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 Weekly Words about New Books in
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October 11, 2020

New in Paperback: In Praise of Older Women, and a Murder Trial That Gave Famed Author Writer's Block

No Stopping Us Now: The Adventures of Older Women in American History by Gail Collins. The accomplished New York Times columnist looks at the impact of age on women of America, from the colonies to today. And as Collins notes in the book's introduction, "There were definitely some points when getting older was easier than others." But easy or not, women throughout history have accomplished remarkable things without letting their age get in the way. Whether it's
a 77-year-old midwife riding out in the middle of the night to help a patient in 1800 or an 80-year-old riveter making planes during World War II or an 86-year-old justice getting in shape for another Supreme Court session, Collins salutes women of achievement who have fought back age by living for something more than just survival. With the recent passing of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, No Stopping Us Now serves as a fitting salute to those like her whose accomplishments became a defining feature. 
   
Collins sprinkles her book with colorful factoids and tidbits, which add to its appeal. Here's one she shared in a recent tweet. "Hair dye and women's liberation happened side-by-side: Not that I'm comparing the two, but women's liberation did pretty much coincide with washing away gray. When the Sixties began, only about 7 percent of American women colored their hair. Within a decade, the practice was so widespread the government stopped putting hair color on passports."
 
 
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep. This book contains two fascinating stories - one about the trial of a man who murdered a serial killer in the South and the other about a famous author who sat through the proceedings with the intention of writing a book about the case. Perhaps most interesting about the first story is that the killer was found not guilty of a crime witnessed by hundreds of people. As for the second narrative, it revolves around the author's inability to ever write her book.   
 
Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural Southern preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead at the funeral of his last victim. Despite hundreds of witnesses, Maxwell's murderer was acquitted - thanks to the same attorney who had previously defended the Reverend. Sitting in the audience during the trial was Harper Lee, there in hopes of writing her own In Cold Blood, the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research 17 years earlier. Lee spent a year in town observing and researching, then many more years trying unsuccessfully to write her account. 
 
In her first book, Casey Cep - a writer for The New Yorker - tells the story that Lee never could manage, from the murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South. She also explores the reasons the author struggled to tell a story that seemed tailor-made for her. The result is what Southern Living called, "A compelling hybrid of a novel, at once a true-crime thriller, courtroom drama, and miniature biography of Harper Lee."    
Newest Ottolenghi Recipes Amplify Vegetables' Flavor
  
Ottolenghi Flavor: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage. With six restaurants throughout London and eight cookbooks under his belt, Yotam Ottolenghi has not one but two empires to oversee. Cookbooks like Plenty, Jerusalem, and Ottolenghi Simple have reflected the Middle Eastern influence that informs most of chef's projects, and his newest volume continues the focus on vegetarian cooking that he's also known for. His writing partner for Ottolenghi Flavor, Ixta Belfrage, began her culinary career at Ottolenghi's Nopi restaurant before moving to the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen, where she has worked for four years.
  
Here, the duo offer an approach that breaks down the fundamentals of cooking with vegetables into three key elements: process, pairing, and produce. For process, learn how easy techniques such as charring and infusing can change the way you think about cooking. Discover how to unlock new depths of flavor by pairing vegetables with sweetness, fat, acidity, or chile heat, and learn to identify the produce that has the  ability to make dishes shine. With main courses, sides, desserts, and more, there's something for any meal, including the likes of Stuffed Eggplant in Curry and Coconut Dal, Spicy Mushroom Lasagne, and Romano Pepper Schnitzels - more than 100 plant-based recipes in all
 
One small caution - the publisher uses words like 'low-effort" and "relaxed" to describe the food preparation, but be aware that Ottolenghi recipes are known for ingredients and seasonings not always found in the average pantry. The end product should be worth the effort, but the means to the end may not be effortless. 
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WHY THE COLUMN?
Hi, I'm Hut Landon, and I work as a bookseller in an independent bookstore in BerkeIey, California.

My goal with this newsletter is to keep readers up to date about new books hitting the shelves, share what indie booksellers are recommending in their stores, and pass on occasional news about the book world.

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