Staff Pick

Before it was a field science, “cartography was...an art," says Robert Macfarlane, author of The Old Ways. The specific art he means has to do with story-maps rather than with the later, utilitarian grid-maps, and that art, with its transporting blend of "knowledge and supposition" gets beautiful, full-color homage in The Writer's Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands (University of Chicago, $45). In addition to Macfarlane, this volume, edited by Huw Lewis-Jones, a historian of visual culture, includes the work and commentary of writers and artists ranging from David Mitchell, Philip Pullman, and Joanne Harris to Miraphora Mina, who worked on all the Harry Potter films; Russ NIcholson, a prestidigitator of fantasy art; and Caldecott Medal-laureate Brian Selznick. The twenty-three contributors recount the special journeys maps have taken them on, describing what first drew them to maps and sharing which maps have especially inspired them. With maps Jules Feiffer's 1961 mapping of the route to The Phantom Tollbooth’s Lands Beyond alongside Thoreau's meticulous survey of Walden Pond, the book is both a de facto map of the imagination and a history of cartography, even as it challenges settled definitions of "map" and boundary."

Staff Pick

A devoted opera lover, Claire Tomalin resists dramatizing A Life of My Own (Penguin, $27) though much that she’s experienced—infidelity, her journalist husband’s killing by terrorists in Israel, her daughter’s suicide—are the stuff of opera. Instead, she treats crises and good fortune alike with an even hand, displaying the judiciousness and empathy that have made her such an outstanding biographer of figures like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Though Tomalin wrote poetry from childhood through college and always believed books were an essential “refuge,” she came late to writing her own: her life of Mary Wollstonecraft was published in 1974, when Tomalin was over forty. She prepared for her authorial career with a solid grounding in editing and reviewing;  when she finally got a job in publishing, it was partly due to male interviewers giving her high marks on her looks. Tomalin notes such incidents without attacking or excusing anyone (with the exception of Rupert Murdoch, whose "mix of bullying and bribery" led her to resign as books editor of the Sunday Times in 1986). Throughout her varied professional roles, Tomalin stays firmly grounded in family life; hers is primarily the story of a daughter, wife, and, above all, a mother.

A Life of My Own: A Memoir Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780399562914
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Penguin Press - August 21st, 2018

Staff Pick

If you’ve read even one volume of My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard, you’ve probably wondered what drives the Norwegian writer’s shameless and exhaustive exploration of personal experience. In his slender Inadvertent (Yale $18), part of Yale’s Why I Write series, Knausgaard provides some thought-provoking and unexpected insights. He starts by talking about his love of reading—from comic books to Ursula Le Guin, Paul Celan, Malarmé, and Tolstoy. He reads to enter something unknown, “so that even without moving I was moving away from myself,” and this is also the impulse that drives him to write.  But—“away” from himself?  While delving so deeply inside his experience? How is that possible? In Inadvertent Knausgaard explores his search for meaning, his need to understand an overbearing father, and his humiliation at writing badly, yet continuing to write anyway (he recounts destroying an early manuscript when a poet he admired told him it wasn’t any good). This engaging little book will undoubtedly appeal to avid readers of Knausgaard but it will also introduce newcomers to his work, and will especially fascinate writers who want to understand the craft of one of the most important authors of our time.

Inadvertent (Why I Write) Cover Image
By Karl Ove Knausgaard, Ingvild Burkey (Translated by)
$18.00
ISBN: 9780300221510
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Yale University Press - September 4th, 2018

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