Two Thoroughly Absorbing Reads

Flashing way, way back to my elementary and middle school days when we were rewarded with coupons for free personal-sized pizza from Pizza Hut based on how many books we read over break, summer has always been synonymous with reading for me.

Even without the free pizza, it’s a habit that’s stuck with me through adulthood with summer being peak reading season since I’ve always been, well, more of an indoor person. Especially when it’s approximately 1,439 degrees here.

I thoroughly enjoyed the bulk of what I read this summer — domestic thrillers, biographies, cookbooks, general fiction, even an unexpectedly funny book about grammar, clarity and style (that’s you Dreyer’s English), but there were a couple of titles, the ones pictured left, that I couldn’t tear through fast enough for different reasons.

I’ve always been a fan of Ruth Reichl’s food writing. She has the most elegant way with a sentence, and don’t even get me started on her descriptions of various dishes. It’ll make you hungry even if you’ve just had lunch.

With Save Me the Plums, Reichl reminisces about her days at Gourmet, a magazine I would totally subscribe to if it hadn’t shut its doors a decade ago. Turns out, she was a rather unlikely choice as the editor given her background as a famed restaurant critic, but it was fun seeing her make such an esteemed title her own.

I also loved reading what the vibe was like in the test kitchens — the number of times it took to get a recipe just right. Whether it was sloppy joes or an elaborate cake, they tested and re-tested and tested again, which definitely gives one a new respect for the effort that goes into all the recipes I see in everything from Bon Appétit to Food & Wine Magazine.

It was also fun being transported back to the magazine world. While I didn’t write about food, I was reminded of the hustle-bustle of going to print, those last-minute changes to articles that seem so important, the animated debates about who to feature on the cover and why. It was like being back in Nashville from 2000-2005 when I worked at a monthly music magazine.

On the flip side of the reading spectrum, the Reese Witherspoon book club pick, The Other Woman, was so pulp-y and deliciously plotted that it reminded me of my Scandal binge-watching days. While the leading lady shares very little in common with Olivia Pope, the twists and turns that range from subtle to full-on bananas (I won’t be so rude to give anything more than that away) kept me guessing until the very end.

How about you? What were your favorite summer reads and why? Do you gravitate toward serious books, guilty pleasures or a mix of both?

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