Thistle Bound Press is releasing a new novel today, which is a Tuesday, which is a strange day to announce a new work of art. Movies come out on Thursday nights. New pop music singles usually drop on Friday. But a Tuesday?
Yes, because December 6th is Woolseymas, the holiday we celebrate every year in honor of the case in which the honorable US District Court Judge John Woolsey decided that Ulysses by James Joyce was indeed not obscene and could therefore be sold and distributed in the United States.
Woolseymas is a holiday we invented several years ago, sort of a joke among the three of us. We tried to get some people to take it seriously, and there was even a year when a few small blogs picked up the idea and wished their small readerships a “Happy Woolseymas” and presumably celebrated by reading passages from the notoriously dense (but rewarding, trust us) novel and imbibing the warming beverage of their choice.
But we have decided to release Some Glow Brightly on Woolseymas specifically. Not because it is in any way obscene or difficult to acquire, but because the idea of Woolseymas is symbolic of who we are as a press – a bit silly, mostly made up, and also deeply true.
We would, of course like to have everyone observe Woolseymas by buying and enjoying a copy of our new novel Some Glow Brightly, but we’ll try not to make such a directly crass, commercial, and (dare we say) obscene attempt to take your money. Instead, we’d like to direct your attention to five other books we love and think you should consider buying either for yourself or a loved one in need of a holiday gift (we promise, at least one of these is appropriate for everyone on your list). And we encourage you to celebrate Woolseymas every year by buying and reading great books and remembering not to take that ability for granted.
The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin
Saying this book is similar to George Orwell’s Animal Farm is somewhat understandable since they are both ostensibly concerned with the farm animals as the primary characters, but that is pretty much the extent of similarities. Where Animal Farm is an argument against Stalinism, The Book of the Dun Cow is so much more than a satirical critique. It is a study of life’s ultimate meaning and purpose, both on an individual and societal level. Wangerin is a beautiful storyteller even as he brings us through the often dark and dangerous world of the rooster Chauntecleer, and the ever marooned dog, Mundo Cani.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
If, like me, you spent time in the 80s and 90s and (also like me) were a giant nerd, this is your book. What better setting for a novel could there be but a dystopian future that fetishizes vintage arcade and role playing adventure games? This novel is basically the adventure you always imagined erupting around you as you spent the countless hours of your youth playing Zelda or destroying evil mages in your epic Dungeons and Dragons campaigns.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Here’s a true story – two of the founders of Thistle Bound Press (I won’t say which two, but their names rhyme with Misnomer and Cashby) were once, in the early days of the internet, so enamored with the idea of seeing a new play by Orson Scott Card they’d read about online that they drove six hours to Greensboro, NC, only to discover that it was a play he had written for his children to perform at their church. Reading Ender’s Game may inspire a similar level of affection for Orson Scott Card in you, so be careful.
The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G.K. Chesterton
Easily the greatest novel about the Central European Anarchists Union. OK, I don’t how many of those there are, but I am willing to bet there are none better. I have always loved the combination of mystery, intrigue, suspense, and absurdist humor Chesterton put into this cloak-and-dagger-esque tale. I’ve read this one over and over, and you just might too.
Ulysses (1922 text) by James Joyce
Of course, Ulysses. I read Joyce’s short story collection Dubliners in high school and then labored through A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man my freshman year of college. When I picked up a copy of Ulysses a few years later, I was blown away by the richness of the imagery and the fluidity of the language, but I could barely piece together a narrative thread from the first few chapters. What I could pull out was compelling enough that I returned again and again to the book, each time getting more from it. I finally took a course on Ulysses in grad school and still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of the book – it’s that good. And just in case you start to feel like you’ve gotten all there is to get from Ulysses, Joyce’s final offering, Finnegan’s Wake, will melt your brain.