What We're Reading April 2015: Recommended Reads from the Staff of PVN

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Greg:

Road Trip: Roadside America, From Custard's Last Stand to the Wigwam Restaurant, Richard Longstreth (Universe, 2015).

Unseen photographs of the late ’60s and early ’70s from the American road offer a compelling portrait of a fanciful landscape, now all but gone. Expectation, anticipation, discovery—each of these is a facet of an American institution, the road trip. With a focus on vernacular roadside architecture built between 1920 and the late 1960s, the golden age of the American road, Road Trip is a time capsule, a snapshot taken primarily in the early 1970s, of an extraordinary era and its roadside buildings, restaurants, gas stations, motels, and places of amusement, most of which are now long since gone. With more than 200 previously unpublished full-color photographs of the iconic imagery of the American highway and richly descriptive text, Road Trip will delight and engage both the armchair traveler, the enthusiast of Americana, the architectural enthusiast, and all those longing for the romance of the road.

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Casie:

Stories in Stone: Travels Through Urban Geology, David B. Williams (Walker & Company, 2009). 

You probably don’t expect to make geological finds along the sidewalks of a major city, but when natural history writer David B. Williams looks at the stone masonry, façades, and ornamentations of buildings, he sees a range of rocks equal to any assembled by plate tectonics. In Stories in Stone, he introduces us to a three-and-a-half-billion-year-old rock called Morton gneiss that is the color of swirled pink-and-black taffy; a 1935 gas station made of petrified wood; and a fort in St. Augustine, Florida, that has withstood three hundred years of attacks and hurricanes, despite being made of a stone (coquina) that has the consistency of a granola bar. From Brooklyn to Philadephia, from limestone to travertine, Stories in Stone will inspire readers to realize that, even in the most modern metropolis, evidence of our planet’s natural wonders can be found all around us in building stones that are far less ordinary than we might think at first glance.

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Meghan:

The Slanted Door: Modern Vietnamese Food, Charles Phan (Ten Speed Press, 2014). 

Award-winning chef and restaurateur Charles Phan opened The Slanted Door in San Francisco in 1995, inspired by the food of his native Vietnam. Since then, The Slanted Door has grown into a world-class dining destination, and its accessible, modern take on classic Vietnamese dishes is beloved by diners, chefs, and critics alike. The Slanted Door is a love letter to the restaurant, its people, and its food. Featuring stories in addition to its most iconic recipes, The Slanted Door both celebrates a culinary institution and allows home cooks to recreate its excellence.

 

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Laura:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, Susan Cain (Broadway Books, 2013). 

In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

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Tamara:

The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden, Kim Flottum (Quarry Books, 2014). 

The Backyard Beekeeper, now revised and expanded, makes the time-honored and complex tradition of beekeeping an enjoyable and accessible backyard pastime that will appeal to gardeners, crafters, and cooks everywhere. This expanded edition gives you even more information on "greening" your beekeeping with sustainable practices, pesticide-resistant bees, and urban and suburban beekeeping. More than a guide to beekeeping, it is a handbook for harvesting the products of a beehive and a honey cookbook--all in one lively, beautifully illustrated reference. This complete honey bee resource contains general information on bees; a how-to guide to the art of bee keeping and how to set up, care for, and harvest honey from your own colonies; as well as tons of bee-related facts and projects.

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Laurel: 

The Sculptor, Scott McCloud (First Second, 2015).

David Smith is giving his life for his art-literally. Thanks to a deal with Death, the young sculptor gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But now that he only has 200 days to live, deciding what to create is harder than he thought, and discovering the love of his life at the 11th hour isn't making it any easier! This is a story of desire taken to the edge of reason and beyond; of the frantic, clumsy dance steps of young love; and a gorgeous, street-level portrait of the world's greatest city. It's about the small, warm, human moments of everyday life…and the great surging forces that lie just under the surface. Scott McCloud wrote the book on how comics work; now he vaults into great fiction with a breathtaking, funny, and unforgettable new work.

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Marisa: 

Roadfood: The Coast-to-Coast Guide to 900 of the Best Barbecue Joints, Lobster Shacks, Ice Cream Parlors, Highway Diners, and Much, Much More, Jane & Michael Stern (Clarkson Potter, 2014). 

For the road warriors and armchair epicures, the updated ninth edition of Roadfood is your indispensable guide to more than 900 of America's best local eateries—now with more than 200 completely new listings. Explore the affordable, enjoyable, one-of-a-kind dining destinations along America’s roadways with this indispensable guide. In this fully revised edition, Jane and Michael Stern introduce the Roadfood Honor Roll—a tip sheet to the 100 must-visit stops—just in time for your next roadtrip, no matter what state you’re driving through. With up-to-date information on restaurants' hours of operation, phone numbers, and websites, you will never go hungry on the road or get lost finding the best off-the-highway gems.