Tonight we’re having our first salon. We’re going to get together and hear a few talks about interesting things and indulge ourselves in interesting conversation as well. 7 - 9 PM. You should come down and be part of the fun. There’s no cover charge, but we wouldn’t mind if you brought some snacks. 

This week’s most charming book is—without a doubt—Jessie Sima’s Not Quite Narwhal. Look at that cover. Yes, the rest of the book is just as cute as that. You need this cuteness in your life. You do. We don’t care if you have a dozen shelves overflowing with cuteness—and that includes Douglas the Unicorn’s entire family—there is still room for more. Look at that face. And that helmet. 

So cute. 

In fact, we’re going to stuff this edition of the newsletter with all things cute, adorable, winsome, life-affirming, and heart-melting because . . . well, because we’re not going to talk about politics. 

So, The Sink, by Walter Nusbaum and Daren Martin, PhD. A small book that has one simple life-changing reminder inside. There are a bunch of quotes and examples of this miraculous insight, but all those pages for the skeptics who aren’t quite ready to have their lives affirmed and re-affirmed in one declarative statement. And we don’t blame you, really, if you’re not ready to take such a leap. We’ve got books for those who would prefer to ease into a more enriching modality of existence. 

Something like Jan Johnsen’s The Spirit of Stone, a handy listing of 101 practical and creative stonescaping ideas for your garden. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a garden, these ideas are a good metaphor for your relationship with the natural world around you. Why would you want to have a rock outcropping in your gravel garden? What does that say about you, as a person? And yes, the myth of Sisyphus might be a metaphor for where you are at right now in that tedious soul-sucking career, but sometimes maybe you just need to borrow your neighbor’s hand cart to move that big rock across the yard. 

And speaking of moving things from one place to another, how about a history of the United States Postal Service? In Neither Snow Nor Rain, Devin Leonard traces the fascinating and triumphant history of how carrying the mail was critical to the early growth and prosperity of American culture. 

And really, when was the last time you actually hand-wrote a letter to someone? [Note for discussion later—maybe at tonight’s salon: how about a letter writing club?]

Over in the classics aisle, we've got IDW's new edition of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. The bonus is all the full-color and inset illustrations are done by Dave Peterson. We love Dave's work on Mouse Guard, and having his art in this edition is simply marvelous. We can’t wait for IDW to do more projects like this. 

And while we’re waiting for Fredrik Backman’s Bear Town (April, darlings; it isn’t that far off), we’re delighted to have the paperback edition of Britt-Marie Was Here. Because, as we said above, community and compassion are the watchwords this week. 

[Well, that's true for every week. But, you know, a little extra dose this week.]

And because this is all getting a little awkward, here are two books filled with prickly characters who constantly find themselves in awkward situations. First, we have the return of Hap and Leonard in Joe Lansdale’s Honky Tonk Samurai, a combination of “humor, nihilism, and absurdism along with sublime plotting,” according to the Dallas Morning News. 

And Kathleen Kent’s debut novel, The Dime, about Detective Betty Rhyzkyk—who bails on Brooklyn for more pastoral policing in Dallas, but discovers that chasing criminals is a pain in the ass no matter where you are. 

And finally, speaking of pains in the ass, let’s not forget to take care of ourselves out there. Kevin Mitnick has some helpful suggestions in The Art of Invisibility. The subtitle, as always, says it all: “The World’s Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How To Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data.” 

Oh, and we continue to have copies of George Orwell’s 1984 and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Not that we’re talking about politics this week. Nor will the subject come up at tonight’s salon . . . 

Overheard At The Fro-Yo Shop »»

BOB: Thanks for coming and hanging out with me. 

COLBY: No problem. I’ve never been to a frozen yogurt shop before. This is exciting. 

BOB: You just pick a flavor—or two—and then put some toppings on it. 

COLBY: What kind of toppings? 

BOB: Whatever you like. 

COLBY: There are a lot of choices. I don’t know where to start. 

BOB: Yeah, I don’t either. 

COLBY: I suppose we could start over here. At the end with all the fresh fruit. Oh, you’re not talking about frozen yogurt toppings, are you?

BOB: No. I guess not. 

COLBY: You want to . . . you want to talk about something else, don’t you? 

BOB: Why don’t we just get some fro-yo. 

COLBY: You need to learn how to express yourself better, beardy man. I can see the pain in your eyes. 

BOB: I’m taking eyedrops. I have a prescription. 

COLBY: Of course. And the caramel flavor over here is salted with the tears of small narwhals. 

BOB: It’s just . . . I don’t want to talk about it. 

COLBY: So we’re not bonding over fro-yo?

BOB: We’re not bonding. 

COLBY: Are you paying for my fro-yo? 

BOB: Yeah, sure. 

COLBY: So it’s a date. 

BOB: It’s not a date

COLBY: A friendly encounter. 

BOB: It’s not an encounter

COLBY: A business meeting? 

BOB: It’s not—you know what? Pay for your own damn yogurt, marmot. 

COLBY: I didn’t bring my wallet. 

BOB: That’s the oldest excuse—fine. I’ll get this. But it doesn’t mean anything. 

COLBY: And your feelings? Are they as meaningless?   

BOB: No! Yes! We're not talking about my feelings!

COLBY: Don’t stare at me like that, beardy man. I can see what’s going on in your eyes. 

BOB: There’s nothing—just pick out some toppings already. 

COLBY: You know, there’s some poetry that might lift your spirits. “I might not say I’m sorry / Oh, I might talk tough sometimes / And I might forget the little things / Or keeping you hanging on the line . . .” 

BOB: That’s not helping.

COLBY: Let me get to the chorus. 

BOB: The “chorus”? Are you quoting Bon Jovi lyrics at me again? 

COLBY: “I would die for you / I would cry for you.” They’re timeles, beardy man. They speak to the human condition. 

BOB: How would you know, marmot? You’re not human. 

COLBY: Bob. I have a heart. Just like you. I know how it feels when it is broken. 

BOB: My heart’s not broken. 

COLBY: Tears, beardy man. Salty tears from small narwhals. That’s what your lying does. It makes narwhals cry.


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