Friday 30 January 2015

catch-up for a Friday evening

The short list for the inaugural James Herbert Award for horror fiction was announced today.  The 6 books in contention are:

The Girl With All the Gifts - MR Carey
The Troop - Nick Cutter
Cuckoo Song - Frances Hardinge
The Loney - Andrew Michael Hurley
Bird Box - Josh Malerman
An English Ghost Story - Kim Newman

I already own The Troop, and An English Ghost Story was added to my wish-list in the fall.  I've added Cuckoo Song, and now I just need to read find them!  I'm excited by this award, it is a good way to see what is good in horror in the vein that James Herbert used to write in.  Plus, Nick Cutter is Canadian, so it's good to see Canadian horror writing getting publicized.  My good friend Sue has already read The Troop and really enjoyed it.  She's a true horror fan, reading more horror than anyone else I know, ever.  Cuckoo Song features a creepy doll, which I get chills from just thinking about.  So if you need something frightening for a cold winter's night.....

Speaking of chills, we have had a very cold January.  This weekend looks set to be another very cold - bitterly cold - few days.  Our low on Monday is supposed to be around -29c when I put Graham on the school bus.  Many of the mornings are in the -20c range, and we often don't get above -10c during the day.  I really want to hide out when it's like this, and that's exactly my plan for this weekend. Hibernation and reading.  That's what I've been doing for most of January, though I had expected to blog more.  I have also been making a slow return to work since mid-January, and this has been sooner than I expected.  It upset me enough that I haven't been able to blog while I adjust.  So sorry about that, as I did have some posts planned, but the return to work sent everything from my mind.  The joys of anxiety.....

 I have read some very good books though in January, so I hope to blog about them soon.  Meanwhile, it's hunker down and enjoy the fact I have a lovely home and a reading corner (see my blog header photo) and all the errands are done, so I can truly read as much as I want - and stay warm in cosy socks and comfortable home clothes, drink tea, and eat popcorn.  Pleasure!!!  I hope you have a lovely weekend with some good books lined up to read, too.  Plus there's the Superbowl game on Sunday.....

What are you reading?  What's your winter been like so far?  Are you longing for spring yet?  I am.  On the few days that we get above -10c, it feels so balmy.  I could get used to a winter warm like that! 

Monday 5 January 2015

So I went book shopping for some classics for my challenge......

I went to a Salvation Army outlet near my home today, on my way home from dropping my youngest son at school today.  It was bitterly cold, and his school bus was an hour late (according to the transportation schedule), which we checked after half an hour of waiting outside. So rather than wait in the cold for another half hour and get sick again, I took him in a taxi to school.  My excuse to get books treat was to stop into the Salvation Army outlet on the way home, and scope out their book section, which sometimes has interesting books.  I never know what I will find there.  I went in saying, "Ok, I need Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson so I can read his Mars trilogy for the Classics challenge.  Oh, and let's see what literary classics are in too."  This is what I came home with:                 
 The steal of the day, for me, the find that made me exclaim and get all excited?  The Dark Imaginings, A collection of Gothic Fantasy, edited by Robert Boyer and Kenneth Zahorski.

 I have never seen this book before, and I love, love, love the cover.  There are 17 illustrations inside by James Cagle.  Some of the stories are ones I've never seen before:
Cross Purposes - George MacDonald
Darkness Box - Ursula K LeGuin
The Unholy Grail - Fritz Leiber
The Troll - T.H. White
Lila the Werewolf - Peter Beagle
The Crowd - Ray Bradbury
The Brown Hand - Arthur Conan Doyle

There are 17 stories in total in this collection.  They are the same editors of The Fantastic Imagination (1977), and The Fantastic Imagination 2 (1978), exhibiting the best of fantasy writing for 100 years, both of which I own and have only partially read.  Hmm, maybe I should add these to the fantasy challenge portion......

Actually, I exclaimed over all the books I found today. Madame BovaryThe Day of the Triffids!  Jack Kerouac!  The Count of Monte Cristo!  The Giant Squid book, which I am going to read while I read Moby DickWe, the classic Soviet science fiction novel!   And the Colin Dexter book The Way Through the Woods which Margaret at BooksPlease just reviewed and I don't own among my Morse mysteries. And it was half-price day too, so I can still hunt for Green Mars and feel virtuous in this first week of January.

Now to update my challenge list page......

I love finding books second-hand, especially the hard-to-find and out of print books.  

Sunday 4 January 2015

In which I make a resolution for 2015 reading

Ugh.  Confession time.  I have been in a book reading shock since Dec 31.  I was looking at my totals for the year, proud that I had managed to read 81 despite what happened in October.  Though I barely read anything from then until Christmas,  suddenly I was able to complete 3 books in the past two weeks.  I was proud until I looked at what I read over last year, when to my dismay, I discovered that I had not read one single classic novel.  On top of which, I read 4 fantasy and 2 SF novels.  Shocking!  How on earth did I miss reading any classics?  And so few SF and fantasy books?  Shocked is an understatement for how I have felt.  How did this happen? 

2014 Reading Year

8 - Poetry
34 - Mystery
 7 - Fiction
4 - Fantasy
2 - SF
1 - Children's
3 - YA
4 - Biography
6 - non-fiction
5 - graphic novel
6 - horror

Then, I picked up one of my Christmas novels, The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller. I've read the first three chapters, and am enjoying this book immensely.  What I love so much is that he not only reads each book, he is reflecting on it.  Why is this book good?  Can he relate it to his life somehow?  What does he get out of reading it?  Which is what I feel the classics do, it is the reason why they are classics: they are art which reflects our lives, our world, back to us, to help show us who we are.  He is allowing the books into him, and this is what I want myself to do when I read a classic book.  Now Andy had realized before this book that he wasn't reading anything - one book in three years.  So this became his catalyst for this project.  He was going to pick 50 great books, books he had either said he had already read when he hadn't, or books that he had always said he would read one day, or books he really wanted to read before he died.  And he was going to read them over one year.

So with his beginning in mind, I reflected on what my last year of reading has shown me:  if I'm not careful, if I don't pay attention, a year will go by without me reading any of the classics that I do want to read.  And I have two shelves of them, plus more on my 'I want to get to read one day' list.

I do accept I have limitations in this.  Unlike Andy Miller, I don't want to read 50 literary *(edited to add this) classic novels in one year.  I don't read that many non-genre fiction books, ever, in one year. I have always read fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mystery.  No matter how low the totals are!  I have decided that I am going to make a list of 50 classic books to read over 2015, in different genres.  I'm breaking that 50 books list down into 10 and 20 book segments.  Or 5.

Because, there are classics in every area that I read in, that I haven't read. Or books that I have long wanted to read, but haven't got around to.  

So my 50 books in one year list looks something like this:

Classics: 10
Fiction (including almost classic status not there yet books): 10
Mystery: 10
Horror: 5
Poetry: 5
Journals, biographies (of writers and poets mostly) - 5
Science Fiction: 10
Fantasy: 10

I haven't made my lists so big that I don't have room for new books to add.  My goal is once again to try to get to 100 books read this year.  What I have learned over the years though, is that more important than the total, is to read so that I absorb the book.  There are books that I think I've read 20 or 30 years ago, that I no longer recall if I have read them.  Why is this?  Did I read too quickly?  Did they fade with time?  So I might not get all these read this year.  I will read as many good books as I can, classics in their field, this year.  This is a lovely resolution and I am delighted making it.  

Separate page for titles
If you want to know what books I am reading, I'm making a separate page for them,up under my blog header, and I will let you know here  which books are on my 50 books to read list, when I review them.

Another new year promise to myself is to review more books this year.  I'm a little ashamed of how little I did blog last year, and have made a promise that if I want to say something about a book, say it.  And try to post every day or every few days, this year.

Good site for finding books in genres:
For finding classic books in science fiction and fantasy, one of the best sites I have discovered over the past three years is Worlds Without End site.  Here you can find listings of award winners and nominees for all genre fields of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and even a few mysteries are creeping in.  For someone visual like me, it's so much fun to click on Nebula winners, and see the covers posted. It's a click to mark that I have read the book, or have it on my reading list.  Voilà!  Suddenly I can see what I've read over the years in each season, and where I have gaps.  Bram Stoker Award, Mythopoeic Award, World Fantasy, etc.  They are all listed here. 

So, that was my first 4 days of 2015.  Madly looking at sites and lists and shelves and books, discovering what books I really want to read this year, that I don't want to miss reading.

What resolutions for books and reading have you made this year?