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NHPR Reads: January 2024

Sara Plourde

January marks a new beginning for many of us. A time to reflect on the past, rest, reset, think about goals, and embrace new hobbies. Sara and I decided that this January we would select a few books dedicated to some of our interests in hopes that you may enjoy them too. Whether you’re a budding birder, crochet connoisseur, or an amateur chef, we hope you embrace your hobbies and learn something new this year. And as always, please send us a review or a little more about your own hobbies if you decide to add any of these books to your library list at - Zoë 

Modern Crochet by Teresa Carter

Crochet is a skill I picked up to keep myself busy during the pandemic, and of all the crochet books I picked up over the past few years, Modern Crochet has proved to be the most beautiful and one of the most useful. It covers the basic tools and stitches for beginners, and the projects are all well-designed, practical, and, of course, modern. There are a number of projects you can wear and a good number of items you can create for your home, all of them cozy and classy. Plus, when you purchase you also get access to a video series that walks you through a magic loop and a bobble stitch and everything in between (I deeply appreciate this, as someone who frequently has to rewatch stitch tutorials on YouTube literally every time I try to knit anything). - Sara

Zero-Proof Party: 80 Essential Mocktail Recipes by Aria Grove & George McCluskey

If you enjoy hosting friends and family, this book is a definite must-own. Author Aria Grove was inspired during her pregnancy to create a collection of mocktail recipes for expecting parents, folks embracing a sober lifestyle, or those of us that like a tasty alcohol-free beverage from a pretty glass on a Wednesday afternoon! Enter seasoned bartender, George McCluskey, and the 80 recipes you’ll find in this book sprung to life. My favorite feature of this book is the way it’s broken down into categories like ‘Health- Boosting’ and ‘Dessert’ mocktails, and even a section on selecting the right glassware! One thing to note is that the authors recommend multiple non-alcoholic spirits that you may not have access to, but the majority of ingredients used in this book are available right at your local grocer. Cheers to your next memorable and sober soirée! - Zoë 

The Art of the Fold by Hedi Kyle and Ulla Warchol

Did you resolve to journal this year? Keep a planner? Try the bujo trend? I’m telling you, there is no nicer way to do it than in a handmade book, and it’s easier than you think to make your own. I’ve been bookbinding for about 20 years, and people in bookbinding circles will absolutely know the name Hedi Kyle. She’s a pioneer of the craft and has invented so many structures that I can’t keep track of them, ones I learned before I ever knew her name. You’ll find some of them in this book. You could make an accordion book to journal in, a blizzard book (essentially a series of pockets) to stash travel mementos, a photo album, and a slipcase to hold them all together. What a way to capture the story of a year! - Sara

The Beginner's Guide to Birding: The Easiest Way for Anyone to Explore the Incredible World of Birds by Nate Swick 

Every year, I try to set reasonable goals when it comes to being outdoors. I don’t like to set an uber specific metric like going on a walk every day or becoming an accomplished hiker, but instead pushing myself to spend even a minute longer than the year before immersed in nature. One of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon in the forest, no matter the season, is birding. Nate Swick’s The Beginner’s Guide to Birding gives the reader a simple set of steps to follow: see a bird, hear that bird, make observations about the bird, and lastly, a sketch. Swick serves as a humble guide - never pushing the reader to be perfect, but to embrace curiosity and learn a little more about the species around you. This is a great book for folks ages 9 to 99. - Zoë 

Visible Mending: Repair, Renew, Reuse The Clothes You Love by Arounna Khounnoraj

I have been following Arounna on Instagram for years, and she’s given me about a thousand ideas to beautifully mend fabrics and breathe new life into items that might have otherwise been discarded. Over time, I’ve been trying to divest myself of fast fashion for humanitarian and climate reasons (just please let’s ignore my t-shirt collection) and investing in slow fashion pieces in natural fibers like linen, bamboo, and wool, and these techniques will help my wardrobe last as long as possible. Her writing is clear, her directions are easy to understand and her photos are gorgeous. Plus, everything is done by hand with a small collection of inexpensive tools - no machine required! A new hardcover edition of Visible Mending is set to come out on February 13th, but the paperback is available now. - Sara

Pizza Camp: Recipes from Pizzeria Beddia by Joe Beddia

Pizza Camp is the ultimate guide to achieving a perfect pizza at home. Joe Beddia, the chef/owner of Pizzeria Beddia in Philadelphia is known worldwide for his pies, even being called “the best pizza in America" by Bon Appetit magazine. In his first cookbook, Beddia emphasizes the importance of fresh ingredients and building foundational skills that will make even the most wild topping combinations work. It’s full of colorful photos, tips & tricks, and old school recipes that somehow manage to feel fresh and exciting. One of my favorites that I can’t stop eating is the Tomato Pie, which leads me to trust that Beddia is right - when it comes to pizza, simple is best. - Zoë 

Cook This Book: Techniques that Teach and Recipes to Repeat by Molly Baz

I first discovered this book because my friend and colleague, Christina Phillips, was cooking her way through it and made me some awesome food. So, firstly, thanks, Christina! There are two main things that Molly Baz recipes are about: big flavors and big textures. That’s probably enough for me, honestly - I’m constantly talking myself out of buying cookbooks I don’t need. But there’s another crucial component to these books, and that’s accessibility. None of the techniques used are fussy or overcomplicated, and every recipe listing includes a QR code you can scan to watch Molly make it (visual learners, it’s your moment!). If you fall in love, Molly has a newer book that came out this past fall, More is More: Get Loose in the Kitchen. - Sara

Sew it Yourself with DIY Daisy by Daisy Braid

After years of excessive spending and consumption, I finally came to the conclusion that I don’t need a new wardrobe every season and that 2024 will be the year I finally curb my clothing obsession. I have been following DIY Daisy on Instagram for a while now and always felt inspired by her seemingly boundless creativity. Have leftover fabric scraps? Make an adorable, multi-colored door stop! Want a new top for a special occasion in a certain color or shape? Make one yourself! I decided to borrow Daisy’s book, Sew it Yourself with DIY Daisy, from the library. The book is chock full of information - a glossary of sewing terms, images to accompany the more advanced steps, and twenty pattern-free, size inclusive, adorable projects. I felt confident every step of the way while beginning my first project because of the clear instructions. I have been truly thrilled to create something out of fabric that I had been holding onto for years in hope of a creative burst. I can not recommend this book enough to anyone that has wanted to embrace their artistic side and discover the absolute joy of wearing something made by your own two hands. - Zoë 

NHPR Reads is a blog series published on the second Thursday of the month dedicated to poetry, prose, and everything in between. Follow along for a staff-curated list of what we’re reading that month and read along with us!

Zoë Kay serves as the Marketing and Event Coordinator for the station. She is focused on working within and alongside the communities of New Hampshire to promote the mission of NHPR.
Sara has been a part of NHPR since 2011. Her work includes data visualizations, data journalism, original stories reported on the web, video, photos and illustrations. She is responsible for the station's visual style and print design, as well as the user experience of NHPR's digital platforms.
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