Saturday, January 29, 2011

Top 5 items I'm in the middle of reading/watching/listening to during this wet and wild Auckland Anniversary weekend

"The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain."
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

No, I beg to differ - the best thing one can do when it's raining is to stock up on lots of everything! Two of the nephews and I made a run to the library today to stock up on movies, books and music (good and terrible) to ride the bad weather out. We're truly awful after we've come home with our haul of treasures. They round up their loot and stake out the flat to have a movie marathon and, occasionally, come up for air and food. I take over the main house and spread everything out around me and go over each and every cover and synopsis in detail, read the first page, then the last page, and then divide my spoils into two piles: 'wanna, gotta, need to have it right now' and 'it can wait.' Then I try to read a book, watch a movie and listen to music all at the same time. It's messy, unstructured and totally smacks of someone who has little to no control over their impulses. At least when it comes to library items. Below is nothing more interesting than a small part of my most recent stash of library goodies that I'm in the middle of enjoying. All at once.

Honourable mention
  • The horns of ruin by Tim Akers - steampunk fantasy (love the cover)
  • Supernatural : John Winchester's journal by Alex Irvine ; illustrations by Dan Panosian and Alex Irvine - TV tie-in to Kripke's 'Supernatural' series (the journal that Dean and Sam's dad uses in his demon hunting)
  • The science of Doctor Who / Paul Parsons

  • Thursday, January 27, 2011

    Top 5 epistolary novels

    List by Annie

    "The time to read is any time: no apparatus, no appointment of time and place, is necessary. It is the only art which can be practised at any hour of the day or night, whenever the time and inclination comes, that is your time for reading; in joy or sorrow, health or illness."
    - Holbrook Jackson

    Here you go – novels in letter format (or notes, or emails, or…). Nice and quick to read, but often with the story told between the lines.

    Honourable mention:
    * Jaclyn Moriarty’s oeuvre. Any of her teen novels fit the bill. I couldn’t decide on one. So I recommend all of them. (Maybe 'Finding Cassie crazy' if pushed) :)
    * And… one of the earliest modern epistolary novels – and novels, really: 'Pamela' by Samuel Richardson. Mind you, I recommend this one, if only to make you read the much more entertaining (and less gag-inducing) 'Shamela' by Henry Fielding [multiple editions] – the send-up of Pamela.

    Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    Top 5 craft books

    List by Annie

    "Other kids did drugs; I did crafts. I never knew where I fit in."
    - Kathie Lee Gifford

    Y’know, craft is getting bigger out there. More and more people are making their own presents and things. You might wonder why there’s no sewing books in here – that’s ‘cos I completely suck at sewing. But I’m great at knitting!

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    Top 5 kids/teens books everyone should read

    List by Annie

    "If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they'll have with twenty-six. Open your child's imagination. Open a book."
    - Author unknown

    ‘Cos you know, they’re not just for kids. Books are written to connect with individuals, to tell a story, and not to tick boxes in a marketing department list (at least, they should be)…. These 5 books speak to the human condition – and, sometimes, you need a few years on you to hear them properly.

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    Top 5 sash-toting, kilt-wearing Highlanders

    List by Teigan

    "Scottish by birth, British by law,
    Highlander by the grace of God."

    - Anon

    Och, Scotland...gently rolling hills, a rich sense of history, malt whiskey, wild mountains (as opposed to 'tame' ones?), castles, caber tossing and kilt-wearing Highlanders - all to the accompaniment of bagpipes played by the soft light of torches. I realise now, of course, that my rather romantic/unrealistic idea of Scotland came not from travelogues but from historical romance novels. According to the covers big, buff, tanned, sash-toting, kilt-wearing, sword-hefting Highlanders with a mullet (1980s covers, anyway) and a six-pack drifted around the mountains all day long waiting for susceptible maidens to ravish on the grassy slopes. How could we resist publishing this post about something so absolutely delicious, then?

    Today's list is courtesy of the very lovely Teigan (thank you Annie for pointing me in her direction). My cup truly runneth over when Teigan quite happily agreed to select 5 titles to fit the theme. I adore that some of our staff happily admit out loud - and unapologetically so - that they read romance novels. I have left Teigan's comments in as, personally, I think they add lots of flavour to this particular post. Teigan writes 'I know you asked for five and I gave you six but you have a little choice there. I hope you can use them and at least and get a giggle from my crazed kilt obsessed writing.' I will definitely be nudging her for more ideas for future lists :) Enjoy, people!

    Top 5 most requsted Auckland Libraries titles as of right this minute

    List by Tosca

    "This nice and subtle happiness of reading, this joy not chilled by age, this polite and unpunished vice, this selfish, serene life-long intoxication."- Logan Pearsall Smith

    Here's a first for me: a nice, short and uncomplicated post that is, very simply, the top 5 most requested Auckland Libraries titles as of right this minute! I'm not quite vicarious about other people's reading habits (ok, maybe I am a little) but I do like to stalk the 'Recently Returned' shelves and trolleys. I have this idea that if other people have read these books they must be fantastic...of course, they may be terrible in which case that's why they've been returned. I'm almost 100% certain that 'terrible' is *not* the case with these titles below :)

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Top 5 car-trip distractions for little kids

    List by Danielle

    "I have found out that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them."
    ~Mark Twain

    I was recently the back-seat passenger on a long-ish car journey (5 hours or so), wedged between two car seats with two occasionally-fractious pre-school kids. The trip went much more smoothly when I hauled the stack of books I'd packed for the trip out of the boot, and kept them handy for whenever distraction was needed. Amongst them were some of our favourite author/illustrators of late.

    Top 5 teen reads of 2010

    List by Danielle
    "I don't know about you, but I'm kind of fed up with realism. After all, there's enough reality already; why make more of it? Why not leave realism for the memoirs of drug addicts, the histories of salt, the biographies of porn stars? Why must we continue to read about the travails of divorced people or mildly depressed Canadians when we could be contemplating the shopping habits of zombies, or the difficulties that ensue when living and dead people marry each other? We should be demanding more stories about faery handbags and pyjamas inscribed with the diaries of strange women. We should not rest until someone writes about a television show that features the Free People's World-Tree Library, with its elaborate waterfalls and Forbidden Books and Pirate-Magicians. We should be pining for a house haunted by rabbits."
    ~ Kelly Link

    In 2010, I found out that one of the easier ways to keep reading in the cracks and crannies of time left while raising two pre-schoolers was to a) read short stories and b) read teen fiction. It's no hardship - teen fiction is a treasure trove of smart, insightful writing, memorable characters and twisty-turny plots. When I'm reading adult fiction, I'm a big fan of fantasy, horror and paranormal, and it's no news that teen lit is going through a mighty big supernatural phase right now, so there's plenty to love.

    Hand in hand with this rediscovery of the goodness of teen fiction goes my dependence on the Teen NextReads eNewsletter, which delivers a smorgasbord of tempting titles to my inbox every month. Every month! TOO MUCH. But too much of a good, good thing.

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Top 5 opening lines from books randomly grabbed from my to-be-read pile

    "Establishing goals is all right if you don't let them deprive you of interesting detours."
    - Doug Larson

    Getting to the bottom of my TBR (to-be-read) pile is, and isn't, my lifelong goal. Have I actually achieved something if I manage to magically read everything in it? Or am I more successful if I keep adding to it? After all, adding to the list and shaving a few off the top is all an interesting detour, right? How I decide which of the many to start on next is sometimes half the fun :) It can also be incredibly confusing to anyone watching because there is no rhyme or reason to my end choice of book. I will heap them all together and assess the titles (are they too obvious? Not obvious enough? Funny? Ridiculous? So stupid it's begging to be read/chucked out the door - sometimes both?), the covers (does it match the title? Should it match the title? Is the artwork dodgy? Is it too posed? Is it unintentionally hilarious - in which case it'll move to the head of the list?), the synopsis (is it too long? Too short? Much like a bad movie where all the best bits are in the trailer - and therefore leave you feeling horrifically shortchanged?), the closing line of the book (is it too 'twee'? Not 'twee' enough? Does it seem even vaguely realistic - in which case I will probably throw it back because hey, who needs realism, right?) and the opening line. Oh yes, the opening line. Depending on my mood, the opening line can make or break a book, as far as I'm concerned, which doesn't seem wholly fair, does it? Especially considering my mood is as changeable as the weather. Fair warning, dear authors, if your title doesn't do it, and neither does your cover then the only chance you have left to grab my attention is the opening line. For this post I do nothing more strenuous than randomly grab 20+ titles from one of my TBR piles and play favourites with opening sentences. The things I do for your (and my own) amusement, people!

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Top 5 romance audiobooks that made me blush

    "Who, being loved, is poor?"
    - Oscar Wilde

    Who, being loved, is poor? Indeed! And who, listening to romance audiobooks, has blushed? Or gotten the giggles? Or started laughing and almost choked to death? Why, that would be me :) I heart romance books. I truly, truly do, but as much as I enjoy them I do find myself skipping the 'romantic scenes' if they are appallingly long. I mean, seriously, 20 pages?! Sometimes I find that 20 pages of seduction serves only to put me to sleep. I also find that when reading certain authors (think Laurell K. Hamilton) the ménage scenes leave me feeling conflicted because all I can think about is, 'Where are everyone's limbs?' and how if they're not in motion or use, is some poor sod feeling neglected and left out and cold? Yes, it's a sad and beautifully weird place inside my head. But romance novels in audio? Yikes. They're a different kettle of fish altogether.