Do you ever find yourself looking at the starry sky and wondering how it all came to be, asking what is a universe and what is our place in it? Do you wish you knew more but are just too busy with your everyday life to start exploring and looking for answers? Well, then, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s new book, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (W.W. Norton, $18.95), is just what you need. And even though Tyson starts with the premise that “the universe is under no obligation to make sense to you,” he will try to explain. There’s no reason to feel intimidated; I’m sure you remember learning about Einstein’s E=mc² and Sir Isaac Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation, and that’s all you need to start reading this book. How it all begun, the Big Bang and the expansion of the cosmos, dark matter and black holes, everything is explained in clear and understandable language with short chapters that you can read whenever you find a spare minute. You will learn that the observable universe may contain a hundred billion galaxies, bright and beautiful and packed with stars, and that “we are stardust brought to life then empowered by the universe to figure itself out—and we have only just begun.”
Have you started planning for your holiday feast yet? There’s really no reason to stress about it because Jamie has got you covered; he’s thought of everything, from prepping to cooking to serving. He’s assembled a list of things you’ll need to make the magic happen, along with useful tips, cooking charts, times, and even a calorie count. Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook (Flatiron, $35) is just in time to take the stress out of the holidays and get you in the mood for fiddling around in the kitchen. Oliver has included all the classics and then some. No turkey, no problem—how about roast goose or beef, meatloaf or rack of lamb, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, why not Salmon En Croûte? Not only that, he presents some delicious choices for vegans and vegetarians and a whole chapter dedicated to leftovers and how to make them into scrumptious meals. He didn’t, of course, forget about those of us with a sweet tooth. Just looking at the pictures of Pavlova, Tiramisù and Jaffa Cake, to name a few of my favorites, will make you want to roll up your sleeves and get busy baking. This cookbook has everything you need for the best Christmas ever—and makes a perfect gift itself.
The most anticipated cookbook of the year had its U.S. publishing date in October and, rightfully so, became an instant hit. Yotam Ottolenghi, known for the savory and vegetarian dishes we loved in Jerusalem and Plenty, actually started as a pastry chef. Together with his long-time collaborator Helen Goh he has created nothing short of a love letter to desserts, with the name so fitting and inviting that you can’t help but pick up this book the minute you see it. Sweet (Ten Speed, $35) is a celebration of everything sweet, from cookies and biscuits to cakes and pies, there’s something here for everyone’s taste. The recipes are clear and guide you through the whole process with helpful tips and tricks. Special attention was given to ensuring that all the ingredients can easily be found and used. But make no mistake: everything is Ottolenghi-fied – there’s a boldness to it, some unpredictable ingredient, like a rose petal, star anise or orange blossom—and the results are just marvelous. And the photos, oh my, just look at the Frozen Espresso Parfait! When I got my copy of the book I spent an hour just looking at the photos, they are the feast for the eyes!