Books of the Week: Hot stuff - Albuquerque Journal

Books of the Week: Hot stuff

Ah, summer. That’s a good reason to read a book in a swing in the backyard, under a poolside umbrella or in the shade of a tree in a park.

Need another reason? Break out of the stay-at-home pandemic quarantine blues.

Here are some titles to consider.

“New Mexico Food Trails” by Carolyn Graham (UNM Press) will get you out and about in no time. The subtitle of this guidebook will entice you to explore far beyond your neighborhood or town – “A Road Tripper’s Guide to Hot Chile, Cold Brews, and Classic Dishes from the Land of Enchantment.” The 21 pages of one chapter center on one mouth-watering menu item – the green chile cheeseburger and the many eateries from Alamogordo to Farmington that serve them. Besides chapters on breakfasts, margaritas and craft beer, the book zeros in on “25 Dishes to Drive For,” such as the chocolate mousse at Chokolá Bean to Bar in Taos, Red Chile Beef Bites at High Noon in Old Town, or the Adobe Deli Onion Soup at Adobe Deli in Deming.

“The Gospel According to Billy the Kid: A Novel” By Dennis McCarthy. One more book about Billy the Kid? Sure, why not? This inventive novel presents a longer life for William H. Bonney aka Billy the Kid.

Reputedly killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881, the book takes the reader forward 33 years with the still-alive Billy recalling tense moments and a fresh take on his life as a ranch hand and an outlaw in the New Mexico Territory’s Lincoln County War. McCarthy is a Santa Fe resident. This is his debut novel.

“Casey Luna: A Colorful Life in Business, Politics and Motor Sports Championships” by Richard Melzer. This is an appealing, memory-filled biography of Luna, the owner of successful automobile dealerships in Belen and Mountainair for many years. Luna gained statewide attention when he was elected lieutenant governor under Gov. Bruce King from 1991 to 1995. Casey is his nickname. He was born Casimiro Elfego Luna in rural Sandoval County in 1931. Melzer is the UNM Emeritus Regents Professor of History and is a past president of the Historical Society of New Mexico.

• Tom Avitabile narrates the Audible audiobook of Joseph Badal’s thriller “Ultimate Betrayal.” The novel follows decorated U.S. Army veteran David Hood over multiple landscapes, from South Philadelphia and the war in Afghanistan to the White House. Unabridged, the audiobook’s running time is eight hours and 17 minutes. Badal is an Albuquerque area resident. Avitabile is a writer, director and producer with many film and TV credits.

“Forces of Nature: The Women Who Changed Science” by Anna Reser and Leila McNeill. This volume brings to light the contributions of a multitude of women in science over millennia. For example, there’s Maria Gaetana Agnesi of Milan, an 18th century mathematician and philosopher, who published the first calculus textbook in Italian.

There’s Marie-Anne Paulze, who worked with her husband Antoine Lavoisier, known as the “father of modern chemistry.” The book says his discovery of oxygen’s role in combustion probably couldn’t have happened without his wife’s translating English chemical texts and analyzing, commenting on and critiquing those translations. And Mary Mahoney, who in 1879 became the first African American woman to graduate with a professional nursing degree in the United States. The volume has the heft of a textbook, but it’s a readable history.

“Site Fidelity: Stories” by Claire Boyles. These are tenderly, insightfully-told tales of the hardscrabble lives of women in the present-day West, their families and how nature influences those ties.

In “Ledgers,” Boyles shows the love a woman has for her rancher-dad and for the need to protect the endangered Gunnison sage grouse. In “Alto Cumulus Standing Lenticulars,” readers see the joy and knowledge a young son finds in clouds and constellations just as his mother struggles with her marriage and the birth of a fourth child. In “Early Warning Systems,” Boyles defines the damage a woman suffers from the infidelity of a husband, and her town’s refusal to admit the source of its river’s pollution.

Boyles, a Colorado resident, will be in conversation with author Molly Antopol at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 22 in a virtual Zoom event presented by Bookworks. Go to

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