Five Books On Our Radar

by Melissa Goldstein
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Modern Mediterranean (Abrams), $21

THE SHORT OF IT: As the executive chef of Noho's beloved general-store-slash-restaurant The Smile, Melia Marden makes her cookbook debut with a collection of 125 dinner party-ready recipes ranging from minted snap peas to a saffron-infused take on a Provençal bouillabaisse to lemon and olive oil pound cake. Befitting Marden's lineage (she's the daughter of renowned artists Brice and Helen Marden), each dish is presented in a pretty, painterly fashion. BUY IT FOR: The Lena Dunham in your life.

QUOTABLE: "The hallmark of great Mediterranean cooking [is] a kind of simplicity that's perfectly balanced--the flavours of clean, fresh ingredients playing off one another so that you are able to taste everything at once." -Melia Marden

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Heirloom Modern (Rizzoli), $30

THE SHORT OF IT: Dubbed "the New Antiquarians" (by supreme title-giver The New York Times) Brooklyn-based sisters Hollister and Porter Hovey of Hovey Design delve into the vintage Louis Vuitton trunks and paint-by-number collections of their favourite fellow collectors in this Selby-styled book, laden with 175 colour photographs. The journey begins in their own Williamsburg, Brooklyn home--Napoleonic watercolor and taxidermied scarlet ibis included--and extends to the eclectic spaces of their circle of family and friends, including restaurateur/hotel proprietor Sean Macpherson.

BUY IT FOR: Your pals who watch Antiques Roadshow, both in a semi-ironic way and an earnest one.

QUOTABLE: "Who wouldn't want to come home to the grown-up, indoor version of Babar, Curious George, and The Jungle Book?" --Hollister Hovey 

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The Set Table (Cicada Books), $19

THE SHORT OF IT: Features Editor for the UK publication Easy Living, Hannah Shuckburgh waxes poetic on the art of table setting in this evocative ode to thoughtful detail, which touches on everything from the origins of tablecloths on the banquet tables of Roman emperors to the modern-day appeal of mint as a centrepiece.

BUY IT FOR: Your resident Martha Stewart worshipper.

QUOTABLE: "Though high maintenance and expensive, silver adds something soulful ?to a table that stainless steel can never match." --Hannah Shuckburgh

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Designers At Home: Personal Reflections On Stylish Living (Rizzoli), $27

THE SHORT OF IT: Ronda Rice Carmen, founder of beloved  lifestyle blog All The Best, turns her attention to print in this new voyeuristic tome. Get inside the domiciles of the interior world's biggest stars--from the 19th-century Sag Harbour hideaway of Steven Gambrel to the English hunting lodge of Nicky Haslam to the Harbour Island retreat of India Hicks, replete with sea shells, palm fronds and naturally, a green parrot. BUY IT FOR: Brad Pitt (he lives for this stuff). QUOTABLE: "I don't like cheap floorboards, minimalism, or taking one's home too damn seriously. Serious people can be such bores, and serious interiors are even worse." --Nicky Haslam  
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David Stark: The Art Of The Party (The Monacelli Press), $24

THE SHORT OF IT: With clients spanning from Rodarte to MoMA to Hello Kitty to Target, event planner extraordinaire David Stark offers a peek behind the curtain of his theatrical extravaganzas, which utilise such unexpected building blocks as coloured pencils and fluorescent green flagging tape to yield jaw-dropping results. Bonus alert: Martha Stewart's nephew's upstate New York nuptials, held on the queen of domesticity's grand estate, are also featured--lawn darts, croquet, badminton, and all.

BUY IT FOR: Your engaged friend, whose wedding Pinterest board count is growing by the second.

QUOTABLE: "With apologies to Ms. Stein, a party is a party is a party. If you only aim for adequately amusing, that's exactly what you get." --David Stark


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