Pool/Beach Reads - Summer 2014

I am not reading nearly as much as I should be. With construction on the new store and the race to put the new cookbook to bed, I am not quite myself these days. All is well, but I am weary and bone tired. The kind of tired where I rarely remember what day it is when the alarm goes off. Wednesday could be Saturday. Sunday is probably Thursday. It’s all a blur. Lately, reading and sleeping are little luxuries – and, often, I have to choose one over the other. Sleeping is winning out more often than not.

That said, I am preparing a mega reading list for the moment (post new store opening/post new book launch) I can slip away to some sleepy island. Some little sandy nook with a lighthouse (why not?). A beach shack filled with books and booze and bicycles and muumuus and sunsets.

In the meantime, wishing everyone a beautiful summer. And herewith is a list of my top 5 “can’t wait to read” beach books…


I am downright obsessed with Tom Rachman’s first book, The Imperfectionists. It is flawless from the first page. Engaging, witty, sad (without being overly sentimental) and achingly / beautifully (lean, almost poetic) written. Dare I say, it is probably my favorite book of the last ten years. I have just cracked open his follow-up, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers. My intention was to save it (savor it) for my next vacation, but the wait proved too difficult. Just a few chapters in, and I am already hooked. As one reviewer commented, this is “A bookshop-lover’s book, and beautiful prose-lover’s book, and read-it-all-in-one-weekend book.”

By now, almost everyone has an opinion about Stephen King. I kind of love him. I mean, I grew up with him. In fact, Cujo, was probably the first adult fiction book I remember reading outside of any required curriculum (my parents were concerned). I don’t read every single book he writes – he publishes quite often. However, I am always happy when I do pick up a King novel. And his latest, Mr. Mercedes, seems tailor made for suntan lotion and chlorine. Stephen King is a master of plot, and Mr. Mercedes is a hard driving mystery/crime/thriller with nary a supernatural thread in sight. Sign me up. #bedtimebeachread

This is embarrassing, but I know nearly nothing about author Emma Straub. However, after reading several reviews of her novel, The Vacationers, I purchased the book and tossed it onto my ever-growing pile. Evidently, the plot revolves around a vacation in Mallorca (tapas!!!) and awkward family dynamics. Sold. Truth be told, I am sucker for reading about fictional vacations while on vacation. And, come on, Mallorca….we all need Mallorca…even if it is vicariously.

I am in the food business, so it should come as no surprise that I was drawn to David Sax’s The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue. Yes, this is the book that “uncovers the world of food trends” a la siracha, kale, and – of course -cupcakes. But most importantly, this is the book that further sheds light on why we are all of the sudden eating chia seeds. Reason enough to purchase and read. And how can you resist this promotional tag: Tastemaker, n. Anyone with the power to make you eat quinoa. Boom. Done. Read it.

Though technically not a beach read, Josey Baker Bread is a brilliant new cookbook you could bring to your beach house – especially if you feel like baking while ensconced. I fell head over heels for Josey’s toast at The Mill in San Francisco, and the book is a worthy addition to the bread baking category. Josey’s voice is more “friendly neighbor” than “angry teacher” – something rare in bread books to be sure. And, honestly, the recipe for Adventure Bread is something to behold. Don’t believe me. Check it out here.

Any other great reads you can recommend? Send them my way via comments or FB. Thanks!