Hello, dear readers. We're going to answer that question that is on everyone's mind this week: Yes, you should stay home and read. Just don't lick the pages. Well, you can, if you really have to, but that book is yours after that. Keep it on the shelf. In a vacuum packed bag. With some bleach. And shake it up every couple of hours.
Oh, don't lick the pages. For crying out loud.
First off this week is Man Booker Prize winner Anne Enright's new novel, Actress, which is the story about the illusions we weave about ourselves and our parents. Norah O'Dell takes us through the wild and bohemian career of her mother, Katherine O'Dell, a legend of the Irish theater. Naturally, nothing is quite as it seems, and in Enright's hands, this complicated tale of a mother's love for her daughter (and vice versa) is both lyrical and haunting.
Props to the cover designer too. That's a striking cover.
Meanwhile, Casandra Clare is back with a new Shadowhunters trilogy. Chain of Gold picks up with the children of the protagonists of Clare's previous series, The Infernal Devices. It's 1903, and young Cordelia Carstairs is London-bound after Daddy mucks things up with the family reputation. There, in a delightfully clockwork and supernaturally-shadowed Edwardian England, Cordelia finds a boy, falls for him, and gets involved in some demon-hunting as an excuse to hang out with him. Naturally, this lad only has eyes for another, and therein lies the central crisis of the novel. It's not new, but it is so very exciting.
And speaking of exciting things, local author Erica Sage's debut novel, Jacked Up, is now out in paperback. This book—which is a witty and loving examination of loss, summer camp, and being haunted by ghosts of your own making—was the hot ticket item a year or so ago when it came out in hardback. That print run sold out, and we've been making do with back-alley mimeographed copies since then, haven't we? Well, those dark times of swapping chapters in the parking lot are over. We can all have our own copies now! Hurrah! Hurrah!
No, seriously. You can stop lurking under streetlights to read the fading print on that cobbled together fourth-generation copy we know you are lugging around. Let it go! Let it go!
Meanwhile, Jussi Adler-Olsen's Department Q is back. Victim 2117 is the eighth book in the series, and while it might not be the best place to start, it's a crackling read of tangled manhunts and white-knuckle twists and turns. Department Q, the Danish police team in charge of cold cases, stumbles into a hot zone of violence, and Adler-Olsen knows exactly what you want in your page-turning thriller. This one has enough pull to get you to read through the first seven books in the series over a single weekend.
And speaking of dizzying plots, Peter Swanson's Eight Perfect Murders is out this week. Once upon a time, bookseller and mystery fanatic Malcolm Kershaw drew up a list of the eight perfect murders in crime fiction. He thought the list was pretty clever. Someone else saw it as a to-do list, and now the FBI is knocking on Malcolm's door with lots of awkward questions. Swanson is a little too coy for his own good, but if you're a mystery fan who knows the genre like Malcolm does, you won't mind.
Meanwhile, dogged Commisario Guido Brunetti is back for the 29th book in Donna Leon's Venice-based mystery series. Trace Elements starts with a dying woman's last words, and as Commisario Brunetti attempts to figure out what she was talking about, he stumbles into a vast conspiracy involving shady financial dealings and the integrity of the water distribution system in Venice.
Oh, heck, while we're rattling around in the series double digits, C. J. Box's Joe Pickett is back in Long Range. Twenty books in and Wyoming game warden Pickett is still dealing with thugs, cartels, and shadowy assassins. It's enough to make an outdoorsman miss the days when a rogue grizzly is all he had to deal with. However, Box knows what his fans like, and Long Range continues to deliver the goods.
Sarah J. Maas, on the other hand, is moving up to something a little more adult with House of Earth and Blood, the first book in her new Crescent City series. It's got an exciting nightlife, an angsty heroine, a brooding fallen angel, and lots and lots of swearing and steamy sex. At eight hundred pages, this might be the book to take home this weekend.
If you can find it in the bookstore though. It's got steamy sex. We can't store it in YA. It's a Sarah J. Maas book. We can't put it in adult fiction. Damn authors! Breaking out of their traditional audience's familiarity zones. Forcing them to travel to other sections of the bookstore. This is going to cause so much—what? Leigh Bardugo wrote an adult novel earlier this year? Oh, right. Yes, okay. We'll put Maas's book next to Bardugo's Ninth House. Perfect. Carry on. Crisis averted.
*ahem* Where were we? Oh, yes. Mighty tomes and the authors that swing 'em. Here's Thomas Piketty's Capital and Ideology. At over eleven hundred pages, Capital and Ideology probably wins the prize this week in the category of "Book Most Likely To Make That House Quarantine Seem Longer, Even Though You'll Have Time To Actually Read It." For those who thought Piketty's previous doorstop, Capital, didn't go far enough, well, here you go. Stuffed with heady commentary and ideas, Capital and Ideology examines current geopolitical structures and offers some "solutions." There are, thankfully, intelligently designed charts and graphs for when you get lost in the theory.
Look, adulting is hard, and adulting in concert with other adults is even harder. Someone's got to be thinking about how to make everything work to everyone's satisfaction, and while capitalism has done a bang-up job of transforming the world over the last century or so, maybe it is time to think about what happens next. Piketty drew that short straw a while back, and he is doggedly drawing up a solution. Good for him. Now the rest of us have to read it.
Maybe we should all stay home for two weeks and read. Do you think anyone would notice? We could get caught up on some stuff, couldn't we? Show of hands from those who can get behind this idea.
No. No high-fives. Butt bump if you have to. Social distancing, people. It's not real distancing; it's just going to be awkward for awhile. We'll figure it out.
And finally, here's Shipwrecks of the Pacific Northwest: Tragedies and Legacies of a Perilous Coast. Over the last 350 years, lots and lots of ships have gone down along the Pacific Northwest coast. This book, which is filled with archaeological analysis and crack data gathering by the Maritime Archaeological Society, is an exciting exploration of some of the fascinating and forgotten ships that are out there, lurking under the waves.