Good day my legendary, literary Bookbaggers!
Welcome to the first update of my newest challenges, Short and Sweet and 1000+ Pages of Epic Fantasy, sprinkled with some boasting from my wonderful Easter break!
I had quite a lot packed in to my week-and-a-day holiday – appointments at the how-many-gadgets-can-I-fit-in-your-mouth-at-once clinic (AKA dentist); the sorry-your-love-affair-with-bread-is-on-hold-for-a-couple-of-weeks office (nutritionist) and the lets-get-you-to-work-out-in-a-room-full-of-old-people-while-we-supervise-so-you-don’t-injure-yourself-again-you-klutz centre (exercise physiologist); plus catch-ups with friends from Sydney and closer to home, and a very fun Sunday at Swancon where I met Isobelle Carmody!!!!
Besides all this activity, I did have some time to myself to read and thus have a healthy first update on my challenges:
- I discovered two books on my shelf with less than 200 pages – Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell, which I bought from Kaleido Books last yearand No Nice Girl by Perry Lindsay, which is part of the Harlequin Vintage Collection I bought yonks ago and is one of 2 that I hadn’t read yet – both of which have been added to the pool of Short and Sweet contenders
- I finished High-rise by J G Ballard on the 21st and holy moley it was one heck of a book! For such a thin tome (198 pages) Ballard certainly fits in a lot of creepy stuff and somehow it never feels rushed or lacking details but more like a concentrated story of complete societal breakdown set within a 40 story apartment building. Not for everyone, but this weirdo Book Polygamist loved it and it is the first on my list of top books for 2014 for sure!
- After Finishing High-rise I randomly picked a name from the gift-bag currently holding the bits of paper with Short and Sweet contenders written on and funnily enough I picked No Nice Girl. I’ve read a few chapters so far and it is wickedly funny, so I’m pleased with the choice
- I also decided to forgo choosing and simply read Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops one afternoon as I had already started reading bits and pieces out to Sarah, my bro and my mum on Good Friday. As can be expected it was a mix of hilarious, baffling, infuriating, stupid and sometimes downright scary quotes that customers have actually said to booksellers and there was many a giggle, shake of the head in disbelief, exclamation of outrage and furrowed brow from this book-lover and my book-loving kin. Worth a look for any bibliophile if only to better understand what our beloved booksellers are faced with day-to-day!
- I bought (among others) 4 books under 200 pages at Swancon – Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan; Horn by Peter M Ball; Bleed also by Peter M Ball; and Above/Below by Stephanie Campisi and Ben Peek (it’s actually two short stories published in one novella with the authors telling two sides of the one story – very cool) – which have also been added to the pool
- On the 22nd my rut-breaking challenge seemed to work its magic because I finished the last quarter of Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett while busing too and from appointments, which I have been reading since October last year!
- Once I returned from my journey I chose a book to replace Guards! Guards! from the Short and Sweet bag and in another funny turn of events I picked Cracklescape which had just been added. Cracklescape is not only under 200 pages, but is actually a collection of 4 short stories so it’s doubly good for the challenge. I’ve only read the first story ‘The Duchess Dresser‘ so far but I really enjoyed it – a ghost story that felt very authentic and had a more stifling and claustrophobic feel than straight up thrills and chills.
- And lastly I read the short story ‘Ghost Dance’ by Sherman Alexie (the author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) from The Living Dead zombie anthology on my final day of holidays. It was a wonderfully gruesome tale where the blood of two Native American men thoughtlessly murdered by a racist cop at the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn (commonly referred to as Custer’s Last Stand) awaken the dead soldiers there, who promptly rip the cop and his frightened rookie partner to pieces and then move on killing anyone in their path. So yeah, lots of activity for the first week of the challenge!
The updated list of Short and Sweet contenders is as follows:
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Horn by Peter M Ball
Bleed by Peter M Ball
Now onto the second challenge I started, which didn’t have an opening week as spectacular, but was still successful:
As I had some time to read I also was able to get back into both The Sending by Isobelle Carmody and Brisingr by Christopher Paolini and after the initial “what? who are you again? what’s happening?!” phase I was good and easily achieved my goal:
Pages remaining: 441
Pages remaining: 570
Pages remaining: 1011
Even with all this crazy challenge hullabaloo I also read a fair few comics/graphic novels over my break which I will present to you again in a nifty slide-a-ma-show:
And since I then had only two comics left on the shelf (!!!!!!) I bought a whole new bunch at Comiczone while catching up with my friend and fellow comic-lover (my recent interest pales in comparison to his life-long love of the form), Scott:
From the top left they are:The Sandman: Overture #2 – Chapter Two by Neil Gaiman (writer), J.H. Williams III (artist), Dave Stewart (colourist), and Todd Klein (letterer); Hinterkind: The Waking World Volume 1 byIan Edginton (writer), Francesco Trifogli (artist), and Greg Tocchini (cover artist); Rocket Girl #1 – Times Squared by Brandon Montclare (writer) and Amy Reeder (artist); The Unwritten: Leviathan (The Unwritten, Volume # 4) by Mike Carey (writer), Peter Gross (artist, colourist), Vince Locke, Al Davison (colourists) and Yuko Shimizu (cover artist); Saga Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Fiona Staples (artist);
I wanted to finish the comics I’ve had for a while before I got onto the shiny new ones so after finishing The Dark-Hunters 2 I picked out of the jar and got:
Which I have been wanting to read since before it was even published! Since I knew I would zip through it in no time (I was right – I read it in a few minutes the other night and was blown away) I pre-emptively also picked the other one:
Which I haven’t gotten to as yet, but hope to ASAP as the last volume was excellent!
I’m going to round off with a very brief summary of my time at Swancon as this post is growing to gargantuan proportions!
As I said above I bought books of course, mainly from the Twelve Planets Press stall (that’s where all my Short and Sweet ones came from), plus a few pairs of quilled paper earrings 🙂 Here are the books in all their glory:
The ones not already mentioned are Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher, who was a guest but not on the Sunday when I went; and Living With The Dead a short story collection by Martin Livings published by Dark Prints Press, which I also got signed 🙂
Besides buying way too many books I also went to some fun and interesting panels (“The History of WA Fandom” which went over the early years of the con and featured a friend of Sarah and her family who was the official Perth Fan Guest; and “It Followed Me Home, Mum, Can I Keep It?: Fantastical Pets” which was great fun and very interacative) but the main reason I chose Sunday out of the whole Easter long weekend that the con was on, is because Isobelle Carmody was there on the Sunday doing her guest of honour speech followed by a signing!
After deliberating for a good while I took along my old battered copy of Scatterlings,which was the first book by Carmody I ever read, gifted to me by family friends for Christmas 1999 (when I was 12, for the record). I listened intently as Isobelle spoke, artfully telling hilarious stories from her childhood, her early experiences of writing and being published and her love of books and libraries, and hoped that she wouldn’t be shocked and appalled by the state of my book (I had discovered the night before when retrieving it from the depths of my bookshelf that it had several pages falling out and I didn’t have the right repair tools at home to fix it O.O).
When she had finished speaking I waited in line with the other die-hard fans and con-goers who had just discovered her books at the stall, clutching my book encased in a plastic bag to prevent lost pages, butterflies growing exponentially in my stomach. Of course when I did get to the front and apologised about the dishevelled book she didn’t mind a jot and happily signed it with a quote and all. She even thanked me (me!) for working in the library industry when Sarah mentioned it!
It was an amazing experience, especially considering my current challenge and I have to say a big thank you to Sarah for agreeing to go on Sunday for me, and her and her mum in general for a fabulous day 🙂
On that note I’ll leave you, beloved Bookbaggers, for now. Stay tuned for an update next week and perhaps other tidbits in the world of the Book Polygamist, but until then here’s another funny/cute gif which is a pretty accurate representation of my face upon meeting Isobelle Carmody: