Summer reading picks from an indie publisher: Part 2

Whew! With no end to this heat wave in sight, I think I’ll stay in and curl up with a good book this summer.


First up, I plan on reading Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision (Lookout Books). Not only did Pearlman win the PEN/Malamud award for this book, she received stunning reviews from Publishers Weekly, The New York Times, and the LA Times. I’m a sucker for stories that take me around the world: in Pearlman’s case, from Jerusalem to Central America, from tsarist Russia to London during the Blitz, from central Europe to Manhattan, and from the Maine coast to Godolphin, Massachusetts, a fictional suburb of Boston. I can’t wait to travel with this one!

Next on my list is The Tiger’s Wife, by Tea Obreht. Another starred review from PW, this book follows Natalia, a doctor, as she crosses the border in search of answers about the death of her beloved grandfather, who raised her on tales from the village he grew up in, and where, following German bombardment in 1941, a tiger escaped from the zoo in a nearby city and befriended a mysterious deaf-mute woman. If this line from Booklist’s starred review doesn’t pull you in, I don’t know what will: “Moments of breathtaking magic, wildness, and beauty are paired with chilling episodes in which superstition overrides reason; fear and hatred smother compassion; and inexplicable horror rules.”

And if you’re a fan of history and literature about North Carolina (of course you are, if you’re reading this blog), you’ll want to know my last pick: The Watery Part of the World, by Michael Parker. This book weaves together two historical anecdotes: the first a tale of Theodosia, daughter of Vice President Aaron Burr, who is left for dead off the Carolina coast after her ship is attacked by pirates, and the second a story of the last remaining residents of the same North Carolina island in 1970.  Both sets of island people forge indelible allegiances to each other, linked as they are by blood and water.

Here’s to staying cool and reading some good books this summer!



Summer reading picks from an indie publisher

It must be summer: the office is half empty because my coworkers are at the beach or the mountains, I spend my weekends at the pool, and fresh berries and stone fruits are making appearances at every farmers’ market. This means it’s also time for Blair staff to share their summer reading picks. First up: Blair president Carolyn Sakowski muses over her newest books and just how to read them. (Anyone else dealing with that conundrum?)


I just finished A Visit from Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan on my iPad. I enjoyed this book in e-book format. The assortment of changing characters and the contemporary narrative seem perfect for the electronic media.

Yet while recently reading The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht on my iPad, I kept noticing that I was yearning to read this story on real book pages. I’m still pondering why the desire to read the folktale that Natalie’s grandfather told about the tiger and the deaf-mute on the printed page was so strong, but it’s led me to a summer reading experiment: to determine which books are suited for the iPad, and which are suited for the physical book.

Carolyn Sakowski summer reading list

So for the summer, I’ve purchased Karen Russell’s Swamplandia in book form and Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks as an e-book. After reading these two books, will I wish Russell’s story about the clan of alligator wrestlers in southwest Florida had been in e-book format for easier reading while traveling or on vacation? Will Brooks’ story about the Wampanoag Indian who graduated from Harvard in the 1600s be another story that I find myself wishing I had read in physical book form?

From her earlier works, I assume Ann Patchett is going to take me deep into the world of the Amazonian rainforest in State of Wonder, so I ordered a physical copy of this book. When I added Craig Johnson’s The Cold Dish to my list after reading about his latest offering in the series about Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire, it seemed like a perfect iPad candidate, especially for the airplane traveling I’ll be doing this summer.

As for which format to try for Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, which has been compared to Charles Portis’s True Grit, I’m just going to have to give that some more thought. Any suggestions from you, blog readers?

A honey recipe to celebrate summer

Spotted: Old Favorite Honey Recipes (Bright Mountain Books) at Savanna Bee Company in Charleston, S.C.!


I recently spent a week down in Charleston and Kiawah, and although I tried not to think about work TOO much, I simply had to when I spotted one of our distributed titles at the Savanna Bee Company shop, next to rows and rows of honey jars.

First published in 1941 by the American Honey Institute, Old Favorite Honey Recipes was expanded in 1945 and reprinted several times. In 1991 this book was  published with The Iowa Honey Producers’ The Honey Recipe Book as one handy volume. With this 2010 edition, Historical Images is pleased to see this popular classic back in the hands of American cooks.

Old Favorite Honey Recipes features more than 250 recipes gathered over the years by American honey producers, revised and updated for the modern kitchen. From the classic honey bun to more obscure dishes, this collection showcases honey’s versatility in breads, desserts, vegetables, and more. It also contains recipe variations, interesting facts, and helpful cooking hints, including how to substitute honey for sugar.




Even if you’re not in South Carolina at the Savannah Bee Company shop, you can still get your hands on some great local honey. And when you do, maybe you’ll want to try out this recipe for Orange Honey Cake:


  • 2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅔ cup honey
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
  • ½ cup orange juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt, and sift together 3 times. Cream butter thoroughly, add sugar gradually, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add honey. Blend. Add egg yolks and beat thoroughly. Add flour, alternately with orange juice, a small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Fold in egg whites.

Bake in 2 greased 9″ layer pans at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.