7 sensational new books you’ve got to read this Spring
by Alison Blackman
Update your dating profile, re-live the joy of vinyl records, make your favorite mall foods, be more creative and solve problems with tarot cards, dine properly using the right utensils, make healthy meals, wear a tiara and still be a strong, empowered feminist. All of these things are the topics of exciting new books you’ll want to read this Spring. Books and reading, inspire us!
I’ve included individual links to books at Amazon in case you are so excited you want to get one of more of these titles, instantly, and also check out some more Books that Inspire to add even more books to your reading list.
Please come back and share your favorites.
The first piece of information dating profile writer Sarah Hoehn puts in her new book You Probably Shouldn’t Write That: Tips and Tricks for Creating an Online Dating Profile That Doesn’t Suck by Sarah Hoehn (Running Press 2016) is that she is a 24-year old serial online dater. Read further into her how-to book on writing a “killer” online profile and you’ll find that she’s been looking for love for a long time. If she’s so good at this, why hasn’t she found someone yet? She’ll be happy to write your dating profile for a fee, via her website: ProfilePolish.com, but she shares her tips for DIY in this book. She’s clever with quips, and knows how to choose a good photo with a cute tag line. However, she devotes as much time to the visual aspects of a profile as to the text. Are we all that shallow? What bothered me the most is that it’s not just how you say something, but what it is you really want to convey to someone who doesn’t know you. There is the pre-work work of introspection that is required to help you find the right kind of match for real love. Being “clever” in a profile gets you attention and I guess that’s the focus of this book, but the descriptions have to work for you and not just reflect the personality of the person writing the profile (if it’s not you writing it). I’m a dating and relationship expert, and my impression was the the author injects so much of her own personality into the suggestions that I often squirmed while reading them, thinking: “eww…I’d never say or do this.” There are so many people who might pick up this book who won’t be a serial dater in their 20’s, and who won’t have her interests, personality or even be in her age group. I did find the book entertaining and was amused by her colorful choice of words (e.g. suck, ass and WTF) that demonstrates how she could even convey her thoughts in just 144 characters (Twitter in case you didn’t get my reference). So I think overall, if you like her style, you’ll get good tips to update a dating profile on your own — but do consider first what you need to know about yourself and what you want to convey, before you work on how cleverly you want to say it. Without that hard work upfront, the cutest profile in the world will bring disappointing results.
I really thought Old Records Never Die: One Man’s Quest for His Vinyl and His Past by Eric Spitnagel (Plume, April 12, 2016) was going to be a man’s quest to capture physical memories in vinyl. When I think of vinyl, I think of sock hops from the 50’s, Bye Bye Birdie, and later, half delirious teens clutching Elvis records, or later still, Beetles records. Later still, it was darkened rooms and college dorms in which sounds of Janice Joplin, the Jefferson Airplane, The Door, Cream or Iron Butterfly (just to name a few), resounded. Mr. Spitnagel wasn’t from one of these generations that consumed the most vinyl (his wedding song that he sought out was “Believe” by Journey), being just on the edge of the digital age when vinyl was ditched for digital. But the deep cravings that music of the past brings up from the deepest part of your soul (and the quest to collect and preserve those feelings) are the same for every generation. At one point in the book, the author describes the joy of playing the Stones “Let it Bleed” filched from a College Radio Station on his portable Crosley turntable. Recently, I received one of these Crosely turntables for review from QVC for an advicesisters.com holiday gift guide and I had the same kind of nostalgia experience this author describes. To test the Crosely, all I had left of my vinyl was a bold of old 45’s (“singles”). I put them on the record player and the sounds of my teens flooded my brain, bringing back so many memories! I couldn’t stop playing them until I’d exhausted every single on in the box! Eric Spitznagel describes better than I just how amazing it was to hear those songs again, scratches and all. The author’s quest to retrieve records became somewhat of an expensive and impractical obsession which even took a toll on his relationships. Even he realized that at some point he had to focus not on preserving his past, but looking forward to the future. However, when his young son literally jumps with joy at the sound of The Talking Heads, he knows he has passed something so special on to another generation. You can’t go back in time, but you can always re-live it through “vinyl.” I loved this book — wordy, but worth it.
The use of Tarot cards goes back centuries. Like Ouija boards, the magic * ball, tea leaves, and lots of other fortune telling devices, who doesn’t want to know more about what the future holds? I am sure that most of my readers have tried one of these in the past, and maybe even tried their hand at reading Tarot cards. In High School a lot of my classmates tried Tarot. My sister and I invested in a beautiful deck and we played around with it using an inexpensive paperback book that didn’t really explain the cards well, so we eventually gave up. Truly, Tarot card reading is an art and a skill, one which devotees must invest time and effort to master. Jessa Crispin has been studying the art of tarot and how it can be used to assist creative people in their artistic processes for much longer. She has written a book: The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide to an Inspired Life by Jessa Crispin (Touchstone Paperback Original; February 16, 2016;). The book is charming, focusing less on the spooky mumbo-jumbo and more on how one might interpret the various cards in the Tarot deck (there are quite a few) for creative pursuits. The author goes through each card, clearly and cleverly explaining the classic view of it, and also her more modern take on how even the more negative cards can help you break through blocks and overcome obstacles. How you choose to interpret the cards, I’ve learned from Ms. Crispin, is more about your story, your view, your feeling about things, than what the card actually shows on its face. You might consider her tarot book almost like a life coach in paperback. Spread the cards out and use them to help you figure out what your next move is, or how you can solve an issue that’s bothering you. Crispin admits it took her years before she tried to read cards for someone else, but If you’re looking for a fun hobby that might actually help your personal development, reading Jessa Crispin’s book is a fun way to open your creative mind to solve problems. I haven’t purchased another Tarot card deck yet, but after reading this book, I think I just might.
Be prepared to totally ruin your diet in the most fun and delicious way after reading (and trying) the recipes in Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step: Secret Formulas with Photos for Duplicating Your Favorite Famous Foods at Home by Todd Wilbur (Penguin Random House 2015). If you’ve ever wondered how to make some of your fast food favorites, Mr, Wilbur has cloned more than 125 recipes from favorite restaurants that while not the most heart-healthy or low-calorie, apparently are the things people crave. He has recipes in this full color “how-to” that encompass an entire food court and every mall restaurant you’ve ever visited from A to W including: Applebees, Arby’s, Auntie Anne’s, Ben & Jerrys, Boston Market, Buba Gump Shrimp Co., Burger King, Cafe Rio, The Capital Grille, Caragga’s Italian Grille, The Cheesecake Factory, Chick0Fil-A, Chili’s, Chipoltle, Mexican Grill, Cinnabon, Cracker Barrel (and I’ve only gotten to the “C’s). Not all the recipes are difficult, most are easier than you might think. More accomplished cooks can probably substitute some of the really gut-busting “bad for you” ingredients and make the recipes a little healthier but then they’re not going to taste as authentic and that kind of destroys the entire point of this recipe book. There are no calorie counts included (do you really want to know)? The focus of this book isn’t to make healthy meals, it’s to recreate hostess cupcakes and the CheeseCake Factory Fried Macaroni and Cheese. If you’re going for this kind of delicacy, you’re not thinking “diet food.” The book is fascinating, and fun, with great photos. Anyone with two grains of common sense knows that these are special occasion recipes, meant to be eaten in a sensible way. So the next time you’re craving an original fudgsicle (however you pronounce it — fudge-sicle or fudgeSicle) but there’s none to be had, make your own. All you need are 7 ingredients, an ice pop maker and 8 ice pop sticks ….and page 108 of Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step.
Females who dream of being a Princess, who love tiaras, “pink & girly” and can imagine themselves being swept away by a handsome prince can still be smart, strong feminists. Why not? says Jerramy Fine, a self-proclaimed feminist and author of “Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess ” and most recently, her brand new book called In Defense of the Princess: How Plastic Tiaras and Fairytale Dreams Can Inspire Smart, Strong Women by Jerramy Fine (Running Press, March 2016). This new book chronicles her journey through her life (so far) and her request to be a princess both in heart, mind, body and spirit. Her quest to be “royal” takes her far from her hippie parents in Colorado all the way to England to find a more royal life. She learns on her journey that there should be no guilt in the “gilty” pleasures she lusts after and that so many of us also dream about, and she shares hers in this clever little book. She asserts that there is a princess in each of us, that we are all royal in our own right. All we have to do is accept, enjoy and unleash our power and not feel embarrassed or apologetic about it. It’s an empowering message using images and experiences that a lot of girls will relate to. She also makes a strong feminist case, using actual royal and powerful women as examples. I don’t agree with every bit of her message, but it is a positive one for women, a “feel good” that will make you want to finally put on that tiara you’ve been hiding, and invite your girlfriends to a proper “royal” tea.
Looking for sophisticated and healthy meal ideas? Try The Best and Lightest: 150 Healthy Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner by the Editors of the Food Network (Clarkson Potter 2015). Who doesn’t love books with great recipes, especially if they’re 150 recipes with beautiful color photos and dishes that are healthy. That doesn’t mean boring, however. There’s a wide range of recipes to suit different tastes, along with ideas for easy snack hacks (e.g. an entire page of flavored popcorn you can do easily and quickly, and fun things to to with pretzels). The index is nicely organized (with thumbnails photos) by Soups & Stews, Sandwiches, Poultry, Meat, Fish & Seafood, Egss, Tofu & Beans, Pasta & Grains, Side Dishes, and Sweets. Required in today’s world, each dish indicates if it’s vegan, vegetarian and/or gluten-free. Each recipe also gives detailed information about nutrition, calories, and other information important to know if you’re watching sodium, fat, cholesterol, etc. Since these recipes are from the editors of the Food Network, note that not all of them are for people who are rushing to put dinner on the table. Most seem to have an active prep time running 30 minutes, with a total time of around 40 minutes (or more). If you are used to popping a prepared dinner into the microwave at the end of the day, this isn’t going to be the recipe book of super-quick dinners, but if you’re looking to serve yourself and/or your family attractive, tasty and healthy meals, there are plenty of suggestions to breathe new life into your meals. When you have the time and want to make the effort, there are delightful ideas for breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
Did you love Downton Abbey? Then you know that it’s an ode to formality, especially in the dinner scenes. You may think that these types of dining situation don’t exist today, or that you will never have the need to know the which fork or knife to use, or how to set a table with more than two glasses, but etiquette books are a must-have for everyone — knowing proper etiquette is the key to success in life. Knowing and using good table manners and having a basic understanding of what is expected in social situations will make you feel confident that you can handle just about anything. That is why I am suggesting that every young person setting up a home for the first time, and every adult who still isn’t sure about dining etiquette should get and read Which Fork Do I Use? Confident and Comfortable Dining by Rosemarie Burns and Linda Reed (Manners Simply 2014) . The authors were trained and certified by the Protocol School of Washington, D.C. The spiral bound book has detailed information and charts to help you set a table for just about any occasion from a simple breakfast to a six course formal dinner, to sushi or fondue. There is also detailed information about the function of each piece in a place setting or serving piece. You’ll see illustrations of serving utensils (perhaps some of which you never knew existed), glassware, barware, dinnerware and serveware that will l boggle your mind and perhaps make you re-think that one, all purpose wineglass and simple bowl and mug you thought was all you wanted or needed. There is also information on correct dining etiquette and so forth. You may not always need this level of detail when eating at home or at your informal dinner parties, but you never know where life is going to take you and some day this knowledge will come in very handy. It is amazing to me how many adults really do lick their fingers or use the tablecloth instead of a napkin, or try to drink the finger bowl, etc. Get the book and read it, then keep it for reference, and set a proper table at your next dinner, no footmen or butler, required. This would also make a cute gift wedding shower gift.
If you like this book round-up please would you kindly share it your social media? We have included links to make it easy. If you’ve already read any of these books, please comment–I’d love to know what you think. Many thanks in advance. Alison Blackman, Editor in Chief, advicesisters.com