Gardening for the Greater Good

Sustainable Gardening and Agricultural Best Practices from Santa Barbara’s CEC and Lotusland

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent. Credit: Neslihan Gunaydin / Unsplash

The benefits of sustainable gardening and regenerative agriculture took the spotlight at a recent sustainability salon featuring Community Environmental Council (CEC) climate resilience program director Sharyn Main and Lotusland sustainability manager Corey Welles. Here are some of the nuggets they shared at the gathering in Belle Hahn’s beautiful garden on the Upper Eastside.

1) Change Can Happen:  After 32 years at Lotusland, Welles certainly has the dirt on the esteemed garden’s best practices in plant healthcare. “Lotusland wasn’t always a perfectly organic operation,” he admitted. “In the very beginning, it was completely conventional, and they used pesticides. If you were an organic farmer walking in, you would have been horrified.” But the will to become more environmentally sound was there, and they worked to find the way.

“We literally cracked the code; we stopped listening to the conventional minds and started listening to biologists,” he said. “Fertilizers caused 80 percent of the diseases at Lotusland. Once we got the pesticides and chemical fertilizers out of there, we never went back. It was a moment of taking responsibility ​— ​if something’s wrong, you take responsibility for it.” And it worked. The first year, they had a 70 percent reduction in pests, and it increased from there.

2) More than No Pesticides:  A sustainable garden involves more than just getting rid of chemical pesticides. Other key principles include using natural materials such as alfalfa meal, sea kelps, and organic nitrogen sources to feed plants and the soil.

Building up insect ecology is also important. While it may seem counterintuitive, Welles shared that increasing the number and variety of insects in the landscape and providing a habitat for beneficial insects helps control invasions of plant pests. Native plants are especially good for this.

The other key sustainable practice at Lotusland is recycling all of the plant material removed from the garden back in the form of compost teas and mulches that are reused in the garden.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent. Credit: Courtesy

3) Demonstrate the Way:  Lotusland wasn’t yet open to the public when Main was a teenager in the 1970s, but she confided that it didn’t stop her from sneaking in to explore. As one of the first wave of environmentalists working for CEC, Main and her colleagues had an organic demonstration garden at the organization’s first offices on the Mesa in one of the earliest green buildings in the country. They had composting toilets (“the cutting edge for energy efficiency”) and a green rooftop with plantings to help cool the building, and they taught people about organic agriculture and gardening while discouraging the use of pesticides. She even co-wrote a book called BUGS (“Beneficial Urban Garden Strategies”), which was published in both English and Spanish.

“That garden was super important to our program,” said Main. “We talked a lot about the value of using native plants to protect biodiversity and improve soil health as part of an organic food garden.”

4) Regenerative Ag:  One of the ways CEC is working to reverse the climate threat today is by encouraging regenerative, climate-smart agriculture. “These practices ​— ​like applying compost on working lands and planting native plants along edges of fields ​— ​can actually help sequester carbon from the atmosphere. By restoring a natural balance in this way, plants respond by pulling more carbon from the air (through photosynthesis) into the ground, where it’s beneficial to the soil and plants,” said Main.

Carbon farming, a land-based, natural solution to climate change, is a way to transfer excess carbon out of the atmosphere ​— ​where it is causing a lot of harm ​— ​and store it in the soil, where it does a lot of good.

CEC is actively working with ranchers and large landowners, said Main. “If we can apply compost to just 10 percent of our agricultural lands, we could offset the emissions of the entire agriculture sector in Santa Barbara County. So this is doable. This is actually a reasonable thing we can achieve.”

5) Everyone Can Compost:  One of the simplest ways for people to help at home is by making and using compost, said Main. Mow or trim weeds instead of pulling them out at their roots, and compost instead of landfilling yard waste and food scraps.

6) Watch Your Water:  Last but not least on the path to sustainable gardening is the importance of carefully managing water use, a key factor that was mentioned by both Welles and Main. Water conservation is made much easier when pests are under control through the promotion of pollinators and beneficial insects, natural materials are used to feed plants and soil, plant materials removed from the garden are recycled into compost or mulch, and native species are primarily what is planted.

Following sustainable practices includes avoiding polluting chemicals, preserving natural resources, and reducing waste whenever possible. Sustainable gardening is not just about growing plants and maintaining a garden; it’s also about growing a greener future. As Welles said, “You don’t have to sacrifice beautiful, breathtaking gardens to be responsible.”

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent. Credit: Courtesy

Santa Barbara Independent, May 19-25, 2002. ON THE COVER: Madame Ganna Walska, taken c. 1958. Photo by J.R. Eyerman/Lotus- land Archives. Design by Ava Talehakimi.

Originally published in the May 19-25 issue issue of the Santa Barbara Independent. To see the story as it originally appeared click here.

The Lowdown on Lotusland

Montecito’s Eccentric Garden Paradise Comes to Life in New Book

Underneath the canopy of towering dragon trees (Dracaena draco) is a large, candelabrum-shaped Isolatocereus dumortieri as well as eye-catching clusters of golden barrels (Echinocactus grusonii), which were some of Madame Ganna Walska’s favorite cacti. | Credit: ©Lotusland by Rizzoli, New York, 2022. Image ©Lisa Romerein

Show business ran deep through the veins of Madame Ganna Walska, so when the time finally came to showcase her legendary garden in book form, the pressure was on.

And like the creation of Montecito’s extraordinary 37-acre public garden extravaganza, it took a whole cast of characters to bring the new, 288-page coffee table book Lotusland: Eccentric Garden Paradise (Rizzoli, 2022) — stunningly photographed by Lisa Romerein — to life.

Architect Marc Appleton, a longtime supporter and former trustee of Ganna Walska Lotusland, had unsuccessfully tried to drum up support for a book project for years, but the stars never quite aligned until 2019, when the “Book Committee” — comprised of Appleton, current trustee Dorothy Gardner and former trustees Suzanne Mathews and Alex Morse — was formed.

Lotusland is sited on a gently sloping hill and spans 37 acres. With the area’s coastal Mediterranean climate — and almost 300 days of sunshine per year — the property has been a testing ground for experimenting with new types of tropical and subtropical plants since 1882. | Credit: ©Lotusland by Rizzoli, New York, 2022. Illustrated by Janice Blair

The county permit limits the number of visitors to the garden to just 15,000 people a year, so it’s always a challenge to share Lotusland with as many people as possible

“We raised independent funds from subscribers to establish a publication budget, and we were off and running,” said Appleton. 

“Everyone said yes, which is kind of remarkable and a testament to their relationships. It really was volunteer driven and that’s important to appreciate and highlight,particularly in this town where so many volunteers do so much,” said Executive Director Rebecca Anderson.” 

Curator Paul Mills, Historian Rose Thomas, Jeff Chemnick, Mike Furner, Corey Welles, Founding Trustee Arthur Gaudi, Eric Nagelmann (who designed the cactus garden) and Madame Walska’s niece Hania Tallmadge (who recently passed away) were but a few of the many people involved in this team effort.

The book has a lot of ground to cover — and it does. Anderson explained, “while it’s meant to focus on the garden today and our future, it’s meant to be a garden book. It’s not meant to be a retrospective of how the garden began. But I really appreciate that we were able to get in there the people who created this place because without a little bit of that it’s not a complete story.”

Indeed the dramatic flair and inimitable spirit of of Madame Walska is woven throughout the book and the world-renowned horticultural showplace, which is home to more than 3,400 types of plants, including at least 35,000 individual specimens, 

Another important factor Anderson emphasized is “making sure that people not only have takeaways about inspiration and ideas for design or knowledge of particular plants in that index in the back but also that they understand that this is all done with

organic materials and sustainable practices.” 

With such a large scope of the gardens to be documented, Curator Paul Mills worked with photographer Lisa Romerein and her assistant Dean Courtois to shoot over the span of a year, “to try to catch as many moods and happenings in the garden as possible.” Mills said, “Lotusland really is not a ‘flowery’ garden, it’s more about bold and dramatic presentation of plants. But each season does present different opportunities to capture and I would help guide them to these.”

Madame Ganna Walska picks fruit from the lemon arbor, c. 1958 | Credit: J. R. Eyerman, Ganna Walska. Lotusland Archives

He continued, “Every plant on the property has a story, but I would try to lead them to the ones that are more intriguing for one reason or another – a cycad that is now extinct in the wild and only exists in gardens like Lotusland, a dragon tree that dates back to the 1880’s when Kinton Stevens had his nursery on the property, a cactus that is endemic to the Galapagos Islands and rarely seen in botanical collections. The first shoot was in summer, so the main goal was to catch our namesake plant, the sacred lotus, in all its glory. Winter had to focus on the Aloe garden because that is when those plants light up with their torch-like inflorescences and also on the Japanese garden which really shows that season with the golden carpet of Ginkgo leaves and shapely, dormant maples. I would scout the garden before their arrival but so many times we would just happen across things – a flowering bromeliad, a fern leaf unfurling or the perfect lighting for an overall shot.” 

With 19 distinct gardens to spotlight, choosing a favorite is like choosing a favorite child, but when asked which section of the book he’s most proud of, Mills confided, “I would have to say the chapter on the Dunlap cactus garden. It’s my favorite garden on the property, not only because I was so involved in moving the collection to Lotusland and helping to oversee its installation, but because of the story behind it. Lisa was also very drawn to this garden so it got a lot of attention and amazing photos in the book.”

He continued, “We’d often be on the cart heading to a different garden, passing by the Dunlap garden, and Lisa would shout, ‘Stop!’ because she saw something looking just right. This garden was installed after Madame Ganna Walska had passed away, but the project actually started in 1966, when Merritt ‘Sigs’ Dunlap wrote to her wanting to bequeath his cactus collection to Lotusland. She saw this as something great and accepted. Luckily Sigs turned it into a donation and we moved the collection in 2001 and built the garden in 2003 where he celebrated his 97th birthday. We know Madame Ganna Walska would approve of this garden – she loved cacti and dramatic landscapes and its completion signified the fulfillment of her and Sigs’ wish.”

Credit: ©Lotusland by Rizzoli, New York, 2022

“Making the book happen in the right way was challenging, and there were ultimately a lot of interests to entertain along the way, ” said Appleton, who worked on a somewhat similar project with Rizzoli for Casa Del Herrero in 2009, and wrote the introduction to Lotusland. “But I think the book will have a long life as a fairly comprehensive presentation of Lotusland and  why it is such a special garden. Lisa’s photos are amazing, and capture its magic.”

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Limited spots are available for a Luncheon on the Lawn to celebrate Lotusland: Eccentric Garden Paradise on Saturday, May 21 at 11:30 a.m.  

In addition,Lotusland’s 2022 season is now open to reservations through August. Admission is $50 for adults and $25 for children ages 3 to 17. For more information and reservations, visit lotusland.org.

Lotusland: Eccentric Garden Paradise is available at local retailers as well as through the onsite gift shop and online at lotuslandshop.org

Santa Barbara Independent, May 19-25, 2002. ON THE COVER: Madame Ganna Walska, taken c. 1958. Photo by J.R. Eyerman/Lotus- land Archives. Design by Ava Talehakimi.

Originally published in the May 19-25 issue issue of the Santa Barbara Independent. To see the story as it originally appeared click here.

Where Palate Meets Palette Artist — Christina LoCascio ‘01

Part of being an artist is bringing pieces of yourself into your work, but painter Christina LoCascio ‘01, whose work is featured in “Gauchos Gone Grape,” takes this connection to a new level. She is truly living her creative life among the vines, painting with wine as a medium and working exclusively with wines from her family’s Larner Winery in Santa Barbara’s Ballard Canyon, where LoCascio, her winemaker husband Michael Larner, and their children Steven (10) and Sienna (8) make their home. 

When LoCascio began experimenting with wine painting in 2002 she couldn’t find any information about how to do it. “That was before Instagram or Facebook. Now if you search the hashtag #wineart there’s a bunch of artists that are painting with wine, but I feel like what makes what I’m doing special is that it’s such a part of my life.” 

Double majoring in communication and art, LoCascio got her first real exposure to the world of wine in her junior year as an intern for Touring & Tasting Magazine. “It was my 21st birthday and they sent me home with a bottle of wine.” That job also had her researching and writing about wineries and grapes and very quickly she was hooked. 

After graduation she worked in the wine industry in Temecula for a short time, until 2002, when Sunstone Winery scion Bion Rice lured her back to Santa Barbara wine country with an offer to work at Artiste Winery, a new venture featuring art-inspired blends that perfectly combined LoCascio’s interests in wine and art. 

The idea for painting with wine grew out of classes she would host for wine club members at Artiste that used wine in a similar fashion to watercolor. 

Those first few paintings led to a group exhibition in Santa Barbara and then an offer to create wine labels for Artiste. “The exposure of working at the tasting room, having my art on display and then having my art on the wine bottles was great for me,” says LoCascio, who went on to have nine shows at Artiste. 

She continues to show her work at the tasting room gallery, although she stopped working there in 2008, when the family opened Larner Winery. They now have a tasting room in Los Olivos, where LoCascio’s art is on display. “From the very beginning, I was drawn to wine and all the wonderful things about it and how it combined art and science and history and so many things,” she says. 

Wine remains a consistent media for her work — the many shades of red comprise her color palette and she uses white wine to “lift” color in a similar way that watercolorists use water to soften their paint. And while wine is a frequent subject, she also delves into figurative art and architectural paintings. “I think that in the time that I’ve been painting with wine my art has evolved and it continues to change. I have gone through a lot of different types of things,” says LoCascio, who has recently begun experimenting with leaves as well as the fermentation process of the wine itself. Exploding wine bottles and incorporating spills into female forms are some of her other recent artistic explorations. 

Of course, when harvest calls, the paintbrush comes down and it’s all hands on deck for the family business. “We’re really busy, but I’ve come to realize that that’s all part of the process. So, when we’re bringing in grapes and doing the punch down and I’m helping with the wine, and watching the fermentations, it’s just kind of part of it and it all inspires me to think of different ideas,” she says. 

“I think the act of being in the winery making the wine is inspiring for the art, too.” 

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

Originally published in the Fall/Winter 2021 issue of UC Santa Barbara Magazine. Cover illustration by Yumiko Glover. To see the story as it originally appeared click  here.

 

Shoe Designs That Step Up the Sustainability 

Environmentally friendly practices and fashion come together at della terra (dellaterrashoes.com), a new footwear brand from Designer Emily Landsman ’05. Prior to its launch in June, the new brand hit the ground running, winning four Global Footwear Awards for Landsman’s initial designs using vegan and recycled materials to create a PETA certified line of shoes that don’t sacrifice style or comfort. 

“My time in the art studio program at UC Santa Barbara had a huge impact on my career as an eco-footwear designer, especially Kip Fulbeck’s mentorship that allowed me the opportunity to explore the intersection between art, fashion and the digital world. It was Fulbeck’s teachings that ensured we all examined our position in the business and art landscape, bringing awareness of identity politics to the forefront of my mind,” says Landsman, who is the founder and CEO of della terra. 

“A lot of my inspiration also comes from UCSB’s surrounding areas and amazing backdrops, which granted me the chance to explore a design thinking process that I have continued to apply to each and every project I have worked on since my time at the school,” Landsman says. “While I spent a large chunk of my career in major cities like New York and Boston, Santa Barbara’s landscape has continued to be a constant presence in my work. della terra translates to ‘of the land’ and UCSB’s surrounding area is a very large part of that inspiration behind the name. Being able to merge this while contributing positively to the planet will continue to always be my initiative as a designer and business owner.” 

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

Originally published in the Fall/Winter 2021 issue of UC Santa Barbara Magazine. Cover illustration by Yumiko Glover. To see the story as it originally appeared click  here.

 

Elevated Reflections of Life — Artist Yumiko Glover MA ’17

Elevated Reflections of Life, UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Fall/Winter 2021.

Born and raised in Hiroshima, Japan, cover artist Yumiko Glover MA ‘17 took a circuitous route to finally following her passion. 

“When I was applying for college in Japan I didn’t have a mentor to support me,” Glover recalls. “I wanted to go to art school and of course, my parents worried that it was ‘non job promising.’ So, I gave up and I majored in something else.” But the desire stuck with her. She took as many art classes as she could while working in the import-export business for more than a decade before returning to school to follow her dreams of becoming an artist. She completed a bachelor of fine arts degree at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa in 2011 and then came to UC Santa Barbara to complete her masters in fine arts in 2017. 

“I was not a good student in Japan in college because I was not really interested in the field. But when I went back to school, I was very serious,” laughs Glover, who is now a visiting lecturer in the UC Santa Barbara Department of Art, as well as a graphic designer and fine artist who has her work in collections at the Honolulu Museum of Art and on view at LAX, among other venues. 

Over the years her style has evolved, but current events continue to influence her art. 

Her “Unfold” series was inspired by President Barack Obama’s visit to Hiroshima in 2016. The first sitting president to visit the city destroyed by an American atomic bomb during World War II, Obama brought origami paper cranes that he folded himself. “Crane origami is a symbol for peace, wishing the best for others, and healing for challenging times,” says Glover. 

Working on the premise that with each fold they make in an origami crane, people are thinking about others’ wellness or sending them good wishes, Glover drew geometric forms and combined them in different ways to create elements. “I thought that matched well with what we are going through in the pandemic,” she says. 

Her ongoing series “Transience” also fits in thematically. “Living through the pandemic completely shifted everybody’s life, including myself, especially my perspective on approaching art,” says Glover. 

“Transience comes from the Japanese term, mono no aware, which means the transience of life that is the aesthetics of impermanence — nothing lasts forever but there is preciousness to it. I created new paintings during the pandemic; one inspired by the cherry blossom season. As you know the cherry blossom has an intense and precious life and death cycle, which is mirrored by the impermanence of our nature and material world that we took for granted for so long.” 

She continues, “During the pandemic, as everything that we thought would last forever became uncertain and our perspectives about life, including the subjects for the magazine — education, economy, mental health, work and environment — everything has changed and also affected me and the way I think, so when I received the concept of the magazine design, I could apply those ideas that I was going through during the pandemic to the design.”  

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

Originally published in the Fall/Winter 2021 issue of UC Santa Barbara Magazine. Cover illustration by Yumiko Glover. To see the story as it originally appeared click  here.

 

A New Way to See UCSB — Introducing UC Santa Barbara Magazine

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

I am the managing editor of a brand new publication, UC Santa Barbara Magazine.  A  glossy print publication and website offering a birds-eye view of the spectacular seaside university. From the people, programs, scholarly pursuits and trends that make UC Santa Barbara a world-class institution, to the sports, arts and culture, natural environment and vibrant students and vital alumni communities that enrich our campus experiences, UC Santa Barbara Magazine offers insight into the rich complexity of the university and its impact on the larger world around it.

Read the entire magazine online here. In addition, here are links to some of the stories I wrote.

Wheels of Fun

The Short List: The Beat Goes On

Elevated Reflections of Life — Artist Yumiko Glover MA ’17

Bringing Diverse Perspectives to the White House

Shoe Designs That Step Up the Sustainability 

Where Palate Meets Palette — Artist Christina LoCascio ’01

The Short List: The Beat Goes On (UC Santa Barbara Magazine)

DJ Darla Bea, photo by Paul Wellman.

“Like any of your senses — the act of listening to a song can conjure up feelings and, in this case, a love of your college days,” says Darla Bea ‘03 . As Stevie Wonder once said, “Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it.” 

Sporting slews of rave reviews from national wedding websites and voted Santa Barbara’s favorite DJ for six years in a row, Bea has made a career out of homing in on the visceral, emotional connection that tunes play in our lives. “Rock it Properly,” her weekly radio show that’s been running on KCSB since 2007, is a meticulously researched round-up of fun facts and musical magic. 

When last year’s All Gaucho Reunion had to go virtual, Bea helped to make it memorable by creating seven different GauchoBeats playlists, curated by decade, from 1939 to the present. From Bill Haley & His Comets’ “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock” and The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” to Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” and Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance,” these Spotify playlists of feel-good tunes (alumni.ucsb.edu/events/all-gaucho-reunion#gauchobeats) brought some much-needed positivity during some rather grim days. 

Of her time at UC Santa Barbara, Bea says, “The magic and music were always a thing that drew me out to hear bands play in Isla Vista and at UCSB, and of course I knew I was going to get an excellent education. I just wanted to be part of that.” 

A Santa Barbara native who lived at home during college, she says, “I did not have a car, had a bus pass. I spent a lot of time on campus in the library and the bookstore. I loved looking at all the media out there; it was a really good bookstore. And every once in a while I’d have to call my dad to get me because I missed the last bus.” 

Known for her colorful wigs, kicky costumes and eclectic mixes, Bea still comes to campus every Sunday to host her radio show, and says one of her goals is to, “expand your narrow way of thinking about music. The world is a lot smaller when you can grasp a culture, or an era, through their music.” 

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

Originally published in the Fall/Winter 2021 issue of UC Santa Barbara Magazine. Cover illustration by Yumiko Glover. To see the story as it originally appeared click  here.

Wheels of Fun (UC Santa Barbara Magazine)

Between the bicycle-friendly weather, the relatively flat terrain, and the environmentally-conscious ethos on campus, it’s no wonder that UC Santa Barbara has long been known for its bicycle culture. More than 10,000 people bicycle-commute between their homes and the university on a daily basis. With seven miles of Class 1 bike paths and more than 20,000 bike parking spots on campus — not to mention designated skateboard lanes — expect to see those wheels keep on turning for years and years to come. 

Photo: University Archives, Photographs Collection

Where were you in ‘62? 

This photo of a student dressed for success and riding a bike near the library was taken on October 7, 1962, just four years after the campus moved from the Santa Barbara Riviera to its current location. 

Photo by Matt Perko

Casual Rides. 

Today’s students make their way around the League of American Bicyclists’ certified Platinum-level Bike Friendly University, where backpacks are now ubiquitous and comfortable athleisure wear is de rigueur both on campus and in many professions. 

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

UC Santa Barbara Magazine, Winter 2021

Originally published in the Fall/Winter 2021 issue of UC Santa Barbara Magazine. Cover illustration by Yumiko Glover. To see the story as it originally appeared click  here.

The Books of 2021

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante was one of my favorite books I read in 2021.

So many books, so little time—part 15.

My son started keeping a reading list in third grade, so I did too. This is the 15th year we’ve done this.

2021 was another weird year (with f-ing COVID still raging) but I finally got my reading mojo back. Between long walks with audio books and nights that were once spent socializing with friends and colleagues now spent curling up with books, I definitely read even more than in previous years.

My favorite books of 2021 were The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante (the second book in her excellent My Brilliant Friend series), The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley and Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty (a return to top form after what I thought was a rare miss with Nine Perfect Strangers — though I still binged the whole series on Hulu).

I also really liked White Ivy by Susie Yang, The Turnout by Megan Abbott, Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau (I don’t know her personally but she grew up in Santa Barbara and is an excellent writer), Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney, Those Who Stay and Those Who Leave by Elena Ferrante (third in the series), The Huntress by Kate Quinn, Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave, Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman, The Midnight Library by Matt Haigh, Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid and The Dutch House by Ann Patchett.

I’d love to hear what else people loved.

Here’s the 2021 list.

Rules for Being a Girl Candace Bushnell & Katie Cotugno
The First Mistake Sandie Jones
The Midnight Library Matt Haigh
Blackbird Fly (The Bennett Sisters Mysteries #1) Lise McClendon
Beach Read Emily Henry
The Dutch House Ann Patchett
Evidence of the Affair Taylor Jenkins Reid
Everyone’s a Critic Jennifer Weiner
The List Jade Chang
Face: A Memoir Marcia Meier
You Should See Me In A Crown Leah Johnson
Love and Death With the in Crowd Jessica Anya Blau
Self-Help Lorrie Moore
Members Only Sameer Pandya
Weightless Sarah Bannan
The Story of Arthur Truluv Elizabeth Berg
The People We Hate at the Wedding Grant Ginder
All We Can Save Ayana Elizabeth Johnson & Katharine K. Wilkinson
Just Like You Nick Hornby
The Other Woman Sandie Jones
The Half Sister Sandie Jones
Chances Are Richard Russo
Pretty Things Janelle Brown
Ready Player Two Ernest Cline
In a Holidaze Christina Lauren
The Hating Game Sally Thorne
Take a Hint, Dani Brown Talia Hibbert
White Fragility Robin DiAngelo
One True Loves Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Taylor Jenkins Reid
All We Ever Wanted Was Everything Janelle Brown
Jane in Love Rachel Givney
I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are Rachel Bloom
The Five-Year Hitch Melissa De la Cruz
Separation Anxiety Laura Zigman
The Divines Ellie Eaton
Dick Pic Mary H.K. Choi
The Authenticity Project Clare Pooley
Uncanny Valley: A Memoir Anna Wiener
The End of Everything Megan Abbott
The Guest Book Sarah Blake
The Boy, the mole, the fox and the horse Charlie Mackesy
Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life Christie Tate
While Justice Sleeps Stacey Abrams
Milkman Anna Burns
The Soulmate Equation Christina Lauren
The Chicken Sisters KJ Dell’Antonia
Malibu Rising Taylor Jenkins Reid
Get a Life, Chloe Brown Talia Hibbert
The Singles Game Lauren Weisberger
The Wedding Gift Carolyn Brown
Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating Christina Lauren
Neighbors Elizabeth La Ban and Melissa DePino
Adulting Liz Talley
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore Matthew J. Sullivan
Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures Emma Straub
Good Riddance Elinor Lipman
One to Watch Kate Stayman-London
Inclusive Conversations Mary-Frances Winters
Royal Holiday Jasmine Guillory
Everybody Loves Kamau W. Kamau Bell
Boyfriends of Dorothy Wednesday Martin
Everyone’s Happy Rufi Thorpe
The Edge of Falling Rebecca Serle
Act Your Age Eve Brown Talia Hibbert
Where the Grass is Green and the Girls are Pretty Lauren Weisberger
Astrid Sees All Natalie Standiford
A Promised Land Barack Obama
That Summer Jennifer Weiner
The Hunting Party Lucy Foley
The Story of a New Name Elena Ferrante
Unsheltered Barbara Kingsolver
The Last Thing He Told Me Laura Dave
Good Company Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Helen of Pasadena Lian Dolan
When Stars Collide Susan Elizabeth Phillips
White Ivy Susie Yang
Untamed Glennon Doyle
Apples Never Fall Liane Moriarty
It Had To Be You Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Nobody’s Baby But Mine Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Seven Days in June Tia Williams
Heaven, Texas Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The Book of Lost and Found Lucy Foley
Match me if You Can Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The Rose Code Kate Quinn
Girl, Woman, Other Bernardine Evaristo
The President’s Daughter Bill Clinton & James Patterson
The Heart Principle Helen Hoang
The Paper Palace Miranda Cowley Heller
The Huntress Kate Quinn
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay Ferrante Elena
This Heart of Mine Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The Kiss Quotient Helen Hoang
Dream a Little Dream Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Beautiful World, Where are You Sally Rooney
No Judgements Meg Cabot
A Bookworm’s Guide to Faking It Emma Hart
This is Not the End Chandler Baker
No Offense Meg Cabot
Mary Jane Jessica Anya Blau
Bliss Shay Mitchell & Michaela Blaney
Shipped Angie Hockman
The Turnout Megan Abbott
Fake Accounts Lauren Oyler
If the Shoe Fits Julie Murphy
The Husbands Chandler Baker

Previous Book Lists

The Books of 2020

The Books of 2019

The Books of 2018

The Books of 2017

The Books of 2016

The Books of 2015

The Books of 2014

The Books of 2013

The Books of 2012

The Books of 2011

The Books of 2010

The Books of 2009

The Books of 2008

The Books of 2007