Indie Booksellers Recommend Summer 2017 Great Reads: Critical Linking, May 21, 2017

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If you want a really good book recommendation, go to the critics, by all means — but don’t neglect your local independent bookstore. Booksellers have to stay on top of an enormous volume of books, and they have a unique perspective on what’s selling to whom. And really good independent bookstores will carefully curate their stock, so that the books on offer reflect the preferences and personalities of the people who work there: a Herculean task that requires enormous amounts of both taste and knowledge. 

To prepare for this summer’s onslaught of new releases, I asked staff members from independent bookstores across the country to name the one book they’re most looking forward to sharing with the rest of us this summer. With their recommendations in hand, go forth and read.

“Across the country” is a little misleading, but these are some damn good book recommendations for this summer.

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Here we see a full outfit of the horseback librarians in one town. They often began their day by loading up books before dawn and would return just before dusk. They were paid $28 a month and worked in both winter and summer.

This is a cool note from history.

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The sixth edition (1975), is considered by many to be the best, the “truest” to the book’s vision, the essential Joy, called out on its current website as “the bestselling edition of all time.” The last to be edited by Marion Rombauer Becker, it retains multi-generation flares, and lots of input from her husband and son, Ethan Becker. The edition includes a backpacker’s menu as well as a chapter on understanding common ingredients, “a godsend to those of us who started cooking in the days before the internet,” as Dana Veldon wrote in The Kitchn a few years ago. It’s probably this edition that raised the baby boomers, a generation that now remembers it fondly and help to lionize the book that helped them through first Thanksgivings, soirées, and other social intercourses.

There wasn’t a reissue until 1997. Edited by Maria Guarnaschelli, this edition, from an industry perspective, is totally respectable. But it wasn’t the same—gone was the intimate tone, gone was the flayed squirrel and the sections on canning. The attempt to bring it into the modern world where eaters preferred crisp-not-mushy vegetables, and curries that didn’t call for pineapple, coconut or raisins, came at the cost of the personality set down by Irma Rombauer and her family.

I couldn’t make this article about the history of The Joy of Cooking longer and I would have read much, much more.

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7. MOHAIR

Ah, spring—the season when shepherds shear their flocks of mos!

Alas, this is untrue. There is no animal called a mo, from which hair is cut and spun into delicate wool yarn. Mohair is really the Arabic adjective mukhayyir, choice or select—that is, the finest fluffy wool from the underbellies of cute Angora goats.

Word nerdery!

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