There are only two dozen books about Christmas this week, and so we'll just skip over them and focus instead on a dozen or so of the 2,415 books that came out. That's about half of a percent of possible titles, by the way. Speaking of half percent, did you know that half a percent of all Fisher scones sold at this year's Washington Fair is just under 80,000 scones?
Hello, welcome to A Good Book newsletter, where we try to make you feel better about all the books in your To Be Read pile. It's not so much that you don't have enough time, it's just that none of us do, so it doesn't really matter. Read a book. Have a scone. Smile at someone new. It's all about the moment you have right now, and not the moment you might have later or the moment you didn't take yesterday.
Speaking of which, the Dalai Lama is back this week (not that he went away when you weren't looking). Earlier this year, he put out two books which were oddly in conflict with one another (Be Happy and Be Angry), and it's a little less confusing this time around. Be Here is a fine idea, especially if by "here" he means "visiting your local bookstore." Also, Be Kind, which is going to be an valuable thing to remember as the nights get shorter, colder, and meaner.
Not you, of course, because you'll have read and absorbed the Dalai Lama's exhortation on kindness, right?
Meanwhile, Chelsea Clinton and her forever-famous Mom have a new book called The Book of Gutsy Women. Subtitled Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience, The Book of Gutsy Women is going to be a holiday favorite, especially among young teens looking for role models.
Speaking of role models, anyone up for a new biography of Hitler? No? Us neither.
Buy a delightfully blue-edged copy of Frank Herbert's Dune instead. Or one of our Random Thing in a Box boxes (more on that later).
Meanwhile, there's a pretty book about that state-sponsored K-pop group that your teenager is probably bored with already, but hey, if you get The Big Book of BTS for them for Christmas, you'll at least get an eyeroll when they open the present. And these teenage eyerolls are so precious, aren't they?
And speaking of precious things, Don Hertzfeldt's long-unavailable "fever dream vision of the apocalypse" is back in print. Composed on Post-It notes while working on other (paying) projects, The End of the World is a . . . well, let's just say that it isn't as uplifting as the Dalai Lama's books, but it definitely has more biting eels in it.
Speaking of which, here's a new book by Rachel Maddow. Offered without any more commentary, because writing out the subtitle alone is a slippery slope.
Meanwhile, Stephen Chbosky has turned in a horror novel. Yes, Imaginary Friend is much darker than The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Much like Stephen King, Chbosky has moved on from writing poignant coming-of-age stories to penning tales of creeping dread and all-night terror. They grow up so fast these days, don't they?
Speaking of growing up, Jeanette Winterson's new book, Frankisstein is all about Mary Shelley and robotics and AI and transgender relationships and—what? It's a Jeanette Winterson novel. It defies logic and alphabets and all manner of categorization. Though, we can attest that this one is about Frankenstein. Mostly. As a metaphor. Except where it isn't.
Makes Hertzfeldt's Post-It note graphic novel seem like a paragon of simplicity and clarity now, doesn't it?
Anyway, speaking of Victorian action heroes, Theodora Goss is back with the final book in the Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club trilogy. Now, Goss has taken all of the ladies who have been experimented on by the 19th century's most dodgy doctors and turned them into a powerful alliances of free thinkers. In The Sinister Mystery of the Mermerizing Girl, Goss brings us back to Victorian London where Alice, the young friend of the group, has gone missing, and is apparently been kidnapped by this pernicious group called the Order of the Golden Dawn. It's up to Mary Jekyll and the rest of the Athena Club to stop the dastardly Order from replacing Queen Elizabeth with Alice's long-lost mother. Goss has done of marvelous job of re-imaging Victorian history and adventure tales from a decidedly feminist perspective, and we're thrilled to see this trilogy come to a satisfying conclusion.
And finally, here is Flora Walcott's marvelous Draw Every Little Thing, a charming book that will teach you how to draw all the things you see everyday and which you never give a second thought to. What better way to overcome that perpetual sense of being overwhelmed than by taking a moment to breath, look, and create? The Dalai Lama would approve.