We’ve made it through another season of Spring Breaks, which means we’re starting to think about summer reading programs, aka How We Pack Your Bags With Extra Books. It’s okay. You don’t need to start worrying yet. We’re just thinking about how we’re going to be clever. We’re not actually being clever—no, wait, that’s not it. Just . . . look, over here. New books!

We were going to mention Steve Price’s new book, America’s Wild Horses, which is a history of the western mustang, and it is a very lovely book with lots of color photos, but then someone mentioned “feral horses”—as an invasive species that roams the hills and dales of unincorporated counties—and we’re digging in the box for that book, which, alas, doesn’t exist. But someone should write it. Kind of a cross between James Patterson’s Zoo and Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove

David Baldacci’s latest Amos Decker novel is out. It’s called The Fix, and at first glance, the most salient selling point is that David’s gotten a new author photo and his teeth are almost as white as his shirt. He looks pretty excited about this book, and who can blame him, really? 110 million copies of his novels have sold into 45 languages (in more than 80 countries). We suspect that Decker—a remarkable synaesthestic detective who forgets nothing—gets drawn into a high-stakes case that threatens the safety of the entire world.  

Speaking of badasses, Jen Sincero has more to tell us about our inner badass with You Are a Badass at Making Money, wherein we get to “shake up the cocktail of creation” and “get as wealthy as you wanna be.” We’re going to peek inside and see if the chapter titles are as clever as the back cover copy. Oh, look! An aphorism: “A healthy desire for wealth is not greed, it’s a desire for life.” We’ll shake up a cocktail to that. 

Look, money isn’t the answer. We all know this. Money changes all sorts of equations and upsets obstacles, but as Ms. Sincero is intent on reminding us, we get kinda wonky about money and lose our cool when we have to think about it. But we shouldn’t be thinking about it, we should be thinking about what we want to do with our lives. 

Which reminds us of Tim Ferris’ Tools of the Titans, a massive doorstopper that collects a bunch of conversations with folks who’ve wrestled with success, failure, insurmountable odds, more money that can be legally printed in a week, and the annoyingly inexplicable course of the future. And they’ve all come out the other side with some useful tidbits to pass along to us. Most of which boil down to: “Trust yourself; there is badassery within, grasshopper.” 

And speaking of spirit guides and our on-going quest to discern our true identity, David McCullough takes a break from astoundingly readable historical non-fiction to put together a collection of his speeches. In The American Spirit, McCullough—who has won two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards, and the President Medal of Freedom—attempts to provide us with some commentary and insight into who we are as a nation and as a people. He isn’t quite as colloquial or colorful as Ms. Sincero, but his underlying sincerity is the same. 

And speaking of earnest sincerity, we’ve got Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope on one hand, talking about a Climate of Hope, and Elizabeth Warren on the other, calling upon us to take back the middle class with This Fight is Our Fight. We think we can scrounge up a copy of Crippled America, Trump’s roadmap to making America great again (which, to be fair, was published in 2015, well before we all climbed into the family sedan and started barreling down the road on that map). Perhaps we’ll having dueling readings from these three books. 

Back in reality, we have a couple of titles in Drew Brockington’s CatStronauts series, which are middle grade graphic novels wherein the fate of the entire civilized world rests on cats, in space. Seriously. Brockington is on to something here. If we could just get all the cats to stop being such lazy bones, we might actually get a Mars base in the next few years, and then we could all move there before the dinosaurs come back. 

Well, after the feral horses stampede through town and knock everything over. Sorry. Look at us. Rushing the third act. How very awkward. 

And speaking of awkward, what is it with blurbs so bland that they boil down to “the author wrote a book that has a plot and some interesting characters.” And blurbs that make reading seem as dangerous as playing with a stick near a big plate glass window. “Reading this book is like swinging a bat through a window and then cavorting in all the glass scattered across the kitchen floor. You know you want it.”  What? 

Now, Daniel O’Malley’s Stiletto, the sequel to last year’s The Rook, has much better blurbs. “Funny, bawdy, and paced like a spy thriller,” says Joyce Sáenz Harris at the Dallas Morning News. “Devilishly funny,” says Jaclyn Fulwood at Shelf Awareness. “All my thumbs up,” says Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, which makes us think they might have more than two thumbs, and suddenly we’re off thinking about a world where book reviewers are sort of like octopuses, but with opposable thumbs, and we figure they get wrapped up in a complex battle for all readers everywhere against overgrown humorless stoats with flat noses and big thumbs. And there are subterranean grottos filled with firelight pixies, and castles hidden in bramble-filled forests where all the sleeping children wait to be awoken for the final cataclysmic battle between immersive readers and those who flip left, flip right, tap tap tap. 

Oh, wait. We were talking about Stiletto. Secret organization A merges with Secret Organization B. There are cultural differences that are tough to overcome. Chaos ensues, and—in keeping with the current Internet meme—that’s when the murders begin. 

And finally, let's put all that aside and head into the kitchen with a copy of Jeremy Fox’s new book, On Vegetables. Fox, who has been earning Michelin stars and making everyone’s head turn with his ingredient-focused vegetarian cuisine, offers us approachable recipes for the home cook (read made from things you can actually find in your local farmers’ market). And much like Miyoko Schinner, whose Homemade Vegan Pantry we mentioned a few weeks back, Fox also has some suggestions for staples to add to your larder. 

And there, darling readers, we will leave you for another week. Bake some cookies. Read a book. Smile and make eye contact as you wander about in the world. And keep an eye out for feral horses, because they might not be as wild as you think, but let’s hope they are just wild enough to spirit you away . . . 


SCENE: Interior. A Rustic Cabin. There are a few paintings on the walls as well as some furniture that looks as equally handmade as the surrounding walls. Sprawled on the couch is a marmot. An Urban Marmot, clearly, as he is sleeping on a memory foam pillow. It is morning, and sunlight is working its way across the broad living room. Eventually, the light crests the high arm of the couch and wakes the marmot. 

The marmot makes a production out of waking up. Sneezing. Yawning. Stretching. Farting. All those things that marmots do in the morning. Eventually, the marmot finishes his morning routine and hops off the couch and wanders into the kitchen. 

SCENE: Interior. Rustic Kitchen. Simple layout. Handmade cabinets and countertops. There are modern appliances and a rather high-end espresso machine on the counter. A pair of french doors lead out onto a balcony. 

The marmot stands in the kitchen for a moment, scratching himself idly. He’s thinking about the espresso machine, but knows his hands are too small to work the steam wand effectively. He is distracted from his lack of coffee by voices coming from the porch, and he wanders over to the french doors, which are partially open. 

SCENE: Exterior. Rusty Porch. A bearded man is sitting in a handmade Adirondack chair, reading out loud from a book in his lap. Nearby, a moose is contemplatively chewing on the leaves of a bush that was foolish enough to grow close to the porch. A small jewel-colored hummingbird is circling the man’s head. 

BOB: “Yet I experienced sometimes that the most sweet and tender, the most innocent and encouraging society may be found in any natural object, even for the poor misanthrope and most melancholy man . . .” 


BOB: Misanthrope? It means someone who doesn’t like other people. 

GLOM-GLOM: Glom glom. 

BOB: No, it doesn’t apply to moose.

ZIP-ZIP: ziiiiippp!

BOB: Or birds. No matter their size. It’s more of a reflection . . . never mind. It just means cranky. 

GLOM-GLOM: Glom glom glom. 

BOB: Ha-ha, very funny, moose. Listen: “There can be no very black melancholy to him who lives in the midst of nature and has his senses still.” 

ZIP-ZIP: zipp!

BOB: See? Do I look melancholic to you? 

GLOM-GLOM: Glom glom glom-glom-glom. 

BOB: Yes, other than last night, and that was the beer talking anyway!   

SCENE: Interior. Rustic Kitchen. The marmot backs away from the doors. He doesn’t intrude. In fact, he has a bit of a satisfied smile on his face as he wanders back toward the living room. 

COLBY: And . . . my work here is done . . . 

EXIT MARMOT (without being chased by a bear). 


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