Books make excellent gifts so why not give the gift of reading this year? Here are some lovely coffee table books and cookbooks that make excellent gifts.
Artist Floyd Sonnier captured south Louisiana lifestyles in pen-and-ink drawings that have been revered for decades. Now there’s a book that compiles his Christmas drawings, many of which have been reproduced on Christmas cards and other holiday products.
The bilingual “Christmas in Cajun Country,” published by Acadian House Publishing of Lafayette, offers two dozen images the late Sonnier made between 1980 and 2001, accompanied by season’s greetings the artist wrote for Christmas cards.
The book includes an article titled “The True Story of Christmas,” which is an excerpt from the Gospel of Luke describing the birth of the Christ Child and lyrics of the song, “The Little Drummer Boy,” one of Sonnier’s favorite Christmas tunes. “Christmas in Cajun Country” is available at Louisiana bookstores and gift shops and may be obtained online at www.acadianhouse.com or by mail order from Acadian House Publishing, P.O. Box 52247, Lafayette, LA 70505, (800) 850-8851. It retails for $29.95 plus $4 for shipping.
Harvey J. Lewis took up collecting Louisiana hunting decoys in 1975, then veered into antique decoys. When good ones became scarce and expensive he whittled his collection down to 20 antiques. At a friend’s recommendation, however, he decided to write about contemporary carvers.
The result is “A Legacy Preserved: Contemporary Louisiana Decoy Carvers” by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press, a beautiful book that offers a historical overview on hunting decoys, a primer on how decoys are created and spotlights on 18 Louisiana carvers today, accented by detailed photos.
Vincent P. Caire offers a century of photographic history with “Military Aviation in the Gulf South,” published by LSU Press. Caire includes the military bases located along the Gulf, which provided open waters and unrestricted skies for flight training programs and defensive operations, and travels from the earliest flights and World War I to contemporary flight training.
Architects William B. Wiener and his half-brother Samuel G. Wiener were at the forefront of the modernist style in America, designing buildings in Shreveport that incorporated the architectural elements coursing through Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. Karen Kingsley, professor emerita of Tulane’s School of Architecture and Guy W. Carwile, an award-winning Louisiana architect, examine their brothers’ career in an LSU Press book, “The Modernist Architecture of Samuel G. and William B. Wiener.” The book is accented by both black and white and color photographs of past and existing buildings designed by the brothers, everything from residential homes to the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium.
Scott Veazey purchased the Nile Mile Point home of a lifelong friend and mentor, artist Martha Wright Ambrose. What he found inside were dozens of paintings and sketches of New Orleans landscapes and people. Author Roulhac Toledano, along with Veazey, have published a tribute to Ambrose in a gorgeous coffee table book titled “Martha Wright Ambrose (1914-2000): The Rediscovery of a Southern Regional Artist,” published by UL-Lafayette Press. The book follows Ambrose’s life and career, her worldly travels and New Orleans owners and art teachers she came in contact with. Many of her architectural paintings are juxtaposed with photographs of the homes and buildings existing today. It’s a retrospective artists dream about, and how lucky are readers that her work was discovered.
The Historic New Orleans Collection is bringing jazz legend Danny Barker’s autobiography, “A Life in Jazz,” back into print with the release of a new illustrated and expanded edition, available Thursday, Dec. 8. Barker was a city legend, an international representative of jazz and African American culture and a symbol of New Orleans jazz. He has appeared on more than a thousand recordings, played with greats like Jelly Roll Morton and Cab Calloway, and penned dozens of original songs, including his biggest hit, “Don’t You Make Me High [Don’t You Feel My Leg],” sung by his wife, Blue Lu Barker. “A Life in Jazz” was first published in 1986 and edited by Alyn Shipton, a music historian and jazz program host on BBC Radio. The new edition features an introduction by Gwen Thompkins, former NPR reporter and now host of public radio’s “Music Inside Out.” The new edition also includes more than 100 images, a discography and a never-before-published song catalog. “A Life in Jazz” is the third volume in THNOC’s Louisiana Musicians Biography Series, following “Unfinished Blues: Memories of a New Orleans Music Man” by Harold Battiste Jr. with Karen Celestan and “Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans” by Ben Sandmel.
A.L. Vincent has published a Christmas prequel to her Fleur de Lis series, a romance titled “Catch and Release.” The book’s main character, Carly Devereaux, is single again and she’s determined to find the perfect guy by Christmas Eve.
Vincent will host a release party Friday, Dec. 9, at Legends on Bertrand in Lafayette and will sign books Saturday at the Mistleteaux Market in New Iberia.
Perfectionistic Branna Lind has found true love with James Newbern, but the winds of Hurricane Katrina have pushed their wedding date into an uncertain future in Linda Joyce’s new romance, “Branna,” book one in the Fleur de Lis brides series. Newbern’s gun-toting ex-fiancée has been dipping into crazy, but despite Branna’s ranting, he’s not agreeing to a quickie Vegas wedding. His fiancée will be a Fleur de Lis bride, just as tradition dictates, or he’ll die trying.
Another wedding novel is “Since You’ve Been Gone” by Christa Allan of New Orleans. One moment Olivia Kavanaugh is preparing to walk down the aisle and embrace her own happily ever after, the next she learns that her fiancé, Wyatt Hammond, has been in a fatal car accident. Then comes a startling discovery: Wyatt’s car wasn’t heading toward the church. He was 50 miles away — with a baby gift in the backseat.
Book events for the week of Dec. 5, 2016
Barnes & Noble Lafayette will host a “Harry Potter Magical Holiday Ball” beginning at 7 p.m. Friday. Dress like your favorite Harry Potter character or wear your holiday best for dancing, music, activities and giveaways.
Shane K. Bernard signs copies of “Teche: A History of Louisiana’s Most Famous Bayou” at 2 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble Lafayette.
Local authors will sell and sign books from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday as part of “Author’s Alley” at the South and North Regional branch libraries in Lafayette.
George Graham signs “Acadiana Table: Cajun and Creole Home Cooking from the Heart of Louisiana: Recipes, Stories and Photographs” from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Crescent City Farmers Market and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum of New Orleans.
Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at email@example.com.