Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner and hot days are near. For many people this means firing up the grill. Interested in shaking up your grill routine? The library has loads of cookbooks with many new ideas – for both meat eaters and vegetarians.
Maybe grilling isn’t your thing. Once the weather turns hot, and the fresh fruits start arriving at the Market and the grocery stores all I want to do is make ice cream. I recently checked out the excellent Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts by Peggy Fallon and marked about 20 pages of interesting and often easy recipes to try including Chocolate Chipotle Ice Cream, Black Forest Frozen Yogurt with Chocolate and Cherries, and Quick Caramel-Pecan Light Ice Cream. There are also chapters on sorbets and non-dairy frozen desserts.
The Ultimate Ice Cream Book by Bruce Weinstein delivers over 500 recipes covering many different types of ice creams, sorbets and granitas. He also gives ideas for recipe variations and toppings. Pictures aren’t included, but this serves as a fairly straight forward reference and would be great for beginners. Read more »
Before I became a librarian, I worked in the restaurant industry for 10 years. I learned to cook from my dad and had dreams of going to culinary school to become a chef. Career changes happen, but I am still drawn to cooking shows and spend a lot of time reading books about food, food policies, eating, and food history –think Bittman, Kurlansky, & Kingsolver. When it came out recently, I knew I had to read Blood, Bones & Butter: the Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton.
Hamilton is owner and head chef at Prune, a well-reviewed and established restaurant in New York. This book sets out her love of food from her parents to her on-the-fly education in New York City catering. Her path to recognition and establishment later in life is both gory and determined. Being a woman in this business can be ugly and Hamilton both investigates and dismisses this fact. What she does well is understanding the connection between food and family and what it means to be part of this process on both an intimate and grander scale.
The spirit of Graham Greene whispers through these pages. Pico Iyer is my favorite contemporary travel writer. The Man Within My Head differs from most of his books because he delves more into his own past than usual in this volume, detailing many connections he sees between his own life and that of Greene: they lived near each other in Oxford but never met, and each suffered a major house fire. They also traveled to many of the same places including Viet Nam.
Especially involving are the sections about Pico’s childhood. He lived first in Britain, his father having come to England from India as a Rhodes Scholar. He was an only child and some of his earliest memories are stacking magazines with articles by his father. The little Pico loved to arrange them and stare at his Dad’s pictures. When he was in grade school both of his famous parents were invited to California to be part of a think tank promoting ways to end violence. Pico tried to be an American student, to wait in the hills for the school bus with his plastic lunchbox, but he soon realized that education in the states did not challenge him. He asked his parents to send him back to England to attend boarding school.Read more »
Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow is still a bestseller and heavily in-demand at the library, after receiving lots of publicity late last year. This exploration of intuitive vs. deliberate thinking makes fascinating points about what motivates decisions both personal and business-related. It’s top notch popular psychology, a genre I really love for the way it forces you to examine actions and thoughts that seem simply natural or logical. Here are a few other great examples.
Another newish title that’s making a splash is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. The subtitle pretty much sums it up. It explores the differences between introverts and extroverts and makes the case for the values of introversion, which are often ignored in a society that holds extroversion to be the ideal.
Malcolm Gladwell is a giant in this area. One of his great books is Blink, which, like Kahneman’s, uncovers what’s really going on in our heads when we make decisions, illuminating everything from how prejudice works to why marriages fail.
Oliver Saks, a neurologist, also has several great books. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, for example, demonstrates how complex the brain is by showing how weirdly things can go wrong. It’s more neuroscience than psychology, perhaps, but seeing how knocking out one little area can cause hallucinations or destroy one very limited function, is fascinating.
Steven Pinker recently wrote a book (The Better Angels of Our Nature) proposing that humans are becoming less violent, but I really like his 2003 book The Blank Slate. It touches on the emerging field of evolutionary psychology, arguing that people aren’t born with completely plastic minds, but that we all have certain (possibly very powerful) innate tendencies and capabilities.
In The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson teaches us how to spot a psychopath, and finds that, far from being universally confined to mental hospitals, they are all among us—especially, it seems, in the world of business.
The Believing Brain takes a critical look at how belief—not just religious, but in general—is formed and reinforced. Michael Shermer argues that it is natural, but that we need to temper such instincts to see the world clearly.
Snoop has a fun (and kind of unsettling premise): the things we surround ourselves with and the way we arrange them speak volumes about who we are. Our personalities leak through in what seem like insignificant places.
The title of this book Lighting Out for the Territory by Roy Morris, jr. refers to the last paragraph in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn when Huck reckons that it's time "to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest", which is exactly what Clemens himself did in July 1861. Clemens had ridden as a guerilla maurader for the Missouri militia in a locally formed group in the very early days of the Civil War called the Marion Rangers. They never saw any real action, but his brief stint with them, plus the ever present chance he could be drafted by either side, Union or Confederate, to pilot a gun boat, made the mostly neutral West look inviting.
His brother Orion had been appointed as Secretary to the Territorial Governor of the newly created Nevada Territory. Orion invited Sam to go along to share expenses. From this happenstance beginning one of America's great writers was born.
Jane Goodall has had a lovely life. From her childhood love of the outdoors to the chance day she contacted famed scientist Louis Leakey, she always knew what she wanted to do: go to Africa and work to help animals. In her life, Goodall has been many things, including an activist for the environment and a UN Ambassador of Peace; however she is most known for her lengthy career working with chimpanzees. In 2011, two books were created that help us to explore Jane’s life from its roots to the present. Read more »
What a cool idea for a book. Telling the history of the world by looking at museum artifacts. To make it even more interesting, these descriptive reports of jewelry, mummies, pottery, coins, art, textiles, etc. were written by experts for radio. Luckily, for us we get to view the pictures also, hundreds of them.
A History of the World in 100 Objects is no coffee table book but a book to be read end to end. The entries for each of the objects (that range in date from 2,000,000 B.C. to 2010 A.D.) describe not only the artifacts themselves but what they teach us about history and about humanity. For example of silver bowl full of coins from around the year 927—shows that already England was well on its way to becoming a monarchy. Inscribed on one coin is Athelstan Rex totius Britanniae or Athelstan, King of All Britain.
Other items found in this same buried stash were arm bracelets from Ireland, Viking coins, and others from as far away as Afghanistan. A Viking stash of coins showed that they were becoming Christian—engraved on several was St. Peter’s name (Petri), but also inscribed was the hammer from Thor, the old Norse god. Read more »
One of the earliest historical reports of a far northern, snow-covered place was by Pytheas who sailed out of what is now Marseilles in 325 B.C., and discovered a place he called Ultima Thule, a six day journey north of Britain. No one knows exactly where his ship landed but people believe that it may have been Iceland, Greenland, Norway or the Shetlands. Pytheas described the remarkable midnight sun and reported that the sea surrounding Thule was “neither sea nor air but a mixture like a sea-lung that binds everything together.”
In the following centuries the Romans and medieval scholars called the Far North “the kingdom of the dead” where the Cyclops lived “in a place of chaos, the abysmal chasm.” In those days scholars also believed that the North Pole was a “gigantic metallic rock rising out of the ocean.” Read more »
As someone who has explored sewers as a kid--they were in a new subdivision; it was on a dare--I totally understand the appeal of life underground. Who hasn't dug in their yard and hoped to find arrowheads or pottery from thousands of years ago?
Ackroyd, who wrote a book about the above-ground city several years ago, now dives underneath to recount the other world under busy streets, cathedrals, government buildings, and flats.
It's fascinating stuff. In the 19th century workmen excavating before constructing new buildings discovered huge chunks of the Roman wall that surrounded the city about two millenia ago. Other builders during that same time period found a stairway down to a brick-walled room with a spurting spring that they believed was used as a baptismal font during medieval times. Read more »