We had our first salon last week, and it went delightfully well. We learned about the subversive side of children’s books, how the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers discovered a secret to longevity in TV land, and explored the often esoteric nature of Nordic runes. And there were snacks. Our next salon is scheduled for the 4th of April, and again, we’ll have three speakers and snacks. We have no idea what the speakers will be sharing with us, because not knowing is part of the fun. 

It’s all fun, really. 

We have book club next week. We’re reading Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies, and there’s still time to grab a copy and speed read it over the weekend before Thursday night. You’ll *cough* not be the only one doing so. 

What sort of new books came out this week? 

Well, the final part of V. E. Schwab’s Shade of Magic series, A Conjuring of Light, arrives this week. All sorts of sweeping darkness and terribly happenings come to a head in this concluding chapter. We know some of you have been following along with the adventures of Lila, Kell, Rhys, and Alucard, and we promise you’ll get some answers. Not all of them, but some. 

And speaking of answers, Anu Partanen has done all the research so we don’t have to, and her report is The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life. Anu, who came to the US from Finland in 2008, discovered that life in America is fraught with all manner of tension, hypertension, supra-tension, and basal ganglia tension. We don’t live life over here as much as let life kick us around a lot and then make us sit outside in a time out. Anu felt that maybe there was a better answer, and she went off to find out. It turns out it’s not just how Hygge can you be, but also how connected to others and your community can you be. We think it has something to do with how freakin’ cold and dark it can get up there, which is not unlike this winter we’ve been having, right? 

And speaking of hanging out together, Nicholas Eames’s debut novel, Kings of the Wyld is one of those rollicking epic fantasy novels that starts big and gets bigger. Time hasn’t been kind to Clay Cooper and his merry band of marauders, and most of them have parked their ponies in Clay’s front yard and are banging on Clay’s door. It’s time to get the band back together, so to speak, and go a-viking. Lock up your daughters and hide your gold coins. 

And speaking of things turning out not quite you expected, Juan Martinez is here with a collection of the Best Worst American Stories. Publishing by the always quirky and reliable Small Beer Press, Best Worst American Stories is a collection that skews our perception of who we are, where we’re going, and what we thought we’d find when we got there. Wherever there is, and why does it look like Las Vegas? 

And speaking roads not taken, let’s actually talk about roads. Rather, let’s hear what Henry Petroski has to say about roads in The Road Taken: The History and Future of America’s Infrastructure. We take roads for granted, but there’s a whole tangled history of how the vast American highway network came to be. Petroski takes us for a drive, and presents a stirring and nuanced vision of what might happen to these roads in the future. 

And speaking of family road trips, Jim Lynch is back with Before the Wind, which is the story of the Johannssens—a family with manny consonants in their name and a perpetual passion for the sea. Lynch, a local writer, takes on a salt-soaked adventure with a family of misfits who have one final chance to find common ground before they’re swept apart forever. 

And finally, closer to home, we have James Armitage’s A Portable Latin for Gardeners. That’s right. You, too, can learn Latin while gardening. Latin just isn’t for talking about troop movements (“Exercitus ambulaverunt tota nocte, et non sum deceptus,” for instance) or lounging about while discussing what is good in life (“Vinum semper ante somnum cepi,” which is to say ‘wine before nap’). Armitage’s book allows us to unlock secrets hidden in plain sight (i.e., those botanical names), and use those insights to plant a more bountiful garden. 


Overheard At The Store »»

COLBY: Do you do much binge reading? 

FERDIE: I don’t binge. That’s very unhealthy. 

COLBY: No, I mean, reading. Lots of reading. All at once. 

FERDIE: Oh, you mean like starting a book in the morning, forgetting to each lunch and dinner, and then only stopping when the book is done? 

COLBY: Yes, that. 

FERDIE: Once. With a Russian classic. It took me three days. I promised I would never binge like that again. 

COLBY: I was thinking more of book series. You know, like the Travis McGee novels. Or Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series. Or the Patrick O’Brian novels. 

FERDIE: Oh, those. No, I don’t read those. It’s too much like watching TV, and I don’t watch TV. 

COLBY: Which do you think came first? TV or books? 

FERDIE: Well, books, but they’re nothing like TV. Not the good ones anyway. 

COLBY: Millions of eager readers during the 18th and 19th century would disagree with you. 

FERDIE: No, I think reading should a slow, solemn affair. One you partake with some attention and care. 

COLBY: I’m going to read two books tonight. 

FERDIE: Oh, you shouldn’t do that. You should allow them time to filter into your being. 

COLBY: I’m already finely filtered. I just want some entertainment, and there isn’t cable in the cubbyhole where I sleep. Much less room for a TV. But there’s always room for a book. 

FERDIE: Well, yes. I suppose we can agree on that. There is always room for a book. 

COLBY: What about Alice and Bob? 

FERDIE: What about Alice and Bob?

COLBY: Shouldn’t they be together? Like one of those classic love stories that ultimately comes to a happy ending? 

FERDIE: I . . . I don’t think . . .

COLBY: Would be a shame for them to turn out like some terribly drawn out Russian tragedy, right? I mean, you’ve read one, so you know how it goes . . . Me? I like the TV reads. You know, cute stories. Nicely tied up by the end. Everyone gets to love and be loved . . . 

FERDIE: Are you . . . are you suggesting that I’m the villain? 

COLBY: Ooh! Are you?

FERDIE: I’m shocked at the notion. 

COLBY: Hey, I’m just fifth business here. It’s my job to keep the story rolling. 


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