River House: A Memoir
By Sarahlee Lawrence
When author Sarahlee is running Class V rapids, her vulnerability is part of what makes her happy. But if her river adventures—from the Futaleufu (in Patagonia) to the Grand Canyon—are a series of casual flings, then her family’s ranch in Central Oregon represents a deeper connection, a “grandmotherly” love. In River House, Sarahlee recounts building a log house with the help of her father, a paradox of surfer-farmer who’s also a dedicated pot smoker. Ultimately, they both must seek a balance between the ranch and water: for her dad, the sea; for her, the river. Sarahlee’s honesty and flawless storytelling make for a compelling memoir that is both entertaining and heartbreaking.
Tin House Books, 2010; $17
16 Culinary Artisans Preserving Tradition
By Georgia Pellegrini
Juicy tomatoes. Olive oil on warm, crusty bread. The darkest milk chocolate bar on Earth. 94 proof whiskey. Author Georgia Pellegrini, who left Wall Street for culinary school, takes readers on a gastronomic world tour in search of modern “food heroes,” whose centuries-old traditions are threatened by mass-produced products. There’s the 93-year-old woman who follows the Japanese art of massaging dried persimmons by hand; the English grandmother who creates poetry while she churns butter; and the Kentucky farmer who grows beans from seed strains passed down through generations. With portraits of people passionate for flavor, custom, and community, Pellegrini proves that we can reclaim a lost connection with foods we love. Bonus: each chapter’s recipes are sure to leave foodies satiated!
Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2010; $25
Epic Adventures on the Appalachian Trail
By Jennifer Pharr Davis
Jennifer Pharr Davis has hiked more than 8,500 miles of U.S. national scenic trails and is the women’s speed record holder for the Appalachian Trail. Still, she considers her first AT thru-hike the most physically, emotionally, and spiritually challenging. Infused with a likable innocence, this travelogue tells of her first solo trek on the 2,175-mile footpath from Springer Mountain (Georgia) to Mount Katahdin (Maine). As she battles blizzards and bugs, learns the importance of dry socks, and enjoys a bit of “trail magic” (generosity from strangers along the AT), “Odyssa” becomes more than a trail name; it’s a new identity that marks Jennifer’s “journey between naiveté and experience.”
Beaufort Books, 2010; $25