Movies and Books: 2013

Another year of keeping track of films and books read… I suspect that I missed a few graphic novels when you count the collected editions (since I read a lot of them for review purposes in serialized formats), ah well. Definitely a big uptick on movies for 2013.

Movies:

  1. Django Unchained
  2. Zero Dark Thirty
  3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  4. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2013: Live Action
  5. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2013: Animated
  6. Silver Linings Playbook
  7. Amour
  8. Side Effects
  9. Party Girl
  10. The Company You Keep
  11. The Great Gatsby
  12. In the House (Dans la Maison)
  13. Stories We Tell
  14. Star Trek Into Darkness
  15. Iron Man 3
  16. Mud
  17. Frances Ha
  18. Behind the Candelabra
  19. The Painting (Le Tableau)
  20. Rent a Family Inc.
  21. AFI Docs Shorts Program Two: Life and Death
  22. Approved for Adoption (Couleur de Peau: Miel)
  23. The Bling Ring
  24. Much Ado About Nothing
  25. The Way, Way Back
  26. The Heat
  27. I’m So Excited (Los amantes pasajeros)
  28. Blue Jasmine
  29. The Wolverine
  30. The Spectacular Now
  31. Word Wars
  32. Gravity
  33. 12 Years a Slave
  34. The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green
  35. Frozen
  36. The Deflowering of Eva Van End (De Ontmaagding van Eva van End)
  37. Our Heroes Died Tonight (Nos héros sont morts ce soir)
  38. Tiny Furniture
  39. Dallas Buyers Club
  40. American Hustle
  41. Her

Books:

  1. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  3. Blue Heaven by Joe Keenan
  4. Black Blade Blues by J.A. Pitts
  5. Among Others by Jo Walton
  6. Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky
  7. The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
  8. The Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher
  9. The Highest Frontier by Joan Slonczewski
  10. Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover’s Courtship by Amanda Hesser
  11. Redshirts by John Scalzi
  12. Fair Play by Tove Jansson
  13. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  14. The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories Volume One: Where on Earth by Ursula K. Le Guin
  15. The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
  16. The Virtual Reference Handbook: Interview and Information Delivery Techniques for the Chat and E-mail Environments by Diane K. Kovacs
  17. Men and Cartoons: Stories by Jonathan Lethem
  18. Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman
  19. The Two Hotel Francforts by David Leavitt
  20. The Portable MLIS: Insights from the Experts edited by Ken Haycock and Brooke E. Sheldon
  21. Reference and Information Services: An Introduction by Richard E. Bopp and Linda C. Smith
  22. Doctor Who: A Big Hand For The Doctor by Eoin Colfer
  23. Doctor Who: The Nameless City by Michael Scott
  24. Doctor Who: The Spear of Destiny by Marcus Sedgwick
  25. Doctor Who: The Roots of Evil by Philip Reeve
  26. Doctor Who: Tip of the Tongue by Patrick Ness
  27. Doctor Who: Something Borrowed by Richelle Mead
  28. Doctor Who: The Ripple Effect by Malorie Blackman
  29. Doctor Who: Spore by Alex Scarrow
  30. Doctor Who: The Beast of Babylon by Charlie Higson
  31. Doctor Who: The Mystery of the Haunted Cottage by Derek Landy
  32. Doctor Who: Nothing O’Clock by Neil Gaiman

Fiction Magazines, Chapbooks, and Zines:

  1. Lightspeed Magazine March 2012
  2. Granta 114: Aliens
  3. Lightspeed Magazine April 2012
  4. Lightspeed Magazine May 2012
  5. Lightspeed Magazine June 2012
  6. Kinfolk Vol. 3
  7. Lightspeed Magazine July 2012
  8. Lucky Peach Vol. 7
  9. Lucky Peach Vol. 8
  10. Kinfolk Vol. 9

Continue reading Movies and Books: 2013

Five Things That Make Me Happy (part 20)

Kinfolk Magazine
Kinfolk_Vol7_CoverOne of the things I like to buy at the store down the street (Trohv) is Kinfolk magazine, a slick squarebound quarterly publication. It’s about entertaining, about art, about photography, about cooking… It’s not really quite like anything else out there. I love reading their essays, as much for things that inspire me as things that are completely outside of my own personal wheelhouse. Even if the subject isn’t grabbing me in one particular piece, there’s almost always a great photograph that goes alongside it that makes it all work quite nicely. The latest issue had an ice cream theme, and it was slightly mouth-watering at times. Not that I minded to much, because…

Cinnamon Vanilla Ice Cream
One of the pieces in the latest issue was an interview with two ice-cream makers. When asked for their favorite flavors, one that both of them mentioned was cinnamon vanilla ice cream. “Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “I bet I could make that.” And so, I did.

Cinnamon Vanilla Ice Cream

As it turns out, adding cinnamon to my vanilla ice cream recipe is a big hit. I love the vanilla ice cream recipe (thanks Alton Brown!) but the touch of cinnamon makes it that much more amazing. I’ll be trying some new flavors of ice cream this summer, but I think this is one I’ll be keeping in my back pocket in general. Homemade ice cream in general is such a pleasure; over the winter I barely made any (which my waistline thanks me for, at least) but I’m going to try and break out the ice cream maker a bit more this year.

Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is one of those board games that I’ve been seeing for years, now. I first encountered it at my friends Trevor and Matt’s house, when I saw some people playing it. It looks deceptively simple—collect colored trains to form connections between cities to earn points—but it’s the sort of game that clearly requires a lot of strategy and wits. I’ve held off on buying it (another huge box to store!) but I recently discovered that the game company also released a version for the iPad. Having now played it for a few days… it’s wonderfully addicting. Evilly so, in fact. And I haven’t even played it against other people (either online or locally), just against the computer. Absolutely loving it. Board or electronic game, this one is clearly a winner.

No More Amy Pond
Non-Doctor Who fans can just skip along to the next item. But I am genuinely happy that when Doctor Who returns in a couple of days, it will be without Karen Gillan, the actress who played the character of Amy Pond for the past two and a half years. I really didn’t like the character, but the bigger problem wasn’t the writing for Amy Pond but Gillan’s acting. She just wasn’t up to the level needed for such a major role, and she pulled down the show a great deal. So knowing that there are eight episodes ahead without Gillan? Well, I’m delighted. (Sadly her co-star Arthur Darvill is also gone, but it’s a fair trade.) Her replacement, played by Jenna-Louise Coleman, already feels like a real improvement.

A Great 40th Birthday
Cannoli CakeToday I finally hit the big 4-0, it’s true. And in celebrating it this year, the thing that’s struck me the most was that I’m really lucky to have so many great friends that it was actually difficult to make a guest list because I wanted to invite everyone I knew. I ended up having a medium-sized party over the weekend at the tavern on the ground floor of our building, and as much as I would’ve loved to double the guest list, my gut feeling on how many the facility could hold was more or less dead-on accurate. I had a great time talking with my friends, and the food and cake were both excellent, and at the very end the manager provided us with a nice champagne toast. Then today, two co-workers (and good friends) took me out to lunch and provided cake in the afternoon (with a cannoli on top!), followed by getting a massage in the evening.

Add in the over 200 birthday greetings on Facebook (no, seriously, we’ve crossed the 200 mark), and it’s been a very pleasant way to enter the new decade. Fortunately, I’m not one to get freaked out over those milestone ages, but still, a good way to do so. (Now ask me again when I turn 70 and that might be another story entirely…)

40th birthday toast

Five Things That Make Me Happy (part 19)

My Abuela's KitchenMy Abuela’s Table: An Illustrated Journey into Mexican Cooking by Daniela Germain
I found this cookbook at a great home goods store just down the street (Trohv) and even though the last thing I need is another cookbook, I had to take it home with me. The recipes appear to be nice and good, but what really caught my eye were the illustrations by Germain. They’re gorgeous, with delicate watercolors that occasionally bleed out of their borders and onto the page around them. I’d flipped the cookbook open to the illustrations of the different chili peppers and I just fell in love with Germain’s art; the deep, rich colors make those oranges and reds and greens just call out to me. I may never make anything from this cookbook (although I plan on doing so!), but I feel like I’ve devoured the art in it enough that it was a worthy purchase.

Oscar-Nominated Shorts Compilations
Every year, Charlie and I go to see two of the Oscar-Nominated Short Film compilations (the Live-Action and the Animated categories). These are pieces that chances are you’d never be able to see otherwise, unless you hit the film festival circuits. And while I don’t think there’s ever been a year that I was crazy about all the nominees, there’s always something to recommend about each one. This year I was especially taken by Death of a Shadow (a strange steampunk tale about a man who captures the shadows of people about to die all throughout time) and Asad (a Somali boy struggles to become a fisherman) among the live action pieces, and Adam and Dog (the story of the Garden of Eden through the eyes of the first dog) and Paperman (the start of a romantic relationship with the help of paper airplanes; you may have seen this before Wreck-It Ralph). But like I said, there’s something to recommend for all of them. 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I’m coming to this one a little late. I’d been hearing recommendations about it for ages (and first and foremost from Linda Holmes on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour), but I knew very little about it. That’s a good thing. I hate to do this, but it’s a book that the less you know about, the better; all I’ll say about the plot is that it’s about a woman who vanishes under mysterious circumstances. It’s a book that digs down deep and gets you at just the right moment, and it’s also a very fast read; I think I read it in two days. It’s not high art, and in a few places you’ll scratch your head and say, “Really? Really???” when it’s over. It doesn’t bear too much thinking about it afterward, to be honest. But it’s a classic example of the pageturner, and I’m glad I read it.

“Candy” by Robbie Williams
I know this song is a few months old (and I’ve talked about it on Facebook before, in fact), but every time I need to grin I just listen to it. Seriously, I defy you to not be happy after listening to “Candy.”

Great Friends Every February
Every year in February I head out to Los Angeles to attend the Gallifrey One convention, which is all about my all-time favorite television show Doctor Who. And yes, a lot of the attraction is the convention’s guests and programming; this was my 13th straight year of attending, after all. But just as much of an attraction is going to see all the friends that I’m reunited with every year because of Gallifrey One. There are too many to list—over the years I’ve met so many great people there—but let me just say that if none of my friends were going one year, I might stay home too. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of friends there every time I go. My friends? They’re the greatest. Just what the doctor ordered to perk up what could be a cold, grey month.

Gallifrey 2013

Movies and Books: 2012

Yet again, I got a little obsessive and tracked the number of books and movies I’ve consumed in the past year. Why? Well, if nothing else it’s an easy way to remember what I’ve seen when asked, “What was the best book/movie you’ve seen/read this year?” Also, it amuses me. This year showed a slight increase in all categories… And now, on to 2013!

Movies:

  1. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
  2. The Artist
  3. Albert Nobbs
  4. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2012: Animated
  5. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2012: Live Action
  6. Jiro Dreams of Sushi
  7. Bully
  8. Mirror, Mirror
  9. The Avengers
  10. Headhunters
  11. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  12. The Hunger Games
  13. Moonrise Kingdom
  14. Prometheus
  15. Safety Not Guaranteed
  16. Beauty is Embarrassing
  17. To Rome With Love
  18. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923 film)
  19. Brave
  20. Magic Mike
  21. The Amazing Spider-Man
  22. The Queen of Versailles
  23. The Dark Knight Rises
  24. The Imposter
  25. Cosmopolis
  26. Sleepwalk With Me
  27. The Master
  28. Argo
  29. Cloud Atlas
  30. Wreck-It Ralph
  31. Holy Motors
  32. Skyfall
  33. Hitchcock
  34. Travels With My Aunt
  35. Les Misérables

Books:

  1. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
  2. The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
  3. Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro
  4. Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin
  5. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
  6. Lyra’s Oxford by Philip Pullman
  7. Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman
  8. Glasshouse by Charles Stross
  9. Embassytown by China Miéville
  10. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
  11. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  12. Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater by Frank Bruni
  13. After the Apocalypse: Stories by Maureen F. McHugh
  14. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
  15. Welcome to Bordertown edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner
  16. Bumbling into Body Hair: A Transsexual’s Memoir by Everett Maroon
  17. Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
  18. Moominpappa’s Memoirs by Tove Jansson
  19. American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America by Michelle Obama
  20. God’s War by Kameron Hurley
  21. Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson
  22. Howards End by E.M. Forster
  23. The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia by Paul Theroux
  24. Who Is The Doctor: The Unofficial Guide to Doctor Who: The New Series by Graeme Burk and Robert Smith?
  25. The Ninnies by Paul Magrs
  26. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  27. Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction edited by Brit Mandelo
  28. All About Emily by Connie Willis
  29. Hav by Jan Morris
  30. A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files

Fiction Magazines, Chapbooks, and Zines:

  1. James Patrick Kelly’s Strangeways #1
  2. Fantasy Magazine July 2011
  3. Fantasy Magazine August 2011
  4. Fantasy Magazine September 2011
  5. Fantasy Magazine October 2011
  6. Fantasy Magazine November 2011
  7. Fantasy Magazine December 2011
  8. Chelsea Station Issue 1
  9. Lightspeed Magazine July 2011
  10. Lightspeed Magazine August 2011
  11. Lightspeed Magazine September 2011
  12. Lightspeed Magazine October 2011
  13. Lucky Peach Issue 2
  14. Lightspeed Magazine November 2011
  15. Lightspeed Magazine December 2011
  16. Fireside Magazine Spring 2012
  17. Lightspeed Magazine January 2012
  18. Lightspeed Magazine February 2012

Continue reading Movies and Books: 2012

Five Things That Make Me Happy (part 18)

Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Unreal and the Real
One of my all-time favorite authors is Ursula K. Le Guin. I fell in love with her books ever since I first bought a copy of The Wizard of Earthsea at our library book sale in 4th grade (and read it so quickly I managed to buy copies of The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore before the week-long sale ended), and that enjoyment of her writing hasn’t ceased. Now, one of my favorite small publishers (Small Beer Press) has issued a two volume collection of her short stories. And while I buy ebooks more often than print ones these days, I had to make an exception for this handsome volumes.

I also appreciate that they even came up with a way to theme the two volumes in terms of location (the titles should give it away) rather than just an arbitrary “these are two volumes worth of stories” division. Oh, in case you’re wondering, there are ebook editions too. But for now, I’ll be reading these copies, just calling my name. Good times ahead.

SiTea: The Spice Boutique
Just down the street from me is SiTea: The Spice Boutique. Now, in the back of my head it’s always been a place to buy dried teas and supplies. They have an amazing selection, lots of original mixtures, and in general it’s a great place to visit. But it was only recently that my friend Randal reminded me that it’s also a place you can go to sit, have a pot of tea, maybe a snack or two (cupcakes, samosas, and vegetarian chili are a few of their regular offerings), and relax. On a stressful day, it was a real delight to stop and hang out with Randal for an hour. We both had a wonderful tea, enjoyed the quiet music and inviting surroundings, and each other’s company. I won’t forget about SiTea’s option as an oasis of enjoyment again.

Grandpa’s Meatballs
My grandfather’s meatballs were the stuff of legend. Seriously, they were that good. There was something about the way he cooked—no doubt taught by his Italian immigrant parents—that just made everything taste a little better, but especially when it came to the meatballs. My aunt Jackie once sat down with him and dutifully recorded everything he did, step-by-step, to try and replicate them. And while we still can’t get them quite as good as his… they’re awfully close. In November I ended up making about 600 cocktail-sized meatballs using his recipe, more or less. (I drew the line at pan-frying all of them, due to the sheer number, so they were baked in the oven instead.) And while they were indeed absolutely delicious, what really made me happy… was just the act of making them. It was a very calming, pleasurable experience. I put some music and podcasts on, rolled up my sleeves, and just cooked for about five hours. A great way to spend an afternoon, and a way to remember what a wonderful guy my grandfather was in all aspects of life.

“Get Myself Together” by Robyn
Seriously, I can’t stop listening to this song. Why was this not released as a single? So good.

Unseasonably Warm Weather
For a couple of days this week we had crazy warm weather for December in the DC area. Monday and Wednesday morning involved wearing shorts (with a long-sleeved shirt) while running outdoors at 6am. That’s not normally something that happens again until March. A cold front has since swept back in—and to be fair, this warm weather is probably not a good thing in terms of the future for the planet and things like that—but it was great to break out some polo shirts to wear to work and just enjoy a couple days of semi-warmth. But now, back to the winter gear it seems…

Matching Sets

I’ve always found a row of matching books, lined up just so, to be extremely aesthetically pleasing. A small part of me enjoys it because of the completest gene in me (although over the years I’ve managed to beat that down a great deal), but there’s also something about the overall design sense with the series of matching spines that makes me think, “Yes, yes, that looks lovely.”

It doesn’t have to be overly ornate. For example, I’ve always liked Small Beer Press’s Peapod Classics line (which sadly only had three books and then appears to have stalled out), and not just because they’ve selected good books for the line. The cover design is simple but effective, and having Kevin Huizenga provide the cover art is an added bonus.

And to be fair, it’s not even just books. DVDs, magazines with spines, anything with a nice design sense has always been appreciated. It’s why I’ve found the Criterion Collection’s shifting from one font to another to be frustrating (and I’m not even a big Criterion geek), and why other publications have managed to stick around in my home because they look so good.

I say all this because as a big ol’ comics geek, it’s always pained me to see some truly hideous design work on what should be two of the nicest lines in comics; DC Comics’ Archive Editions, and Marvel’s Masterworks. These lines reprint the company’s oldest and most classic comics; the original runs of books like Superman, Batman, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, and so on. We’re talking about superhero comic royalty. How bad are they designed? I own exactly zero of these books.

The original Marvel Masterworks design was ghastly; a fake marble background with a foil stamped frame in the center and the artwork crammed into that small portion. They’re ugly, and while the redesign a while ago shifted to a black and silver look that isn’t as bad, it’s still not terribly attractive. The artwork is larger, so that’s good at least, but it’s still not an attractive or eye-catching look.

 

I’m not letting DC Comics off the hook here with their Archive Editions, though. They’re also uninspiring; a single image of a character (or sometimes a group of characters), the inverted triangle and circle, and a pin stripe background. Once again, there’s a lot of space wasted here. It’s not energetic or exciting, and they don’t make me want to buy them at all.

Kurt Busiek (via Dan McDaid) recently pointed out online where Jon Morris presented his ideas for a redesign of the DC Archive Editions. The entire post is here but I’ll just show you one or two of his (many) mock-ups.

These are already so much better it’s not even funny. I love the big image on the top, with room for four additional smaller ones. (Sure, the images in these mock-ups could use some brightness and contrast touch-ups, but you get the idea.) The books have room for creator names, what they reprint, additional material, and even two more images on the back. And when lined up on the bookshelf?

Well, be still my beating heart. Quite frankly? If DC announced they were redesigning the Archive Editions to look like this (plus a small, initial-orders only printing of the original design for any new ones for people who want a complete set – Marvel does this for theirs, which is a nice touch), I’d start buying the new editions. As these are expensive books, it’s probably just as well that DC shows no signs of doing so.

The sad thing is that DC does have a nice design for their black and white, low-cost Showcase Presents books. It’s simple but effective; a small band up along the top, room for an entire cover on the front, and they look nice when lined up, as seen on the top two rows on the photo below.

Wall of Comic Goodness [365portraits: 242]

And who knows? Maybe someday they’ll redesign the Archive Editions line and I will finally spring for them. My bookshelves are sad that we aren’t getting them, because they sure would look nice. My wallet, on the other hand is just fine with that.

Welcome Back, Locus

It is not a secret that I am a huge science-fiction/fantasy geek, or that I love books. So for those who are into that particular niche as well, they might not be surprised to know that I also used to read and love the magazine Locus.

If you’ve never heard of Locus, it’s probably because you are not a science-fiction or fantasy geek. It’s a publication that mixed a lot of book reviews with interviews, event coverage, and a quarterly listing of upcoming books. I used to be enraptured by that last feature; back before Amazon and such, it was the best way to find out what books by your favorite author were scheduled. I liked the other parts of Locus, too; I learned about a lot of new books and authors through Locus, and after years of reading about events and seeing the photos, it was a minor “whoa!” moment to have my own picture appear in a gallery from the 1999 Nebula Awards.

I’d started reading Locus in the early ’90s, but after about a decade I let my subscription lapse. It was an expensive subscription for me at the time, I had a lot less free time, and I’d set aside “for the time being” writing fiction. (Something which has slowly started to inch forward again, but that’s a story for another day, since there’s not much to show for it right now.) And I will freely admit that as someone who as A Lot Of Stuff, I’ve been a big fan of having less clutter come in if it’s something that I’m not going to read promptly.

Imagine my pleasant surprise today to discover that Weightless Books is now offering electronic editions of Locus now, along with subscriptions. I just went and bought the first issue, and had it instantly sent to the Kindle app on my iPad. And so far? It feels like finding an old friend and discovering that aside from some slightly grayer (or perhaps less) hair, they’re exactly the same. We’ll see once I’ve read some more of the issue if the rest of it still holds up, but for now, I’m delighted. (Although I fear that this is just going to get me to buy more books that I will not get around to reading. At least now they just take up disk space instead of bookshelves.)

Technology, sometimes, is pretty darn fantastic. Welcome back, Locus.

Books and Movies: 2011

Once again, I went and tracked how many movies, books, and graphic novels I saw/read over the course of the year. Last year’s tally had me at at 31 movies, 21 books, 1 fiction magazine, and 124 graphic novels. This year? 31 movies, 24 books, 13 fiction magazines, and 110 graphic novels. Two increases, one decrease, and one exactly the same. Not bad overall… And now, let the counting start all over again!

Movies:

  1. True Grit
  2. Rabbit Hole
  3. Another Year
  4. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2011: Live Action
  5. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2011: Animated
  6. The Illusionist
  7. All About Eve
  8. Cedar Rapids
  9. Source Code
  10. Scream 4
  11. POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
  12. Bridesmaids
  13. Potiche
  14. Meek’s Cutoff
  15. Midnight in Paris
  16. Super 8
  17. X-Men: First Class
  18. The Future
  19. The Prestige
  20. The Help
  21. Griff the Invisible
  22. The Debt
  23. Weekend
  24. The Skin I Live In
  25. Martha Marcy May Marlene
  26. Le Gamin au Velo
  27. The Deep Blue Sea
  28. The Descendants
  29. Shame
  30. Hugo
  31. Young Adult

Books:

  1. Voodoo Heart by Scott Snyder
  2. The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan
  3. The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter
  4. Last Summer by Michael Thomas Ford
  5. Galileo’s Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson
  6. Shopgirl by Steve Martin
  7. The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa
  8. This Is NPR: The First Forty Years by NPR
  9. The Diary of a Dr Who Addict by Paul Magrs
  10. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
  11. Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
  12. Trouble on Triton: An Ambiguous Heterotopia by Samuel R. Delany
  13. The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee
  14. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  15. Going Bovine by Libba Bray
  16. Twinkle Twinkle by Kaori Ekuni
  17. D.C. Noir edited by George Pelecanos
  18. Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Chutneys & More by Ashley English
  19. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  20. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food by Jennifer 8. Lee
  21. The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
  22. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  23. Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy edited by Ellen Datlow
  24. Bob the Book by David Pratt

Fiction Magazines, Chapbooks, and Zines:

  1. Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet #23
  2. Lightspeed Magazine, January 2011
  3. Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet #24
  4. Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet #26
  5. Lightspeed Magazine, February 2011
  6. Fantasy Magazine, March 2011
  7. Fantasy Magazine, April 2011
  8. Lightspeed Magazine, March 2011
  9. Lightspeed Magazine, April 2011
  10. Fantasy Magazine, May 2011
  11. Lightspeed Magazine, May 2011
  12. Fantasy Magazine, June 2011
  13. Lightspeed Magazine, June 2011

Continue reading Books and Movies: 2011

Operation: Read ‘Em All

A couple of years ago, I seriously cut back on my book buying; I started using the Arlington Library much more often, shifting what I bought to books I felt I’d actually re-read, or ones that just were not available at the library. (A lot of limited edition comics and art books, for instance.)

And then, of course, two years ago I got an e-reader and the number of physical books entering my home shrunk again. But all of this did nothing to change the number of unread books that I have owned, waiting for that day where they got tackled. So once we moved, I created one or two bookshelves with nothing but unread books, and now I’m going to try and make my way through them. The majority of them are ones that once read I’ll be giving away, so there’s added incentive to get moving through them.

(More importantly, having them all in one location makes it easier for me to hear their siren call, “Read me, Greg, read me.”)

So far I’ve finished off one book (Twinkle Twinkle by Kaori Ekuni) and am almost halfway through a second one (DC Noir edited by George Pelecanos). Loved the first one, and am enjoying the second one. Now, I don’t see myself blasting through the multiple “to-read” shelves anytime soon, but it is gratifying to finally start tackling them. But heck, I’ve had that copy of Twinkle Twinkle for eight years now. It was time to finally cross it off the list. Between that and finally watching my copy of The Prestige from Netflix (which sat on my coffee table for several years, waiting)… well, I might make it 2010′s books by the end of the decade. Such progress!

My one consolation, of course, is that I bet at least half of the people reading this have similarly groaning to-read shelves… possibly more. Admit it.

When to Consolidate (or Not)

One thing I’ve mentioned time and time again is my need for additional space for my books, and the need to (very sadly) get rid of some due to said limitations.

Just over a year ago, I was lucky enough to get a Kindle for an amazingly low price (only the new WiFi-only editions are lower priced) and I’ve loved it. And in the past year or so, it’s meant that I’ve been able to swap out some print edition books with electronic copies.

The easiest ones to replace were books that’ve fallen out of copyright, of course. So my copies of books like Alice in Wonderland, Dubliners, Howards End, and Jane Eyre (to name just a few examples) were donated to the library, and free ebooks from Project Gutenburg took their place. But it’s everything else, of course, that’s a bit harder to simply replace. Although some times I’ve been lucky, like the time that (and to this day I’m not sure if it was a pricing error or an unannounced great deal) that a whole slew of Iain M. Banks books were knocked down to 99 cents. That sort of thing. So that’s helped thin the herd a great deal. (I do wish there was a program where if you sent back mint editions of books, or pledged to give them to your library, that you could exchange them for some ebooks, though.) But still, there are a lot of books that I’m just not willing to buy an additional copy of in the name of saving space. So that’s a little frustrating.

And of course, there are some books that even if I could swap out, I wouldn’t. Some first editions and signed limited editions, for instance, that sort of thing. And some sets of books that (even though I should) I just can’t bear to start breaking up. There’s something asthetically pleasing about them that makes me want them to keep sticking around.

On the other hand, I did make one important leap recently. One of my favorite publishers, Small Beer Press, is a company that I buy just about all of their books. It’s fun to walk by the shelf that has just about all of their titles on display. But in December and January, I picked up two books from them in ebook edition. It was a tough call at first, but at the end of the day I’m still getting the great publishing choices from them that I like, but my overly full bookshelves don’t have to strain that much more. And my copies of Under the Poppy and Redemption in Indigo were slightly cheaper than the print editions, so that’s an added bonus.

(I’m also careful to back up my ebooks in case of catastrophic computer failure, not only onto an external hard drive but also automatically onto an online backup service, lest the house itself burn down. So I’m in some ways more protected than with my actual books.)

Will I ever get rid of all my physical books? Of course not. The majority of them? Also probably not. But a sizable chunk? Eventually. And more and more, the new ones coming in won’t be physical ones. (Well, prose books anyway. Those pesky graphic novels are another story entirely, of course.) I’m sure whenever I move next, there will some very happy movers that there aren’t even more books to get carried into and out of the truck…