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Close to Om: Stretching Yoga from Your Mat to Your Life

Andrea Marcum. St. Martin’s Griffin, $19.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-250-12759-4

L.A. yoga teacher Marcum brings her reflective, challenging yoga perspective and practice to the page in this inspiring guide for both beginners and seasoned practitioners. Marcum grew up in Santa Cruz, Calif., a “lard-ass” gymnast who suffered from weight issues and self-loathing. Restless and on a “neurotic quest,” she stumbled into a yoga class and was hooked. This text melds yoga poses and sequences with yoga philosophy. Readers will learn about how to settle into a downward dog as well as the meaning of the various yoga tenets such as pratyahara (going inward) and satya (truthfulness). Marcum intersperses wisdom from such revered ancient texts as the Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali’s yoga sutras with wisecracks, amusing anecdotes, and useful instructions and illustrative photos, oft repeating the phrase “How you do your yoga is how you do your life.” Tales from her life (about the first yoga class she taught, to two students, one of whom walked out; her days as a songwriter; how she met her husband) give this vibrant memoir-cum-manual a personal and accessible yogic touch. Agent: Jane von Mehren, Aevitas Creative Management. (Jan. 2018)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Jennifer’s Way Kitchen

Jennifer Esposito, with Eve Adamson. Grand Central Life & Style, $30 (304) ISBN 978-1-4555-9671-3

Esposito’s second cookbook (after Jennifer’s Way) offers as much education about health and wellness as it does about food and cooking. Inspired by her diagnosis with celiac disease, Esposito focuses on controlling and eradicating inflammation by not using ingredients such as gluten, eggs, dairy, and refined sugars. The cookbook is divided into three sections: “Pure,” “Clean,” and “Indulgent.” The “Pure” section, which includes recipes for a pizza crust made from plantains and one for turkey-apple breakfast sausage, aims to help readers detoxify their bodies and rid themselves of allergy symptoms. “Clean,” with recipes for pumpkin biscuits with bacon and maple syrup, Grandma’s Stuffed Artichokes, and a pork tenderloin with cranberry chutney, focuses on the maintenance of digestive and overall health. As its name suggests, recipes in the “Indulgent” category are richer dishes that won’t cause inflammation, such as Jennifer’s Famous BBQ Baby Back Ribs; pumpkin hazelnut chocolate chip pancakes; baked wild salmon in parchment (with zucchini, spinach, and portobello mushrooms); and a filet mignon that is served with arugula, fresh tomatoes, and good olive oil. In conjunction with these recipes, Esposito also recommends two detoxifying DIY bath soaks and a facial mask to help readers care for themselves when they are dealing with adverse reactions to food. This solid foray into allergen-free cooking is packed with information that can help those with dietary problems. Agent: Alex Glass, Glass Literary Management. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Rasika: Flavors of India

Ashok Bajaj, Vikram Sunderam, and David Hagedorn. Ecco, $34.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-0624-3555-2

Bajaj, a restaurateur, and Sunderam, a James Beard Award–winning chef, head up the noted Washington, D.C., restaurant Rasika. Together, along with writer Hagedorn, they share their approach to food as well as the recipes behind the restaurant’s success in this splendid celebration of Indian cuisine. While they emphasize using local, seasonal ingredients, their strength centers on reinterpreting traditional dishes with new twists. The authors provide a lengthy and enlightening look at the foundations of Rasika’s cooking and include lists of frequent ingredients, key vegetables, cooking oils, and useful utensils. They offer a valuable chapter on basic flavorings and sauces such as toasted cumin powder, crispy fried onions, and peri-peri paste, which are used in a variety of dishes including tikkis, biryanis, and vindaloo. Appetizers are unique, such as masala popcorn and crispy fried spinach with tomato, onion, tamarind, and yogurt. The chapter on vegetables is outstanding, offering up butternut-squash bharta; okra with mango powder; and green pea and paneer scramble. Additional chapters center on fish and seafood; poultry, game, and meat; and tandoori-style grilling. The authors include numerous chutneys and flavorful desserts, among them chai masala crème caramel and white chocolate rice pudding. Vibrant full-color photos accompany most dishes, many of which are vegan. Innovative yet familiar, this collection offers many excellent, appetizing recipes home cooks are sure to embrace. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Munchies: Late-Night Meals from the World’s Best Chefs

JJ Goode, Helen Hollyman, and the editors of Munchies. Ten Speed, $30 (264p) ISBN 978-0-39958-008-6

There is a lot to unpack on the title page alone of this wide-ranging collection of upscale recipes. Munchies is Vice Media’s food website and Hollyman is Munchies’ editor-in-chief. Chef’s Night Out is the long-running Munchies video series from which these recipes and accompanying chef profiles and tales are culled. Goode, having coauthored some of the more notable cookbooks of the past 10 years, including Pok Pok (featuring Andy Ricker) and A Girl and Her Pig (featuring April Bloomfield), adds vitality to the prose. However, instead of transporting the reader to exciting after-hours excursions, the single-page recipe introductions of some 65 chefs, including Anthony Bourdain and David Chang, too often read like synopses of the Chef’s Night Out videos (“Even though Andrew McConnell is a big reason we dig dining in Melbourne, one of his friends totally stole the show,” the authors write). Meanwhile, illustrator Justin Hager brings many of the chefs to life with fun drawings, including one of Bloomfield playing a game of chicken-liver beer pong. The chefs themselves serve up some dynamic sandwiches, main dishes, and desserts. New York restaurateur Phet Schwader weighs in with a beer-and-butter-spiked crab in black-bean sauce, while Callie Speer of Austin, Tex., keeps things weird with goat poutine served with a red-eye gravy made from lard, Tabasco sauce, and instant coffee. Readers will certainly gravitate to the cocktails chapter, which includes a Cajun coquito from New Orleans bartender Abigail Gullo. The accessible recipes in this witty and fun book will satisfy cravings, day or night. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Bobby Flay Fit: 200 Recipes for a Healthy Lifestyle

Bobby Flay. Clarkson Potter, $32.50 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-34593-4

TV personality, restaurateur, and author Flay (Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction, etc.) shows readers how to create 200 healthy dishes using many of his signature flavors and methods, proving that healthy food doesn’t have to be bland or boring. Creative riffs on mainstays such as roasted peach and pistachio smoothies, red curry cauliflower soup with cauliflower croutons, spicy black-bean-lime hummus, and mustard-marinated kale salad with caramelized onion and spicy chickpeas give readers plenty of ideas to spice up their dishes. Snacks to stave off between-meal hunger pangs include raspberry-white-peach granola poppers and roasted chickpeas. Flay’s Greek fish tacos with grape-tomato relish and tzatziki cream, pomegranate and chile glazed pork carnitas, and grilled flank steak with cucumber kimchi in lettuce leaves promise to be crowd-pleasers. Even with a dozen cookbooks to his name, Flay still has plenty of flavor-packed, approachable dishes up his sleeve, as proven by this solid assemblage of healthy fare fit for all tastes and skill levels. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Crushing It in Apartments and Commercial Real Estate: How a Small Investor Can Make It Big

Brian H. Murray. Sackets Harbor, $24 (340p) ISBN 978-0-99838-162-6

Murray, founder of an upstate–New York real-estate-investment company, begins with a disclaimer that he accepts no responsibility for the information he presents. His advice, however, is generally sound as he sets out a clear, detailed traditional approach to acquiring and managing small apartment buildings and commercial properties. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. Rather, the book details a careful buy-and-hold strategy that relies on adding value to properties and reinvesting positive cash flow. Information about analyzing properties, working with lenders, managing difficult tenants, and growing in scale is well presented. Examples from Murray’s experience are used throughout; an extended case study about one property in Murray’s portfolio, a trouble-plagued but ultimately successful apartment building, nicely illustrates his approach. Less useful are two borderline-generic chapters about maintaining work-life balance and continuing one’s financial education. There are also several glaring omissions. Murray offers little about legal or regulatory matters and nothing about selling properties or surviving a market downturn. Nonetheless, readers seeking a practical guidebook to buying and holding commercial property will find Murray’s book a strong choice in a crowded category. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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France Is a Feast: The Photographic Journey of Paul and Julia Child

Alex Prud’homme and Katie Pratt. Thames & Hudson, $35 (208p) ISBN 978-0-500-51907-3

Comprised of 225 black-and-white photographs by Paul Child, the husband of Julia Child, taken during the couple’s time in France beginning in 1948, this intimate photo album delivers mesmerizing visual addenda to Julia Child’s memoir, My Life in France. Paul, a career diplomat who later served as photographer for his wife’s TV series, rarely left the house without at least one camera and produced an impressive number of photos, of which only a fraction are reproduced in these pages. Zeroing in on postwar Paris, the book covers the couple’s early years in France and yields a unique perspective on postwar Europe as well as on the backstory of the woman whose name is synonymous with French cuisine in 20th-century America. The collection includes photos of Julia’s days at the Cordon Bleu with fellow chefs, as well as snapshots of her at work amid pots and pans in the tiny kitchen of the couple’s Paris apartment. In other photos, Paul plays with shadows and angles while shooting the streets of Paris or the fields of the French countryside. There are also the more everyday traveler’s shots featuring a leggy Julia that illuminate the love story between the photographer and his muse. This thoroughly delicious book illustrates how two creative minds can impact public taste. Photos. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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What Future: The Year’s Best Ideas to Reclaim, Reanimate and Reinvent Our Future

Edited by Torie Bosch and Roy Scranton. Unnamed, $18.99 trade paper (258p) ISBN 978-1-944-70045-4

Introducing this vital collection of forward-looking writing published in 2016, editors Bosch and Scranton (Fire and Forget) pull no punches: “The future is already here,” they write, “and it’s confusing as hell.” They’ve gathered together a solid collection of writers—Elizabeth Kolbert, Bill McKibben, and Laurie Penny, among others—to explore “what the future means as an idea” and how to come to terms with it. Formats range from short fiction to long investigative essays, and subjects include virtual reality, global warming, and “crime-predicting software.” Sarah Aziza investigates what self-driving cars would mean for women in Saudi Arabia, while Jeff VanderMeer looks at how “weird fiction” can make reality more understandable. Though a few pieces aren’t as polished as one might expect given their authors’ reputations, such as Kim Stanley Robinson’s choppy essay “Our Generation Ships Will Sink,” about space travel, their ideas they express and the explorations they undertake will endure. Indeed, Scranton’s essay “Anthropocene City,” subtitled “When the Next Hurricane Hits Texas,” has already taken on the ring of prophecy thanks to Hurricane Harvey. The overall tone is worried but optimistic. Don’t look for utopian fantasies here—look for topical, intelligent projections of a realistically better future. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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To My Trans Sisters

Edited by Charlie Craggs. Jessica Kingsley, $18.95 trade paper (326p) ISBN 978-1-7859-2343-2

This invigorating anthology, written by trans women for trans women, is a welcome departure from the established genre of texts about trans individuals that seek to explain their lives and experiences for a presumed audience of primarily cisgendered individuals. Editor Craggs, a trans activist and founder of Nail Transphobia, assembles over 70 letters written by trans women, sharing the advice they wish they had been given earlier in life. Rather than documenting the psychological or physiological steps of self-discovery and transition, these letters discuss transness as embedded in fully individual lives. “Don’t get lost in the transition!” writes Kate Stone, founder of Novalia, a groundbreaking printing company. Fashion designer Gogo Graham’s advice is more sobering: alluding to the threat of violence many trans people face, she writes, “Find shoes in which you feel able to run.” Contributors are predominantly from the United States and Britain, though a scattering of letters, such as entries by Audrey Mbugua, a transgender activists based in Kenya, and Miss SaHHara, a singer-songwriter from Thailand, provide global context. The impressive professional and activist credentials of the letter writers, who include the creator of the transgender pride flag and the first transgender officer to serve openly in the U.K. military, might leave the reader wishing for a few unexceptional voices. Yet these women’s success stories help counteract media narratives of tragedy without glossing over the pervasive discrimination and violence trans women, particularly trans women of color, face daily. While this book is written for a trans audience, cis readers will find value in reading a work not written primarily for them. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Think Before You Like: Social Media’s Effect on the Brain and the Tools You Need to Navigate Your Newsfeed

Guy P. Harrison. Prometheus Books, $18 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-1-63388-351-2

In this skillfully written and researched survey, journalist Harrison (Good Thinking) makes an argument for appreciating social media’s good points while exercising prudence to avoid its downside. Harrison is not a diehard opponent, although he acknowledges criticisms of social media that characterize it as “a zombie invasion... eating our brain.” He discusses the challenge of bringing nuance to online discussions of hot-button issues and poses some provocative questions related to the ubiquity of social media (such as, “Will we miss privacy?”) and what people are sacrificing as the internet supplies more of their social interactions. His book addresses timely topics, such as avoiding information “filter bubbles” and “fake news.” It also contains a well-designed chart for objectively measuring time devoted to social media and cogent advice about healthy use and warning signs. Perhaps the strongest sections are discussions of the importance of critical thinking, “standard weak points” to be aware of in news reports, and five steps to “think like a scientist.” Harrison manages to be firm without being a fearmonger. (Nov.)

An earlier version of this review listed the incorrect ISBN for the book.

Reviewed on 09/15/2017 | Details & Permalink

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