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Ruth Reichl picks Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Olive Kitteridge is not a nice person. Big and blunt, she stomps through her small Maine town, trampling people's feelings wherever she goes. She is horrid to her sweet husband Henry ("You, Mr. Head Deacon Claptrap") and mean to her son Christopher ("Your new wife is so nice, it makes me puke"). To a small girl at Christopher's wedding, she says, "Go away, before I eat you," and then opens her new daughter-in-law's closet to run Magic Marker across a sweater. Olive spares no one. And yet you can't help liking her. This gorgeously spare book about love and loneliness offers us the gift of forgiveness, for as we absolve Olive of all the awful things she's done, we also forgive ourselves our own trespasses.
Reichl's most recent memoir is Not Becoming My Mother
Listen to the extended interview: Ruth Reichl talks to TIME about her summer reads