Hello, and welcome to that week when 2021 calendars start showing up. 

We'll just note this at the top and move on, but if you need *ahem* wall art of dudes that will assist you in keeping track of the days, this is your week. In fact, there were too many choices and we may have been overcome with analysis paralysis and not ordered any of them. However, this is as good a time as any to offer our somewhat regular reminder that, yes, we can order books (and calendars!), and in most cases, we'll have them in a few days, which may be better than other ways to order books (did we mention the calendars?). 

Right. Moving on. Let's talk about Aimee Bender's new book. The Butterfly Lampshade is about memory and trauma, and the intersection of those things and how they make us who we are. It's also about butterflies and family and the Proustian moments we struggle to hold on to. It's also an Aimee Bender novel (her first in, oh, about a decade), which means it's filled with magic and luminous language. 

And speaking of labyrinths and language, here is Alex Landragin's Crossings, which is definitely that sort of enigma wrapped in a mystery shoved inside a sock full of conundrums and then shaken briskly. It consists of three tales: one about a monster and its education, the second about a city of ghosts, and the third concerns an albatross. Which order you read them in is up to you. The author has a preference, but you don't need to listen to the author, which might be the right thing to do. Or not. It's sort of a historical whodunit that scampers through time when you're not watching it, and then breaks your heart when you finally corner it. 

Debut novel too, which means we only hate them a little. But it's a professional dislike. We're sure they're fine dinner guests. 

Hey, guess what? There's a new Shakespeare--er, Star Wars book out. That's right. It's The Merry Rise of Skywalker, the ninth part of Star Wars. Aye, verily rendered into the poesy of the Bard by that raconteur and word-poser Ian Doescher. At last, the circle is now complete, and the tale can be told in full whimsy and regard. 


And in the Don't Eat the Dirt In Your Backyard Department, we have Steve Olson's The Apocalypse Factory, which is about plutonium and Hanford and what's still out there in Eastern Washington. Of course, this may be old news to long-time residents of this state, but if you've read Adam Higgingbotham's Midnight in Chernobyl and Kate Brown's Plutopia, and are wondering about the other shoe dropping, well, here you go. 

Speaking of Midnight in Chernobyl, we should start book club back up, shouldn't we? In fact, there's a plan in that regard. More about that at the end of this newsletter. 


Meanwhile, here's Automatic Reload, a new book by Ferrett Steinmetz. On the cover it says: "She's got a panic disorder. He's got PTSD. They can both kick your ass." This really is all you need to know, but we will drone on for a few seconds longer and say that, yes, this is a rom-com with stuff blowing up. It's a story about strangers finding each other, realizing that they aren't alone in a thankless and bleak universe, and discovering that they do indeed have each other's back. It sounds perfect. 

And for our oblique reminder of what we all need more of these days, here's Thich Nhat Hanh's latest pocket Zen book. 

We'll let the cover speak for itself. 

And for something completely different, here's the latest in cookery tie-in marvelousness. 
Get it? "Marvelousness." See what we did there? It's got "over 55 powerful recipes to fuel the hero inside." 

Also, props to the cover designer who managed to evoke both the glory days of drive-in diners and Galactus's prodigious appetite with that title treatment. Well done. 

Meanwhile, with Intimations, Zadie Smith has penned a handful of essays that are snapshots of her current state of mind. It's an angry read, but it's also an insightful and cogent reaction to the last eight months, and will hopefully lead to more earnest and compassionate discussions. 

And finally, here is Ryan Higgins's follow up to We Don't Eat Our Classmates, one of our favorite picture books. This time around, Penelope T. Rex is given an opportunity to show her classmates that she's more than just "that token dinosaur." Pursue your passions, dear readers. Don't let the crowd get you down. 

Now, about that book club. Since we're still not gathering in groups larger than the people in your immediate households, book club is going to have to become virtual. We've created a private Facebook group for Book Club. Get yourselves over there and pass the quiz at the door. Inside, we'll sort out a schedule and start talking about books again. If you are not on Facebook and never, ever, ever wish to be on Facebook, we can work with that too. Please let us know your email address and we'll make sure you are informed about the times for Virtual Book Club. 

Overheard At The Store »»

PODGE: Hey, Hodge. Look at what I found? 

HODGE: I say, that's an interesting box full of . . . more boxes. 

PODGE: And do you know what is in these smaller boxes?

HODGE: More boxes?

PODGE: I wish! But, no. Tiny pieces of plastic and wood. 

HODGE: Really? How exciting. 

PODGE: Also there are some political tracts filled with all sorts of regulations and . . . blech. We don't need those. 

HODGE: Oooh. And playing cards! But . . . 

PODGE: Hmmm . . . 

HODGE: There are no suits . . . ? Just . . . 

PODGE: Those look like sheep. 

HODGE: This is a brick. 

PODGE: These cards have trees on them. 

HODGE: Oooh. I like the trees. Can I have some of your tree cards? 

PODGE: You should trade me. 

HODGE: Fine. What would you like? 

PODGE: Do you have bits of gold? 

HODGE: I . . . I do! And—this looks like a rocket ship. 

PODGE: It's made of flimsywood. Flimsywood is no good. I want none of your flimsywood. Just give me your gold bits. 

HODGE: I want three trees, though. 

PODGE: You can't have that many trees. That's all the trees I have. 

HODGE: Well, then you aren't getting any of my gold bits!

PODGE: Fine. I'll just—I'll just open this other box!

HODGE: Do that! And I'll open this box!

PODGE: Oh, look now I have more cards and these ones have giant robots on them!

HODGE: And I've got tiny wooden dolls! They will eat your giant robot cards!

PODGE: Not if I play my sheep!

HODGE: Here, I have grain cards. What do your sheep do now!

PODGE: They eat all your grain and then start pooping! 

HODGE: There's no pooping in board games. 

PODGE: What? There are rules? What kind of monster are you?

HODGE: Lalalalalala—I can't hear you. I'm stacking my wooden dolls. They're all staring at you. Horrified by the behavior of your sheep. I will use these tree cards to grow a giant forest so we don't have to see those blighted fields. 

PODGE: Where did you get those? Those were my tree cards! 

HODGE: We traded for gold bits!

PODGE: No, we didn't. You never gave me the gold bits. 

HODGE: You must have lost them. But whatever, I have trees now. 

PODGE: Noooo! All I wanted was some gold bits so I could buy the plastic pyramids! Noooo!


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