Jun 22, 2007

Books, books, books!

My sad attempt at Book Porn

This week was exciting, book-acquiring wise. First of all, I won 3 books at Dewey's blogroll game! The books are being kindly donated by Susan at West of Mars, who let the winners pick anything from her Book Crossing inventory. I picked:
  • Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett (One of the few Terry books I don't have!)
  • Chernevog by C. J. Cherryh (This is the second book in a series, but I've been meaning to get the first, "Rusalka", for ages, so this'll give me extra motivation. It’s a fantasy series inspired by Slavic myth and folklore, so I'm quite certain I'll love it.)
  • Sandry's Book by Tamora Pierce (Tamora Pierce is one of those fantasy authors I keep hearing about, but have never read.)
Secondly, I ordered the remaining books for the Southern Reading Challenge last weekend. The Secret Life of Bees arrived yesterday, and I'm really looking forward to reading it. The Watermelon King should hopefully arrive on Monday. I have very high expectations for that one.

Thirdly, I discovered a new book at the library - The Norton Book of Science Fiction, edited by Ursula K. Le Guin and Brian Attebery. To explain how excited I was, I have to tell you that my library does not have a science fiction or fantasy section. This is the first time I've EVER seen a work of genre literature there. On top of that, it's co-edited by one of my favourite authors, and it includes the work of authors like Roger Zelzany, Samuel R. Delaney, Gene Wolfe, Harlan Ellison, Marion Zimmer Bradley, John Crowley, Orson Scott Card, Margaret Atwood, and so on - either authors that I like, or authors whose work I've been meaning to read for ages!

Now, even though, I am, as you probably have noticed by now, a huge fantasy fan, I am not particularly well-read in science fiction. There is no particular reason for that, though, it just... never really happened. But most of my favourite fantasy authors write science fiction as well, so it's about time I give it a try. The Norton book is huge, almost 900 pages long, so I'll read it slowly, one story at a time, borrowing it from the library occasionally, or just reaching out for it whenever I'm taking a break from studying. It just makes me happy to know that this book exists, and that it is within my reach.

And finally, the most exciting thing of all - I went to the campus bookstore at lunch time, for no particular reason other than the fact that I hadn't been there in quite some time. It's a smallish bookstore, carrying mostly things students are likely to need. And yet, there it was - the Dark Alchemy anthology. Again, to explain how excited I was, I have to tell you that bookstores around here rarely, if ever, have fantasy and science fiction sections, and the amount of untranslated English books available is very small. And yet there it was, practically glowing on the shelf. I couldn't believe it, and of course I had to get it right away.

Dark Alchemy is the same as Wizards: a recently published collection of brand new tales from the masters of modern fantasy - Garth Nix, Jane Yolen, Orson Scott Card, Peter S. Beagle, and, of course, NEIL GAIMAN, with "The Witch's Headstone", a short story that is also a chapter from his upcoming The Graveyard Book. The possibility of reading this story today was the main reason for my excitement, although I'm sure the rest of the collection will be very good as well.

Finding this book made me happier than I can say. Normally buying books is a delayed pleasure for me. The kind of books I love the most (fantasy, and preferably in English) can't just be bought at bookstores here. I have to order them online, and wait patiently for a week or longer for them to arrive. So coming home with a brand new book I'm this excited about is a very rare thing for me. The timing was absolutely perfect too. This has been a bad week, reading-wise. I have been stressed and tired and I've been having less reading time than normally. Plus, like Robin said, picking up a book after To Kill a Mockingbird has been difficult. I'm sort of stuck with the Calvino book I'm reading. But getting home and reading the Neil Gaiman story has sort of regenerated reading for me. All I can say is... wow. I know I should wait until I finish the book to post about it, but I'll probably write a post about this story in the near future.

The campus book store also had Gabriel Garcia Marquez' Memories of my Melancholy Whores at a very appealing price, so I just had to buy it as well. I've been dying to read more of his work after Love in the Time of Cholera, and this one is only 100 pages long, so it will hopefully be a fast and satisfying read.

There was a third reason why I was very happy I decided to go to the bookstore. There is an exhibition of marionettes by a local artist that will be there until the end of the month, and whoa, they are amazing, simply amazing. Many are inspired by characters of folk and fairy tales; others are not, but still seem to have come straight out of that world. They were all beautiful and slightly creepy and a little reminiscent of some of Lisa Snelling's works. I am very tempted to go back with my camera and ask if I'm allowed to photograph them. I would love to share them with all of you.


  1. Oh what a happy book day! I love those days because they're rare! The books all sound wonderful, and I'll be particularly interested in what you think of Melancholy Whores after you finish it because I'm just finishing up Love in the Time of Cholera and have absolutely loved it. I'll be posting on it soon. Also, I'd love to see photos of the marionettes!

  2. I love fun book days :D Sounds like you had a great one! I still haven't read the new Neil Gaiman story in that collection. I really need to get to it! I love your bookporn! It's

    I hope you get to take pictures of the marionettes. Sounds like a really cool exhibit.

  3. Ooo! Lots of great books! I do hope you will enjoy The Secret Life of Bees.

    I have not read much in the way of science fiction myself and so will be watching closely to see what you read and enjoy as you embark on your science fiction journey.

  4. Robin, I really look forward to your post!
    I expect that I'll read "Melancholy Whores" soon; it's so short that I think I could get through it in a day or two, even though I've not been having much reading time.

    Chris, do read it soon! It's SO good. The only problem is that then you'll be dying for him to finish "The Graveyard Book", and it should take more than a year for it to be published still :(
    I plan on going back to the bookstore on Monday and ask if pictures are allowed. I really hope they are!

    Literary Feline, I started it yesterday, and even though I've only read a chapter, I'm already really drawn into the story. The writing is beautiful.
    I think that as soon as my summer break begins I'll have another Short Story Week, using stories from this book. I will post my thoughts on them, of course!

  5. My husband is a huge Delaney fan and has shared some of his work with me. I liked The Einstein Intersection the most. But how strange of your library not to have a sci-fi section.

  6. Its not a sad attempt at all, I applaud you for joining in on this nasty habit we have of tempting each other with our book purchases! ;) Nicely done!

  7. Dewey, I think that over the past years, science fiction and fantasy have become more and more "acceptable" in the US and UK. Genre literature is no longer a specialized interest, and libraries and bookstores have large sections devoted to it. In my little corner of the world, however, there's still quite a bit of prejudice against it. It is not considered "proper" reading material, so most libraries, especially in small towns like mine, don't store it at all.
    I'm quite curious about Delaney - he is one of Neil Gaiman's favourites, and I've enjoyed all of his recommendations so far.

    Carl, you all have tempted me so many times in the past I thought it was time to strike back :P

  8. That is all I need, MORE sources of temptation!

  9. Oh, I've been trying to find Cherryh's Rusalka for ages! I think it's out of print. I'm jealous! :)

    I've admired C J Cherryh since I first read Cyteen. Have to re-read it soon.

  10. Uh oh, I'm worried now! I hope I don't end up stuck with the second book without being able to find the first! But I recall seeing used copies in the amazon market place.

    This will be my introduction to her work, but I've heard nothing but good things.

  11. If you have the chance to read some of CJ Cherryh's short stories, I would recommend reading "Cassandra" - that story is powerful - a retelling of the Cassandra myth with a twist.

    And of course, I would also recommend Cyteen or the Foreigner series if you're into her science fiction works.

    She is also known for her Morgaine Chronicles, which has one of her most mythical character, Morgaine. But I admit, I had some difficulties with the series, as the writing can be rather dry in some places.

    Hope you have fun with CJ Cherryh!

  12. Oh, a retelling of Cassandra! That sounds like my sort of thing; I'll look for it! Thanks for the recommendation.

    I've been meaning to read more science fiction, so if I like her fantasy (and I think I will) I will check those out also. Again, thanks!


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