THE BOOK MARK | The literary joys of January

Between the wax of winter and the wane of the holidays, it’s easy to miss the wonderful interval January brings. It brings quiet(er) time to relax, reflect and decide what comes next. Maybe it’s that little garden you’ve been wanting to try, that class you’ve been wanting to take or carving out time to get into that book been wanting to read. The sky’s the limit because it’s January.


The Local Buzz Book: “Growing a Feast: The Chronicle of a Farm-to-Table Meal,” by Kurt Timmermeister

Local farmer Kurt Timmermeister delights with his critically acclaimed farming/food memoir (now out in paperback). It’s the inspiring story of a two-year farming journey that begins with the birth of a calf and culminates in a luscious feast for 20 guests at Timmermeister’s Vashon Island farm. He believes every meal starts weeks or even months before you sit down to eat it, whether it be with the birth of an animal, the pickling of a beet or the aging of cheese.

Filled with honest, passionate and sometimes-unglamorous descriptions of a what “farm-to-table” truly entails, readers will deepen their understanding of small-scale food production and surely be inspired to try some of the techniques (and recipes) themselves.

This book is a standout among food memoirs and a truly captivating read.


The International Literary Fiction Buzz Book: “How to Be Both,” by Ali Smith (2014 Man Booker Prize finalist)

It’s difficult to discuss specifics of this novel without giving away too much, but here is what absolutely must be said: This novel is a piece of art.

It is structured with a two-strand narrative: one taking place in current-day (“Camera”), and the other in the 15th century (“Eyes”), and the physical printing of the book left to chance which strand/story the reader will first encounter because half of the books were printed with “Eyes” first and half with “Camera” first. These two inventively interwoven stories and their structure touch on themes of art, love, gender, time and language.

Another important theme is seeing and being seen, especially as it relates to creating art, experiencing art and, more simply, how we as humans want to see and be seen.

The protagonists unfold beautifully, tragically and then beautifully again in the context of this complex and satisfying read.

Smith has been called one of Virginia Woolf’s most gifted inheritors, so be prepared to have the rules brilliantly bent.


JOANN MORENO is a community bookseller. To comment on this column, write to