Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

If you’re dissatisfied with the quality of your writing, read more. Every writer I know—including me—is a voracious (at times) reader. Reading is a habit—it may take time to get into because you have to train your attention. Start with a short page-turner, not War and Peace. Reserve a little me-time each day to spend with your book. That’s my Reid-A-Book advice.

As of earlier today, these ebooks at Amazon were on sale at $2 to $5—up to an 80% 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: some of these books may be on sale for only a few days so act quickly if you’re interested.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell ($2.99, 75% off)

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the British Book Awards Literary Fiction Award.

“David Mitchell entices his readers on to a rollercoaster, and at first they wonder if they want to get off. Then…they can’t bear the journey to end…He ends his episodes on cliffhangers and missed heartbeats…he starts his next tale in another place, in another time, in another vocabulary, and expects us to go through it all again. Trust the tale. He reaches a cumulative ending of all of them, and then finishes them all individually, giving a complete narrative pleasure that is rare.”

The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan ($4.99, 64% off)

National Book Award Finalist and winner of several other prizes.

“A car bomb goes off in a crowded Delhi market…Two young brothers, aged 11 and 13, are among the many casualties. Their friend survives… [The novel’s] narrative waves ripple out from this point, moving forwards and backwards in time, examining the awful grief that engulfs the parents of the dead boys, the physical and psychological trauma of the survivor, and the damaged, marginal lives of the terrorists who executed the attack.”

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure ($2.99)

I enjoyed reading this for book club. The plot was riveting although the main character drove me crazy at times—you’ll see why.

“Like most gentiles in Nazi-occupied Paris, architect Lucien Bernard has little empathy for the Jews. So when a wealthy industrialist offers him a large sum of money to devise secret hiding places for Jews, Lucien struggles with the choice of risking his life for a cause he doesn’t really believe in. Ultimately he can’t resist the challenge and begins designing expertly concealed hiding spaces…But when one of his clever hiding spaces fails horribly and the immense suffering of Jews becomes incredibly personal, he can no longer deny reality.”

Shirley by Charlotte Brontë ($0.99, 87% off)

If you loved Jane Eyre, meet Shirley—a Penguin classics edition with an introduction.

“Set in the industrializing England of the Napoleonic wars and Luddite revolts of 1811-12, Shirley (1849) is the story of two contrasting heroines. One is the shy Caroline Helstone, who is trapped in the oppressive atmosphere of a Yorkshire rectory and whose bare life symbolizes the plight of single women in the nineteenth century. The other is the vivacious Shirley Keeldar, who inherits a local estate and whose wealth liberates her from convention. A work that combines social commentary with the more private preoccupations of Jane Eyre, Shirley demonstrates the full range of Brontë’s literary talent.”

The Good Lord Book by James McBride ($4.99, 64% off)

Winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction.

“James McBride’s novel takes a pivotal, troubled sequence in American history—John Brown’s abolitionist campaign—and retells it in a voice as comic and original as any we have heard since Mark Twain. The narrator is one Henry Shackleford, aka Onion, an escaped teenaged slave who accompanies Brown while disguised as a girl. Fondly portraying Brown as a well-meaning but unhinged zealot, The Good Lord Bird is daringly irreverent, but also wise, funny, and affecting.”

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal ($1.99)

Selected as a best book of the year by Amazon, BookPage, LibraryReads, and NPR.

“Fans of Top Chef will want to read this novel about the evolution of Eva, a Midwestern chef who becomes the brains behind the country’s mythological top secret pop-up supper club.” “Each chapter…tells the story of a single dish and character, at once capturing the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and delving into the ways food creates community and a sense of identity.”

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes ($2.99)

A classic— a Harper Collins edition with an introduction.

“An utterly modern text that is still, unmistakably, a novel of the seventeenth century…This new edition should persuade contemporary readers to explore the bizarre, and strangely modern, world of the sorrowful knight, his faithful squire Sancho Panza, his steed Rosinante, and his only true love, Dulcinea.”

ebook deals sales

Food & Cooking:

The Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart by Alex Guarnaschelli ($2.99, 84% off)

Alex Guarnaschelli is an Iron Chef and Chopped judge on the Food Network but her kitchen resume is even more impressive. I love her cooking style so was psyched to see this cookbook on sale.

“Unlike many cookbooks by star chefs, Guarnaschelli’s book is extremely approachable. The recipes don’t have a long laundry list of ingredients, and the directions are clear and detailed.”  “A cookbook for the way we eat today.”

The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice by Trevor Corson ($1.99, 84% off)

I’ve been a fish geek since my days as a McCormick & Schmick’s manager when I wrote the “fish book” used in training across the country. This book shares “everything you never knew about sushi—its surprising origins, the colorful lives of its chefs, and the bizarre behavior of the creatures that compose it…a compelling tale of human determination and a delectable smorgasbord of surprising food science, intrepid reporting, and provocative cultural history.”

The Book of Greens: A Cook’s Compendium of 40 Varieties, from Arugula to Watercress, with More Than 175 Recipes by Jenn Louis ($1.99)

We get a lot of greens in our CSA throughout the year—and I’m not complaining. A week without greens is a sad one, indeed.

“For any home cook who is stuck in a ‘three-green rut’—who wants to cook healthy, delicious, vegetable-focused meals, but is tired of [the] predictable…The Book of Greens has the solution…From one of Portland, Oregon’s most acclaimed chefs comes this encyclopedic reference to the world of greens, with more than 175 creative recipes for every meal of the day.”

Pizza Camp: Recipes from Pizzeria Beddia by Joe Beddia ($3.99, 66% off)

“The ultimate guide to achieving pizza nirvana at home, from the chef who is making what Bon Appetit magazine calls ‘the best pizza in America’…Beddia takes you through the pizza-making process, teaching the foundation for making perfectly crisp, satisfyingly chewy, dangerously addictive pies at home.”

Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen by José Andrés ($1.99)

If you live in the DC area, you’ve known of José Andrés for years. Jaleo was one of my old stand-bys and I will never forget the meal I had at his Minibar back in the early 2000s before I moved to California. This is the companion volume to his PBS show Made in Spain.

“The dishes of Made in Spain show the diversity of Spanish cooking today as it is prepared in homes and restaurants from north to south—from casual soups and sandwiches to soul-warming dishes of long-simmered beans and artfully composed salads.”

ebook sales deals


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

The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar ($2.99, 76% off)

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, finalist for other prizes, and on many “best of year” lists.

The author’s father “was a leading Libyan dissident who was kidnapped in 1990 by agents working for Muammar el-Qaddafi, that country’s dictator, and sent to the notorious Abu Salim prison in Tripoli. Friends and political supporters risked their lives to smuggle out the occasional letter from him, but after a couple of years, those letters stopped. The younger Mr. Matar did not know whether his father died in a 1996 prison massacre that took the lives of some 1,200 people; whether he was tortured or beaten to death in some grim interrogation room; or whether, miraculously, he had managed to escape or survive. After Qaddafi was toppled in 2011, Mr. Matar, who had been living abroad in exile, traveled back to his family’s homeland to try to find out what happened.”

Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia by David Greene ($1.99)

“NPR correspondent and former Moscow bureau chief David Greene rides the legendary Trans-Siberian Railroad nearly 6,000 miles from Moscow to Vladivostok…He wants to meet and understand not just the urban elite, but also those who are miles and miles away from cosmopolitan Moscow, literally and figuratively…[his interviews] provide rich insights into today’s Russia—insights about the enduring nostalgia for certain aspects of Stalin’s rule, a kind of cultural attitude toward hardship and a deeply ingrained reluctance to instigate change. Midnight in Siberia is like a 6,000-mile-long time-lapse photograph, capturing many different frames of present-day life in a vast country grappling between its past and its future.”

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee ($2.99)

“Lee chronicles her life in North Korea and her defection in her late teens in 1998…She re-creates a picaresque tale of incredible, suspenseful, and truly death-defying adventures, which eventually led her to asylum in South Korea and then America.” “Rarely heard details about growing up and then escaping North Korea make for a compelling and heartbreaking read.”

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand ($2.99)

“‘If I knew I had to go through those experiences again,’ Louis Zamperini once said of his years as an Army bombardier in World War II, ‘I’d kill myself.’ That’s a rash statement, but after reading Unbroken, Hillenbrand’s powerful new book about Zamperini’s life, few people are likely to doubt him…Zamperini’s story has a legitimate claim as one of the most remarkable—and appalling—to emerge from those perilous times.”

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson ($1.99, 86% off)

Johnson “divides technological history into six thematic areas — glass, cold, sound, cleanliness, time and light…[which serve as] departure points for sets of skillfully interwoven narratives…Enjoyable as this historical journey is, I particularly like the cultural observations Johnson draws along the way.”

Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy by Paul Thomas Murphy ($2.99)

“Though the book is focused on the attempted assassinations of Victoria, Murphy…also shows how those misguided men strengthened both the queen and the empire. It’s great fun to see the trail of the author’s research as he includes the politics, crises and sensational crimes that went along with each incident…The pages slip by in this well-written new take on Victoria and her times. Murphy’s detailed rendering sheds entirely new light on the queen’s strengths and her many weaknesses.”

Washington: The Indispensable Man by James Thomas Flexner ($2.99)

I read this long ago and really loved it.

“Flexner deftly ‘rescue[s]’ Washington from the grip of mythologies that showed him as merely a truth-telling tree-cutter or ‘a procession of mirrors reflecting’ people’s political attitudes, and situates him as “a fallible human being made of flesh and blood and spirit.’…With casual readers in mind, the author addresses crucial historical events, revolutionary personalities, key battles, and pressing political issues (while elucidating their contemporary contexts) in consistently crisp and lively language.”

Alexander Hamilton: A Life by Willard Sterne Randall ($2.99)

“A revealing but measured biography of the younger Founding Father…who mixed Clintonesque appetites for pleasure and policy-wonking while busily putting the new republic’s economy on a sound footing…Before he fell, Hamilton crafted several institutions—among them the national bank and the germ of the IRS—that prove him a modern man indeed, for better or worse.”

Creative Commons licensed photos by Chris Lawton (books) and Alex Block (library at Trinity College, Dublin) on Unsplash.

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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