"You must be afraid, my son. That's how you become an honest citizen . . ."1) THE SPY WHO LOVED ME . . . Much like the Soviet Union's Cold War show trials, the NSA Chief was trotted out before a senate committee and assured the American people that they have stopped over one gazillion terrorist plots by spying on us. Of course, no one in the intelligence community would ever misuse or abuse the information that they receive through these methods. Apparently, many of my fellow Americans are excited about this utopian future and consequently, sales for George Orwell's 1984 (9780451524935) 9.99 have skyrocketed. Along the same lines, George Packer's The Unwinding: The Inner History of the New America (9780374102418) 27.00 seems to have benefited from the NSA publicity. His book deals more with what has happened to the social and economic compact between the American people and our government over the past 30 years, but one could make the argument that the NSA surveillance is yet another example of a violation of that trust. I'm glad someone is trying to figure out what the heck has happened to our country in the last few decades, but other than the rich getting richer at the expense of the rest of us, I'm not sure there are any easy answers. Hey, did you see that Kim Karadashian and Kanye had their baby?
3) GOLDFINGER . . . These days, like a latter day King Midas, anything Neil Gaiman touches turns to gold. Last night, I watched a Dr. Who episode from last season that was written by Mr. Gaiman, and I have to admit that it was one of the better episodes I've seen. (I still think the Vincent Van Gogh episode is the best one ever, but I'll save that for another time.) Now, Mr. Gaiman has released his first adult title in over eight years, The Ocean at the End of the Lane (9780062255655) 25.99 and the book critics are gushing: "[E]qual parts sweet, sad, and spooky . . . Poignant and heartbreaking, eloquent and frightening . . . Gorgeously written." Yup, that sounds like a lot like Neil Gaiman . . .
On this day in Byzantine History (June 18)
Leo III the Isaurian died of dropsy on June 18, 741 AD.
Leo is best known as an iconoclast, in which the worship of images was forbidden.
Odds & Sods
Our friends at History Press are on quite a roll. We have just received Lisa Rose Starner's Grand Rapids Food: A Culinary Revolution (9781609497316) 19.99. It is less of a cookbook, and more of a history of food in the Grand Rapids area. Next month we're anticipating Nicole Bray's Ghosts of Grand Rapids (9781626192058) 19.99 to sell like crazy on the western side of the state, too. Boo Appetit!
Congrats go out to Susan Nussbaum's Good Kings Bad Kings (9781616202637) 23.95, which has been awarded the coveted PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction . . .