October Book Picks
By Beth Goehring
Do you peek into other people’s medicine cabinets? Come on…admit it! Whether we do the deed or don’t, we’re all tempted. Reading memoirs is the legitimate way to see other people’s secrets. The author has invited you to look. To put it more positively, I read memoir because it helps me feel less alone. To be engaged with an honest account of another person’s life with its fair share of mistakes and successes proves the power of E.M. Forster’s epigraph to Howard’s End, “Only connect.”
Diana Nyad’s stepfather Aristotle, a shady character, came up with a scheme to parlay the family name into fame and fortune: she would become the modern embodiment of the Ancient Greek naiad. A world-record-breaking long-distance swimmer before she graduated college, she went on to death-defying feats of open-water crossings between the United States and Cuba, four of which ended in defeat before success at the age of 64. All through the years, when she wasn’t dodging jelly fish and sharks in the Caribbean, she battled demons on land. Find A Way is a fierce, passionate call to persevere and live life on your own terms.
Ruth Reichl is a memoirist with real bite. Her first, Tender at the Bone, portrayed her parents with amazing candor and her own stumbling steps into adult life with fearless honesty. Here, she turns to the sudden closure of Gourmet magazine and the loss of her job as its Editor-in-Chief with a unique combination of narrative and 135 seasonal recipes. Since it’ll be Thanksgiving before we know it, give her Cranberry Pecan Crostata a try. For such a beautiful writer and renowned food critic, she’s not at all intimidating: “Form a lattice over the cranberries. Don’t worry if the strips are so soft they break; you can patch them together, and when the crostata emerges from the oven it will still be gorgeous.” Get the book.
Brandon Stanton is world famous now for his words and pictures of ordinary people. His newest collection, Humans of New York Stories, is absolutely irresistible. You will want to consume the entire book in one sitting, but pace yourself. Take the time to think about these men, women, and children and how they illustrate our world today. It’s been 60 years since Edward Steichen’s renowned “Family of Man” photo exhibition. Brandon Stanton’s work equals that in its power to help us recognize ourselves in perfect strangers.
Beth Goehring believes, with apologies to Lorelei Lee, that rather than diamonds books are a girl’s best friend…and a boy’s, a man’s and a woman’s. For more than twenty-five years, through Book-of-the-Month Club and its related clubs, she’s sold popular fiction, mysteries, romances, cookbooks, children’s books, play scripts, behind-the-scenes tales of the movies and theatre, and lifestyle books. She lives with her husband and corgi in Manhattan.