A friendly, well-written approach to enjoying wine, full of low-stress recommendations to help avoid wine anxiety.

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HOW TO LOVE WINE

A MEMOIR AND MANIFESTO

A wine expert who finds fault with tasting notes, wine scores and blind tasting claims that “what’s missing in many people’s experience of wine is a simple sense of ease.”

We live in a golden age of wine drinking, writes New York Times chief wine critic Asimov, and he wants readers to experience “the pleasure of enjoying the wine, then the pleasure of learning about it.” The author offers up his own unlikely path to falling in love with wine by way of Austin, Chicago and New York City. Asimov discusses American wine culture and its shortcomings, many of which contribute to the wine anxiety of fledgling oenophiles. “American wine culture,” he writes, “ignores the simple emotional relationship with wine that is the basis for a lifelong attachment.” To further your wine education, Asimov recommends finding a good wine shop and asking a salesperson to select a mixed case of 12 different wines in the $15 to $20 range. Sit down and linger over these bottles, he writes, enjoy them with meals and friends and record your experiences. Order another case informed by your own notes. Once you have narrowed your focus, Asimov advises reading books and maybe taking a class to help organize your thoughts. The author considers wine an expression of culture, giving hints of the nature and meaning of the wine and the region. He has a soft spot in his heart for smaller, older vineyards that still embody perseverance, tradition and the local culture. “[A] great wine can be so expressive of its origins,” he writes, “of where the grapes are grown, and of the people who grew them and turned those grapes into wine.”

A friendly, well-written approach to enjoying wine, full of low-stress recommendations to help avoid wine anxiety.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-180252-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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