This question, posed in a review by the UK’s Times, isn’t entirely the one that Erik Butler is trying to answer in his new book, The Rise of the Vampire (though it might be one we all ask ourselves—no offense, Twihards). But no one can deny that we have been surrounded by bloodsucking demons for the past five years, and Butler is out to explain why (he does have some things to say about Twilight, too).
As the Times writes, “Just to say the word ‘vampire’ now is to make some readers shudder, and not for the right reasons. But reading a new study—Erik Butler’s The Rise of the Vampire—we realise that was is interesting isn’t just the vampires themselves but why they appear in the first place.”
Popmatters.com continues the praise. “The breadth of Butler’s sources is a particular strength throughout the book… . The vampire is held up as a mirror to the human psyche, representing not only the unknown in others but also that which is unknowable in ourselves. It is for this reason that vampires have been such an enduring construct, and one which we have felt compelled to flesh out and adorn.”
From the sea to the sky, the color blue is quite literally (and figuratively) all around us. Carol Mavor reflects on the color in her new book, Blue Mythologies, in which she “draws upon many artists and writers” in her exploration of all things blue. Publishers Weekly calls out its beautiful illustrations, adding, “This fine, multidisciplinary work explores the color’s aesthetic and emotional resonances from a fresh perspective.”
Ever wondered what some of the world’s foremost television personalities have said about breakfast?
"And who is the man who loves Humperdinck’s lumpy pumpernickel crumpets beyond all things?”—Scooter (as Porthos), The Muppets
"Mmmm, forbidden donut."—Homer Simpson, The Simpsons
"Mmmm, noodle soup."—Joey Tribbiani, Friends
"Okay, this cereal has lost all its molecular integrity. I now have a bowl of shredded wheat paste."—Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory
"I’m never gonna get used to the 31st century. Caffeinated bacon? Baconated grapefruit? ADMIRAL Crunch?”—Fry, Futurama
Okay, we jest a bit. But what all these foods has in common is that somewhere out there, they are eaten for breakfast (well, maybe not caffeinated bacon, but how amazing would that be?). In The Breakfast Book, Andrew Dalby tells the entire story of our morning meal, following the toast crumbs of its evolution throughout history—and, as Publishers Weekly writes in their review, it “presents a wonderful sampling of breakfasting around the world today, such as how they breakfast on churros in Spain or anise-flavored ground cereal in Libya… . Interesting details abound.”
“The author moves through history in a crablike fashion — from ancient and medieval stories to recent knowledge of the earth’s structure, but never through the shortest possible route of compare-and-contrast exposition. Alongside the fictional or legendary figures, more and more historical figures appear as the chapters proceed, bringing their speculations on stage.”
If you’re planning to celebrate Scotland’s national bard tomorrow eve, then you’ll have to do it without traditional haggis—sheep’s lung has been banned in the US since 1971. The BBC has some ideas of what Americans can do instead, but apparently none of these create the same texture (“‘It lacks the lightness the lungs help create.’”).
Even without the USDA ban, a lot of Americans probably aren’t used to eating lungs, which fall under the catch-all umbrella of offal—an animal’s glands, essential organs, skin, muscle, guts, and every unmentionable in between. Yum, right? But as Nina Edward explains in the upcoming Offal: A Global History, many of these dishes are given pretty names to veil their origins (nice try, “sweetbreads”). And offal seems to be becoming more and more trendy at American restaurants.
If you want to know more about this offal subject, snag a copy Edward’s book!
You didn’t think we’d leave you without a picture of haggis, did you? Feast your eyes on Haggis, Neeps and Tatties!
Hey kids, it’s National Pie Day! (Not to be confused with National Pi Day, which is March 14). Can we celebrate the fact that we live in a world with not one, but TWO days dedicated to the consumption of pie?
And if you haven’t yet, you should take some time out today to dive into Janet Clarkson’s Pie: A Global History. Learn some things, kiddies. It’s good for the soul. As is pie.
And you still have time to get your Edible six-pack for that special cocktail-and-wine lover in your life! You can get Champagne, Gin, Rum, Whiskey, Vodka, and Cocktails at 25% off until 12/31. These short, colorful histories will make the perfect holiday gift!
Be sure you’re keeping your bar AND your bookshelf stocked this holiday season! Reaktion Books is offering a “six-pack” of titles from the Edible series: Champagne, Cocktails, Gin, Rum, Vodka, andWhiskey.
Got big plans for tonight? Trick or treating? A party? Staying in and watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown while eating Halloween candy?
Whatever you’re up to, bone up on your Halloween knowledge before you go with an assist from horror fiction writer Lisa Morton, author of Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween. As the Library Journal writes, “Morton is an accomplished horror short story writer, and her ability to draw readers in quickly and keep them turning the pages shines through in her nonfiction as well. Lavishly illustrated, this solidly researched and concise work is fun to read and a great choice for readers who want to know why we seek out the scary each October.”
You can also see what Mania.com has to say: “Simply the best book about Halloween I have ever read and if you are a fan of the holiday like I am, this is a must add to your library!”
Want more Halloween? Head over to the Monster Librarian to check out Morton’s recommendations for ten classics of spookdom.
Be safe and have fun!
You know how, when you move to a new place and began really interacting with people who grew up elsewhere, you find out things that you always thought were completely normal are actually TOTALLY WEIRD?
Well, one of your trusty Cyptonym writers grew up in Iowa, and she assumed that it was completely normal to trick or treat on October 30, Beggars’ Night. Going out on the actual day of Halloween? Unheard of. But apparently, it’s pretty much just Iowa and a couple other states. That’s okay, though—she thinks the rest of y’all are strange.
This is the sort of tidbit about Halloween you might find in Lisa Morton’s Trick or Treat. One of the world’s leading authorities on this sugar-filled holiday, Morton fills her book with bite-sized treats alongside the fascinating history of Halloween. R. L. Stine would be proud!
It’s NATIONAL VODKA DAY, everyone!
Grab a bloody mary (it’s morning, after all—save the martinis for later) and celebrate. And try every different flavor! Let us know how that salmon one goes…
Don’t know anything about vodka? Need some drink recipes? We’ve got you covered! Patricia Herlihy’s Vodka: A Global History is at your service.
Side note: It is also National Taco Day. Tacos and vodka may or may not go together—that depends on your taste buds, or possibly your sense of adventure. And we don’t have a book on tacos (yet). But we like tacos, so we wanted to pass along this information. We’re awesome like that.