It’s a bit of a quiet week for books, and so let’s launch right into our first title for this week’s newsletter. 

[See what we did there?]

Previously, Ron Culberson instructed us to Do It Well. Make It Fun. [Complete with all those periods.] And now he’s back to ask that eternally nagging question: “If Not Now, When?” We really don’t have a good excuse for any of the many things on our desks, and so we’re just going to grab a copy of this book and curl up in one of the chairs with it. You can have it when we’re done. 

Laurence Gonzales offers a slightly different approach with Deep Survival, which is a little less gentle hand-holding like Culberson’s book and a little more like a drill sergeant shouting in your face that you’re going to die immediately if you don’t get off your ass and make something of your life. 

Your results may vary, of course, depending on which technique you find more motivational. 

Naturally, there’s a third option, which is more a general reference-style presentation. Survival Wisdom & Know-How offers more than 1,000 illustrations, diagrams, and photographs that will assist you in, you know, surviving. And not just “Whew, I’m glad we figured out how to climb this tree before the bear ate us” sort of survival, but in that way that also allows you to actually appreciate the wilderness (as it tries to eat you). 

None of this is a metaphor for 2017, by the way. These books were all in the pipeline well before this year arrived. January is just the time when we all consider our options for the upcoming year. This one is just a little more interesting—shall we say—than usual. 

But while we’re at it, Clint Emerson recently put out 100 Deadly Skills: Survival Edition. His 100 Deadly Skills (the, uh, normal “urban survival” edition, we guess) was a bestseller of ours last year, and we figure you will all want to stay ahead of the curve, right? 

Speaking of timely books, Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians have complied a collection of manifestos, polemics, and calls-to-action in a volume called What We Do Now, which goes along with Culberson’s reminder that Now is better than When

And in a completely different direction, we’d like to point you toward The Bear and the Nightingale, a debut novel by Katherine Arden that should appeal to fans of Naomi Novik, Erin Morgenstern, and Catherynne M. Valente. In this mythic version of medieval Russia, our plucky heroine must fight against monsters within and without to save her family. 

[At some point, every book description will stop sounding like a metaphor for the 2017 American political landscape. Honestly . . . ]

And speaking of plucky heroines, Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell is back in A Perilous Undertaking

[Oh, come on! These titles aren’t helping!]


Okay, how about Keir Graff’s The Matchstick Castle, a whimsical adventure story about a young boy named Brian who is sent to spend the summer in Boring, Illinois where nothing seems to happen. Not! Because there’s a huge castle hidden in the woods! And then Brian and his cousin run into giant wasps and wild boars and crazy bureaucrats! Serious madcap adventures await!

We hope Brian took along a copy of one of Clint Emerson’s books . . . 

Overheard At The Store »»

FERDIE: Oh, hello, Bob. It’s nice to see you today. 

BOB: Uh, thanks, uh . . .

FERDIE: Ferdie.

BOB: Uh, yeah. Ferdie. Nice to see you too. Are those, uh, are those new glasses?

FERDIE: No. They’re the same ones I had last year. 

BOB: Oh. Well, maybe it’s the light in here then. 

FERDIE: Maybe. 

BOB: Yeah. That’s probably it. It’s not, hmmm, is that grapefruit I smell? 

FERDIE: Excuse me? 

BOB: Grapefruit. And vanilla. Maybe a hint of cocoa. Is that marmot up to something in the back?

FERDIE: Who, Colby? [Laughs] No, I don’t, uh, I don’t think that is Colby. 

BOB: Oh. Hmm. Well, good. It’s nice. Whatever it is. I wouldn’t want to have to tell him that. 

FERDIE: I won’t tell. 

BOB: Tell what? 

FERDIE: Your secret.

BOB: Do I have a secret? 

FERDIE: It seems you might. 

BOB: Well, maybe you should tell me what it is. 

FERDIE: I think you know. 

BOB: I do?

FERDIE: Oh, Bob. You’re charming. 

BOB: I am?

FERDIE: What sort of book can I help you find today, o charming man? 

BOB: I need something for a dinner party. You know, kind of like a coffee table book, but not really heavy. Something you can read while you’re . . . uh, something small, perhaps. 

FERDIE: Something that fits easily into your pocket, maybe? 

BOB: Yeah. Something like that. 

FERDIE: Coat or pants?

BOB: Excuse me?

FERDIE: Which pocket would you like me to slip a book into? 

BOB: Oh, uh, coat pocket. That’d be fine. 

FERDIE: Oh, are you sure? 

BOB: Yeah, that’ll do. 

FERDIE: Well, let me go look and see what we have. Wait right here, charming man. 

BOB: Oh, okay. 

COLBY: Pssst!

BOB: What? Why are you hiding up there, marmot?

COLBY: Oh my god. I can’t believe this. 

BOB: What?

COLBY: She’s flirting with you. And you’re flirting back. 

BOB: That’s ridiculous, marmot. 

COLBY: Is it? 

FERDIE: Oh, okay, here we go. I have a couple of choices for you. Would you like me to see how well they fit into your pocket?

BOB: Uh, no. Let me look at them first. You can, uh, you can put them on the counter. 

FERDIE: I don’t mind holding them. 

BOB: I, uh, that’s—oh, it’s you. 

FERDIE: Yes, it is me. 

BOB: No, I mean. The grapefruit. And vanilla. 

FERDIE: [Laughs] Oh, yes, I guess it must be. 

BOB: Not that I’m smelling you or anything. 

FERDIE: No. No, of course not. 

BOB: I’m just looking at these books. 

FERDIE: They’re nice books. 

BOB: They are . . . 

COLBY: [Distantly] Noooo . . . . 


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