Monday, December 28, 2009

What's up?

Hey! How've you been? Excited for the New Year?
Me too! Oh, and what're your resolutions? To read more?

Me Toooooooo!!!

Anyways... since we're being so close and personal, I guess I could tell you about a few of the books on my bedside...

On History by Eric Hobsbawm (New Press, 21.95, paperback) -- A collection of talks, notable essays, and some new essays covering the last 30 years of Hobsbawm's career. Wasn't sure I'd like it, as so much historical writing is straight jibberjaw these days, and written only for specialists, exegetes, or the linguistically liberated. Luckily, Hobsbawm's writing is different. Marked by clear, always interesting prose, and this great historian's ability to make principled generalizations out of lifetimes of facts, On History will definitely make you smarter if not a historian too!

Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow (Penguin Classics, 15.00, paperback) -- A 'big' book, full of enough bravado and sass and spirit to kill an E! News personality while giggling through a Richard Simmons fit of ab-crunches. And there's nothing to say that's more laudatory than that. But, because you may wonder, it's the story of an American millionaire who's got a voice in his head -- 'I want, I want' it says -- who 'finds himself' on a trip to Africa. Funny, glorious, and ultimately gratifying, this is Bellow at his funniest, (briefest), and best. Love it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


More of our favorite gift ideas!

For The Little Ones:Align Right

Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle, Glenn Murray, and Audrey Colman (Frog Children's Books, 15.95, Hardcover) -- Hopefully you've caught the Walter-wave, because if you haven't you've been seriously missing some flatulent fun. The story of a dog who just can't help his gassy nature, Walter is inventive, beautiful to look at, and just plain old funny. You'll love it and your kids are sure to love it -- just watch out that your house doesn't smell too much like a paper mill because everyone wants to be like Walter!

Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner (Puffin, 6.99, Paperback) -- If you haven't read any of the Skippyjon books aloud to your kid yet, both he/she and you are seriously missing out! Feline fun, guaranteed!

Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales by Lucy Cousins (Candlewick, 18.95, Hardcover) -- Eight fairy tales rendered fantastically by the hand of master story-teller/illustrator Lucy Cousins (of Maisy fame!). Stunning to see, and packed full our favorite courageous heroes and most loathed, vilest villains, Yummy is great reading and a great way to reconnect with the stories we all know and love!

The Snow Day by Komako Sakai (Arthur Levine Books, 16.99, Hardcover) -- Truly one of the most beautiful books to come out this year, The Snow Day is the tale of a bunny-child who awakes to the news that school is canceled for the day, because, yup -- it's a Snow Day! A peaceful, moving tale, both excellently illustrated and emotionally resonant. We think that The Snow Day is sure to soon join the ranks of The Giving Tree and all the other splendid wintery tales!

UP NEXT: Non-fiction; Young Adult; and Coffee Table Books (I promise!)


Friday, December 11, 2009


With the holidays approaching ever faster -- (whichever holiday, of course) -- it's more than a good time to review some of the best books of the season, with a particular emphasis on the kinds of books we love to give and receive. Here are some of our favorites!

For the Bookworms (Male or Female):

Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City (Doubleday, 27.95 -- Hardcover): Lethem's newest and best since Motherless Brooklyn is a tale of Manhattan and replete with facades, charades, facsimiles and falsities. In close, it stars a former child star, an anarchist, and their budding, fraught relationships with each other, themselves, and the place they call home. Brilliantly stylized brilliant stuff.

Alice Munro's Too Much Happiness (Knopf, 25.95 -- Hardcover): Another book of short stories by one of the last 25 years most prolific, proven masters of the genre. Always hilarious and yet always sardonic, biting -- even broken-heartedly numb -- Munro's stories never fail to teach, while somehow alternately managing to show us the time of our life. Discover her for yourself or let someone else who hasn't yet had the pleasure!

Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall (Holt, 27.95 -- Hardcover): This book can't be recommended highly enough. A story about the reign of Henry the VIII told from inside the great head of Thomas Cromwell, Wolf Hall is packed with machinations of deliciously political, sexual, and familial natures. Great for romance lovers, better for history buffs, and written sweetly enough for you or me, this one's a serous keeper and a great gift for that picky name on your list!

ALSO: Winner of the 2009 Booker Man

And For An Older Man:

Peter Mathiessen's Shadow Country (Modern Library, 10.95 -- Paperback): This year's National Book Award winner is the story of Watsons, and a wet, swampy, and Faulknerian tome which takes place across a pair of centuries. As a warning, Mathiessen's trilogy (yes, it it is a trilogy) is at times dark, and at others, approaches the downright lurid. It taps that vein or a cousin to that vein that McCarthy milks in The Road. A great book.