State of the ARC is a meme hosted by Avalinah’s Books in which we round up our ARCs and attempt to wrangle them into something approaching order. Sometimes it’s like herding cats.
Earlier this year, I made a vague goal to reach fifty reviews for my NetGalley account. For a long time, I didn’t think I would be able to reach that, no thanks to several books that I did not enjoy. But after a run of books that I thought were pretty great, I managed to post my fiftieth NetGalley review earlier this month. Hooray! And now I’m taking a bit of a break from NetGalley, as none of the books on my ‘Give Feedback’ shelf are due to be published until 2021.
- The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World
by Virginia Postrel
Published November 10, 2020 by Perseus Books
Though its importance is often overlooked by historians, fabric has been one of the most important commodities in human history. Economies were based upon it, extensive travel routes came about because of it, and it still fascinates us today. In her new book, Postrel delves into the history of fabric and shows just how integral it has been to human civilization.
- The Women I Think About at Night: Traveling the Paths of My Heroes
by Mia Kankimäki, translated from the Finnish by Douglas Robinson
Published November 10, 2020, by Simon and Schuster
Forty-something, childless, and restless, Mia Kankimäki leaves her job, sells her apartment, and heads out into the world to follow the paths of the female artists and explorers who she has long admired. From Tanzania to Italy to Japan, she investigates the lives of her heroes to see just how they made it in a man’s world, and wonders why, if they could do it, why can’t she?
- The Light Ages: The Surprising Story of Medieval Science
by Seb Falk
Published November 17, 2020, by W.W. Norton Company
Though the modern view of the middle ages is that they were an era of darkness, when books and knowledge were discarded in favor of ignorance and superstition, Seb Falk argues that this view is entirely wrong. That the age that gave us soaring gothic cathedrals and the first mechanical clocks was really an age of curiosity, when monks and scholars investigated the nature of the universe and provided the building blocks that would lead to the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Using the life of John of Westwyck as an anchor for his narrative, Falk explores the nature of science and learning of the erroneously named ‘dark ages’.
- Queens of the Crusades: England’s Medieval Queens, Book Two by Alison Weir
Expected publication date: February 23, 2021 by Ballantine Books
In this second book in her Medieval Queens series, historian Alison Weir details the lives of five extraordinary queens who ruled their countries in uncertain times of war and treachery. One became a legend in her own right, but all of them changed history in one way or another.
- The Bookseller of Florence: The Story of the Manuscript that Illuminated the Renaissance by Ross King
Expected publication date: April 13, 2021 by Atlantic Monthly Press
Until the introduction of the printing press in Europe in the late 1400s, books were some of the most precious and most beautiful artworks of the late medieval era. In addition to holding the knowledge of the ages, they contained intricate illuminated pages and beautiful illustrations. In 1400s Florence, Vespasiano da Bisticci became one of the most prolific booksellers in Europe, whose clients included kings and popes. Called the ‘king of the world’s booksellers’, his literary empire would face its greatest challenge with the introduction of the printing press in 1480. The Bookseller of Florence is an ode to the world of books and bookmaking, as well as a memorial to a literary titan of the early Renaissance.
- Dance with Death (Barker and Llewellyn #12) by Will Thomas
Expected publication date: April 13, 2021 by St. Martin’s Press
In the summer of 1893, the young Tsarevich Nicolas has traveled to London to attend a royal wedding. He has brought with him his ballerina mistress and his security forces, for his life has been threatened by an assassin known as La Syphide. Though Nicolas is protected by forces from both Russia and England, an attack on Prince George proves that they need more help. Enter Barker and Llewellyn, who are hired to track down the assassin. Their investigation brings them face to face with old enemies, high society, and motives both political and personal. While facing attempts on their own lives, Barker and Llewellyn must solve this case before the greatest royal families in Europe fall victim to the crime of the century.
- The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley
Expected publication date: May 25, 2021 by Bloomsbury Publishing
In an alternate history where England is a French colony, a man named Joe Tournier is suffering from amnesia. The only thing he knows about his identity comes from a century-old Scottish postcard, written in the forbidden language of English, signed only as “M”. Joe goes in search of M in order to discover more than one identity, and in so doing, will change the course of history forever.
Save for one (The Bookseller of Florence), the upcoming releases on my NetGalley shelf are all by authors whose works I’ve read and enjoyed before, so I have a good feeling about them. And while I haven’t read any of Ross King’s other books, The Bookseller of Florence sounds super interesting. Thanks to being very picky about the books I select these days, I’ve had a great time with all the books I’ve read from NetGalley of late. I’m going to keep up this pickiness, as there is nothing quite like being stuck reading a book you can’t stand.
As of now, I have 54 approvals with 50 reviews submitted for a feedback ratio of 93%. Unless I get an approval for the last book on my ‘pending’ shelf, the ratio will probably stay right where it is, as I haven’t really seen anything available that piques my interest. That could change, of course, if some new medieval history book shows up, or if a new book by one of my favorite authors comes available. We’ll see. But for now, I’m going to take December and January off from NetGalley and enjoy the books on my own shelves.