Books Are Taxing!
April 15, 2012

In the U.S., taxes have come and are (nearly) gone—except for those of you who have filed extensions—so I decided to check out how many books there are in English on taxes. I included both used and new in every edition: paperback, hardcover, Kindle, HTML, PDF, audio, and more. It turns out a lot of people want to sell you stuff on the subject: There are 63,465 books, according to Amazon.

Then I became curious about how many there are other than how-to books. I entered that same word in the keyword box, but instead of just hitting Enter I chose specific subjects. The results were interesting and occasionally amusing:

Arts & Photography = 81. Tucked among the how-to tax guides for artistic types I found Country Music Revealed: True Stories of Boozin’, Cheatin’, Stealin’, Tax Dodgin’, and D-I-V-O-R-C-E. I hope the author has a good accountant.

Biographies and Memoirs = 210. In here, I found tax protestors who felt compelled to share their ideas, tax dodgers who like to take it offshore, tax firm founders, tax havens, tax collectors, tax revolt leaders (old and new), moonshiners, and more. But I also found a book that intrigues me: You Simply Hit Them with an Axe: The Extraordinary True Story of the Tax Turmoils of P. G. Wodehouse. What was with Wodehouse and taxes? Sadly, due to the prices being asked by independent sellers I’ll never know.

Children’s Books = 60. I was floored to see this many books about taxes in this genre, and especially the number for young children who are not yet in civics classes. There are two books for those aged “Baby to 2”; four books for those aged 3-5; and fourteen books for those aged 6-8. Do young children really need to know this? The board book, only for the very youngest, is The Tax Man and it’s a jigsaw puzzle book.

Cookbooks, Food & Wine = 41. Most of these were, again, practical, but three interesting histories showed up: Beer in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance; Brewing Battles: A History of American Beer; and From Demon to Darling: A Legal History of Wine in America. I’m pretty sure I see Al Capone in this category.

Crafts, Hobbies, and Home = 442. Now we’re getting serious, though I was surprised to see that most (253) of them were in HTML. A mere 164 are in print and ten are offered in a Kindle edition. Eliminating the usual how to guides about buying a home or starting a business I discovered only one  The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine.

Gay & Lesbian = 12. I was actually surprised to see any number here, but the dozen shown included women and taxes, feminist solidarity, a manual for ending poverty and building peace, legal marriage guides, good places to live, financial planning for gays and lesbians in a straight world, estate planning and—His Master’s Lover, an apparently not very good novel.

Health, Fitness, and Dieting = 424. I think this category has had its innards screwed up. What else would explain the inclusion of How to Represent Yourself Against the IRS in the United States Tax Court in it unless the logarithms think sweating before judges and agents equals dieting? What I did find amusing was Death, Taxes and Push Ups, which added on a bit to the original Ben Franklin quote and got a title.

History = 3,479. Whoa! Biggest category yet. (But then I ignored the Business & Investing category.) I cannot possibly go through all of them, but after 250 returns I (finally) found The Dogs Plea: Or Reasons Most Humbly Submitted by the Barking Fraternity of Great Britain, to the Men Their Masters. Shewing Why Dogs Ought to be Exempted from Taxes. Yes, it’s a real book, reprint from a company that believes early printed books (pre-1923) ought to be kept in print. Sorry, but there’s no information so I cannot tell you what it is about.

Humor & Entertainment = 166.  This would seem ripe for books to do with taxes because humor is definitely needed at this time of the year. While there are plenty of tax guide for entertainers, gamblers, and others, it is books like Bland Ambition: From Adams to Quayle—the Cranks, Criminals, Tax Cheats, and Golfers Who Made It to Vice President or Death, Taxes, and Leaky Waters: A John Gierach Fly-Fishing Treasury that make the category worth browsing.

Literature and Fiction = 489. A very respectable number of books that relate in some way to taxes, I was relieved to find a veritable feast that didn’t include one how-to guide. It was very hard to choose just two here, but I decided to focus on the ones with high stars, namely four or five. That lowered the number to 101. Focusing on those with at least twenty reviews, I found Tax Collectors … and Other Sinners, which sounds grisly, and The Pale King.

Religion & Spirituality = 284. Leaving aside the usual guides (for ministers) and tax developments, there is this book with perhaps the longest title I’ve yet seen: Ways and Means to Pay Taxes and Be Happy. A Sermon Preached at St. Dunstan’s Church, Stepney, on Sunday, September the 15th, 1784. And at the New Chapel in Kentish Town, in the Parish of St. Pancras, the Sunday Following.

Romance = 46. Ah yes, romance. Because sweet words always include “taxes.” Well, at least what I found here included, thankfully, very few guides. But they did refer to it, in some cases like this one, rather blatantly: Screwing the Tax Man, complete with a disrobing woman on the cover. Three books from one author—Death, Taxes and [Extra-Hold Hairspray / a Skinny No-Whip Latte / a French Manicure] also show up here.

Science Fiction and Fantasy = 14. There are very few—apparently taxes don’t travel into time and space well—but they look interesting. Clide and Druce: A Repulsive Tale of Trolls and Tax Money is at least different, but what puzzles me is how Live Free or Die: Essays on Liberty by New Hampshire Libertarians made it into this category. What am I missing here?

Sports & Outdoors = 66. Interestingly, there are a few intriguing books like Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle Over Building Sports Stadiums and several others that focus on the theme.

Travel = 206. Vacationing, moving, working, and retiring abroad were the subject of quite a few books, but I also found the well-reviewed Great Hedge of India: The Search for the Living Barrier that Divided a People.

So there you have it. If you still have taxes on the brain and need to ease out of that mindset, perhaps one of these non-guide books is just right. There are a couple that even have made it onto my To Buy list even though my tax paperwork was over a couple of months ago. Regardless of where you are in the process, remember: there’s a tax book for you.

Upcoming Book Festivals and Fairs:
This week and next weekend is a biggie. Eight festivals that span the entire country are happening, and I suggest that if you are near one you consider attending. They all look great!

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Site: Parkway Central and Parkway Central Library
Festival: Free Library Festival
Date: April 16-21
Evening events begin on Monday, April 16 and continue through Friday, April 20. Each night offers an author appearance; Thursday will also include a screening of the noir classic film, The  Burglar, which meshes with the evening’s guest. Friday is the First Person StorySlam, with competing storytellers telling their best mistaken identity stories. Event, with the exception of the film, begin at 7:30 pm. Saturday is a full day with children’s entertainment and picnic, music, author appearances, and the closing event, A Storied Evening.

Location: Manchester, Vermont
Site: The Inn at Manchester
Festival: Booktopia 2012
Date: April 20-22
This is one of three annual weekend retreats for “listeners of Books on the Nightstand.” Unfortunately, this event is sold out but you can still get on the waiting list for the Oxford, Mississippi one scheduled for June 15-17, or register for the Santa Cruz, California one, which will take place on October 19-21.

Location: Mesilla, New Mexico
Site: Cultural Center de Mesilla
Festival: Border Book Festival
Date: April 20-22
To celebrate 2012 as the Year of Healing and Transformation, the festival’s theme is The Shamanic Journey. The invited presenters include a healer and herbalist, a Yoruba priestess, an altar artist, the founder of the Diné Spiritual Land Recovery Project, a Navajo medicine man, and an Oaxacan chef who will prepare the Mole Fest Festival Fundaiser dinner on Thursday evening. Festival highlights include An Afternoon Gathering for Women, a workshops on herbal home remedies and Yoruba teachings, a film screening, readings, talks, and discussions, a plant exchange, and the closing ceremony and talk.

Location: Bethesda, Maryland
Site: Various venues around town
Festival: Bethesda Literary Festival
Date: April 20-22
Twenty authors, including a lot of well-known names, will be appearing at this festival, which opens at 7:00 pm on Friday with the presentation of award-winning essays from the festival’s Essay and Short Story Contest. There will also be a discussion and reading that evening. Saturday offers a full day of readings, discussions, teens and children’s activities, and in the evening poetry readings and awards. Sunday brings more readings and discussions as well as the Local Authors’ Reception.

Location: Huntington, West Virginia
Site: Various venues in Ohio and West Virginia
Festival: Ohio River Festival of Books
Date: April 20-26
Keynote speakers Julia Keller and William Vollmann head a line-up of  forty-three local and national authors who will offer readings, discussions, and book signings. There will also be musical performers, the Guyandotte Poets, the Last Laugh Comedy and Improve Troupe, Madcap Puppet Theatre, Open Mic Poetry, the Sassafras Junction puppets, and more, as well as movie screenings of films that have been inspired by books.

Location: Bowling Green, Kentucky
Site: Carroll Knicely Conference Center
Festival: Southern Kentucky Book Fest
Date: April 21 (+ April 20 in the evening)
Nearly 150 authors will be making appearances at this festival, which runs on Saturday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.  A special Children’s Day takes place from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm on Friday. With the exception of the Eloise Tea Party—which happens in the Regency Room—all events are free.

Location: Montgomery, Alabama
Site: Old Alabama Town
Festival: Alabama Book Festival
Date: April 21
From 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, this festival will liven up the historic old section with forty-five authors, forty vendors and exhibitors, and a series of activities geared to both adults and visitors. The latter includes readings, discussions and book signings, and educational games and arts & crafts for children. And it’s all free.

Location: Los Angeles, California
Site: USC Campus
Festival: Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
Date: April 21-22
One of the most spectacular book festivals in the nation, this one features an astounding 567 authors, illustrators and other book people, performers, several hundred exhibitors, eight outdoor stages with events all day both days, and numerous readings, panels, presentations and discussions at fourteen indoor locations (the latter requiring tickets). There is no way to describe this without using up far too much space, but if you are in or near the area don’t miss it.

The Pub House:
Night Shade Books, as its name suggests, publishes science fiction, fantasy, and horror since 1997. Now with over 200 books, it is a well-established house for those who like their fiction “out there.” What’s particularly nice about them is that they aggressively seek out new authors who meet the high standards they set so readers are sure to find the “authors of tomorrow” today. And right now they are having a 50% sale. If you feel inclined to take advantage of this you will find, among their new releases, Agatha H and the Clockwork Princess, set when “the Industrial Revolution has escalated into all-out warfare [and] mad science rules the world.” Faustus Resurrectus begins with murder but behind that death lies both a suave sociopath and an ancient evil that threatens to overtake the investigation and its investigator. And Blue Skies from Pain, a story set in Northern Ireland in 1977, concerns the half-breed son of a mystic warrior and mortal woman who is caught up not only in politics of the time but also in the battle between the church and its demonic enemies.

Imaging Books & Reading:
Cat + books = adorability. Need any more be said?

Of Interest:
Okay, it’s not related to books but I could not resist sharing this article than ran in Los Angeles Magazine back in September, 2011. If you live anywhere near a Trader Joe’s store, you’ll understand completely. If not,  you’ll finally understand why those who do are, well, enchanted.

Until next week, read well, read often and read on!




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