Cool stuff from the selectors: Fashion, architecture and insects

9780714873343On Eating Insects

In theory I like the idea of eating insects, it makes sense in a world where food could become scarce – it would seem that we are unlikely to run out of insects or plagues of locusts, but what about putting this into practice? “Bee Lave Taco or Moth Mousse” anyone?

On Eating Insects is not just about exotic sounding recipes, it gives us a holistic view of the subject with thought-provoking essays and fascinating stories of field trips into the world of the people who have eaten insects for centuries.  The political, cultural and ecological aspect of eating insects is also examined, creating a book that will leave you thinking, and perhaps looking at that ant nest in your garden in a slightly different light.

9780847858521The Art of Dressing: Ageless, timeless, original style

Style icon Tziporah Salamon profiles the chicest and most celebrated older women of today, while imparting practical tips on how to put together beautiful outfits

With headings such as “Good shoes and a good handbag are a must”, “Consider the whole effect: you are creating a work of art, a painting”, and “Enlist the services of a good seamstress and tailor” you would be forgiven for thinking that this book is not for the average middle-aged woman – and you would probably be right. However if you love to pore over books that include colour, style and a touch of whimsy then this is definitely the one for you.

As an aside, what is it with older women and hats?

9781614282273The big book of the Hamptons

Another book to peruse, salivate over, and wonder how some people have all the luck. I have been obsessed with the Hamptons and their general surrounds since I started reading fiction set in this location. The Hamptons are always depicted as full of beautiful but comfortable homes nestled near the beach, eccentric but lovable families, arty types, romantics….wealthy but not pushy.  This book does not disappoint.  It’s big and it’s full of photos.

There’s a reason why artists and writers, movie stars and moguls, musicians and composers, fashion designers and decorators, architects and craftsmen, fisherman and farmers have flocked to the Hamptons for all these years.  They are drawn by the glorious landscape, the extraordinary light, and the promise of pleasure.

9780714873497Mobitecture: Architecture on the move

The Camper Kart – a pop top in a shopping cart, the QTvan, a camper for mobilty scooters or the A47 mobile library – all the buildings in this book are designed to move.  Some are practical and actually work, some are purely experimental, and others are art installations.  There is sure to be plenty of inspiration for anyone interested in the idea of small houses, camping ideas or houses of the future.

Cockroach cuisine

Cover of Eat Grub:the ultimate insect cookbookThe truth: By the year 2066 we will be eating insects as a significant part of our diet. Current population growth will mean that we cannot sustain our existing farming methods, be they of the animal or plant variety.

Let’s be very clear on this – we will have to supplement our diets with insects, or we will die.

Bugs have been much in the news lately – you can barely open a magazine or a newspaper these days without being hit in the face by headings such as :

It really is only the Western world that has this revulsion for roaches, crickets, silkworms, spiders and maggots as food. The rest of the world has already realised the nutritional value of these critters. And the library is right on target with this trend as well. Here’s the pick of my crop of helpful reads for future Entomophagists (that’s us in 2066):

Cover of Cockroach

Cockroach by Marion Copeland is a fascinating account of this much despised critter. Copeland’s book includes recipes for cockroach dishes and a surprisingly attractive section on the cockroach in art.

In my opinion, there are only three types of people in this world: People who hate cockroaches but can kill them (that’s me). People who hate cockroaches but who can’t kill them (they are admittedly messy when crushed. That would be my daughter). And finally, people who are quite indifferent to roaches and probably would be able to eat them. That would be my husband, who has already eaten silkworms, tarantulas and mopani worms, so he is well on his way.

Cover of The insect cookbook: Food for a sustainable planet

But if you are only going to brave reading one book on insect eating, make it The Insect Cookbook. Be warned though, bugs are surprisingly hard to conceal in food and the photo of the maggoty cheese and a child eating a mealworm ice cream cone made me feel decidedly queasy. I made the mistake of reading this book on my daily café treat, maybe don’t do that if this is all new to you. But what really sets this book apart is that it is accompanied by excellent research articles on insect eating like Chef Pierre Wind’s essay: “You Have to Eat Away the Fear.”

Finally, if you are sensitive about what you eat, What’s Eating You is a brilliantly researched, hilarious, horrifying book about all the parasites that you host. As a result of this book, I have removed Equatorial Guinea from my “places to visit” bucket list. There it is possible for a person to be infected with a Guinea Worm which, when fully grown to three feet, bursts from your skin and has to be wound out daily using a stick. The book explains how to do this – with beautiful little diagrams.

You are what you eat” is about to take on a whole new meaning. Get ahead of the pack. Read these books.

Love – in all shapes and sizes

Cover of The Selected Works of T. S. SpivetEvery so often a list of new library titles or library recommended reads pops into my email box courtesy of the Libraries Email Newsletters. This is a fantastic feature which results in me placing a flurry of holds on what usually turn out to be great reads.  Currently I’m reading this one:

T.S. Spivet’s fans at the Smithsonian Institution consider him a cartography genius–in fact, they’ve awarded him a prestigious prize they’d like him to accept in person, complete with a keynote speech for the celebration. What they don’t know is that he’s only 12 years old. But he’s nevertheless determined to get from his parents’ Montana ranch to D.C., and so he hops a train to begin his crossing of America. Along the way this precocious boy muses on everything from his impending fame to the garbage found on city streets and comes across some equally wide-ranging travellers. Cleverly illustrated, annotated, and printed, this debut is one of a kind.

The Selected works of T.S, Spivet is a book with everything; a humorous coming-of-age novel featuring a child prodigy with definite leanings towards Aspergers, a mysterious family, trains, science, insects, adventure and within its margins delightful little maps, diagrams, anecdotes and explanations.  It also has a rather bizarre and enchanting website.

It’s a book I currently adore (and I haven’t finished it yet – the ending could be dreadful – don’t tell me!).  Yet, for 3 weeks the book languished on my bookshelf – un-opened and unappreciated. Why?  Well, because, it’s not the cover exactly… it’s the shape – it’s the wrong shape!  It has the shape and feel of a text-book – it has the squarish weight of a history text-book whose tedium has not yet  enabled passage beyond the Tudors and you remain trapped in a dreary struggle to remember the exact order of luckless royal wives.

Why should the shape of my reading material matter so much? But it does (and it’s a pain to lug around on the bus).  This – and the title – conjuring images of dull, 18th century poetry by someone you are probably supposed to have heard of but haven’t – must make it a booksellers nightmare.  Indeed, I saw a huge pile of them for sale in the remainders book shop.  Which is why Libraries’ Email Newsletters offer a brilliant way to discover the joys of the uglies you’d never choose to pick up in the library but could become your own true (book) loves.

P.S. What books have you reluctantly read – only to find a true gem?