This is the last week of July, which means that the fall book season is just about upon us. It doesn’t officially start until September, but let’s be honest, publishers are starting to get slippery like Halloween merchandisers, which means that “Fall” books are going to start showing up sooner than later. There’s, oh, only seven thousand or so new titles out next month. The enormity of our task makes us want to curl up in the back and build a book fort. Thankfully, there will be enough titles to build a really tall fort. 

But we shall persevere! Here are a handful of late summer pool-side titles for your kind attention. 

We’ll start off easy with a throwback book: The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees. Robert Penn’s exhaustive examination of the things you can make with a piece of ash is now out in paperback. We dug it in hardback, and frankly, we’re going to read it again. Why? Because, frankly, we keep coming back around to thinking about what constitutes life skills in the next thirty years or so. “Checking Facebook from your phone” doesn’t qualify. “Reading” does. As does “Knowing how to Work With Your Hands.” 

Yeah, we know. We can’t shake the cynicism. It lingers. Thankfully, Pia Frey’s flip book of the dumbest, bone-headedest, and horrifyingly embarrassingest phrases uttered by the Carrot-Headed Idiot provides moments of joy. It’s totally that elitist sort of schadenfreude that only educated folk who understand logic and grammar enjoy, but really, at this point? You gotta laugh or it’s back to the book fort again. 

And okay, while we’re in this place, let’s get this one out of the way. Al Gore returns this week to remind us that yes, we’ve [REDACTED] the planet. With Truth to Power, Gore gets us past the basic question of whether climate change is real (news flash: it’s so [REDACTED] real), and gets us into talking and thinking about what we can do to make a difference. We’ve got to start making a positive difference. We really do. 

And let's turn this mood swing around right now, shall we? 

Speaking of divergent weather patterns and other anomalies, Ashley Shelby’s debut novel, South Pole Station, has just come out. It's a fish out of water story about a woman who wants to paint but isn’t, and who takes a job working at the absolute ass-end of the world. There she meets a bunch of other weirdos who are even more outrageously unfit for polite society than she. Enter a climate change denier. Hijinks and educational opportunities ensue. 

And speaking of opportunities for all sorts of personal growth, we’ve got copies of Our Numbered Days, Neil Hilborn’s collection of poetry, in stock. Hilborn is a poet whose work is both harrowing and heartbreaking, uplifting and uncompromising, agile and awe-inspiring. Guaranteed to rock you out of whatever fin de milennium funk you’ve fallen into. 

And speaking of breaking free, how about we follow Maja Karlsson as she delves into the delightful history of Swedish fibercrafts. That’s right: you can hygge yourself into a sweater. 

[We’ve got nothing after that. It’s bad enough that we’re conflating Danes with Swedes to make that joke work. We could make a lutefisk joke, but at that point, we’re just pissing off everyone BUT the Fins, and we know better.]

Moving on, we’re officially within six months of the next film in the Star Wars universe, which means new Star Wars titles are going to start sneaking into the store. There’s a new Jedi Academy book out this week, a Little Golden Book (I Am A Hero, by Nicholas Christopher), a Big Golden Book (on Starships, Speeders, and Space Stations, oh my!), a visual guide from Chronicle Books, a stormtrooper version of 99 Bottles, and a new Battlefront title (Inferno Squad, by Christie Golden). 

Seriously. Six books. And The Last Jedi isn’t out for five months yet. Forget what I said about Halloween merchandisers getting the jump on the season. Disney has them all beat. 

Well, let’s shove away from that tentacled monstrocity and consider a different monstrocity with Meddling Kids, a new book by Edgard Cantero. Cantero cleverly mashes up Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Scooby-Doo into a fine paste and feeds it to us while we’re strapped to a bed, all Clockwork Orange-style, watching an endless Gravity Falls marathon. But totally in a “not for kids” sort of way. 

And with that, we are going to sign off for this week, dear readers. Remember to hydrate and wear sunscreen. Be kind, tip profusely, and stand up when it matters. We’ll be right there beside you. 

Meanwhile, At K's House »»

K: We should talk about the elephant. 

COLBY: The elephant?

K: The one in the room. 

COLBY: I don’t see any elephant. 

K: It’s a metaphorical one. 

COLBY: Oh, THAT one . . . Which elephant? 

K: The one—there’s more than one?

COLBY: Is there?

K: That’s very clever of you. 

COLBY: I wasn’t trying to be clever. 

K: No one ever tries. 

COLBY: Foxes do. 

K: You’re not a fox. 

COLBY: No, sir. I am not. 

K: And foxes aren’t any more successful at being clever than any other creature. They merely work harder at it. 

COLBY: So I am led to believe. 

K: By whom?

COLBY: What?

K: Who leads you to believe that foxes work harder? 

COLBY: They do. 

K: Which they?

COLBY: The metaphorical ones. They feed the elephants. 

K: You are toying with me. 

COLBY: Like a cat does with a mouse? Or a fox? 

K: Precisely. Which is unusual in a rodent. To be so . . . 

COLBY: Articulate?

K: Aggressive. 

COLBY: I was close. 

K: No, you weren’t. 

COLBY: Same number of letters. 

K: That’s not a valid criteria.

COLBY: I’m a talking marmot, and we’re discussing invisible elephants. I wasn’t aware the rules were hard and fast. 

K: Nonetheless, there are rules. 

COLBY: Of course, there are. Do you know them? 

K: The rules?

COLBY: No. The other them. 

K: Your locution is circular. 

COLBY: And your conviction is rhomboidal. 

K: Geometric. 

COLBY: Precisely. Like your doilies. 

K: Do you like them? I crocheted them myself. 

COLBY: I suspect that is the second lie you have told me. 

K: The second? 

COLBY: Yes. 

K: And the first? 

COLBY: You know what it was. 

K: Perhaps. 

COLBY: Do you still stand by it? 

K: I might. 

COLBY: Perhaps we should talk about something else then. To alleviate any contextual pressure you might be feeling. 

K: I feel fine, thank you very much. 

COLBY: You do? Even with the narcotic I slipped into your tea? 

K: Ah, but I switched cups when you weren’t looking. 

COLBY: But I knew you would, so I put the sleeping aid in my cup. 

K: I didn’t say how many times I switched them. 

COLBY: And I could be lying. 

K: True. 

COLBY: True. 

K: So . . . 

COLBY: Yes . . . 

K: Biscuit? 

COLBY: Certainly. 


JASPER: He’s quite good. 

HORACE: I feel like I’m eavesdropping on a Beckett performance.  


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