One of the tragic side-effects of working in the retail space is that the calendar gets all mucked up. We have to get excited about Christmas in October, for example, and if this week’s books are any indicator, we’re over Halloween already and are already planning for 2019. So, yes, if you need a calendar for 2019, which—thankfully—also includes the last six months of 2018, we’ve got you covered.
If you are like us and are still trying to enjoy 2018, here’s a handful of books to help round out the, um, remaining 22 weeks of the year.
We’ll start off by answering that eternally vexing question of what do you get that person who has been everywhere, read everything, and is having a birthday this week? You get them William Atkins’s The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places
. Atkins, a former editorial director at Pan Macmillan UK, trips lightly through eight of the great deserts of the world, offering delightful insight and commentary along the way. It brings to mind Bruce Chatwin’s travelogues, along John Wesley Powell, T. E. Lawrence, and Paul Theroux.
[Ed note to Mark’s mother: Please please please keep Dad away from the bookstore for a few days! The window of opportunity is small enough as it is.]
Right, moving on to other things, where we will devote one minute to Halloween books. In this case: Samurai Scarecrow: A Very Ninja Halloween
. Because Samurai Sant
a was such a big hit last year. We applaud Rubin Pingk’s ability to capitalize on a mash-up we did not know we needed, and Samurai Scarecrow is here to remind us of the importance of family. One must not abandon one’s siblings when bats are in the air and spooks are about, after all.
And speaking of things we didn’t know we needed, Philip Marlowe—Raymond Chandler’s famous PI—is back. No, we haven’t discovered a lost Chandler manuscript. Lawrence Osborne has brought Marlowe back in Only To Sleep
, wherein Osborne has wisely moved the PI along in his life. Now 72 and retired, Marlowe is brought back into the game by a request to look into the death of a real estate developer. Naturally, things go awry, but in Osborne’s hands, there’s more introspective examination of life than nostalgic curiosity, which we appreciate.
And speaking of things we appreciate, Chandler’s iconic novel, The Big Sleep
, has recently gotten the full annotation treatment. And not just by one person, but three! The Annotated Big Sleep
has commentary from a poet/novelist/bookseller (which almost makes it like two extra people!), an English professor, and a librarian, which means darn near every word has something of interest to those who like to wander about in the weeds. And these weeds get deep.
Meanwhile, the Hogarth Shakespeare series is still steaming ahead. This time around, it’s King Lear
that’s being modernized, and this update is written by Edward St. Aubyn, who knows a thing or two about domestic farces and scene-chewing drama. In St. Aubyn’s update, the role of Lear is given to one Henry Dunbar, a once all-powerful head of a global media corporation who has been shuffled off to an upscale sanitarium, where he gets to loon with the loonies. Naturally, he escapes and flees across the moors (as it were), his fierce and frantic daughters in pursuit. It’s a family story, after all, one wherein love and affection battle it out with greed and sleaze for the big paycheck that is Daddy’s inheritance.
Ah, Shakespeare. Always good for playing to the cheap seats.
And speaking of Shakespearean remakes, Rosamund Hodge is back with Endless Water, Starless Sky
, her fantastic retelling of Romeo and Juliet,
though with more blood sacrifices, zombie invasions, and Dante-esque spelunking. What? Stealing a bit from the Kirkus Review
, we could position this as a personal ad. “Hot literary family drama seeks like-minded fans into melodrama, tense tragedy, and poignantly self-sacrificing protagonists.”
Oh, heck. Let’s do another one like that. Nancy Atherton’s 23rd Aunt Dimity novel (Aunt Dimity and the King’s Ransom
) would be: "Intrepid sleuth and long-suffering husband seek romantic getaway at picturesque hotel. Prefer something cozy, but will solve dastardly crime and hotel haunting if necessary to procure room. Can provide own ghost, if necessary.”
We tried to come up with a similarly themed ad for the new Gravity Falls
graphic novel, but come on, it’s Gravity Falls
. If you don’t know what Gravity Falls
is (precocious TV show that is part Scooby Do
, part Twin Peaks
, minus all the weird sexual dynamics), then we’re not going to be able to do it justice in—oh, wait, we just, uh, we just did. Okay, never mind. Anyway Lost Legends
is like the show, but without animation. Still frame narrative. Like a picture book for kids, but with more pictures, and you don’t have to read it backward, like manga. Though, maybe you should, because there might be hidden messages in it . . .
Anyway, new Gravity Falls
content. Because streaming on TV is so last year. Reading is hip again, you know.
And this week’s Book To Keep You Awake Because The Night Holds Terrors is Linwood Barclay’s A Noise Downstairs
. We’re going to guess that’s how this book starts, and then it gets downright terrifying from there. The psychological tension knob is dialed all the way up with this one, wherein a mild-mannered college professor is convinced his typewriter is haunted by the spirits of women who have been murdered shortly after writing notes on a typewriter much like this one. Okay, okay. This sounds kooky typing it out, but come on, if you were hearing weird noises at night, and you were a little nervous about serial killers and creepy stuff in the dark corners of the room, you would totally get freaked out by your typewriter. Clack. Clack. Clack clack.
That noise as each key hits. Clack
. The finality of the sound. Clack
. Like an ax. Clack.
Like a hammer. Clack
Now that none of you are going to sleep tonight [clack clack
], how about something easy on the eyes, but still engrossing enough that you’ll forget about strange noises coming from the other room? Like, say, Food & Drink Infographics: A Visual Guide to Culinary Pleasures
, as offered by one of our favorite publishers, Taschen. Almost 500 pages of brightly colored infographics that will tell you all about cheese and cakes and coffee and, uh, . . . knives? Okay, maybe skip that last one. Still, graphics on how vegetables are related to one another! How to eat sushi! How to do the math in order to make a half or third recipe! It includes recipes too! And flavor pairings!
And speaking of delightful eye candy, let’s end with the Cats on Instagram
wall calendar. Because, cats. Which aren’t as charming as marmots, but you can, at least, put a sock over a cat’s head and make it sit still long enough to put its picture on the Internet.