There’s a new Ansel Adams photography book out this week, which allows us to talk about the weather and the trees while remaining on task. And so, yes, pretty pictures of trees and rocks in an “expanded” edition style. Just in time for the early holiday shoppers. 

Oh, we know it’s too early to start talking about shopping for that end of the year extravaganza, but we’re thinking about it already because we have to be prepared. We have to be ready for the tremendous wave of bright-eyed and slightly crazed shoppers who are going to descend upon us. Not you, of course. Our dear readers are totally calm and un-stressed when they are in the store. Why? Because they know we have their backs. It’s everyone else who rolls in a torrent of panic and “OMG! Do you have that thing! You know, the one all the other kids have. I have to have that thing!” And that’s when we shove a copy of Ansel Adams’s The National Park Service Photographs in front of them. Their pupils dilate, their breathing slows, and all the tension runs out of them in a whoosh. 

So, yes, we’re ready. 

If that doesn’t work, we can drop a copy of Walter Isaacson’s new biography of Leonardo Da Vinci in their hands. They’ll go “Oof,” and then they’ll go “Aaah” as they realize it’s filled with full-color images. That’s right. Not only is this is an Isaacson bio (he did that extremely readable biography of Steve Jobs a few years back, and before that, he covered Einstein and Ben Franklin), but it’s a pretty Issacson bio. 

And while we’re on the subject of recognizable names, we have a new book of poems by Leonard Cohen this week. Well, it’s an older book, but with a new face. This edition of the Book of Longing is a lovely hardback publication of the singer’s most iconic book of poetry, complete with Cohen’s original drawings and handwritten poetry. A commemorative release to mark the anniversary of the late poet’s passing. 

And speaking of hyphenates, Tom Hanks has a book of stories out this week. Yes, that Tom Hanks. We’ve learned two things about Mr. Hanks from his book, Uncommon Type: 1) He likes typewriters, and yes, those old-school clackity-clackity-clackity ones; and 2), he’s a pretty darn fine word stylist. Ann Patchett sums it up best with her blurb: “Reading Tom Hanks’s Uncommon Type is like finding out that Alice Munro is also the greatest actress of our time.” 

And if that’s not enough to stress your wallet, Philip Pullman returns this week with La Belle Sauvage, the first volume in his new prequel trilogy The Book of Dust. Yes, he’s going back to the world of The Golden Compass. Yes, we’re excited. No, we’re not hiding in the back room reading this. Well, maybe we were a little while ago . . . 

And not to be forgotten in the stacks of awesome that we are piling up, there is Pablo Neruda’s Book of Twilight, the first English language edition of the Nobel Prize winning poet’s early work. Back when he was poised—earnest, vulnerable, nascent—on the verge of becoming the beloved legend. Back when he sold his father’s watch in order to print the first edition of these poems. A volume entitled Crepusculario—wait for it—The Book of Twilight

And speaking of verse, we also have Now We Are Six Hundred, a collection of Time Lord verse. Riffing on that famous bear of English childhood, Now We Are Six Hundred has such instant classics as “Ode to a Krynoid,” “Dalex,” “Skipping Song,” and “To Her Coy Doctor.” 

You know, we could wrap Neruda’s Book of Twilight and Now We Are Six Hundred in bright holiday wrapping, and you wouldn’t know the difference based on their size and shape. So, plan your gift wrapping accordingly. 

And speaking of filling out your holiday list, how about a copy of Ralph Moody’s Little Britches? “Wait a minute,” you say, “Isn’t that book, like, old?” Why yes, it is, but that doesn’t stop it from being a gosh-darned tootin’ classic. And Purple House Press’s reissue celebrates all the winsome charm and earnest innocence of the original, including Edward Shenton's illustrations, color-corrected for the modern age. So, saddle up, and regale yourself with the old-timey take on when “Father and I were ranchers.” 

And for the discerning millennial cynic in the house, we have the latest transmission from Nightvale. It Devours! is the terrible, terrible tale of the Smiling God and the poor, deluded townsfolk of Nightvale who may be so wrapped up in their meaningless efforts to pursue happiness that they don’t realize they’re about to become lunch for a very, very old monstrosity from . . . well, somewhere out of town. And we all know what that means, don’t we?

And speaking of monstrosities, Michael Grant is back with Monster, the first book in a new trilogy set in the same world as his bestselling Gone novels. Time has passed and monsters are growing, and even those pesky kids who learned to deal with the new order of things are having to come to terms with a terrifying new realization among them. Puberty. Some are growing hair in weird places. Some are getting taller; some are getting wider. Some are sprouting fangs and wings and . . . well, it’s getting out of control, frankly. Kids, these days. 

And speaking of things growing out of control, Patrick Rothfuss Kevin Hearne’s new book is out. It’s called A Plague of Giants, and it is the start of a new fantasy series from the Iron Druid guy. It’s got giants and bards and magics gone awry. 

And finally, let’s kick off paper doll season with Doctor Who paper dolls. Twenty-six of your favorite characters with mix-and-match scarves and heads. Put the Fourth Doctor’s scarf on Rose Tyler. Try Clara’s 19th century ball gown on the Seventh Doctor. Dress the Twelfth Doctor up as the Sixth. The possibilities are endless! Sure to keep you busy until the arrival of the Thirteenth Doctor on Christmas Day. 

Meanwhile, On a Stakeout »»

JASPER: Why exactly are we skulking about in the bushes like we’re trying to recreate scenes from Puss-in-Boots

COLBY: Shhh. 

JASPER: Ugh. This weather. And—oh! Right down my collar. Oh, you prolix peccary. How did I let you talk me into this? 

COLBY: All I said was: “Hey, how about some spying” and you were all: “Oooh! Let’s!” before I even told you the plan. 

JASPER: O lilliputian lout, that is not how it happened. 

COLBY: Whatever, docile daydreamer. 

JASPER: This is—

COLBY: Hizza-bizzit. 


COLBY: Shut up! 

JASPER: Now look here—

COLBY: Get down!

JASPER: This is preposterous nonsense. I—oh, what’s that?

COLBY: Shut that wind hole, fustian fontographer, and watch! 

JASPER: I—I say. Is that? 

COLBY: I put a box of some old paperbacks in that garbage can last night. Vintage home decor. Pop psychology. Some Edgar Rice Burroughs. 

JASPER: What? Oh, tell me you didn’t throw out the old Ballantine Barsoom editions . . . 

COLBY: No, the mid seventies re-issues. With the Gino D'Achille covers. 

JASPER: Oh, thank goodness. I was about to have a heart attack. 

COLBY: I’m not that much of a savage creature. 

JASPER: And what sort of creature is that?

COLBY: That? That’s an otter. 

JASPER: Oh. Oh! There are two of them. 

COLBY: Yes. Yes, there are. 

JASPER: They’re taking the ERB!

COLBY: The “bait,” you mean? 

JASPER: Bait? 

COLBY: They didn’t take the rest.

JASPER: They only took the pulps! Dear God, they’re discerning readers. 

COLBY: Exactly. And now we know their weakness . . . 


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