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Bread Illustrated: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving Bakery-Quality Results at Home

The Editors at America’s Test Kitchen. America’s Test Kitchen, $29.95 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-1-940352-60-2

America’s Test Kitchen employed its usual exhaustive testing process for the recipes in this comprehensive guide to creating bread in the home kitchen. Each action that is vital to conquering the art of bread baking is broken down and photographed each step of the way, including mixing, kneading, rising, dividing and shaping, baking, cooling, and storing. After the basics are mastered in “Starting from Scratch,” which includes recipes for “Almost No-Knead” bread and monkey bread, graduation to honors class takes place. At this point, more complex techniques are outlined, and the authors explain how to use different flours to bake beautiful loaves of artisanal bread. As the reader progresses through each chapter, the more detailed the projects become. The beginner bread maker will benefit from the basics; the more experienced baker can start with sandwich breads or move forward to morning buns. The final chapter, “Raising the Bar,” covers recipes that involve a time commitment, such as New York-style bagels or croissants. With 1,000 photos and the expertise of the America’s Test Kitchen editors, this title might be the definitive book on bread baking. Photos. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Rye Baker: Classic Breads from Europe and America

Stanley Ginsberg. Norton, $35 (384p) ISBN 978-0-393-24521-9

Author and baker Ginsberg champions the often overlooked rye in this collection of more than 70 recipes. Chapters are broken down by region—spanning the U.S. and Europe—and include “Immigrant Break: America,” “The Essential Loaf: France and Spain,” “Robust and Complex: Holland, Denmark, and Northern Germany,” and “Dark and Intense: Russia and the Baltics.” A primer on ingredients and equipment and a history of rye prepare the reader to dive into staple recipes including “Old-School Deli Rye”, rye biscuits, and sweet-sour rye bread. The humble grass grown as a grain gets turned up a notch with the lovely, French triple-folded Breton folded rye, Frisian gingerbread from the North Sea coast of Holland, and honey-flaxseed crispbread from Sweden. Recipe layout includes charts and breakdowns for timing such as the “Day 1, Evening, Wheat Sponge” stage and the “Day 2, Morning, Final Dough” stage for an Auvergine rye-wheat boule that sits overnight “to unlock hidden flavors.” Full-page photos of perfectly baked, crisp-crusted loaves are sure to entice home bakers to delve into this meticulously written title that celebrates all things rye. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Modified: GMOs and the Threat to Our Food, Our Land, Our Future

Caitlin Shetterly. Putnam, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-399-17067-6

In this alarming journalistic work, Shetterly (Made for You and Me) investigates genetically modified organisms, their associated pesticides, and the biotech megacorporations that produce and sell them. Shetterly begins by detailing her own debilitating but undiagnosed illness, which only abated after an allergist suggested that she had “developed a reaction to genetically modified corn” and she followed his advice to eliminate corn from her diet. This work, a follow-up to Shetterly’s piece for Elle magazine describing that experience, is structured around visits to a few people on both sides of the issue of the use of genetically modified crops as well as her additional research to understand more about GMOs and what is at stake. That turns out to be billions of dollars, and, more broadly, public health. For example, many genetically modified crops are created to be “Roundup Ready” so that they will survive the application of the Roundup pesticide, which by no coincidence is also sold by Monsanto, the producer of the seeds. This troubling conflict of interest is exacerbated by a complete lack of transparency; the biotech giants conducting the studies that claim their products are safe don’t make that research publicly available. Shetterly’s accessible, well-researched, and damning work brings clarity to an often fuzzy debate. Agent: Lisa Grubka, Fletcher & Co. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 07/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World

Devorah Heitner. Bibliomotion, $19.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-62956-145-5

Acknowledging the impossibility of fully sheltering children from the world of digital media, Heitner (Connecting Wisely in the Digital Age), founder and director of the consultancy Raising Digital Natives, provides guidance for parents navigating this ever-changing landscape. She covers common concerns about children of different ages, from preschool to young adult, and even looks at how the digital world influences adults. Heitner also reports that researchers have found that “the number of young people who produce as well as consume content has risen dramatically,” even among those as young as five. She suggests that parents and educators shouldn’t monitor a child’s every move but should act as guides and mentors, helping children make good decisions and fostering their creativity. Heitner reminds readers that children learn by example, advising parents to break the habit of checking cellphones constantly and to join their children in playing digital games. She pairs examples from what she has found working with families in her consulting firm with research in the field, such as into the ways kids use social media. This book provides useful advice for the parents of children of all ages and will serve well as a guide to help the different generations communicate, in person or online. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Do Parents Matter? Why Japanese Babies Sleep Soundly, Mexican Siblings Don’t Fight, and American Families Should Just Relax

Robert A. and Sarah LeVine. PublicAffairs, $25.99 (372p) ISBN 978-1-61039-723-0

Harvard anthropologists Robert and Sarah LeVine examine parenting practices around the world in this illuminating and incisive text that aims for a fresh view of parenting in a wider context. The couple asserts that if parents in the U.S. knew more about how children are raised in other lands, they might forgo some of the “burdens” imposed by American culture and so-called experts. In one telling example (among many) the authors note that although bed-sharing is deemed dangerous by the American Academy of Pediatrics, throughout the world co-sleeping is quite commonplace. In Japan, they point out, where co-sleeping is universal, the infant mortality rate is among the world’s lowest, and the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is roughly half that of the U.S. And, while American parents stress over toilet training, many other cultures have a relaxed but effective approach. The authors’ survey leads them to assert that there is no “single pattern of parenting provided by evolution or historical necessity.” American readers will find the variety fascinating, whether or not they’re inspired to discard their cribs and nappies. Agent: Erika Storella, Gernert Company. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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ADHD Nation: Children, Doctors, Big Pharma, and the Making of an American Epidemic

Alan Schwarz. Scribner, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5011-0591-3

New York Times reporter Schwarz (Once upon a Game) shifts from sports injury, about which he wrote a Pulitzer-nominated series, to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in this sweeping critique. He finds that the use of stimulants for an initially small number of unmanageable children with “minimal brain dysfunction” was “commandeered by Big Pharma,” leading to 11% of American children, and a growing number of adults, being diagnosed with ADHD. Schwartz primarily blames the marketing of medications direct to consumers, despite the associated side effects and risks of addiction. The calm, incisive side of Schwarz’s investigative style dominates as he traces the development of drugs, treatment protocols, and public messages over the last 40 years, but sensationalism overwhelms the reader in the cautionary tales of Jamison Monroe, who faked ADHD to maintain his Adderall addiction before being “scared straight” into founding treatment center Newport Academy, and pseudonymous Kristin Parber, who went from reluctant Ritalin user to alcoholic and addict. Nevertheless, Schwarz’s grounding in the viewpoint of Dr. Keith Connors, a pioneering ADHD researcher turned medication skeptic, makes it impossible to confuse Schwarz’s interest—exposing the role of drug companies in shaping a society-wide issue—with a disbelief in the concept of ADHD overall. Agent: David Black, David Black Agency. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Bold Dry Garden: Lessons from the Ruth Bancroft Garden

Johanna Silver, photos by Marion Brenner. Timber, $34.95 (236p) ISBN 978-1-60469-670-7

Combining biography of the dry garden’s pioneer with a landscaper’s guide, Silver, a garden editor for Sunset magazine, and photographer Brenner tour the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, Calif., and discuss the life and work of its creator and namesake. Bancroft, a centenarian , is considered a pioneer of the dry garden in both horticulture and design. The book highlights how this peculiar type of garden can thrive in the desert’s extreme conditions with very little water. The standard image summoned for a desert garden is the cactus, and there are plenty in this book, along with various combinations of cultivars of the agave, bromeliads, sedums, wildflowers, irises, palm, and eucalyptus trees (naming a few). In conjunction with Bancroft’s time-tested expertise, the disparate parts of a desolate landscape become a unified whole, exploding with color and texture. The key to transforming dry ground into a thriving garden involves making good use of the land itself, especially rocks, which lend ballast and form and offer optimal growing conditions for stonecrop favorites such as the sempervivum. Replete with brilliant color photography, this hopeful book will win over anyone who doubts that a desolate landscape can support thriving life. Color photos. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 07/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Vegan Way: 21 Days to a Happier, Healthier Plant-Based Lifestyle That Will Transform Your Home, Your Diet, and You

Jackie Day. St. Martin’s Griffin, $24.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-08771-3

Activist and first-time author Day, who is passionate about animal welfare, explains everything readers ever wanted to know about living the vegan lifestyle and sprinkles in some appetizing recipes. At an early age, Day realized that she could no longer continue hurting animals by eating them and began her mission of following a way of life that satisfied her ethical principles. Writing in a playful and upbeat fashion, Day guides her readers through a day-by-day approach to living vegan, providing them the incentive to make the switch from eating meat, eggs, and dairy to enjoying plant-based cuisine. If her slew of suggestions—vegan-friendly fast-food restaurants, “cruelty-free” cosmetics, and vegan beer—do not convince, then surely the catalog of vegan-friendly airports and vegan-conscious leisure activities will validate Day’s central claim: that being a vegan is both practical and fun. For those interested in becoming acquainted with “the vegan way,” this book marvelously succeeds. Agent: Steve Troha and Dado Derviskadic, Folio Literary Management. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 07/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Strong Is the New Beautiful: Embrace Your Natural Beauty, Eat Clean, and Harness Your Power

Lindsey Vonn. Dey Street, $27.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-240058-1

Highly decorated Alpine skier Vonn, in her debut book, imparts accessible and adaptable diet and fitness truths distilled from years of training. She emphasizes getting strong over losing weight, and eating right over eating less. For street cred, Vonn goes over her own challenges with dieting, unhealthy eating, body image insecurities, and almost career-ending injuries, and for added heft cites research studies. Beauty and self-acceptance at any shape are hallmarks of her thinking. Devoid of calorie counting and strict regimentation, the book’s adaptable approach relies on a few dietary principles: eat “clean, healthy, balanced, and whole”; reduce processed foods and refined sugar; and splurge in moderation. Vonn shares her favorite foods and simple recipes, which are measurement-free and minimal in preparation instructions, all with an air of inviting readers to find what works best for them. In the same vein, she urges people to find exercises they enjoy, explaining how she relies on cycling in place of running—which she detests—as her main aerobic activity. A list of “my 65 favorite get-strong exercises” rounds out the book, most requiring no more than free weights or a yoga ball. Vonn has created an inspiring narrative, along with a seductive means of getting healthy and fit. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 07/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Curated Closet: A Simple System for Discovering Your Personal Style and Building Your Dream Wardrobe

Anuschka Rees. Ten Speed, $24.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-60774-948-6

Lifestyle blogger Rees’s first book, based on the blog Into Mind, is a fun and practical guide to discovering one’s personal style. The goal is for women to easily choose an outfit that they like every single morning, to wear a large portion of clothes from their closet, and to be able to dress for their own lifestyles. Focusing on what one likes to wear and what one does most often, Rees provides a variety of methods to achieve a wardrobe that works. To begin, readers are encouraged to document their own outfits for two weeks (taking a photograph every day), observing their favorite and least favorite looks, colors, fits, and garments. From there, Rees advises readers on how to revitalize their personal style and build a fully wearable wardrobe. The book uses simple but eye-opening graphics to emphasize its points, such as side-by-side pie charts comparing lifestyle to current wardrobe. Refreshing and thorough, Rees delivers a fashion-forward guide that’s awesomely sensible. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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