This is the last week of summer, isn't it? Sure, we have another full week of August, but everyone is starting to think about school again, aren't we? It's the last chance to get away for a few days before responsibilities hit. Finish that big yard project! (And we're looking at that guy over near the high school who has been working on that new pool installation all summer. Yes, you sir. This pleasant weather isn't going to last forever. Get that concrete a-curing!)
What's all this mean for the book industry? Well, it means the trucks are filling up with all those boxes labeled "FALL 2019," but those boxes can't go out yet. No, no. Those books have strict street dates. What we get are the books that are allowed to slip through the cracks, which is to say the miscreants, the rhubarb-rattlers, and the strangely beautiful and slightly daring books that some editor loved so very very hard they had to buy it. The weird darlings, in a word.
By the way, James Patterson does not have a book out this week, which is to be expected, honestly, but also disappointing. Ah, James, James. Surely there was one weird darling in all those books. Alas, apparently not.
Anyway, how about some pens inspired by David Nightingale Hicks? Hicks was a 20th century designer, who came up in the generation following William Morris and John Ruskin (those Arts and Crafts guys). Hicks was big on bold colors as well as throwing caution to the wind with his mixing of modern aesthetics and classic antiques. The fine folks at Galison, who produce all sorts of interesting gifts and accessories, have realized there is a market opportunity for a company that makes classy journals. Writing instruments for those blank journals! What a clever idea!
Naturally, you can get David Hicks's inspired journals too.
It's not quite mass market celebration week, but come on. Lorraine Heath gets all the sizzle on the cover for The Duchess in His Bed: A Sins For All Seasons Novel. The only thing missing is a nipple or two (keeping things under the quota, of course).
And speaking of flirting with danger, how about some decision dice? Caught between a marauding group of angry kobolds and a displeased owlbear in your D & D campaign? Roll these dice instead. Guaranteed to spice up any role-playing game. Also useful if you're having trouble figuring out whether you should put pants on and leave the house. Or if you should let the dog out. Or if you should eat that expired can of beans that has been sitting in the back of your cupboard for a year or more. Delegate your decision-making to random chance!
And for those who don't like abstraction and chaos-theory in their daily routine, how about some restorative sketching and line-drawing? Steve Smallman guides you through the plethora of ducks and goats and cows in Noah and the Animals: Step by Step With Steve Smallman.
And speaking of drawing, Colleen Doran is back this week with Snow, Glass, Apples, a story written by that Neil Gaiman fellow, but lavishly illustrated by Doran. Gaiman is in classic myth-retelling form here with this version of Snow White, but it's Doran's art that makes this graphic novel a real treat. Dark and sexy and ultimately chilling, this is definitely a fairy tale for grown-ups.
And while we're on the subject of fine art, here's a coffee table book from the Getty Museum, highlighting more than a hundred masterworks in their collection. Mmmm. Pretty pretty pictures.
This, by the way, might be good background research for when we tackle Daniel Silva's The Heist for book club in January. We know. We know. January is on the other side of December, and might as well be the moon for all that we can manage to keep track of today, but whatever. A good dosing of Titian, Parmigianino, Fragonard, and Degas now helps keep the winter blues at bay. And no, these aren't wine varietals.
[And poor Parmigianino. Auto Correct doesn't think he's important enough to have in their lexicon.]
Meanwhile, Jonathan Stokes has put together a marvelous series of books for the young time traveler. The Thrifty Guide series is now in paperback and it covers time traveling to Ancient Rome, Revolutionary America, and Ancient Greece. Sure, they're history books filled with stuffy factoids, but Stokes (and illustrators David Sossella and Xavier Bonet) have come up with a clever way to make all this history-lessoning way more fun and engaging. Well done, team! We hope there are more of these to come.
Oh, wait. Galison has done a William Morris pen set too? Oh, geez. Fine. We'll need a set of those. And the Frank Lloyd Wright ones. And the clever jungled-themed ones. Clearly, we have some writing to do.
Is it too early to start planning for Christmas? Publishing doesn't think so (or some publishers are trying to get out ahead of the pack). Here's Amy Young's A Unicorn Named Sparkle's First Christmas, which is—we suspect—going to be the stocking-stuffer board book of the season.
And here is Snowmen at Halloween by Caralyn and Mark E. Buehner, who are trying to get a two-fer here. We don't blame them, as it is hard to know when that sweet spot for Halloween marketing is before the mad dash for Christmas. Regardless, the extra bonus with the snowmen book is that it also doubles as a Find The Hidden Objects book! (Like say, every child in town who is hiding from these marauding snowmen.)
Either way, we've got your Glitter Sparkly Unicorn model and your All Your Snow Base Belong To Us model. Plan accordingly.
And finally, Rutgers English professor Leah Price is here with What We Talk About When We Talk about Books: The History and Future of Reading. Price delightfully and cogently engages with that old saw that books are moribund and that e-readers have killed them. She discovers this is not the case (which any bookseller could tell you), but—more importantly—goes into details as to why this is not the case. Beyond providing a sigh of relief to bibliophiles everywhere, Price focuses more on the cultural impact of reading and of sharing that is the book's true power.
And thusly reassured of our shared adoration of the magic of story, we wave off for the week. Take some time for yourself before the season changes and all free time vanishes. Get a book or two to take with you as you escape, because you are—hopefully—going somewhere without signal, and you will need some pleasant companions.