Well, we’ve wandered into a weird time for book publishing. Most of the behind-the-scenes work is done for the year, and since boxes move slowly (if at all), no one is trying to cram a book into the release schedule in time for Christmas. In fact, most of publishing is already talking about books that come out next May. Weird, right? Anyway, this makes it difficult for booksellers to do their song and dance routine about new books when there are only . . . oh, uh, just forty-eight thousand eight hundred and eighty-eight titles out this week. 


We, um, we might be able to find a book or two to talk about. 

We could talk about Baby Shark!  Which we know is what all the kids are singing these days. Or how about the Tarascon Pocket—oh, right. Covered that already. Why is it showing up again the release list? We don’t know how this thing works. Okay, okay. How about Cane Topper Woodcarving: Projects, Patterns, and Techniques for Custom Canes and Walking Sticks . . . ? 

No offense to Lora Irish, who has put together a smashing collection of woodworking projects here, but we’re just not feeling the “super high demand” rating we’re getting off our search criteria here, so . . . we are going to go off plan here. Well, more off plan than we usually do. What? No, we totally stay on plan . . . most of the—okay, fine. It’ll be like every other newsletter. Whatever. 

Since we’ve mentioned travel guides to fictional places in the last few weeks, let’s showcase a travel guide to real places this week. Peter and Beverly Pickford have traveled to some of the most wonderful and exotic places for Wild Land. The Pickfords wanted to capture some of the last pristine wildernesses, and this document of their travels serves not only as a marvelous reminder of the natural beauty of this little blue marble but also as a call to action. Let’s not forget to tidy up around this place as we go, okay? 

And speaking of marvelous qualities of the natural world, Chad Orzel is back to teach us about exotic physics with Breakfast with Einstein: The Exotic Physics of Everyday Objects. Now, you may have thought you were immune to science, or that you didn’t need to know about it during your day-to-day existence, but without Neils Bohr and his early 20th century proposal about the oscillation of light, we wouldn’t have alarm clocks. And without Max Planck having something to say about the spectral density of electromagnetic radiation, we wouldn’t be able to make tea in the kettle, which would send all of the UK into a spiral of depression they’d never return from. It’d be worse than Brexit. Seriously. 

Anyway, Orzel has got you covered. Magnets. The Internet. Cryptography. Smoke Detectors. Your Nose. It’s all here. Waiting for you to get a bowl of Raisin Bran and some milk and buckle up. 

And if you find quantum mechanics a little too much for the breakfast table, how about Thomas Morris’s The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth? All sorts of “compellingly disgusting, hilarious, or downright bizarre” medical oddities from the history of medicine. Collected here for your “what the hell is that?” enjoyment. Mysterious illnesses! Horrifying operations! Unfortunate predicaments! This book has everything. Well, not for the slightly squeamish. This book probably isn’t the best breakfast read. 

Might we suggest A Very Merry Slothmas as an alternate?

What? It’s a slothastic coloring book. Sloths. In winter. Doing winter-y things. That you can color. As leisurely as you like. What’s not to love about this? 

Fine. How about something with a little more narrative heft then? Simon Sebag Montefiore’s epic tale of heroism in Southern Russia is now out in paperback. Red Sky at Noon has been called “like Cormac McCarthy with Nazis and Cossacks” (by the late Philip Kerr, in fact), and we can get behind that description. 

And speaking of books we’re enjoying, we also have The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, which is a classic example of an unreliable narrator and lunch. Two things we enjoy on a regular basis. 

But lunch can be over so quickly, and we do like our books to last a little longer than that. Which leads us to Daniel Abraham's The Long Price Quartet. Back in the day, Abraham did a sprawling fantasy series that launched his career. These days, he's busy being one half of James S. A. Corey, and if you're impatient for the next book in The Expanse series, might we suggest Abraham's The Long Price Quartet. Mmm. A thousand pages of epic world-building and heroic characters. That'll tide you over for at least six lunches. Maybe even a full dozen. 

And speaking of marvelous writers and evolving series, Ben Aaronovitch is back with another Peter Grant adventure. In Lies Sleeping, Grant—a detective and apprentice wizard for a special investigative unit in London—must track down the Faceless Man before the villain manages to execute his most brilliant and devilish plan yet. To do so, Grant is going to have to rely on a pack of unruly allies if he's going to save London from utter ruin. 

And speaking of saving ourselves from utter ruin,  how about we sign off with a copy of Lonely Planet's Wellness Escapes. Inside this book, you'll find the world's most energizing, inspiring, and relaxing retreats that will soothe your soul, restore your body, and calm your mind. In fact, we're writing this edition of the newsletter from a chaise lounge inside a cabana at [UNDISCLOSED LOCATION] right now. Later, we're going to have a micro keto raw and sprouted lunch, and then we have a cucumber dip at 2, followed by a gentle massage by sixteen purring kittens. It'll be marvelous, and we hope you can join us later.

Overheard At The Store »»

NADIA: Uh, hello? We don’t allow ferrets in the store. 

HODGE: I would hope not. Nasty biters, ferrets. 

PODGE: I like ferrets. They’re like otters who want to be serpents. 

NADIA: So, you’re not ferrets? 

HODGE: We are otters, madam. 

NADIA: Excuse me? This is a bookstore. Not a brothel. 

HODGE: Oh, I—uh, that’s not what I—oh, Podge. How embarrassing. 

PODGE: He was being polite. 

NADIA: Is that so? And what does that make you? 

PODGE: Not as round. 

NADIA: Of course. Let me guess: you two are friends of the cat with mange who hangs around the store. 

HODGE: We don’t know any—ooh! You mean Colby. 

NADIA: Is that his name? I try to avoid anthropomorphism as much as possible. Reality is frayed enough. 

PODGE: He asked us to come help out. 

NADIA: Help? 

PODGE: Well, it is the holiday season, and we know it can get very busy here in the store, what with all these lovely books that need to be slipped into people’s bags . . . 

NADIA: I think you’re missing an important step in the consumer/retailer process. 

HODGE: We are your seasonal help. 

NADIA: My what? 

PODGE: We’re here to help. 

NADIA: Help with what? 

HODGE: Whatever it is that the marmot did, we shall now do. 

NADIA: He didn’t do anything.

PODGE: Oh, we excel at that. 

NADIA: No, I mean, seriously. He wasn’t helpful. All he does is sit on the high shelf over there and give everyone the stink eye. 

HODGE: Well, I suppose if you could assist me up to that lofty spot, I could endeavor to do the same. Though, as a classically trained thespian, I suspect I’ll be able to deliver a most effective stink of the eye. 

PODGE: I’m going to stay down here. I can stink eye ‘em from below. 

NADIA: That’s not—I don’t—

PODGE: Ooh. I can hide under this table. Ready? I’m going to stink eye you!

HODGE: Oh, very fierce, Podge. Very fierce. 

NADIA: [sigh] How long is Colby going to be gone? 


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