Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Ah, the weekend…Olympic figure skating, relaxed reading with a purring kitty cat by my side, time with Weekend Jim, Meyer lemon pudding cake (maybe), roasted beast (definitely), phone call with my parents (yay!), vacuuming (boo!), and sharing the goodness of inexpensive books…

As of earlier today, these ebooks at Amazon were on sale at $2 to $4—up to an 88% discount—but act quickly if you want a bargain. These deals may only last a day or a week, you never know. If you’re in the browsing mood, check out last week’s ebook sales too—some of those books may still be on sale.


Reminder: these books may be on sale for a few days only so act quickly if you’re interested.

On sale TODAY (Saturday) only: A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss ($3.99)

Historical thriller on several British media “best of” lists: “A penetrating study of the beginnings of stock speculation and the retreat from a mineral-based currency in early 18th-century London, a sympathetic look at the life of a Jew in that time and place and a vision of the struggle between the Bank of England and the upstart South Sea Company to become the repository of the nation’s fiscal faith…above all a headlong adventure yarn full of dastardly villains, brawls, wenches and as commanding a hero as has graced a novel in some time.”

The Color Purple by Alice Walker ($2.99)

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award: “Set mainly in rural Georgia in the 1930s, the book tells the story of a young, poor African-American woman named Celie and her struggle for empowerment in a world marked by sexism, racism and patriarchy.”

Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler ($2.99, 75% off)

Pulitzer Prize winner and Time magazine book of the year: “Exquisite narrative clarity, faultless comic timing, and the Tyler trademark of happy-sad characters inspiring a mid-American domestic drama that somehow slips the surly bonds of the quotidian to become timeless and universal.”

The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier ($1.99)

From the author of The Girl with a Pearl Earring: This book is “a tour de force of history and imagination…Chevalier’s answer to the mystery behind one of the art world’s great masterpieces—a set of bewitching medieval tapestries that hangs today in the Cluny Museum in Paris. They appear to portray the seduction of a unicorn, but the story behind their making is unknown—until now.”

Ironweed by William Kennedy ($1.99)

Winner of The Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award: “The story is wretched enough… Francis Phelan, pro-ballplayer turned alcoholic bum…racked with guilt for his role in the accidental death of his infant son…[yet] a fantastical exploration of the redemption of the soul.”

Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto ($3.99)

“An unconventional coming-of-age story…begins with the mysterious death of Mitsuharu Imoto, keyboard player in the popular rock band Sprout, in what appears to be a love murder-suicide in a forest…Mitsuharu’s 20-something daughter, Yoshie, wanting to separate herself from the loss of her father, moves…to [a] fashionable Tokyo neighborhood…where she discovers her passion in the culinary world… Poignant and buoyant, Yoshie’s story is a testament to the power of place and memory and the healing properties of time. Her awakening is a feast for the senses.”

Speak by Louisa Hall ($1.99)

Sounds likes the right kind of read for right now: “A thoughtful, poignant novel that explores the creation of Artificial Intelligence…In a narrative that spans geography and time, from the Atlantic Ocean in the seventeenth century, to a correctional institute in Texas in the near future, and told from the perspectives of five very different characters, Speak considers what it means to be human, and what it means to be less than fully alive.”

Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry ($1.99)

Set in New York in 1895: “the story of Sylvan Threadgill, a dogfaced, twice-orphaned night-soiler and bare-knuckled boxer who discovers a newborn baby abandoned in a lower east side privy; Belle and Odile Church, a disappeared sword-swallower and her knife-throwing sister from a defunct family-run Coney Island circus sideshow called the Church of Marvels; and Alphie, a trick-turning Bowery Rembrandt haunted by a terrible secret.”

“Utterly arresting and beautiful in its unflinchingly ugly way, a creation of striking visceral impact from a novelist of unmistakable storytelling gifts.”

Fugitive Colors by Lisa Barr ($1.99)

“Stolen art, love, lust, deception, and revenge”…“Set on the eve of World War II…the story of young Julian Klein, who gives up his Orthodox religion to move from Chicago to Paris to paint freely, only to find that he must pay the ultimate price for following his passion.”

Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks ($1.99)

An NPR Best Book of 2016: Set in 1939, “in the mountains of North Carolina, a dour preacher begins to suspect his wife is a witch after she befriends a well-meaning agent from the U.S. Department of Agriculture…assigned to teach the local women how to modernize their homes…A thoughtful exploration of one woman’s quest to live life on her own terms.”

ebooks on sale - fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks

Food & Cooking:

The Pizza Bible: The World’s Favorite Pizza Styles, from Neapolitan, Deep-Dish, Wood-Fired, Sicilian, Calzones and Focaccia to New York, New Haven, Detroit, and More by Tony Gemignani ($1.99)

I plan to spend many weekends with this book: “a complete master class in making delicious, perfect, pizzeria-style pizza at home, with more than seventy-five recipes covering every style you know and love, as well as those you’ve yet to fall in love with.”

Classic German Baking: The Very Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites, from Pfeffernüsse to Streuselkuchen by Luisa Weiss ($1.99)

I fell in love with German cookies when I was a pastry cook at Pastries by Randolph in Arlington VA. We only made them at Christmas—what flavors.

“The very best recipes for Germany’s cookies, cakes, tortes, and breads, passed down through generations, have never before been collected and perfected for contemporary American home bakers. Enter Luisa Weiss, the Berlin-based creator of the adored Wednesday Chef blog and self-taught ambassador of the German baking canon.”

The Chef and the Slow Cooker by Hugh Acheson ($3.99, 75% off)

Most slow cooker recipes disappoint me because they have you dump in ingredients and nothing gets the proper sizzle. I’m assuming southern restauranteur and Top Chef judge Acheson won’t make that same mistake.

“Hugh Acheson brings a chef’s mind to the slow cooker, with 100 recipes showing readers how an appliance generally relegated to convenience cooking can open up many culinary doors.”

James Beard’s Theory and Practice of Good Cooking by James Beard ($2.99, 70% off)

James Beard is the Dean of American cookery. “He hosted a nationally televised cooking show in 1946—almost 20 years before Julia Child,…wrote almost two dozen cookbooks, along with a syndicated newspaper column and countless magazine articles, and taught thousands of students to cook through classes held on the road and in his New York City townhouse.”

“‘In my twenty-five years of teaching I have tried to make people realize that cooking is primarily fun and that the more they know about what they are doing, the more fun it is.’ So begins James Beard’s expansive book of culinary terms, methods, tools, and techniques. No one knew food better than Beard, and in these pages his timeless wisdom is on full display. Perfect for both seasoned chefs and those just starting out in the kitchen, [this] will be one of the most comprehensive and important cookbooks in your library.”

Tartine by Elizabeth Prueitt ($4.99)

I can vouch for Tartine, the famous bakery in San Francisco. I can almost smell the butter from my memory of sitting in Mission Park savoring bags full of pastry.

“Every once in a while, a cookbook comes along that instantly says “classic.” This is one of them…Here their bakers’ art is transformed into easy-to-follow recipes for the home kitchen. The only thing hard about this cookbook is deciding which recipe to try first.”

The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodles by Andrea Nguyen ($1.99)

“With this comprehensive cookbook, Vietnam’s most beloved, aromatic comfort food—the broth and noodle soup known as pho—is now within your reach…Here Andrea dives deep into pho’s lively past, visiting its birthplace and then teaching you how to successfully make it at home. Options range from quick weeknight cheats to impressive weekend feasts with broth and condiments from scratch, as well as other pho rice noodle favorites.”

The Call of the Farm: An Unexpected Year of Getting Dirty, Home Cooking, and Finding Myself by Rochelle Bilow ($0.99, 88% off)

Not exactly a cookbook, although it has recipes…

“Rochelle Bilow, a classically trained cook and aspiring food writer, was nursing a broken heart and frustrated with her yet-to-take-off career when she set out to write a short profile of a small, sustainable CSA farm in central New York…after just one day of moving hay bales, feeding pigs, and tapping maple sap, she was hooked…Add in a sweet but enigmatic young farmer whose soulful gaze meets her own, and The Call of the Farm is set in motion. This enticing memoir charts the unexpected year that unfolds as Rochelle immerses herself in life at the farm.”

ebooks on sale


These books were on sale as of Saturday morning, but may not be on sale for long—act quickly.

The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History by Linda Colley ($1.99)

“Remarkable reconstruction of an eighteenth-century woman’s extraordinary and turbulent life…the story of Elizabeth Marsh, one of the most distinctive travelers of her time…lived in London, Gibraltar, and Menorca, visited the Cape of Africa and Rio de Janeiro, explored eastern and southern India, and was held captive at the court of the sultan of Morocco. She was involved in land speculation in Florida and in international smuggling, and was caught up in three different slave systems…Marsh’s lifetime saw new connections being forged across nations, continents, and oceans by war, empire, trade, navies, slavery, and print, and these developments shaped and distorted her own progress and the lives of those close to her. Colley brilliantly weaves together the personal and the epic in this compelling story of a woman in world history.”

Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered by Ruth Kluger ($1.99)

“Kluger’s story of her years in the camps and her struggle to establish a life after the war as a refugee survivor in New York, has emerged as one of the most powerful accounts of the Holocaust. Interwoven with blunt, unsparing observations of childhood and nuanced reflections of an adult who has spent a lifetime thinking about the Holocaust…a memoir of the pursuit of selfhood against all odds, a fiercely bittersweet coming-of-age story in which the protagonist must learn never to rely on comforting assumptions, but always to seek her own truth.”

They Call Me Supermensch: A Backstage Pass to the Amazing Worlds of Film, Food, and Rock’n’Roll by Shep Gordon ($1.99)

“In the course of his legendary career as a manager, agent, and producer, Shep Gordon has worked with, and befriended, some of the biggest names…from Alice Cooper to Bette Davis, Raquel Welch to Groucho Marx, Blondie to Jimi Hendrix, Sylvester Stallone to Salvador Dali, Luther Vandross to Teddy Pendergrass. He is also credited with inventing the ‘celebrity chef,’ and has worked with Nobu Matsuhisa, Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck, Roger Vergé, and many others, including his holiness the Dalai Lama. In this wonderfully engaging memoir, the charismatic entertainment legend recalls his life, from his humble beginnings…to his unexpected rise as one of the most influential and respected personalities in show business…[in] a sincere, hilarious behind-the-scenes look at the worlds of music and entertainment from the consummate Hollywood insider.”

The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark ($2.99)

One of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year: “A fresh look at World War I, focusing not on the battles and atrocities of the war itself, but on the complex events and relationships that led a group of well-meaning leaders into brutal conflict….examines the decades of history that informed the events of 1914 and details the mutual misunderstandings and unintended signals that drove the crisis forward in a few short weeks…masterfully written…a dramatic and authoritative chronicle of Europe’s descent into a war that tore the world apart.”

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West ($1.99)

“Part travelogue, part history, part love letter…a genre-bending masterwork written in elegant prose. But what makes it so unlikely to be confused with any other book of history, politics, or culture—with, in fact, any other book—is its unashamed depth of feeling.”

“Written on the brink of World War II…classic examination of the history, people, and politics of Yugoslavia…A magnificent blend of travel journal, cultural commentary, and historical insight…probes the troubled history of the Balkans and the uneasy relationships among its ethnic groups. The landscape and the people of Yugoslavia are brilliantly observed as West untangles the tensions that rule the country’s history as well as its daily life.

The Dream Colony: A Life in Art by Walter Hopps ($1.99)

“Walter Hopps was a curator and museum director who worked at the Pasadena Art Museum, the Washington Gallery of Modern Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian’s National Collection of Fine Arts, the Menil Collection, which he helped create, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.”

“A panoramic look at art in America in the second half of the twentieth century, through the eyes of the visionary curator who helped shape it…a vivid, personal, surprising, irreverent, and enlightening account of his life and of some of the greatest artistic minds of the twentieth century.”

Looking for more deals? Check out last week’s list to see if any of those are still on sale.

Creative Commons licensed images by Susan Yin on Unsplash (Morgan Library) and Anastasia Zhenina on Unsplash (pages).

Amazon book links are affiliate links which allow me to earn a small commission on any sales that result from clicking. Thank you!

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