Coffee table books are always wonderful to give and to receive. I particularly like photography books because the topics are nearly limitless. Here are two good examples, from the Turner Publishing Company:
Without the contributions of the men and women of The Manhattan Project, the atomic age (and the resolution to the end of World War II), would have taken a very different turn. Historic Photos of the Manhattan Project by Dr. Timothy Joseph (Turner Publishing Company) is a black and white photographic record of more than 200 photos, featuring men and women who worked on the Manhattan Project in the 1940’s. The photos of this top-secret project were collected from National Archives, Library of Congress and the Department of Energy, among other sources. Back in the 1940’s, these dedicated men and women were cloaked in mystery. Now, you can gaze upon their faces. It is a still just a bit creepy, and yet, compelling.You won’t stop turning the pages until the last one is flipped over! Historic Photos of the Opry: Ryman Auditorium 1974 Photography and Text by Jim McGuire (Turner Publishing Company) is a stunning snapshot in time of the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. This book of 100 sepia-toned photographs captures the Ryman in action, back in in 1974, just before the Opry left for it’s current, suburban venue. Garrison Keillor, host of A Prairie Home Companion (a radio show inspired in part by the Opry that was occasionally performed on stage at the Ryman), wrote the book’s foreword. So many iconic country music performers got their ticket to stardom by performing at this historic venue, in downtown Nashville. Occasionally, the Ryman re-opens and gives audiences today a chance to still hear the best country music legends (and a hopeful or two) at the “Mother Church of Country Music.” I am not personally a country music maven, but when I found myself at the Ryman a few years ago, I couldn’t help but feel that I was in a very special place. Although I don’t know that many of the stars in the book, it’s still a lovely reminder of what an electrifying space the Ryman was, and still is.
Since I’m a native New Yorker, I really wanted to love Belly up to the Bar: Dining at New York City’s Top Restaurants Without Reservation(s) by Joyce Slayton Mitchell, J. S. Mitchell (Turner Publishing Company). I loved the “Zagat” style reviews and the idea that there is a guide that directs you to great restaurants with master chefs, where you can eat at the bar, avoid reservations issues, and also save money. The authors “went about reviewed 101 restaurants (as rated by the 2008 Zagat and the Michelin Guide to New York City’s Restaurants, guides). The reviews are thorough and easy to read, and it’s a good reference. My only concern is that vision is directly related to experience and age. I don’t know how old the authors are, or what audience they are trying to direct their comments to, but I have learned from being a Zagats reviewer for close to a decade is that what appeals to a young person may or may not appeal to a more sophisticated diner with a few more years under his or her belt. I would use the book as reference, but I’d rather trust the comments of the many, not just, two.
Women don’t lie, but if you probe beneath the surface, they do tell half-truths. If you want to successfully sell to a woman, you need to listen to what’s behind the half-truths, and get to the real (or whole) truth. That’s the premise behind the book, What She’s Not Telling You: Why Women Hide the Whole Truth and What Marketers Can Do About It by Mary Lou Quinlan (Just Ask a Woman/Greenleaf Press, November 2009). Ms. Quinlen, and her obviously perceptive, Just Ask a Woman, partners, parlay their own experiences with focus groups into a book that is not just for marketers, but for anyone who wants, or needs, to understand what women are really saying, and respect and respond to their needs. The book has a fast-paced, breezy style, but it’s all business, including the fascinating case studies of many well known brands citing their marketing “misses” and “successes.” This is not “Mars and Venus,” it is common sense strategy that can help you communicate better and, perhaps, finally understand what women really want, on all levels.
Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients by Jeff Hertzberg MD and Zoe Francois (Thomas Dunne Books, October 2009). This book is one that you entices you to flip through the pages, eagerly looking at the photographs of yummy bread items. You can almost smell those delicious breads! However, the title is a wee bit misleading, since you can’t make, and bake, a bread in five minutes. Most of the recipes use a basic, pre-prepared dough recipe that you can freeze, then defrost, and finish, on baking day. You still have to make the basic recipe (that takes about 20-30 minutes depending upon how experienced you are with bread baking, in general), and, of course, there is the baking time. But my real problem is that while the recipes appear to be healthy enough, using whole wheat or spelt flour (and there are even some gluten-free recipes), you’ll find yourself eating more bread than you might normally. I’m not a bread baker, but there’s nothing more comforting than a warm bread fresh from the oven. That’s why I gave up using my bread machine! Too much bread, healthy ingredients or not, is still not…well…healthy. For a family or for people who love to entertain, this is a great book.
Do you know someone who is obese, or who has a pre-diabetic condition, or who knows of diabetics on their family tree and wants to avoid developing it? Get them The Weight Loss Plan for Beating Diabetes; The 5-Step Program That Removes Metabolic Roadblocks, Sheds Pounds Safely, and Reverses Prediabetes and Diabetes by Drs. Richard and Rachel Heller (Fair Winds Press, October 2009). I am not a doctor so I can’t really make a judgement about the medical soundness of the content, and it sounds a bit far-fetched that any plan can really reverse pre– or full-blown diabetes. However, on the merits of the suggestions, alone, the book does give readers an easy to understand, well written, and well organized, 5-step program for shedding unwanted pounds safely and effectively. In addition, since the book is directed to people with diabetic conditions, who often have serious challenges losing weight, it also outlines the unique metabolic challenges faced by diabetics , and show how they can be addressed, with an integrated plan of diet, specific nutritional supplements and exercise regimens, lifestyle modification, and medication. Special nutritional concerns of diabetics are also covered, as is the effect of dieting and weight loss on glucose levels and insulin. I found the information fascinating, and a lot of it seems really helpful. I can’t say (or refute) what the authors suggest, but on paper, the advice looks good. I’d read the book, share it with my doctor, and check before embarking upon any major diet or lifestyle modification, especially if you have a medical condition like diabetes.