Three new lifestyles books to help you vent, treat yourself and get in touch with nature.
★ Rage Baking
Indeed it is a cookbook, but Kathy Gunst and Katherine Alford’s Rage Baking is also a genius idea—the very text that we, an army of citizen bakers, have been waiting for. Among more than 40 contributors to this feisty and inspiring collection of recipes, essays and interviews are luminaries Ruth Reichl, Ani DiFranco, Dorie Greenspan and Rebecca Traister. There are recipes like “Power Muffs” and “No More Sheet Cake.” The recipes, like the women behind them, represent diverse culinary traditions, from cornbread to bulgur flatbread to challah to focaccia. But they all share one ingredient: “I am anger wrapped in hopelessness wrapped in despair wrapped in more anger,” writes Tess Rafferty. “And when I can’t stand it anymore, I cook.”
I’ve seen many a self-care book, but this one struck me as fresh. First, there’s the catchy title: $9 Therapy. But the subtitle is the clincher: “Semi-Capitalist Solutions to Your Emotional Problems.” What do co-authors Megan Reid and Nick Greene mean by that? First, what it’s not: “a guide to getting your shit together.” What it is: funny at every turn and packed with small, practical hacks and crafts—DIY sheet spray! DIY makeup brush cleaner!—that will cumulatively make you a more functional human being. A book that perfectly, humorously captures a corner of the zeitgeist is always a win—even if, alas, it doesn’t retail for $9. Buy it anyway, along with a gallon of white vinegar.
Close to Birds
Truly one of the most breathtaking titles I’ve explored in a long time, Close to Birds, first published in Sweden, achieves the delicate balance of jaw-dropping photographs and thought-provoking text. Authors Mats and Åsa Ottosson didn’t set out to create a traditional bird-watching book, a guide for seekers of the most elusive specimens. Instead, among the birds featured in stunning color against white backgrounds are an ordinary mallard, a common sandpiper, a Eurasian sparrow and a common starling. “Being receptive to birds is both much simpler and much bigger than [determining species],” the authors write. “It’s not a hobby; rather it can be seen as a loving receptivity to the larger we to which humans are lucky to belong.” You’ll learn, gasp and see birds anew.
Susannah Felts is a Nashville-based writer and co-founder of The Porch, a literary arts organization. She enjoys anything paper-related and, increasingly, plant-related.