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Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World

Michele Borba. Touchstone, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5011-1003-0

Parenting expert Borba (Building Moral Intelligence) traveled the world and researched for decades before writing this fresh and powerful primer on raising caring kids. The book came into focus, she explains, while she was visiting the Cambodian killing fields outside Phnom Penh. Her resultant goal—find out what causes inhumanity and how to stop it—led her to visit Dachau, Auschwitz, and Rwanda, as well as school classrooms. By consulting current research, she discovered that a strong sense of empathy is not only a moral imperative, but also an advantage in attaining health, happiness, and career success. In separate chapters, Borba presents nine essential empathetic skills: emotional literacy, moral identity, perspective talking, moral imagination, self-regulation, practicing kindness, collaboration, moral courage, and compassionate leadership abilities. In each section, she provides a wealth of exercises, activities, and age-by-age strategies to help parents nurture empathy—a trait, she stresses, that is not innate but can be taught and developed. With narcissism and self-absorption on the rise in our digital age, she argues, this trait is in danger. Her thought- provoking and practical book may very well tip over the parenting priority applecart—and rightly so. Agent: Joëlle Delbourgo, Joëlle Delbourgo Associates. (June)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Born to Be Wild: Hundreds of Free Nature Activities for Families

Hattie Garlick. Bloomsbury, $22 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4729-1533-7

Journalist Garlick, also a mother of two, provides simple instructions for hundreds of activities that parents can do with young children outdoors. This chatty guide is meant as a jumping-off point, as Garlick convincingly shows that wild places contain endless opportunities for fun. The photographs—depicting children focusing deeply on feathers, exhibiting plucky happiness as they galumph through a meadow, or sweetly embracing yoga poses—will make readers of all ages antsy to get started. Garlick begins with a basic toolkit, listing helpful ordinary household items (such as scissors, rubber bands, ribbons, and old cardboard scraps) and including general guidelines for “nurturing nature instead of knocking it about.” The activities are organized first by season and then by material. Spring, for example, includes numerous ways to play with grass (build a nest, make a grass crown, etc.), and the autumn season makes use of acorns and pinecones (build an acorn man, make a conker mobile). Some activities are quick fixes (e.g., roll down a hill); others require an afternoon’s time or a day trip to the beach. Nature and imagination are a potent combination, exposing children to all sorts of delights, and this book provides endless remedies to the indoorsiness of urban life. (May)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Sew Happy: Stitch Yourself Stylish with 25 Step-by-Step Projects

Karin Ziegler. DK, $14.95 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-46545-124-8

The idiosyncratic offerings in this beautifully executed manual by German fashionista Ziegler, who founded the brand Blutsgeschwister, will particularly appeal to younger sewers who might find typical pattern books a bit too fusty and conservative. The first chapters introduce sewing basics, examining the tools that provide the foundation of “successful sewing” and providing a primer on sewing machine capabilities. Ziegler guides beginners on how to use pattern chart sheets and different types of stitches. She breaks down her whimsical aesthetic for readers with briefs on Breton stripes, polka dots of many sizes, all manner of checks, and florals. Particularly helpful sections include pattern making, suggestions on adapting a pattern if a garment doesn’t fit, and a showcase of a wide variety of necklines. With instructions for heart-shaped pockets, fabric hammocks, and even a fabric-covered hula hoop, this book guides readers to not only a fun wardrobe but a fun lifestyle to boot. (May)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Garden Awakening: Designs to Nurture Our Land and Ourselves

Mary Reynolds. Green Books (IPG, dist.), $39.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-85784-313-5

Reynolds, a longtime garden designer, awoke one day to the realization that she could not go on as she had, creating “dead zones” by constraining nature to her will. This treatise-cum-storybook explores her spiritual awakening and reconnection of gardens with nature. She designed her book as a guide to give gardeners “a gentle nudge in the right direction”: that is, back to nature, toward truth. Headnotes in both English and Gaelic emphasize Reynolds’s connection to her native Ireland, which she depicts as a land of sacred places, geometry, symbols, curses, and magic. Her directions take a holistic approach, going beyond practical advice to spiritual guidance; she claims that gardening can show the gardener what needs working on in life itself. Reynolds offers alternative methods of land management beyond chemical therapy. She alternates stories of her family and culture with organized layouts, how-tos, and recipes (for example: natural fungi-, herbi- and insecticides). She encourages adding fauna to flora along with imagination, dreams, charms, and memory. Ruth Evans’s illustrations add resonance. Color illus. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Every Body’s Guide to Everyday Pain

Ya-Ling J. Liou. Return to Health Press, $23.95 (322p) ISBN 978-0-991-30940-5

In the first volume of a projected trilogy, Seattle chiropractor Liou presents a holistic approach to understanding, managing, and avoiding recurring pain. This veritable user’s manual for “every body” ably explains why we get hurt and what we can do about it. The book is divided into three sections. “Why Does It Hurt?” explains that inflammation, while generally “self-limiting and simply part and parcel of a healthy repair process,” produces chemicals that build up and “simmer” in the body until brought to a boil by one or more of three possible triggers: mechanical, chemical, and emotional. Mechanical triggers include compression or lengthening of the spine and supporting musculature; chemical triggers include low pH of lymphatic fluid, molecular repair of injured tissues, and cellular waste back-up; and emotional triggers include stress and self-image. “How Do I Make It Stop?” prescribes “stop, drop, and roll” floor exercises to put out the “fire” of inflammation, with illustrative photos and drawings. “How Do I Keep It from Happening Again?” includes over 50 pages of photos illustrating correct and incorrect posture. The conclusion caps off Liou’s many helpful suggestions by reminding readers that once the initial discomfort is gone, continuing efforts are needed to stay balanced and pain-free. (Booklife)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga: The Yoga Professional’s Guide to a Fulfilling Career

Amy Ippoliti and Taro Smith. New World Library (PGW, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-60868-227-0

Yoga teachers Ippoliti and Smith, founders of the online training course “90 Minutes to Change the World,” have partnered for this sensible, nuts-and-bolts career guide. Noting that yoga in the U.S. continues to grow and flourish (up from 20.4 million American practitioners in 2012 to 36.7 million in 2016), the authors observe that along with greater demand for qualified teachers comes the reality that it’s harder to “stand out.” The book aims to help instructors not only to hone their teaching but also to learn how to market and promote themselves, all while respecting the balance between yoga as an ancient and venerable practice and yoga as a plausible way to make a decent living. Ippoliti and Smith present their text in three parts: “Becoming a Teacher,” “Getting Down to Business” and “Teaching Well.” The dense, rich center section covers such topics as social media, managing finances, building a student base, forming strong relationships with students and other teachers, and starting and maintaining a successful studio. Yoga teachers will find plenty of creative and practical ideas for building a viable and rewarding (though rarely lucrative) career that may offer such unusual perks as inner peace and self-awareness. (June)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Roar: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life

Stacy T. Sims. Rodale, $18.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-62336-686-5

Exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist Sims presents women with an enlightening guide to fueling and strengthening themselves for peak fitness. As a former athlete, Sims knows firsthand the dangers of following regimens designed for men; her maxim is “women are not small men.” In part one, Sims covers the basics of female physiology in easily comprehended terms, exploring topics such as body mass distribution and a woman’s capacity for cardio and endurance. She demystifies each phase of the menstrual cycle so that women can leverage the phase they’re in to their advantage; this section also includes a chapter on menopause. Part two focuses on how a woman builds weight, core strength, gut health, and strong bones, complete with how-to exercises and sample plans. Part three covers daily and sport-specific fueling, hydration, recovery, and handling extreme conditions. This book is a must for female athletes. (July)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Studio Olafur Eliasson: The Kitchen

Olafur Eliasson. Phaidon, $49.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7148-7111-0

Artist Eliasson wasn’t planning on creating an amazing, collaborative vegetarian dining experience when he installed a kitchen in his Berlin architecture and design studio 13 years ago. What was supposed to be a simple source for lunches blossomed into an experience that incorporates and references its environment, a sumptuous blend of food and design elegantly displayed here. The design experience begins with the book’s cover, a black-and-white image of team members sitting down to lunch, with only the food displayed in brilliant color. It’s a theme that runs throughout the tome. From a food perspective, the book is an approachable compilation of vegetarian comfort food, sourced from chefs Asako Iwama and Lauren Maurer as well as employees. The team offers a sensible, approachable mix of everyday dishes (penne with ginger and tomatoes, chocolate hazelnut cookies, spinach and Parmesan polenta, massaman curry) that are well within the abilities of even novice cooks. These recipes are interspersed with images and dishes from various events held at the complex (often items that can be prepped ahead of time, such as flan with caramel sauce). Essays, photo montages, poems, and short vignettes highlight the team’s green efforts, including composting, and offer tips on growing your own vegetables. This truly stunning effort is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the stomach. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Travel, Surf, Cook

Johannes Riffelmacher and Thomas Kosikowski. Andrews McMeel, $29.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4494-7121-7

In a book that’s part travelogue, part cookbook, and all outstanding, Riffelmacher and Kosikowski share their ups and downs— close calls with police officers over real and imagined slights, and plenty of shared meals with friends new and old—as they make their way through the crowded street markets of Cuba and Nicaragua. Kosikowski’s gritty color images give the book a real sense of place; his vision and voice are consistent whether he’s photographing beef tongue tacos, local vendors and fishermen, the Costa Rican jungle, the reptilian inhabitants of Galapagos, or fellow surfers. The book’s culinary component allows readers to experience the authors’ trip via smell and taste. Recipes cover peasant and street food such as “Rooftop Lentil Soup” from Cuba; Mexican street tacos that incorporate everything from beef and lamb to scallops and mushrooms; and Ecuadorian empanadas. More impressive dishes include grilled vegetable teriyaki salad with cilantro sauce and walnuts, and ceviche (“THE culinary discovery of our trip”), which merits multiple entries. Skating and surfing reports are provided for each locale, and nomad surfers will appreciate the latitude and longitude coordinates the duo provide for remote locations, salient advice on travel safety (sometimes a few “friendly but pointed” Spanish phrases helped dissuade corrupt cops, but play it smart), and recipes for must-have condiments (rum-based ketchup, pesto, salsa verde) as well as surf wax. Riffelmacher and Kosikowski are smart, enthusiastic, and humble hosts on an epic trip that’s well worth taking. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Project Smoke

Steven Raichlen. Workman, $22.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7611-8186-6

Raichlen begins this work, a companion cookbook to his latest TV series, with a sage observation: “Smoking is easy, but it isn’t always simple.” Employing a variety of charts and instructional photos, he offers a path to glory with his “Seven Steps to Smoking Nirvana,” where such topics as proper choice of wood and correct steps for lighting a fire are meditated upon. For good measure, he adds his 10 commandments of smoking (such as “Low and slow is the way to go”). Then, the recipes. To be clear, this is all smoke all the time with everything; even the coleslaw, the cocktails, and the ice cream get the smoke treatment. Give Raichlen a round of mozzarella and he’ll lay it onto lit coals, imparting a smoky flavor to the cheese before it has time to melt. Pork shoulder and beef ribs are among the many classic grillables offered, and Raichlen discusses the merits of wrapping a brisket in foil during smoking—a technique known as the Texas crutch. (May)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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