Bria Sandford with Do Over by Jon AcoffWhen I first heard that Portfolio was signing Jon Acuff, I was thrilled. I grew up in an evangelical Christian home, and Jon’s early book Stuff Christians Like had delighted me with its good-humored skewering of the quirks in Christian culture. My little sister was obsessed with another of his earlier books, and I knew she’d be over the moon to hear that Jon’s next book would be published by my imprint. It didn’t look like I’d be the editor, but I’d still get some bragging rights. Little did I know that I’d have the good luck of “inheriting” the book when Jon’s original editor left.

The spectacular Maria Gagliano started out working with Jon, and I followed the progress of the book with interest as the two of them produced a really stellar book. Based on his own hard-earned experience, Jon explains how to launch or prepare for a career Do Over by depositing in a “Career Savings Account,” made up of investments in relationships, skills, character, and hustle. He comes alongside the reader with kindness and humor (This guy is hilarious!), but he doesn’t pull punches—when I first read an early version, I winced a little at some of the real talk and began taking notes for my own career.

do-over-by-jon-acuff 2When Maria left, I began working with Jon. Most of the editorial work on Do Over was complete, but I get to be his editorial liaison and will get to work on his next book with us (He’s so nice, we signed him twice!). I couldn’t be more pleased, since he’s the real deal. He’s as pleasant as he sounds in the book, and everyone at Portfolio who has worked with him adores him. What’s more, his book is that elusive career book that is truly helpful to people of all ages and stages in their careers. I can’t wait to see how Do Over changes lives.

 

Read More


Brooke Parsons photo

 

Brooke Parsons is a Senior Publicist at Penguin Press. She enjoys documentary films, Lydia Davis stories, Broad City, and aimless walks around Manhattan.

 

 

 

 

words-will-break-cement-by-masha-gessen

Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot by Masha Gessen

The story of the Russian feminist political punk group Pussy Riot was unbelievable to the West. What’s so exceptional is not the group’s existence but rather the fact that three young women were on trial for an act of artistic political outrage: a performance piece staged inside the Russian Orthodox Church that vilified the newly reinstated President Putin. The arrest and trial of Nadya Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich became an international story full of questions demanding answers. Journalist Masha Gessen was on the front lines in Moscow and brings us the entire story in Words Will Break Cement. Published after the documentary release of Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, which focuses on the trial but ends before time served, this book takes readers deep inside the story of Pussy Riot: their origination, the personal lives of the women involved, and their thoughts on Russian feminism and Putin’s dark reach. For bonus points, check out the documentary Ukraine is Not a Brothel, a profile of Femen (the feminist protest group founded in Ukraine).

 

journey-without-maps-by-graham-greeneJourney without Maps by Graham Greene

Graham Greene is perhaps best known for his novels The Quiet American and The End of the Affair. However, his travel writing is not to be missed—particularly Journey without Maps. This is the story of Greene’s first visit to Africa in 1935 when he walked some 350 miles from Sierra Leone to Liberia. At the time, Liberia was a new country intended to be settled by freed slaves from America. Greene’s sense of discovery and self-discovery is thrilling. And, as the reader, I like learning more about a place I know little about—especially when news concerning Liberia seems to be negative. In recent years, Liberia has suffered civil war, extreme poverty, and a recent Ebola outbreak. (To learn more about this West African country, check out VICE’s Guide to Liberia).

 

galileos-middle-finger-by-alice-dregerGalileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science by Alice Dreger

No, this is not a biography on Galileo Galilei; the title refers to his encased digit, mounted on display in Italy. It was too ironic: the man condemned by the Catholic Church for teaching that the Earth revolves around the Sun was now flipping everyone the bird. Author Alice Dreger, a medical historian and patient rights activist, discusses modern instances where scientists, like Galileo, revealed inconvenient truths about the world, truths met with outrage and personal attacks from political activists. She travels the country to interview people like anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon, who was falsely accused of committing genocide against a South American tribe; the psychologist Michael Bailey, whose research into sex and gender identity led to accusations of abuse by transgender women; and the famous evolutionary biologist E. O. Wilson, whose theories about sociobiology resulted in accusations of racism. Dreger herself was at the forefront of advocating for intersex rights in the late 1990s. But through the course of research for this book, she unexpectedly finds herself in the midst of her own controversy. Dreger’s argument? We must be more open-minded and not deny the scientific facts, even when they challenge our identity. (This might sound like heavy stuff, but Dreger has a wicked sense of humor that makes this book quite the page-turner!)

 

the-journey-of-crazy-horse-by-joseph-m-marshallThe Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History by Joseph M. Marshall III

Crazy Horse is a legend. The world remembers him as the Lakota warrior who, along with Sitting Bull, aided in the defeat of the U.S. Army under Colonel George Armstrong Custer, or what we now refer to as Custer’s Last Stand. Marshall’s book is the definitive biography of Crazy Horse. His portrait of the man behind the myth is unforgettable. What makes this biography even more compelling is Marshall; Lakota himself, he preserves his people’s rich history of oral tradition. This book is a celebration of Crazy Horse, the man who helped save his people—their culture, community, and way of life.

 

Find more books on the Current Events & History page!

See Staff Picks for all our categories!


Katherine_Stewart

 

Katherine Stewart is the Marketing Coordinator for Penguin Press. Being from Maine, she loves the outdoors and stays healthy by walking her dog and riding her horse!

 

 

 

moody-bitches-by-julie-holland

 

Moody Bitches by Julie Holland, M.D.

Women are meant to be moody—embrace it! In this book Julie Holland explains why moodiness can be a strength, not a weakness, which is so refreshing to hear. Her tips about hormones, medication, diet, exercise, and mood are helpful for women of ALL ages and will show you why you need to embrace your inner bitch. This can be an awkward topic but the frank/funny style of this book makes it so approachable.

 

 

 

the-good-gut-by-justin-sonnenburg-erica-sonnenburg

 

The Good Gut by Justin and Erica Sonnenburg

Gut bacteria sound disgusting, and while that may be true, they’re also very important! I didn’t realize how much they affect our health until I read Michael Pollan’s article “Some of My Best Friends Are Germs.” The article discusses the Sonnenburg’s work and how the microbes that reside in our gut affect everything from our immune response to our weight, allergic reactions, aging, and emotions. Who knew? While you may not be hungry after reading that, The Good Gut has delicious recipes that will encourage microbial health.

 

 

moonwalking-with-einstein-by-joshua-foer

 

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

My grandfather used to play a memory game with us. He would put 30 random objects on a tray and would give us one minute to look them over. Then he would cover them up and whoever could remember the most objects would win (I never did). My sister has a great memory and won every time. Moonwalking with Einstein will not only help you improve your memory, it also makes for a fascinating read. I’m betting that I’ll win next time we play!

 

 

superbetter-by-jane-mcgonigal

 

SuperBetter by Jane McGonigal

Don’t hate me but this title isn’t coming out until September. Make sure it’s on your to-read list though because it’s amazing. You may remember Jane from her first book Reality is Broken but if not, she’s a game designer. In 2009, she suffered a severe concussion and had trouble healing.  Afraid of never recovering, she decided to turn healing into a game. I’m not a big fan of gaming (other than Mario Kart), but I’ll play SuperBetter any day. So far 400,000 people have played SuperBetter, including Oprah. Look out for this one in the Fall!

 

To find Health & Self-Improvement books, click here

See Staff Picks for all our categories!


Ulyett

 

 

Alex Ulyett is an assistant editor at Viking Children’s Books. Even though he’s lived most of his life within a small radius, growing up in New Jersey and living in New York, traveling is one of his favorite things. Along with books and choral music.

 

 

 

mosquitoland-by-david-arnold

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

This is smart, sophisticated, and wholly original YA that both teens and adults will love. Sixteen-year-old Mim Malone is a protagonist who has stayed with me long past her runaway Greyhound journey from swampy Mosquitoland to visit her mother (who has for some reason stopped communicating with her). The book is a road trip. It’s a mystery. It’s a coming-of-age.  It’s a love story. It’s heartbreaking. It’s hilarious. I don’t want to give too much away, but I envy anyone who still has this quirky ride to look forward to.

 

 

dory-fantasmagory-by-abby-hanlon

 

Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

A hilarious and adorable chapter book, this is the story of an imagination gone wild. It brings me back to a time when a pile of pillows could become a fortress, a bouncy ball would explode lava if it touched the ceiling, and a monster lived at the top of the stairs. Dory’s a character kids will adore, so there’s good news—more Dory books to come!

 

 

 

sparkers-by-eleanor-glewwe

 

Sparkers by Eleanor Glewwe

I wish this book had come out when I was ten years old. It’s the sort of book I would have read on loop, like I did with the Harry Potter books. In a richly constructed world where some people have magic and some don’t, a mysterious and deadly plague starts claiming victims with no visible pattern. Non-magic  Marah flouts convention and teams up with magic Azariah, discovering ancient secrets that point to a cure. . . and to something much more sinister.

 

 

my-no-no-no-day-by-rebecca-patterson

My No, No, No Day! by Rebecca Patterson

This is one of the funniest picture books I’ve read. Bella is having a bad day. A really bad day. Her cookie breaks during lunch. Her bath is too cold. And “ballet is tooo itchy!” The story so wonderfully captures how little problems can seem so huge when you’re pre-school age with amazingly comic illustrations—I mean, look at her expression on the cover!

 

 

 

blind-by-rachel-dewoskin

 

Blind by Rachel DeWoskin

This is a beautiful, humane book about a girl who was blinded in a freak accident and is trying to integrate herself back into her original high school, determined not to be a PBK (or, “poor blind kid”). In preparation for this book, author Rachel DeWoskin learned braille and interviewed many blind teens. Her hard work and compassion shine through her protagonist’s wholly realistic voice, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next!

 

 

ill-give-you-the-sun-by-jandy-nelson

 

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Okay, I know. It’s not very original to pick the winner of this year’s Printz Award, but this couldn’t not be on my list. It’s the story of Noah and Jude, twins who were super close until something ruined their relationship. The characters are so lifelike, their problems nuanced and realistic. And there’s a dollop of magical realism to spice everything up! This is YA that will appeal to both teens and adults.

 

 

Find more books on the Young Readers page.

See Staff Picks for all our categories!

 


photo

 

Sarah Jean Grimm is an Associate Publicist at Putnam, where she has worked for two years. She also edits on an online poetry quarterly, Powder Keg Magazine. Originally from New Jersey, she now lives in Brooklyn with her orange cat, Theodore.

 

 

 

 

we-are-all-completely-beside-ourselves-by-karen-joy-fowler

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

This is one of the most emotionally intelligent novels I’ve ever encountered. It had me crying in public as I read it on my commute, and I still find myself thinking about its deeply captivating characters. It’s hard to articulate the particular appeal of this novel without giving away some major plot twists, but suffice it to say that Karen Joy Fowler is a master at exploring nuance, collapsing boundaries, and exposing nerves. This book takes an unblinking look at families, forgiveness, science, and language—ultimately uncovering the ways in which they overlap as part of the human (and nonhuman) experience. Devastating and necessary, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves will change you.

on-such-a-full-sea-by-chang-rae-lee

On Such A Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee

Chang-rae Lee’s dystopian future is that rare imaginative feat that strikes readers as simultaneously alien and impossible—if only it weren’t so likely. Set in the stratified society of a colonized America where urbanites labor for an unseen elite, a young diver named Fan ventures out of her settlement in search of her boyfriend, who has mysteriously disappeared. Lee’s writing is mesmerizing, and the world he creates is so realized and unnervingly familiar. It’s a haunting and absorbing pleasure to discover the details of this future alongside “our Fan,” whose story quickly becomes the stuff of legend.

 

 

the-peripheral-by-william-gibson

The Peripheral by William Gibson

William Gibson’s most recent novel completely colonized my brain. Much of The Peripheral is an exercise in cognitive dissonance: the lexicon, technology, and setting are so fresh as to be almost disorienting. But Gibson’s knack for world building is a marvel; his ability to transform recognizable elements into something uncanny is unsurpassed. Add to that a gripping plot, a mystery spanning two timelines, and a cast of compelling characters. The result is hyper literary science fiction that reads like a dangerous blueprint for our own era.

 

 

black-glass-by-karen-joy-fowler

Black Glass: Short Fictions by Karen Joy Fowler

In fifteen short stories, Karen Joy Fowler stretches her wit and showcases her characteristic humor. Originally published in 1998, this book will be reissued in hardcover this summer. It’s a romp through the mind of one of today’s most talented and enchanting writers. Blending the generic conventions of satire, magical realism, science fiction, myth, and more, this diverse collection investigates complex themes with profound acuity. This is immersive storytelling at its finest—a tour de force of intricate plotting, elegant prose, and humor that gives way to unexpected depth.

 

 

the-life-and-death-of-sophie-stark-by-anna-north

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North

Told from the alternating perspectives of those closest to the title character, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is a portrait of a visionary filmmaker whose uncompromising pursuit of her art puts her relationships at risk. Sophie Stark uses the lives of those around her as material for her films, and as her career grows, so does the cost of translating life into art. Through a medley of voices, each one vivid and distinct, Anna North examines the nature of ambition and asks to what extent it is possible to truly know someone. You’ll race through this darkly engrossing novel.

 

Find more books on the Literary Fiction page.

See Staff Picks for all our categories!


Christine DonougherLes Misérables is a novel whose themes have a universal and very topical resonance, but they are themes that emerge from a narrative that is very specifically related to a particular time and place –post Revolutionary France. My translation attempts to preserve that specificity of time and place, so I was anxious not to contaminate the text, as it were, with a vocabulary or with expressions freighted with connotations from a later era or a radically different environment that would sound inappropriate or jarring.

I was also anxious not to adopt a style that was unduly mannered or artificial, not to create any sense of the ‘costume drama’. I wanted the text to read as if it was written in a living language, but not in an aggressively twenty-first-century idiom.

My approach was to view Les Misérables not from the perspective of the present, as a nineteenth-century classic, but rather to see it as the modern phenomenon that it once was, reflecting, as it did when it was published in 1862, a modern view of recent history, written by an author who was regarded–in literary terms, in his political views, in his own private life–as something of an iconoclast, a radical, a rule-breaker, a trail-blazer, but who also respected more conservative views and values, and who had contrived by the end of his life to become an establishment figure par excellence.

Hugo had a seemingly effortless mastery of French versification and had published a huge body of poetic work by the time that he was revising and completing Les Misérables in the early 1860s. He was steeped in the classics, and he knew his La Fontaine inside out. He lived in a world of political upheaval, of scientific inquiry and technological innovation, and his writing reflects all these elements.

To bring out these aspects of his writing I relied not only on translation but also on footnotes to illuminate textual features of a linguistic nature–puns, quotations in foreign languages, literary allusions etc–and endnotes to explain factual and historical references, and my hope is that this editorial apparatus is not intrusive but supportive. (While I was working on the translation I became aware of the internet community of fans of Les Misérables whose detailed knowledge of Hugo’s text and their readiness to exchange information about it are remarkable.)

I was intrigued, for instance, by Marius’s tribute to Monsieur Maboeuf, to whom he is indebted for telling him about his father: “He removed my cataracts.” The more clichéd expression would be, “He opened my eyes,” but in 1752 the French surgeon Jacques Deviel published an account of his revolutionary procedure of cataract removal, which laid the foundations for the method used right up until modern times.

I was also struck by how Les Misérables seems to have anticipated so many of the now familiar elements of later novels, thrillers and films, from the literary–there are strong echoes of Jean Valjean’s dream in the South American writer Juan Rulfo’s ghost town in his short novel Pedro Paramo, which Garcia Marquez and Borges revered as a masterpiece–to the mass market bestseller–the long, so-called digressions being not very far removed from the detailed background research incorporated into the modern techno-thriller. The chase through the sewers is memorably reprised in Carol Reed’s film noir The Third Man, based on Graham Greene’s screenplay, and the Champmathieu Affair is a forerunner of many later court room dramas.

les-miserables-by-victor-hugoSo, bearing all these considerations in mind, this translation aims to convey as directly and as unobtrusively as possibly the enduring and timeless appeal of Hugo’s great novel.

 Start Reading an Excerpt


credit Fiona Saunders

Seventeen years ago, right out of college and the Radcliffe Publishing Course, I moved to New York and went to work for the charismatic group of editors who founded Riverhead Books. Over the next four years, as an editorial assistant, I would answer phones, make photocopies, mail books and schedule lunch dates in exchange for a master class in the art of being an editor.

I had always wanted to be an editor. I imagined being left alone in a spacious office with a lot of books and papers. It didn’t take a week to realize that the reality of being an editor was very different—and much more exciting—than my fantasy. What I could not have anticipated before witnessing the chaos, the constant interruptions, the endless phone calls and multi-hour meetings around which those editors’ work days revolved, was how captivating the authors would be. I was star-struck by some of them, a little bit in love with others, and scared to death of one or two. But they were never, ever boring, and no two hours, let alone days, with them were alike. I was forced to overcome my natural introversion again and again to find ways to help, to please, to cajole and to befriend these enigmatic creatures.

When I became an editor myself, I realized just how intense and emotional these relationships could be. The authors I chose to work with changed my life. I helped them to make the most of their work, promoted their books both inside and outside the company, and faded into the background when it was their time to shine. I learned a lot by watching them, but I never wished to be one of them. They spent years writing books in private that would become suddenly public, up for judgment. It was exhilarating but terrifying. They nurtured their hopes, but they couldn’t know what publication day would bring.

While I delivered more than my share of good news over the years—got to tell some authors that their books had made the New York Times bestseller list, to enthuse over publicity coups and take them out for celebratory dinners after their Manhattan readings—I felt their disappointment acutely when things didn’t go so well: a bad review, a too-quiet launch, missed flights and poorly attended readings on tour. I loved being their behind-the-scenes support from the relative safety of my office at 375 Hudson Street, where my good friends and I gossiped and celebrated one another’s birthdays with conference room cupcakes.

A writing life would have seemed too messy and risky to the person I was then. I used to tell friends and family who aspired to write books that it was a terrible way to make a living, that if they could imagine doing anything else—ANYTHING—they should go and do that instead. I stand by that advice, and yet my book, That’s Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us, is about to be published by Gotham.

After I‘d been working for Penguin for ten years, my husband and I had the opportunity to reinvent our lives in London—an offer too exciting to pass up. We started a family. I did some freelance editing and ghost-wrote a couple of books. Then I started looking around for a new challenge… and let’s face it, there’s nothing like a couple of little kids to help you get used to mess and risk. When one of my former authors (none other than the brilliant Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves) gave me the idea to write a book about the differences between English and American culture through the lens of language, I really wanted to try it.

I spent months doing research and digging up intriguing little stories and bizarre bits of history. It was enormous fun finding my own voice after channeling other voices for so long, but the best part was imagining readers having the same thrill of discovery that I’d felt while working on the book. There are a lot of people out there who love to travel, explore other cultures, and talk about language—this book is for them. It is also for American and English expatriates going through the tortuous process of partial assimilation that I went through (and am still going through). Writing That’s Not English helped me find the humor in this experience.

I could never have imagined how satisfying work could be on the other side of the desk. There are things I miss about being an editor, though—like my colleagues. I want to say that I missed those smart and funny Penguins so much, I just had to work with them again. But the truth is, they rarely call me. Most days I am left alone in the library with a lot of books and papers, nurturing my hopes and wondering what publication day will bring.

 

thats-not-english-by-erin-moore

 

American by birth, Erin Moore is a former book editor who specialized in spotting British books—including Eats, Shoots & Leaves—for the US market. She’s spent the last seven years living in England with her Anglo American husband and a small daughter with an English accent.

That’s Not English is the perfect companion for modern Anglophiles and the ten million British and American travelers who visit one another’s countries each year.


SaraMinnichPicMarch2015

Putnam Editor Sara Minnich answers “Three Questions for an Editor” about her work on David Joy’s Where All Light Tends to Go.  This highly praised debut novel is a savage and beautiful story of a young man seeking redemption. In the meth-dealing family at the center of the book, killing a man is considered a rite of passage, but when eighteen-year-old Jacob McNeely botches a murder, he is torn between appeasing his kingpin father and leaving the mountains with the girl he loves. The world that Jacob inhabits is bleak and unrelenting in its violence and disregard for human life, and having known nothing more, he wonders if he can muster the strength to rise above it.

 

 

For a debut novelist, David Joy has a writing style that feels so natural and remarkably assured as he creates an off-the-grid world populated by authentic characters that are bound to cause readers to feel a wide range of emotions.  What were your thoughts and impressions as you read the initial manuscript for the first time?

I was hooked within the first few pages of Where All Light Tends to Go. Both the writing style and the voice of the young protagonist were raw and gritty, utterly real.  After promising opening pages, I was crossing my fingers in hope that the rest of the book would hold up – and it absolutely did.  Shortly into the story things take a shocking and violent turn, and the pace only escalates from there.  Mostly I remember being unable to put it down.  The manuscript needed some work, but I knew from the first read that I loved it and that David was the real deal.

 

How would you describe the scope of the editor/author process as Where All Light Tends to Go evolved into a finished book?

The first draft that I read was in fairly solid shape in terms of the plot, pacing, and writing.  The element David and I spent the most time revising over the course of three drafts was the relationship between the hero, Jacob McNeely, and his love interest Maggie.  Maggie’s character needed to be fleshed out, and David did a lot of work to find her voice and to help the reader understand the magnetism between her and Jacob.  Their relationship was fundamentally transformed from the first draft to the final book, in a way that brought a lot of heart and hope to a story that is ultimately quite dark.

 

This novel is not your traditional “book club” book, given the gritty nature of a lot of the stories that unfold in its pages, but it feels like a book that will spark a lot of discussions.  What kinds of readers do you think will be most attracted to Where All Light Tends to Go and why?

The novel falls firmly in the category of country noir, so would be perfect for readers of Daniel Woodrell and Larry Brown.  Fans of shows like “Breaking Bad” or “Justified” would also find much to enjoy – a strong sense of place, characters that leap off the page, a grim and intense story, and a relentless pace.

where-all-light-tends-to-go-by-david-joy

 

Start Reading an Excerpt from Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy


Barry LIVE RIGHT photo NSNI first got to know Dave Barry about twenty years ago. By that time, he’d already won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary and had more bestsellers than half the publishing houses I know, but he’d never tried fiction.

Then the Miami Herald approached him and several other South Florida writers, including Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard, to write a serial novel; I bought the book rights; and I loved his chapter so much, I asked if he wanted to write a whole novel. He said, sure, great idea! It wasn’t until he signed the contracts that he realized that meant he actually had to write a novel, with characters and plot and, you know, a lot of words. It was a brutal awakening. I’m not sure he’s ever completely forgiven me….

But I digress. Since then, we’ve done many books together, both fiction and nonfiction, but I have to say I think his new one may be my favorite: Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster): Life Lessons and Other Ravings from Dave Barry.

It’s a collection of all-new essays about what one generation can teach to another – or not. Two of the centerpieces are letters to his brand-new grandson and to his daughter Sophie, who will be getting her Florida learner’s permit this year (“So you’re about to start driving! How exciting! I’m going to kill myself.”). Another explores the hometown of his youth, where the grownups were supposed to be uptight Fifties conformists, but seemed to be having a lot of un-Mad Men-like fun – unlike Dave’s own Baby Boomer generation, which was supposed to be wild and crazy, but somehow turned into neurotic hover-parents. Yet another conjures the loneliness of high school nerds (“You will never hear a high-school girl say about a boy, in a dreamy voice, ‘He’s so sarcastic!’”).

live-right-and-find-happiness-although-beer-is-much-faster-by-dave-barry

All of them are extremely funny, but they also have the essence of humor: real heart. They make you not only laugh (a lot), but think and feel, and I promise you will be reading a lot of it aloud to people you love, and even to random strangers. Perhaps over a beer. Here’s to you, Dave.

Read More


staffpicks

 

Ally Bruschi is a publicity assistant at Avery who has a “To Read” list that is 73 books long and counting. She loves to read anything she can get a hold of – cookbooks, political tomes, funny memoirs, and shampoo bottles alike.  She lives in Brooklyn.

 

 

 

food-rules-by-michael-pollan-illustrated-by-maira-kalman

Food Rules by Michael Pollan

The only person who I would trust to tell me what to eat is Michael Pollan, because he’s not really telling you what to eat, but how to eat – consciously and simply, to put it briefly. This handy guidebook offers 64 (often pretty funny) guidelines to making your daily diet a little healthier drawn from advice from doctors, scientists  and nutritionists that Pollan has come into contact with over the years.  It’s simple, it’s small enough to fit anywhere, and it gets to the point.  Two of my favorites: “#19: If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t,” and “#39: Eat all the junk food you want, as long as you cook it yourself.”

 

 

what-katie-ate-by-katie-q-davies

What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies

At Avery we publish many beautiful cookbooks, but this one has been my favorite from the start- it caught my eye during my first interview and I was delighted when I was allowed to take a copy home with me – I devoured the book cover to cover on my train ride home.  Katie Davies’ stunning photography and mouth-watering recipes captivate you from the second you open the book. And she photographs all of her own food for the book, too! It’s truly a work of art- but not too beautiful that you can resist propping it up next to your stove and cooking your way from start to finish.  You haven’t lived until you’ve tried her Honey-Baked Peaches – trust me.

 

9-12-narrow-by-patricia-morrisroe

9 ½ Narrow by Patricia Morrisroe 

I fell in love with this book by its third page, which is a rare occurrence for me.  Patricia  Morrisroe has this unique way of making her own, very personal memoir feel like an everywoman’s story of discovering her true self at every stage of life. Patricia’s hilarious, insightful anecdotes made me reflect on my own fashion mishaps, embarrassing moments, tifs with my mother, and instances of love lost and found. If you’re looking for a book to make you feel glowingly nostalgic about the trials and travails of growing up, you need to get your hands on a copy of this book – and a few more for each of your favorite women in your life.

 

 

women-in-clothes-by-sheila-hetiWomen in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton

This is not a book about shopping or fashion or even really clothes in a literal sense. In fact, I’d say it’s more about the women than the clothes. It’s about how the things we wear and keep in our closet can transform us, make us feel  more confident, express our values, and protect us –physically and emotionally – from the sometimes harsh world around us. I’d never encountered a book quite like this before, and loved the way it pulled in conversations between women from all different demographics, levels of fame, and opinions on style. You don’t have to be a diehard fashionista to appreciate this book’s unique perspective and style, and perhaps it might even be better if you’re not one.

 

daring-greatly-by-brene-brown

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

I’m far from the first person to adore this book – Dr. Brené Brown is a bonafide celebrity in the self-improvement world. Daring Greatly teaches its readers to embrace vulnerability and uncertainty for a more meaningful, engaged life. This book inspired me to become more of a go-getter – why let yourself get mired down in the fear of failure and let great opportunities pass you by, when you could be taking active steps to becoming a happier, more self-assured person? If you’re having a bad day where you feel like the world is against you, read a chapter of this book. Or a paragraph. Or the whole thing, twice.

 

 

To find Health & Self-Improvement books, click here

See Staff Picks for all our categories!