Jay Robinson’s Best Reads of 2016

3_headshot-2016-jayMy name is Jay Robinson.  I am an industrial designer for Robinson Design – my own consultancy firm that creates interiors for private aircraft. Five years ago I moved with my family from Andersonville to Evanston, and I couldn’t be happier to be part of this amazing community. In my spare time I enjoy reading, cooking, listening to podcasts, and obsessing over home improvement projects.

1)  Seveneves by Neal Stephenson (2015)

This is a sprawling, old-school hard-science-fiction novel packed to the gunwales with ideas. Set before and after a freak event creates a cataclysm on Earth, it subjects its characters to a gantlet of perils which they must overcome with wit, determination, and limited resources. A good one for fans of The Martian.

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Hilde Kaiser’s Best Reads of 2016

image1My name is Hilde Kaiser.  I live in northwest Evanston where I am a Jill-of-all-trades: writer, lead parent, certified Nia instructor, student of earth medicine, knitter, film buff, and home baker, with a bundle of volunteer work thrown in (all in the domain of parenting, education, and personal development). My idea of heaven is reading a book at the Evanston lakefront with a little something to eat from Hewn bakery.  As an avid reader (75 books so far this year) I am grateful for our area libraries and their superb programming (hey, how about Our Mutual Friend for Mission: Impossible?). My secret confession is that my favorite thing to read is “The Traffic Guy” column in The Round Table.

1)  Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton (2016)

I’m not above choosing a book by its cover, and the lush, evocative, and eccentric portrait of its subject, Margaret Cavendish, convinced me to pick this novella up, knowing nothing about it.  It’s so pretty.  It’s one of my favorite books of the year because I’m still thinking about this poetic, experimental, slightly odd gem of a historical novel that deserves lots of readers.  “Mad Madge” was a 17th-century proto-feminist who was one of the first women to publish under her own name and to earn a living by writing.  She also dressed herself on her own terms – crowds assembled to see what she was wearing when she went out for walk.  There’s a fab article in the New Yorker on the book as an example of “archival historical fiction” (as opposed to “realistic historical fiction”).  Which is another way of warning you this book is anything but straightforward, but it is one-of-a-kind, like its subject.  And the language is oh-so-pretty, like the cover.

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Life as a Food Ghostwriter

Julia Moskin has a juicy article in the New York Times about working as a food/cookbook ghostwriter. Since ghostwriters are typically relegated to anonymity, below is just a partial list of cookbooks which were authored by celebrity chefs, but written by ghosts.

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