New Year’s Eve makes some notable appearances in literature. It’s hard to miss the symbolism of this holiday, a perfect literary device for either a grand opening or a dramatic finish. As we get ready to bring our own year to a close, let’s look at a few ways the holiday has made a memorable appearance in fiction.

For a creepy New Year’s, how about the party in Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin? Those eccentric neighbors, the Castavets, host a celebration and declare it “Year One.” Rosemary doesn’t know what that means, but readers are getting the idea that it’s something very, very bad. She doesn’t know she’s carrying the son of Satan, but others do….continued

Our newsletter subscribers (and drop-in customers who’ve seen the titles posted in the store) know that we recently published our Best of 2014 lists. Another year, another exercise mixing joy and frustration. The joy, of course, stems from being able to introduce you to a double handful of our favorite books; the frustration comes from having to cross out the names of so many deserving writers. But unlike Santa, we don’t keep track of Naughty and Nice. While some authors get the gift of appearing on our official Best of lists, the others don’t get coal in their stockings. Instead, a bunch of them get to appear here, on our traditional survey of the Ones That Almost Made It....continued

Once finding the perfect gifts are checked off your list, the big holiday activities left to do are in the kitchen. If you have a sweet tooth even half as bad as mine, that means it’s time for some serious baking. 2014 was a good year for cookbooks, especially when dessert is the task at hand. 

Whether you’re hosting a big family gathering, a holiday work party, or just eating Chinese food and going to the movies this month, I guarantee you can make it a memorable December with just one of the recipes from these master chefs. I warn you though, if you’re on a diet the scrumptious pictures will make you crazy....continued

We don’t often encourage you to watch something rather than read, but we’re doing it now. In the end, of course, the thing we want you to watch is going to encourage you to read. And encourage you to encourage others to do the same. Let’s let Roger tell you about it:

A natural, isn’t he? He should be—he’s been hawking books for more than thirty years, after all ... continued

The pressures of giving the perfect gift are in full force now, and we’re cheering you on. With limited time on the clock, we often see people grab something, anything, just to cross off one more thing on the list. If you want to put some extra thought into your gifts but haven’t enlisted our in-store help yet (and we are here and at the ready), maybe a quick glance at some of our best reading lists from 2014 will help. 

Our obvious gift-giving lists came out this week; those general but oh-so-surefire favorites of the year. If you didn’t see our December newsletter, click here to browse our best of fiction, nonfiction, children’s, and teens. It’s also very worth your while to browse our extensive gift selection. But if it’s something quirkier or more specific you desire, spend a few minutes with some of our suggestions from the past year....continued

November means the same old end of the year lists are due. Best of the year, holiday gifts, and so on. We’ll have those for you in the next few weeks, not to worry. There will be plenty of opportunities before the end of 2014 to reminisce on the reading highlights that have stuck with us. But for a brief moment before Thanksgiving hits, let’s take a glimpse forward into the future instead of looking back. 

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton arrives in the store on January 6th, but it’s already causing a major rumble in the publishing world. In the same way that the 2008 debut novel The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski gained a following long before its publication, Scotton’s freshman effort is already the talk of insiders in the publishing industry. Like Wroblewski, Scotton worked on his novel for over a decade while working in a completely different field, as a technology executive. An unlikely author, past the age of young writers the entertainment world likes to hype, Scotton had no platform or experience navigating the publishing industry.

What’s remarkable is how his book became a top priority for the marketing and publicity team at Grand Central Publishing....continued

I took a trip toward the end of this past summer and forgot to bring my razor. I could have easily bought a replacement, but it hardly seemed worth doing at the time. Thus was my August Vacation Beard born. Hey, free souvenir, right?

I kept the beard when I got home without thinking about it very much. For me, inertia was justification enough, but other people seemed to need a reason for the change in my appearance. How could I go from shaving regularly to not shaving regularly? So I had to say something.

When September rolled around, I told people I was sporting a Playoff Rally Beard. It almost worked, too. The Mariners were in the race until the very last day of the season, which hasn’t happened for over a decade. That excuse kept me going for another thirty days, and then I coasted. October became Halloween Beard month. “I’m going to be a lumberjack,” I said. I put on a flannel shirt and jeans–done.

But then I hit a wall. After the trick-or-treating was over, would I have to break out the Barbasol? Casting about for a new rationale, I did what I always do when I’m looking for answers and turned to the bookshelf. Lo and behold, I found my cause. November’s is the Beard of Book Promotion, with three titles in particular to support....continued

Clothing is important enough for everyone (except for a handful of ecdysiasts) to wear every single day of their lives, but it’s not something that’s usually considered worth discussing. Sure, friends can chat about it while they shop, and maybe an author can dwell on the sumptuous costumes of her characters if she’s writing historical romance, but asking “What are you wearing?” is not a fit topic for “serious” conversation or “serious” writing.

That question that can sound altogether mundane or totally creepy, depending on the circumstances. (Not as creepy to my ears as the one that gets asked on red carpets,”Who are you wearing?” but still.) A subject that’s somehow too boring and too erotically fraught at the same time? How is that possible? Oh right, because sexism. Clothes are a woman thing, so even though they’re almost as ubiquitous as oxygen, they’re pushed to the periphery.

Not always, though. There are a couple of recent books that treat clothes with respect without forgetting to have fun while they do it....continued

It’s been raining constantly here; enough to put our power out for nearly two days. I crawled under the covers when the sun went down and used the early bedtime to point a flashlight at two meaty new novels. The darkness put me in the mood for something morally complex, and with both Ian McEwan’s and Sarah Waters’ new books, that’s exactly what I found. 

McEwan is a writer I particularly admire for the depths of his characters. His new book, The Children Act, is about a family court judge facing both a marital crisis and the toughest case of her career.

Jack, Fiona Maye’s husband of more than thirty years, has asked her permission to embark on an affair. She refuses and sends him packing, presumably into the arms of his lover. Turning her attention to her work, she takes on the case of Adam Henry, a 17-year-old Jehovah’s Witness and leukemia patient whose family adamantly refuses to let him receive a blood transfusion that will save his life. She visits Adam in his hospital bed and discovers they have a strong connection. Despite his determination to die for his faith, she rules against the family and forces him to have the transfusion....Continued

I once dressed for a masquerade party as a character from Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. Tyrone Slothrop is—well, I’m not sure if he’s the protagonist, a linchpin, a point of focus, or what. In any case, he’s an army lieutenant deployed in Europe during World War II, and at various points in the novel he tries to impress some girls with the world’s most garish shirt, plays the legendary 10th-century German swine-hero Plechazunga in a folk festival, and passes himself off as the comic book superhero Rocketman. These are among the less bizarre things that happen to him, but you have to start somewhere.

So there I was, in military fatigues and a Hawaiian shirt, wearing a cape bearing a large letter “R,” with a hornless Viking helmet on my head and a rubber pig nose strapped to my face ... continued

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