Some administrative notes:
(1) It's November, which means it's National Novel Writing Month. We've got a few write-ins scheduled where you can come down and do some of your feverish novel scribbling while surrounded by books. See the sidebar for those times and dates.
(2) At the end of the month, we'll be having our next Authors in Conversation event with Hans Zeiger. He'll be talking about his new book, Puyallup in World War II, which chronicles life across the river during those tumultuous years, as evidenced by lots of interviews.
(3) Love Your Bookstore starts this weekend and runs all of next week. This is a national challenge to hashtag how much you love your local bookstore. Naturally, you need to be in the bookstore, and there needs to be photographic evidence. And yes, you can take pictures with Colby. And maybe Hodge and Podge. There's a height requirement for Glom-glom, though. Sorry.
Right. All that done, let's get on to the books, and without a doubt, this week’s most audacious release is not—gasp!—the new Lee Child book (which came out a day earlier than everything else because, well, who knows why), but rather Sandra Rendgen’s The Minard System: the Complete Statistical Graphics of Charles-Joseph Minard.
Minard, as you may recall, is the 19th century civil engineer who made some of the most awe-inspiring multivariate charts data nerds have ever seen, including that one about the time that Napoleon and some of his pals took a wrong turn and headed off for Russia in the middle of winter. As it turns out, Minard didn’t make just one super magical chart. He made several. Rengen’s book is the first time that a great deal of Minard’s data sets have been publicly published.
Oh, and yeah, there’s a new Jack Reacher novel. Past Tense is the *mumble* *mumble*-th entry in Lee Child’s series about the archetypal everyman with fists the size of rhinoceroses. As you can imagine, Reacher wanders about, local thugs have a hissy fit, Reacher hits a couple of them (just once, which is tantamount to, you know, having an rhinoceros fall on them), and then the book ends.
<slack-handed shaking of pom-poms>
However, because we’re still riding the Minard high, we’re not going to let a little desultory cheerleading bring us down. Oh no. Instead we’re going to pivot and suggest some other books that might fit that Walking Tall sort of hole in your pleasure reading. Perhaps Nick Petrie’s Peter Ash series? Light it Up, the third book, came out this week in paperback, and Petrie has some of the zing that Child used to have in the earlier Reacher novels. Ash is an ex-military fellow who is sticking with that “I am not going to settle down until all the people who are getting squeezed by the Man are saved” shtick, and so far, we’re pretty pleased with how Ash has been doing at saving the world, one person at a time.
Or perhaps, you might like Glen Erik Hamilton’s Van Shaw series. Van was raised as a thief, but got out of that life once upon a time and went into the military. Now he’s out, and he’s got old family history to settle. The first book, Past Crimes, starts fast and runs faster. Plus it’s set in the Seattle area!
Sharp-eyed readers will notice that both of these series have blurbs on them from Lee Child. Huh. How about that?
And with that, our mood swing has been, uh, swunged-ed. We’re back to our usual tree squirrel zoinked out on whippets level of enthusiasm. Oooh! New Liane Moriarity! Almost a dozen viewpoint characters! Snarky social commentary! Health spa vacation gone terribly awry! Fourth-wall breaking by the narrative voice! Bring it on, Moriarity! We are ready!
And that exhausts our supply of exclamation points for the rest of the year. You are probably as delighted as we are about this revelation.
Meanwhile, we’ve got Andrew Roberts’s new biography on Churchill (subtitled Walking With Destiny, in case you were wondering about Roberts’s overall approach), which weighs about as much as a small moose. Apparently, Roberts was given access to some previously undisclosed material (including King George’s notes from several of his meetings with Churchill during World War II), which allows the marketing folks to claim that this is the most in-depth, most revealing biography EVER. Plus, since it is about a man who fought Nazis and warned us about the dangers of the Soviet apparatus, it can totally be read as Churchill throwing shade on our current administration, from beyond the grave!
Oh, wait. We did have an exclamation point left.
And speaking of throwing shade, Peter Souza has a picture book out. Well, it’s more of a photo book, really.
And speaking of picture books, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert has an actual picture book out this week. It doesn’t have very many words. Well, too many, maybe. Probably about the same as The Wonky-Donkey, in fact, though a bit more like Hop on Pop in its rhyme scheme.
And speaking of things rhyming, did we mention Martin Popoff’s full-scale discographic review of Iron Maiden’s career? No? Our mistake, because this is actually quite good, even if you’re not a fan of Iron Maiden.
And if we mentioned Margareta Magnusson’s The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning previously, forgive us for mentioning it again. Mostly because it’s a book that is both exactly what it says it is and isn’t. We’ll leave it up to you to decide.
Oh, and you didn’t hear this from us, but please come in and pick up a copy of the new Gotham Academy graphic novel. Mostly because Rich will stop talking about it once we sell a few copies, but also because it’s by the same team that does Isola (which we mentioned last week), and it’s sort of like what if the Harry Potter school for wizards was run by Batman instead of Dumbledore.
And the Universe is laughing at us because we just picked up Joanna Gaines’s new book, Home Body, and it opened to a page with a picture of a board that said “Just Start Writing” on it, and ha ha ha!, but we see what you’re doing there, Universe.
Anyway, Home Body is the latest book from the host of Fixer Upper and the maven of Magnolia Market, and it’s all about how you can design your living spaces so they are spartan and properly distressed in that Restoration Hardware style of urban chic. Which is to say, not like our house at all, though she’s welcome to come over anytime and do a remodel.
Meanwhile, Marissa Meyer is back with Archenemies, the sequel to Renegades. Nova, who is caught in a double life as both a superhero and a super villain, is trying to keep all her balls in the air, but life in Gatlon City is getting complicated. And naturally, there’s a boy who has caught her eye, and you know what happens when you take your eyes off all the balls when you are juggling, don’t you?
And speaking of high wire acts, we’ve got Stevan Allred’s The Alehouse at the End of the World, which is a fable about birds, funeral cycles, errant mythologies, mean-spirited crows, and bawdy Shakespearean love triangles. Which is to say it’s a literary book with sly winks, footnotes, and a slippery narrator who may leave us at the Isle of the Dead once we get there. It’s hard to say with Allred, but that’s part of the delirious charm of letting him lead.
And finally, the marvelous book we discovered this week is Alexandra Rowland’s The Conspiracy of Truth. It’s about a storyteller who finds himself a pawn in political games among five powerful figures in the kingdom. He’s just a simple storyteller, or so he wants us to believe, but others think he’s lying, and others think that he isn’t, but they’re totally going to use the perception that he is lying to their advantage. And the truth is somewhere in between. Or not. Because you know that the best stories are the ones that aren’t what they appear to be at all . . .