Banned Books Week

Great infographic on the top 10 banned or challenged classics.

Banned Books Infographic from
Presented By BookPal

American Tuna: The Rise and Fall of an Improbable Food by Andrew F. Smith

Americans have had a long love affair with tuna, and American Tuna by Andrew F. Smith is just as good for a sociology read as a history one. With interweaving facts, interesting trivia bits, and historical recipes, he turns the facts he finds into a fun if cautionary tale of the tuna canning industry.

Our love for tuna is evidenced with the longevity of such recipes as tuna melts, tuna noodle casserole, tuna salad (including Nicoise), and others. It wasn't always that way. Tuna had to be sold to consumers as early catches. Tuna was originally caught for fish oil or fertilizer, but once food came into the mix, fishing soon became out of control and conservation was an issue.

The famous Tuna Club of Avalon:
[Their] main interest was to promote the sportsmanlike approach to saltwater fishing with rods and reels in hopes of stopping the massive slaughter of fish along the coast of Southern California by sportfishermen who caught thousands of fish with hand lines, only to toss them overboard.

Tuna Recipes and Advertising

There is a history of advertising with recipe booklets. How advertisers used (and still use) collections of recipes to promote their brands is interesting. Since tuna was new in the early 1900s, they had to be creative to get consumers, mainly housewives, 'into' their product. Instead of creating something new, they often simply tweaked recipes using this new product.
The goal of early tuna recipes was to add tuna or replace another fish or meat ingredient with tuna in existing recipes.
The first known publishing of the famous creamed tuna is found in the The Los Angeles Tuna Company's Panama Brand Tuna recipe booklet. Since tuna manufacturer's had little space to advertise a recipe they started the practice of printing them on the inside of the labels. Celebrated chefs, such as Jean Vulpat of the Hotel del Coronado, started using tuna in their menus.

From Trendy to Mainstay

Canned tuna became a cheap staple in households from WWI to the 1920s. The tuna casserole made its appearance in the 1930s and by the 1950s was a national comfort food. Because of the increased interest in tuna, consumer demand skyrocketed. Smith details what went on 'behind the scenes' so that factories and the fishing industry could meet consumer demand. He backs up his findings with a long bibliography so you can further your research (a good quarter of the book is 'notes.').

A great read for anyone with an interest in either the fishing industry, or historical recipes. He adds a few in the book to try.

Book Information:
Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.

Canal House Cooking Volume 4: Farm Markets and Gardens by Hamilton and Hirsheimer

Canal House Cooking Volume 4: Farm Markets and Gardens

The 4th volume of The Canal House Cooking recipe collections (seasonal cooking publications) is filled with fresh-sounding recipes and fresh-looking photographs. Canal House Cooking Volume No. 4: Farm Markets and Gardens incorporates the best produce from the different seasons and turns them into inviting recipes.

Read the full review and try the recipe for the anchovy-laced tomato butter on The Cookbook Papers cookbook review blog.

Enjoy :)

Let's Get Digital by David Gaughran

If you are interested in self-publishing and publishing digital versions of your book, David Graughran's book Let's Get Digital (available on Smashwords, and on his website) is an excellent primer necessary in starting out. A little background on David Graughran: he is a short story writer, and considered by some an expert in the field of self-publishing e-books. His blog contains all things digital-publishing, and all of his books are only available via e-book format, so if you are looking for a trade book publication to pack in your tote, you won't find one from this writer. What you will find from his blog is simply all things related to digital publishing and ways to get there from start to finish, which is the subject of Let's Get Digital.

The book has three main parts: Part One: Digital Revolution; Part Two: Digital Self-Publishing; and Part Three: Success Stories. The Appendixes at the back contain resources and info about the author.

Let's Get Digital Chapters and Overview

The first part of the book is for anyone still deciding on whether to go the route of e-publishing. Part One is The Digital Revolution, and Graughran lists out his reason author's should consider self-publishing. Writer's have full control (and absolute responsibility) of the editing if it is self-published, and have to go through the same steps as any printed book as far as getting it to 'print.' Formatting, editing, and marketing are all still needed. He makes good cases on why a writer should self-publish, and provides examples on how the market is changing to support his theories.

The royalties part is surprising to anyone to who has picked up a book at a bookstore for the list price and thinks the author is getting rich by that sale alone. It is very surprising to realize that once the retailer, publisher, and agent get their cut of the book, very little is actually left for the writer, the one who did all the work in the first place writing it. With an e-book, little overhead is needed (shipping/storage/printing). Now that traditional publishers are beginning to take note of this, more and more print publishers are offering e-books to their customers, but keeping all the profits that would otherwise go to overhead. With self-publishing digital versions of your book, everything (profit) is yours to keep.

Part Two goes into the digital self-publishing nitty-gritty itself. Whether you are just getting into this form of writing, or have self-published already, his steps are insightful and you will learn something new from his discoveries through his steps.

Gaughran's Steps to Self-Publishing:
  • Write Your Story
  • Design Your Cover
  • Edit Your Story
  • Format Your Story
  • Uploading and Pricing
  • Blogging and Websites
  • Social Networking
  • Reviews
  • Competitions, Discounts, Giveaways and Blog Tours
  • What Happens When Your Sales Just Stop?
Success Stories and Examples

The last part is the most interesting as it lists success stories from 33 different writers who have shared their experiences and success with self-publishing, all in their own words. The sharing of their stories is important as it brings the case that self-publishing possibilities isn't just one writer's (the author of Let's Get Digital) opinion, it is real life experiences that other's share on their journeys.

In all, Let's Get Digital a really great read for anyone who is just starting out or for those who have a low opinion of self-published digital works. The self-published e-book you just passed over for the glossy print offered from a giant publisher could be written by a person not running the rat race of agents/publishing houses and instead making a comfortable life doing what they love: writing. The stories of Michael Hicks, Beth Orsoff, Sibel Hodge, Terri Reid, Stacey Wallace Benefiel, and others back it up.

Book Information:
  • Let's Get Digital: How to Self-Publish, And Why You Should; by David Gaughran
  • Arriba Arriba Books, 2011

500 Silver Jewelry Designs: The Powerful Allure of a Precious Metal

For anyone who wears silver jewelry, or has created jewelry out of silver, you know how utilitarian yet beautiful it is. The color of silver can be worn up or down, dressy or casual, with lots of colored gems or beads or all by itself. If you are interested in designing silver pieces or viewing some truly terrific designs, 500 Silver Jewelry Designs would certainly give ideas.

Read the full review of 500 Silver Jewelry Designs on Sew Now This.

Surviving Your Serengeti: 7 Skills to Master Business & Live

Stefan Swanepoel helps readers identify which unique skills they possess through a fable that takes place in the African Serengeti. The fable revolves around the personal struggles of Sean and Ashley, a married couple who come to Africa and meet others who are struggling just as they are, but in different ways.

Through exploring the surrounding landscape, witnessing the great migration of animals, and listening to a guide and friend's insights on animals, each person on safari discovers their unique strengths or skills related to one of seven animals:
  • Wildebeest: Endurance
  • Lion: Strategy
  • Crocodile: Enterprising
  • Cheetah: Efficiency
  • Giraffe: Grace
  • Mongoose: Risk Taking
  • Elephant: Communication
A skills summary at the end of each chapter gives insight on how to utilize the skill sets of each, and how to maximize the skill in everyday life and in business. A unique book on how to identify a skill set, it also offers tips on how to identify which one you are.

I liked that it shows obstacles for some traits, and how to overcome them. The fictional story set in the heart of Africa doesn't make the book seem like a business goals or personal growth book, and makes the skillsets more tangible with examples. Recommended reading for both personal and business use in developing skillsets.

Book Information:
  • Surviving Your Serengeti: 7 Skills to Master Business and Live; by Stefan Swanepoel
  • John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 2011
  • ISBN13: 9780470947807
  • Hardcover, jacket; 176 pages

Disclosure: This book was provided by the author and any opinions are my own.



The Hour That Matters Most by Les and Lesie Parrott

If getting the family together for a dinner meal seems next to impossible, apparently you're not alone. Les & Leslie Parrott's new book The Hour That Matters Most (2011, ISBN13 9781414337449) shows that while it is hard to do with everyone's schedule in different directions, it can really help the family unit.

According to the authors, dinnertime is the one time that brings the family together through conversation and a meal. But they also state that the 'hour that matters most' doesn't have to be dinner - it's a meal where the entire family can sit down with each other, hopefully on a regular basis. An example in the book was where a busy family shared breakfast together each morning since the evenings were so harried.

The Hour That Matters Most gives practical advice for busy parents to use, with meal suggestions and recipes. The home-dinner team of Stephanie Allen and Tina Kuna of Dream Dinners contributed to dinner help and how to plan for it. All the authors point out that eating together is more important than the actual food being served, or even the time of day it is served at. It's about bonding with the family. For those who are busy, it's a great book to help with structuring and a meal with conversation tips, etiquette guidelines, and how to encourage kids to listen, and how to identify conflict triggers at the dinner table.

Book Information:
  • The Hour That Matters Most: The Suprising Power of the Family Meal; by Les and Leslie Parrot, with Stephanie Allen and Tina Kuna
  • Tyndale House Publishers
  • ISBN13: 9781414337449
  • Softcover, 180 pages
Disclosure: This book was provided to me from Tyndale House Publishers. Any opinions are my own.