Fall 2009 catalog picks: Quirk Books

I've been out on the road selling my publishers' fall lists all summer, and I'm feeling like I've got a pretty good handle on what's been going into the midwestern bookstores that I cover. I thought I'd spend a couple weeks looking at the highlights of these catalogs, three by three. (As always, I invite other sales reps to send in their picks from the publishers they represent.)

I'm starting this tour with Quirk Books. Born out of the success of the Worst-Case Scenario series they packaged for Chronicle Books, Quirk has always been known for a combination of cheeky humor, semi-useful reference books, foodie tomes, and a sharp eye on the cross-currents of pop culture. It's no accident that the Quirk web site is to be found at irreference.com.

Sense And Sensibility And Sea Monsters
by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters
Quirk Books | 9781594744426 | $12.95 | Sept 2009

Riding high on this spring's little sensation, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Quirk Books follows it up with the recently announced Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, another Jane Austen mashup. It's such an obvious highlight of the Fall 2009 Quirk catalog that I almost feel like I'm cheating talking about it. But hey, I've been selling the Quirk list all summer, and guess what? It's a highlight. Deal.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was such a great idea that I would have happily paid full price for a blank book with that title and cover. The same goes for what we must now abbreviate SSSM. In some ways, it just doesn't matter what the story is. Nevertheless, a story there is. In Quirk's mashup, the beautiful Dashwood sisters are banished from their longtime home. Instead of finding refuge at a Devonshire cottage, they are almost literally cast ashore on a mysterious island surrounded by murky waters. Will the Dashwood sisters survive the strange happenings and find true love?

The Quirk Classics blend of authentic Austen and supernatural mayhem remains in place, if in a slightly different proportion than was found in PPZ. Early interviews have pegged the balance of Austen to Winters at about 60% to 40%.

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Wine Secrets: Advice from Winemakers, Sommeliers & Connoisseurs
by Marnie Old
Quirk Books | 9781594742613 | $12.95 | Aug 2009

Combining the practical advice and wide-ranging wisdom from forty expert wine-lovers, Wine Secrets is a handsome gift book filled with tips and tricks. Chefs such as Jacques Pepin offer their advice for cooking with wine. Restaurateurs and sommeliers talk about the do's and don't's of ordering wine when you're out and about. Winemakers discuss the constantly expanding world of different varieties.

Our host and author, Marnie Old, is an experienced sommelier, wine educator and author. She maintains a blog on wine. Her previous book, He Said Beer, She Said Wine, co-authored with craft brewer Sam Calagione, is just out in paperback from DK.

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The Sherlock Holmes Handbook: The Methods and Mysteries of the World's Greatest Detective
by Ransom Riggs
Quirk Books | 9781594744297 | $16.95 | Sept 2009

It's looking like a Sherlock Holmes kind of winter - the startlingly different film take on Holmes directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law opens on Christmas Day.  Before that, you'll have the opportunity to learn the methods and insights that made up the ingenius consulting detective of 221B Baker Street.

Inside this beautifully bound book - designed to look like the sort of manual a detective might have in a desk drawer next to their opium and their whiskey - you'll learn how to use deductive reasoning, analyse fingerprints, become a master of disguises, and (since we're talking about Holmes) survive a plunge off a waterfall.

Author Ransom Riggs is a blogger, author and filmmaker. (He's also the auteur behind the camera on the book trailer for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.)  He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

> The entire Quirk Books' Fall 2009 catalog can be found here on Scribd.