Books That Matter, Books That Inspire

Written on the blackboard behind that beautiful young woman from Ghana is another important message about what we hold dear at Val de Grace Books: “Storytelling.” That is at the heart of every book we do. In “Appellation Napa Valley,” the esteemed author and wine lawyer Richard Mendelson tells us the inside story of the making of the Napa Valley into one of the world’s most esteemed wine-growing regions. And he shows us how conscientious the valley’s pioneers were about protecting the farmlands and the natural beauty of the valley. His subtitle says it eloquently: “Building and Protecting an American Treasure.”

Likewise, in his wonderful collection of stories, “Voices from The Heart,” Louis Stanislaw has inspired three dozen people to come forth with their most intimate stories about living with the age-old affliction of epilepsy. This is not an easy subject, but the stories and Louis’s drawings are charming and illuminating, and Louis’s book too serves a very noble cause: lifting the veil of ignorance and shame that even today surrounds the subject of epilepsy and those afflicted. As the best-selling author Doug Preston has applauded, “Anyone whose life has been touched by epilepsy -- through family, friend, or self -- will find in this vital book an immense trove of wisdom, revelation, awareness, acceptance, and compassion. I highly, highly recommend it.”

In a similar spirit, our new book, “The Best We Can Be,” showcases the life and wisdom of Joseph Phelps, a brilliant businessman, an iconic winemaker, and a far-sighted philanthropist and community leader. “Joe Phelps is the unsung hero of the Napa Valley and American wine,” says the influential vintner Bob Trinchero, and in these pages you will discover a man who embodies the very best of American values and spirit. This is a big book, with powerful lessons about life, leadership, and the historic rise of American wine and food.

Exciting New Releases

Where were you on 9/11?

Gordon Mott was in Lower Manhattan, working as the executive editor of Cigar Aficionado magazine. Mott was no stranger to terrorism and violence: he had covered wars and political turmoil as a foreign correspondent in Latin America. Like almost all New Yorkers and Americans, though, he was not prepared for this sort of psychological trauma: two hijacked planes slamming into the Twin Towers, sending them crashing to the ground and sending some 3,000 Americans to their death.

The wound that all of us suffered on that fateful September morning never fully healed, not for Gordon Mott, not for any of us. Indeed, from that morning on, he could not walk through Grand Central Station, on his way to work, without feeling some measure of anxiety and pain. So what did he do? Mott did what writers do: he wrote. He projected his own wounds into a fictional character, Caleb Drake, a good man caught up in another brutal terrorist attack, this time on 10/10. The result is a brilliant psychological study of what happens to a group of men and women thrown together on another brilliant fall morning in greater Manhattan. As Ana Navarro, a prominent fixture on CNN, says of 10/10:

“This must-read is a clear-eyed look at how terror traumatizes everyone and why it is important that we never overlook what it has done to each of us.”

Don’t miss it, folks: another big, important Val de Grace Book. 

10-10 cropped.jpg

Other New Releases

We are not a traditional publishing house. We do not accept submissions and then vote “yay” or “nay” on whether to publish an author’s book. Instead, we work closely with authors to help them develop their ideas and talents into award-winning books. Our new book “Dare To Create” is a classic case in point. Monroe Katz is a wonderful writer and painter too, and one of our editors suggested he write a very personal “how-to” book about both the techniques and the artistic mindset needed to create fine art. Monroe took up the challenge and, with help from designers Dorothy Carico Smith and Cort Sinnes, turned it into a fabulous book. The influential Kirkus Reviews loved it: “The author offers many thought- provoking anecdotes while tackling such subjects as how to convey particular feelings on a canvas and how sculpting can improve one’s painting skills... This inspirational work is also pleasing to look at, showcasing color photos of Katz’s artwork as well as images of paintings by his hero, Rembrandt. There are moments of humor, as well; for example, Katz describes his first attempt at sculpting heads of himself and his wife: “my friend’s dog, apparently an art critic, chewed off the tip of the nose of the sculpture of me.” What better guide for any aspiring painter? Pre-order the book by clicking on the image below:


And that brings us to “Zelda, The Queen of Paris.” This is the story of the enchanting little street dog that Paul Chutkow and his family rescued from the streets of New Delhi, India. With humor and panache, Zelda wins hearts from India to Paris, and from the beaches of Sardinia to the green hills and valleys of California Wine Country. Thanks to earlier editions, Zelda won legions of fans here, and in France and China, and here’s the best news yet: this new edition is exquisitely designed by Dorothy Smith, and the illustrations, done by the brilliant J.C. Suares, are now reproduced in their vivid original colors. At last, Zelda is brought perfectly to life on the printed page, making this a perfect gift for every dog lover you know. Critics and readers raved. See their reviews and order the book by clicking on the image below. And this just in: our new edition of Zelda has just been honored with a silver medal in the 2019 Benjamin Franklin Awards. What a dog! What a story! Another lovely tribute to Zelda, truly “The Luckiest Dog in The World.”


As you will see in the pages ahead, our books combine powerful storytelling with exquisite, state-of-the-art design, photography, and printing. In this age of digital communication, we may be a bit old-fashioned but we hold to the conviction that books of beauty and consequence are essential repositories of our collective knowledge and cultural wealth. What we are here to create are books with real keepsake value, books that you will love to read and browse and hold in your hands, books that you will cherish for many years to come. That is our mission and our passion. Welcome to the cause!

Paul Chutkow, President
Val de Grâce Books
Napa, California