Mad Dogs and an Englishwoman: Travels with Sled Dogs in Canada's Frozen North, by Polly Evans
Polly Evans is a gifted travel writer, who likes to savour unusual experiences in far-flung corners of the world.
She has previously written about her bicycle tour of Spain in It's Not About the Tapas , her motorcycle tour of New Zealand in Kiwis Might Fly , her battle to travel around China on public transportation in Fried Eggs and Chopsticks , and her attempt to learn to ride horses in Argentina in On a Hoof and A Prayer.
Mad Dogs and an Englishwoman is an account of her eleven weeks spent in the Yukon, staying at the Muktuk Kennels, and traveling along with the support crew of a team competing in the Yukon Quest, a less commercial sled-dog race than the Alaskan Iditarod.
Despite her reservations about the cold weather, which dipped below -40 degrees Celsius on occasion, Evans finds herself growing increasingly fond of the stark beauty of the snowscapes and the magnificent northern lights, and truly welcomed by the eccentric group of human and canine companions she is surrounded by.
Indeed, by the book's close, Evans is contemplating ripping up her plane ticket home, so seductive has become the lure of the Arctic.
This is a very enjoyable and well-written read, and will amuse those of us who are quite familiar with some of the experiences which are amazing to her. The fact that they ring true is a testament to her faithful reportage of her time in Canada's north.
Throw an interesting twist into your usual holiday meals with an Italian touch!
Holiday Food by Mario Batali
From Publishers Weekly
Americans tend to think of Italian cooking as easy: we have come to rely on 15-minute pastas and hearty, seasonal dishes like minestrone. But here, Batali of Food Network's Molto Mario presents the most cherished Italian dishesAthose served, often after days of preparation and with fanfare, during the holidays. Batali focuses on the seafood-rich Amalfi coast, beginning with a Christmas Eve menu that includes Vongole Origanate (clams oreganato), Baccal? Vesuviana, Ravioli alla Spigola (Sea Bass Ravioli with Marjoram and Potatoes), and in case you still have any room for dessert, Classic Cannoli. The book consists of traditional Italian menus that take you through the four holidays; Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, but the recipes can be used for an impressive meal or snack any time. (There is also a separate section on the wines of Campania.) Cooking from scratch is the name of the game, so don't expect shortcuts; however, instructions are generally to the point and the results are well worthwhile. Recipes like Mythic Pasta Dome (a sort of pasta torte) capture the elaborate and festive nature of holiday Italian cooking. Beginners might be intimidated: Baba (lemon cake) requires a yeast rising and the insertion of fine holes in the cake into which a lemon mixture is "infused." But once practiced, recipes become easy, and there are some simple yet gratifying recipes, such as No-Bake Chocolate Cookies. If you want to enliven your Italian repertoire with authentic, celebratory dishes, this book is invaluable.
--The Library Technician
The Red Suit Diaries by Ed Butchart
Product Description from Amazon.com
Tom Brokaw said it best about the author: This Santa "can only be described as the real thing." With warmth, humor, and wonder, Ed Butchart shares his stories as a professional Santa Claus in The Red Suit Diaries. Deftly combining his Santa persona with his passion for God, Butchart reveals himself as a once-hardened Marine who found Jesus and began to serve others in unusual ways. Readers who open The Red Suit Diaries will find themselves transfixed-from Santa's day job refurbishing medical equipment for the disabled, to the sweetest of secrets whispered in Santa's ear and written in letters, and the story of how he unknowingly found "Mrs. Claus." Woven throughout is a faith-and a joy of giving-that energizes Butchart's mission to spread love to all kinds of children and adults. This fun-spirited, inspirational read will delight collectors of Christmas books and anyone who's a child at heart.
Christmas: A Candid History by Bruce David Forbes
From Publishers Weekly
In this brief sketch of the history of Christmas celebrations and traditions, Forbes draws heavily on previous scholarship by the likes of Stephen Nissenbaum (The Battle for Christmas) and Leigh Schmidt (Consumer Rites), offering an overview that is informed yet concise. Forbes opens by rehearsing biblical scholars' debates about Jesus' birth, showing how little we can glean from the New Testament, then moves into discussions of winter festivals in early church history and the Roman Empire. The more compelling chapters are the latter ones on Christmas in America, discussing its surprising rise to prominence in the mid-19th century. Although this is a secondary work, Forbes does add some tidbits to the debates; for example, he pinpoints cartoonist Thomas Nast as primarily responsible for the mythology of Santa's elf-ridden workshop in a far-off North Pole. Small historical errors mar the text, as when Forbes fails to distinguish between Puritans and Pilgrims, or credits British activist William Wilberforce with the Victorian moral revival, when Wilberforce died before Victoria's accession. However, the book is valuable for its well-proven insistence that Christmas has always been as much a social and commercial festival as a religious one, debunking naïve assumptions that it used to be a purely spiritual holiday in a bygone halcyon age.
Christmas Days by Derek McCormack
Product Description from the book:
Derek McCormack's Christma's Days is an advent calendar in words and pictures. The chapters are doors, each decorated by Seth. Wrapping paper, toy stockings, tree stands - when did these all become part of Christmas? Where in Canada where they made? who made them, and how? An appealing mix of history , reportage, wit, and enthusiasm for the holiday makes this the perfect book for fans of the stuff of X-mas.
--The Library Technician