We’re rolling into summer reading now, and to celebrate all the lying around in the hammock with a book across our faces that we’re about to endure, we’ve gone and made up a bingo card. And this isn’t the sort of thing where you have to match numbers to some goofy pattern on the card, or where you get a Jell-o shot if we call out a specific number. No, this is full-contact reading bingo. 

Which will come in handy as you tackle the latest tome out of the dusty Tolkien archives. Beren and Lúthien is an attempt to reconcile the various pieces of the old story about the mortal man and his lady fair, back in the days when the Simarils were but stones bound in the Iron Crown of the Black Enemy. 

[Let’s see: this’ll get you a “Read a Romance” box, a “Read an SF or Fantasy” box, and, if you can argue convincingly, a “Read a Historic Non-Fiction” box. But that’s some fine arguing going on. Like we said: this is high stakes bingo. You might have to work a little bit to get all the boxes.]

Of course, hitting the “Read a Thriller” box is pretty easy with Stuart Woods, James Patterson, and Clive Cussler all pumping out books every other week. It’s Clive’s turn this week with Nighthawk, a novel from the Numa Files (aka Not Dirk Pitt), wherein various secret agencies are racing to find some exotic material that is going to explode sooner than later and wipe out everything like what happened the last time with the dinosaurs. It's Countdown to Armageddon time, people. That’s all you need to know. 

[And you only have until the end of summer to complete your bingo card, so tick-tock, get your read on!]

And speaking of ticking off boxes on our bingo card, you should wander by our graphic novel selection and check out the surreal stuff that Matt Fraction and Christian Ward are doing with ODY-C, a psychedelic pop art version of The Odyssey that is more than a little gender-broke. Along with Brian K. Vaughan’s and Fiona Staples’s work on Saga, ODY-C is undoing all sorts of genre tropes and norms with its visual and kinetic storytelling. 

And something a little less eyeball baking is the latest from Nancy Atherton, Aunt Dimity & The Widow’s Curse. Life in the sleepy English village of Finch is upended when a local widower decides to hold a quilting bee. The quilt-off gets a little loopier when the widower reveals that she’s not so much a widower as a murderer. Yes, her husband didn’t exactly “wander off” all those years ago, and it’s up to our plucky protagonist to suss out the ghastly secret before the quilting bee turns deadly. 

And speaking of not knowing what your neighbors are up to, we’re already bored with the latest trend in thrillers to rip off the Band-aid on small town niceties, but Megan Miranda’s The Perfect Stranger snuck up on us quietly enough that we were a hundred pages in before we remembered we were over this trend. 

And finally, we’re delighted to see that Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Gene is now out in paperback. Ostensibly a history book, The Gene is equal parts anecdotal discussion about who we are, deeply intelligent discussion about what we are, and wide-eyed forward-thinking about what we might become. 

And this is the sort of thing we like to dream about as we slumber away the afternoon in the hammock, resting easy with the knowledge that we’ve blocked out a good portion of our summer reading bingo card. And it's barely even June . . . 

Overheard At The Store »»

ALICE: Hello, Colby. What’s going on back here?

COLBY: Oh, hi, Alice. I’m doing research. 

ALICE: By watching movies? 

COLBY: I don’t have time to read. I need to know some things really quick. 

ALICE: What sort of things? . . . Is this that James Caan film where he—

COLBY: Yeah. He’s a professional thief.

ALICE: Ah, now I understand. 

COLBY: Understand what? 

ALICE: Why Ferdie said I should talk to you. 

COLBY: Is the volume too high? 

ALICE: No. No, that’s not it. It’s more that she thought I might have some useful tips for you. 

COLBY: Useful tips? About what? 

ALICE: Well, don’t be dense, marmot. What do you think? 

COLBY: I’m not admitting to anything. I’m just watching movies. 

ALICE: Uh huh. What’s in this stack over here? Thief. Out of Sight. The Bank Job. The Italian Job. Ocean’s 11. Rififi. Bonnie and Clyde. Is there something we should talk about? 

COLBY: I have a project. 

ALICE: I’m almost afraid to ask. 

COLBY: I have to figure out how to get into a house. 

ALICE: You can’t just knock on the front door?

COLBY: The guy who lives in this house won’t open the door. 

ALICE: Maybe he doesn’t want to talk to you. 

COLBY: It’s not just me. He won’t open the door for anyone. 

ALICE: Sounds like a shut-in. Maybe he’s allergic to sunlight or something. I think I saw that on a show. You should watch that one. 

COLBY: I’m not doing research on vampires. 

ALICE: No? So, After Dark, My Sweet isn’t a vampire movie? 

COLBY: . . . It’s a classic. Based on a Jim Thompson novel. Bob probably knows about it. 

ALICE: Hmmm . . . 

COLBY: Anyway, your lack of film noir knowledge aside, what can I help you with? 

ALICE: Make some room on the couch, marmot. Maybe I’ll watch some of these with you. 

COLBY: Sigh. I’m working, Alice. I need to take notes. 

ALICE: Take all the notes you want. I’m just going to provide commentary. 

COLBY: Commentary?

ALICE: I used to do this for a living, marmot. You think being a pirate’s daughter was all about washing sails and wearing a short skirt while I served rum?


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