Tuesday, December 25, 2012

5 books somebody needs to turn into steampunk films

"Steampunk is nothing more than what happens when Goths discover brown."
- Charles Stross

Not so secretly, and miserable brown-coloured everything aside, I adore steampunk: the fashion, the gadgetry, the clothes, the dirigibles, the mix of science and fantasy and, most especially, the endless possibility of what can be achieved when technology beyond its time is suddenly made normal. I'm not about to debate what I think steampunk is in this post. That's a discussion we can have for another time. (I've found that it means quite different things to different people, and I think there's room for all of us in the melting pot). One of my most favourite steampunk novels is not a classic such as The Time Machine by HG Wells, nor is it Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne or Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. It is, strangely, a relatively recent-ish novel; A Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliasotti and, for me, it captures everything that I think steampunk is: adventure, fantasy, romance and hope. That could be my fanciful thinking, though. A little while back - early this year? Late last year? - a friend and I were having a conversation about books that we absolutely think would be fantastic as steampunk films. I've left the odd bits of conversation in so you can truly see how crazy we are - and yes, we really do think and talk like that - and a little bit of a story refresher for those who may not remember/know the storyline. My only wish now? That someone actually *would* movie-ise them. (And yes, I know that's not a word, but I'm writing this post not you).

It's Christmas day, people, and officially this marks the end of our 12 Posts of Christmas series. I'll be back at least once more this week with one last post before 2013. I'd like to wish you all a safe and happy Christmas!

Honourable mention

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • The Bible - or at least parts of it (although this could be considered sacreligious)
  • Heidi
  • The Hobbit - iron dragon
  • Little Women - the little women are NANOTECH!
  • Mansfield Park
  • Pollyanna
  • Swiss Family Robinson
  • A Tale of Two Cities - more desperation and darkness. Could you imagine Madame Defarge in this setting?

  • Monday, December 24, 2012

    Top 5 most requested autobiographies for November 2012

    "When my journal appears, many statues must come down."
    - Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington

    Greetings from the far north! I'm currently visiting the parental unit in Tai Tokerau where, I'd like to briefly brag, the scenery is as total amazeballs as you might think it would be. Also where, oddly enough, I can't get coverage at mum's place in Waipapakauri, but can get full bars while standing on Ninety Mile Beach. That made me LOL in the loudest way.

    Today's list is the simplest ever: our Top 5 most requested autobiographies for November 2012. Happy Christmas Eve, people!

    Sunday, December 23, 2012

    Top 5 get-your-geek on

    Ok, I’ll admit it – I’m a Doctor Who / Torchwood / Star Trek / Star Wars pseudo-geek. I know enough to sprinkle references and quotes into pretty-much-every conversation, but I can’t do it word-for-word. [My ex’s PIN is a line from Star Wars: A New Hope. Yes, I still know it. No, he hasn’t changed it.] Some of us at work refer to ‘Worf Days’: from the times Worf said 'maybe today is a good day to die' (from a Klingon phrase Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam). When you know it’s all going to be full on, like an invasion or an attack – and you just go into the day full steam ahead and take on whatever comes.

    The preponderance of Doctor Who related titles makes me fully aware of where my geekdom loyalty lies.   Honourable mentions:
  • The science of Doctor Who by Paul Parsons
  • Star Wars: where science meets imagination / introduction by Anthony Daniels

  • Saturday, December 22, 2012

    Top 5 most requested crime/mystery novels for November 2012

    "Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle. They read it to get to the end. If it's a letdown, they won't buy anymore. The first page sells that book. The last page sells your next book."
    - Mickey Spillane

    Introduction here. Or, better yet, an 'introduction here' that would have actually been an introduction. Due to ISP issues (saying it was connected but absolutely was not connecting - oh, interwebs, I thought you'd deserted me) this post published minus an introduction *sigh* And, as a result, I had to race into a local library (Otara Library you are full of win) to pop in and finish it. Only now I can't remember what it was that I wanted to actually write. It would have been EPIC, though. So I'm going to shush my face (as Mr2 says) and let you at the list: Top 5 most requested crime/mystery novels for November 2012.   If you get a chance make sure to check out what our most popular library books were for this year!  

    Friday, December 21, 2012

    Top 5 books for a roadtrip

    "Babies are born with the instinct to speak, the way spiders are born with the instinct to spin webs. You don't need to train babies to speak; they just do. But reading is different."
    — Steven Pinker

    Today's list is courtesy of the fabulous Anne, Libraries Advisor Youth Service Development. Take it away, Anne :)

    We had a discussion earlier this year about whether or not reading was natural. Like we all know from experience – babies make noise. It comes to them as naturally as some of their other bodily functions. In fairness there is an element of learning as they pick up the sounds and make sense of them, but in much the same way I believe movement is a babies first language, sound (or speaking) comes in a very close second. However reading is something that they have to learn to do.

    And that may be one of the reasons why the joy of listening to a story never grows old. I am a fan of stories, storytelling and, by extension, this year have become a fan of the audio book. It may be something to do with an increasing commute and disillusionment with some of the random radio stations my car tuner picks up. It may just be one way to read a book without having to turn a page. It certainly does have its up side as while I am still number well down the list waiting my turn for a copy of J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, I have already read it... on audio book. There might not be as many copies available through the library system, but as many people have not yet discovered the advantages of the audio book, they still come through much quicker.

    So for those of you about to embark on the traditional long holiday haul to other parts of the country, here are my Top 5 to make the drive more bearable (and with something for everyone).

    Thursday, December 20, 2012

    Top 5 most requested nonfiction for November 2012

    "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."
    - Charles W. Eliot

    In my mind, this introduction was going to be an absolutely stunner. I was going to wow you all with my wit and way with words. And then I woke up and realised that's so not my style. Instead, I'm going to keep it simple. Today's Top 5 list features an NZ cook, a rugby player, The Rod (as in Stewart AND I see that they managed to fit the word 'knickers' in to the synopsis somehow), rushing woman's syndrome, and a place on the Shore that makes the most amazeballs food I have ever seen. I give you our Top 5 most requested nonfiction for November 2012.

    Wednesday, December 19, 2012

    5 books about container gardening that are perfect for a commitment-phobe like me

    "Plant carrots in January and you'll never have to eat carrots."
    - Anonymous

    I'm not a plant person. (Or a cat person, dog person, child person). I'm not NOT a plant person, but neither do I feel that it's my purpose in life to own or raise or grow one. As a diehard commitment-phobe, they smack too much of permanence. I had given it a go in the past, and realised quite quickly that I have no gardening skills whatsoever. Things die when I get a hold of them. (You can kinda see why it's just as well I don't have pets or kids). In my mid teens I collected cacti. At first, I thought they'd be hardy enough to withstand even my bouts of manic overwatering/manic avoiding. Not so. Every single one of them died. And yet people still kept giving them to me as gifts. D'oh. Looking back now, I think it was more that I couldn't find the right balance between caring too much and not caring enough. (Story of my life, really). So, the other day, thinking that maybe it was time I grew up and stopped being a Tan Peter Pan, I thought that I could trial pot plants for a few months. If they survive my care (such as it is), then maybe I could try something a little more permanent. Like...an actual goldfish instead of an image of fish bones on my bag (see attached image). Maybe. I'm not sure. A colleague suggested I could work my way up to being a puppy guide dog walker but, really, I fear for the well being of the dog. One step at a time. Beginning with container gardening! More specifically, herbs. I went for herbs because I'm more likely to remember to look after them if I'm going to eat them one day. (One track mind here, folks). And so, if you're scared of commitment like I am (seriously, even calendars scare me, and this was pointed out to me by the calendar-selling sales assistant), try a pot plant - a teeny, tiny one - to start with. And maybe one day, I, too, will be a real live girl! You don't know how much I fear for these pot plants - as experiments go, I've had better ideas. Lucky for me I work in a library with loads of books that can help. Like these ones below. Which will hopefully help me avoid plant murder. Maybe. I think.

    Tuesday, December 18, 2012

    Top 5 most requested items for November 2012

    "There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and a tired man who wants a book to read."
    - G.K. Chesterton

    I think I'm somewhat of a voyeur because I am always interested in what other people are reading/watching/listening to. It is the best part of conversations with other people. It is the worst part of conversations with other people. And so even as a small part of me goes SQUEE because YAY MORE BOOKS, an even smaller part of me groans in misery because my TBR (to-be-read) list cannot contain much more awesomeness. And yet I throw more at it, anyway. (Although not Fifty shades of Grey because I'm SO OVER THE HYPE OF IT. People, you need to find a new vanilla-BDSM book to OOH and AAH over). Today's list offers up some bad sex (although not so bad either of them won the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award, no, that honour went to Canadian author Nancy Huston), the 17th book in the Jack Reacher series (I still can't bring myself to watch Tom Cruise play the lead role - it's enough to make me want to cry), a lawyer in prison for the murder of a judge, and the youngest of the Walsh sisters. Et voilĂ ! The top 5 most requested items for November 2012. ALL fiction.

    Monday, December 17, 2012

    5 CDs to take on a girlie summer road trip

    "House rules, Sammy. Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cake hole."
    - Dean Winchester (as played by Jensen Ackles and I had my photo taken with him la la la la) in Supernatural, season 1, episode 1

    Summer is here! And I'm a melted popsicle. Seriously, this heat? *keels over* It's only two days worth of it and I'm already voting we adopt the custom of siesta like the Spanish have. Is it so terrible that I was making up a to-do list that would involve sitting in the car just so I could have cool air? I see you silently judging me. If this were twitter, my hashtag for this moment would be #unrepentant. My sibling and I have planned a road trip home to the Far North for Christmas. Think lazy days exploring Ninety Mile Beach or driving up to the Cape for spiritual feels. I'm not allowed to drive her car. For a number of good reasons, all of which begin and end with my terrible taste in angry girl music that then leads to my driving like, well, an angry girl. That doesn't stop me from enjoying the drive, though, because everybody knows that the best part of any girlie road trip is, of course, the music. And I'm prepared! I so am. Two of the five CDs I'm taking are all about the nostalgia - they remind me of long, hot summers in Wellington visiting family or being at the beach. (After all, what is Wellington but a series of never ending beaches? You win, Wellington! You really do). Two CDs are by women whose music I've only kinda discovered this year, and I'm really appreciating their retro feel. And the other CD is just because I can. Roll on girlie road trip because I WILL BE IN YOU!

    What music is necessary road trip music for you?

    Sunday, December 16, 2012

    5 graphic novels you need to request now right now

    "Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it."
    - PJ O'Rourke

    I'm spoilt for choice when it comes to graphic novels. Not because I'm any good at picking them. (If anything, I'm absolute rubbish at knowing what to try next. It's because I have next to no filter when it comes to books. I will try anything and everything at least once, and sometimes this goes against me). It's more that I'm lucky enough to work with amazeballs people who, almost daily - by email, text, Facebook message, Twitter, and in person - give me suggestions. Totally unsolicited. Once they've given me one, I find a whole heapload more that I just have to read. Which results in a Top 5 list much like this one. My parents encouraged me to read comics as a child. They wouldn't just buy them, though, we'd also talk about them. I distinctly remember, as a 9 year old, falling in love with Peter Bromhead. Well, his editorial cartoons in the Auckland Star, that is. My parents noticed my interest, and so Bromhead would, often, be a part of our dinner conversation. We would discuss the point of the cartoon in relation to whatever current events were taking place both nationally and internationally at that point in time. I am lucky enough to work with people who do the same - recommend titles or writers and, afterward, want to talk about them. The other day, someone told me to give Marbles: mania, depression, Michelangelo, & me : a graphic memoir by Ellen Forney a try, so I've requested it already, and am impatiently awaiting its arrival. Once I've finished it, we'll catch up and trade opinions and thoughts. And, as is usually the case when I'm in the catalogue, I came across 5 other graphic novels that, really, have to be bumped to the top of my TBR list. Today's list is: 5 graphic novels you need to request now right now. Have I steered you wrong yet? (Don't answer that just in case I have). They're an unusual mix of books, too - cooking, fantasy, life in Jerusalem, love in a time of a galactic war, and aliens in Australia. I know, right? You're welcome!

    What graphic novels are you reading right now?

    Saturday, December 15, 2012

    Top 5 books I need in my life like air

    The worst part of working in a library is that, daily, I am tempted by ALL OF THE BOOKS. The best part of working in a library is that, daily, I am tempted by ALL OF THE BOOKS. Whether I'm on the front counter or in a support role in a backroom, this is, I believe, the true beauty and the beast of being a part of a public library. As a result, my TBR (to be read) list is phenomenal. I'm one of those people who finds inspiration/ideas from my surroundings. This means that everything I see, everyone I talk to, other books I read, or films I see, or CDs I hear, lead to my coming across MOAR recommendations to request or look up. I quite happily suffer from a perpetual case of DO WANT and DO LIKE and grabby hands. It makes me ask, though, what is the true purpose of a TBR list? Do we really want to get to the bottom of the pile and know that we've read/watched/listened to everything? Because I suspect I'd suffer from heartbreak if I ever really did complete it. I don't know this for certain because I've never managed to get there. And so what do I do with today's post but freely confess that I've found more to add to my list and, if I've done my job right, to yours, too. This particular list is made up of titles I've come across/heard about/read of that, really, I'm convinced I need in my life like air. Happy 12 Posts of Christmas, people!

    How big is your TBR list?

    Friday, December 14, 2012

    5 books I need to read before the films come out

    "Books and movies are like apples and oranges. They both are fruit, but taste completely different."
    ― Stephen King

    Anna Karenina. Les Miserables. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Great Gatsby. On the Road. The Hobbit. The host. The raven. The mortal instruments. Thirteen r3asons why. Cloud atlas. The lucky one. One for the money. The vow. The hunger games. Abraham Lincoln, vampire hunter. Breaking dawn. Life of Pi. World War Z. Is it just me or has 2012 been a huge year for books into film? Some released, some still to come in what little is left of this year and, already, a few queued up for 2013. I rarely have hard and fast rules. Mostly because 1) I'm too lazy and 2) life's too short to be that inflexible. As much as possible, though, I try to live by the following commandment: Thou shalt not see the book-of-the-film without having read it first. I try not to break it because, I'm sure, somewhere a fairy dies when I do. These days, though, I find myself having to read at a furiously quick rate just to break even with things I even vaguely think I might want to watch. I can't keep up. And yet...and yet, here I am, with a list of more books I need to request/read before their celluloid equivalent is due. Luckily, some of these still don't have a set cast yet, so I can (kinda/sorta) take my time.   Don't forget, for the next few days we are all about the 12 Posts of Christmas. This means that I'll be throwing all sorts of Top 5 lists at you every day up until Christmas in an effort to seduce you back into libraries/reading. Or something like that.  

    Thursday, December 13, 2012

    5 strangely named science books

    "Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science."
    - Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Remember how in yesterday's post I said that strange and unusual titles manage to find me without my even trying? Today's post is proof positive, yet again, that I meant it. I came across the book A neutron walks into a bar: Random facts and big ideas about our universe and everything in it and, before I knew it, had this list below. It's a gift. A gift that I can't return and/or get a refund on and so I've learned to live with it and revel in it. And so I give you: 5 strangely named science books.

    Today is the first day in our (now 3rd) annual 12 Posts of Christmas series, people! We're blogging every day up to Christmas Day with recommendations that will make you laugh, geek out, make grabby hands in trying to get your hands on them and, hopefully, make you want to share them with everyone including strange people you meet on your morning bus rides to work (Please tell me it's NOT just me who does that). Roll on the madness!

    Wednesday, December 12, 2012

    5 (of 150) essential things every guy should know about science

    "If you're a real man, you get a kick out of things that go boom, catch fire, and smell really, really, bad. What you might not know is that science is what makes it all happen."
    - Bobby Mercer, How do you light a fart? And 150 other essential things every guy should know about science

    I believe that we all have a talent or a gift. For most of us, this will probably manifest itself in useful ways. Like being able to save lives as a doctor, or mould young minds as a teacher. Me...not so much. My gift is that I can find the strangest and most unusual books/titles in our collections without even trying. Actually, if I'm honest, then I'll admit that I find unusual EVERYTHING without trying - books, shoes, people, hats, animals. You name it, it all finds me. (In this instance I'm thinking of the strange guy who came up to me at Armageddon earlier this year and SNIFFED MY HAIR. If this were Twitter, my hashtag for this would be #thisismylife because, really, it is). Today's pick is all about the miscellanea. To be precise, 150 essential bits of science trivia that every guy should know. Really! Mercer's book is actually called How do you light a fart? And 150 other essential things every guy should know about science. It was hard for me to choose my top 5, so I settled for picking the 5 that made me WTF the most AND/OR made me snort/giggle (snortiggle? Gnort?) the loudest. Read them. Laugh about them. More importantly, rejoice in the fact that we (and the men who need to know these things) are, possibly, just that little bit smarter. And grossed out.

    Quick note: I have to apologise for my absence. Work is crazybusyflatout at the moment, and writing Top 5 posts, for the next couple of weeks or so, is going to be a snatched, guilty pleasure. Tomorrow - 13th December - kickstarts our third year of 12 Posts of Christmas, where we post every day leading up to Christmas Day, about all sorts of random-ish things. So! Bring it on :)