“I cannot live without books”
Wealth of Pigeons
By Steve Martin and Harry Bliss
Celadon Press $28
I’ve always looked upon cartooning as comedy’s last frontier. I have done stand-up, sketches, movies, monologues, awards show introductions, sound bites, blurbs, talk show appearances, and tweets, but the idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me. I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny. You can understand that I was deeply suspicious of these people who are actually funny.” So writes the multitalented comedian Steve Martin in his introduction to A Wealth of Pigeons: A Cartoon Collection. In order to venture into this lauded territory of cartooning, he partnered with the heralded New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss. Steve shared caption and cartoon ideas, Harry provided impeccable artwork, and together they created this collection of humorous cartoons and comic strips, with amusing commentary about their collaboration throughout. The result: this gorgeous, funny, singular book, perfect to give as a gift or to buy for yourself.
The Chicken Sisters
By KJ Dell’Antonia
Penguin Random House $17
The Arctic Fury
By Greer MacAllister
Eccentric Lady Jane Franklin makes an outlandish offer to adventurer Virginia Reeve: take a dozen women, trek into the Arctic, and find her husband’s lost expedition. Four parties have failed to find him, and Lady Franklin wants a radical new approach: put the women in charge. A year later, Virginia stands trial for murder. Survivors of the expedition willing to publicly support her sit in the front row. There are only five. What happened out there on the ice? Set against the unforgiving backdrop of one of the world’s most inhospitable locations, USA Today bestselling author Greer Macallister uses the true story of Lady Jane Franklin’s tireless attempts to find her husband’s lost expedition as a jumping-off point to spin a tale of bravery, intrigue, perseverance and hope.
By Michelle Adams
Harper Collins $26.99
On her favorite day of the year, Elizabeth Davenport awakens in her cottage on the wild and windy Cornish coast, opens her front door, and discovers a precious gift: the small blue crocus and a note that begins I Wish . . . The notes are never signed, but she knows they’ve been left by her first and truest love, Tom Hale. Each of these precious missives convey a simple wish for something they had missed, and the life they might have shared, if circumstances hadn’t forced them apart all those years ago. She has kept them all. But on this day, what should have been the fiftieth anniversary of their falling in love, the gift fails to arrive. Could something have happened to Tom? Elizabeth has always been plagued by thoughts of “what if?” Propelled by worry and decades of pent up longing, Elizabeth packs a little suitcase, leaves Porthsennenon, and journeys to London . . . to find the love of her life once again. Finding him, Elizabeth is faced with the desperate knowledge that any time they might have now is running out. Never before had she thought that she might truly lose time–forever. And now, knowing that life is too short, Elizabeth vows to fulfill as many of Tom’s wishes as she can. Yet she fears that her efforts may expose the shameful secret that, until now, has kept them apart. Can she continue to hide the truth, or will she have the courage to reveal herself completely and finally make their dreams come true–before it’s too late?
The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again
By Robert Putnam
Simon and Schuster $32.50
A “synthesis of social and political trends over the past century that shows how we have gone from an individualistic society to a more communitarian society and then back again–and how we can use that experience to overcome once again the individualism that currently weakens our country
How To Fly ( In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons)
By Barbara Kingsolver
Harper Collins $24.99
In her second poetry collection, Barbara Kingsolver offers reflections on the practical, the spiritual, and the wild. She begins with “how to” poems addressing everyday matters such as being hopeful, married, divorced; shearing a sheep; praying to unreliable gods; doing nothing at all; and of course, flying. Next come rafts of poems about making peace (or not) with the complicated bonds of friendship and family, and making peace (or not) with death, in the many ways it finds us. Some poems reflect on the redemptive powers of art and poetry itself; others consider where everything begins.
Closing the book are poems that celebrate natural wonders–birdsong and ghost-flowers, ruthless ants, clever shellfish, coral reefs, deadly deserts, and thousand-year-old beech trees–all speaking to the daring project of belonging to an untamed world beyond ourselves.
People Who Love to Eat Are Always the Best People
By Julia Child
Penguin Random House $18.95
If you’re afraid of butter, use cream. So decrees Julia Child, the legendary culinary authority and cookbook author who taught America how to cook–and how to eat. This delightful volume of quotations compiles some of Julia’s most memorable lines on eating–The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook–on drinking, on life–I think every woman should have a blowtorch–on love, travel, France, and much more. Perfect for Julia fans, home cooks, and anyone who simply loves to eat and drink.
By Katherine May
Penguin Random House $24
Sometimes you slip through the cracks: unforeseen circumstances like an abrupt illness, the death of a loved one, a break up, or a job loss can derail a life. These periods of dislocation can be lonely and unexpected. For May, her husband fell ill, her son stopped attending school, and her own medical issues led her to leave a demanding job. Wintering explores how she not only endured this painful time, but embraced the singular opportunities it offered.
A moving personal narrative shot through with lessons from literature, mythology, and the natural world, May’s story offers instruction on the transformative power of rest and retreat. Illumination emerges from many sources: solstice celebrations and dormice hibernation, C.S. Lewis and Sylvia Plath, swimming in icy waters and sailing arctic seas.
Ultimately Wintering invites us to change how we relate to our own fallow times. May models an active acceptance of sadness and finds nourishment in deep retreat, joy in the hushed beauty of winter, and encouragement in understanding life as cyclical, not linear. A secular mystic, May forms a guiding philosophy for transforming the hardships that arise before the ushering in of a new season.