Tag Archives: books

May 2010 in Books

Trying something new. I forget too much of the stuff I consume, and I think I need to note things down so I can remember them better. Will hopefully be doing this every month for books and films.

Reading this month was sadly light. There are tons of books lying around which I am yet to read. Usually I tend to at least consume a fair number of comics per month, but that didn’t happen this month either. Will be trying to change that in June.

Terry Pratchett – Going Postal: Reread, for the fourth time, if I remember right. Still my favourite Discworld book. By this, the 33rd book, Pratchett is like a well-oiled machine, and Discworld runs pretty much on its own steam, but in this one, he shakes things up properly, introduces a new main character, employing different tricks from his bag, even restructuring the presentation to an extent. Moist von Lipwig is a find, the best new character Pratchett has created in a while, the charming cad who has more depth than just that. In both this book and its sequel, Pratchett essentially compresses the timeframe for a major societal change into a few days and makes the whole book come together better and makes the story flow smoother. I could have said I reread this in anticipation of the upcoming movie, but really, I just love this book to bits.

Warren Ellis – Frankenstein’s Womb: A very short, pleasant read. A history lesson mostly to do with Ellis’s new obsession – the hyperconnective tissue of culture. Much like Do Anything, except further back in the past (and obviously not featuring Jack Kirby’s robot head). With some rather marvellous artwork to boot. Well worth a read, and perhaps a couple of rereads. Beautiful artwork.

Warren Ellis – Two-Step: An old pop favourite. Amazingly fun cyberpunk-ish action thriller/romantic comedy, with Ellis channelling both his inner juvenile and Garth Ennis (one might argue they’re the same). Conner and Palmiotti’s artwork is heavily inspired by the MAD practice of inserting as many background jokes into panels as possible. The combination works out to be a heady kinetic romp with plenty of hidden jokes to go over later. Apart from some unpleasantness with a couple of male rape jokes, this one’s a keeper of a book. Sadly overlooked among Ellis’s more famous creations. Take a look at it here. (Link mildly NSFW. In short, there’z boobies.)

Tomorrow: May 2010 in Movies.

Book-Haul Diwali 2009

So after keeping my emotions about books in check all through this year’s Landmark Sale, I decided to make a visit on the last day of the sale, hoping that the available selection would have been reduced, and I wouldn’t end up bankrupt as I usually do. I did just fine. Went over-budget by only 50%, which is good because my usual is around 200-300%. This continues my couple-of-months-long streak of not splurging on books till I read enough of the ones I have.

So, as usual, here’s a short, mostly uninformed set of opinions on some of the books I bought. It’s essentially an annotated list, but I’ve linked to stuff this time so you can take a look for yourself.

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I decided to get myself some comedy, for one thing. So it was extremely fortunate that there was a Robert Rankin book on sale (The Toyminator, sequel to the rather awesome The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse), and one by Jasper Fforde – The Fourth Bear. This one isn’t part of the matching hardback set I talked about some time ago – it’s a paperback, but I haven’t read this book, and I can always give this copy away when I get the matching set.

I also saw Eoin Colfer’s Hitchhiker’s book, And Another Thing …, but I decided not to buy it just yet because looking at it just made me sad.

I found a lovely hardback of Good Omens for Rs. 149, with this sort of flippable dust cover, so you can choose the white angel cover saying ‘Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman’ or the black devil cover saying ‘Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett’. It was a pity I couldn’t find more copies to give to other people.

I bought a couple of books for a friend – a second copy of Daniel Kehlmann’s Measuring the World (I haven’t yet finished reading the copy I own, because a friend ‘borrowed’ it fairly quickly), and Death by Chick-Lit by Lynn Harris, which, of course, I’m going to read before I give to my friend.

Which reminds me, I got one ladlit book (for myself) – Love and Other Near-Death Experiences by Mil Millington – and chose not to get one by Mike Gayle because that dude sucks at endings.

I missed out on buying Best New Horror 15, because I thought I already had a copy. Turned out I had Best New Horror 12. But anyway, I’ve got way too many anthologies at home which I still have to read, and also, Landmark had something like five copies. It’ll stay. Speaking of horror, I got Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box, which I’d been craving for a while. I also got Transgressions 2, which has a story by Joe Hill’s dad.

The find of the day originally seemed to have been Eagle Annual: Best of the 50s (featuring Dan Dare, apparently ‘the Greatest Comic Strip of All Time’), but it turned out to be more of an interesting artefact than something of actual reading value. Still, cheap!

I tried to renew my old allegiance to sci-fi by buying Black Man by Richard Morgan and Spook Country by William Gibson. (Proof I’m a bad sci-fi fan? I’ve only read the first 30 pages of Neuromancer – I got bored and stopped.)

Assorted weird books that stood out from the (rather large) pack – Lost Souls by Michael Collins, Time Was Soft There by Jeremy Mercer (a memoir centred on a bookstore), The Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen (a holistic memoir, it seems), The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson, The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes (New Victoriana), Rain Dogs and Love Cats by Andrew Holmes (bought due to the Tom Waits connection, and currently reading) and The Insatiable Spider Man by Pedro Juan Gutiérrez (nothing to do with Peter Parker).

Also bought my first Jeanette Winterson (Tanglewreck) and Simon Spurrier’s first (Contract).

Finally (did you notice how I reserved it for the end, didja, didja?), I got Electric Feather, mainly because I wanted to finish reading the Samit Basu story excerpted here. I finished this book last night, by the way, and it was quite interesting. I’ll be writing a review soon. All in all, I’m glad I got it. You can read Ruchir Joshi’s introduction here on Nilanjana Roy’s blog.

And that’s all for this shopping spree. I don’t have the usual feeling of shame and huilt at overspending, which makes me happy. And these’ll last me for a while, don’t you think? Yeah, right!

McSweeney’s Book-Haul

I’m writing this post essentially to test out the capabilities of Windows Live Writer. I’ve heard a lot about it, and looking at the interface, I can see why people like it.* It’s simple, intuitive, and lets you concentrate on the writing part of the whole thing.

* I know! Praising a Microsoft product without reservations. Who’d have thought?!

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Around half a month ago, The McSweeney’s Store had a garage sale of sorts. What they did was take out everything in the attic – the old books, the slightly chuffed ones, the ones nobody wanted for that price – and offer them on sale. I bought those on a friend’s credit card (fully intending to pay her later, of course), and she then announced that they were my birthday gift from her. Another friend of mine who was coming over from the US brought them here for me. One of these had a torn dust-jacket, the other two were simply slightly chuffed.

McSweeney’s #13: This was the comics issue of McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. This was edited by Chris Ware. There are some text pieces in this which verge on, but generally manage to avoid, the hissy ‘comics are literature’ tone. The comics themselves seem to be excellent, ranging from 1842 to 2004 (when this was printed). I haven’t read the whole thing, but it is a lovely-looking hardcover. 263 pages of salty goodness.

Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon: One of my favourite writers writes a whole non-fiction book. Reading Chabon’s non-fiction is always a pleasure. It feels like chatting with an extremely clever, interesting acquaintance. (His fiction, by the way, can be slightly too fluffy or fatiguing at times, but only because he’s always ambitious.) I’ve started on this one, and every reason I like the man’s writing is coming back to me.

Curious Men by Frank Buckland: This guy, it seems, is one of those old English oddities. Except that this one was interested in other oddities. This book is made of 12 essays culled from the thousands of pages written by Buckland. I’ve read a couple of these, and though they are slightly dry at times, they are never less than interesting.

So these are my latest literary conquests. There’ll be more, and you can rest assured I’ll bore you by talking about them.