Required reading for the season.
1/ FOR THE CLASSICS LOVER
The Odyssey By Homer Illustrated by Coralie Bickford-Smith, $25.00, Penguin Classics; penguinrandomhouse.ca
This is a hardbound keepsake that will live in the family library for generations. Telling the story of the journey of shipwrecked Greek hero of the Trojan War, who slyly escapes from various trials to make his way home to his wife Penelope, it is an ancient story in the lauded records of humanity. How the individual fares in the face of nature, the supernatural, and ultimately itself, sets the archetype for much of modern storytelling.
2/ FOR THE ROMANTIC
Selected Poetical Works: Blake, By William Blake, $15.00, Alma; almabooks.com
Great poetry is spirituality, and much of Blake’s resembles mantras, words for meditation: “Energy is eternal delight;” “Eternity is in love with the products of time;” “All must love the human form…there God is dwelling too.” The gist of his philosophy is that the Infinite manifests through this time and this world. To look for the Divine anywhere but here is foolhardy. From lullaby to biting social and historical commentary, personal mythology and prose, Blake harnesses descriptive imagery masterfully. Trace a line of heredity from him through Romanticism to the works of T.S. Eliot and W.B. Yeats. These are words for the contemplative soul.
3/ FOR THE KID IN ALL OF US
The Story of the Treasure Seekers By E. Nesbit Illustrated by Peter Bailey, $16.25, Alma; almabooks.com
Filled with magical childhood memories in the making, this is a book you’ll want to read aloud to your little ones. Influential for more than a century in England, it still has the power to enchant and captivate children today. A group of siblings go in search of treasure to aid their widower father. Narrated by a child and harnessing a sense of adventure and fun, it feels contemporary and suited to these uncertain times.
4/ FOR THE BAKER
French Patisserie Master Recipes and Techniques from the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts By FERRANDI Paris, $80.00, Rizzoli; penguinrandomhouse.ca
Step-by-step comprehensive compendium of pastry. Each section includes methods, techniques and a variety of recipes from renowned chefs who have reinterpreted classics. Modern ingredients like invert sugar, ice cream stabilizers and equipment like a siphon make some recipes a little out of reach for the average home cook. Still, there is so much detailed information about ingredients and visual instructions that this would make a wonderful reference book in any kitchen.
5/ FOR THE AFICIONADO
Champagne [boxed Book & Map Set]: The Essential Guide To The Wines, Producers, And Terroirs Of The Iconic Region By Peter Liem, $105.00, Potter; penguinrandomhouse.ca
Author Philip Liem, renown wine expert, provides unbiased firsthand experience from years spent living in the Champagne region, acquiring personalized interviews with grower-producers, negotiants and coopérateurs to get a well-rounded view of the entirety of the Champagne process. An essential reference guide to the region, written in simple, yet detailed structure. Documentary style black and white and colour photographs and supplemental vintage vineyard maps lend depth to the information contained within this comprehensible book.
6/ FOR THE WINE ENTHUSIAST
By Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack, $35.00, Penguin Publishing Group; penguinrandomhouse.ca
Presented in easy-to-follow, highly visual, format, with lots of helpful infographics, this well-constructed guide provides a broad spectrum of topics, from grape varieties to regions, wine styles, science and pairing tips. A beautiful gift for the beginner or moderate wine consumer wanting to get acquainted with more substantial wine knowledge.
This original arts article first appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.