Wyatt’s World: Welcome Spring with Cookbooks, Gardening How-to & Debut Novels

Books are often marketed on a seasonal basis. While summer is all about the beach read, and the fall is loaded with a publisher’s marquee authors, spring reading is largely centered on gardening and baseball. Yet, spring is also a grand time to talk about cookbooks and debut works; both promise different kinds of new starts.

  • A rather large segment of gardening books are for people without time or space to garden. Container gardening solves this problem, and thus one can find a bevy of how-to titles on gardening in tight spaces (be that porches or pots). A well-developed gardening collection should serve everyone from those with space and interest to have free-range chickens to those who would be thrilled with a vibrant cherry tomato plant and some basil. Fern Richardson’s Small-Space Container Gardens: Transform Your Balcony, Porch, or Patio with Fruits, Flowers, Foliage, and Herbs (Timber Pr.) is an excellent choice for the latter group, offering far more than those basics.
  • Yes, John Grisham has a baseball book out soon too‚ Calico Joe‚ but don’t overlook Chris Ballard’s One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season (Hyperion), a nonfiction gem about an underdog team that made good. This is the kind of baseball book that has long arms: YA readers, avid baseball fans, sports readers, and narrative nonfiction readers who like to be firmly set in a particular time and place should all find it joyful.
  • A library can never exhaust the demand for a satisfying cookbook, be it a standard guide by such luminaries as Julia Child, Diana Kennedy, and Alice Waters or a bright new entry that is as much fun to page through as to cook from. Beatrice Peltre’s La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life (Roost Bks.) joins works by Clotilde Dusoulier, Nigella Lawson, and Laura Calder in that category, with its lovely, stylish, and charming approach to a foodcentric life.
  • Stephen Dau’s first novel, The Book of Jonas by (Blue Rider Pr.), is gaining a great deal of attention, having earned a touting in LJ‘s Prepub Alert by Barbara Hoffert and starred reviews in Booklist and Kirkus. It is a timely book, set in America and an unnamed Muslim country, where the United States is waging the war on terror. Through a looping and time-shifting narrative, and with beautifully crafted language, Dau explores the toll of violence on everyone trapped in the cycle of war.
  • Chris Pavone’s first novel, The Expats (Crown), received raves from the four traditional library review sources and is currently climbing the New York Times best-sellers list. This espionage thriller for avid fans and those wanting to sample an embodiment of the genre focuses on Kate Moore, who once worked for the CIA but is now a married mother of two living the expat life in Luxembourg with her banker husband, Dexter. But, once a CIA agent, always suspicious. There is something about Dexter and her newfound expat acquaintances that does not add up. Smart, fast, and gripping‚ and with a heroine who can more than stand her ground.
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Neal Wyatt About Neal Wyatt

Neal Wyatt compiles LJ's online feature Wyatt's World and is the author of The Readers' Advisory Guide to Nonfiction (ALA Editions, 2007). She is a collection development and readers' advisory librarian from Virginia. Those interested in contributing to The Reader's Shelf should contact her directly at Readers_Shelf@comcast.net