How is everyone managing this week? We moved stacks of books around, knocked some over, laughed about it, restacked them, watched them topple again, and moved on. Because, well, stacks will always topple. Why? Well, gee, it's because books keep multiplying. They keep sneaking into your house. You hear them rustling about at night, trying to jockey for the top of the TBR pile. Read me next! Read me next! They're like puppies, except they don't, you know, all over the carpet.
Hello and welcome to A Good Book's Newsletter, where we like to remind you that books come pre-housebroken. In fact, they prefer to stay indoors. They are perfect quarantine partners.
Let's hook you up with some new friends then, shall we?
Oh, sure, we'll hit the obvious one first. Here's America's Test Kitchen's 100 Techniques: Master a Lifetime of Cooking Skills, From Basic to Bucket List
. What? You can't say you don't have the time. It's not meant as a sequential series of exercises, of course, but hey, you certainly could approach it that way. And frankly, after a couple of weeks of this, we've rotated through all the household standards, haven't we? Let's pick up some news skills!
Now, here's something we don't see every week. A new book by James Patterson. No, wait, wait. Stop laughing. It's been a few weeks. He's due. This time around, his collaboration partner is Andrew Holmes and they've penned a book called Revenge
. What's it about? Oh, guess. That's right. A crime has been committed. People have been ground down by villains. And the world needs a hero. A world-weary ex-special forces operative who really just wanted to leave all that behind and settle down, but no, of course he can't.
Oh, and we might have forgotten to mention Patterson's Texas Outlaw
, which came out last week. We regret the oversight, especially given that it's about cowboys—er, Texas Rangers. In Texas Outlaw
, Ranger Rory Yates finds himself saddled with hero status, partially due to his girlfriend, country singer Willow Dawes, writing a song about him, and partially because he's, you know, that guy. Anyway, he runs around and gets involved in local scrapes to avoid having to sign autographs and listen to teenage girls sing his girlfriend's song at him when he's trying to get pie and coffee at the local diner. Naturally, all this running and scraping uncovers small-town secrets, and we know what happens when small-town secrets get uncovered, don't we?
And speaking of secrets, Veronica Roth is back with her first novel for adults. Roth, known for the Divergent series, presents Chosen Ones
, the story about five kids who are chosen to fight the "Dark One." They overcome evil, save the world, and move on. Now, ten years later . . . well, what do you do with your life when you've peaked just past puberty in a pyrotechnic display of magical powers? You, um, well, you struggle a bit. You try to find meaning. Maybe you take up gardening. And when it appears that the "Dark One" isn't as dead as everyone thought, that's kind of a chance for . . . meaning again?
Roth, of course, knows something about twisty plots and surprises, and she's on point here with Chosen Ones. You can expect to be up late, plowing through this one.
Meanwhile, Lisa Wingate returns with The Book of Lost Friends
. Back in the day, the Southern Christian Advocate
had a column called "Lost Friends," which folks used to find one another after the Civil War. Wingate runs two narratives: one set in 1875, which follows a clever sharecropper as she treks across the South with a woman and her mixed-race daughter as they struggle to track down papers relating to the woman's inheritance; the second, set in 1987, follows a small-town outsider who struggles to connect with her community and her students at the school where she is now teaching. Naturally, these stories twine together as Wingate delivers an emotionally involved and ultimately rewarding story about community and compassion.
Oh, by the way, since we're all "working from home" these days, Marie Kondo's Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life
might be handy. We know, we know. The extra desk you hauled in from the garage and shoved in the corner of the TV room wasn't meant to be a permanent addition to your house, but let's be honest. It's been there two weeks longer than you thought it would be. Why not "Joy" it up?
Oh, and let's not overlook Scott Sonenshein's contribution to this book. Sonenshein is an "organizational psychologist" by trade, which means we've managed to evolve to a point where even our organization skills need therapy.
Oh, and look, Grady Hendrix has a new novel. The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires
is, much like Hendrix's previous books, both hilarious and horrifying. First, there's a book club that is . . . not entirely democratic in its structure. Secondly, well, you had damn well better be reading the book club picks, because if you don't, that's just rude. And these ladies do not suffer rudeness. Third, the hot guy who just moved to town? Yeah, he's a vampire. The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires
is a thematic sequel to My Best Friend's Exorcism
, which we really enjoyed. We suspect this one is going to be like Valley of the Dolls
meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
By the way, Shaun Bythell's follow-up to Diary of a Bookseller
is out this week. Confessions of a Bookseller
picks up where Diary
left off. Yes, Wigtown is still out in the ruralest of rural places in Scotland. Yes, people still don't understand how used book stores work. Yes, Shaun still wrestles with his staff understanding where books should get shelved. It's the closest you're going to get to hanging out in a bookstore for awhile, alas. But, if you are going to read about hanging out in a bookstore, Shaun's droll and cantankerous and eternally passionate commentary about books and bookselling is the way to go.
And if you're thinking about doing some writing of your own, may we suggest John Dufresne's Storyville!
? Dufresne has been writing about fiction for awhile now (and he even teaches it in an MFA program), and Storyville!
is filled with useful tips, tricks, and thoughtful guides to help move you from idea to action. Plus, it's filled with Evan Wondolowski's fabulous infographic illustrations. Pictures to go along with all the words! Because reading about writing can be dull, but scanning infographics while thinking about writing is almost writing.
And speaking of writing, Don Winslow has written a handful of novellas. They're all packaged into one collection called Broken
. Winslow, whose recent drug cartel trilogy was a hefty bit of crime fiction, returns to some of his previous characters in Broken
. This collection is a marvelous and bite-sized for those who prefer their crime dramas to be not completely overwhelming in their scope.
All right, let's wrap this week up with a rundown of books that have come out in paperback this week.
We've got Peter Brown's awesome The Wild Robot and The Wild Robot Escapes
. These have been in hardback forever, and we're delighted to get them in that 2-for-1 range. Young readers across the board have been digging these, and if you need something for kids to read for school, well . . .
Elizabeth Gilbert's coming of age drama, City of Girls
, is out in paperback this week.
As is Jennifer Weiner's Mrs. Everything
Seanan McGuire's Middlegame
has dropped as well. McGuire does a marvelous job with world-building and realistic characters, in a world that is both strange and marvelous and terrifying. McGuire hit the Hugo ballot five times in one year a while back, by the way. You're in good hands here.
And if you've been wondering about that new show that's on that Prime thingie, well, it started as a Kickstarter project. Simon Stålenhag likes to draw pictures of bucolic landscapes and giant robots. He did enough pictures for a couple of arts books, and the rest of the world realized they needed lots more of this. There's a really cool RPG supplement that we dig, and now there's a TV show. But it all started with Tales From the Loop
, which has been reissued. It's E.T.
meets Stranger Things
, complete with all the winsome earnestness of early Spielberg and the subtle dread we always feel about our robotic overlords.
And finally, here's one of those books that was hysterical eighteen months ago when it was put on the release schedule, but which may not be as funny now. Or maybe it still is. We're not sure. But if you needed more reasons to not leave the house, well, here are 300 "terrifying ways Nature is trying to murder you."
We're not going to leave on that note. Look, baking books! Now this is exciting! The critters have put a bunch of these in the window of the bookstore. You can, of course, ping us on FB Messenger or call us directly if you'd like one. Or, if you prefer to avoid the ninja assassin mosquitos or, say, crowds, you can get them off our Bookshop.org "Baking Shelf" list.