Library Lists: Cool Cookbooks

There are so many cookbooks out there that it can be difficult to find ones that really offer what you’re looking for, whether it’s easy dinner party meals, vegan desserts, good ideas to take for lunch, or elaborate birthday cake recipes. It’s also sometimes challenging to find recipes presented in an easy-to-follow format. This list contains some great, unique cookbooks, complete with easily understandable recipes and fun anecdotes from the authors. Happy cooking!

Salad Samurai: In this collection of over 100 ideas for unique, hearty and flavorful salads, even the most avid salad-creators among us will find ingredient combinations that they hadn’t thought of before. Also included are dozens of ideas for easy-to-make dressings that go with a wide variety of the salads in the book.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: This laugh-out-loud cookbook is by Jennifer Reese, whose popular cost-benefit experiments are a favorite of her foodie following. She admits that there’s plenty of products that you should buy at the store, and not waste time and money trying to make from scratch. All the recipes in this book are rated for “hassle” and “cost-effectiveness” and are laid out accompanied by anecdotes from Reese’s own kitchen.

Thug Kitchen: This fantastic vegetarian cookbook comes from the wildly popular Thug Kitchen website, which inspires people to take charge of their plates and cook some real food. This book has great tips for how to cook on a budget and experiment on your own with the recipes given. Thug Kitchen’s official cookbook really is, as the back cover says, “an invitation to everyone who wants to do better to elevate their kitchen game.”

Budget Bytes is the perfect cookbook for anyone on a budget! Author Beth Moncel was inspired to create the Budget Bytes blog when she graduated from college during the recession and found herself with very little money… but still wanting to eat healthy. This cookbook version has over 100 easy, delicious recipes that chefs of all levels—and their pocketbooks –will appreciate!

Vegan Eats World: One of the world’s premier vegan chefs, Terry Hope Romero, has collaborated with others on this gem of a cookbook to supply readers with recipes for international vegan dishes of all types. Her adaptations on world favorites to make them vegan are unique and delicious.

The Kinfolk Table is an absolutely stunning cookbook and lifestyle book compiled by the creators of the quarterly journal Kinfolk. With profiles of everyday people from around the world and of how they cook, eat and live, The Kinfolk Table is much more than just a collection of recipes: it is really a piece of art.

Heritage: Chef Sean Brock presents readers with this gorgeous collection of Southern-inspired recipes. He grew up in Appalachia and now lives in Charleston, and both of his Southern homes are reflected in his fantastic recipes. He neatly combines comfort food (easy to make and eat at home) with higher-end dishes (that require more time, effort and presentation), for a book that has something for everyone.

Ripe: This delightful recipe book is organized by colors of fruits and vegetables. Beautiful photographs of the fruits and veggies are followed by recipes and ideas for ways to use each one, from the obvious to the unusual, and each piece of produce is accompanied by a funny blurb from author Cheryl Rule.

The Good Neighbor Cookbook has fabulous ideas for what dishes to bring to any social gathering, from book clubs, to neighborhood potlucks, to recuperating friends or family members. The recipes are easy, and unique enough to be appreciated by everyone!

Beating the Lunch Box Blues: Figuring out what to pack for lunch isn’t just a problem for kids. I’ve definitely struggled keeping my midday meal diverse and healthy over the years. Beating the Lunch Box Blues has tons of great ideas for ways to freshen up your lunch, often with things that one would already have around the house! The format is mostly photos with tips and ideas, rather than specific recipes (although there are some of those, too). A great resource for revamping your lunch, and your day!

Want more user-friendly, interesting cookbooks? Check out this list for more ideas for the kitchen!

RIP Ruth Rendell, Mystery Author


Ruth Rendell, author of the popular Inspector Wexford mystery series, has passed away at age 85. Rendell wrote more than 60 novels in her 50-year writing career, publishing mysteries under the name Ruth Rendell as well as under a pen name, Barbara Vine. Some of her mysteries were also adapted into TV series in Britain.

In Rendell's New York Times obituary, it is noted that the author was among a small group of writers who elevated the formulaic mystery genre to new heights by introducing creative storytelling methods, characters on the fringes of society, and unusual perspectives. Her final book, Dark Corners is slated for publication in October.

Award Winning Audiobook: The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time

The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time. Originally published in 1994, recorded for audio in 2012. 12 hrs. 20 mins.

Awards: Audiofile Magazine's Earphones Award 2010; in print, the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, 1995.

Author: Jonathan Weiner

Narrator: Victor Bevine

Synopsis:
Peter and Rosemary Grant are evolutionary biologists that have observed and studied about 20 generations of the finches living on the island of Daphne Major since 1973. The subjects of their research are a few of the 15 species known as “Darwin’s Finches” - some of the many creatures gathered by Charles Darwin during his voyage on the HMS Beagle . Darwin’s finch specimens were instrumental in the development of his theory of evolution by natural selection, and he discussed the divergence of Galapagos bird species in his book, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Jonathan Weiner’s engaging writing reinforces the premise that change happens continually, and that evolution is ongoing and non-stop. Weiner’s interviews with the Grants fit seamlessly with his other examples of advancing evolution: insect and bacterial resistance to substances once used for control and the pressure of sexual selection and predation on colorful male guppies. The Beak of the Finch is a wonderful introduction for anyone curious about evolution, and Victor Bevine’s narration gives life to the Grant’s mission. I consider this audiobook a personal favorite!

For more information about evolution and natural selection, try these audiobook titles:
Biology: The Science of Life: Part 1 and Part 2 by Stephen Nowicki
On the Origin of Species (abridged) by Charles Darwin
The Joy of Science (Lecture 57) by Robert M. Hazen
Origins of Life: Part 2 of 2 (Lecture 23) by Robert M. Hazen
Evolutionary Biology: The Darwinian Revolution Part 1 by Allen MacNeill

Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own

Kate Bolick’s 2011 Atlantic cover story “All the Single Ladies,” abruptly started a much-needed conversation about the role of single women in America, and about how our increasing numbers are changing contemporary culture. Stating that she “wanted to take advantage of the intimacy that a book offers, and draw the reader into my imaginary life, to better share the nuances of my single experience,” Bolick expanded the article into the recently published book Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own. The book’s premise is that solitude is a thing to treasure, not fear. How do women who are living, working, and aging alone construct meaningful lives? How do single women find a sense of community while also embracing their solitude—be it temporary or permanent? Bolick emphasizes that the number of women living alone in this country continues to increase: we marry later, the divorce rate is high, and life expectancies are getting longer. All these factors contribute to the 50% of women who consider themselves single today.

It’s refreshing to see the typical stereotypes of spinsters—cat ladies, strange aunts, etc—debunked in Bolick’s book. She highlights women like herself who have chosen to put work, friends, hobbies, travel, and other pursuits at the center of their lives. Of course, she also writes candidly about the challenges of a single life. Spinster offers a fresh look at singlehood, and the unique chances that it offers to live our lives authentically.

IAW 2015 Get to Know the Judges: Jennifer Armentrout


Leading up to the It's All Write Teen Short Story Contest celebration on June 7 (mark that on your calendar!), we'll be posting information about the judges who have the difficult task of narrowing down our contestants. Our next judge is Jennifer Armentrout.

Armentrout hails from West Virginia and writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance novels. Under the pen name J. Lynn, she has also written several adult and new adult novels. She enjoys watching bad zombie flicks and spending time with her husband and her Jack Russell named Loki.

The library owns many of Armentrout's books, including the Covenant series (begin with DAIMON) the Lux series (begin with OBSIDIAN), and the Dark Elements series (begin with WHITE HOT KISS). Her stand-alone book DON'T LOOK BACK (2014) was nominated for the 2014 Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA. In it, seventeen-year-old Sam has what she thinks is the perfect life--hot boyfriend, popularity, wealth--until one night she and her best friend Cassie disappear. When Sam returns, she has amnesia: no memory of what has happened or where Cassie is. Realizing she wasn't a very good person before her disappearance, Sam is grateful for the chance to start anew, but snippets of memory are coming back to her, and the more she remembers, the more danger she's in from someone who wants to make sure that night is kept secret forever.

Nature Anatomy: a book for the eye and the mind

The awesome new book Nature Anatomy, by Julia Rothman, is a delight for the eyes and the mind. In it, Rothman takes “the curious parts and pieces of the natural world” and diagrams and explains them beautifully. “If you’ve ever wanted to see how mountains are formed or wondered about the life cycle of a mushroom or the different types of feathers on a bird, you’ll delight in exploring Rothman’s diagrams, drawings and dissections,” reads the back cover of the book. I loved how “un-textbook” Rothman’s work is. Her drawings and explanations are simple, well-placed, and alternatingly cute and beautiful. There is enough detail to really learn about a given subject, but not so much that the casual reader would feel bogged down or bored. Truly, Nature Anatomy is a gem for both the least and the most science-minded.

Rothman is also the author of Farm Anatomy, a similarly designed and equally rewarding read.

Library Lists: Nonfiction for Fiction Readers

I used to spend most of my time reading fiction and would often have to force myself to pick up a nonfiction book, even if it was about a subject I'm truly interested in. There’s so much great nonfiction out there though that sometimes I felt like I’m missing out (and indeed I was)! If you’re interested in reading more nonfiction but still crave the sweeping storylines and character development of novels, the books on this list are a great place to start your delve into the nonfiction world.

Devil in the White City combines the story of the planning and execution of the Chicago World’s Fair with that of a serial killer who targeted his victims throughout the duration of the Fair. The two stories complement one another well, making for a gripping story that reads just like a fictional murder mystery—with the added chills of being real!

Wild is Cheryl’s Strayed’s now famous account of her physical and personal journey hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. After a tough childhood and young adulthood, Strayed makes the decision to hike the PCT as a way to heal her mind and her heart, and to challenge her body. Her account of her journey is riveting and brutal, making for a fast-paced, breathtaking read.

The Tipping Point: Malcom Gladwell is known for his popular books on sociology and psychology. This was his first, and revolves around the psychology of the magical moment when a trend becomes a trend. Also try Outliers and David and Goliath, both also by Gladwell.

The Warren Commission Report: a graphic investigation into the Kennedy assassination is a well-researched and wonderfully designed non-fiction graphic novel. It clearly and concisely presents the all-too-often muddled details of the JFK assassination and ensuing investigation and is a great book for both readers who are generally unfamiliar with the event, and for those who know a great deal about it but want to see the subject presented in a unique manner.

Set in the fascinating, beautiful, mysterious Savannah, Georgia, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil has a cast of characters that are completely unforgettable. The book begins almost as a travel log, with author John Berendt describing unique details about Savannah and offering interesting historical facts about the city and surrounding area to readers. These chapters are so engrossing, that it’s easy to forget that the book actually becomes a true crime story. When that turning point does occur, it happens subtly and smoothly, and the book slides gracefully from a Southern narrative to a revealing look at a strange and unlikely murder mystery.

In I Wear the Black Hat, cultural critic Chuck Klosterman theorizes about how the modern world understands the concept of villainy. Why are some villains lauded as anti-heroes while others, who have often committed lesser crimes, destined to be hated by the masses until the end of time? Find out in this witty, culturally relevant analysis of mass media.

Since its publication in the late 1990s, The Boys of Summer has been a favorite of sports lovers everywhere. Roger Kahn, the “dean of American sports writers,” shares his stories of growing up down the street from Ebbets Field, and delves deeply into the history of the Brooklyn Dodgers leading up to their 1955 win of the World Series. Kahn then tracks the fascinating stories of the players as they age and move beyond their baseball-playing years. A great read for fans of baseball, history, Americana, or all of the above.

Women in Clothes is a unique, almost artistic piece. Compiled by four friends, the book includes advice and anecdotes from over six hundred women and dwells on not just what we wear but on all the elements of style. As the back cover reads, Women in Clothes is “an exploration into the questions we ask ourselves while getting dressed every day.”

Desert Solitaire is Edward Abbey’s classic recount of his time spent in the wilderness of the American southwest. The book is adventurous, passionate, poetic, and clever. Its ongoing popularity is a testament to its timelessness… and its ability to allow readers to experience a place that, for the most part, no longer exists.

A Short History of Nearly Everything is a scientific odyssey like no other by beloved author Bill Bryson. In this book, he attempts to understand everything—and impart his understanding to readers—from the Big Bang to the rise of civilizations. He takes challenging subjects: geology, physics, astronomy, paleontology… and does his best to make them understandable to people who, like himself, were rendered bored or terrified of science in school.

There are even more great books for the reluctant nonfiction reader on this more extensive list!

Large Print Materials-Easier on the Eyes

Perhaps you've realized that your eye sight isn't what it used to be. You don't need to give up reading, if that's the case, because AADL has a Large Print collection that can be mailed to eligible patrons as Free Matter for the Blind.

If large print is still difficult to read, you may want to consider submitting an application to the Washtenaw Library for the Blind & Physically Disabled. AADL administers the WLBPD to all eligible Washtenaw County residents. This program provides Digital Books and a Digital Player at no cost.

Are you my mummy?

Do you enjoy reading about mummies from Egypt? Are you fascinated by the Terracotta Warriors of China? If so, you should check out At Home in Her Tomb-Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui by Christine Liu-Perkins. In 1972, a tomb was discovered in Mawangdui in Hunan Province. Deep inside was Lady Dai, who died more than 2000 years ago but who was perfectly preserved, along with clothing, games, lacquer dishes, and even food! Her tomb led to many discoveries about life in ancient China and this book brings both the archaeology process and Lady Dai herself to life.

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