THE BOOK OF EGGS
By Mark E. Hauber. (The University of Chicago Press, 656 pages, $55.)
As you page through this lovely book, you start to understand the rationale behind Easter eggs. On page after page of photographs of bird eggs from all over the world — 600 eggs — there is not a white one in the bunch. The eggs range from cream to tan to brown, from green to blue to red. Some have squiggles, or spots, or mottles.
The egg of the white-bellied nothura is a glossy dark brown, the exact color of milk chocolate, and just a little bigger than a malted milk ball. The egg of the northern jacana is cafe-au-lait colored, with swirls of mocha. The egg of the blackcap looks exactly like a potato, if potatoes were the size of a thumbnail. The wren-like rushbird lays tiny denim-blue eggs, and the Cetti's warbler lays even tinier eggs that are chile-pepper red.
This book is one big Easter basket. The subtitle explains it all — "A Life-Size Guide to the Eggs of Six Hundred of the World's Bird Species." This is not a field guide (it's big and weighs a ton), but it's a fabulous reference book, every image in lovely color — one image of the egg actual size, and one of the egg larger, for detail — with sketches of the birds and maps showing territory. It's fascinating to leaf through, and affirming: On every page, it's spring!
LAURIE HERTZEL, Senior editor/books
Delancey: A Man, a Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage
By Molly Wizenberg. (Simon & Schuster, 240 pages, $25).
Memoirs about restaurants — starting one, owning one, going bankrupt with one — seem to crowd the bookstore shelves these days, so setting yourself apart is no small challenge. Molly Wizenberg succeeds by virtue of a particularly compelling voice. She's funny, honest, searching and, as any memoir needs to be, credible. The conversational tone she strikes likely is one reason that her blog, Orangette, was named the best food blog in the world (!) by the London Times. (orangette.blogspot.com)
In this, her second book, she recounts her barely supportive role in her husband's dream of owning a pizza restaurant in Seattle. Mostly, she never dreamed it really would happen — he's a composer and saxophonist, by trade — until it clearly was happening, with her help or not. Wizenberg takes readers right up to the point of feeling like eavesdroppers on too-intimate moments, yet saves herself (and us) through her deft touch with humility and an honest autopsy of her feelings.
Even the happy ending that seems just around the corner takes a detour that further cements her as someone who can rise above the usual foodie angst. Oh, and the recipes — and there must be recipes — all tempt. (Fish sauce in meatloaf, who knew?)
Molly Wizenberg will be at the Bookcase of Wayzata at 7 p.m. Wed.
Kim Ode, Staff writer