Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Let the Cooling Begin. Soon. Now Even.

Hey, did anyone notice that it's darned hot out there?? There's a reason why I don't live in the South. Well, many of them, actually (can you say "bugs"??). But one of the biggest is that I'm not a huge fan of heat and humidity. Especially together. So what's with this heat-and-humidity-IN-PORTLAND thing? My house was a balmy 85 on the main floor when I left to come to work, and my overheated cats were splayed out on the floor like furry hot water bottles. Oh, did I mention we have AIR CONDITIONING here at Broadway Books? I might have mentioned it a time or two already....

Anyway, let's try for a little vicarious book cooling, shall we? Just looking at the covers of these books takes the temperature down a notch or two, and I'm sure cracking them open and reading them will make us all just downright chilly, in the best possible way.

In Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places, Bill Streever takes us on an extraordinary search for cold in a warming world. (Sound familiar?) Streever, who chairs the North Slope Science Initiative's Science Technical Advisory Panel, evokes history, myth, geography, and ecology in showing us the cold that remains in this world and what has been left in its absence -- taking a dip in an Arctic swimming hole, exploring the hibernation habits of animals, and adventuring up Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest peak, among his other poetic escapades.

The Solace of Open Spaces, by Gretel Ehrlich, about the beauty of Wyoming, has long been one of my favorite books. Her most recent book, published a few years ago, is The Future of Ice: A Journey into Cold (now THAT sounds nice about now). The book was written out of Ehrlich's love for winter -- for remote and cold places, for the ways winter frees our imagination and invigorates our feet, mind, and soul -- and also out of the fear that our "democracy of gratification" has irreparably altered the climate. From Tierra del Fuego in the south to Spitsbergen, east of Greenland, at the very top of the world, Ehrlich experiences firsthand the myriad expressions of cold and shares them with us, exploring the important question: If winter ends, will we survive?

Near Death in the Arctic: True Stories of Disaster and Survival, edited by Cecil Kuhne, might be taking us TOO far down the cold path. In this book, Kuhne, gathers astonishing tales of man versus nature, all set against the bleakly beautiful backdrop of the poles of the earth. The anthology includes "South: A Memoir of the Endurance Voyage," by Ernest Shackleton, "The Worst Journey in the World: Antarctic 1910-13," by Apsely Cherry-Garrard, and "Ice Bird: The First Single-Handed Voyage to Antarctica," by David Lewis.

Even a little rain sounds pretty good just about now, so I have to include one of my all-time favorite northwest books, The Good Rain: Across Time and Terrain in the Pacific Northwest, by that wonderful writer Timothy Egan. In the tradition of fine journalism, Egan takes us from salmon fisheries to mountain camps, from an impoverished Indian reservation to the manicured English gardens of Vancouver, interweaving personal experiences and conversations with observations of nature and historical information. A terrific book. Egan (also author of The Worst Hard Time, about the great American Dust Bowl) has a new book coming out in October: The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America.

Finally, if you're not cooled down yet, this book will surely do the trick: The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments, by David Lebovitz. Mmmmm. My mouth is watering just typing all those words! Every luscious flavor imaginable is grist for the chill in pastry chef Lebovitz's gorgeous guide to the pleasures of homemade ice creams and more. Just whip up one of these babies and watch the cooling begin.

We've got all these books in stock in our (did I mention yet?) AIR CONDITIONED bookstore, so come say hi and step out of the heat and let the cooling begin.

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