What could be better than a new book? Well, a few things:
1. A new book signed by the author, sent by a former student.
I don't know how long this lovely signed copy of Ann Patchett's Bel Canto has been languishing in the campus mailroom, but when I picked it up this morning, it instantly put a smile on my face. The book is great and I'll enjoy re-reading it, but the kind note from my former student is even more valuable, reminding me that the work we do here radiates out in unexpected ways, filling distant niches of the world with intelligent and creative alumni.
2. A long-awaited anthology containing an essay I wrote.
The Palgrave Handbook of the Southern Gothic is a weighty brick of a hardback in which my little contribution ("Florida Gothic: Shadows in the Sunshine State") rubs shoulders with essays written by scholars I admire. It's comforting to see an item my vita lists as "forthcoming" transformed into this solid doorstop of book.
3. A lighthearted, funny, and totally free book.
Well, it's not free anymore, but last week The Case of the Defunct Adjunct by Frankie Bow was available for free download on Kindle, and I've been enjoying it ever since. In this frothy little tale of murder and academic shenanigans, I found something familiar on every page, even though it's set in Hawaii, about as far from Appalachian Ohio as it's possible to get without leaving the country.
My favorite scene so far: our hero, Molly, goes shopping for bras at a discount store, where the clerk assisting her is one of her (male) students, who has very firm opinions about what sort of bra she ought to be wearing. How many of us want lingerie advice from our students? (You'll have to read it to see how it turns out.)
With that kind of bumper crop of books, who could be unhappy?