1. The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison Another book Ruby has been begging me to read for years. A collection of delightfully engaging essays, The Empathy Exams makes the best argument for essay collections ever. Striking the balance between getting to know the author and understanding her world, while still making time for excellent story telling is hard to come by. If you like Chloe Caldwell or Donald Miller, pick up a copy.
2. Too Much and Not the Mood by Durga Chew-Bose Yet another essay collection; can you tell I have a favorite genre? I don't watch TV often, but I suppose this is the closest thing as far as literature goes. A great essay can stand alone, but when read back to back on a delayed F train, can suck you in. Remember when I bought copies of Bluets for five friends? This might be my next obsession. The essays "Since Living Alone" and "Summer Pictures" turned out to be my favorites. Follow Ruby's advice and skip the first essay (ninety-something pages) and revisit after you've fallen in love with Durga Chew-Bose's voice.
3. Neighborhood: Hearty Salads and Plant-Based Recipes from Home and Abroad by Hetty McKinnon My cookbook obsession is no secret. I'll take it all-classic, gluten free, desserts only, whatever. But this is the first time a cookbook has felt absolutely perfect. My beloved Han sent this to my new apartment in Brooklyn. The timing couldn't have been more ideal. The recipes are primarily salads, but the kind you actually look forward to eating for dinner. The author resides in the nearby Carroll Gardens, which gives it a perfectly local feel. Inspired, I made my way to my local farmer's market just this week.
4. Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler Travel via the subway versus car has afforded me much more reading time. While I usually like to stick to short reading (Real Simple, let's be honest), traveling during the middle of the day has made seating and therefore comfortable reading, more of an option. Anne Tyler is an author I've long been recommended, but never picked up. At a used book store in Kansas City, I was drawn to the familiar name and went for it. Saint Maybe is a survey of the life of a family-the excitement of new love, the devastation of loss, and the natural quirks that make family, family. Don't expect a complex family tree that requires note taking and online research. Do expect to be swept up in an almost perfect story, bursting with character.
5. Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong Much anticipated, highly Instagrammable, and presumably a lovely end of summer read, I was thrilled when Ruby gave me a copy of Goodbye Vitamin. I'd heard Rachel Khong on The Lit Up Show and was instantly attracted to her storytelling. The book is about Alzheimer's disease, but also really about what it means to come home as an adult. I loved the structure, which made it easy to devour on a Tuesday night. If you're a fan of modern fiction, but like a little bit of backbone, try this book.
As always, picking up these books from local, independent book sellers is the most fun and community-driven way to shop.