We’re trying to keep our blood pressure down this week, but our newsfeeds are constantly reminding us that some folks aren’t thinking through the sentences coming out of their mouths. All we’re going to say in that regard is that a healthy regime of reading and critical thinking never hurt anyone, and, in fact, we’re way past due getting on with insisting that everyone do a little more of both. Start with something easy if you have to, but for crying out loud, start. 

How about with Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown’s Creepy Pair of Underwear!? And yes, that exclamation point is part of the title; we’re not offering this suggestion as some off-kilter passive-aggressive query. No, wait, we are totally being passive-aggressive. Damnit. So, anyway, in this book, our young rabbit protagonist (the authors previous book was Creepy Carrots!) gets stuck with a pair of creepy underwear that keeps coming back. Like the cat from that folktale. Or the racist, thug-minded supremacists who didn’t get the hint the first time the rest of the world punched them in the face. 

Now, the not-so-subtle subtext of Creepy Pair of Underwear! is all about growing up (and, you know, learning how to wear big boy pants), and this is a message that we can get behind. For young boys and for not-so-young boys who haven’t bothered to figure out that they’re not the center of the universe (and never were, by the way, but you’d have to leave your mom’s basement to realize this, wouldn’t you?). 

Again, more reading and more critical thinking skills. Start with the easy ones and work your way up. 

And speaking of working our way up, let’s do a little tough love and talk about Jared Sexton’s The People Are Going To Rise Up Like the Waters Upon Your Shore: A Study of American Rage. Seriously, folks. This has been coming for some time, and it’s not about politics or strangers coming to town to take your daughters or your jobs. It’s about identities and being confronted with the fact that your identity might be, well, tarnished and based on a savagely egocentric view of the world. Some aren't taking this fact to heart very well, and all their flailing around is Shakespearean nonsense (go look that one up). In the process, a lot of folks are going to get hurt and that's absolutely and unequivocally unnecessary.

Big boy pants. Time to put ‘em on. Welcome to the world. Try to make some friends before you kill us all, okay? 

And speaking of conversations about identity and police states, we have a re-issue of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? on the table. While the book is the basis for the film Blade Runner, Dick’s text delves more into the philosophical question of what does it mean to be human—a question with increasing relevance, though perhaps not the in way Dick imagined. Or maybe he did. It can be tough to tell about speculative writers. 

Ray Bradbury, by the way, once noted that Fahrenheit 451 wasn’t about burning books, but it was about the destruction of the human mind by the vapidity of television. I don’t think he’d be terribly surprised by the utter nonsense that is mainstream media these days. 

We’re going take a time out and page through Tatsuya Tanaka’s Small Wonders, a photographic collection of people hanging out with food. Which sounds lovely, we know, but Tanaka’s approach is to shrink the people down to really tiny figures and present the food as worldly objects. Like the time someone dropped their hat over the side of the rowboat as they were sculling across a slice of watermelon. Or that time we all went for a walk in the asparagus park. You remember that? Fun times. And then we went and had massages and hot wraps at the sushi bar. We took a nap under a slab of cooked egg; you had the salmon and rolfing treatment. 

And speaking of lighter things, we have two new canine capers on the table this week. Dog Dish of Doom and The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes. Both feature clever mysteries and sleuths with canine companions. Both are being touted as laugh-out-loud funny, which we all could use a healthy dose of, and both adhere to the recent rainbow color cover design trend. Totally different books, though. We swear. 

And speaking of a wide range of books and opinions and your favorite bookstore, we have Veronica Henry’s How to Find Love in a Bookshop, which is completely fictional, thank you very much. While we certainly understand the allure of flirting with your bookseller (and what? we totally don’t engage in that sort of behavior when we’re in other bookstores), we’re just going to sell you more books if you stand around and look goofy. Thankfully, Henry’s book is there for those who pine for more Jane Austen and who wistfully wonder why there isn’t a sequel to Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

And speaking of wish fulfillment, imagine living in a world where everything is provided for you: your house, your food, your job. You work for the same company that takes care of you. It might sound lovely, but what is really going on? Are you a worker or a consumer? Is your existence only necessary because you consume enough that other workers have to produce things? And who profits from this? Oh, the “Company.” But do they have your best interest in mind? 

Well, we could be talking about a world where Amazon or Wal-Mart runs everything (which is entirely within their corporate purviews, thank you very much), or The Store, the latest near-future thriller by James Patterson (and co-writer du jour). But actually, we’re talking about the subtext of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, now out in a whopping 800 page paperback release. When 1% control 99% of everything, we’re going to end up working for the same people who give us food, clothing, and shelter. This is our oncoming dystopia, by the way. Not that we’re looping back around to where we started. 

Oh, thank goodness for the delightful escape offered by the mini Pusheen Coloring Book. We’ll take that escape. Get some pencils. Thinking time is over. Let’s redecorate the world with a vivid rainbow of shades and tints. No more black and white. Technicolor for everyone!

Overheard At The Store »»

BOB: Oh, nice to see you back at the store. Were you on vacation? 

COLBY: Training seminar. 

BOB: Really? What sort of training? 

COLBY: Self-improvement. 

BOB: I didn’t realize marmots were that self-aware. 

COLBY: Oh, I wasn’t taking the seminar. I was a guest lecturer. 

BOB: Oh, of course. How silly of me. 

COLBY: It’s okay. Everyone underestimates the well-read marmot. 

BOB: And what are you reading now? 

COLBY: Rosenthal’s new book on harvesting marijuana. He wrote the—well, I hesitate to call it the “bible” on marijuana growing. At the very least, it was an influential guidebook. And now he and his pal, David Downs, have written a book about harvesting the stuff. 

BOB: Is this recreational reading? 

COLBY: Why not? It’s a recreational drug, isn’t it? 

BOB: [Laughs] I set myself up for that one, didn’t I?

COLBY: I appreciate it, Bob. It makes the show run more smoothly when you do. 

BOB: Well, if I’m not a productive working member of society, at least I can be useful in other ways. 

COLBY: Yes, Bob. Why aren’t you working? 

BOB: I’m retired. 

COLBY: At your age? 

BOB: I cashed out early. 

COLBY: Technology? 

BOB: . . . 

COLBY: Oh! You mean . . . ? 

BOB: Before it was legal. 

COLBY: And now? 

BOB: It’s too much like work. 

COLBY: You continue to astound me with both your depth of character and your indolence. 

BOB: A man without secrets is . . . 

COLBY: Right. Well, I won’t say anything. 

BOB: About what? 

COLBY: Gotcha. 

BOB: So, are you thinking about growing your own? 

COLBY: Gosh no. I’m reading it as a metaphor for the current political climate. 

BOB: And how is that going? 

COLBY: Well, I’m on the chapter about flushing . . . 

BOB: Ah, yes, I can see how that metaphor might work . . . 


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