Explore our wonderful world for the holidays. Start from The Ground Up and find 100 Flowers, 100 Vegatables, and every Nature Principle in between. Then take a trip to Venice or Paris with just one click. Week 2 of our December Lucky Stars features 12 e-books at $3.99 or less about the wonders around us. Joy to the world!
A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi: Fernando first sees Marlena across the Piazza San Marco and falls in love from afar. When he sees her again in a Venice café a year later, he knows it is fate. He knows little English; she, a divorced American chef traveling through Italy, speaks only food-based Italian. Marlena thought she was done with romantic love, incapable of intimacy. Yet within months of their first meeting, she has quit her job, sold her house in St. Louis, kissed her two grown sons good-bye, and moved to Venice to marry “the stranger,” as she calls Fernando.
This deliciously satisfying memoir is filled with the foods and flavors of Italy and peppered with culinary observations and recipes. But the main course here is an enchanting true story about a woman who falls in love with both a man and a city, and finally finds the home she didn’t even know she was missing.
A Guide to Hemingway’s Paris by John Leland: Retracing for modern-day visitors the Paris of “The Sun Also Rises” and “A Moveable Feast,” of James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ezra Pound, thsi guidebook uncovers the cafes, hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, gardens, and other landmarks immortalized by Hemingway in his fiction and nonfiction.
Ribbon of Sand by John Alexander and James Lazell: Wind, currents, tides, and sand. Kingsnakes and rice rats. The disappearance of the Lost Colony, the raids of the pirate Blackbeard, and the Wright brothers’ first attempts at flight. The Outer Banks is a place like no other.
At Sea in the City by William Kornblum: New York is a city of few boundaries, a city of well-known streets and blocks that ramble on and on, into our literature, dreams, and nightmares. We know the city by the byways that split it, streets like Broadway and Madison and Flatbush and Delancey. From those streets, peering down the blocks and up at the top floors, the city seems immense and endless. And though the land itself may end at the water, the city does not.
Long before Broadway was a muddy cart track, the water was the city’s most distinguishing feature, the rivers the only byways of importance. Some people, like William Kornblum, still see the city as an urban archipelago, shaped by the water and the people who have sailed it for goods, money, pirate’s loot, and freedom. For them, the City will always be an island. William Kornblum—New York City native, longtime sailor, urban sociologist, and first-time author—has spent decades plying the waterways of the city in his ancient catboat, Tradition.
In At Sea in the City, he takes the reader along as he sails through his hometown, lovingly retelling the history of the city’s waterfront and maritime culture and the stories of the men and women who made the water their own. In At Sea in the City and in Kornblum’s own humility, humor, and sense of wonder, one detects echoes of E. B. White, John McPhee, and Joseph Mitchell.
French Dirt by Richard Goodman: A story about dirt–and about sun, water, work, elation, and defeat. And about the sublime pleasure of having a little piece of French land all to oneself to till.
Richard Goodman saw the ad in the paper: “SOUTHERN FRANCE: Stone house in Village near Nimes/Avignon/Uzes. 4 BR, 2 baths, fireplace, books, desk, bikes. Perfect for writing, painting, exploring & experiencing la France profonde. $450 mo. plus utilities.” And, with his girlfriend, he left New York City to spend a year in Southern France.
The village was small–no shops, no gas station, no post office, only a café and a school. St. Sebastien de Caisson was home to farmers and vintners. Every evening Goodman watched the villagers congregate and longed to be a part of their camaraderie. But they weren’t interested in him: he was just another American, come to visit and soon to leave. So Goodman laced up his work boots and ventured out into the vineyards to work among them. He met them first as a hired worker, and then as a farmer of his own small plot of land.
French Dirt is a love story between a man and his garden. It’s about plowing, planting, watering, and tending. It’s about cabbage, tomatoes, parsley, and eggplant. Most of all, it’s about the growing friendship between an American outsider and a close-knit community of French farmers.
Gardener’s Latin by Bill Neal: For more than two decades, gardeners have been turning to a beautiful little hardcover book called Gardener’s Latin, by Bill Neal.
Neal understood that as Latin terms began appearing with increasing frequency on nursery tags and gardening catalogs, gardeners would need help. So he weeded through the Latin words that describe and distinguish among plants and flowers and compiled a volume of select, brief, clear definitions. Gardener’s Latin leads us down the path from abbreviatus to zonatus, turning aside here and there along the way for little-known horticultural facts and fables and the wisdom ofgardeners from Virgil to Vita Sackville-West.
Good Bugs for Your Garden by Allison Mia Starcher: Anyone who gardens knows how snails, aphids, scale insects, and caterpillars can damage vegetables, flowers, shrubs, and trees. But not many of us know that ground beetles eat caterpillars, not plants; that dragonflies feed on mosquitoes; that parasitic wasps prey on tomato hornworms. In this delightful guide to the world of beneficial insects, Starcher, an artist and avid gardener, shows us how to identify the “good guys” and encourage them to reside in our gardens. “Altogether delightful.”–Newark Star-Ledger; “A fact-filled, charmingly illustrated guide.”–American Bookseller. A GARDEN BOOK CLUB selection.
The Music of Wild Birds by Judy Pelikan: One hundred years ago, F. Schuyler Mathews, an erudite naturalist and birder, theorized that birds sing first for love of music, and second for love of the lady. To expand on his theory, he actually scored the songs of birds in the wild. His charming text and bird-by-bird annotations were compiled into a guide called Field Book of Wild Birds and Their Music. This extraordinary work has now been lavishly illustrated and adapted for a new audience.Each bird is meticulously rendered by artist Judy Pelikan in full-color illustrations that feature not only the birds, but also their nests, eggs, and feathers. And every song is represented by its written musical score, which Mathews expertly explains in a way that both musicians and non-musicians can enjoy.As Mathews points out, the music of wild birds is everywhere–in poems, children’s nursery songs, as well as in the works of the great composers: the Black-billed Cuckoo’s call appears near the close of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony; the Nashville Warbler’s song is found in the opening bars of Rossini’s Carovale, and the Meadowlark’s song is remarkably like the first two bars of Alfredo’s song in La Traviata.He reveals how a bird’s character is reflected in its song: the Baltimore Oriole is a sharp-billed, sharp-witted character, and his remarks are as incisive and crisp as the toots of a steam whistle. And he reminds us of the words of our great poets–Wordsworth, Emerson, Sir Walter Scott–and their descriptions of the very same birds and their music.This classic, useful, and completely original guide will put a song into the heart of novice and experienced birder alike.
100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names by Diana Wells: From Baby Blue Eyes to Silver Bells, from Abelia to Zinnia, every flower tells a story. Gardening writer Diana Wells knows them all. Here she presents one hundred well-known garden favorites and the not-so-well-known stories behind their names. Not for gardeners only, this is a book for anyone interested not just in the blossoms, but in the roots, too. Illustrations by Ippy Patterson.
100 Vegetables and Where They Came From by William Woys Weaver: A perfect leek from France. Flavorful zucchini from Italy. An infamous potato from Ireland, and a humble lentil from Ethiopia. 100 Vegetables offers a veritable cornucopia of vegetables and stories from around the world–from Argentina to Zimbabwe, from Australia to the United States. William Woys Weaver–veggie connoisseur, gardener, and historian–guides us through a range of peppers, potatoes, peas, gourds, onions, tomatoes, greens, and a whole lot more. Not every carrot is the same. All beans aren’t equal. Take the Petaluma Gold Rush bean, a rugged legume, grown for over 150 years and brought to California by an American whaler from Peru. Or the violet carrot, which the Greeks brought back from India following the conquests of Alexander the Great. Mixing history, culinary suggestions, practical information, and personal anecdotes, Weaver introduces us to unusual heirloom vegetables as well as to common favorites. He provides answers to general questions, such as the difference between a yam and a sweet potato, and presents lively portraits of one hundred vegetable varieties, which he’s grown and harvested in his own kitchen garden. Organized alphabetically by common name, 100 Vegetables includes beautifully detailed drawings throughout and a helpful appendix of seed resources.
From the Ground Up by Amy Stewart: Amy Stewart had a simple dream. She yearned for a garden filled with colorful jumbles of vegetables and flowers. After she and her husband finished graduate school, they pulled up their Texas roots and headed west to Santa Cruz, California. With little money in their pockets, they rented a modest seaside bungalow with a small backyard. It wasn’t much–a twelve-hundred-square-foot patch of land with a couple of fruit trees, and a lot of dirt. A good place to start
From the Ground Up is Stewart’s quirky, humorous chronicle of the blossoms and weeds in her first garden and the lessons she’s learned the hard way. From planting seeds her great-grandmother sends to battling snails, gophers, and aphids, Stewart takes us on a tour of four seasons in her coastal garden. Confessing her sins and delighting in small triumphs, she dishes the dirt for both the novice and the experienced gardener. Along the way, she brings her quintessential California beach town to life–complete with harbor seals, monarch butterfly migrations, and an old-fashioned seaside amusement park just down the street
Each chapter includes helpful tips alongside the engaging story of a young woman’s determination to create a garden in which the plants struggle to live up to the gardener’s vision.
The Nature Principle by Richard Louv: For many of us, thinking about the future conjures up images of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road: a post-apocalyptic dystopia stripped of nature. Richard Louv, author of the landmark bestseller Last Child in the Woods, urges us to change our vision of the future, suggesting that if we reconceive environmentalism and sustainability, they will evolve into a larger movement that will touch every part of society.This New Nature Movement taps into the restorative powers of the natural world to boost mental acuity and creativity; promote health and wellness; build smarter and more sustainable businesses, communities, and economies; and ultimately strengthen human bonds. Supported by groundbreaking research, anecdotal evidence, and compelling personal stories, Louv offers renewed optimism while challenging us to rethink the way we live.