Hello friends, and welcome to another installment of "What's On Our Shelves?" It's the very last day of the very first month of the Fall book cycle, which means we're going to take a gander at the stranger things that publishers have for us this season. Like . . .
Here is Vlad Glăveanu's book on creativity, one of the latest releases in Oxford University Press's A Very Short Introduction series. Naturally, we'll have this one on our Project Thinky Book shelf, which is full of fun books about interesting topics. Glăveanu is the Director of the Webster Center for Creativity and Innovation, which sounds like a pretty sweet gig. He probably spends all day coming up with new ways to drink coffee and ignore emails.
Also . . .
The title says it all on this book. It's a "passionate and profane illustrated love letter to fall," and not a book of things Mark has said about squash.
And speaking of coarse language, how about a book of space pirate stories? Perfect reading for How to Talk Like A Pirate Day which is—oh, it was last week? Well, um, get it for next year! Aye, matey! A pirate knows how to be patient and—what? They're not good at sitting around and waiting? Fine. Whatever. Whose idea was it for pirates to be seasonal anyway?
Speaking of pirates, Stevie Van Zandt has a rock and roll memoir out this week. Unrequited Infatuations is the title, and that certainly sets up some expectations, doesn't it? Fortunately, Van Zandt is up for the challenge, and this memoir is equal parts political activism, rock and roll gossip, and metaphysical murmurations. It's like that B-side to last year's stadium anthem that, after awhile, you appreciate more than the bleacher-rattling pop song.
And speaking of delightful things, Richard Osman is back with The Man Who Died Twice, the second book about an irascible group of codgers, grannies, and other septuagenarians. Once again, the Thursday Murder Club (as they call themselves) find themselves swept up in crime as dead bodies keep popping up at Cooper's Chase, their posh retirement village. This time around, it's all about a stash of stolen diamonds. Can the Club catch the killer before the killer whacks them all? They'd better think fast, because they certainly aren't moving fast.
And speaking of moving fast (we blew through a copy of it in just a few days), Anthony Doerr has a new book out this week, and we expect copies will be—oh, right there; yes, indeed—flying off the table. His first book since the Pulitzer-Prize winning All the Light We Cannot See, Cloud Cuckoo Land finds Doerr doing literary sleight-of-hand with three narratives that circle around an ancient Greek play. There's the 15th century strand, where the Ottomans are about to storm Constantinople; there's the present day narrative, set in Idaho where a Korean War veteran directs a stage play of Aristophanes's The Birds; and there's the future narrative, set on a generation ship heading for an exoplanet several hundred bazillion miles away. It's a David Mitchell-esque plot, but the ending doesn't entirely suck.
Yes, we're still bitter about Utopia Avenue.
Meanwhile, Naomi Novik is back with the next book in her Scholomance series. The Last Graduate follows Galadriel "El" Higgins as she continues her quest to survive until graduation from the Scholomance boarding school. Monsters and dangers abound, and readers will have to strap in because this volume wastes no time in getting into trouble.
Oh, look! R. J. Palacio has written a Jack London-esque adventure novel about a young boy marked by lightning and his horse. Pony is the story of Silas Bird, who, upon realizing his father has been kidnapped by bad men, takes it upon himself to save the family patriarch. With his faithful pony at his side (along with ghost named Mittenwool), Silas ventures out in the wilderness, where all sorts of adventures take place.
And speaking of adventures, here's—oh, wait. It's Nicholas Sparks' The Wish. We didn't mean to get your hopes up. Anyway, The Wish is just like his previous three books, except the names and professions of the characters have been changed. One of them is dying; one of them is emotionally unavailable. Something something something. Smooches!
On a more whimsical note, here is Lindsay Swearingen's Creepy Cross-Stich: 25 Spooky Projects to Haunt Your Walls. Oh, you know you need this. Gotta keep those hands busy during these lengthening nights. Crafty hands are clever hands, as the saying goes.
And speaking of "what exactly do you think you are doing over there?", here is Lynsay Sands's Mile High With a Vampire.
We don't even know where to start with this. Probably best we get out of the way and let your imagination do all the work.
And speaking of wild flights of imagination, here is Ryka Aoki's Light From Uncommon Stars, which is about a violin teacher from Hell (literally), and a family of donut makers who are actually refugees from a galactic war. As our violin teacher struggles to find the last soul she is supposed to deliver to Hell, she finds herself drawn into a relationship with the intergalactic donut maker.
And let's wrap this up as we started, with something informative and pocket-sized. Here is Linda Jaivin's The Shortest History of China. Succinct and to the point at 288 pages, Jaivin's book speeds us through the ancient dynasties up to the recent rise of the Chinese as a global superpower. Informative without being overwhelming.