Even in the era of the smartphone, there's still plenty of room in the traveler's bag for a good guide book — especially if it's one of the Herb Lester Travel Guides ($7 and up). Made to serve as your go-to guides for the great cities of the world, these books feature maps and illustrations from exceptional designers, and cover everything from famous destinations to local favorites. Choose from guides to European cities like London, Amsterdam, and Paris, or American cities like New York, Austin, and San Francisco. They also offer collections of guides in case you're planning a grand tour.
You no doubt enjoy pasta with some regularity — but do you know where this versatile, yet simple culinary staple comes from? In The Perfect Shape + The Perfect Sauce = The Geometry of Pasta ($17) you'll find everything you didn't know you didn't know about pasta. Beginning with the basics (an introduction to ingredients, recipes for a few types of pasta and several sauces), the book dives deep into a huge range of pastas from A to Z. Each entry includes a brief history lesson, a detailed description, ideal sauce pairings, in some cases recipes for the pasta, and a black and white illustration.
There are few joys in life greater than partaking in delicious preserved meats — and it's with that pleasure in mind that we present to you In The Charcuterie: The Fatted Calf's Guide to Making Sausage, Salumi, Pates, Roasts, Confits, and Other Meaty Goods ($24). With 125 recipes for preparing meats, brought to you by the proprietors of San Francisco's legendary charcuterie, The Fatted Calf, you'll be able to make some of your favorites (and probably some things you've never heard of) right in your own home kitchen. They'll walk you through everything from preparing your kitchen, to selecting the right cuts, to the basics of butchering, to salting, curing, bringing, stuffing, and much more.
If a title like Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey: Recipes from My Three Favorite Food Groups and Then Some ($24) doesn't get you a little bit worked up, we don't want to hear about it. This book presents 130 recipes for bold, Southern flavors broken down by cooking technique — with everything from slathering to smoking — accompanied by gorgeous photography and musical pairings downloadable on Spotify. Recipes range from pickled sweet potatoes to deep South ramen with a fried poached egg, and build on each other to tell the documentary-style story of Southern cuisine's influence on American eating.
With the proliferation of fine craft beers in your local watering holes, it's become a great time to drink good brew — no more swilling watery, flavorless domestics. But, just because it's craft, doesn't mean it's good. The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks: From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes ($15) will give you the knowledge to intelligently discuss, and the confidence to selectively discern, the good and the bad. This book breaks it down into a series of reader-friendly courses, helping you understand the process, ingredients, and subtle flavors that make for a tasty beer. By the end you'll be able to casually chat about the hop varieties in your favorite IPA, or pass on that pedestrian pilsner.
Build a terrifying, albeit miniature, arsenal to defend your small space with Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction ($13 each). This series of books includes detailed instructions for building tiny weapons that fit perfectly on your desk or in your cubicle, all made with commonly-found office supplies and household items. While calling them weapons of mass destruction may be a bit hyperbolic, they'll certainly provide plenty of entertainment on a shrunken scale. Each book contains more than 30 weapons, ranging from trebuchets and catapults to blowguns and crossbows. Also included are strategic guidelines, clear diagrams, and safety tips (you could put an eye out with that).
While you wait for the walker-filled bloodbath that is The Walking Dead to return to TV, spend your time eating like the undead with The Snacking Dead: A Parody In A Cookbook ($12). Part love story, part parody, and part cookbook, it tells the tale of Pam Beaumont, a cook surviving the apocalypse while nurturing romantic feelings for our favorite crossbow-toting badass, Daryl. It's filled with zombie-survival-themed recipes like: Sweetish Fleshballs, Nachos of the Living Dead, Gratuitous Violence Jello Mold, and Elbows Casserole. So (when the end comes), as the biters devour your loved ones outside, you'll be eating like a survivalist king barricaded in your compound.
Whether you're just now venturing into the world of backdoor barbecuing, or you've been cooking meat over fire for years, Serious Barbecue ($28) will tell you everything you could ever need to know. It starts at the beginning, with detailed advice on working with charcoal and wood, as well as picking out the best grill to suit your purpose. From there you'll learn the secret to working with your butcher to find the best cuts of meat for grilling. Finally, it covers a range of recipes for cooking nearly every type of meat you can think of: from beef and veal to pork and lamb, and everything in between.
As you prepare for the forthcoming Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, find deeper insight into the man that is Ron Burgundy, with his memoir Let Me Off at the Top: My Classy Life and Other Musings ($22). Learn how his upbringing led him to choose a life as a news anchor for the acclaimed Action 4 News Team. Read personal stories about the women in his life, the exploits of his news team, and his good friend Baxter (of course). We just hope it comes in a leather-bound version that you can display proudly on the rich-mahogany bookshelves in your apartment.
When you spend a lot of time running, biking, hiking, backpacking, climbing, or training, you know how important it is to get all the energy you can from your food — but too often that means resorting to bars, gels, and other unnatural foods. With Feed Zone Portables: A Cookbook of On-the-Go Food for Athletes ($18) you can eat real meals, even when you're short on time and need to take them with you, all while still getting the greatest amount of energy possible from your food. In addition to the dozens of great recipes (including gluten-free and vegetarian), you'll learn about the importance of real food, and how best to nourish and hydrate your body.
Learn how he rose from a lowly cartoonist in Chicago to the founder of one of the most successful men's magazines in Hugh Hefner's Playboy ($160). Read the story of his military history, work as a cartoonist, his many beautiful girlfriends, and the rise of Playboy, all told by the man himself. This six-volume hardcover collection contains writing from well-known authors — Mailer, Fleming, Bradbury — original artwork, cartoons, correspondence, 25 fold-outs, and a wealth of many never-before-seen photographs from the Playboy Mansion, Playboy Clubs and the Big Bunny jet.
For some (okay many) of us, bacon stirs something deep down inside, something primal, even sensual — we lust after the stuff. With section titles like "Afternoon Delight," "Multiple Orgasms," and "The Morning Wood," Fifty Shades of Bacon ($12) is packed with enough bacon-related recipes to quench your carnal need for pork. So, if bacon wrapped asparagus with creamy gorgonzola sauce, bacon wrapped maple chicken, and bacon chocolate chip cookies sound like the makings of a fantasy fit for a romance novel, then this one's for you.