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August 18, 2011 Edition

Blood and Smoke

Written by Charles Leerhsen

Ever since the Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened in 1909, daring drivers have taken their lives in their hands just to show how fast they can go. In the beginning, “fast” was a dizzying 75 miles per hour, which may sound like nothing to readers today, but this was in a car without seatbelts, roll bars, hard helmets, or even windshields, on a slick, oily track filled with smoke, gravel, and debris from exploding tires. The media questioned whether racing was even a sport, likened it to Roman gladiator games, and called spectators barbaric. Bookies took bets not only on which car would win, but on which driver (but not mechanic) would survive. And the American public began to flock to the spectacle. This book weaves the story of how the motorway was built together with the story of the very first Indy 500 race in 1911, and the enormous, chaotic controversy that still surround the results.

Indigo: in search of the color that seduced the world

Written by Catherine McKinley

When McKinley sets out to trace the origins of the vibrant blue dye that has colored so much of our world, she finds herself on a very personal journey to her roots as well. Her ancestors include textile factory owners, Jewish “rag traders,” and African slaves, who were traded along the same routes as the blue cloth, and as a graduate student, she became fascinated with genuine indigo after coming face-to-face with it. Real indigo is increasingly rare, and so the trail McKinley follows into Ghana is fading nearly as fast as she can follow it. But follow it she does, making friends and meeting artisans along the way, and taking readers on a colorful journey alongside her.

In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite

Written by Melissa Clark

Here’s a practical but delightful cookbook from one of the New York Times’ beloved food writers. With chapter headings like “things with cheese,” and “it tastes like chicken,” there’s little need to guess where to look for what you want (plus, there’s a good index). The photo on the cover will draw you in if you’re a grilled cheese sandwich eater, but Clark writes on the principle of “a thousand words are worth a photo” (which, in her capable hands, turns out to be true) and prefaces each recipe with a mouthwatering story about its origins or her first encounters with it. Look for Olive Oil Granola with Dried Apricots and Pistachios, Garlicky Sesame-cured Broccoli Salad, Comte Grilled Cheese with Cornichon Spread, and other grown-up sounding recipes that are not only easier than they sound, but also delicious and suitable for sharing with other adults at get-togethers without embarrassment or fear of leftovers.

Fruit: edible, inedible, incredible

Written by Wolfgang Stuppy
Illustrated by Rob Kesseler

These two books of amazing photographs are very different in their scope and mood. The first is an examination of fruit in myriad varieties, using special light and scanning electron microscopes to capture stunning macroscopic images. Stuppy has written an accompanying text to help explain the seemingly alien world of the photos and the role of fruit in the world. In the second title, Arnold has combined his degree in photography with his years on the Bering Sea to produce a somewhat puzzling (there’s no text) but absolutely imagination-provoking impressionistic homage to life on a commercial fishing boat.

Fish-work: the Bering Sea

Written by Corey Arnold

These two books of amazing photographs are very different in their scope and mood. The first is an examination of fruit in myriad varieties, using special light and scanning electron microscopes to capture stunning macroscopic images. Stuppy has written an accompanying text to help explain the seemingly alien world of the photos and the role of fruit in the world. In the second title, Arnold has combined his degree in photography with his years on the Bering Sea to produce a somewhat puzzling (there’s no text) but absolutely imagination-provoking impressionistic homage to life on a commercial fishing boat.

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