Now that the weather has warmed up and spring is everywhere, catch a new release by a Louisiana author or a book on Louisiana and head outside for some good reading. Here are a few suggestions:
Hard to believe but it's been 25 years since the New Orleans World's Fair. Bill Cotter, as part of Arcadia Publishing's "Image of America" series, has compiled a collection of photos and drawings from the six-month event. The 1984 New Orleans World's Fair ($21.99) contains initial designs of the fair, publicity shots of everything from the Great Hall to the Vatican Pavilion and, of course, the Wonder Wall.
Baton Rouge native Carol K. Haase has been a volunteer at the Old State Capitol since 1995 and now serves on its advisory board. She has written a handy history and guide to the historic building Mark Twain once thought of as "pathetic" with Louisiana's Old State Capitol (Pelican, $14.95).
Everything you could ever want to know about our state's crustacean can be found in Jerry G. Walls' Crawfishes of Louisiana (LSU Press, $27.50). The biology professor at LSU provides information on crawfish habitats and biology, the state's history and love of the mudbugs and photos of the 39 types living within our borders.
Tulane professor of architecture Stephen Verderber takes us on a trip through "a delirious landscape" in Delirious New Orleans: Manifesto for an Extraordinary American City (University of Texas Press, $45). He captures in photographs architecture and artifacts of neighborhoods, music clubs, businesses and the like to show how New Orleans' unique culture is shaped by race, class inequities, damp geography and a strange mixture of cultures.
Using photographs taken before and after Hurricane Katrina, Verderber also shows how the landscape of America's Most Interesting City has changed. There's the Crystal Preserves sign at the Interstate 10 interchange with Tulane Avenue, the rap-promoting mural at the corner of Jackson and Willow and the Jefferson Highway Frostop I frequented as a child, all now gone. Verderber even shows how the storm transformed Bourbon Street strip joints from signs promoting the acts to the real thing after hoards of recovery workers invaded the city and turned it into "Amsterdam on the Bayou."
The mammoth coffee table book Louisiana Plantation Homes by Lee Malone with photographs by Paul Malone (Pelican, $49.95) is now in its revised fifth edition and as impressive as ever. Homes featured are as diverse as the Acadian House Museum in St. Martinville, the colorful, eccentric San Francisco plantation at Garyville, The Steamboat Houses of New Orleans and the Layton Castle of Monroe that's literally a castle. The book contains more than 100 photographs of restored Louisiana homes, some including interior shots.
Lawtell Elementary School teacher and journalist Mel LeCompte Jr., a resident of Church Point, has just released The Ice Cream Cow (CreateSpace Publishing), an illustrated children's book of a polka-dotted cow that effortlessly hops like a kangaroo, yet cannot find the courage to go "moo." The tale is based upon one of LeCompte's original children's songs, written initially for his daughters but now performed publically. LeCompte is the former president of the St. Landry Association of Educators and winner of The Associated Press Managing Editors' award for Sports Columnist of the Year in 2001. The book, plus downloads of his music project (Mel and the Moodoggies - Four From The Farm) are available at Amazon.com and at Church Point Pharmacy and Gifts.
The sixth annual Nicholls State University Jubilee Jambalaya Writer's Conference and Book Fair: The Writer's Voice will be held Saturday at the Terrebonne Parish Library, 151 Library Drive, Houma. Presenters include author and photographer C.C. Lockwood; Random House/Del-Rey Editor Betsy Mitchell; New York Times best-sellers Cherry Adair, Barbara Hambly and Bobbi Smith; agent Pamela Ahearn; bookseller Molly Bolden; and local authors Barbara Colley, Judy Creekmore, Tina Callais, Candice Proctor, Steve Harris, Robin Wells and Deborah LeBlanc of Lafayette, among many others. For more information and a list of presenters, go to jubileewriters conference.org.
The Writers Guild of Acadiana will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Barnes & Noble, 5707 Johnston St., Lafayette.
Sandra Bernard Dugas, co-author of The Savvy Manager, will sign copies of her book at 2 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble, 5707 Johnston St., Lafayette.
Andrei Codrescu will read from and sign his new book, The Posthuman Dad Guide, at 6 p.m. Saturday at Octavia Books, 513 Octavia St., New Orleans.
Kit Wohl, author of New Orleans Classic Gumbos and Soups, will speak at the Jefferson Parish Library at 7 p.m. Tuesday, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie.
Acadiana resident Cheré Coen is an author and instructor of creative writing at UL's Continuing Education. Visit her Web site at www.Louisiana BookNews.com and write her at email@example.com.