Tag Archives: cookbooks

C Is for Cookie. That’s Good Enough for Me!



It’s that time of year. No, I don’t mean the time to buy and wrap more presents than you can afford. And also not the time to visit with people you really wouldn’t choose to hang out with, if you in fact actually had a choice. (Or is it??) I mean that it’s time to get in that kitchen and bake some cookies! These treats can be your homemade replacement for the usual capitalistic holiday gifts or just your way of saying a sweet “I love you” to those you’re going to be feeding over the next few weeks.

This week, my department will be holding its second annual Cookie Day. All of my colleagues bring in cookies, set them out on a big table in our office and we invite all of our fellow library staff to partake, at their leisure, throughout the day. It’s our way of saying thank you to those who work with us all year long.  (Feel free to copy our idea for your own group. It’s really rather low cost and low maintenance for the individuals throwing the shindig.)

But of course, in the true spirit of the holidays, I must go overboard. I’m not going to make just the one cookie to bring to Cookie Day. I’m going to be making at least 10 kinds of cookies, bars, and chocolate treats this season. I’ve given the members of my immediate family the option to select two types of baked goods. Plus, there are some cookies that I just HAVE to make for myself. So far, my baking list includes: buckeye bars, pumpkin snickerdoodles (A repeat from the pumpkin birthday extravaganza. Yes, they were THAT good.), at least three kinds of chocolate chip cookies, fudge, peppermint chocolate bark, lemon drops, and my current favorite thing – snickerdoodle blondies. There are a few other cookies nagging me and pulling on my heartstrings that will probably see the light of day as well.

As you can tell from the links above, I find most of my inspiration and recipes online. (Yay, Pinterest!) But as some of you who have read my posts before know, I absolutely ADORE a good cookbook. Here are a few that I found to help with your holiday cookie baking needs:

The Cookiepedia: Mixing, Baking, and Reinventing the Classics by Stacy Adimando

Better Homes and Gardens Very Merry Cookies

Very Vegan Christmas Cookies by Ellen Brown

The Complete Photo Guide to Cookie Decorating by Autumn Carpenter

Crazy about Cookies: 300 Scrumptious Recipes for Every Occasion & Craving by Krystina Castella

The Cookie Jar Cookbook: 65 Recipes for Classic, Chunky & Chewy Cookies

Cookies, Cookies & More Cookies! by Lilach German

The Daily Cookie: 365 Tempting Treats for the Sweetest Year of Your Life by Anna Ginsberg

Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen Cookie Lover’s Cookbook: Gooey, Chewy, Sweet & Luscious Treats

Chocolate Chip Cookies: Dozens of Recipes for Reinterpreted Favorites by Carey Jones & Robyn Lenzi

The Art of the Cookie by Shelly Kaldunski

Cookies at Home with the Culinary Institute of America by Todd Knaster

Gluten-Free Cookies: From Shortbreads to Snickerdoodles, Brownies to Biscotti: 50 Recipes for Cookies You Crave by Luane Kohnke

Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich

The Ultimate Shortcut Cookie Book: More than 800 Scrumptious Recipes that Start with Refrigerated Cookie Dough, Cake Mix, Brownie Mix, or Ready-to-Eat Cereal by Camilla V. Saulsbury

One Sweet Cookie: Celebrated Chefs Share Favorite Recipes by Tracey Zabar

So as you can see, we have cookie cookbooks for those willing to spend their entire weekend decorating tiny crisps of sugared dough to the hilt, as well as those who would rather throw some things into a pan and be done with it. Everyone can make something!

Happy Holiday Baking!
-Melissa M.

P.S. This is my favorite cookie cookbook. It’s the one I bought my mother as a Christmas present over 30 years ago and it is the one I did a little happy dance about when I found in a used book store.


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Stacking ‘Em Up: Our Favorite Reads From 2013

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a library blog in possession of a good staff must be in want of a best books post. Library workers are frequently their own best customers, passing titles back and forth with reckless abandon, buttonholing colleagues in stairwells to insist they check out the book that kept us up late swooning (or shivering). Nothing brings us more joy, however, than turning those efforts outward and sharing our favorites with you.

The Eleventh Stack team consumed a mountain of reading this year (probably taller than Richard, and he’s pretty tall). Here are some of the ones we enjoyed most.


turncoatThe Turncoat by Donna Thorland

Though labeled historical fiction, this book has a passionate and sizzling romance at its heart, so I would call it historical romance as well. The first book in the Renegades of the Revolution series, I loved this dangerous romance set amid the intrigues of Revolutionary War Philadelphia. Quaker country-girl-turned-rebel-spy Kate Grey falls for British officer Peter Tremayne despite their opposing allegiances. I especially enjoyed its life meets fiction aspect as George Washington, John Andre, General Howe, and Peggy Shippen all make appearances here. I look forward to reading more in the series from this debut author. Thorland, who is also a filmmaker, made a fascinating book trailer; I think it would make a great movie.


Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff

My poor hometown. Native metro-Detroiter and award-winning journalist Charlie LeDuff writes a raw and thoroughly readable portrait of the Motor City’s state of emergency, from its abandoned neighborhoods, horrible city services, double-digit unemployment rates, and rampant crime to the die-hard residents who refuse to give up. A moving and frightening account of the decline of a great American city.

Melissa F.

I spent most of 2013 hanging out with some questionable, unreliable, but incredibly memorable characters from the Gilded Age.  You don’t get much more eyebrow-raising than Odalie from The Other Typist, Suzanne Rindell’s debut that has been described as “part Hitchcock, part Patricia Highsmith, and part Gatsby.” It’s a phenomenal, can’t-put-down read that I’ve been recommending all year long.  Also of note is The Virgin Cure , Ami McKay’s historical fiction story of a twelve year old orphan in 1870s New York that is based on the true story of one of her relatives.  

The OrchardistAnd then there was benevolent Talmadge from The Orchardist. I adored Amanda Coplin’s luminous debut novel with its grand, overlapping themes of morality and religion, of being one with the earth and the eternal struggle of good versus evil. It’s been compared to The Grapes of Wrath (this one is way better). Like Steinbeck, Amanda Coplin joins the list of authors who have given us a true American classic.

(Other highly recommended books in case the Gilded Age isn’t your thing: Tenth of December and In Persuasion Nation, both by George Saunders; Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan; Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys, The Bird Saviors, by William J. Cobb, When It Happens to You, by Molly Ringwald (yes, THAT Molly Ringwald!), Still Life with Oysters and Lemon and Dog Years by Mark Doty (listen to the audio version); Await Your Reply, by Dan Chaon, and Songdogs, by Colum McCann.)

What can I say? In the words of Sinatra, it was a very good year.

JessBurial Rites, Hannah Kent

If you’ve had good experiences with Alice Hoffman and Geraldine Brooks (Kent even gives a shout out to Brooks as a mentor in her acknowledgements), then this is for you.

In rural Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnusdottir has been tried and accused of murder – and now must await execution in her home district. No prison means she’s forced upon a family who obviously wants nothing to do with her. Over the next months, Agnes is put to work on the farm. She slowly begins to open up about her messy past to a young priest, chosen for a long ago kindness, and to the wife of the household, who begins to see a Agnes as woman who has been worn down by a harsh life. Based on true story of one of the last two executions in Iceland, Kent deftly blends some amazing research with strong prose to weave a story about woman who was truly a victim of her circumstances.

SuzyTraveling Sprinkler, Nicholson Baker. Suzy really enjoyed this book a lot, but is not here to tell us about it because she is off riding her bike someplace not currently buried under several feet of snow. We are extremely jealous of very happy for Suzy, and hope she comes home soon to tell us more about the book.

Leigh Anne

Much to my surprise, the two books I’ve enjoyed most this year were both set during World War II. I’ve never been much of a war buff, but that’s a testament to how the power of good fiction can make you more interested in history. In this case, the novels were Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity.

Life After Life –the tale of an Englishwoman who keeps reincarnating as herself and trying to kill lifeafterlifeHitler–has cropped up on a number of best/notable lists this year, including the New York Times, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and I’ve already reviewed it earlier this year, so let me just say this: what an ending. When I read the last few sentences, and the light bulb over my head finally went on, I was amazed at how cleverly Atkinson had made her point: no matter how hard we strive as individuals, we can never act out of context. We always need other people to help us achieve our objectives, even if we are strong and clever.

verityCode Name Verity takes us behind enemy lines as Verity the spy and Maddie the pilot tell their stories in alternating sections. The crux of this novel–which I also reviewed earlier this year–is truth: who’s telling it, who’s hiding it, and how flexible it can be depending on how high the stakes are. For Maddie and Verity, the stakes are very high, indeed, and I loved that the book, while intended for a teen audience, didn’t shy away from the horrors of war…or deliver a tidy happy ending. If you want a great portrait of what it must have been like to be a teenager during WWII, pick up this novel….but be prepared to have All Of The Feelings. If you adore Wein as much as I do after you’re done, you’ll want to move on to her 2013 release, Rose Under Fire, in which pilot Rose Justice is captured and sent to the concentration camp Ravensbruck.

It was really hard to pick my favorites from what turned out to be an amazing run of excellent reading this year. Some other books I devoured include Letters From Skye (historical romance), Longbourn (historical fiction), and The Son (epic southwestern family saga). And now I must stop, before I blog your ear off…

bookcover Joelle 

I do love fantasy books! My favorites for this year were The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker and The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman. Both of these books have already achieved positive critical acclaim, but I will add mine:

The Golem is created by a mysterious and mischievous Rabbi as a bride for a young man who is set to travel to New York from Poland. The Jinni had been trapped for centuries in a lamp which also made its way to New York City. They both try to fit in to society with their separate supernatural talents, but recognize each other as different right away. It is interesting to see these magical beings from two different cultures coming together. The author creates characters with unusual and distinctive personalities.

ocean Neil Gaiman is the master of creating fantasy worlds that do not follow any specific cultural tradition, yet are somehow universal. A man journeys back to his old home town, and is drawn to a place only half remembered. The reader is transported to the mind of a seven year old, a time in a person’s life when one is very vulnerable, and when one can accept magic as a matter of fact.

Nestled behind the International Poetry Room on CLP-Main’s second floor, you’ll find one of my favorite places in the Library.  The Oversize Book Room is home to volume upon volume of giant, gorgeous books. These are books that are graphic-heavy, photo-heavy, and often really heavy in weight, and therefore they do not fit on our regular book shelves/make great impromptu weapons.  Fashion, art, landscape photography, crafts and home repair are some of the subjects that you can find here.   One day while helping a patron find another book in this section, I stumbled upon the splendid  Jack London, Photographer. This is my favorite book of 2013 because it exemplifies what I love most about the Library and the serendipity that lives here.  I had no idea that Jack London was a photographer, and a talented one at that!  This gem contains somewhat disparate, at least in terms of location, photo collections.  They are a fascinating  look at early 20th century history through the eyes of a classic author.  Chapters have titles like ” The People of the Abyss,”  which is a stark look at impoverished Londoners in 1902. Battlefields are a subject as well, such as  those of  the Russo-Japanese war of 1904 and the Mexican Revolution of 1914.  I loved this book because it was a rejuvenating break from my usual reading of text-heavy new fiction and new nonfiction.


For me this was an unusual year, and my reading reflected all the strangeness. I found myself reading old (Kim by Rudyard Kipling), new (A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki), rereads (The Final Solution by Michael Chabon and The Fall by Albert Camus), pastiche (The Mandela of Sherlock Holmes by Jamyang Norbu), Buddhist fiction (Buddha Da by Anne Donovan), science fiction (Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone by Ian MacDonald), and the truly, wonderfully bizarre (Duplex by Kathryn Davis).

Part of the unusual nature of all this is the fact that, thematically, there is a great deal these books have in common. There are all kinds of connections between them, come to think of it. And really, there is not a book listed above that you can go wrong with, but, since we are picking favorites, here we go…

My favorite book of the year turns out to be a tie between the first two listed: A Tale for the Time Being, and that hoary old chestnut, Kim. Both of these books surprised, in different ways. I was frankly stunned by how good Kim (and Rudyard Kipling) is. I’d always thought of Kipling as just another dead old white guy, with a penchant for British colonialism and simplistic stories, who might easily be ignored for, oh, 50-plus years or so. And was, by me.

It really is delightful to wake up every day and realize how very, very wrong you can be.


Ozeki’s book is difficult to describe, so I’ll let the author speak for herself (from her website):

A Tale for the Time Being is a powerful story about the ways in which reading and writing connect two people who will never meet. Spanning the planet from Tokyo’s Electric Town to Desolation Sound, British Columbia, and connected by the great Pacific gyres, A Tale for the Time Being tells the story of a diary, washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox, and the profound effect it has on the woman who discovers it.

Kim is part quest–for self and for meaning–, part old-fashioned adventure via the time-honored motif of the journey, and, consistently, a fine, penetrating story on what it means to be human.

Yes indeed, how very good it is to wake up each and every day.

Melissa M.

5In5Of course my favorite book this year was a cookbook, specifically Michael Symon’s 5 in 5: 5 Fresh Ingredients + 5 Minutes = 120 Fantastic Dinners. I’ve watched this man on television so many times now that as I was reading the recipes I could hear them, inside my head, being read to me in his voice. Now, Michael does cheat the five ingredients rule a little because he uses items from his pantry that are not part of that total number. The first section of the book, after the introduction, is a list of what items should be in your pantry at all times. These include things like extra virgin olive oil, a variety of vinegars, pasta, canned beans, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and other spices. You probably already have most of those in your kitchen cupboards, so no worries there. The recipes are not complicated; most have only 3-4 steps. This is food you could cook on a weeknight and would want to eat. Plus, who wouldn’t love a cookbook with a chapter called “On a Stick”? Foods on a stick rule!

There you have it! Your turn. What were your favorite reads of 2013, whether new finds or old favorites?


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It’s Pumpkin Season!

pumpkinsI know, I know. It’s actually been pumpkin season for at least a month now. As soon as Starbucks rolls out their pumpkin spice latte, people go crazy thinking it’s fall. They want to start raking leaves, wearing sweaters and craving other autumnal activities, even if it is still 75 degrees outside.

There is at least one person at my house who goes bonkers for anything pumpkin flavored. It certainly doesn’t hurt that his birthday is on October 31st. So while planning his Pumpkin-Themed Birthday Extravaganza, I began to wonder what kind of pumpkin books we had in the collection. Turns out that we have quite a bit, even besides the expected children’s items. Here are a few that stood out to me…

Carving Pumpkins:
Carving the Perfect Pumpkin [DVD]
Extreme Pumpkin Carving by Vic Hood
Extreme Pumpkins: Diabolical Do-It-Yourself Designs to Amuse Your Friends and Scare Your Neighbors by Tom Nardone
Carving Pumpkins by Dana Meachen Rau
How to Carve Freakishly Cool Pumpkins by Sarah L. Schuette

Holiday Pumpkins by Georgeanne Brennan
Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito – (Yes, pumpkin is one of the 10!)
Pumpkins: Over 75 Farm-Fresh Recipes
Pumpkin: A Super Food for All 12 Months of the Year by DeeDee Stovel

Growing the Biggest Pumpkin:
Lords of the Gourd: The Pursuit of Excellence[DVD]
Backyard Giants: The Passionate, Heartbreaking, and Glorious Quest to Grow the Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Susan Warren

Picture Books for Kids:
Ready for Pumpkins by Kate Duke
The Perfect Pumpkin Hunt by Gail Herman
How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? by Wendell Minor
It’s Pumpkin Day, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff
Night of the Pumpkinheads by Michael J. Rosen; pumpkin carvings by Hugh McMahon

Other Items that I’m Sure Have Nothing to Do with Actual Pumpkins:
Pumpkin Teeth: Stories by Tom Cardamone
The Pumpkin Man by John Everson
The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field by Mike Michalowicz
The Pumpkin Eater by Penelope Mortimer
Pumpkin Scissors: The Complete Series [DVD]

Happy Autumn!
-Melissa M.

P.S. Just in case you’re wondering, the Pumpkin-Themed Birthday Extravaganza will begin with pumpkin French toast bake and pumpkin pie smoothies for breakfast. Pumpkin mac-n-cheese will be the lunch special. Then, there will be pumpkin-shrimp bruschetta, pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin, arugula and dried cherry salad and pumpkin ravioli with sage browned butter for dinner. We’ll finish up with pumpkin tiramisu and a side of pumpkin snickerdoodle cookies for dessert. I also have recipes for a few pumpkin cocktails! ;)


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Ideal Bookshelves

A thoughtful relative gave me a copy of My Ideal Bookshelf, a collection of essays in which famous people in a variety of fields talk about the books that are most important to them. You’ll find essays from luminaries like Alice Waters and James Franco, as well as from people who are prominent in their fields, but not necessarily “famous.” The gorgeous illustrations that bring each person’s choices to life are colorful and exciting, a wonderful reminder of just how much emotional and psychological resonance physical books still hold for many people. You can learn more about the project, which is the brainchild of Jane Mount and Thessaly LaForce, at the book’s companion website, which also features many other ideal bookshelves on various themes, from Jane Austen to sci-fi, available as prints, paintings and note cards. You can even submit your own ideal bookshelf for custom design!

At first I was overwhelmed by the thought of picking only ten books that were meaningful for me–couldn’t I just have an Ideal Bookcase? But on reflection–and sober contemplation of my savings–I decided that I’d better think about it a little harder. I’ve whittled down the many, many books that have danced through my life over the years to a list of five that have a special meaning. The other ones? Well, you’ll just have to ask me about them next time you visit the library!


The Snarkout Boys & the Avocado of Death, Daniel Pinkwater.

Walter, our hero, is introduced to the art of snarking out–sneaking out of the house at night to go to the 24-hour movie theater–by his friend Winston. Walter and Winston are bored with the lack of academic challenge at their school and the tedium of their everyday lives, so when a typical night of snarking out turns into an adventure involving a missing scientist and his greatest invention, the boys are definitely up for the challenge.

This novel was the first book I’d ever read that implied there’s a lot of interesting things going on underneath the surface of everyday life. It was also the first book I’d read that criticized teachers who give tons of busywork instead of actually teaching, something to which I could, sadly, relate all too well. For good or ill, I credit Snarkout Boys for making me the contrarian adventurer I am today.

The Heidi Chronicles, Wendy Wasserstein.

Heidi Holland lives through some exciting times, but she isn’t always sure what to make of them as they pass by. Between glimpses of Heidi in her current life as a feminist art historian, the reader is treated to long scenes from various times in Heidi’s life: trying to figure out boys; discovering consciousness-raising, radical politics, and good sex; and navigating the shallow, greedy culture of 80s materialism, to name but a few. Can a determined young woman live life on her terms? Heidi Holland can, and does, but it’s not easy.

Of all the shows my college theater group produced,  Heidi Chronicles was my favorite. I had only one scene, but I went to as many rehearsals as I could so I would understand how this baffling, cultural-reference-riddled play (I had to stop and look something up in just about every line of dialogue) could ever come to life. Between the words on the page and the skillful architecture of the stage, I came to understand a lot more about art history, women’s history, and feminism. Theater really should be seen and heard, as well as read, so try the digital audio version on for size, too.

Cooking for Dummies, Bryan Miller.

Although IDG’s “Dummies” series takes a lot of good-natured ribbing for their approach, this particular title is extremely helpful. Miller’s introduction to kitchen skills covers basic tools and techniques for the beginner kitchen wizard, then moves on to simple foods, like salads and pasta, that are pretty hard to screw up. Once you’ve got those under your belt, you can move on to strategies for shopping, meal planning, and dinner parties. Miller ends the book with lists of books and resources to consult next, ensuring that you can take your cooking up to the next level, if you want. Perfect for new college grads, or anyone else who’s tired of relying on take-out and the microwave.

This book saved me from a lifetime of eating frozen dinners. I was trying to get serious about exercising and losing weight, so I thought it would be a good idea to learn to cook properly, too (go big, or go home). Miller’s book gave me the basic kitchen skills I needed and the confidence to try more advanced dishes, and I plan to give it as a gift to all the kids in my life when they’re ready to strike out on their own. This is also the very first book I ever checked out of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger.

Henry’s rare genetic anomaly randomly sends him back and forth in time; Clare’s life follows a normal, sequential pattern. Their asynchronous love affair is magical, passionate, and exciting, but also fraught with difficulty. After all, it’s exasperating when the person you love can vanish at any moment, and it’s no picnic for the vanisher, either. Is this a love story for the ages or a train wreck waiting to happen? Literary romance fans who haven’t devoured this book should bump it to the top of their lists, at once.

I’m not the sort of person who reads popular books at the same time everyone else is reading them. I made an exception, though, the year I went to library school, and everybody was swooning over this book. A time-traveling librarian? How could we notIt was the first time I’d been on the same page–literally and figuratively–with a group of friends over a book, and the fact that we were all working hard, studying hard, and partying hard together made it even more meaningful and worthwhile.

Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed.

Strayed’s collection of tough-love advice, collated from her tenure as advice columnist “Dear Sugar” on The Rumpus, is tough, tender, hilarious and heartbreaking. Strayed’s overall tone is warm and friendly, making you feel as if you’re sitting in the kitchen–or maybe a coffee shop–with the very best kind of friend: someone warm and sympathetic, but unafraid to call you on your crap, if need be. Letter-writers bare their souls on topics from the loss of a child to professional envy of a friend, and Strayed answers them all the even-tempered wisdom that is hard-won by those who have seen, and survived, many of life’s more unpleasant aspects.

When I grow up, I want to be just like Cheryl Strayed. She’s endured a great deal in her life, but she didn’t let it make her bitter. She writes with both wisdom and humor. She knows when cuss words make a piece of writing work, and when to use gentler language.  And she genuinely cares about the people who write to her, and wants to help them achieve their highest potential. Those aren’t bad things to aspire to, methinks, and I ask myself sometimes, “What would Cheryl say?” when I ponder my own dilemmas. Hopefully keeping this book handy will keep me grounded and sensible–but not too sensible–as I navigate my 40s.

Your turn: what books would be on your ideal bookshelf? Tell us about a book that means a lot to you, or reminds you of a specific time in your life.

–Leigh Anne


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Literary Cookbooks: Wookie Cookies and More!

Dear Reader, if you want to get crazy and mix your two favorite things, food and literature, look no further than the Library.  We actually have a subject heading for that: Literary Cookbooks.  Cook like you are in Bon Temps, Narnia, or Jane Austen’s England.  Below are some highlights from our collections.

Cover Image What would Katniss bake?  Find out in: The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook: From Lamb Stew to “Groosling” — more than 150 recipes by Emily Ansara Baines.

Book CoverHere you’ll find a veritable smorgasbord of literary yums, from James Bond to The Great Gatsby.

Book CoverWho could resist Boba Fett-Uccine? The Star Wars Cook Book: Wookiee Cookies, and Other Galactic Recipes by Robin Davis.
Cover Image Plan a Pride & Prejudice dinner party!  Check out Cooking with Jane Austen, by Kirstin Olsen.
Book Cover Get campy with your cookery! True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps by Gianna Sobol.

Happy eating and reading!

Holly – CLP Main


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It’s All In The Stars

I would like to say I don’t believe in all that silly horoscope stuff and dream interpretation and signs and omens and whatnot. But my zodiac sign is Pisces and my Chinese zodiac sign is the Snake:


OnlyAstrologyMy all-time favorite astrology book is The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need by Joanna Martine Woolfolk. I bought my first copy sometime in the early 90s, only to have it stolen by some strumpet my boyfriend was cheating on me with. I’ve long since gotten over him, but I’m still pretty bent about the book. Seriously, you can steal just about anything you want from me, but keep your mitts off of my books!

But I digress.

The Only Astrology Book now comes with an interactive CD that will actually make your birth chart for you. And it is NEATO. Also way less time-consuming than looking up all of the planetary placements yourself.

I’ve outed myself as a Pisces. A lot of people say, “You don’t seem like a typical Pisces,” by which I think they mean I’m not sappy, over-sensitive or super-emotional. I can be, but as a rule, I’m pretty balanced because my Moon in Libra. (Scales!) However, the dark side of the Moon makes me indecisive and frivolous. Like indecisive to the point that deciding what to have for lunch brings me to tears.

Knowing the basics of the zodiac helps with relationships, too.  Now I’m not saying that I knew Cancers responded to sincere compliments when I met my husband, but I sure did like his smile. I know Leos like to have their egos stroked and Scorpios are intense, but generous and loyal (sexy, too.) I should never date a Gemini because all they do is hurt my feelings and I shouldn’t marry a fellow Pisces (despite the physical attraction) because we’re both bad with money and will end up bankrupt. See? Look at all those things you just learned! Learn more with these books!

EverdayAstrologyGary Goldschneider’s Everyday Astrology : How to Make Astrology Work For You by Gary Goldschneider. Also available as an e-book. Gary Goldschneider is also the author of The Secret Language of Birthdays, which is another great astrology resource. Goldschneider is considered one of the experts on personology, the link between astrology as a science and astrology as an art. Everyday Astrology is a fun look at how to use the zodiac in your relationships, career and other facets of your life. Want to ask your Aries boss for a raise? Break up with Scorpio? Survive the holidays with Gemini parents? Then this is the book for you!

SunSignsLinda Goodman’s Sun Signs by Linda Goodman . Since its initial publication in 1968, Sun Signs has sold over 60 million copies. It also has the distinction of being the first astrology book to be a New York Times bestseller. As well it should be. Nearly 45 years later, the astrological insights from Goodman are still astonishing. When I read her description of my own sign, I’m amazed at not only her accuracy, but by the intuition behind her research. Interesting tidbit about Goodman: she would never reveal her own birth year. Only after her death in 1995 did the world find out (1925).

RockYourStarsRock  Your Stars: Your Astrological Guide to Getting it All by Holiday Mathis. Holiday Mathis writes a popular daily horoscope column, and Rock Your Stars is a compilation of her extensive astrological knowledge. Mathis encourages women to use astrology in their everyday life- as a form of meditation almost, like some of us do yoga or pray. What color should you paint your bedroom? Where should you go with your career? Is he the right one for you? Use Rock Your Stars to find your own path.

WhatYoruBirthdayRevelasWhat Your Birthday Reveals About You: 366 Days of Astonishingly Accurate Revelations About Your Future, Your Secrets, and Your Strengths by Phyllis Vega. This book is astonishingly accurate. It’s also a great coffee table book, simply for the conversation it will generate. Vega is the author of several very popular astrology books, including Erotic Astrology, which, sadly, the library does not own. It is fascinating to me that the day you are born predicts so much about your future weaknesses and strengths.

LobsterForLeosLobster for Leos, Cookies for Capricorns : An Astrology Lover’s Cookbook by Sabra Ricci. It makes me stupidly happy that astrology cookbooks exist. In Woolfolk’s book, she writes about what foods are best and worst for each sign (I should stay away from caffeine. REALLY?!?!?!? YOU THINK?!!) This cookbook takes it one step further and has recipes for that will help Aries focus, get a Scorpio talking, and countless aphrodisiacs, as well. If you are in the South Side, feel free to deliver astrologically accurate cookies to me.

Happy Predicting!

frivolous, yet compassionate, Pisces


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A Homemade Snacks How-To

No, I’m not actually going to tell you how to make some of your favorite store-bought treats, but I am going to give you some ideas for who can and will.

This Saturday, March 9th, we are pleased to have Casey Barber, blogger and author, for a special Saturday session of our Hands-On Workshop Series. She will be demonstrating how to make marshmallow fluff, selling and signing copies of her book, and there will be FREE SAMPLES!! Unlike our other HOW workshops, no pre-registration is required for this event. So, we hope you’ll stop by for what promises to be a fun and tasty presentation.

If you’d like to cure your junk food cravings with something homemade instead of brought home, try one of these books from our extensive cookbook collection:

Fast Food Fix: 75+ Amazing Recipe Makeovers of Your Fast Food Restaurant Favorites by Devin Alexander – You know you want it. Now you can have it, but it will be better for you!

Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Snacks by Casey Barber – This is the one our Saturday presenter wrote (pictured above). Did you ever think of making funyuns or peeps at home? Well, you can!

The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making by Alana Chernila – I’ve talked about this one before, but it’s worth repeating…

Unjunk Your Junk Food: Natural Alternatives to Conventional Snacks by Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer – This is an Eat This, Not That for snack foods and drinks only. If you’re going to buy your treats, buy the best and healthiest treats you can.

Vegan Junk Food: 225 Sinful Snacks That Are Good for the Soul: No Meat, No Dairy, Lots of Love! by Lane Gold – For those who are following a vegan diet, lots of snacks foods to satisfy your sweet, and salty, tooth. Vegans need great treats too!

Salty Snacks: Make Your Own Chips, Crisps, Crackers, Pretzels, Dips, and Other Savory Bites by Cynthia Nims – When you make your own treats at home, you can control the ingredients. This means less preservatives and chemicals. They’re healthier and often tastier too!

America’s Most Wanted Recipes: Delicious Recipes from Your Family’s Favorite Restaurants by Ron Douglas – These recipes may not be the most low-calorie, but they’ll be cheaper, and probably better for you, than going out. There’s also More of America’s Most Wanted Recipes and America’s Most Wanted Recipes Just Desserts from the same author.

Remember to stop by the Main Library on Saturday at 11:00am for Casey’s homemade treats presentation. We’ll be in the Quiet Reading Room on the First Floor. I’ll be introducing her and then hanging out in the back row. I hope to see you there!

Happy Snacking!
-Melissa M.

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