Whether you want to be educated, inspired or deliciously distracted, these releases can help.
★ Earth Almanac
The internet’s useful and all, but have you picked up an almanac lately? Ken Keffer’s Earth Almanac is a fine specimen, focused on phenology, the interconnection of living things through seasonal change. Each of its 365 entries explores a particular natural creature, phenomenon or feature; on the day of this writing, Keffer looks closely at the “twittering flights of the American woodcock,” aka bog sucker, mud bat or brush snipe. Beautifully illustrated, Earth Almanac makes a delightful daily read-aloud with family. Keffer’s generalist approach offers encouragement to budding naturalists, inviting us to action as field data collectors and advocates for the earth. “People are more likely to protect what they are familiar with and what they care about,” he writes.
How to Be an Artist
In 2018, Jerry Saltz, senior art critic for New York magazine, wrote a piece on how to live more creatively, featuring 33 “nodes and nubs of advice.” It proved wildly popular, so Saltz kept going, thinking more deeply about how to make art a part of one’s life—and what is art, anyway? The result is the trim, brilliant How to Be an Artist, which combines color reproductions of famous works with inspiring directives, pep talks and juicy reflections on art-making and sustainable creative practice. Whether you’re a proud amateur or a frustrated expert, these are words worth taking to heart. Saltz’s knowledge veins run deep, and his voice is crisp, frank, intimate and urgent.
As I polish off this column a day past my deadline, you can bet that I’m loving a new cookbook with chapter headings like “Better-Late-Than-Never Brownies and Bars,” “Late-for-Everything Loaf Cakes” and “Sorry-for-the-Delayed-Response Savory Bakes.” This is Erin Gardner’s Procrastibaking, and it is giving me life. Never mind that I absolutely want to try every delicious-sounding recipe, of which there are more than 100, and most of which are making a successful appeal to my sweet tooth. I also want to nail the word search, mazes and other games that are sprinkled throughout the book like finishing sugar. But first I must finish this column . . . or must I ? After all, the majority of these treats can be turned out in under 50 minutes, I’m told.