Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang

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Eddie Huang is the notorious executive chef of Baohaus, an East Village restaurant that specializes in Taiwanese street food. In this memoir he shares what life was like growing up in Orlando raised by a family of FOB (fresh off the boat) “hustlers and hysterics.” Rebelling against every “model minority” stereotype Eddie loved football and hip-hop, fought bullies and sold drugs–and throughout it all his anchor was food.

For more foodie memoirs, check these out:

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

My Life in France by Julia Child

Garlic & Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

 

Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott

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Blue Shoe is a story of love–love gone wrong, new love, painful love, and restorative love. Mattie Ryder is neurotic, religious, funny, and angry. Her marriage, mother, and grip on her kids are all failing. Then she finds a small blue shoe in her deceased father’s car and with her brother in tow she follows the blue shoe to uncover the secrets of her past.

Simply put, I adore Anne Lamott, both this novel and all her other books as well.

If you’d like to explore more books written by this brilliant author, check these out:

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos

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Sing Them Home is a novel about three siblings who have never overcome the grief they experienced after their mother’s disappearance during a tornado when they were children. Now well into adulthood, they must return home after the death of their father and finally face head-on the childhood tragedy that defined their lives.

For additional novels about the complexities of the sibling relationship in the face of grief, check these out:

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Past by Tessa Hadley

The Book of Night Women by Marlon James

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Born into slavery on a Jamaican sugar plantation, Lilith possesses a dark power that the women around her can sense even at her birth. The Night Women have been plotting a slave revolt for ages and initially they believe Lilith will be the key to their plan, however when she begins to understand her own feelings and destiny she pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable for a slave woman, and may become the revolution’s weakest link.

Beautiful, daring, and unforgettable this novel by Marlon James is a must-read.

For more novels that explore themes of slavery, identity, and revolution, check these out:

Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Vivian Maier: A Photographer Found by John Maloof

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During her life, Vivian Maier was a secretive nanny who shot hundreds of thousands of photographs, 2 years before her death Chicago preservationist John Maloof discovered a trove of negatives, and roll upon roll of undeveloped film in a storage locker he bought at auction. They revealed a gifted artist with a stunning body of work.

For more fascinating information about and photographs by Vivian Maier, check these out:

Finding Vivian Maier DVD DOC FIN

Eye to Eye: Photographs by Vivian Maier 779.092 MAI

Scar Tissue by Michael Ignatieff

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A philosophy professor watches helplessly as his mother gradually deteriorates due to an unknown illness. In an attempt to learn more, he reaches out to his estranged brother, a neurologist. Not trusting the scientific reasons behind his mother’s decline the narrator begins to lose his own bearings on reality.

For more novels that explore the impact of neurological illnesses, check these out:

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

Cost by Roxana Robinson

Accidents in the Home by Tessa Hadley

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Clare Menges is a young, suburban wife and mother who has it all together, then how is it so easy for her world to be turned upside-down by her friends’ lover? Is she destined to repeat all the same patterns and mistakes her family members have made in the past?

Precise, considered, and intricate, Tessa Hadley’s prose is the perfect vehicle for the complexities and discoveries Clare unlocks about her family and herself.

For more books that explore themes of family, betrayal, and the tangled webs we weave, check out these novels:

Life Drawing by Robin Black

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor

Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

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The first novel in the Ibis trilogy, Amitav Ghosh’s stunning saga begins with the tumultuous voyage of an old slave ship, the Ibis, across the Indian Ocean to fight in the Opium Wars. The crew is a motley group of sailors, stowaways, coolies, and convicts. Evocative, stunning, and adventurous–this incredible series of novels is not to be missed.

Looking for the first novel in additional compelling trilogies? Check these out:

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles

Ironweed by William Kennedy

Some Luck by Jane Smiley

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

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“People ask, How did you get in there? What they really want to know is if they are likely to end up in there as well. I can’t answer the real question. All I can tell them is, It’s easy.”

In a series of darkly comic vignettes, Susanna Kaysen paints a startling picture of life on the ward for teenage girls at the McLean Psychiatric Hospital in the late 60s.

For other memoirs about mental illness, check these out:

Lit by Mary Karr

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety by Daniel B. Smith

 

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

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“Folksy and fresh, endearing and affecting, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is the now-classic novel of two women in the 1980s; of gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, who is in the sad slump of middle age. The tale she tells is also of two women–of the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth–who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, a Southern kind of Cafe Wobegon offering good barbecue and good coffee and all kinds of love and laughter, even an occasional murder. And as the past unfolds, the present–for Evelyn and for us–will never be quite the same again…” (This fabulous and thorough synopsis was taken from the publisher.)

I love this book. It’s set in the South. It’s domestic fiction. And it’s about friendship & family. Three of my favorite criteria for a novel–and one of many reasons I’m convinced I was Southern in a past life.

For more novels featuring sassy Southern belles, check these out:

 

Ladies’ Night by Mary Kay Andrews

Sullivan’s Island by Dorothea Benton Frank

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells