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BOOKS ISSUE: 25 books from 2011 to check out

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John Muir would have loved this book, the spectacular result of a passionate love affair with Yosemite National Park involving all of the principals in this impressive project. Muir helped glorify and preserve Yosemite with his voice and pen. Robert Redford, who fell in love with Yosemite as an 11-year-old boy recovering from a mild case of polio, wrote an eloquent introduction to the book. Photojournalist, Mark Boster was smitten by the beauty and grandeur of the Yosemite when he first visited the park as a child with his family. He spent a year in the park detailing its seasonal changes in more than 100 magnificent pictures. "I felt the breezes, analyzed the light, listened to the sound of the rivers and falls, and tried to capture the images that moved me," he writes in his introduction. Catherine Hamm's delicate haiku add a poetic touch to many scenes. (The two principals who brought this project to life with loving care are Narda Zacchino, a former editor of LA Times and the Chronicle, and Dickson Louie, a former executive at both those papers. Zacchino serves as publisher and editor and Louie as president and CEO of Time Capsule Press, which specializes in creating books by using the archival content of newspapers and magazines.) Available at www.fourseasonsofyosemite.com (Bruce B. Brugmann)

 

THE PDT COCKTAIL BOOK

By Jim Meehan

Sterling Epicure

368 pp., hardcover, $24.95

Few bars have made as much impact on the New York cocktail (and thus the international) scene than PDT. Known as an early mover in the speakeasy trend, PDT revives classic recipes and invents new ones in the classic spirit. Bartender Jim Meehan put PDT on the map, and he's since gone on to write about drink and educate bar managers and tenders everywhere. In the PDT Cocktail Book, he shares more than 300 cocktail recipes in a comprehensive collection inspired by classic tomes like The Savoy Cocktail Book. There are recipes from generations of hard-working bartenders, tips on glassware, bar tools, equipment, garnishes, techniques, a listing of seasonal ingredients, even a spirits primer. In keeping with PDT's connection to neighboring Crif Dogs who serve creative dogs in the bar, there's a section of hot dog recipes from big-name chefs who are regulars at the bar, including David Chang (Momofuku), Wylie Dufresne (WD-50), and Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park). From the comfort of home, cook up a Mason Dog fried in cornmeal and huitlacoche (corn smut/fungus, a Mexican specialty) to go with the Little Bit of Country cocktail, which mixes bourbon, maple, and jalapeño. (Virginia Miller)

 

EVERYTHING IS ITS OWN REWARD: AN ALL OVER COFFEE COLLECTION

By Paul Madonna

City Lights

240 pp., hardcover, $27.95

Like Ben Katchor's classic "Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer," local artist Paul Madonna's "All Over Coffee" — published every Sunday in the Chronicle and on essential Web zine The Rumpus (www.therumpus.net) — draws me into a psychic space that is at once serene and troubled, surreal and hyperreal. The effect comes as much from the drawing style as the dreamlike non-narrative: both are direct descendants of Winsor McKay's "Little Nemo." Madonna gets an extra chills-up-the-spine boost from his illustrations of semi-familiar San Francisco architecture and intersections, lucid as etchings of bleached Kodachrome shots. For this second collection of the strip, he broadens his nib to include not only the City by the Bay, but Paris, Rome, Buenos Aires, and Tokyo. Overheard quotes, snatches of philosophical discourse, interior monologue snippets, existential doubts, random observations, and short stories are floated over the images to capture a peculiarly lovely eddies in the zeitgeist.

 

I DON'T WANT TO KILL YOU

By Dan Wells

Tor