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What We're Reading, April 26 - May 2

Mito Habe-Evans
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NPR

The biography of a cigar worker turned respected baseball executive, a petite book of poetry perfect for the season, a huge chronicle of a cook and his vegetable patch, and a mother's day gift book that celebrates moms as fashion plates.


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Cuban Star

How One Negro-League Owner Changed the Face of Baseball

by Adrian Burgos, Jr.

Historian Adrian Burgos, Jr. tracks the fascinating life of Alejandro Pompez from young cigar worker in Key West to Harlem numbers runner to respected baseball executive. Pompez owned a Negro League franchise, the New York Cubans, which was largely staffed by players he recruited from throughout Latin American. It was Pompez who recruited the first Dominican, the first Puerto Rican and the first Panamanian players into the Negro Leagues. All the while his illegal betting business helped finance his baseball operation. That is, until New York prosecutor Thomas Dewey (he of "Dewey Defeats Truman" fame) forced Pompez to squeal on his former boss, the infamous gangster "Dutch" Schultz. Following the integration of baseball, Pompez worked as a Latin America scout for the New York and San Francisco Giants where he signed a string of future stars including Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda and Felipe Alou.

Hardcover, 320 pages; Hill and Wang; list price, $28; publication date, April 26


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Birds, Beasts, And Seas

Nature Poems From New Directions

Edited by Jeffrey Yang

National Poetry Month may be drawing to a close, but just in time comes this delightful little book of nature poetry. Birds, Beasts, and Seas showcases work from over 140 poets published by New Directions, one of the premier independent presses for poetry in the country. This slim volume contains work from the likes of John Donne, Pablo Neruda, Tennessee Williams, Ezra Pound, Anne Carson, Lawrence Ferlenghetti and Octavio Paz — but some of the book's most striking moments come from lesser known poets. Take these lines from "Our Garden," originally written in Indonesian by Chairil Anwar: "Our garden/doesn't spread out very far, it's a little affair/in which we won't lose each other."

Paperback, 208 pages; New Directions; list price, $14.95; publication date, April 29


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Tender

A Cook And His Vegetable Patch

By Nigel Slater

Tender is the acclaimed British food writer Nigel Slater's latest magnum opus, a doorstopping 600-page tour through his London vegetable garden, with accompanying recipes, anecdotes, and planting tips. As a child, Slater's experience of vegetables extended to nothing more than peas and cubed carrots, with the occasional dish of instant mashed potatoes, and this book celebrates all the green and leafy delights he discovered as an adult. It's also a hymn to the beauty and effort of gardening through the changing seasons. If you've ever wanted to get to know your dish of sauteed spinach or gratin potatoes from seed to plate, this is the book for you.

Hardcover, 624 pages; Ten Speed; list price, $40; publication date, April 26


My Mom, Style Icon

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By Piper Weiss

When women's magazine writer/blogger Piper Weiss began the blog My Mom, The Style Icon, it was as a fun project — she asked her girlfriends to send in photos of their mothers when they were at the height of their fashion prowess. Soon, the blog grew into a phenomenon, and now, a book. My Mom, Style Icon is a collection of photographs and stories, told by daughters and sons, about their very stylish mothers in the blush of youth. The book is organized around themes — weddings, rebellion, traveling pantsuits — and is peppered with sweet vintage style tips along with the individual style stories.

Hardcover, 156 pages; Chronicle; list price, $18.95; publication date, April 6

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