The Snobbery’s Naughty and Nice List 2012 Edition (Part V)

So I saw a comment in my twitter feed last Wednesday (the day the previous installment was posted), where someone was wishing that people would stop posting Best Of lists.  The bitchy contrary part of me immediately said (yes, out loud) “MAKE TEN MORE LISTS!!!!”  Now (and partially because Em is totally a bad influence) I’m trying to come up with increasingly ridiculous lists.  You might see some.  OR YOU MIGHT NOT.  You might also get a round of posts full of foul language after my dad makes me go see The Hobbit next weekend.  I DON’T KNOW YET.  You’ll have to wait and see.

ANYWAY, this post is going to cover things I read this year that I loved that didn’t make it onto the last list.

~o~

Mrs Claus with the Naughty List

~o~

sj’s TIP TOP FAVOURITE Books Read in 2012

moers

ALL THE WALTER MOERS!

Susie DMed me in August, telling me she’d suggested my name to Tara as someone who might be interested in a blog tour she (Tara) was setting up for the upcoming Labyrinth of Dreaming Books.  “Have you/would you be interested in reading Walter Moers?” she asked.

At that point, I’d never even heard of him, but City of Dreaming Books sounded like something that was right up my alley, so I said I would be THE MOST INTERESTED, SEND ME ALL THE BOOKS! (um, paraphrasing)

I fell in love with CoDB within the first few pages.  Like, hard.  And then I got angry.  Because I couldn’t believe that NO ONE HAD BOTHERED TO TELL ME ABOUT THESE BOOKS BEFORE NOW!  There are very few authors who can write something that feels like it was written expressly for me.  The further I got into that book (and then subsequent books), the more I realized I was reading the exact sort of thing I’d ask someone to write for me – y’know, if that sort of thing were okay.

Walter Moers has been added to my list of “ZOMG, CAN’T WAIT MUST READ NAO!” authors.  There aren’t many on that list, so I hope he realizes what an honour it is to be there.  Hee.  Also, there are two other books already translated into English that I haven’t read yet, but I’ll be buying those for myself right after the holidays, when it’s okay to spend money on myself again.

Unless someone wants to buy me presents, then you can get me The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear and Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures.  Just sayin’.

~o~

My New Favourite Thursday Next Novel by Jasper Fforde

I’ll admit that I’m a little bit of an asshole about this.  Not EVERY BOOK can be my favourite, but every time I finish one of these I say “Nope.  That one’s my favourite.  Forget the rest, this one is the best.”  I REALLY MEAN IT THIS TIME!  Which kind of surprised me, because on paper, this book should have been one of my least favourites in the series.

It didn’t have ANY of the stuff I loved about the last few books, and it was set entirely in Swindon, which should have been the kiss of death…but somehow it wasn’t terrible.  No, in fact, it totally rocked.

I cried, I laughed, I wanted to punch things.  Isn’t that what we all hope we’ll get from our books?  That kind of emotional response, something that just makes you glad you know how to read?

By the time I got to the last page, I had a huge smile on my face and knew there was no way I’d be able to review it impartially.  Do me a favour, if you hate these books, please don’t tell me.  I get wildly irrational, and wouldn’t be able to pretend to be nice to you anymore.

He spent his life immersed in books to the cost of everything else, even personal relationships. “Friends,” he’d once said, “are probably great, but I have forty thousand friends of my own already, and each of them needs my attention.”

~o~

balrog

Obviously this summer wasn’t my first, tenth, or even twentieth time reading through Tolkien.  It was, however, the first time I’d attempted to read it with a group.  It was also the first time I’d actually tried to commit my thoughts on these books to writing.  Everyone that participated gives me warm fuzzies.  Thank you, so much for joining, for reading, for drinking along with the movies, for writing your own posts, and just for showing up to keep me from talking to myself.

Truly.  Thank you.  <3

(If you didn’t participate in the group read/watch, but are still interested in reading the posts and comments, click on the Puttin’ the Blog in Balrog menu right below the header.)

~o~

friends rule

So, this is a bit of promotion for some friends I love dearly and am incredibly proud of.  Volcanoes is Nicole‘s third book in her Grace Murphy series, and it’s her best yet.  I can’t review it because I’m FAR TOO CLOSE to it, but I can tell you that I love Grace (even when she’s an idiot) and I’m incredibly happy just knowing these books exist.

…AND THEN!  The lovely Amy had a book of poetry published this year!  AND IT’S SO GOOD!  I don’t usually read poetry but Amy made me want to read more.  No, seriously.

Go buy both of these books.  Or not.  But I think you should.

~o~

That’s all for today!  These are the books I loved the very very most in 2012, I hope you all had just as many new reading loves this year, too.  Thanks for reading.

Dreaming Books Blog Tour – A Letter to Lindworm Castle

Dearest Optimus,

(Do you prefer Optimus to Hildegunst? I’ve always wondered why your name was changed in translation, but no matter.)

I haven’t written a fan letter in a number of years, but having recently been given the opportunity to read your newest book (English translation drops November 8) before it is actually released, I felt moved to say something.  I wouldn’t say that it’s the Orm, no, I’m not that lucky – but I do count myself lucky to have read your Orm-filled words.

Each time I pick up one of your books about Zamonia  (whether it’s a tale of your own adventures or not), I find myself with a huge grin on my face the moment I start reading.

I’m sure it’s not difficult maintaining quality control on your work when first Mr Moers translates it from Zamonian into German, and then it’s handed off AGAIN to Mr Brownjohn for the English translation, but I feel the need to commend all of  you for your work.

I’d love to learn Zamonian so I could read your words as you intend them, but I can assure you that (on my end, anyway) your writing is just as charming having been translated twice.  I feel like my brain would explode (or that I’d never read anything else) were the full impact of your work to hit me.

Bookholm truly has come alive in the mind of this reader.  In the movie that plays in my mind (complete with smell-o-vision, I’ll have you know), I can see and hear each thing you describe so clearly.  I’m assuming this is due to your relationship with the Orm, but whatever it is – it’s amazing.

Thank you so much for everything you’ve allowed to be translated into English.  I understand you’ve written another book that so far has only been translated from Zamonian into German (I know it as Ensel und Krete, but I’m sure your title is delightful) and I eagerly await the day that book makes its way into English.  There are other books I’ve heard tell of that were written in the middle of your non-Ormfull period, and I can’t say that I’m sorry I’ve missed Sandwich Making for Fun and Profit, or your mock criticisms of the plays of Aliesha Wimpersleake (which, I regret to tell you sounds quite dreadful) –  but if your most recent book is any indication, you are well on your way to providing us with many more delightful stories for years to come.

I realize you’re not likely to do anything with this letter, other than to either burn it with the rest or drip sandwich crumbs on it, but thank you so much for everything you’ve written and will continue to write.

I eagerly await the day your next novel arrives.

With much love and respect,

sj

ps.  Attached you will find a photo of myself the day I received your latest work in my mailbox.

(For those of you that haven’t figured it out, this is a letter to the narrator of Walter Moers’ Dreaming Books series.  Please see my post about City of Dreaming Books for further information, and follow along on the blog tour as we count down the days to its release.  Check in tomorrow with Anastasia at Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog for a review of Labyrinth of Dreaming Books.  Thanks to Tara at Book Sexy Review for hosting this tour, and thanks to the folks at Overlook Press for the ARC that has had me grinning like a loon since I received it.)

I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, either.

I don’t get audiobooks.

I mean, I understand the concept of audiobooks, I just don’t think they make a whole lot of sense for me.

I bring this up today because when attempting to find the other Zamonia books this weekend, I discovered that the first two are not available as ebooks, but they ARE available as audiobooks – read by none other than Bronson Pinchot (if B-Man is reading this, he probably just squealed a little).

You know how you can listen to your audiobooks at 3x without the pitch rising? This is what I imagine going on inside my iPod when I speed it up.

I feel the need to add here, that my primary reason for not wanting to purchase tree books at the moment is not because I’ve become a digital only snob, but because I have issues with my hands currently that make holding a book and turning actual pages difficult, if not sometimes impossible.  My eReader is what allows me to continue to read, even when my hands are so bad I can’t hold a book.

So…why not audio?  Well, I’ve tried them before (after the urging of a friend to try listening to The Guide as read by DNA) and I always think it’s exceptionally clever and might even be fun…for about two minutes.

Which is the point that my mind starts to wander because I don’t have the tether of the words on the page.

People have said “Oh, but I can ‘read’ while I’m doing all these other things!  I can read on my commute!  I can read while I’m doing my chores!” and so on.

  • Audiobooks while driving – I would get myself killed or would have to go back and read the entire book over again.  I know my limitations, and would prefer to keep my attention on the road when I’m behind the wheel of something that could potentially cause harm to myself or others.  That’s not to say that many people aren’t able to do this, but I know that this is not a viable option for me.  Yes, I’m one of those people that turns the radio down to look for an address.  Shut up.
  • Audiobooks while doing chores – I can’t even listen to music while I’m doing chores, unless I do so with one earbud hanging next to me so I can listen for kids crying.  Sadly, kids crying is frequent occurrence in my house.
  • Audiobooks while knitting/crafting/whatever other hobby you have – Um…reading is my hobby.  I can’t really listen to an audiobook while I’m reading (how meta!), and I can’t blog or tweet or do anything else that doesn’t allow me to devote my entire attention to the book I’m listening to while I’m listening.  I don’t want to have to go back and RELISTEN to everything again.
  • Audiobooks help people read faster – Not me.  For example, The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear (which is what started me on this whole subject) is 16 hours long.  SIXTEEN HOURS!  ZOMG, if I had 16 hours to devote to just straight reading, I’d finish this book and probably 2 others!  This is not a timesaver for me.  This is slowing me down.  I never have much time to just sit and read.  I have 4 kids and I homeschool 3 of them.  My reading is confined to 5 or 10 minutes at a time.  What I call reading sprints.  I read while I’m stirring the pasta, I read while I’m standing outside the bathroom, waiting for one of the kids to finish so I can make sure their hands are clean, I read while I’m waiting for the toaster to pop up the waffles.  What I don’t EVER get to do is just sit and read (or listen!) to anything for 16 hours at a stretch.
  • Audiobooks for the vision impaired – This is the one that makes the most sense to me.  Before I got my new glasses earlier this year, I had to constantly adjust the font size of every book I read on my reader.  With my old glasses, I needed to read at at least the medium sized font but WITHOUT my glasses, I need the largest size.  No joke, the largest font size only fits 5-10 words on the screen.

…and now this has turned into a bit of a lengthy rant, when really I was originally just sad that these books aren’t available digitally.

Is anyone willing to listen to them and transcribe them for me?

Do audiobooks work for you?  If so, when do you listen to them?  How do you manage to tune out other distractions?  If you listen while driving, how do you find that balance of keeping your eyes on the road while still paying attention to the story?