Browsing through the Recent Arrivals section here at EPL is a dangerous proposition. Finding incredible, brand new books that are just begging to be read is the easy part. It’s finding the time to read all the intriguing new books that’s hard. Next time you’re in the library, make some time to wander the section (just look for all the shocking pink stickers on the East side of the 2nd floor) and see what’s new. Below are some particularly interesting finds that were hiding on the shelves today just waiting to be discovered.
The Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky
Kurlansky, the author of Cod and Salt, explores the eating and cooking habits of America before interstate highways, fast food restaurants, grocery store chains, and frozen foods took over our kitchens, our stomachs, and our lives. This book also features pieces by authors such as Eudora Welty, Zora Neale Hurston, and Nelson Algren written as part of FDR’s New Deal WPA Writer’s Project, which sent writers out into the country to document local eating habits and traditions around the nation during the Great Depression. Featuring regional recipes (Squirrel Stew, anyone?), strange ephemera (a glossary of New York soda jerk slang), and endless food-related curiosities (a period poem called “Nebraskans Eat the Weiners,” celebrating Nebraskans and their outsized appreciation for hot dogs), this book will appeal to both foodie/cookbook junkies and history buffs alike.
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain De Botton
If you’ve ever wondered what people do all day (and why), how you ended up in a job you never dreamed you’d be doing, or what the meaning of all this work is, then this may just be the book for you. An extraordinarily insightful writer, de Botton (How Proust Can Change Your Life, The Architecture of Happiness) examines a widely varied assortment of occupations in an attempt to discover just what it is that makes work alternately rewarding and soul-crushing. And if you’re thinking, “I work all day long, the last thing I want to do in my free time is read about work,” don’t be discouraged. De Botton is a hilarious, witty writer who can make the seemingly driest of subjects compelling and relatable. You have to work all day anyway, why not understand what it all means?
Digging: the Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music by Amiri Baraka
Sometimes controversial, always fiery poet, playwright, and critic Amiri Baraka has collected 20 years of his writings on jazz music. Because he’s Baraka doing what he does, his prose comes across as charged, poetic, rhythmic and highly musical in nature. The focus here is on music, but Baraka never shies away from mixing up autobiography, history, politics, and cultural commentary with his criticism. Whether you’re a jazz novice or an aficionado, Baraka’s love of the music and the performers will get you excited and make you want to slap some records on the turntable and hear the music he’s writing about. And if you think you don’t like jazz, just give Baraka a chance to bring you around. His writing has so much passion and energy, you can’t help but be moved by the beauty and power of his words.
Extreme Ice Now by James Balog
Global warming and climate change are highly charged buzzwords these days, readily inspiring political, cultural, and scientific debate. Regardless of what side you’re on, this new book presents some compelling evidence that the world’s glaciers are indeed in an extreme state of flux. Shot with time lapse as well as conventional photography, the Extreme Ice Survey is the most extensive visual study yet conducted to illustrate the Earth’s melting ice caps. The photographs in this collection were shot at 15 different locations around the Northern Hemisphere and culled from more than 300,000 images collected by the cameras. There is some text accompanying the images, but really, the pictures speak largely for themselves. Although nothing more than frozen water, the images of ice captured in this book are spellbinding, both for their beauty and for what they portend. If you are at all interested in the environment and the Earth’s changing climate, check out this book. If you are uninterested, check it out anyway. As the book says: Today is an opportunity; tomorrow will be a crisis.