I am always on the hunt for a stellar read where I lose myself in the story! Amor Towles, if you are reading this, could you please write another A Gentleman in Moscow! Visit my bedside table right now and you’ll find a ridiculously tall and colorful bookstack covering spiritual books, memoirs, novels, poetry and cookbooks! I am spoiled to have Parnassus Bookshop a stone’s throw from my house here in Nashville! They give the best recommendations. You would be doing me a great favor if you would add to this list with your current favorites in the comments section below! I’ll post the curated list on my instagram!
Vango: between Sky and Earth by Timothee de Fombelle
This Summer I visited the famous French English bookstore, Librarie Galignani, on the rue de Rivoli in Paris. A charming and exceptionally well-read young French girl named Claire gifted me with several popular French novels that have been translated into English. My absolute favorite was a Young Adult novel entitled, Vango: Between Sky and Earth! There are two books in the series and I wish there were loads more! I fell in love with all of the characters, especially Vango. My 13-year old, 15-year old and husband give it a thumbs up for adventure. The story’s got all the classic elements of swashbuckling adventure tales like The Count of Monte Cristo. … Beautiful writing, intricate plotting, and breathless reveals—plus several plucky female leads—make this a must-read -Kirkus Review
Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans
I immediately purchased this book after listening to Jen Hatmaker’s, For the Love Podcast interview with the author Rachel Held Evans. It is a clever and creative entree into reading the Bible. Evans retells many of the stories through short story, poetry, memoir, and soliloquies. I admire how Evans makes the Bible stories come alive and proves how relevant they are to our every day lives.
Anam Cara by John O’Donohue
Where has this Irish mystic and spiritual poet been all my life? I have always been intrigued by Celtic Christianity, especially its focus on the inner being and soul. In Anam Cara, O’ Donohue wrote: “Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.” I also recommend The Invisible Embrace of Beauty and To Bless The Space Between Us.
Wine and War by Don and Petie Kladstrup
A great friend and fellow French enthusiast recently recommended this WWII heroic tale of how the old French Families of the Vine saved not only their dignity, but France’s national treasure as the Germans invaded and then occupied France. Although nonfiction, it reads like an adventure! Let’s just say the Germans were not drinking the vintages! They wine producers formed their own French Resistance and took daring measures to protect their national treasure!
My Life in France by Julia Child
This Summer my family and I got to stay next door to Julia Child’s famous house, La Pitchoune (now a cooking school!) in the south of France. I confess I did not know much about Julia Child before snooping around her garden and peering into what was once a very famous kitchen and gathering spot for chefs and foodies! We watched the movie, Julia and Julie, starring Amy Adams, and a friend introduced me to Julia’s husband Paul’s photography book documenting their life in France, and I was smitten. Julia opens her memoir: “This is a book about some of the things I have loved most in my life: my husband, Paul Child; la belle France; and the many pleasures of cooking and eating.” This is my kind of gal! Julia arrived in France in 1948, spoke no French, cook not boil an egg, but instantly fell in love with France. She would go on to graduate form the Cordon Bleu and write many famous cookbooks. But it was Julia’s “joie de vie” that especially resonated with me! She knew better than most how to live soulfully!
The Love and Lemons Cookbook by Jeanine Donofrio
If you were to visit my kitchen, you would find a colorful collection of cookbooks stacked across my kitchen counter, a veritable still life to make you smile! Although I do not follow recipes myself, I do read them cover to cover for inspiration. Love and Lemons is a favorite because it is organized by ingredients. For example, the book opens with recipes for apples and ends with zucchini! I love Donofrio’s apple and radish salad, coconut rice, blackberry basil bruschetta, avocado and fava bean salad, and lemon rosemary roasted potatoes! Bonne Appetit!
The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman
I am an Alice Hoffman fan. She weaves a mesmerizing story, while always including a thread of the supernatural. Clearly, she believes in miracles. Her latest story is set during the German occupation of France during World War II. I am twenty pages in!
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
I did not believe my friends at Parnassus Bookshop when they confided that this was not the original manuscript for The Dutch House. Apparently, after spending two years writing the story, Nashville’s “literary doyenne,” deleted the entire thing and started over. Critics are calling this version her very best! Another fun tid bit is the beautiful cover for The Dutch House is actually a photograph of a painting hanging in Patchett’s home. I have all of Ann’s books, but I am especially excited about this one because I was told by a reliable source that the novel’s ending is Patchett’s all-time best!
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
Margaret Riley, my superstar book agent friend, gave this novel a thumbs up and I have to agree. The novel, set both in America and Russia, is based on historical events in the burgeoning Cold War. It was exciting to read about these incredible female American spies infiltrating communist Russia! Their mission was to sneak the banned Russian novel, Dr. Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak, back into Russia! Who knew art and espionage were such great bedfellows! Next on my book list is Dr. Zhivago! I can’t believe I have never read what my mother calls, “one of the all-time best love stories ever written!”