Alana Chernila & Ruth Reichl

We're fortunate to live in the same beautiful area as the two incredibly talented writers and cooks, Ruth Reichl and Alana Chernila.

Ruth Reichl was a restaurant critic of both The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, later the longtime editor in chief of Gourmet magazine and now bestselling author of critically-acclaimed food-centric memoirs such as Comfort Me with Apples and Tender at the Bone which have been translated into 18 languages and are all Staff Picks here. In 2014 she published her first novel: Delicious!

Her newest work is called My Kitchen Year, 136 Recipes that Saved my Life and is the result of her year spent cooking and thinking after the fall of 2009, when the food world was rocked when Gourmet magazine was abruptly shuttered by its parent company. No one was more stunned by this unexpected turn of events than its beloved editor in chief, Ruth Reichl, who suddenly faced an uncertain professional future. As she struggled to process what had seemed unthinkable, Reichl turned to the one place that had always provided sanctuary. “I did what I always do when I’m confused, lonely, or frightened,” she writes. “I disappeared into the kitchen.”

Alana Chernila is a Berkshirite who, among other things, sells fresh veggies and teaches cheese making and is a farm and food blogger on Eating from the Ground Up. Her first cookbook, The Homemade Pantry, has been our MOST sold cookbook since its release! And for good reason— her collected recipes for everyday staples are practical, delicious, nutritious and convincingly easy!

But besides both of these authors being local, they also share a book release date! Our world has been made just a little yummier starting October 6th with the publication of their new cookbooks with both include wonderful recipes (that, thank goodness, don't require 5 hours and 600 ingredients) and short personal writings to go along with each dish, making these so much more than just cookbooks.

We're also happy to be able to offer 1 free 4oz jar of jam from SideHill Farm Jams (a part of The Bookloft family!) with every one of their new cookbooks you buy!

So stop by to pick up a SIGNED copy... and your choice of delicious jam! Then... to the kitchen!

(Or, join us at The Homemade Kitchen's book launch celebration at No. Six Depot Cafe!)


Books as Art

Phone books aren’t generally reading material, unless you’re an author in search of names for the characters you’re creating. They’re not usually a medium for sculpture either unless you are Long-Bin Chen whose phone-book works can be seen in Immortal Asia:  Art and East Asia at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield.  Don’t miss the chance to see them, and the other Asian art and artifacts in this rich show, open through September 7.  You’ll be surprised to find that so many of the pieces come from the Museum’s own collection.  And you’ll never again think of phone books as, well, just phone books!

Speaking of of using books (of any kind!) as the raw material for art, here's a book about book art that you won't want to miss.  Ellyne, who Staff Picked it, says, "Don't miss this treat!" citing some of her favorite works collected in this volume as "Dylan's chess pieces, Jennifer Collier's shoes (yes, shoes), works by Anonymous, and by ALL the others."  Of course, we generally advise our customers to treat their books well... but as long as they're being put to such beautiful use, we can't help but approve!

    Photo courtesy of Berkshire Museum




Summer Road Trips

Whether it's inspiration you need, a good companion for a trip, or just a little vicarious living, we've got all the best road trip themed books you need, for every age, and every mood. And don't forget about audiobooks! They're perfect entertainment for adults and kids alike during long (or short!) car rides.


Young Adult



Nonfiction & Resources

Forty One Years Later...

   Once upon a time, in a land called the Berkshires, there lived a young man by the name of Eric Wilska. One day, Eric set out to make his fortune. He didn't have to look long however before he found his true calling. So he busily set about the business of opening up his first bookstore. Soon enough, the day of the grand opening had arrived. People came from far and wide to see the new bookstore, including his mother and grandmother. Everyone lauded his entrepreneurial spirit and said he would certainly go far. His grandmother was even the first person to purchase a book that earned him his first dollar!


   But despite his family's love and support, Eric still had obstacles to overcome along his journey. Bravely, he slayed the Making Change in Your Head Beast, defeated the New Technology Villain (who is now more of an exasperating friend), and helped save the noble land of the Berkshires, one glorious book at a time.

   Of course, none of these valiant endeavors would have been possible without his family and the enthusiasm of book lovers throughout the land. It has been 41 years since that exalted opening day, and, obstacles or no, Eric's bookstore is still spreading stories, and the love of them, far and wide. ...Here's to 41 more!

Gardening with Kids

Lately, we've had a lot of requests for books about gardening with and for kids. And why not? It's finally spring (though with this weather it seems more like summer already!) and what better fun and messy, yet educational and productive activity is there than gardening? Get inspiration and some help with these great titles:


Don't have space for gardening at home? Take the young ones to explore the nature that can be found all around them already!


Thanks for Reading to Us, Mom!

The Reading MotherOur favorite mommy & me reads!
by Strickland Gillilan

I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.

I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,

Which every boy has a right to know.

I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.

I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings--
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.

Richer than I you can never be--
I had a Mother who read to me.


Llama or no, mamas are some of the best beings out there! This May 10th, celebrate Mother's Day by reading with your baby (click here for our favorite Mommy & Me storytime books!)... and for those babies who somehow always grow up, celebrate by giving your mama a much-deserved solo read (our recommendations for those are found below... or come in and ask!). There's a wonderful book for every wonderful mom out there!



Thank You, Sir Terry Pratchett

The recent sad news of the death of reknowned author Sir Terry Pratchett has created a far-reaching ripple of mournful and respectful salutes to his beloved work. As a bestselling author of adult satirical fantasy and children's books, his writing has reached around the globe for years, selling over 85 million books and being translated into more than 37 languages. He was even knighted in 2009 for his services to literature.

But enough about numbers and accolades; it's truly his fans' responses to his passing that say the most about how cherished he became. For example, this petition, now with over 7,000 signatures, requests that Death "reinstate Terry Pratchett". Death is a particularly excellent character from his Discworld novels, who he portrayed as a sweet, witty, unpopularly employed fellow, rather than the stereotypical frightening, evil, creepy sort. And that's typical Pratchett—making social commentary something both smart and funny; witty and thought-provoking yet still lighthearted and fun.

Or, in fellow fantasy author Brandon Sanderson's words: "Unlike most comedians—who use their humor like a weapon, always out for blood—Terry didn’t cut or bludgeon. He was far too clever for that. Instead, he’d slide down onto the bar stool beside us, drape his arm around us, and say something ridiculous, brilliant, and hilarious. Suddenly, the world would be a brighter place.

"It wasn’t that he held back, or wasn’t—at times—biting. It’s just that he seemed to elevate every topic he touched, even when attacking it. He’d knock the pride and selfishness right out from underneath us, then—remarkably—we’d find ourselves able to stand without such things."

And it's never too late to join the millions-strong fanbase and discover for yourself why we all loved Terry Pratchett so much—and will always love his work, as it well outlives the man who thankfully kept putting fingers to keyboard for so long.

Feeling inspired, but not sure where to start? Check out just a few recommendations below.

For quintessential Pratchett, start with one of his Discworld novels. They can be read in any order, so we recommned just picking up one that sounds appealing to you (For example: interested in journalism and the media? Try The Truth). Different characters recur throughout the books, so you can choose to follow your favorite characters in their chronological order once you get into them.

Got kids? Terry's sweet and smart humor is also found in his children's books:

If you're already a Pratchett fan, it's definitely worth checking out his nonfiction, as well as books he's coauthored with some of our other favorite authors, like Neil Gaiman and Stephen Baxter:

And keep an eye out for more publications coming out this year; we thankfully have a couple more to go before we have to say goodbye to new Pratchett books!

Herberg Middle School's Book Club Reviews

    Not too long ago, we were awarded a grant by James Patterson's Saving Bookstores, Saving Lives program. We've been putting it to good use by starting up programs to promote literacy and a love of reading among kids (read more about them here!).
    But this post isn't about us—it's about the awesome bunch of 8th graders over at Herberg Middle School who devoured the books we presented them with back in November and are now working their way through the latest batch we dropped off in April when we visited their classroom again to talk about books and reading. Want to find out what they thought of them? Read a selection of their great reviews below... and stop in to check out these great books for yourself if you find them convincing!

Heir Apparent by Vivian Van Velde
Reviewed by Abbie Catalano

I really liked how in the book they make the video game seem real but also subtly remind you that it's a game. I like that they give the characters personalities and give you enough information about them that you get attached to them. I kept forgetting while I was reading that the game wasn't real. I also liked when they give the updates on the game damage and the solutions. I was also trying to think of things that she could do instead but sometimes the opposite of what I thought would happen. I would definitely recommend the book to my friends.

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
Review by Abbie Catalano

If you like magic/fantasy books, you would love this book. Rithmatists are people who can draw with chalk and it “comes to life”. Joel always wanted to be a Rithmatist but he was not chosen. The school he goes to is one of the best schools in the Isles. All the United States had to be flooded to keep the chalkings away. After a new professor comes to the campus kids start to disappear. Joel tries to find out who is responsible. This is a great book, I recommend this book to anyone that likes this type of book. It is one of my favorites.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Review by Mary Howe

I loved this book! Its kind of set up like the game CLUE, full of mystery, suspense, laughter, and skeptism. Its about these 16 people who come together to solve one big mystery: who killed Samual Westing?! And if you enjoy unpredictable books, then this is the book for you because it keeps you guessing until the end.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Review by Matthew North

I was amazed at how much I enjoyed this novel. The concept of the character Christopher was amazing. Also the uniqueness of it all was really cool. For example, how the chapters were numbered by every prime number. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys books that make you think!

The Uglies by Scott Westerfield
Review by Trista Dearstyne

            From the first sentence to the last you won’t stop wanting more. In less than two weeks, my friends and I were ready to read the sequel. With every chapter the main character, Tally, faces a new conflict, decision, or meets a new character. The book is on self-image in a destopian futuristic setting that makes you question, “What makes someone pretty?” Once you start it… you won’t stop.


The Uglies by Scott Westerfield

Review by Grace Cohan

            I read this book with my friends and we all finished it in about 2 weeks. This book takes place in the future and once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. The society consists of two main groups – the uglies and the pretties and the main character is Tally. She is considering following her new friend Shay to a place beyond the city. Will she go or will she stay to become pretty? It is a great balance between a friendship between two girls with lots of ups and downs including opinions, relationships, and life changing choices and a future world that might not be exactly what you think it would be.

The Uglies by Scott Westerfield
Review by Elise Wellman

            Uglies by Scott Westerfield is an amazing book. Tally Youngblood, the main character, goes through drastic changes about her self esteem. This captivating book makes you want to read on. I finished it in only two weeks; an amazing book start to finish. Not only does this make you feel all different types of emotions it makes you question your perspective. In Tally’s society there are two, very different social groups. Today our definition of pretty isn't nearly the same as theirs.

Escape from Memory By Margaret Peterson Haddix
Reviewed by Olivia Murphy
"The main character was hypnotized and remembers a different past than she thought she had. Her mother doesn't act like other mothers. She never talks to her, never drives her anywhere, just sits in the background and watches, and is always nervous. A woman takes Kira to where Kira thinks she belongs but there are so many lies, so many secrets that Kira doesn't know who is her real family, where home is, or how to save everyone she loves. This is a great book. It is written really well and will keep you captivated the whole time. There are so many plot twists that it is so hard to explain. I could not put the book down; I read for seven hours straight and was so happy that I decided to read this book."


Dining at Downton Abbey

Recently, one of our number attended a talk given by Francine Segan, a well-known food historian and author. Not only was the talk filled with fascinating research, but Ms. Segan herself was also an animated and engaging speaker. She took the audience on a tour of English culinary history and culture from 1912 to the 1920s—a time recently popularized by the PBS Masterpiece Classics show, Downton Abbey. From champagne de-bubblers, absinthe spoons, and pies with live birds to a brief history of the development of tea time, salads, and canned foods and descriptions of elaborate picnic and breakfast-in-bed practices, it was a very informative and enjoyable evening!

Feeling inspired yourself? Check out to learn when her next speaking engagements are, and browse her wonderful books:

Or check out some more excellent books that are Donwton Abbey themed: