Did you know that Father's Day originated in Washington State? Yep, 110 years ago. It came about because Sonora Smart Dodd thought her dad was cool, and figured since we were celebrating moms, why not dads too? President Johnson made it official in '66, and Nixon codified it as the third Sunday in June in 1972. So, yeah, Father's Day. It wasn't always on the books.
Now, you've got about a week and a half until fathers everywhere start their Sunday mornings with a hang-dog expression. Eeew! And they're going to be hanging around the house all day! This sounds terrible. How can we avoid this predicament? Why, by giving them a book, of course! And guess what sort of books dads like to read?
No, wait. Don't guess. We've been hanging out together for *mumble mumble* years now. This set-up shouldn't surprise you. You don't have to guess what sorts of books we have in mind, because . . .
That's right. Welcome to the 2020 edition of What Your Dad Didn't Know He Wanted to Read Until You Gave It To Him.
We mentioned Neal Bascomb's Faster a few newsletters back, but it's worth mentioning again because it has a) Fast Cars, b) Fast Talkers, and c) Nazis Getting Shown Up By American Know-How.
And speaking of American Know-How, here's a book about Sam Colt and that thingie he made. The one that goes "Bang!" Jim Rasenberger's biography of Sam Colt won't necessarily change your mind about guns, but there's a lot of social and political history in Revolver: Sam Colt and the Six-Shooter That Changed America. Colt knew his invention was going to have an impact, and he fought tirelessly to keep his patents and to revolutionize manufacturing processes.
Conversely, we also have Michael Punke's Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West. As a result of the arms race that followed Colt's invention (and incessant lobbying in the nation's capital), the majestic buffalo was hunted to near extinction. The buffalo population in America went from . . . oh . . . thirty million or so around the middle of the nineteenth century to . . . twelve. That's right. You could almost count the entire population of buffalo in America on both hands.
George Bird Grinnell thought that number was bad. He and his allies fought to—as the publisher marketing speak puts it—"preserve an icon from the grinding appetite of Robber Baron America."
Oh, and speaking of preserving iconic things from grinding appetites, we're going to put this book by Stacey Abrams right over here. Don't mind us. It's topical. Some dads like to read topical stuff. This one is all about voter suppression and the erosion of democracy. Wisely, Abrams knows that what we need is a plan, and Our Time is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight For a Fair America lays out a pretty solid approach to pulling a Grinnell.
That's our contribution to the lexicon this week. Bringing iconic things back from the brink of extinction is now going to be known as "pulling a Grinnell."
Oh, and here's another one we mentioned recently, but which might have gone unnoticed with all this staying at home excitement. Erik Larson, who does a splendid job of making historical narratives sing with all sorts of cinematic tension, is back with The Splendid and the Vile. It's about the London Blitz, that period of WWII when Nazi Germany was doing its darnedest to flatten London with bombs. Larson's book isn't the first book to cover this tumultuous time period, but his focus is as much on the person on the street as Britian's leadership, which makes the story that much more gripping and daring.
And speaking of wartime tales, Dick Lehr's Dead Reckoning recounts what was known as Operation Vengeance, the U. S. response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1942. Lehr focuses on two key players: Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto and US Army Major John Mitchell. Admiral Yamamoto, the architect of the Japanese attack, hoped his assault would cause America to make peace with Japan. Instead, he sorta stuck his foot in a hornet's nest. The hornets turned out to be a squadron of P-38 Lightnings.
Now, here's something a little different. Vishen Lakhiani's The Buddha and the Badass is not your run-of-the-mill self-help book. Maybe it's the title. Regardless, Lakhiani wants to disabuse us of the notion that even though we might spend seventy percent of our waking hours working, it doesn't have to be a soul-draining existence. You've got to change up your Buddha nature, he believes. It's not all hustle and flash. It's also soul and empathy. Lakhiani knows how to bring the two together in a cosmic harmony that will revolutionize how we live.
Fist bump. Flower blossom.
And speaking of seeing the world through your third eye, David Barrie's Supernavigators is out in the paperback this week. This one is about how animals find their way, and come on, there are lots and lots of stories about dogs and cats traveling across whole continents to be home by dinnertime. Squirrels leap from tall buildings and manage to not get lost on the way down. Bats can't even see, for crying out loud, and yet, they don't bump into things. Sure, we've got opposable thumbs and can open jars, but eels can sense magnetic currents!
And speaking of science, here's one for Grandpa. Local author Kimberly Derting's Cece Loves Science is now out in paperback! Little Cece, who is constantly asking questions, and in this story, she and her pal Isaac discover that you can actually science your way to answers to questions. That's right! This is STEM in action! Get your inquisitive granddaughters, Grandpa! It's story time.
Also, for those inquisitive seekers who get a little overwhelmed by directions, Derting (along with co-writer Shelli R. Johannes and illustrator Joelle Murray) has also written Libby Loves Science, the story of a young explorer who isn't very good at following directions. You gotta put the whatsit into the whichamabob before you add the sploodiddle! Otherwise—well, never mind that. Just do it in the right order, kids.
And we'll wind up with a pair of historical fiction novels. The first, Riviera Gold, is the sixteenth book in Laurie R. King's fabulous series starring Mary Russell and her annoying precise husband, Sherlock Holmes. In Riviera Gold, Mary gets embroiled in a case involving Mrs. Hudson, their long-suffering landlady. Mrs. Hudson, it turns out, has a somewhat mysterious past, and this past sneaks up and bites her. It's the Jazz Age on the French Riviera with skullduggery and murder! What more could you want?
And speaking of skullduggery and murder, Andrew Taylor would like to take us back a couple hundred years to the Great Fire of London. The year is 1666. London is in flames. A man, bound and stabbed to death, is discovered in the ruins of a cathedral. Reluctant government informer James Marwood must team up with Cat Lovett, a mysterious woman with a deadly secret. Together, they must find a killer before he can strike—oh, wait . . . before he can strike a third time! The Ashes of London is the first in a series that has gotten some serious accolades, and we know that once you start, you're going to want to read the whole series. (What? It's what we do.)
And that's our list for the week. It's okay to take care of yourselves. Get some sun. Wave to people if they can't see your smiles. We are still cautiously optimistic that we'll be open soon, but in the meantime, we'd be delighted to put together a pick-up order for you. You can also schedule appointments to visit the store. Please use the Facebook Appointment tool.
Or, even more fun, you can order one of our bespoke blind date boxes. The box order form can be found here.