Holiday book catalog 2015

Hi everyone, and welcome to our annual (as of this year) web-based Catalog Showcase and Discount Extravaganza! I should’ve thought of this earlier…saves paper and frees me up from the annual kvetching re catalog choices. Hey, it is what it is. I will say that Florence (p.3) is some seriously heavy eye candy, even if you’re not a student of the Italian Renaissance. And The Food Lab (p. 10) is just what it promises, i.e. the science of what happens when you cook. Surprisingly, almost compulsively readable.

A number of the catalog titles are not currently in stock – just email me at <plebar> if you want to order anything or just check on availability. 2-3 day delivery is the norm on most items.

And now a word from your sponsor: I’ve been cheered up recently by several customers who browsed for quite a while, bought quite a few books, and then told me (again) how nice it was to cruise through shelves containing ‘real’ books. We all know this, right? But it bears repeating none the less – we have the books! (and, with apologies to Arbys, books are meats to a starving reader). We don’t have cybersales, we don’t do coupons or doorbusters, we just have two rich, possibly Corinthian, leather recliners and 10,000 hand-picked volumes you won’t find at Barnes & Noble. On with the show…

Some of the titles I’m blurbing at this “most wonderful time of the year” (in no particular order):

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a hoot of a pop-culture mashup with some serious legal backbone. Authors Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik (journalist and lawyer, respectively) weave interviews with RBG and family, annotated Supreme Court dissents, photographs, poetry and all sorts of whatnot into their narrative bio framework. Bonus: they historicize! Not a full-scale biography by any means, but potentially a great introduction for the teenage crowd. “There is no truth without Ruth!”

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nahisi Coates, has already (IMO) joined Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow on the list of essential must-reads for any dialogue on addressing racism in America. Coates – a senior staff writer at The Atlantic – structures the book as memoir/letter to his teenage son, but he forges his personal history into a passionate, beautifully written indictment of the American Dream. Toni Morrison and Isabel Wilkerson (The Warmth of Other Suns) – in separate reviews – both called him the new James Baldwin; to describe this writing as powerful would be a serious understatement.

A surprise bestseller for us here at the Merriman Bookstore this fall has been The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt’s New World, a bio in which author Andrea Wulf documents  Humboldt’s epic life, discoveries, and travels,and the way it all played out in a 19th-century cultural and scientific context.. Humboldt was apparently a polymath of almost unlimited energy whose prolific writings were read by – and influenced – not just scientists but a huge general audience. Check out this partial list of acknowledged influences: Goethe, Darwin, Whitman, Thoreau, Poe, Jefferson, Emerson, and Simon Bolivar.  Wulf’s writing is wonderful at keeping the whole book lively through the many fascinating digressions required to be a comprehensive ‘Life & Times’ of this most amazing man.

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