December 15, 2011

Melville House Staff Picks for the Holidays





It was one of the best years ever in the history of Melville House, with perhaps the widest variety of titles we’ve ever done. So we asked our staff to help you winnow through them by telling us their favorite gift ideas for the season. All are available now until Friday morning, December 16th, after which we’re closed for the holiday.


The First 5000 Years

David Graeber

It’s a thrill to be able to recommend a book that might actually change the world, by a guy being hailed as the “anti-leader” of the Occupy Wall Street movement (at least, according to this Businessweek cover story about him). An engaging narrative history, as well as an absorbing “big idea” book, this is also a great gift because — beyond the fact that it bears on the subject behind just about every headline around the world these days — it’s one of the few books out there that points to new possibilities for our future.
Kelly Burdick, executive editor





You asked for it and here it is — the incredibly popular, and stylish, Bartleby Bag is now a tee-shirt! It’s perfect for the literary occupier of libraries, streets, offices and just about anywhere. Keep an eye out for Melville House staffers rocking these – since they came into the office we’ve all been wearing these incredibly comfortable tees as much as possible. Available in all sizes.
—Charles Day, Director of Marketing



Stéphane Reynaud

I love this beautiful, fun cookbook all about roasts and roasting, French-style. It’s perfect for the holidays because a roast is something you can make that allows you time to actually hang out with your dinner party. There’s everything from the classic Grandma’s Sunday Roast to easy, elegant lamb and pork dishes to surprisingly simple and delicious fish roasts. It’s French comfort food—easy to make, hard to mess up, and amazing to eat!
Valerie Merians, publisher



Gianni Rodari

I missed out on reading Gianni Rodari’s novels as a child, which is why I’m giving this book to my nieces and nephews this month, so they can experience the wonderful world of Lamberto. As one of Italy’s most beloved children’s writers, Rodari was able to deftly combine elements of fantasy and political intrigue in this colorful novel about death, greed, and media spectacles. It’s a book for all ages, but an appreciation of the absurd is key.
— Kathleen Massara, publicist


Joseph Conrad

If like me you find yourself feeling apprehensive and stunned at the end of this most dramatic of years, Conrad’s novella The Duel will provide grist for your thoughts. It’s an account of the psychology of war that’s at once witty and devastating, and every bit as complex and courageous as you’d expect from Conrad. And for further gift ideas, check out the rest of our novella series, or even, well — a complete set of novellas is the perfect gift for yourself or a bookish friend. Short enough to devour in an afternoon, with enough variety in the series to take you across the globe and throughout history during your holiday.
Ellie Robins, editor



Andrey Kurkov

I find describing Kurkov’s novel something of a delightful challenge. The literal explanation of the novel, as post-Soviet crime fiction set in the depressed and thoroughly corrupt city of Kiev starring a writer of obituaries and his adopted penguin Misha, often inspires more questions than answers. Does the penguin talk? Does Misha help solve crimes? Is it a proper mystery? Does the penguin have a scarf and adorable little hat? No, is the answer, and that’s what makes it my favorite of this year’s Melville International Crime titles.
—Paul Oliver, marketing manager



Georges Simenon

Why was this book out of print for 40 years? An ordinary man is forced by extraordinary circumstances to a terrifying decision. If you have ever wondered how you will act when your time comes — this book will give you plenty to think about. The Train is one of two rescued works by the master of psychological suspense, Georges Simenon, in Melville House’s new Neversink Library, devoted to overlooked works of enduring interest, deserving renewed attention.
—Dan O’Connor, managing editor



Lars Iyer

Have you and a dear friend ever stayed up all night laughing, drinking gin, and arguing about art, philosophy, and the meaning of life? If yes, then Spurious is the perfect novel for you… or your friend. It’s maybe the best book ever written about the follies and joys of the life-of-the-mind. But don’t take my word for it: read the 100+ adoring reviews written by readers of The Guardian.
—Nathan Ihara, publicist



Lewis Carroll
Illustrated by

Mahendra Singh

As an art director, it’s always a thrill when I get to collaborate with talented illustrators, but I’ve never worked with anyone as whimsically meticulous as Mahendra Singh. In his illustrated edition of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, every page is packed with imaginative details and witty allusions to artists and writers of the past. It’s a perfect gift not just for kids but for anyone who’s young at heart
—Christopher King, art director



Christopher Boucher

Maybe the best part of being a publisher is being able to discover new writers and present them to the world. One of the most exciting I’ve discovered in a while is Chris Boucher, who walked up to me at a book show and presented me with his novel How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive — the story of a man whose son is a Volkswagen. Sounds nuts, I know, but it’s a hilarious and moving story of parenthood guaranteed to leave you charmed, and perhaps the most thrillingly adventurous pieces of writing we’ve ever published.
—Dennis Johnson, editor-in-chief