Books a Million: Cookbooks, Chick Lit and Travel Guides Written by Friends

[shareaholic app=”share_buttons” id=”20872686″]

I’m leaving for the Florida Keys tomorrow and am hoping that, despite it being a work trip, I have a little bit of time to catch up on my summer reading. A curious thing has happened this year: I’ve started getting up at 6am (sometimes earlier) and, as a result, I start falling asleep at the computer (or in front of the TV) as early as 10pm (as opposed to midnight or later, my usual bedtime).

Why is this problematic? Well, it’s not, I suppose—except that it has robbed me of all my reading time, which traditionally has been a half an hour (or more, if I can’t fall asleep) before bedtime.

Still, I’ve managed to check off a small handful of books this year—though it’s been some time since my last book post—and here’s what I’ve read. Ironically, every one of them is a book penned by a friend or former coworker of mine! What can I say? I keep company with fascinating people!

The New Paris by Lindsey Tramuta-Morel

Lindsey, who moved from Philly to France right after college (and later married a Parisian), is a long-time writer friend-turned-IRL friend, and I couldn’t have been happier for her to get her baby, The New Paris, published finally. I pre-ordered it the second it went on sale and was pleased as punch when I got this coffee table stunner in the mail. But it’s more than just gorgeous photography from NYC photog Charissa Fay; it’s clear Lindsey poured her heart and soul into this book, which is full of stories, vignettes and profiles written in her characteristic journalist style. The perfect gift for any lover of food, European culture or striking imagery.

Read Lindsey Tramuta's book, The New Paris

All Over the Place by Geraldine DeRuiter

There’s no denying that Geraldine DeRuiter, lover of cake and purveyor of pithy Tweets, is one of the funniest writers on the Internet. Her blog, The Everywhereist, should be required reading for ladies—and men, too, for that matter—across the US and abroad. I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with Geraldine in her stomping grounds of Seattle a few times now, and she’s every big as delightfully lovely—and hilarious—in person. Her memoir, All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft is more or less an extension of her blog and will have you rolling from the first page on, with humor-laden tales of getting lost, losing her job, marrying the love of her life and, yes, even finding out she had a brain tumor (who, true to her form, she gave a persona, Steve). The great thing about the style of this hilarious read is that each chapter can be read as a standalone, so you can save them for when you need a really good belly laugh (and with the direction the world is headed, I’m guessing that’s often). Warning: Not for the uptight reader who can’t handle a good use of expletives and the occasional political banter. 😉

Read Geraldine deRuiter's memoir, All Over the Place

The Young Wives’ Club by Julie Pennell

I’m a sucker for chick lit (particularly in summer months), and it’s a bonus if the book is set in the South. Written by my industry pal Julie—are you sensing a trend? this is the year all my friends published books, clearly! in fact, all five of these recommendations were written by people I know, come to think of it—The Young Wives’ Club chronicles the lives of four Louisiana-raised best friends in their late teens and early-20s as they navigate new marriages, engagements, affairs and other summer flings. One suspects her pastor husband is straying as he starts being spotted in places he shouldn’t, another follows her high school boyfriend-turned-husband to LSU as he pursues a football career, a third finds herself ensnared in a lie (and engaged to a Congressman’s son as a result), and the fourth winds up in a marriage of convenience in order to help out her family, who is on the brink of bankruptcy. Julie traditionally has written more teen- and YA-centric works, so I was eager to see how that would transition to adult fiction (spoiler alert: it works!). As someone who grew up in a small town not much bigger than Toulouse, much of this book felt like a throwback to my high school years, as plenty of my friends did get married fresh out of high school.

Read Julie Pennell's book, The Young Wives' Club

The Laura Lea Balanced Cookbook By Laura Lea Goldberg

The constant struggle to eat clean is real, particularly when I’m only home a few days here and there between trips and my pantry is far from prepared. While SVV was in California for 10 days, I spent some time reading up on changing my lifestyle and actually cooking for myself for a change, and I can tell you that my Nashville friend (and holistic chef) Laura Lea Goldberg’s book is a game-changer. It’s not just a cookbook, it’s a tome; the first 57 pages are packed with pantry staples, tips on incorporating more healthy fats into your diet, what to do with leftovers, etc., and I read every last word before diving headfirst into LL’s carefully thought out recipes. I cannot recommend this book enough—if you buy one food-related book this year, make it The Laura Lea Balanced Cookbook. Her approach to food is to make it realistic—”cooking isn’t a rote set of steps to follow,” she muses—but also help you live a more balanced lifestyle.

And with recipes like a cherry almond smoothie, tahini ginger mashed sweet potatoes, sesame maple Brussels sprouts bits and a peach-blueberry crumble with coconut cashew cream, eating healthier has never been more fun. Upon LL’s recommendation, I also bought Body Love by Kelly LeVeque in an attempt to live in balance more and break free of certain food stigmas.
Read Laura Lea Goldberg's Cookbook, The Laura Lea Balanced Cookbook

Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam

I worked with Rumaan at Conde Nast a decade ago, so was eager to pick up his first novel, which came out last year. I started this read at the beginning of the summer on a flight, and I’m honestly not sure why it took me so long to finish—my speculation is that the two main characters, for which the title was derived, were so borderline insufferable at times that I almost cringed to find out what they’d do next. At its core, Rich and Pretty is a coming-of-age read about a pair of best friends who take very different paths after college, but especially once they reach their 30s; one, often referred to as “pretty,” is single, still sleeping around and attempting to climb the ladder at a publishing house, while the other, “rich,” is newly married and pregnant and has no real direction with her life, nor does she need to with the kind of wealth she was born into. There isn’t a plot per se, but the book was extremely well-written with plenty of biting commentary; I’m always stunned that a male writer can peer into a woman’s mind and depict it with such startling accuracy. Not for everyone as the book didn’t have a clear rise and fall, nor was there much conflict, but at the end, I did quite enjoy the journey.

Read Rumaan Alan's debut novel, Rich and Pretty

For the beach, I’ve downloaded Danube Defiance, Before The Fall, The Wonder, Reconstructing Amelia and Truly Madly Guilty, and I’m approximately 112th on the library waitlist for Spoonbenders and The Handmaid’s Tale (seriously, how did I not read this in my Gender Studies classes in college?).

What are you reading in these hot summer months?



Best Summer Reads: My Favorite Books of 2017
Best Summer Reads: My Favorite Books of 2017
Best Summer Reads: My Favorite Books of 2017
  • July 17, 2017

    I am reading The Blue Zones Solution. It is a book about the places in the world the author has established as “Blue Zones”. Where the healthiest and long-lived people reside. I haven’t gotten far into the book; but so far it is a good read.

  • July 17, 2017
    Briel K.

    I did not like The Wonder and was so-so on Truly Madly Guilty. I did like Reconstructing Amelia though!

    I just read The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon and really enjoyed it. Finally a book I liked this year! Almost everything else has been meh (unless it’s a favorite I was just re-reading).

    Right now I’m reading A King Worth Killing by Peter Swanson and it’s actually been pretty good as well! It’s kept me wanting to read late into the night (just one more chapter and then I’ll go to sleep!) and has had some interesting plot twists.

  • July 18, 2017

    So honored to be on this lady! I love hanging out with you in my stomping ground as well. 😀

    • July 18, 2017


      OH GOD.

  • July 18, 2017

    I just finished Big Little Lies, and I have Truly Madly Guilty in my To-Read pile next to my bed. (I read The Hypnotist’s Love Story a couple months ago and really enjoyed it!) (Are you sensing a trend?)

    Rhys Bowen has a new one out that I *think* is a standalone–In Farleigh Field–that I want to read. Currently reading Hillbilly Elegy, which I’m enjoying more than I thought I would, to be honest.

    Oh, the to-read list grows and grows….

  • July 19, 2017

    Rich & Pretty has been on my list to-read forever, so I just finally ordered it. I’ve been in a bit of reading slump and can’t seem to finish anything I start, so I think I just need to dive into something really, really good to get me jump started back on a reading bender.

  • July 20, 2017

    I’m reading the Neopolitan novels at the moment. It makes me feel like going to Italy 🙂

  • July 21, 2017

    I’ve been watching the Channel 4 series of The Handmaid’s Tale but many have told me the book is better so I’m adding that to my reading list too. Enjoy 🙂

  • July 26, 2017

    I like the fact that most of the authors are people that you actually know. Awesome!

    In fact, my brother wrote a book last year and has a London publisher, so you can imagine how proud I am of him. Most especially when he lives in North England!

    What am I reading this summer? Same Same. Something to do with history!

  • July 27, 2017

    Adding these to my reading list! 🙂

Leave a Comment