An irreverent and provocative look at contemporary grocery shopping.

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ZEN AND THE ART OF GROCERY SHOPPING

A debut collection of supermarket-set essays seeks to demystify the modern grocery store experience.

“Everything about food and grocery shopping is wacky nowadays,” opines Karolefski in the introduction of his food-buying survival guide. “Water is good for our health, but the plastic bottles that water comes in are bad for the environment. Checkout lines are too long, but you can’t buy beer at a self-checkout terminal. We’re flummoxed.” The author is here to walk would-be shoppers through the intimidating world of grocery stores, from how to pick the best one (and the best parking space, and the best shopping cart) to the ins-and-outs of express, regular, and self-checkout lanes. In between, he analyzes just about every aisle of the grocery store, from the “fun foods” sections of ice cream, hot dogs, and sodas to the curiosities of ugly vegetables and fake Italian products. Karolefski even explores the brave new world of home delivery, from Amazon’s aborted Dash program to the future of grocery-transporting drones. The author writes in energetic, jokey prose, poking fun at the customs of customers, brands, and stores alike: “Yes, it was that time of year when retailers can’t let go of one holiday while getting a jump on another one….I once asked a retailer why he stocked Christmas merchandise so early. He gave me a tangled explanation about supply-chain-yada-yada-early-inventory-blah-blah.” Karolefski’s humor is definitely of the dad variety and relies heavily on stereotypes. One of his first suggestions is to divide grocery stores in half, with one side for men (“pizza, chips and dips,” plus two beer sections) and one for women (“fem-hygiene products, baby food, flowers and plants”). And don’t even get him started on millennials using their smartphones to look up nutritional information. The slim volume’s entire premise may be tongue-in-cheek, but there is plenty to learn about the workings of grocery stores and how they got that way. While the author offers intriguing insights into the meanings of various terms and the development of things like nutritional labels, readers’ enjoyment of the book will likely depend on their tolerance for Karolefski’s strong-on-the-page personality. 

An irreverent and provocative look at contemporary grocery shopping.

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ISBN: N/A

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Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2019

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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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