10 Books for Snuggling Up by the Fire

A variety of books that will thrill, delight and inspire.

A variety of books that will thrill, delight and inspire.

City Style and Living Magazine Winter 2020 10 Books for Snuggling Up by the Fire Gardening
/ Collage by K&S Media

The World Atlas Of Wine, 8th Edition
By Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson
Octopus Books, $61.26

Foremost wine writers Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson provide a veritable encyclopedia of wine knowledge in this hefty (more than 400 page) tome. Basics of wine making, grape varieties and history are followed by a deep dive into global wine producing areas with plenty of evocative photos, and detailed maps to virtually traipse through the vineyards.

The Story of Gardening A Cultural History of Famous Gardens from Around the World
By Penelope Hobhouse and Ambra Edwards
Princeton Architectural Press, $88.00

Focusing primarily on Europe, this is an anthropological survey of gardens through time. Sociological, culinary and architectural motivations are explored, less so the psychological and physical benefits. A variety of photographs, engravings, lithographs enriches the narrative.

Apples of Uncommon Character: Heirlooms, Modern Classics, and Little-Known Wonders
By Rowan Jacobsen
Bloomsbury USA, $40.00

A fascinating exploration of one of the most common fruits on the planet from its origins in Central Asia to the farmsteads of Virginia. While the flavour descriptions are subjective, and some, verge on the whimsical, altogether, the book is a delightful compendium. A recipe section illustrates the apple’s versatility while the section on cider will have you salivating.

City Style and Living Magazine Winter 2020 10 Books for Snuggling Up by the Fire wine bible
/ Collage by K&S Media

Think Like A Monk: Train Your Mind For Peace And Purpose Every Day
By Jay Shetty
Simon & Schuster, $34.99

A semi-autobiographical account of the importance of the mind in spirituality, focusing on three means: meditation, visualization and sound. Snack-sized quotes, celebrity shout-outs and exercises are meant to entice the glued-to-their-device crowd. Authentic (Shetty lived as a monk for a time) and fun to read, some fundamentals are not addressed: duality, transcendence, and identity with eternity. Nor is the fact that the mind is much more than mere thinking and impulse systems other than the brain derive from the body. Lacking most of all is an acknowledgement of death as intrinsic to life and without it no real spiritual journey can ever truly begin.

The Yoga Sutras
By Nicholas Sutton
Simon & Schuster, $24.07

So powerful are the words of Patanjali that they defy any attempt to mar, anesthetize or distort them and remain seminal in defining yoga. Thus, skip the “discussion” section which is an odd masquerade of scholarship that attempts to divorce yoga from the framework of the perennial philosophy of India, already several millennia old. Indeed, the author is reluctant to ever define yoga which is a Sanskrit word meaning that which yokes the self to the divine. Hatha yoga is but one pathway toward union and underscores the significance of breath. Part of the disconnect stems from an attempt to contort Patanjali’s words to modern day yoga practitioners and not allow their poetry, compassion and truth to shine.

The Wine Bible
By Karen MacNeil
Workman Publishing Co, $37.95

A fully fleshed-out guide providing a thorough understanding of wines from around the world. Well-researched supporting info (food pairings, unknown varietals) and anecdotes makes it an entertaining read for both the novice and oenophile. Descriptions of specific labels are at times fantastical and ephemeral, yet still provide a good sense of the overall taste even sans sip. This is a wonderful book for any library as it will remain an indelible resource for years to come, and readers will consult it time and again not just to seek bottles for dinner parties, nights by the fire and special occasions but as an interesting read in its own right.

City Style and Living Magazine Winter 2020 10 Books for Snuggling Up by the Fire Larousse PAtisserie
/ Collage by K&S Media

Larousse Patisserie And Baking: The Ultimate Expert Guide, With More Than 200 Recipes And Step-by-step Techniques
By Larousse
Octopus Books, $65.00

A step-by-step guide to make the most popular French desserts from vacherin and blancmange to macarons, madeleines and more contained in a beautiful turquoise hardcover. Colourful photographs illustrate over 200 easy to follow recipes and techniques for the home baker. Still do not expect the minutiae of a typical Larousse volume.

The Conservatory: Gardens Under Glass
By Alan Stein, Nancy Virts
Princeton Architectural Press, $88.00

Conservatories are works of art in and of themselves. Photographs heighten the immediate beauty of these repositories of flora not just in settings of sweeping vistas of palms and colourful allées but in details of wrought iron leaves and domes of glass. Most of all, this book is a reminder of how conservatories have been, and continue to be, an oasis of exotic species, food and ornamentals.

City Style and Living Magazine Winter 2020 10 Books for Snuggling Up by the Fire Moon Astrologer
/ Collage by K&S Media

Be Your Own Moon Astrologer
By Heather Roan Robbins
Ryland Peters & Small, $13.95

According to astrology the moon is the heart of your emotional life. Discover how your moon placement affects family dynamics, its gifts and challenges, and dealing with others. Then take cues about your daily routines from the sign the moon occupies. With interesting ideas about gardening by the moon, activities to launch or refrain from, and how this satellite interacts with other planets in your chart, this is an entertaining read.

The Garden Primer
By Barbara Damrosch,
Workman Publishing Co, $37.95

A guide on growing everything from produce to flowers and bulbs based on personal experience, trials and tribulations. Certainly this is a primer on gardening full of practical information but the first person adds rich credibility, not to mention an unexpected narrative voice. Black and white sketches give the book a retro, homesteading feel so that the lack of colour is not missed. There is plenty to help your own propagation pursuits.

This original arts article first appeared in the Winter 2020/2021 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.

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