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BOOKS ISSUE: Short reviews of great books and comics

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Katie Longue's RÖK is a comic featuring Loki and other Norse gods.

Annalee Newitz's Scatter, Adapt, and Remember is passionate geekery at its finest, and possibly its most practical. Mass extinctions are a fact of our planet, but the end of the world does not necessarily mean the end of humans. In this enthusiastically researched book, Newitz (editor of science and culture site io9.com, and a former Guardian contributor) divulges the history of the world's disasters, and how it's really the long-term aftermath of a meteor or mega volcano that would (and has) caused the dying-out of Earth's inhabitants. The good news: Narratives of hope aren't just for fictional superhero films, and the human capacity for survival is tremendous. Scatter will rekindle that general interest you had in Earth science during your school years — and perhaps inspire the minds that will save us from the next planetary disaster. (Kirstie Haruta)

 

COWGIRL CREAMERY COOKS

By Sue Conley and Peggy Smith (Chronicle Books, 272 pp., $35)

If Sue Conley and Peggy Smith lived in India where cows are godly, their cheese would be holy. Luckily for us, Cowgirl Creamery is in Point Reyes, but that shouldn't stop people from placing their wax-wrapped triple-crème Mt. Tam on a pedestal. Cowgirl Creamery Cooks recounts the former college roommates' journey through cheese, from moving to the Bay Area during the Alice Waters revolution to working alongside some of the world's top cheese mongers, who taught them techniques in culturing, curdling, and aging their own cheese. Divided into chapters based on age and texture, the book provides invaluable instructions on how to choose, pair, taste, make, cook, and store cheese. It's written in a frolicking, winsome style that endears you to the cowgirls. More importantly, it's written from their Northern California perspective; cheese, as they mention, gets classified differently depending on the region, so they've made interpreting cheese particularly accessible to cooks in the Bay Area. The cowgirls' passion for cheese is contagious, and their cookbook will inspire you to cook endives in blue cream sauce, and pair cheeses for your next party. (Baker)

 

EXCLUDED: MAKING FEMINIST AND QUEER MOVEMENTS MORE INCLUSIVE

By Julia Serano (Seal Press, 336 pp., $17)

Even the most vocal activist and the most well-read scholar stand to learn or unlearn a thing or two from Julia Serano's new book. From her perspective as a bisexual femme-tomboy transsexual woman with the biting wit of a spoken-word artist, the passion and awareness of an activist, and the knowledge of a biologist, Serano exposes the ways in which different forms of sexism are so deeply ingrained in society, even queer communities leave some of their own out in the cold. Excluded is packed with debunked myths — such as the nature vs. nurture debacle and the stigma of identifying as bisexual — but remains an accessible text for a wide audience. Through personal narrative and clear breakdowns of complex concepts of gender, sex, and sexuality, Serano writes to challenge our preconceived notions and transform the way we support and fight for one another as queer and feminist activists. (For an interview with Serano, visit sfbg.com/pixel_vision). (Haruta)

 

IN THE CHARCUTERIE: THE FATTED CALF'S GUIDE TO MAKING SAUSAGE, SALUMI, PÂTÉS, ROASTS, CONFITS, AND OTHER MEATY GOODS

By Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller (Ten Speed Press, 352 pp., $40)

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