and a dozen of less-than-perfect moments on how she helped make “Hope and Change” actually happen’. Unlike most political memoirs I’ve read, Mastromonaco is unapologetically honest about the exhaustion, the awkward moments and about her quest to get a tampon dispenser into the West Wing. It’s no coincidence that she’s besties with my wannabe BFF, Mindy Kaling.
Read When: You need a good subway book- the kind where if you have to get off at the next stop, you won’t need to re-read the last chapter to know what’s going on.
Read with: A refillable water bottle because the MTA and TSA both frown on public drinking.
Truffle Boy by Ian Purkayastha
The “No Spoiler Alert” Synopsis: I was reading the New York Times when I saw my last name. I obviously assumed that I was hallucinating or finally experiencing what my ophthalmologist Dr. Nyugen told me would happen with prolonged exposure to phone screens. Nope, actually, I found out that there is another Purkayastha – who may be the only other Purkayastha not directly related to me- obsessed with food. Truffle Boy covers Ian Purkayastha’s journey with exotic food- from his first taste of truffles (age 15 in rural Arkansas) to his high stakes dealings with truffle kingpins in Serbia, meth-head foragers in Oregon, crooked businessman and maniacal chefs in Manhattan, gypsy truffle hunters in the Hungarian forests and a supreme adventure to find “Gucci” mushrooms in the Himalayan foothills.
Read When: You’ve run out of Chef’s Table episodes on Netflix and want to know about how those chefs get those exotic truffles and want to impress others with your identifying fake Wagyu beef.
Read with: The best whisky or scotch you have. It will be worth it.