I posted these on the old thread when I picked them up, but I finished the first one New Year's Day and just finished the second one today (so posting here for any "newbies" to the thread) Both highly recommended.
"The Memory of Running" by Ron McLarty
'Smithy Ide is a really nice guy. But he's also an overweight, friendless, womanless, hard-drinking, 43-year-old self-professed loser with a breast fetish and a dead-end job, given to stammering "I just don't know" in life's confusing moments. When Smithy's entire family dies, he embarks on a transcontinental bicycle trip to recover his sister's body and rediscover what it means to live. Along the way, he flashes back to his past and the hardships of his beloved sister's schizophrenia, while his dejection encourages strangers to share their life stories. The road redeems the innocent Smithy: he loses weight; rescues a child from a blizzard; rebuffs the advances of a nubile, "apple-breasted" co-cyclist after seeing a vision of his dead sister; and nurtures a telephone romance with a paraplegic family friend as he processes his rocky past. McLarty, a playwright and television actor, propels the plot with glib mayhem—including three tragic car accidents in 31 pages and a death by lightning bolt—and a lot of bighearted and warm but faintly mournful humor. It's a funny, poignant, slightly gawky debut that aims, like its protagonist, to please—and usually does.'
"At Grandmother's Table : women write about food, life, and the enduring bond between grandmothers and granddaughters"
'More than 50 women share their grandmother's touching life stories and favorite family recipes, and comment on how food forms the common bond that connects these women across the generations'