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Noteworthy books

Notable Books | Four notable books about cooks and cooking

Maran Illustrated Cooking Basics

Content: An excellent starter book with step-by-step instructions and photographs covering not only the cooking basics but ingredients, cookware, and appliances that a well-stocked kitchen should have.

Gist: Good advice, such as don't store eggs in the refrigerator door, and lots of information on how to thaw meat, store beans, plus guidance in slicing, dicing, mincing, chopping, pounding, breading, marinating, whipping, poaching, simmering, parboiling, blanching, steaming, sweating, frying, searing, deglazing, and zesting.

My Life in France

Content: Child moves as a newlywed to Paris and embraces French culture and cooking. In this memoir she describes vividly everyday life in Paris in the late 1940s and early '50s and her path to cooking superstardom.

Gist: Julia Child's groundbreaking cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, came out four decades ago when American women were enamored of TV dinners and cake mixes. With cookbooks and public television shows she made good cooking accessible to amateurs and inspired a renaissance in the use of fresh ingredients and classic techniques.

Julie & Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen

Content: A depressed, 29-year-old, married secretary living in a cramped apartment in Queens undertakes a personal reclamation project: to prepare every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year and blog her experiences.

Gist: For the year of the project Powell bought groceries on her way home from work and cooked until 10 or 11 most nights before eating. Powell recounts the year in a humorous, breezy, confessional, foul-mouthed style in which she imagines she's channeling Julia Child.

French Women for All Seasons

Content: A book meant to teach American women how to eat, dress, and enjoy life as she claims French women do.

Gist: Guiliano's first book, French Women Don't Get Fat, was a surprise bestseller that explained how the French eat well and stay slim. Here she returns with a practical follow-up that emphasizes eating foods in season. The book contains seasonal recipes, menus, and diet tips, all served with a generous helping of French snobbery.

Spotlight

According to an analysis in The New York Times, last year's successful political books tilted left. The Times writes, "The Bush years have seen waves of pushy best sellers on both sides of the political spectrum, but 2006 was the year the scales tipped decisively against the president." The Times doesn't say how many of the books were written by reporters from the Times and The Washington Post and promoted by those newspapers-at the same time those newspapers claim that their reporters do not engage in advocacy.

The Times publicized James Risen's State of War (3 weeks on the NYT list) and Michael R. Gordon's co-authored Cobra II (8 weeks), along with columnist Frank Rich's The Greatest Story Ever Sold (5 weeks). The Washington Post promoted Bob Woodward's State of Denial (12 weeks) and Thomas E. Ricks' Fiasco (10 weeks). The Post's sister publication Newsweek provided a day job for reporter Michael Isikoff, who teamed with David Corn on Hubris (2 weeks).

Reporter Ron Suskind did quit The Wall Street Journal before penning The One Percent Doctrine (9 weeks).

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