Friday, May 31, 2013


Until that moment, Silas had thought he knew what dark was-the simple absence of light. He thought that he understood it. He even thought that he had experienced it before. But as he rounded the first riser of stairs and continued up, step by step, he and darkness were forced into new intimacy. He came to understand that darkness was not just a lack but a thing, that it possessed mass, that it can be felt on your skin, that it can be a burden you carry. 
He knew then, with a certainty he could feel in his bones, exactly what had motivated his ancient ancestors when they first gathered around that very thing that the rest of creation fled from. It hadn't been to cook, or to harden spear points. Those things had come later. Heat was just a collateral benefit. Man had mastered fire simply to push the darkness away.
by Ted Kosmatka
Del Rey, 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

New Stokes Birding Guide

Available in Eastern and Western volumes, The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds features over 4,600 North American bird species with stunning color photographs.

Each guide includes:

* the newest scientific and common names and phylogenetic order
* special help for identifying birds in flight through important clues of behavior, plumage, and shape
* detailed descriptions of songs and calls
* important behavioral information and key habitat preferences
* the newest range maps, detailing species' winter, summer, year-round ranges, and migration routes

by Donald Stokes and Lillian Stokes
Little, Brown and Company, 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

New Guide to Kentucky BBQ

Kentucky's culinary fame may have been built on bourbon and fried chicken, but the Commonwealth has much to offer the barbecue enthusiast.

The Kentucky Barbecue Book is a feast for readers who are eager to sample the finest fare in the state.

From the banks of the Mississippi to the hidden hollows of the Appalachian Mountains, author and barbecue enthusiast Wes Berry hit the trail in search of the best smoke, the best flavor, and the best pitmasters he could find. This handy guide presents the most succulent menus and colorful personalities in Kentucky.

While other states are better known for their 'cue, the Kentucky style is distinct because of its use of mutton and traditional cooking methods. Many of the establishments featured in this book are dedicated to the time-honored craft of cooking over hot hardwood coals inside cinderblock pits. Time intensive and dangerous, these traditions are disappearing as methods requiring less manpower, less wood, and less skill gain ground. Pick up a copy of this book and hit the road before these great places are gone.

The Kentucky Barbecue Book
by Wes Berry
The University Press of Kentucky, 2013

Guidebooks and How-to Titles
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Friday, May 10, 2013

Reading the History: The Age of Edison

University of Tennessee historian Ernest Freeberg recounts the story of Thomas Edison’s light bulb invention and how it revolutionized the world, illuminating cities and expanding workdays, invigorating new industries and changing the way people the world over live their lives.

It is also the story of how Edison single-handedly (and this may be his greatest invention) came up with a new style of inventing, using a coordinated program of scientific research and product development that systematically solves problems and pragmatically develops products to market.

While Edison is credited with inventing the incandescent light bulb, this book makes clear that it was a collective achievement. Edison and his fellow inventors created a technology with transformative applications far beyond their dreams, from billboards and night clubs and amusement parks to hospitals and highways and factories.

Freeberg's history helps us imagine a time, not so long ago, when "a light to hold the night at bay" was an awesome wonder, offering "liberation from one of the primordial limits imposed by nature on the human will."

The Age of Edison
Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America
by Ernest Freeberg
Penguin Press, 2013

Artwork: Thomas Edison with the first light bulbs

Out of the Past
History and American West Titles
Outrider Reading Group
Outrider Books

Monday, May 6, 2013

Thinking Like A Plant

"To live and to think in and from the middle, like a plant partaking of light and of darkness, is not to be confined to the dialectical twilight, where philosophy paints "its grey on grey." It is, rather to refashion oneself - one's thought and one's existence - into a bridge between divergent elements: to become a place where the sky communes with the earth and light encounters but does not dispel darkness."
 Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life by Michael Marder

Artwork: Reaching for the Light
Outrider Books
Outrider Reading Group
Second Nature
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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Review: Picnic

This book offers menus, recipes and planning suggestions for 29 portable repasts, from an "After the Wedding" Brunch Picnic to a Workday Picnic. Arranged seasonally, the suggested picnics cover all 12 months of the year, beginning with a Spring Day-Hike Picnic and progressing to a Summer Canoe Picnic, an Autumn Beach Picnic and then, in winter, an Apres-Ski Picnic.

Picnics are usually associated with lazy Sunday afternoon trips to the seashore or a riverside park and a hamper full of sandwiches, cold meats and lemonade.

125 Recipes with 29 Seasonal Menus  
by DeeDee Stovel 
Storey Books, 2001
continued in The Book Stall
Reviews Archive
Picnic Check Napkins

Friday, May 3, 2013

Review: Vodka

Does the word "vodka" derive from the Russian "voda," meaning water, or the Polish "wodka," derived from "woda," or water? Historians from the two countries will argue incessantly on the origins of the world's favorite liquor, which almost certainly originated somewhere in Eastern Europe during  the 14th or 15th century.

This new volume in The Edible Series of Reaktion Books explores how a rather unremarkable liquid -- pure alcohol distilled from grain -- became such a potent spirit, both culturally and economically. Once a humble drink known only to Eastern Europeans, it is now the most popular liquor in both the U.S. and Britain, and probably the world.

A Global History
by Patricia Herlihy
Reaktion Books, 2013
continued in The Book Stall

good spirits & fine liqueurs
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