This month's recommendation comes from Sara Leavens, Communications, Marketing, and Social Media Coordinator in the Penn Libraries' Office of Advancement.

Sara's recommendation to read:
"Kitchens of the Great Midwest" by J. Ryan Stradal.

Why I recommend this book:
For most of us, the holiday season involves going home and nothing has taken me home more this year than reading J. Ryan Stradal's Kitchens of the Great Midwest. Seasoned with a faint scent of lutefisk and brimming with al dente depictions of the people and locales of the I-35 corridor between Minneapolis and Des Moines, this fast-paced and often hilarious novel chronicles Eva Thorvald's journey from misfit orphan growing chocolate habeneros in her bedroom closet to being one of the most sought-after chefs in the country. Details as hyperlocal as the produce mentioned throughout the narrative will still satisfy audiences unfamiliar with the region. This holiday season, I welcome you to take a detour to an area rarely visited in literary or popular fiction and baste in the surprising delights that await you.

Note: This book is best paired with Mexican hot chocolate and a sheet pan of dessert bars.

How you can read Kitchens of the Great Midwest:
Penn students and faculty can borrow Kitchens of the Great Midwest and related texts from the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center with their Penn Card. Alumni and friends of the Penn Libraries can also borrow our books for a yearly membership fee. Click here for information on how courtesy borrowers can access the Libraries' resources.