It’s the start of June, which means the big summer books are dropping. And by dropping, we mean, massive bricks are falling from the sky. You should stand in doorways and beneath concrete shelters until the deluge is over, and then wander out and pick what you like.
Let’s see . . . we’ve got a new book from Neal Stephenson. Fall; or Dodge Into Hell is about AI and virtual reality and life after death (sort of) and there’s a better version of Ready Player One in the middle and maybe some familiar characters show up again. It’s Stephenson, for crying out. Sure, it’s 800 pages, but there’s like a dozen chewy ideas that will take months to digest and at least three books worth of narrative. That’s a brick worth grabbing, we think.
And speaking of surprises, Elizabeth Gilbert has a new book. A novel, in fact. Exciting, isn’t it? City of Girls is not a thinly veiled memoir; in fact, it’s a sprawling book set in New York City during the 1940s when young Vivian—recently thrown out of a respectable school—finds love, life, and all the mysteries of life. Kirkus Reviews sums it up as “a big old banana split of a book, surely the cure for what ails you.” There you go.
And, for a moment, let’s touch on something a little less sprawling and all-consuming. Consciousness, for instance. Annaka Harris takes us on a brief guide to the fundamental mystery of the mind (as the subtitle goes for her newest book, Consciousness). Where does thinking come from? How do we find ourselves? Is it really just a part of own brains that tells us not to have that slice of chocolate cake? So many questions. Thankfully, Harris is here to . . . ah . . . explore them with us.
Yes, that’s it. It’s an exploration. Not a destination. Kind of like a Neal Stephenson book.
What else? What else? Oh, yes, Michael Wolff has another book about Trump. In case you felt that last year’s Fire and Fury didn’t quite cover it all.
And James Patterson’s Book of the Week is Unsolved. Which is the second book in a series called “Invisible.”
Come on. “Unsolved.” “Invisible.” Is he even trying anymore? How are we supposed to market these? They should just put his name on the cover and the number of the week. Here, we can help with that.
Oh, and Stuart Woods has a book out this week too, but it’s only his what? Third this year? Whatever. Amateur.
However, there is actually a new Robert MacFarlane book out this week, and this is worth getting excited about. Not only is the cover astoundingly gorgeous, but Underland: A Deep Time Journal follows MacFarlane as he goes “underground.” MacFarlane is one of those nature writers who has been writing luminous prose about the most mundane of things in the natural world, and embodying them with such grace and wonder that, well, it makes us a little light-headed. And now, he’s digging into the roots and strata beneath us, exploring what goes on in the depths. Ah, it’s marvelous and enlightening and makes us want to crawl into rabbit holes and see what we can find.
And speaking of rabbit holes, Sarah Gailey’s debut novel is out this week. Gailey, who entertained us mightily with alternate history hippo stories a year or so ago, is tackling the wizard school trope in Magic For Liars. She’s putting her own spin on it, of course, which means that the wizarding stuff is richly detailed and wonderfully idiosyncratic, but it’s the characters that make this book sing.
And local author Kimberly Derting has a new CeCe book out this week. Last time CeCe got all excited about science. This time, CeCe is big on science AND adventure. Which means more stuff blows up. No, wait. More stuff gets explored. Yes. It’s not that sort of book. However, it does have marvelous illustrations by Vashti Harrison, who illustrated the first one. You can expect resolute girls, solving problems with science, which is the best sort of hope for the future that we’ve got right now, right?
And speaking of high adventure, Melville House does it again with Howard Rodman’s The Great Eastern. Here’s the pitch: It’s Captain Ahab meets Captain Nemo. Right? Oh, you want more? Okay, it's George MacDonald Fraser meets China Miéville meets Alan Moore meets your wallet.
There. Your wallet loses. But, oh, it’s a sweet, sweet loss, isn’t it?
And we can't wander off without reminding you that we've got summer hours happening. On Thursdays, we're open until 7. Mostly so that you have somewhere to go for awhile after the end of happy hour. And on Friday, we're open until 8pm. Just think of all that luxurious "me" time you can spend wandering around the stacks . . .