Cloth: 256 pages
Publisher: Basic Books
The Science of When We Laugh and Why
Humor, like pornography, is famously difficult to define. We know it when we see it, but is there a way to figure out what we really find funny—and why?
In this fascinating investigation into the science of humor and laughter, cognitive neuroscientist Scott Weems uncovers what’s happening in our heads when we giggle, guffaw, or double over with laughter. While we typically think of humor in terms of jokes or comic timing, in Ha! Weems proposes a provocative new model. Humor arises from inner conflict in the brain, he argues, and is part of a larger desire to comprehend a complex world. Showing that the delight that comes with “getting” a punchline is closely related to the joy that accompanies the insight to solve a difficult problem, Weems explores why surprise is such an important element in humor, why computers are terrible at recognizing what’s funny, and why it takes so long for a tragedy to become acceptable comedic fodder. From the role of insult jokes to the benefit of laughing for our immune system, Ha! reveals why humor is so idiosyncratic, and why how-to books alone will never help us become funnier people.
Packed with the latest research, illuminating anecdotes, and even a few jokes, Ha! lifts the curtain on this most human of qualities. From the origins of humor in our brains to its life on the standup comedy circuit, this book offers a delightful tour of why humor is so important to our daily lives.
Listen to Scott Weems on CBC's Day 6 cracking the code of comedy with Brent Bambury and stand-up comic Andy Kindler! Listen here
Scott Weems received a PhD in cognitive neuroscience from UCLA, and an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. Previously a research scientist at the University of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language, he lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Hardcover: 72 pages
Publisher: Egmont UK Limited
You're alone, in a strange new world, full of hidden dangers. With just your bare hands to mine with, you only have minutes to find food and shelter before darkness falls and the monsters come looking for you ...
This annual celebrates the limitless possibilities of Minecraft. Packed with step-by-step instructions for exciting builds and projects, tips from the experts, including the game's creator Notch himself, cool things to make, games to test your brain power and codes to unravel, it's everything Minecraft fans have been waiting for.
Minecraft The Beginner's Handbook
The Minecraft Beginner's Handbook might just save your life. Inside you'll find expert tips on how to make a home for yourself, find and gather resources, and craft armour and weapons to protect yourself from the terrifying creatures that come out at night.
Includes exclusive tips from game creator Notch, and first-hand accounts from well-known Minecraft experts that will give you the knowledge you need to survive and make it to the next level.
Minecraft: The Beginner's Handbook
Cloth: 554 pages
Publisher: Grove Press/Atlantic Monthly Press
New York Times best-selling author Jim Harrison is one of America’s most beloved writers, and of all his creations, Brown Dog, a bawdy, reckless, down-on-his-luck Michigan Indian, has earned cult status with readers in the more than two decades since his first appearance. For the first time, this book gathers together all the Brown Dog novellas, including one that has never been published—the ideal introduction (or reintroduction) to Harrison’s irresistible everyman.
In these novellas, B.D. rescues the preserved body of an Indian from Lake Superior’s cold waters; overindulges in food, drink, and women while just scraping by in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; wanders Los Angeles in search of an ersatz Native activist who stole his bearskin; adopts two Native children; and flees the authorities, then returns across the Canadian border aboard an Indian rock band’s tour bus. The collection culminates with “He Dog,” never before published, which finds B.D. marginally employed and still looking for love (or sometimes just a few beers and a roll in the hay) as he goes on a road trip from Michigan to Montana and back, in search of an answer to the riddle of family and, perhaps, a chance at redemption.
Brown Dog underscores Harrison’s place as one of America’s most irrepressible writers, and one of our finest practitioners of the novella form.
Praise for Brown Dog
“[An] essential collection . . . Brown Dog [is] a pure Harrison creation and a glorious character who will make readers howl with delight. . . . This boozy, backwoods, tree-cutting, snow-shoveling part–Native American from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wins over his audience with a bawdy, sometimes thoughtful tone. . . . Often moving, frequently funny, these 500 pages offer the best way to get acquainted (or reacquainted) with one of literature’s great characters.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Pity poor Brown Dog, the Everyman of the North Woods, whose luck would be nonexistent were it not bad. Still, Brown Dog’s countenance is as cheerful as Don Quixote’s was woeful. Harrison’s comic hero—and in some ways alter ego—is as quixotic as they come, depending on kind winds to blow him a little money, some booze and a bit of righteous loving. . . . [Brown Dog] is just right. . . . Rollicking, expertly observed, beautifully written. Any new book by Harrison is cause for joy, and having all the Brown Dog stories in one place is no exception.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Jim Harrison is . . . the literary equivalent of Keith Richards. . . . The wise but profligate Brown Dog is a signature Harrison character in much the same way that Richards’s open-tuned chords define the Stones. . . . He is one of the great characters in American literature—as American as Twain’s Huck Finn or Hemingway’s Nick Adams.” —Shelf Awareness
Jim Harrison was born in 1937, in Grayling, Michigan. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, Sports Illustrated, Playboy, and The New York Times. Harrison is also the author of over thirty books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, including seven volumes of novellas.
The River Swimmer
Cloth: 32 pages
Publisher: Running Press
As a summer evening descends, three young children spot a shadow outside. When they chase it through their backyard, more shadows begin to appear, and the children find that they are always just out of reach. But when it is time to go to bed, the children dream of a new day filled with new possibilities.
Elly MacKay’s magical picture book showcases her luminous paper-cut illustrations and simple lyrical text. The idea that hopes and dreams keep us moving forward, and that one must be bold in order to go after them, are brought to life in this timeless story.
Check out the video review at The Small Picture by Mark Medley for The National Post: click here
Praise for If You Hold a Seed:
"Using minimal text, MacKay conveys the wonder that unfolds from the simple act of planting a seed along with a dream . . . exquisite papercraft illustrations . . . bring her text to life."
–Canadian Children’s Book News
“Beautifully illustrated . . . Young readers will appreciate the radiance of the seasons through MacKay's layered images." –Canadian Family
“destined to become a classic.” –Quill and Quire, starred review
“Glowing paper dioramas are the heart and soul of MacKay’s debut, a quiet, reader-directed contemplation of a seed’s slow growth into a tree"–Publishers Weekly
Elly MacKay is the author and illustrator of If You Hold a Seed. She attended Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and now her artwork is sold around the world, including through her Etsy.com shop, Theater Clouds. She lives in Owen Sound, ON. To learn more about Elly, visit her online at ellymackay.com, on facebook.com/theaterclouds, and Twitter @theaterclouds.
If You Hold a Seed
Paper over board: 280 pages
Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books
Ballad is one of the New York Times Best Illustrated Books of 2013!
Ballad is a story, and like all great stories it deepens with each retelling. The story builds over seven sequences. The first has three images: school, path, home. The next gives us: school, street, path, forest, home. The following five sequences take up this story, but with new words and images that nearly double the previous sequence. Here a child takes in her surroundings as she returns home form school, and by telling stories about what she sees, she makes her world bigger and more complex. This story is as old as the world. It happens every day.
"As a story, it's challenging, mysterious, and even obscure. As an object and a piece of bookmaking, it's a work of art." --Publishers Weekly Starred Review!
"This continuously evolving story traces a child's perception of his surroundings as he walks home from school."
"All throughout, we're invited to reimagine the narrative as we absorb the growing complexity of the world - a beautiful allegory for our walk through life itself."
"Ballad...is an absolute treasure in its entirety, the kind that sparkles with new dimensions of light with each excavation."
Read the full review and find more pictures at Brain Pickings.
Born in France in 1966, Blexbolex entered art school with the intention of becoming a painter, but left having discovered his talents as a silk-screen artist. He works both as an illustrator and a comic book artist. His work, which is inspired by vintage design, mixes old printing methods with new interpretations and techniques. An illustrator of graphic genius, he received the prestigious Golden Letter Award in 2009 for best book design throughout the world.
Trade Paper: 288 pages
Publisher: Anvil Press Publishers
Nate’s nervous mother chews gum at warp speed and has a bob that resembles Darth Vader’s helmet. His icy father dabbles part-time in the death trade at a funeral home after working for a decade in the insurance racket. His older sister Holly is always lurking in the shadows or away at school. Nate, a creative, messy, and anxious teen, has chosen Randy Savage as his hero. As he finishes high school, the world to which Savage belongs is quickly waning in popularity, and Nate begins to see the wrestler’s downfall mirrored in his own life. But not until the family dismantles for good in 1994 does Nate’s life truly begin to fracture.
Savage 1986-2011 chronicles the middle-class implosion of Nate’s nuclear family, bracketed by July 1986 — when he first saw Randy Savage in person — and the wrestler’s sudden death in May 2011. When Savage dies, Nate is freed from beliefs — once a source of beauty and escape — that had come to constrict him, fusing him to a moribund past.
The novel is about the blurred lines between child and adult roles and the ever-changing landscape of interior heroism. Whether dealing with a family’s economic turbulence, the scarring effects of teenage love, or creating a new family order, Moore revisits, remasters, and repackages a twenty-five year family odyssey with guts, honesty, and love.
Advanced Praise for Savage 1986-2011
This is Running Backwards with Scissors in Leaside. Nathaniel G. Moore’s emotional atomic drops and body slams in Savage (1986-2011) put the nuke in nuclear family. Moore writes in Technicolor™ — he’s a poet of fractured reality, minstrel of meltdown, clown prince of sad suburban absurdity.”
–Zsuzsi Gartner, author of Better Living Through Plastic Explosives
Nathaniel G. Moore is the author of five books, including Wrong Bar, nominated for the 2010 ReLit Award for best novel and Let’s Pretend We Never Met, which Vancouver’s Georgia Straight called “breathtaking.” His fiction has appeared in subTerrain, Joyland, Taddle Creek, and Verbicide magazine. He has also written for Bravo! Television in the short film Sahara Sahara. Nathaniel is a frequent contributor to Open Book: Toronto, The Globe & Mail and This magazine. Moore lives in Toronto.
Trade Paper: 384 pages
Publisher: Grove Press/Atlantic Monthly Press
An Untamed State
“An Untamed State is breathless, artful, disturbing and original. I won’t ever forget it.” —Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings
Roxane Gay is a powerful new literary voice whose short stories and essays have earned her an enthusiastic audience. Flavorwire has already dubbed her one of 25 Women Poised to Lead the Culture, and An Untamed State one of their 15 Most Anticipated Books of 2014. In this debut novel, she delivers a powerful, unflinching story of a Haitian American woman kidnapped for ransom, the privilege that made her a target, and the strength she must draw on to survive.
Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port-au-Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As her father’s standoff with the kidnappers stretches out into days, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.
An Untamed State is a novel of wealth in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.
Praise for An Untamed State
“A harrowing and emotionally cleareyed vision of one woman’s ordeal during and after her kidnapping in Haiti. . . remarkable . . . A cutting and resonant debut.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A searing portrait of a politically and economically divided Haiti . . . Deeply felt . . . Disturbing and frighteningly resonant.” —Publishers Weekly
“A fairy tale . . . its complex and fragile moral arrived at through great pain and high cost. . . . Perhaps Haiti, too, is a beautiful princess, well-versed in the vagaries of men, still searching for a happily ever after.” —Holly Bass, The New York Times Book Review
“[A] superbly written and excoriating first tale of terror and suspense. . . . Gay is a daring and transfixing storyteller, depicting with valor and deep intent hellishly intrusive violence, shocking betrayal, and psychological devastation, the poison fruits of prejudice, injustice, greed, and desperation. Ferocious, gripping, and unforgettable.” —Booklist (starred review)
Roxane Gay's writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2012, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, The New York Times Book Review, The Rumpus, Salon, and many others. Her first book, Ayiti, was a collection of poetry and short stories. She is the coeditor of PANK and essays editor for The Rumpus.
Trade Paper : 168 pages
Lucky Peach Issue 11
Issue 11 is the ALL YOU CAN EAT issue.
We eat and eat and eat some more: at a country club in Boca Raton, at a series of wedding feasts in the Republic of Georgia, in the parking lot outside of the Iron Bowl. We attempt to beat the buffet, see how people stuff themselves at sex parties, hang out with Yu Bo, the best Chinese chef you’ve never heard of (“All Yu Can Eat”), and learn about ruminant digestion (“All Ewe Can Eat”). Gabrielle Hamilton demonstrates the many ways to enjoy the celery languishing in our crispers; novelist Padgett Powell shoots (then stews) the ubiquitous squirrel. Plus, we take stock of what hunger looks like around the world and of what's for dinner at a prison in Westville, Indiana. Too much? That’s the point.
Lucky Peach is a quarterly journal of food and writing. Each issue focuses on a single theme, and explores that theme through essays, art, photography, and recipes.
Cloth: 132 pages
Publisher: Tin House
Heart of Darkness
An Illustrated Novel
Following his epic Moby Dick in Pictures, artist Matt Kish has set himself upon an equally impressive, and no less harrowing, task: illustrating each page of Joseph Conrad’s masterpiece, Heart of Darkness. Kish’s rich, imaginative drawings and paintings mirror Conrad’s original text and illuminate Marlow’s journey into the heart of the Congo, and into the depths of the human soul. Heart of Darkness is a text ripe for analysis and argument, formally and thematically; it explores matters of imperialism, racism, gender, and the duality of human nature. Kish’s illustrations add another layer, and another voice in the conversation. His visual interpretation of Heart of Darkness is not just essential for fans and students of Conrad; it's a work of art all its own.
Kish’s introduction lends context to his approach, details his relationship and struggle with Conrad’s work, and illuminates his own creative process. An index in the rear of the book catalogs the sentences and phrases that inspired each of the one hundred original pieces of art.
"The brilliant mind behind Moby Dick in Pictures is back to illustrate Joseph Conrad’s classic."—Flavorwire
Matt Kish was born in 1969 and lives in the middle of Ohio. After stints as a cafeteria cook, a hospital registrar, a bookstore manager, and an English teacher, he ended up as a librarian. He draws as often as he can, often with whatever he can find. He has tried his hand at 35mm black-and-white photography (with real film and real chemicals), making comics and zines, a bit of collage, and lots of pen and ink.
Moby-Dick In Pictures
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Running Press
Preserving by the Pint
Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces from the author of Food in Jars
Preserving by the Pint contains roughly 100 recipes divided by season: pestos, fruit spreads, condiments, syrups, whole fruits, and more, done on a small scale.
Marisa McClellan was an adult in a high-rise in Philadelphia when she rediscovered canning, and found herself under the preserving spell. She grew accustomed to working in large batches since most “vintage” recipes are written to feed a large family, or to use up a farm-size crop, but increasingly, found that smaller batches suited her life better. Working with a quart, a pound, a pint, or a bunch of produce, not a bushel, allows for dabbling in preserving without committing a whole shelf to storing a single type of jam.
Preserving by the Pint is meant to be a guide for saving smaller batches from farmer’s markets and produce stands—preserving tricks for stopping time in a jar. McClellan’s recipes offer tastes of unusual preserves like Blueberry Maple Jam, Mustardy Rhubarb Chutney, Sorrel Pesto, and Zucchini Bread and Butter Pickles. Organized seasonally, these pestos, sauces, mostardas, chutneys, butters, jams, jellies, and pickles are speedy, too: some take under an hour, leaving you more time to plan your next batch.
Marisa McClellan is a full-time writer, teacher, and blogger at Food in Jars (three times nominated by Saveur magazine for a Best Food Blog award, and winner of Best of Philly from Philadelphia Magazine). Her writing appears on The Food Network blog, Saveur.com, and Food52.com. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband. Visit her at foodinjars.com.
Cloth: 64 pages
Publisher: Insight Editions
Homer Simpson’s Little Book of Laziness
Vault of Simpsonology
Few men have reached the very pinnacle of apathy quite like Homer Simpson. His epic inertia is an example to us all. Now, for the first time, Homer reveals the secrets behind his extraordinary ability to get absolutely nothing done. From tips on how to avoid working at work to Homer's suitably slapdash design for his "Lazy House of the Future," this ode to the joys of sloth shows a true American idle at his lazy best. Also covering Homer's lackadaisical take on classic art, his indispensable tips on lethargic eating, housework avoidance, and many more sluggish subjects, Homer Simpson's Little Book of Laziness is a must-read for ne'er-do-wells everywhere. Packed with inserts and special features, such as an eight-page pullout Sloth Man comic and a foldout "Anatomy of a Layabout" feature focusing on fellow lazybones Barney Gumble, Homer Simpson's Little Book of Laziness is absolutely bursting with inactivity. The premier installment of the Vault of Simpsonology collection, look out for more great titles in the series coming soon.
Matt Groening is the creator of the longest-running comedy in television history, The Simpsons. It exploded into a cultural phenomenon in 1990 and has remained one of the most groundbreaking and innovative entertainment franchises, recognizable throughout the world. He followed it with his creation of the hit sci-fi series Futurama, currently one of the top-rated shows on Comedy Central. As a cartoonist, Groening began his “Life in Hell” weekly comic strip series in the 1980s, which he concluded in 2012. He lives in Southern California.