Between the cookouts, fireworks and parades, the 4th of July holiday is a great time reflect on the history of the United States — to celebrate independence and to consider its meaning in a modern context. These books offer a glimpse into America’s identity, and are great reads for Independence Day.

John Adams by David McCullough: Chronicles the life of America’s second president, including his youth, his career as a Massachusetts farmer and lawyer, his marriage to Abigail, his rivalry with Thomas Jefferson, and his influence on the birth of the United States.

All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein: The two Washington Post reporters present the inside story of their inquiry into the persons involved in the Watergate scandal.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau: built his small hut on the shore of Walden Pond in 1845. For the two years, starting in 1845, Thoreau lived in a small hut on Walden Pond as simply as possible, seeking “the essential facts of life” and learning to eliminate the unnecessary details—material and spiritual—that intrude upon human happiness.

The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton: Perhaps the most essential distillation of the Founders’ vision of America, The Federalist Papers consist of a series of 85 essays in favor of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Attributed to Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, the essays tackle an array of topics that are just as relevant today as they were more than 200 years ago, including human rights, republican governance, the proper scope and jurisdiction of a federal government, and much more.

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. edited by Clayborne Carson: Drawing on King’s unpublished writings and other materials, a civil rights scholar assembles a first-person narrative of King’s life.

1776 by David McCullough: Draws on personal correspondence and period diaries to present a history of the American Revolution that includes the siege of Boston, the American defeat at Brooklyn, the retreat across New Jersey, and the American victory at Trenton.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe: Although the American anti-slavery movement had existed at least as long as the nation itself, Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) galvanized public opinion as nothing had before. Its vivid dramatization of slavery’s cruelties so aroused readers that it is said Abraham Lincoln told Stowe her work had been a catalyst for the Civil War.

Do you have a favorite book about American independence? What are you reading for the 4th of July?

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Summer is finally here, and with it comes plenty of great new books. If you’re a student or a teacher who has summers off, summer is the perfect time to catch up on your pleasure reading. For the rest of us, these can provide a lunchtime escape or a relaxing weekend reading experience. Here are just a few Blio recommendations for summer reading.

Fiction for the Beach

XO by Jeffery Deaver: Catapulted into sudden fame by her beauty and talent, country pop artist Kayleigh Towne turns for help to Special Agent Kathryn Dance to stop a sadistic stalker who is targeting the people closest to the singer. By the best-selling author of The Bone Collector.

Porch Lights by Dorthea Benton Frank: In the South Carolina Lowcountry, three generations of a family–a grandmother, a mother and a son–discover the indelible power of love, in this emotional journey that interweaves stories of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic writer named Edgar Allan Poe with the bonds of family. 250,000 first printing.

Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick: In a small 1940s Virginia town, mysterious stranger Charlie Beale meets Sylvan Glass, the teen bride of the town’s richest man, and Sam Haislett, the 5-year-old son of owner of the butcher shop where Charlie gets a job, and soon the interaction between Charlie, Sylvan and Sam alters the town forever. By the #1 best-selling author of A Reliable Wife.

Just Right for Kids 8-12

Wonder by R.J. Palacio: Born with a facial deformity that initially prevented his attendance at public school, Auggie Pullman enters the fifth grade at Beecher Prep and struggles with the dynamics of being both new and different, in a sparsely written tale about acceptance and self-esteem.

The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan: A final entry in the popular trilogy finds Carter and Sade preparing for an ultimate confrontation with the chaos snake Apophis at the same time the House of Life magicians launch a civil war, compelling the Kanes to tap the power of an ancient spell.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls: A young boy living in the Ozarks achieves his heart’s desire when he becomes the owner of two redbone hounds and teaches them to be champion hunters.

New Summer Releases Blio eReader

Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich (Available Today): Dazzling her patrons with scrumptious cupcakes at her Salem, Massachusetts bakery, Elizabeth Tucker continues to fall for the irresistible Diesel, who protects her from a villain who is seeking mystical stones tied to the seven deadly sins. By the best-selling author of the Stephanie Plum novels.

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand (Available June 26): Follows lives of four high school students, their friends and families after a fatal car accident on graduation night on Nantucket has lasting repercussions for everyone involved, in this new novel from the author of Silvergirl.

I, Michael Bennett by James Patterson (Available July 9): Detective Michael Bennett takes his family to upstate New York in an effort to escape a lawless crime wave erupting in Manhattan only to find themselves immersed in another nightmare, one that endangers his relationship with his wife.

If you plan to read these summertime books at the beach, be sure to check out our handy guide to using an eReader at the beach. Where is your favorite place to read in the summer.

Flickr photo by shutterberry

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Teenagers have been moping through books since the beginning of time. Now with school out for the summer, teenagers will be hanging around the house for a few months bringing literary angst right to your living room. Of course, one way to turn that frown upside down is to turn a detached teen onto reading, and introduce them to a book they can identify with in some way. And as an added bonus, these same books can serve as an escape for mom and dad. Here are a few of our favorite books about the condition of teenagers.

1. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce: Follow Stephen Dedalus, a sensitive and creative youth who rebels against his family, his education, and his country by committing himself to the artist’s life. “I will not serve,” vows Dedalus, “that in which I no longer believe.…and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can.” This semi-autobiographical novel speaks to the artistic sensibilities of youth.

2. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume: A twelve-year-old talks to God about her ardent desire to be grown up. After moving from New York City to the suburbs, Margaret is anxious to fit in with her new friends, but when the girls start talking about boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret starts to wonder if she’s normal. Lucky for Margaret, she’s got someone else to confide in.

3. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld: During the late 1980s, fourteen-year-old Lee Fiora leaves behind her close-knit, middle-class Indiana family to enroll in an elite co-ed boarding school in Massachusetts, becoming a shrewd observer of, and eventually a participant in, their rituals and customs.

4. The Catcherin the Rye by J.D. Salinger: The hero-narrator Holden Caulfield is perhaps the most beloved — and moody — teenager in modern literature. After leaving his prep school Holden roams New York City and offers his observations on the shortcomings of adulthood and all the phonies you meet along the way.

5. Indecision by Benjamin Kunkel: Though he’s not technically an adolescent, Dwight B. Wilmerding’s early midlife crisis after being fired at the age of twenty eight sure feels like teenage depressions. Unable to decide on a new career or on a girlfriend, an indecisiveness that he attempts to alleviate with a trial pharmaceutical, he heads to Ecuador to search for Natasha, an exotic former classmate.

6. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy: Cut off from the life of ranching he has come to love by his grandfather’s death, sixteen-year-old John Grady Cole flees to Mexico, where he and his two companions embark on a rugged and cruelly idyllic journey to a place where dreams are paid for in blood.

7. White Oleander by Janet Fitch: The struggle to build an authentic identity lies at the heart of Astrid’s life as a foster child in Los Angeles after her poet mother, who has kept Astrid isolated from the world, is imprisoned for murder.

Do you think books about teenage angst are good for kids, or do they just feed the flame? What books do you recommend for the tortured teenage soul?

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The books Don Draper reads helped get him to the top of the advertising world. Don’s bookshelf on the AMC series Mad Men is a much-talked about nuance of the show, a glimpse into the inner-workings of the flawed yet likeable protagonist. So much has changed in advertising since the 1960s, we wondered what books Don might read if he worked today. Here are a few books we thought deserved a home on the modern-day Draper bookshelf.

Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris: Don Draper would do well to look in on the day-to-day work life of his creative team. Ferris’ novel offers looks at the lives of the remaining employees at an office affected by a business downturn. They spend their time competing for the best office furniture left behind and enjoying secret romances, gossip, elaborate pranks, and frequent coffee breaks, while trying to make sense of their only remaining “work,” a mysterious pro-bono ad campaign.

Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy: Could Don have written this book himself? At the age of 37, Ogilvy founded the New York-based agency that later merged to form the international company known as Ogilvy & Mather. Regarded as the father of modern advertising, Ogilvy was responsible for some of the most memorable advertising campaigns ever created. This book is the distillation of all the Ogilvy concepts, tactics, and techniques, many of which Don has put into play himself at Sterling, Cooper, Draper & Pryce.

Ulysses by James Joyce: Leopold Bloom will always be the best man in advertising. He’s the original ad man of modernism, with a mind far more obscene and confused than anything even Don Draper could work up. This controversial work changed the course of literature with its puns, parodies, allusions, stream-of-consciousness writing and clever structuring.

Social Media is a Cocktail Party by Jim Tobin: If anyone loves a cocktail party it’s Don Draper. Ever wonder how Don might have navigated the world of social media advertising? This book compares social media to a cocktail party, and how explains how to stop being a wallflower and start reaching people online.

Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley: If the characters on Mad Men like anything more than a tall glass of gin it’s a cigarette. And after working on the Lucky Strike account, Don could really relate to Nick Naylor, chief spokesman for the Academy of Tobacco Studies, as he undertakes a media blitz to defend the rights of smokers, a job that has unexpected repercussions when he is targeted by someone out to prove just how hazardous smoking can be.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki: The secrets of Don’s past and his humble, tumultuous upbringing have haunted him since he began his ascent in advertising. Hopefully he takes the lessons he learns on Madison Avenue and passes them down to his own children. Sally shouldn’t have to learn the hard way how to handle money. This book shows explains what the rich teach their kids about money that poor and middle-class families do not.

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt: To be good at advertising Don would need to have a full understanding of the modern economy. Fortunately, Freakonomics offers an alternative view of how the economy really works, examining issues from cheating and crime to sports and child-rearing — details that get to the heart of what moves consumers.

Zero Moment of Truth from Google: As the search engine giant puts it: Whether we’re shopping for corn flakes, concert tickets or a honeymoon in Paris, the Internet has changed how we decide and what to buy. Google calls this online decision-making moment the Zero Moment of Truth. And if you work in advertising, it’s a moment you absolutely have to win — and nobody likes to win more than Don Draper.

Do you have a favorite book about advertising? What do you think Don Draper should have on his bookshelf?

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As far as we know the world is not coming to an end anytime soon. But if it were, the best course of action might be to supply your bunker with plenty of food and water, and plenty of good books to read. In the event of the apocalypse these books will do more than entertain — they could provide to roadmap for survival.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson: Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth…but he is not alone; he’s surrounded by vampires. By day, he is the hunter, stalking the sleeping undead through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn.

Blindness by Jose Saramago: A city is hit by an epidemic of “white blindness” whose victims are confined to a vacant mental hospital, while a single eyewitness to the nightmare guides seven oddly assorted strangers through the barren urban landscape

Zone One by Colson Whitehead: In a post-apocalyptic world decimated by zombies, survivor efforts to rebuild are focused on Manhattan, where civilian team member Mark Spitz works to eliminate remaining infected stragglers and remembers his horrifying experiences at the height of the zombie plague.

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut: This satirical commentary on on the future and Earth’s ultimate fate this classic twentieth century work is at once fatalistic and hilarious — the apocalypse deserves a little brevity.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy: Set in an indefinite, futuristic, post-apocalyptic world, a father and his young son make their way through the ruins of a devastated American landscape, struggling to survive and preserve the last remnants of their own humanity.

The Stand by Stephen King: A monumentally devastating plague leaves only a few survivors in a desert world who move toward the ultimate confrontation of good and evil, handled masterfully by perhaps the best-equipped writer for the subject.

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells: On October 30, 1938, Wells terrified American radio listeners by describing a martian invasion of Earth in a broadcast that became legendary. The broadcast came from his novel of interplanetary conflict in anticipation of war in Europe, and in it he predicted the technological savagery of twentieth century warfare.

If you had to bunker down for the end of days, what books would you pack for the bombshelter to bring along to the apocalypse?

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The beach is a great place to read. Reading, like beaches, relax you and keep you entertained while you soak in the sun and unwind. You probably know what you like to read at the beach, but do you know how to read at the beach? The beach presents a lot of potential problems for a reader: sand, water, glare from the sun, noise, impromptu naps. Still, few places are better to crack open a good book, especially with the sound of waves in the background.

First things first, choose a good beach book. The obvious choice is something that moves fast and keeps you entertained — mysteries, romance and adventure books are great choices. But don’t overlook more literary works; the beach will give you plenty of time to reflect on nuance. The beach is also a great place to read a book you’ve been putting off. Without the hustle and bustle of the city or obligations at home, the beach will give you time to focus on a book you’ve been struggling to get through for a book club.

Second, take care of your skin. When you get caught up in a good book it’s easy to lose track of time. Be sure to put on long-lasting sunscreen, just in case you get caught up in the story and end up with your nose in a book for hours upon hours. And to that end, bring some kind of hand cleaner along so you don’t smear sunscreen on the screen of your eReader.

Speaking of your eReader; the beach is beautiful, but sand and water aren’t kind to electronic devices. Consider safety covers for whatever device or platform you use. If you read on your iPhone, consider a waterproof case. If you use an iPad or another tablet, protecting your device from sand and water is as important as being able to hold and place the screen at different angles depending on how you’re laying. These iPad accessories from Saddleback Leather are great for propping your reader at the necessary angles, and for protecting them from (some) of the elements.

If background noise doesn’t bother you, reading at the beach should be a breeze. But if you need a bit more quiet, bring along a pair of headphones and plug them into your eReader. Find something without much in the way of distracting lyrics, but enough ambient noise to block out kids and people exercising. Better yet, find your own corner of the beach where the only sound is lapping waves and the rustling of dune grass.

With that, throw on your shades and take your time; your book isn’t going anywhere. If you need suggestions for summer beach reading, check out Blio’s new summer reading list. Are you a beach reader? Leave your tips in the comments.

Flickr photo (in order) by aafromaa and Randy Son of Robert.

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Summer has unofficially arrived, and with the warm weather comes a collection of hot new reading. Whether you’re planning to unwind at the beach or in a hammock, or if you save your reading for indoor rainy days, here are a few of the best new books for the summer. Some of these summer reading recommendations are so new that they have yet to be released, but you can pre-order copies now to get ahead of the game for book clubs and dinner parties — from suspense, to biographies, to cooking.

Theodore Boone by John Grisham: Filled with all the intrigue and suspense we’ve come to expect from Grisham, this time 13-year-old Theodore Boone is back with a new case.  Theo has already uncovered key evidence in a groundbreaking murder trial and discovered the truth behind his best friend’s abduction. Now with the latest unfolding of events in Strattenburg, Theo will face his biggest challenge yet.

Father’s Day by Buzz Bissinger: The Friday Night Lights author gets personal, and recounts a father-son road trip during which he gained insight into the worldviews, challenges, and talents of his socially challenged savant son, Zach.

Amy, My Daughter by Mitch Winehouse: Written by her best friend, her father, this candid account of the life and legacy of Amy Winehouse, filled with never-before-seen photos and spanning her entire career, goes beyond her public persona, revealing the woman behind one of the greatest talents of our time.

Dinner by Jenny Rosenstrach: Claiming that a committed family dinner every night helps strengthen the bonds of a family, Rosenstrach provides recipes for easy-to-prepare family dinners, including roast vegetables with polenta, spicy shrimp with yogurt, and homemade pizza.

How to Buy a Diamond by Fred Cuellar: With summer being wedding season, it might be time to brush up on diamonds. This insider’s guide for getting your money’s worth provides advice on purchasing diamonds; describes the various ring styles and settings; and explaining the four C’s.

The Custom of the Army by Diana Gabaldon: The bestselling author of the acclaimed Outlander series, weaves an engrossing tale of war, history, and suspense in this original novella, featuring returning hero Lord John Grey, who voyages to the “new world.”

Diamond in the Rough by Shawn Colvin: The Grammy Award-winning songwriter and musician shares her coming-of-age story, from her humble beginnings in a small South Dakota prairie town to the world stage at the Grammys, recounting her relationships, her drinking, her divorce and single parenthood–and how she learned to channel these experiences into song.

Do you try to stay up on new releases and read seasonal books, or do you tend to turn to the classics for your summer reading? Stay tuned for our forthcoming post on reading at the beach.

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Catch 22 and Other Recommended Memorial Day Reading

Catch 22 and Other Recommended Memorial Day Reading

Memorial Day affords us a day to pay respects to our servicemen and women, and the extended weekend — hopefully — affords us some time to relax with a good book and reflect. So many books have been written about war and soldiers, it’s tough to narrow down any list. But if you’re searching for quality Memorial Day reading, you couldn’t go wrong with any of these classic books about soldiers, war, and civilians caught in the mix—

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller: The classic World War II black comedy follows American bomber pilot Yossarian on his harrowing quest for the final mission that will free him from his military obligation.

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway: Set against the brutal and chaotic backdrop of World War I, this tragic wartime romance follows a volunteer ambulance driver wounded on the Italian front and the English nurse he loves and leaves behind.

What Is the What by Dave Eggers: Creatively composed, this biographical novel traces the story of Valentino Achak Deng, who as a boy was separated from his family when his village in southern Sudan was attacked, and became one of the estimated 17,000 “lost boys of Sudan” before relocating from a Kenyan refugee camp to Atlanta in 2001.

From Here to Eternity by James Jones: An epic story of army life in the calm before Pearl Harbor—now with previously censored scenes—follows a career soldier with no patience for army politics, who is transferred to an infantry unit whose commander is less interested in preparing for war than he is in boxing.

Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose: A look at the exploits of the men of E Company during World War II describes how they parachuted into France early D-Day morning, parachuted into Holland during the Arnhem campaign, and captured Hitler’s Bavarian outpost.

Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane: Young Henry Fleming dreams of finding glory and honor as a Union soldier in the American Civil War, but he also harbors a hidden fear about how he may react when the horror and bloodshed of battle begin. Fighting his own fear, Fleming must prove himself and find his own meaning of valor.

The Question of Bruno by Aleksandar Hemon: This collection is set in Chicago and Sarajevo, as a series of interconnected short stories and a novella exploring the trauma of war and revealing the struggle of an exile to build a new life in a new land. The collection includes the stories “Blind Jozef Pronek and Dead Souls” and “The Sorge Spy Ring.”

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien: This collection of intertwined stories follows a group of heroic young men who carry the emotional weight of their lives to war in Vietnam in a patchwork account of a modern journey into the heart of darkness.

Do you have any favorite books about war, either uplifting and heroic or startling and tragic? Let us know your recommended Memorial Day reading in the comments.

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Sherlock Holmes and Other Mystery eBooks

Sherlock Holmes and Other Mystery eBooks

Today is the birthday of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. To celebrate, we’ve collected some of our favorite new — and new classic — detective, mystery, thriller and suspense reading. Best of all, these Mystery eBooks are all priced under $5. Even Holmes and Watson would have a hard time figuring out that bargain.

Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: This classic collection follows Holmes and his uncanny deductive skills as he solve the toughest of cases. Discover why this eccentric detective from 221B Baker Street in London rose to celebrity status throughout the world, from TV to the big screen. This book includes such favorites as The Red-Headed League, Five Orange Pips, and Adventure of the Speckled Band.

A Brewing Storm by Richard Castle: Derrick Storm faked his own death to leave the CIA, but we knew he couldn’t stay retired for long. Storm, as a favor to his old boss, returns to Washington to investigate a high-profile kidnapping. Working alongside, but not exactly with, bombshell FBI investigator April Showers, Storm works to make sense of a confusing flurry of ransom notes and a complicated web of personal relationships and international politics. [Part 1 of 3]

Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo: Investigating the brutal murders of an Amish family in quiet Painters Mill, Chief of Police and former Amish citizen Kate Burkholder teams up with state agent John Tomassetti and discovers a diary with a haunting personal connection, a case further complicated by past demons and a growing attraction.

Throttle by Joe Hill: Inspired by Richard Matheson’s classic “Duel,” this book by Joe Hill and Stephen King, is a duel of a different kind, pitting a faceless trucker against a tribe of motorcycle outlaws in the simmering Nevada desert. Their battle is fought out on twenty miles of the most lonely road in the country, a place where the only thing worse than not knowing what you’re up against, is slowing down…

The 7th Month by Lisa Gardner: Gardner’s first-ever short story collection following thirteen bestselling novels, The 7th Month takes readers between the books and into a day in the life of Boston Detective D. D. Warren. Packed with the suspenseful storytelling that has turned Gardner’s novels into New York Times bestsellers, The 7th Month reveals new insights into a beloved series heroine.

The Professor’s Assassin by Matthew Pearl: William Barton Rogers will one day become MIT’s founder and president. But in 1840 he is still a science professor at the University of Virginia. A tall and commanding intellectual, he epitomizes the strong and liberal ways of “Mr. Jefferson’s University,” a controversial experiment in progressive thought and laissez-faire governance. Then a startling event rocks the school to its foundation. Riots led by masked “volunteers” have begun roiling the campus, exploiting its attitude toward discipline. When one of his colleagues is brutally slain during the unrest, Rogers must become a man of both words and deeds to capture the killer and keep an essential institution from collapsing around him. [Includes a preview of Pearl’s forthcoming novel, The Technologists.]

Blood Harvest by S.J. Bolton: An unknown assailant tries to scare the Fletcher family from their new home by staging increasingly disturbing pranks on their 10-year-old son, a situation that escalates when the boy’s two younger siblings go missing. By the Mary Higgins Clark Award-nominated author of Awakening.

The suspense is killing us; let us know your favorite mystery eBooks or novels in the comments. Which authors keep you on the edge of your seat?

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Ready for some books you can really sink your teeth into? Today we’ve collected our choice for the 13 best books about food — not cookbooks or recipes, necessarily — but books that celebrate the ritual of eating, or in some way call into question our habits and desires when it comes to food. Experience the highs and lows of food culture with these 13 books from some of our most beloved authors, food critics, and TV personalities.

A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain: From Japan where he eats traditional fugu, a poisonous blowfish that can only be prepared by specially licensed chefs, to a delectable snack in the Mecong Delta, follow the star of the Travel Channel’s No Reservations as he embarks on a quest around the world to find the ultimate meal.

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle: It doesn’t get more local than this account of the author’s first year in Provence, where he samples the local cuisine, meets and dines with new, eccentric neighbors, and hunts for truffles in the French countryside.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan: Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, launched a national conversation about the American way of eating; now In Defense of Food shows us how to change it, one meal at a time. Pollan proposes a new answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Pollan’s bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we can start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives, enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy, and bring pleasure back to eating.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer: One of the great literary writers of our time exposes common misconceptions about how animals are slaughtered and processed for food, drawing on sources from ranging from popular culture to national tradition to reveal how the meat industry misrepresents its practices.

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser: The now classic book explores the homogenization of American culture and the impact of the fast food industry on modern-day health, economy, politics, popular culture, entertainment, and food production.

Meat Eater, Steven Rinella: In a recent post on essential grilling and BBQ cookbooks we featured Steven Rinella’s Meat Eater, and decided his chronicles on hunting and fishing were worth another look. Hunting, Rinella argues, is intimately connected with our humanity; assuming responsibility for acquiring the meat that we eat, rather than entrusting it to proxy executioners, processors, packagers, and distributors, is one of the most respectful and exhilarating things a meat eater can do.

The Raw and the Cooked: Adventures of a Roving Gourmand by Jim Harrison: Along with Rinella’s Meat Eater, we return again to our outdoor cooking blog post, this time from one of America’s most beloved novelists and poets shares his collected essays on food, drink and French cuisine.

My Life in France by Julia Child: A memoir begun just months before Child’s death describes the legendary food expert’s years in Paris, Marseille, and Provence and her journey from a young woman from Pasadena who cannot cook or speak any French to the publication of her legendary cookbooks.

Candyfreak by Steve Almond: A self-proclaimed candy fanatic and lifelong chocoholic traces the history of some of the much-loved candies from his youth, describing the business practices and creative candy-making techniques of some of the small companies.

The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn: A view from inside Le Cordon Bleu cooking school; A funny, inspiring account of Kathleen Flinn’s struggle in a stew of hot-tempered chefs, competitive classmates, her own “wretchedly inadequate” French, and the basics of French cuisine.

The Bizarre Truth by Andrew Zimmern: The host of Bizarre Foods presents a whimsical exploration of some of the world’s most unusual and taboo foods, explaining what cultural markets reveal about their locales while describing such meals as possum and roasted bats.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair: Famous for exposing the brutal conditions of Chicago’s stockyards at the turn of the 19th Century, Sinclair brought into sharp moral focus the appalling odds against which immigrants and other working people struggled for their share of the American dream. Denounced by the conservative press as an un-American libel on the meatpacking industry, the book was championed by more progressive thinkers, including then President Theodore Roosevelt, and was a major catalyst to the passing of the Pure Food and Meat Inspection act.

In the enriched Blio eBook edition, features Editor Jonathan Beecher invites readers to go beyond the pages and gain more insight with specially-commissioned additions, including: Chronology; Filmography (and the 1914 The Jungle Film Poster); Early Twentieth-Century Reviews of The Jungle; Suggestions for Further Reading; The Jungle and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906; The Jungle Book Cover Designs; Federal Food and Drugs Act of 1906; Immigrants and the Meatpacking Industry, Then and Now; Images of the Chicago Stockyards; Images of Cuts of Beef and Pork; and Enriched eBook Notes.

Do you have a favorite book about food and eating culture? Let us know in the comments, and visit us on Facebook and Twitter to continue the discussion.

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