A mixed bag of great reads

PHOTOS and Reviewed by:  Michelle Snaddon

VISI features a mix of new and inspirational titles – from the quirky Eat Love to the escapist indulgence of Luxury Trains.

Eat Love By Marije Vogelvang (Bis Publishers, www.amazon.com)

VISI’s book-loving editor was possibly the first in South Africa to receive his long-awaited copy of Dutch “eating designer” Marije Vogelzang’s book.

He had cleverly pre-ordered this entirely whimsical ode to her unique food design work. It’s not a cookbook in the traditional sense but rather a book about everything to do with celebrating a love of sharing food.

Eat Love covers everything from Marije’s edible sugar crockery to food printed with messages, along with photographs of her styled installations and original ideas for serving food.

It’s a refreshing, slightly whacky book jam-packed with ideas, sketches and handwritten notes.

The Sustainable Home by Cathy Strongman (Merrel, R574)

The long sub-title says it all: this is “The essential guide to eco building, renovation and decoration”.

So many sustainable/eco/green books are too alternative or too technical, but this one strikes a balance by giving inspirational yet achievable solutions to many of the issues we face when trying to improve our imprint on the earth.

Cathy Strongman is an experienced eco journalist and her practical section covers all aspects of sustainable building and decorating, from insulation to renewable energy options, lighting and kitchen counters.

Thirty illustrated case studies include explanations on building techniques and the decisions made on the designs of these spaces.

Luxury Trains edited by Eva Marin (Teneues, R899)

Take a journey through the glossy pages of this coffee-table book and you’ll be surprised to find how many sleek designer interiors are replacing dowdy carriages and, equally, how much restoration work has gone into preserving – and discreetly updating – some of the most legendary trains around the world.

It just goes to show that the green campaigners are right on track: train travel is in vogue again but never before have there been so many stylish options to choose from, even on a budget. The allure of an elegantly ordered, sometimes romantic, journey certainly beats airport queues and cramped planes.

Fire: A World of Flavour by Christine Manfield (Lantern/Penguin, R454)

Pick-me-up bright and protected by a hard casing, it’s difficult to resist this vibrant cookbook devoted to fiery dishes from around the world.

Dip into different continents, or savour the aromatic and tantalising journey to 20 different cities and regions with restaurant owner, Christine Manfield.

Part evocative travel story, part guide, but mostly a cookbook, Fire is a great read and a beautifully illustrated book that you’ll get lost in time and again.

Urban Landscape Design edited by John Flannery and Karen Smith (Teneues, R899)

A fascinating edit of the world’s most exciting urban spaces – but sadly, not one is South African.

Japanese cruise-ship terminals with undulating grassy roofs, extensive water features extending across massive park-like inner-city spaces, and even interesting lighting structures that bring alive a dull concrete space, are featured in detail.

Innovation and regeneration are key themes in this 220-page book, which will no doubt become a key resource for landscape designers, architects and urban planners.