We had the always charming Jessie Kwak in the store the other night, where she hosted a fabulous round-table discussion about creativity practices. There was talk about writing, at which point everyone asked about Write Time for November. Staff traded panicked looks for a moment until we realized that November is a special month for writers. That's right! National Novel Writing Month is coming up!

So, this is your first (of several) reminders that there won't be a specific Write Time event during November, because, frankly, any time is "write time." Now that we have extended hours, it's easier than ever to come visit the store. We have the table up front. We have comfy chairs scattered throughout the store. Come on down and get your daily word count in! Just—you know—don't be like Mark, who glowers from that chair in front of the cozy mystery shelves during the monthly visit of those pleasant ladies from Miss Vaertebübblie's Tea and Noir Society. 

Speaking of noir, A Book of Bones, the 17th book in John Connolly's Charlie Parker series, is out this week. We won't dwell on it too long, because there are sixteen earlier books you need to read before you hit this one, but we would like to point out that while the first is very dark indeed, they get—well, "lighter" isn't the right word, but they certainly get less bleak as they go on. Still, we don't recommend you read them in a row, but we do recommend them if you like your crime novels like you like your coffee—bleak, bitter, and strong enough that you jump at shadows for the rest of the week. 

And speaking of wondering what's around the corner, Lannoo has put together a great little package of Henk van Rensbergen's photos of abandoned places. Titled Abandoned Places, this book is filled with pictures of industrial facilities, decommissioned warships, abandoned factories, decrepit schools, and houses that are definitely haunted down to their foundations. It's a great book to page through in the security and warmth of your own domicile during the cold and dark winter days. 

And speaking of handy gift ideas, someone in your life needs a copy of Tein Lucasson's Cat: Portrait of Eighty-Eight Cats & One Very Wise Zebra. It's pictures of cats. Wearing clothes. With enigmatic cat expressions. And a zebra.

You can get a copy for yourself, really. It's okay. 

But if you feel like that's a little self-indulgent—we won't judge, really—how about a copy of All Cats Are Introverts? It's insightful poetry by cats about what it is to be a cat, which somehow makes it relatable to the human experience. But we may be over-anthropomorphizing something somewhere in this explanation. 

Meanwhile, this week's award for the Most Egregious Over-Indulgence of BISAC Categories goes to Odd Arne Westad's The Cold War, now out in a hefty paperback edition. We're going to crib from cover blurb by the Times Literary Supplement because it, well, see for yourself. "Odd Arne Westad's daring ambition, supra-nationalist intellect, polyglot sources, masterly scholarship, and trenchant analysis make The Cold War a book of resounding importance . . ." Which is to say: "Someone smart enough to understand what exactly happened during the latter half of the 20th century boils it all down to a hyper-dense summary that runs less than a thousand pages." 

You can peruse this while you're waiting for the paperback edition of Shoshana Zuboff's The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, which doesn't come out until March of next year.

Hmmm.  We should start a book club which is devoted to fretting about how we don't have enough time (or brain cells) to fully engage with books like these. 

[Ed. note: As long as y'all buy copies of the book and clean up after yourselves, that shouldn't be a problem.]

If all this talk of geo-political strategy and economic dysfunctionalism is too overwhelming, how about a thousand pages of our historical relationship with the sea? David Abulafia's The Boundless Sea explores how those vast bodies of water that comprise the majority of the surface of this world have impacted human development. Trade routes! Piracy! Oceanic doldrums! The secret of Atlantis!

Well, maybe not that last one. 

Meanwhile, on a table that is not groaning under the weight of these heady tomes, we have The Art of Theft, the fourth book in Sherry Thomas's clever Lady Sherlock series. In this one, the wily Charlotte "Sherlock" Holmes and her constant companion, Mrs. Watson, are drawn into a nefarious web of lies and subterfuge with the Maharani of Ajmer, a priceless Van Dyck painting, and an appropriately gothic masquerade ball at a French chateau. 

And how about a new Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic novel? Just in time for the festive elbowing-your-way-to-the-cash-register season. It's been four years since Becky Bloomwood Brandon has delighted us with her winsome and hilarious shopping antics, and in Christmas Shopaholic, Becky is in a panic because OMG! she has to host Christmas at her house this year. Hilarity ensues. 

And speaking of historical verisimilitude [Ed. note: Wait? Were we?], Mackenzie Lee has put together one of those fabulous "History of the World in X" sorts of books. In Lee's case, X is dogs. That's right. The History of the World in Fifty Dogs. As the back cover says: "Sit. Stay. Help Make History." Dogs are so good at being helpful. 

And speaking of being helpful, we have the answer to that question which has been bugging you all week. "You know? I feel like there's a Venn Diagram overlap between horror, crime, and weird sh*t going on in the woods? Do you know what I'm talking about?" We do, in fact. We do, indeed. It's called Suicide Woods, and it is Benjamin Percy's new collection of stories. Percy is kind of like the Pacific Northwest's version of Joe Hill. Well, until he moved to Minnesota and screwed that up, but we suspect he still has nightmares about trees, which is good for us, because that means STORIES!

(And yes, we know there are trees in Minnesota too, but they're not the same!)

And speaking of stories, we've gotten our shipment of letters from Attic Journals, cunning crafters who make books and things from recycled and rescued books. Come on down and spell out your own clever catch phrase. "Help! I'm being held captive in a book." Or whatever it is that you want to string up in a garland across the front window of your festive domicile this holiday season. 

And finally, since we're talking about being all festive and stuff, here's Kiera and Cole Stipovich's Ultimate Appetizer Ideabook, because sometime it is hard to think up a whole menu and you're just going to be drinking all the booze in the house anyway, right? Crostini with whiskey-bacon jam, brier, and pear! Savory shortbreads with jalapeño and cheddar! Acorn squash soup in cucumber—oh hell, no. Not that one. Let's end on a happier note. Baked brie with bourbon-maple pecans and candied cranberries! Ah, yes. That says: "Come on over, y'all. Stand beneath my garland of clever letters and eat all the snacks." 

Or, as we like to call it: "book club."

Overheard At The Store »»

DET. RANDOOF: So, when was the last time you saw this . . . this "Podge"? 

NADIA: A couple of days ago, I think. 

DET. RANDOOF: You think? Didn't you say he was an employee? 

NADIA: Intern. At best. And unpaid, at that. 

DET. RANDOOF: Intern, huh? Kind of like a work-study program? 

NADIA: More like work-adjacent. 


NADIA: You're not writing this down. 

DET. RANDOOF: I have a good memory. 

NADIA: As is clearly evidenced by the number of times you've asked me to repeat myself. 

DET. RANDOOF: I'm getting a sense you aren't as concerned about "Podge"—if that is his real name—as you make yourself out to be. 

NADIA: I care about all the woodland creatures, Detective.

DET. RANDOOF: So, he's homeless? 

NADIA: No. Yes. I don't know, really. 

DET. RANDOOF: You don't have paperwork on file? 

NADIA: Unpaid intern, remember? 

DET. RANDOOF: Ah, yes. Right. 

NADIA: Anyway, here's a list of customers who bought a RTIAB—

DET. RANDOOF: A what? 

NADIA: A Random Thing in a Box. It's our subscription service. 

DET. RANDOOF: So . . . what's in the box? 

NADIA: . . . 

DET. RANDOOF: . . . 

NADIA: I, uh . . . That's a—

DET. RANDOOF: That movie really makes police work difficult, you know? 

NADIA: I know. Sorry. It's just—you don't look like Brad Pitt. 

DET. RANDOOF: I don't look like Morgan Freeman either. 

NADIA: Fair point. 

DET. RANDOOF: You going to answer my question? 

NADIA: What? Oh, the box. Yeah. It's got a random thing. And some books. 

DET. RANDOOF: And you think that Podge is in one of these boxes? 

NADIA: That's right. 

DET. RANDOOF: How big are these boxes? 

NADIA: Oh, about like this. 

DET. RANDOOF: . . . 

NADIA: What? 

DET. RANDOOF: That's about the size of a human head. 

NADIA: No. No. No, this isn't a joke. 

DET. RANDOOF: You sure? 

NADIA: I'm sure. Really. We're not playing a rude Se7en joke on you. Seriously. 

DET. RANDOOF: Okay, because I don't have time for that. 

NADIA: Nor do I, Detective. Asking you to come all the way down here so I could wind you up about a twenty-five year old movie is not the highlight of my day. 

DET. RANDOOF: Okay. Okay. So, this Podge is in one of these boxes, which is about this big and . . . 

NADIA: What? 

DET. RANDOOF: I'm having a little trouble with sizing—

NADIA: He's an otter. 


NADIA: Podge. He's an otter. 

DET. RANDOOF: An otter. 

NADIA: Yes, an otter. 

DET. RANDOOF: And he's an intern?

NADIA: Unpaid. 

DET. RANDOOF: That's—hmm. 

NADIA: I know. There's probably some law about using otters in the work force, but he's full-grown and emancipated. 

DET. RANDOOF: That wasn't what I was concerned about. It's more that . . . Well, I'm not sure this is my department. Maybe you need Animal Control? 

NADIA: He's missing. He's not escaped. 

DET. RANDOOF: I'm not sure I see the distinction. 

NADIA: Oh, boy. Look. Do you know the difference between Free Will and Determinism? An otter, like Podge, chooses to—

DET. RANDOOF: I'm just going to call Animal Control. 


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