Let’s start off this edition of the newsletter with an awkward announcement: the latest Dog Man book, Brawl of the Wild, will not be available until Monday. Yes, that Monday. Christmas Eve. Why? Because new book release day is typically on Tuesday, and Tuesday next week is Stay Home and Read Day (all day, in fact). As most booksellers will be celebrating Stay Home and Read Day by, um, staying home and reading, publishing has graciously opted to move the release day of Brawl of the Wild up ONE entire day in order to make sure that little Timmy is not beyond despair—like howling into the void all damn day levels of despair—about missing out on Dog Man for Stay Home and Read Day.
Thanks, Scholastic. You’re the best. Maybe next year, we could get the book—say—a week earlier? Think of the kids!
That aside, let’s hit the highlights of other last minute gift ideas.
How about Nikki Furrer’s A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis: Using Marijuana to Feel Better, Look Better, Sleep Better, and Get High Like a Lady. This is one of those books whose title really does say it all, but we’d like to follow on with a few other tidbits, like: Mood boosters! How to mitigate dementia! Mix up some Radiant Glow Serum! Happy Bod Bar—you know, for your skin! Slow-chew caramels for the inevitable late night Netflix binge!
Honestly, this isn’t one of those parody books like the one about Trump and the boat or the one about Pence’s pet rabbit. Furrer is a honest-to-goodness expert in cannabis cultivation and product development, and while tongues-may-be-firmly-in-cheeks for some of this, the advice is friendly and sound.
And speaking of going “Whoa, dude,” how about Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass. Yes, it’s a four hundred page picture book of bass guitars, which is most but not all of the bass guitars owned by rock’s most precious thumper, along with commentary, interviews, and profiles of classic makers of said thumpity-thumpers. Plus, you know, Rush trivia, for those who don’t already know everything about Canada’s most successful musical group.
And speaking of taking care of everything—the words you read, the songs you sing—Catherynne M. Valente’s Space Opera is now out in paperback. Valente, who has a talent for mixing the mythic with wide-eyed enthusiasm and widescreen grandeur, decided that what we all needed this year was a space opera novel, with an emphasis on “opera.” Instead of ray guns and space ships, Valente brings in glitter barges and enough silk to wrap an entire planetoid. The Chicago Tribune calls Space Opera a “cheerfully absurd galactic adventure,” and Publishers Weekly says it is a “razzle-dazzle love song about destiny, finding one’s true voice, and rockin’ the house down.” NPR Books says it’s all about “sex and love and pop songs,” and Booklist gets all starry-eyed and gushes that it is “a story which is uproariously funny, sweet, and hopeful.” And who doesn’t want a big dose of that during the dreary days?
And speaking of hugs, Aaron Blabey’s I Need a Hug is a delightful story about how not everything is as prickly as it seems. In this winsome children’s book, a small porcupine just wants a hug, but all the other animals are afraid of all those porcupine quills. Eventually, someone isn’t, and a hug is achieved. Whew. Blabey’s genius here lies in the illustrations which say so much more than the words.
And speaking of happy endings, Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End is the story of two people who discover each other and a great deal more during their last day on Earth. In the future, we'll all know when we die. In fact, in a coldly efficient manner, we each receive a phone call the morning of our demise. It’s the worst sort of robo-call. “Hello, today is the day you die. For more information, press 1. To lodge a complaint, press 2 . . .” Anyway, Rufus and Mateo both get The Call, and through the magic of an app called Last Friend, they find each other and make a plan to do something amazing on their last day.
Apparently, this book isn’t as depressing as it sounds.
And speaking of things not being as they appear, the next volume of Gerard Way’s run on Doom Patrol comes out next week. We’re fans of the various incarnations of the so very very weird “superhero” team, and Way has done a fabulous job updating this book for a new generation while still maintaining a lot of the surreal strangeness that Drake and Morrison brought to the series back in the day.
Which is a bit like saying, “You kids and your new stream of consciousness techniques. We used to do Exquisite Corpse with a used paintbrush made from Dali’s mustache hair, Oulipo meeting notes (minus the ‘e,’ of course), and bath mats from Breton’s Pigalle apartment. And we had to climb the stairs backwards both times!”
Hello, deep end. We’re going to be swimming here for a bit. Bring a giraffe and some Jell-O.
Anyway, on a more serious note, we have Kati Morton’s Are U Ok?, which is a guide to caring for your own mental health. This is not a “why do I work with insane people?” book, but rather, an honest volume meant to help you assess the wholeness of your egg, as it were. Obviously, if you think you need some assistance in regards to your mental health, you should—by all means—reach out and get professional help, but Morton, who is a marriage and family therapist by trade, has put together a great collection of thoughts and observations about how you can take care of yourself. We are fans of self-care, and you should never shy away from taking stock on how you are doing.
And speaking of self-care, personal trainer and TV personality Jillian Michaels has a new book out this week. Called The 6 Keys, it focuses on how to age well in a multitude of categories. Because, let’s face it, the world’s getting a bit older here in a few weeks, and it’s taking us along with it. We might as well do so gracefully, right?
And finally, our favorite title and cover design this week goes to The Bloated Belly Whisperer by Tamara Duker Freuman. Look at that cover. So marvelous. The insides are pretty good too. Everything you ever wanted to know about why your stomach is unhappy, and what you can do to prevent it.
Not that any of us are going to be suffering from grumpy bellies these next few days, right?
Treat yourselves with care over these next few days, dear readers. This time of year can be stressful, and you should let all that stress pass you by. Read. Laugh. Bake. Do all the truly important things. And remember to come visit us. We'll be here every day through Stay Home and Read Day on the 25th, especially on the 24th when we can unlock the crate with those copies of Brawl of the Wild.