First: a public service announcement that you can "holiday snark" up the Bespoke Blind Date boxes. Until December 22nd, get a box of books for that special person in your life (wrapping paper included). We'll dazzle them up in our merry way that totally translates to: "I like you so much that I let total strangers provide commentary on some books I think you might appreciate." 

Oh, we get it. This way, if the books are totally wrong for this special person, you can blame us. And if they are right, well, high five! We got you!

Bespoke Box Order Form

Meanwhile, Amanda Gorman's book of poetry came out this week. Call Us What We Carry contains, among other stirring bits of beautiful language, "The Hill We Climb," Ms. Gorman's inaugural poem. It's an amazing collection. 

And speaking of verse, Craig Smith is back with another installment of the Wonky Donkey series. This time around, Wonky Donkey has a big surprise for Dinky Donkey. Can you guess what it is? 

What? We're not going to spoil it. 

And speaking of surprises, apparently someone is still reading Garfield cartoons. Livin' the Sweet Life is the 72nd collection of newspaper syndicated Garfield strips. 

We'll let that sink in for a moment. 

Right? "Newspaper." Geez. Anyway, Garfield is still lazy, Odie is still goofy, and Jim is still clueless. Thank goodness some things never change. 

Meanwhile, local author Tara Goedjen slips onto the shelves with No Beauties or Monsters, which is an eerily rendered novel about friendship and memory loss and top secret government ops. On returning to her old stomping grounds in Twentynine Palms, Rylie Caruso discovers that one of her besties has been missing for a year. When she investigates (like those pesky kids do), she discovers that her friend isn't the only one who has gone missing, and the more she digs, the more she discovers how little she knows about, well, everything. Goedjen cleverly and skillfully lures us into a shadowy maze of conspiracies and misdirection. Recommended! 

And hey! Have you ever wanted to role play that whole "young wizard at wizard school" setup, but with less emo affectations? Well, now you can with Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos! It's like THAT book series, turned into stat tables from THAT RPG series, and mixed with references to THAT collectible card game series. 

The only thing missing is a Lord of the Rings reference, but once Disney buys everything, it'll all come together. 

On a more whimsical note, here is Sosuke Natsukawa's The Cat Who Saved Books, which is about a young bookseller and a talking cat. The cat has a mission, you see—a mission to rescue books from mistreatment, misappropriation, and general misuse. Naturally, the bookseller agrees to help the cat. Mysteries ensue. 

And speaking of mysteries, here is Matthew Gabriele's and David Perry's The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe. Gabriele and Perry are keen on recasting a certain period of European history as more light than dark, and The Bright Ages is an engaging and eye-opening tour through a remarkable time in the evolution of Western civilization. Sure, things got bleak here and there, but the Renaissance and Enlightenment had to be sourced somewhere, and this is where Gabriele and Perry focus their efforts. Marvelous and engaging!

And speaking of marvelous things, here is Joe Moshenska's Making Darkness Light: A Life of John Milton. Now, Milton has become one of those poets who is more intimidating than beloved, and Moshenska makes no attempt to create a definitive biography here. Rather, he relies on "rhythms rather than facts" to craft an ingenious biography that almost reads like a historical fiction novel. It's the kind of book that sticks to your fingers when you open it, and you find yourself continuing to dip back into it. Surprising and rewarding. 

And with that, we shall whisk ourselves away. The shelves are full of books. Come visit us sooner than later. Stock up on hot cocoa and ready yourself for long nights of reading!

Don't forget to order a special box of books for someone in your life! Or for yourself! 

Bespoke Blind Date Order Form

Overheard At The Store »»

HODGE: Look! Footprints!

PODGE: What are those?

HODGE: They are very shiny.

PODGE: They look like bird tracks. 

HODGE: . . . 

PODGE: . . . 

HODGE: That's a very big bird. 

PODGE: I know, Hodge. 

HODGE: Maybe . . . maybe we should . . . 

PODGE: We are inside, Hodge. There are shelves of books around us. No bird is going to swoop us. 

HODGE: And yet . . . 

PODGE: What?

HODGE: These tracks . . . 

PODGE: They're not real. 

HODGE: What? How can you tell? 

PODGE: It's the shiny. They've fossilizated. They filled with rain water, way back when, and then froze. That's why they are shiny. And slickery. 

HODGE: Really? This feels like tape. 

PODGE: It's not tape. It's magical sealant. 

HODGE: I'm pretty sure it's tape. 

PODGE: Look! They lead over to that hidden space under the stairs. 

HODGE: No, Hodge! Don't—

PODGE: I'm just going to peek and—


<SFX: Screaming noises> 

<SFX: More screaming noises, but fainter now> 

<SFX: Really faint screaming noises; you can tell the screamers are getting tired of all the yelling>

<SFX: A minute of silence>

<SFX: The distant sound of a train> 

<SFX: The rattle of shower curtain rings on a rod> 

<SFX: Another minute of silence> 

DAPHNE: . |||| . . . || / ?



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