Light Recollections of Growing Up Arab in America

Book review: The Wrong End of the Table, by Ayser Salman (Amazon / Book Depository) If you’ve ever felt like you’ve been at the wrong end of the table – whether you were born in an Iraqi dictatorship or hail from Lexington, Kentucky – this is for you. Though I can’t speak for all of us, I can at least tell you my story. Ayser Salman, a … Continue reading Light Recollections of Growing Up Arab in America

Kitchen Connections to Grief, Joy, and Growing Up

Book review: Kitchen Yarns, by Ann Hood (Amazon / Book Depository) When I write an essay about food, I am really uncovering something deeper in my life – loss, family, confusion, growing up, growing away from what I knew, returning, grief, joy, and, yes, love. Author Ann Hood is also a Laurie Colwin devotee, and her latest nonfiction essay collection, Kitchen Yarns, is beautifully similar to all … Continue reading Kitchen Connections to Grief, Joy, and Growing Up

Smart, Richly Crafted Essays from the Incomparable Zadie Smith

Book review: Feel Free, by Zadie Smith (Amazon / Book Depository) Novelist Zadie Smith has got to be one of the most brilliant minds writing today. She burst onto the literary scene with the novel White Teeth in 2000 and has been a heavyweight presence ever since. I read that book and only retained from it that I liked it a lot – when it … Continue reading Smart, Richly Crafted Essays from the Incomparable Zadie Smith

Sweet, Sentimental Stories of Life Beyond Expectations

Review: Life Without a Recipe, by Diana Abu-Jaber (Amazon / Book Depository) If the world is water, the table is a raft; place your hands on it and hold on. In her second memoir, Jordanian-American author Diana Abu-Jaber explores the role that motherhood took in her life during her forties, and the wracking losses of two strong, beloved figures who often opposed each other; her … Continue reading Sweet, Sentimental Stories of Life Beyond Expectations

The Art of Losing It All

Book review: The Rules Do Not Apply, by Ariel Levy (Amazon / Book Depository) Until recently, I lived in a world where lost things could always be replaced. But it has been made overwhelmingly clear to me now that anything you think is yours by right can vanish, and what you can do about that is nothing at all. New Yorker writer Ariel Levy’s memoir was … Continue reading The Art of Losing It All

The Road Will Always Open Before You: Business and Life Lessons from Nobu’s Heart

Book review: Nobu, by Nobu Matsuhisa Along the way, I have faced some major stumbling blocks. But each time, I have managed to overcome them. Whenever I hit an obstacle, I search for a solution and carry on. Gradually, the hurdles that appear before me have become smaller. I find that if I plow ahead, no matter how impossible that may seem, and just do … Continue reading The Road Will Always Open Before You: Business and Life Lessons from Nobu’s Heart

A Modern Classic on the Surreality of Mourning

Book review: The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion (Amazon / Book Depository) Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends. The question of self-pity. Those words were the first that Joan Didion wrote after her husband’s death. In case you’ve never heard of it, The Year of Magical Thinking is journalistic legend Didion’s highly praised, often … Continue reading A Modern Classic on the Surreality of Mourning

The Complicated Necessity of Solitude

Book review: Journal of a Solitude, by May Sarton (Amazon / Book Depository) I am way outside somewhere in the wilderness. And it has been a long time of being in the wilderness. Writer May Sarton retreated to a cottage in New Hampshire for one year, where she holed up and wrote and confronted the seasons, both of the year and of her life. Journal of a Solitude is the diary … Continue reading The Complicated Necessity of Solitude

Anger As Illumination and Other Gandhi Wisdoms

Book review: The Gift of Anger, by Arun Gandhi (Amazon / Book Depository) Bapuji often had a spinning wheel at his side, and I like to think of his life as a golden thread of stories and lessons that continue to weave in and out through the generations, making a stronger fabric for all our lives. Many people now know my grandfather only from the movies, or … Continue reading Anger As Illumination and Other Gandhi Wisdoms

Real Life Essays with a Little Raunch

Book review: We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, by Samantha Irby Samantha Irby is the Chicago-based blogger behind the popular, ultra-honest, hilariously confessional blog Bitches Gotta Eat. She opens her personal essay collection with a piece about how she’d fill out an application to be a Bachelorette contestant. It’s a pretty wonderful, hilarious introduction, and you can imagine what you’re in for with her from there. Her … Continue reading Real Life Essays with a Little Raunch

Essays from the Outdoors

Book review: Upstream, by Mary Oliver ‘Come with me into the field of sunflowers’ is a better line than anything you will find here, and the sunflowers themselves far more wonderful than any words about them. Quoting herself, renowned and much-loved poet Mary Oliver opens this collection of essays about nature and our connection to it, need for it, what it can teach us and how it feels … Continue reading Essays from the Outdoors