Naomi's Bookshelf

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Saffron, Olives

Gateway to Japan

Castles of the Loire

Living in Italy

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Eating and Travelling in Italy

Personally, I like to know something about a place before I go, so I don't need to keep my face buried in the guidebook while I'm exploring. Also, having some idea of history, you can plan which cities you really want to see and plan a better, more satisfying trip! I strongly recommend reading something of country's history and perhaps a novel set in that location, to get a feel for life there and what you'd like to get out of your trip! Don't forget to learn something about the cuisine of each country before you go, so you can ensure delicious and authentic meals!

Living, Studying and Working in Italy : Everything You Need to Know to Fulfill Your Dreams of Living Abroad cover by Travis Neighbor, Monica Larner; Our Price: $12.80
The title of Living, Studying and Working in Italy says it all: this book is intended for would-be expatriates with an eye for Italy. The authors have both had extensive experience living and working in the Bel Paese--Neighbor was in Florence for four years while Larner still lives in Rome, where she is a journalist for Business Week. Together they have pooled their experiences and collective knowledge of living abroad to address the practical side of living, working, or studying in Italy.

Here is the essential companion guide to Italy that answers all your questions about living there and tells you, step-by-step, how to accomplish what you've always dreamed of doing - whether it's taking summer language courses, teaching English, volunteering on an archaeological dig, or starting a business. Written by two seasoned expatriates and packed with candid insider's tips and practical, up-to-date information for travelers of any age. Living, Studying, and Working in Italy is an indispensable book that shows you what to do - and what not to do - to make your experience in Italy as comfortable and rewarding ... read more

cover Italian Country Hideaways : Vacationing in Tuscany and Umbria's Private Villas, Castles, and Estates
Taking you off the beaten path of tourist Italy, "Italian Country Hideaways" invites you to the most unforgettable private villas, castles, fortresses, and farmhouses-places in which you can actually stay. An introduction to each region's local food and wine, sites, festivals, and other points of interest is followed by a selection of unique estates memorable for their meals, dcor, architecture, grounds, and history. Opening up their ancestral homes, the owners of these preserved and fully functional estates now offer you a key to the hidden splendors of the Italian countryside.

A detailed appendix provides all the practical information you'll need for planning your visits, including complete contact information, prices, amenities, and dates of availability, plus helpful facts and advice on transportation, seasonal considerations, and making reservations.

Italy for the Gourmet Traveler - Fred Plotkin / Paperback / Published 1996
In this exhaustive guide, Plotkin provides travelers to Bella Italia with information on the best places to eat in 300 cities and villages. Practical advice, such as making reservations, goes hand-in-hand with colorful descriptions of the Italian ristorante, trattoria, pizzeria, friggitoria, and other types of eating establishments. Plotkin is particularly adept at depicting the cultural climate of each region, listing appealing towns a traveler must not pass by and those area culinary specialities to be savored. Whether one desires the address of a fine butcher shop, has a hankering for pastries and an espresso, or seeks a dining experience fit for a king, these listings more than fit the bill. When seeking out excellent culinary fare, doubtless, the true gourmet will be undaunted by this weighty tome. Alice Joyce Copyright© 1996, American Library Association. All rights reserved

Desiring Italy Desiring Italy - Susan Neunzig Cahill (Editor) / Paperback / Published 1997
Our Price: $9.60 ~ You Save: $2.40 (20%)
When literary art meets the warmth, beauty, and culture of Italy, the results are stupifyingly wonderful. Susan Cahill has gathered jewels of writing, penned by 31 women of letters, inspired by Italy. There's Muriel Spark on Venice, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Mary McCarthy on Florence, Florence Nightingale and George Eliot on Rome, Edith Wharton on Milan, and Mary Taylor Simeti on Sicily. All together Cahill's arranged a beautiful antipasti plate of the impact--on the mind, the spirit, and above all the senses--of Italy.

A Literary Companion to Venice (1995) ~ Ian Littlewood / Paperback / Published 1995
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Arranged in the form of seven detailed walking tours through Venice, this literary companion provides an illuminating guide to the streets, palaces, churches, and canals that make up this exquisite city. Illustrations.
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Venetian Life ~ William Dean Howells, Joseph Pennell (Illustrator) / Paperback / Published 1989
Our Price: $12.50

book-grandtour.gif 16.27 K Venice & the Grand Tour ~ Bruce Redford / Hardcover / Published 1996
Our Price: $30.00
For well over a century, the Grand Tour of France and Italy - which included a stay in Venice - served as the ultimate in finishing schools for the young male elite of Great Britain. This book explores Venice's magnetic hold on the imagination of the Grand Tourist and connects the ideology of the Tour to the mythology of Venice.

Venice Observed ~ Mary McCarthy / Paperback / Published 1963
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World of Venice The World of Venice (A Harvest Book) ~ Jan Morris, James Morris / Paperback / Published 1995
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Florence : A Portrait ~ Michael Levey / Hardcover / Published 1996
Our Price: $24.50 ~ You Save: $10.50 (30%)
It would be a brave person to offer yet another interpretation [of Florence], but few could be better qualified to do so than Michael Levey. As a distinguished art historian and former Director of the National Gallery, he has the right sort of familiarity with Florentine art to lend authority to his observations; as an amateur musicologist and novelist, he is certainly aware of broader cultural issues and has an eye for the telling vignette that brings his subject to life. Enthusiastically hybrid, his FLORENCE: A Portrait is both a guide, history and personal appreciation of a city which has now become a shrine of cultural faith more than a living entity...One could go on...pointing out striking passages or perceptive comments, but anyone who knows Levey's earlier writings can readily understand why his personal view of Florence would be worth reading. Like any successful travel-writer, he has the ability to project a sympathetic and congenial personality, one able to respond interestingly to the variety of Florence...Michael Levey has produced a handsome tribute.

Ismail Merchant's Florence : Filming and Feasting in Tuscany/70 Recipes ~ Ismail Merchant, Derrick Santini (Photographer) / Hardcover / Published 1994
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Stones of Florence Stones of Florence ~ Mary McCarthy / Paperback / Published 1987
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It becomes evident from the first page of The Stones of Florence that Mary McCarthy loves her subject. Yet hers is the steady love of a long acquaintance, an affection that has deepened from mere infatuation to a steady, clear-eyed regard. In this witty tribute to Florence, Mary McCarthy explores the city's past and present, in the process offering up a tour that covers everything from a description of oil painting to the remarkable history behind Florence's many towers. The Stones of Florence is ideal for reading on the plane ride to Italy, but it's also perfect for armchair travelers, art lovers, and students of the Renaissance.

Florence : A Travellers' Companion (Travellers' Companion Series); Harold Acton, Edward Chaney; Paperback

A Travelers History of Italy; Lintne, Valerio Lintner; Paperback; $13.45; Descriptive information available.

A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701-1800; Brinsley Ford, John Ingamells; Hardcover; $75.00 (Not Yet Published)

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France's Loire Valley

Castles of the Loire Castles of the Loire : Places and History (Places and History Series)
Milena Ercole Pozzoli, Valeria Manferto De Fabianis (Editor) / Hardcover / Published 1997
This splendidly photographed volume is one of a series of Places and History books that examine the history, culture, and natural beauty of inspiring destinations, from California to Ireland to Tuscany. This book celebrates the majestic castles along the banks of the magnificent Loire River in France, which was for centuries intrinsically linked to the history of that country. It is perfect for armchair travelers as well as those interested in the medieval architecture of castles, with their extravagant towers, elaborate grounds, richly decorated interiors, and especially the immortal legends and stories that surround them. Included are Chambord Castle, the mansion of George Sand, and Chinon Castle, where in 1429 Joan of Arc set out on her momentous crusade to liberate her country from the English.
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Chateaux of the Loire Chateaux of the Loire ~ Mosler. Axel M., et al / Hardcover / Published 1997
A lavishly photographed presentation of the architecture, interiors, and gardens of the Loire chateaux of France. History was made in these chateaux from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment and the Revolution. Included also are previously unpublished photos illustrating life in the chateaux during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Color throughout.
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Loire Wine Country Loire (Touring Wine Country) ~ Hugh Johnson (Editor), Hubrecht Duijker / Paperback / Published 1997

Loire Gastronomique ~ Hilaire Walden / Hardcover / Published 1993

A Wine and Food Guide to the Loire A Wine and Food Guide to the Loire ~ Jacqueline Friedrich / Paperback / Published 1998
Creating a fine wine is not so unlike creating a fine guide to wine. They both take craft and inspiration, patience and a passion for quality. Jacqueline Friedrich possesses those attributes in spades, and with them, she's put together the definitive guide to the Loire, its wines and cuisine, filling a niche that's been empty a long time. As one would savor a fine wine, Friedrich takes her time, dwelling here on the local foods of Anjou, there on the Muscadets of Sèvre-et-Maine. Her encyclopedic guide takes on the 60 or so appellations in the five wine regions of the Loire, describing the history, soil, and vintners of each, and rating more than 600 wineries. With sections on local cheeses, sausages, and fish dishes, Friedrich's scholarly approach and delightful prose makes this an inspiring read and a necessary guide
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A Wine and Food Guide to the Loire ~ Jacqueline Friedrich / Hardcover / Published 1996
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Wines of the Loire ~ Roger Voss, Julian Jeffs (Editor) / Paperback / Published 1995

The Chateau; William Maxwell; Paperback; $11.70

Chateaux of the Val De Loire; Philippe Seydoux, Serge Chirol (Photographer); Hardcover; $45.00

Loire Valley (Eyewitness Travel Guides); Jack Tresidder (Editor), Dorling Kindersley Limited; Paperback; $20.66

The Loire Valley The Loire Valley (Passport's Regional Guides of France); Arthur Eperon, et al; Paperback; $15.26

Michelin Green Guide : Chateaux of the Loire; Paperback; $18.00

Chateaux of the Loire (Architectural Guide for Travelers); Marcus Binney; Paperback; $14.95

Travels in the Loire Valley (Travels in Series); Geoffrey Barlow; Paperback; $13.95

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Across the Aegean : An Artist's Journey from Athens to Istanbul; Marlene McLoughlin; Hardcover; $17.06; The fabled landscapes of Greece and Turkey, home to sunwashed towns, timeless ruins, and spectacular seascapes, are among the world's most richly historical and visually stunning locales. Across the Aegean brings to life all the wonders of these ancient civilizations for travelers both literary and intrepid, via McLoughlin's luminous watercolors, and pen-and-ink drawings. 190 illustrations, 170 in color.

The Book and the Veil : Escape from an Istanbul Harem; Yeshim Ternar; Paperback; $15.26 In this story of scandal and escape, Turkish-born writer Yeshim Ternar uses her skills-and her imagination-as a writer of fiction to conjure up the world of her great-grandmother's generation in the harems of the declining Ottoman Empire. The Book and The Veil takes the form of a dialogue between Ternar and turn of the century English writer Grace Ellison who befriended the two sisters Zeyneb and Melek Hanoums in the Palace of Istanbul.

Harem : The World Behind the Veil; Alev Lytle Croutier; Softcover; $15.96; Drawing on a host of intimate first-hand accounts and memoirs, Harem explores life in the world's harems, from the Middle Ages to the early twentieth century, focusing on the fabled and ever-mysterious Seraglio of Topkapi Palace as a paradigm for all. 125 illustrations, 50 in full color.

The Byzantine Shops at Sardis (Monograph/Archaeological Exploration of Sardis, No. 9) Vol 9; J. Stephens Crawford; Hardcover; $50.00

Constantinople : City of the World's Desire 1453-1924 Vol 1; Philip Mansel; Hardcover; $26.25; Philip Mandsel's book is a five-hundred-year history of Constantinople (now Istanbul) which attempts to convey the rich history of this one-time capital city and describe the defining characteristics which point toward its potential to return to global grandeur. The book is sizable in scope and weight: there's a wealth of details and illustrations. Mandsel addresses the development of Constantinople into an Islamic city, covering the five-century dynasty of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Turks conquered the Byzantine Empire in 1453, converting the city from the capital of Eastern Orthodox Christianity to the home of sultans, eunuchs, and janizaries. They created a city of mosques and minarets that served as the Ottoman capital until the end of World War I. Mandsel's attention falls particularly on the palaces and the political history of the capital, as well as the great architectural works which still constitute the city's skyline. This is a highly readable history of the great city on the Bosporus, marked by keen perceptions of art and palace life.

The Emergence of Modern Turkey; Bernard Lewis; Paperback; $17.95

Essays in Ottoman and Turkish History, 1774-1923 : The Impact of the West (Modern Middle East Series, No. 16) Vol 16; Roderic H. Davison; Hardcover; $40.00

Essential Turkey (Essential Travel Guide); Gerry Crawshaw; Paperback; $7.15

The Fall of Constantinople, 1453; Steven Runciman; Paperback; $10.75

Insight Guides : Istanbul (Insight Guides); Paperback; $19.76

Insight Guides : Turkey (Insight Guides); Hans Hofer, et al; Paperback; $19.76; Descriptive information available.

Lonely Planet Turkey (Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit); Tom Brosnahan; Paperback; $17.96; Descriptive information available.

Lonely Planet Trekking in Turkey (Lonely Planet Guidebooks); Marc Dubin, Lucas Envers; Paperback; $8.95; Descriptive information available.

On Horseback Through Asia Minor; Fred Burnaby, Frederick Burnaby; Paperback; $12.55; Descriptive information available.

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Travel Top Ten Books of 1999

1. "Passage to Juneau"
by Jonathan Raban
In "Passage to Juneau," British-born Jonathan Raban sets out sailing from Seattle to Juneau in a boat laden with books. His voyage up the Inside Passage stirs up hidden emotions and deftly weaves in histories of the many who have journeyed there before him. The result is a wonderfully literate and multilayered memoir of a chilly, solitary trip; a must-read for Raban's many fans.

2. "Catfish and Mandala"
by Andrew X. Pham
In "Catfish and Mandala," Vietnamese American Andrew Pham takes a daring look at questions of home, family, and identity while making a solo bicycle voyage around the Pacific Rim to Vietnam. This is an extraordinary story and haunting memoir from a gifted first-time author with an ear for spare, lovely prose.

3. "Give Me the World"
by Leila Hadley
In 1950, 25-year-old single-mom Leila Hadley shipped out to Hong Kong on a cargo steamer--with her 6-year-old son in tow. Her remarkable account of their journey around the world together, "Give Me the World," is considered a classic among travel memoirs and captures an extraordinary and inspiring life.

4. "Yes We Have No: Adventures in the Other England"
by Nik Cohn
Nik Cohn, noted novelist and author of "Need" and "Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock," has come out with a keen-eyed take on his native homeland. "Yes We Have No: Adventures in the Other England" explores the endearing underbelly of Britain.

5. "The Lost River"
by Richard Bangs
In the early 1970s, adventurer-author Richard Bangs and his buddies set out to run the last unexplored rivers in Africa--the Baro, the Blue Nile, the Omo, the Awash--and finally realized their goal by rafting the Tekeze some 23 years later. "The Lost River" chronicles these extraordinary leaps into uncharted waters and explores the bonds forged-- and the price paid--in the pursuit of extreme adventure.

6. "Haunted Traveller"
by Barry Yourgrau
"Haunted Traveller" is a collection of 44 short stories about destinations that have no name. In rich and intoxicating prose, author Barry Yourgrau creates a world where people travel in bubbles, where suitcases are threatening objects, and where hotels have threadbare rugs that expose an abyss to the center of the earth. It's about traveling the back roads of Yourgrau's mind--and what a warped and rich mind it is.

7. "Sacred Roads: Adventures from the Pilgrimage Trail"
by Nicholas Shrady
In "Sacred Roads: Adventures from the Pilgrimage Trail," Nicholas Shrady abandons the comforts of home to walk five of the world's great pilgrimage trails. His stories of pilgrimages to Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish, and Hindu holy places make up the best kind of personal essay.

8. "Beyond the Sky and the Earth"
by Jamie Zeppa
In "Beyond the Sky and the Earth," Jamie Zeppa, a young teacher from a small Canadian mining town, signs on for a two-year teaching stint in a remote corner of the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. Zeppa's candid, lovely account of her spiritual and personal journey is one of my favorite books of the year.

9. "Homelands"
by Byron Ricks
When Byron Ricks and his wife, Maren Van Nostrand, set off to kayak Alaska's Inside Passage, they were facing not only a grueling test of physical endurance but also a long journey home. In an era of testosterone-charged adventure tales, "Homelands" is a wonderfully introspective adventure-travel memoir.

10. "Throwim Way Leg"
by Tim Flannery
Tim Flannery's "Throwim Way Leg" is a witty and well-paced take on New Guinea fieldwork in the raw. The Australian mammologist discovers some 20 species unknown to science, unearths the fossilized bones of several long-extinct marsupials, and--at the end of a long day's work--dines with the locals.


Read about our special selections, or visit the Cooking Essentials Bookshelf at Amazon!

Indian Cooking

Julie Sahni is the author of my favorite Indian cookbooks. She is originally from India, but now runs several restaurants in New York. Her books are amazing in the amount of detail she gives in how to prepare each recipe. There is also a comprehensive introduction to ingredients, techniques, equipment, etc., and offer a fascinating introduction to Indian cuisine. She also has recipes from many regions of India, and provides a lot of background to the dish and the country. I have cooked from all four of her books, and highly recommend them!

Classic Indian Cooking; Julie Shani, Julie Sahni; Hardcover; $22.50

Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking; Julie Sahni; Hardcover; $22.50; Descriptive information available.

Moghul Microwave : Cooking Indian Food the Modern Way; Julie Sahni; Hardcover; $25.16; Descriptive information available.

Savoring Spices and Herbs : Recipe Secrets of Flavor, Aroma, and Color Vol 1; Julie Sahni; Hardcover; $22.50;

The Great Curries of India; Camellia Panjabi; Hardcover; $27.00; Descriptive information available.

Madhur Jaffrey is another of the most popular authors of Indian cookbooks. She's an actress, living in the UK. She often hosts BBC cooking shows and has lavishly illustrated books, though not as much detail as Julie Sahni. These books are among my favorites too!

An Invitation to Indian Cooking; Madhur Jaffrey; Paperback; $11.70; Descriptive information available.

Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking; Madhur Jaffrey; Paperback; $13.45; Descriptive information available.

Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian Cookery (Bbc Books Quick and Easy Cookery Series); Madhur Jaffrey; Paperback; $8.99

Madhur Jaffrey's Quick and Easy Indian Cooking; Madhur Jaffrey, Philip Salaverry; Paperback; $14.35; Descriptive information available.

Madhur Jaffrey's Spice Kitchen : Fifty Recipes Introducing Indian Spices and Aromatic Seeds; Madhur Jaffrey; Hardcover; $13.50; Descriptive information available.

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If you are interested in cooking, you will really appreciate these books, which give an excellent overview to each spice, the cuisine which uses it, and how to purchase and store spices. In addition, the photographs are wonderful! After reading any one of these books, you will be running off to the store to buy new spices and try out some new recipes! Spices can become very addictive!

Even MORE books about spices: click here!

The Complete Book of Spices : A Practical Guide to Spices and Aromatic Seeds; Jill Norman; Hardcover; $22.50;

The Complete Book of Herbs, Spices, and Condiments : From Garden to Kitchen to Medicine Chest; Carol Ann Rinzler; Paperback; $10.80

The Flavor Secret : Using Herbs & Spices to Put Flavor Back into Low-Fat, Low-Calorie, Low-Cholesterol Cooking;

Growing and Using Herbs and Spices; Milo Miloradovich; Paperback; $6.25

Hints and Pinches : A Concise Compendium of Herbs, Spices, and Aromatics With Illustrative Recipes and Asides on Relishes, Chutneys, and Other Such C; Eugene Walter; Hardcover; $17.06





California Herb Cookery : From the Ranch House Restaurant; Alan Hooker; Paperback; $20.00

Chef Paul Prudhomme's Fiery Foods of the World That I Love; Paul Prudhomme, Chef Paul Prudhomme; Hardcover; $22.50; Descriptive information available.

Chef Paul Prudhomme's Pure Magic; Paul Prudhomme, Paul Rico (Photographer); Hardcover; $11.65; Descriptive information available.

Chef Paul Prudhomme's Seasoned America Vol 1; Paul Prudhomme; Hardcover; $20.70; Descriptive information available.

The Complete Book of Herbs & Spices/an Illustratrated Guide to Growing and Using Culinary, Aromatic, Cosmetic and Medicinal Plants; Sarah Garland; Hardcover; $31.50; Descriptive information available.

Cooking With Herbs : Over 200 Delicious Recipes for Good Health and Long Life; John Ettinger; Paperback; $13.45; Descriptive information available.

The Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices, & Flavorings/a Cook's Compendium; Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz (Editor); Hardcover; $31.46; Descriptive information available.

The Herb Book : A Complete Guide to Culinary Herbs; Arabella Boxer; Hardcover; $22.48

The Herb Companion Cooks : Recipes from the First Five Years of the Herb Companion Magazine; Paperback; $16.95

The Herb Garden Cookbook; Lucinda Hutson; Paperback; $19.76

Herbs : Their Cultivation and Usage; John Hemphill, Rosemary Hemphill; Paperback; $13.45

Hints and Pinches : A Concise Compendium of Herbs, Spices, and Aromatics With Illustrative Recipes and Asides on Relishes, Chutneys, and Other Such C; Eugene Walter; Hardcover; $17.06

More Amazon categories to choose from!

Cooking, Food & Wine Essential Bookshelf
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