You don't have to be a regular reader of Garden and Gun to enjoy this collection of essays, compiled from the magazine's monthly column of the same name. Each author has challenged himself to try to get down in words exactly what about his dog is worthy of remembrance. The selections here feature a stellar cast of characters: some of the most spirited, steadfast, whip-smart, lovable troublemakers you'll ever meet. That is to say, you meet dogs. Can a writer make you love (really love!) his pet in just a few pages each? I have known and cherished several dogs -- all special, and all recognizable in snippets from these stories. But dog lover or not, you'll find yourself blinking back tears at these quick, bittersweet snapshots into southern life, where having a dog is essential to better understanding yourself, and "good" is in the eye of the owner. --Emmy
The Opposite of Loneliness is a posthumously published collection of fiction and non-fiction from young writer Marina Keegan. After her tragic death in a car accident just days after her graduation from Yale, Marina's family and friends compiled the works found in this book. There is wit and wisdom throughout all Marina's stories and essays, both fiction and non-fiction alike. The Opposite of Loneliness is a beautifully composed tribute to Marina and her writing alike, and it is truly a shame that the world will no longer see future works from this talented and gifted author. --HEATHER H.
Email or call for price.
Books about fashion, especially when they are from an insider's perspective, are my not-so-guilty pleasure: I love reading lush descriptions of luxurious fabrics, unique cuts, and all the accessories one can drape on themselves. I also really love reading about gutsy broads, women who have forged their own path in life. I'll Drink to That combines both of my specific tastes! Betty Halbreich is the famous personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman's, the arbiter of taste, friend, and occasional therapist for women of all shapes and incomes. She truly loves clothes and her ladies and this compulsively readable memoir is a testament to that. Betty writes like a trusted friend: chatty, honest, and brave, pulling no punches when it comes to baring her faults. She's one of the last great dames and her book should make her a familiar name to more than just those in-the-know. I'll drink to that! --LAUREN
I was born in 1988 so I missed Bobbie Brown's heyday, but thank God she recreated it for me in this gloriously scandalous book! She pulls no punches chronicling her (often sexual) run-ins with everyone from Leonardo DiCaprio to Bret Michaels, Rod Stewart, Kevin Costner (she set his bedroom on fire), to her difficult relationships with Jani Lane and Tommy Lee—and her struggles with substance abuse. She's come out on top and I applaud her for it. This is one guilty pleasure I feel nothing but good about! --Lauren
Email or call for price.
Ooh I love this book so much! Not only is it a fascinating look at the founding of Jimmy Choo, it's the chic, gossipy story of the founder herself, Tamora Mellon. $500,000 weddings! Diamond-encrusted shoes! Hobnobbing with celebrities! These are just some of the excesses described in In My Shoes, along with courtroom drama, fabulous parties, and the most beautiful shoes in the world. Tamara's voice is what makes this memoir so fun: she holds nothing back and is full of dishy anecdotes. For instance, when she was at finishing school (Finishing School!), she was one of the few girls the cook/ski instructor didn't try to seduce. Apparently Roger Moore (AKA James Bond) had warned him that Tamara's dad would break his legs if he did. I live for stories like that! The media has compared Mellon's life to that of a Danielle Steel character's, and her memoir reads like exactly that: an over-the-top chronicle of fame and luxury with a "plucky heroine" at its heart! --Lauren
Email or call for price.
At age 19 growing up in rural Montana, Mary MacLane had declared herself a genius and philosopher and expressed her love for the Devil and Napoleon. Although the details are somewhat mundane, the setting which this memoir came from is what I found most fascinating–originally published in 1902, Mary’s occultish musings seem better fit for a Jack Parsons’ party in 1940s California. With this publication Mary broke free from her sheltered life and began one of a more bohemian fashion–all the while awaiting the coming of the Devil and her chance to join him in marriage. --Jeremy
Love and devotion are not emotions felt only to humans. Examples surround us all at this very moment. The things that these two emotions can accomplish are beyond measure. Susanna Charleson opens the doors to a world most of us don’t see, where the unwanted save the forgotten. I hope that she can be a face for change not only for man’s best friend but for all of us. --Drew
I love books about stylish, difficult women. I find them fascinating, and Patricia Volk's mother was such a person. She was impeccable and cruel - charming and cold, and she struggled to relate to her. When she was 11 Volk read Shocking Life, a memoir by another difficult woman named Elsa Schiaparelli. Not only was Ms. Volk fascinated by Shiaperelli's unconventional story, she drew parallels between the designer and her own mother. Now in Shocked she tells the story of them both. I loved this book - I couldn't look away, and now I'm definitely going to buy myself a copy of Shocking Life! --Lauren
Sassy and witty, Alida Nugent’s memoir is a tell-all of what really happens after college. Not the glossy brochures you might receive in a college recruitment campaign picturing young men and women in fashionable work appropriate clothes but the “stay up all night drinking” reality of many post-college twenty-somethings. Nugent’s humor about her post-university life is what drew me to this book. Her tales of misadventure, avoiding people, and watching copious amounts of TV shows are oddly familiar. As a college student I find myself worrying about my future, and while Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse didn’t reassure me about a future career, it did remind me that there is still hope for my future in retail. - Lauren
Dear Laurie Notaro,
You, Jen Lancaster, Jenny Lawson, and I need to get together and have the most hilarious, bitchin'-est sleepover ever! Or the most intense, epic author rumble — honestly, I'm fine with either. Thank you for writing another fabulous book that, to quote Monk, made me "LOL out loud.”
I absolutely loved this debut! Like Aaron, I grew up in a conservative Christian home and my Dad was a pastor. Even though his family is much more conservative than mine, there was a lot in this book that I identified with: the desire for a concessions stand at church, the struggle to reconcile my faith with the world I live in, the fear of disappointing my parents when I wasn't as good as they wanted me to be. But Aaron's story is his own, and I loved reading about his sometimes flawed, but always loving family. I would recommend Rapture Practice to Christians and non-Christians alike; not only is it a fun, conversational read, it's an important one, and I think it will prompt interesting discussions! - Lauren
Aleksandar Hemon narrowly escaped the horrific scenes of the Bosnian War, leaving for the United States just weeks before its outbreak. He set out for Chicago in the early ‘90s with the intention of staying for a one month study session. He did not return to his native city of Sarajevo until after the war and after he had moved to Chicago heart and soul. This book takes its name partly from the range of stories Hemon shares — how it is growing up in an unstable region, waiting for war to reach Sarajevo; living as an ex-patriot/refugee in the United States; struggling to identify with your city and how important that is. There are fascinating stories, like one about a war criminal turned university literature professor, and others so heart-wrenching that I could not read them in one sitting. The essays here are short but all feel complete, but that is not to say they won't leave you wanting more. - Jeremy
T Cooper has this “thing,” he calls it. He says it is a part of his past but he also kind of thinks it defines everything he is now. T’s a writer, a husand, father and he rescues Pit Bulls, but he was also designated female at birth and transitioned later in life. This is his, sort of, memoir/societal study on what manliness and masculinity is. With great humor and stark frankness, Cooper sheds some light on a subject I knew little about through a series of short essays and interviews with friends, family and members of the LGBT community. - Jeremy
If you are a parent -- thinking you're doing all the right things -- you will never look at your children the same way again after you read Amy Chua's book. You'll find yourself questioning whether pushing then might have made them musical geniuses, math wizards, prolific writers, or all of the above. Pushing, prodding, threatening, demanding, and sacrificing -- but always loving -- your children in what Chua calls the "Chinese Style of Parenting" might have been their ticket to success. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is disquieting -- it is hard to read if you empathize with her children or you find yourself thinking about your children's abilities and potentials in a new light. I read this in two nights, and now I can't stop talking and thinking about it. - Gayle
I’m a foodie and love books that talk about food lore, ingredients, and exotic tastes. I also read memoirs. This book combines all of these elements in a remarkable way. At the age of three, Kim Sunée was abandoned on a bench in a marketplace in Seoul, South Korea. A young GI and his wife brought her to the States, and she grew up in New Orleans amongst an extended family that included maternal grandparents who taught her how to cook. She never felt at home in her adopted country and, while still in her teens, moved to France where she continued cooking lessons under master chefs. This is her story, complete with recipes and anecdotes, of finding her rightful place in the world, and using food to lead her home. - Gayle
Marcus was only three years old when he, his mother, and his sister who were all battling tuberculosis walked seventy-five miles to a hospital in Ethiopia. His mother died, but Marcus and his sister recovered, and one year later they were adopted by a white family in Sweden. It was there that Marcus’s new grandmother sparked in him a lifelong passion for cooking. Markus went on to study in Europe and eventually ended up in New York City where his talent and ambition earned him rave reviews, awards and a place on Top Chef Masters. This story gives the readers a view into the European culinary schooling and the issues of race not only in the kitchen but in the community at large. - Cindy
A memoir in second person! I didn’t think it could be done, but leave it to Mark Richard to tell his story from a new viewpoint. Richard grew up in the South and was called a “special child”—an euphemism for mentally and physically challenged. Richard learned about racial tensions and social norms from a state hospital bed. His mother sought comfort in scripture, while his father was a perfectionist and struggled with his imperfect son. Richard grew up to defy his doctors’ predictions that he would spend his adult life in a wheelchair and become a disc jockey, fishing boat deckhand, house painter, naval correspondent, and more. Throughout his life, Richard questions his faith, and he weaves this through out his memoir in extraordinarily beautiful prose where not one word is wasted. - Cindy
Instead of urging unlucky-in-love readers to "settle" for Mr. Right There, Klausner penned a scathing and hilarious anti-Marry Him manifesto about the "Nice Guys"—faux-sensitive "take care of me" guys—that every woman has dated—and later discovered that they weren't so nice. I thought that Klausner's message was like a breath of fresh (and sane!) air in a sea of dating books telling women to "settle" for immature needy guys. Her point that some Nice Guys that are intimidated by pretty women aren't cute and shy, they're "reacting to the intimidating female as an intruder, an alien, and somebody they can't relate to," was totally spot-on. This isn't a "woe is me" fest though! Reading I Don't Care About Your Band was like talking to a really cool friend who was always ready to tell you that you're so awesome that even a long lonely dry spell or a spectacularly bad relationship can't destroy you. On the other hand are the dating books tell women to "not feel so good about yourself" so that you pass up too many dudes and "end up alone"... guess which message I prefer? I really recommend this book to anyone that wants a little company in the shared misery of bad relationships, or just wants to laugh at the bad behavior we put up with in the search for love. - Jennie
Forgoing the graphic litany of atrocities that characterizes so much Holocaust literature, Auschwitz survivor Paul Steinberg instead focuses on the lingering effects of having survived—the fifty-plus years of sleeplessness, strained relationships and brutal self-recriminations that haunted him until his death in 1999. An unapologetic rejoinder to fellow prisoner Primo Levi—who recast Steinberg as “Henri,” the ultimate survivor, in If This Is a Man—Speak You Also asks the terrifying question, At what price survival? The answers tormented Steinberg all his life, but there is peace amid the turbulence of this astonishing little book. “A delivery,” Steinberg writes, “no matter how long overdue, is still a deliverance.” - Brandon
Although Bringing Up Bébé is a parenting book it's far from a preachy "the French are so much better" how-to guide. Instead the author humorously recounts her attempts at raising her children in Paris while following a few simple but practical French parenting philosophies: enforcing strict set of boundaries but are allowing kids an enormous amount of freedom and autonomy within those boundaries, education as opposed to discipline, and always acknowledging adults with "bonjour" and "au revoir". Druckerman also encourages American parents to change the way they perceive their roles as parents and to not base their lives so much around the kids. Having adult only time is ok, even necessary for your sanity! Being a very new mom, I really feel this book provided me great insight into the different approaches to parenting and made me feel much more confident in my own parenting decisions. - Danielle
Admit it. You loved the 80's. You rocked the Flock of Seagulls hair cut, partied hard to Lita Ford, and lost your voice screaming for New Kids on the Block. So did author Rob Sheffield. Talking to Girls About Duran Duran is not only a smart, funny nod to the music, but to the memories and emotions that those songs conjure up, even two decades later. Each song-themed chapter can stand alone and doesn't necessarily require you to know the song, but is that much more poignant if you do. For the songs you don't know, you may find yourself re-living their glory days through YouTube videos. - Danielle
So many of the books like this that I have looked at, in the end, just contain information that is either too difficult or time consuming to follow. They are also full of plans and lifestyle changes that require total commitment to the entire program. One of the things I love about this book is the sections are broken down by body “areas” so it is easy to find what you want to work on or areas that you have questions about. Heather has tried all of these steps and gives honest opinions on all of them. She is not selling a “come to my lifestyle” book. She has created a resource that can be used by new moms and veteran moms alike. The tip boxes give you an idea of what you will find on those pages as well as a quick synopsis of big steps on that page. This really is a “keep on hand at all times” resource book! - Stephanie