The Momentum Blog
Posted November 26, 2015 by Sophie Overett
With the final installment of The Hunger Games coming out this week, it could almost be the end of an era. Sure, we still have The Maze Runner and Divergent sequels to look forward to, but the mainstream popularisation of the dystopian seems to be winding down. Don’t worry if you were a late adopter to the trope though – the good thing about it having been so popular means you have a straight up library of books to see you through until the next genre boom.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Any list of dystopian novels not including Margaret Atwood’s formative story feels lacking. Atwood’s story of a closed-ranks society subjugating it’s women as child-bearers or prostitutes, famously only uses examples of both that have really happened. By combining them all, Atwood not only harnesses our collective fear of conformity, isolation and lack of control, but also proves that one man’s utopia is a lot of people’s dystopia.
Zone One by Colson Whitehead
Even mentioning a zombie outbreak can be met with eyerolls these days, but it doesn’t change the fact that a good zombie story can be something remarkable. Colson Whitehead’s story of a society rebuilt after the apocalypse goes the places you’d expect it to (nothing’s at peace forever after all), but there’s some terrific twists and characters along the way.
A Town Called Dust by Justin Woolley
Parts of Australia lend themselves pretty generously to the apocalypse (we have Mad Max as testimony to that), but rarely is it approached as organically and generously as it is in Justin Woolley’s A Town Called Dust. The story finds an emotional centre in two kids, Squid and Lynn, fighting against the restrictions placed on them by their society and the ones they place on themselves.
Blindness by Jose Saramago
When it comes to dystopian fiction, a lot seems to be focused on the hows and whys when really what you care about is what happens next. Blindness has that in spades – not zombies or nuclear war, it’s a story that starts simply enough – with one person going blind. And then another. Then another. It’s not just a dystopian, but a plague story about what happens when the threat isn’t outside, but in.
Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan
Brian K. Vaughan’s latest comic book series, Saga, has redefined the space opera to such a degree that it’s almost possible to forget that one of his earlier series, Y: The Last Man did the same for the dystopian. All men on Earth drop dead except one, and a world of women are left scrambling to hold together a species on the brink of extinction in this funny and heartbreaking series.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I know, I know, this is a double hitter of ol’ Suzanne, but there’s a reason this series swept up the world’s collective imagination. Tightly told, excellently paced with characters you’ll love (and cry over when Collins inevitably kills them), The Hunger Games is an intense and emphatic tale about a teenage girl’s efforts to save her little sister which suddenly, somehow, turns her into the face of a rebellion.
What was the last great dystopian novel you read?Tagged: A Town called dust, blindness, Books, brian k vaughan, colson whitehead, dystopia, jose saramago, Justin Woolley, Margaret Atwood, suzanne collins, the handmaid's tale, The Hunger Games, y the last man, zone one
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Posted October 7, 2015 by Michelle Cameron
More than ninety years after those words about Tenterfield were written, the first man ever to dance with New York’s famed Rockettes found himself once again in Atlantic City, New Jersey. This time he was crouched inside a giant champagne glass prop waiting for the orchestra down beat to start his dinner show. The solo performance awaiting him would doubtless be demanding, but the man himself was intrepid, the man was a tank. But it was also true that the 1980s for Peter Allen had started in triumph then ended in calamity, testing him personally to the limit. He had buried in the past few years more friends, colleagues and lovers than he likely had the heart to dwell on. He had also seen his dream of a Peter Allen Broadway musical soar into a fantasy of goodwill and imminent triumph, then splatter into the reality of scornful reviews and a sniping, vengeful press. The worm had turned and now the song and dance man’s most valuable resource, his energy, was beginning to ebb. The uninvited visitor illness was quietly creeping up on him.
The performer nonetheless had his vast experience and pronounced native cunning to fall back on. Once Peter’s show was humming along he would pad it out by talking and telling gags instead of singing. He would tell the audience the same story he had always told them, the story of his childhood, ‘Out in the bush, chasing kangaroos, eating koala bears for lunch.’ This was Peter Allen’s image, his show-business insurance and it made simple commonsense to maintain it. ‘Never interfere with the legend, never correct it,’ his former mother-in-law Judy Garland had decreed, and the bush boulevardier was not about to. Not that he expected to be genuinely understood, not in his racket. Truth was far too complex a matter for legend and Peter Allen had too many incongruous and opposing qualities to be understood; it was one of his strengths that this gregarious, guarded, self-contained man had never expected to be understood. So Peter Allen would joke his way around the Broadway flop and tell them about the folksy Australian town he came from, Tenterfield.
The fact that Peter had never actually stayed on in Tenterfield would not be mentioned because it would only confuse the issue. Peter Allen, real name Peter Woolnough, had in fact grown up in Armidale. But Armidale had been almost (but not quite) sophisticated for an Australian country town, and what was the value of that to legend? Best to talk about this little kid dancing in the never-never land of the Tenterfield bush, hoofing and tapping and queening it up while his grandfather made saddles; destiny’s tot rejecting the family business because he ‘didn’t want to work in leather,’ as he put it. As for the other town, Armidale, it just wasn’t funny, and didn’t sound right in a lyric. More to the point, though, Armidale was cursed by memory and blighted by personal ruin. So Peter Allen was the boy from Tenterfield and that was that for the purpose of myth.
In reality it was Dick who had grown up in Tenterfield, Peter’s father Richard Woolnough. Dick Woolnough would eventually be buried there too, in an unmarked grave, in the Presbyterian section of Tenterfield cemetery. But Dick Woolnough in the interim had taken himself to the larger town of Armidale which was a few hours south from Tenterfield along the New England Highway. Tenterfield had the looks but Armidale had the one quality that transcends all others: luck. Tenterfield was static, Armidale up-and-coming. These were the early days of World War Two and the young man hoping to better himself soon met and married a local Armidale girl, Marion Davidson. Marion Davidson was lively and, compared to Tenterfield, so was the town Dick chose to settle in.
With its population of nine thousand and growing, Armidale had its hoity-toity side and was the self-proclaimed ‘City of Arts and Cathedrals’. Australia’s fortunes at the time were tied to the land, so it was a fortunate thing that Armidale itself was ringed with land that yielded money — conservative, agricultural, animal-slaughtering money. The surrounding area had been settled by the station-owning class, many of whom lived in high rural style with full English silver tea services and private chapels for their own exclusive devotional worship. These were tough people who could now indulge in the luxury of gentility and self-improvement. The township of Armidale had subsequently flowered as a growing centre for higher education. Colleges, boarding schools and halls of hallowed learning had slowly but surely sprung up for the express purpose of turning rough colonial boys and girls into models of Anglo refinement.
All this brought business to the town, and there followed pubs, stores, boarding houses and aspects of what would later come to be known as the service industry. This burgeoning package also came with an inevitably rigid class system, fused to an outward show of good old Aussie egalitarianism.
Within this structure, Peter Woolnough when he arrived would be the product of the service industry working class. He would come with a powerfully instilled work ethic then swiftly develop an almost religious sense of vocation. Such was not the case with his father, who had very different leanings. Arriving in Armidale, Dick Woolnough found himself prosaic enough work selling and delivering groceries for Lamberts, a local retail outlet. The work was manageable but would quickly prove mind-numbing and the young man from Tenterfield would ultimately withdraw into his own shadow. Delivering foodstuffs year after year to wives with ice chests which melted with alacrity during the long hot summers would help turn the man into something similar to a phantom. As a consequence, few of these bushtown Beryls would remember with any real clarity the character, identity or personality quirks of Richard Woolnough. On the surface of things he was pleasing enough to the eye, a chap who liked his beer and cigarettes and had an index finger turning yellow from nicotine. He was also a man who liked dogs, appreciated their simple canine loyalty. Dick Woolnough lived inside himself but, in the early days, before the brooding darkened, he also had a taste for social dancing and a knack for playing the banjo.
Marion Woolnough nee Davidson was known as ‘Bubby’ to her family and friends. If Dick Woolnough was a ‘quiet chap’ as the locals referred to him, Marion herself came with a good deal more sparkle. She was the eldest of four sisters given to candidly quirky humour and the urge to laugh. Marion also had a talent for Scots dancing. She could do the intricate sword dances and the highland fling, for the outward markings of Marion’s character were derived from the more upbeat and celebratory aspects of the otherwise dour Scots soul. When it came to dancing, Marion and her sister Jean were something near to local champions in the heavily tartan town of Armidale, good enough to hold classes and pass on the dance steps they had mastered. When the Scots people of Armidale celebrated their special New Year it was often Marion who led off the twirling hogmanay dance, but at the same time surely no-one could seem more indelibly Australian than Marion Davidson.
Marion’s voice had the sound of the Queensland border to it, a lazy-sounding country drawl which came without the nasal aspect of the antipodes. Hers was the voice of Aussie fatalism and native wit, knowing and resigned, scorched by the sun and cork-tipped cigarettes which still came in tins. Marion didn’t say yes, she said ‘Yairs’, and her affirmative could bestow the flattery of endorsement or the sting of scepticism, depending on the tone. ‘Yairs,’ Marion would say, seeming to agree with life and the order of things, but the dull-minded were advised to beware, for Marion had the instincts of the unassuming rebel, the mordant iconoclast. Marion was bolder than she looked. Bright and wry, she delighted in making outrageous statements with a deadpan expression. Marion had a gimlet eye for truth and a dry, roaring laugh. Human pretensions and human disasters were favoured targets, for what could be funnier than either? Especially here in the City of Arts and Cathedrals? Both areas of observation provided the essence of humour, and humour was insurance against boredom. So was music, especially the cat-house piano of Fats Waller and the racing vibrato of Al Jolson, both of them personal favourites of Marion’s.
The stately centre of Armidale possessed temples to the Lord out of proportion to its population, praying space galore, but the township also played host to a lively, institutionalised gambling culture. Armidale had its own race track, and a profusion of pubs devoted to beer and bets; there was a porter at Tattersall’s Hotel, a weedy little guy who was said to have made himself a tidy fortune running wagers for visiting drinkers. As to Dick Woolnough, the man himself was something of a sucker for the horses. Life on the grocery route did not match Dick’s imagination and he had a penchant for attempting to gamble his way out of introversion and boredom.
biography, Books, excerpt, Music Bio, Musical, Peter Allen
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Posted September 18, 2015 by Michelle Cameron
To celebrate the release of The Last Quarrel in print, Duncan Lay will be touring around NSW, the ACT and Victoria in October, hitting up some book conventions as well as book stores.
If you come along to one of those days then you could take part in a fun Twitter/Facebook giveaway that could see you win a book pack or maybe enjoy a discount for the eBook to go with your print edition …
(This is Duncan, he’ll be the man near the table with the sharpie.)
Here’s where you can catch Duncan:
Thurs Oct 1:
Dymocks Canberra: 11am
Dymocks Tuggeranong: 2pm
Friday Oct 2:
Dymocks Belconnen 10am
Hooked On Books Batemans Bay 2.30pm
Saturday Oct 3:
Shoalhaven Superheroes convention (booksales for DeanSwift ABC Books Nowra)
Tuesday Oct 6
Galaxy Books 11am
Wed Oct 7
Dymocks George Street store: 12pm
Thurs Oct 8:
11am: Dymocks Penrith
5pm: Dymocks Macquarie Centre
Friday Oct 9:
11am: Dymocks Burwood
2.30pm: Dymocks Chatswood
Sat Oct 10:
Dymocks Tuggerah 1pm
Sun Oct 11:
Dymocks Rouse Hill 11am
Wed Oct 14:
Dymocks Collins St Melbourne: 11am
Dymocks Victoria Gardens: 2pm
Thurs Oct 15:
Dymocks Knox: 10am
Dymocks Glen Waverley 1pm
Dymocks Southland: 5pm
Fri Oct 16:
Dymocks Eastland 10am
Dymocks Doncaster 1pm
Sat Oct 17:
Sun Oct 18:
Sydney Book Expo at Olympic Park
Thursday October 22:
Event night at Berkelouw Hornsby: 6pm
Posted September 14, 2015 by Emily Stamm
There’s something undeniably fascinating about a good end of the world, post-apocalyptic story. It’s a great lens to view humanity through, and it often shows us the good and bad of our own society. The only problem with this kind of dystopian fiction is that there is currently so much of it! Everywhere you turn someone is trying to get you to read or watch the latest version of The Hunger Games. Here are seven great examples of post-apocalyptic stories. They might not be the best, and they certainly aren’t the only ones, but they’re all entertaining, beautiful, and engrossing stories about what happens after the world ends.
Mad Max: Fury Road
This movie surprised a lot of people this summer with its amazing characters, stunts, and storytelling. Much of this post-apocalyptic world is shown–but not explained– to great effect. If you want a gorgeous movie set after a mysterious disaster has changed the face of society, this is the one for you.
Station Eleven recently won the Arthur C. Clarke award, and I’m not sure I’ve ever agreed with an award quite so much. This was the most exciting, moving, thought-provoking book I read last year. The story-line jumps back and forth between the beginning of the plague and the present day, 14 years after illness killed most of the world’s population. Of special interest to fans of audio is the audio-book version read by Kirsten Potter.
Parasitology Trilogy Everything by Mira Grant
EVERYONE SHOULD READ THESE BOOKS! I’ve been tearing through Mira Grant’s back catalogue as I eagerly await the November 24 release of the last book in the Parasitology trilogy. In all of her books, Grant does a superb job of combining the hustle of blogging, politics, and mad science with the fear and intensity of a zombie (or zombie like) apocalypse. Start with the Newsflesh trilogy (since it is complete) and then read the Parasitology Trilogy. Trust me dear reader, I wouldn’t steer you wrong!
East of West
East of West is a science fiction/western comic set in a future dystopian United States where the Civil War never ended, it only got more complicated. The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse show up, and you can imagine the extra chaos that brings to everything. There’s a lot going on in this comic that I don’t want to spoil, but if you’re into alternate history, Firefly, or anything else on this list, you’re probably going to love East of West.
Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Writing together. I shouldn’t have to say any more to sell you on this book. Two of the greatest writers of the last few decades came together in 1990 to bring us a hilarious look at the end of the world, and all the people (including angels and demons) involved.
Margaret Atwood is undeniably one of the best writers of the last few decades. She’s brought us so many great stories, but the Maddaddam Trilogy might be her best work yet. The books take us through the turmoil of civilization after a mad scientist plays god and creates a designer disease. Fascinating, horrifying, moving, and at times funny, this is a must read for anyone interested in post-apocalyptic stories.
You’re seeing this on the list, and maybe you’re a little confused. Why am I including a children’s cartoon in a list of great stories about the end of the world? On the surface Adventure Time is a weird show for kids about a boy and his magical dog going on adventures together. If you look a little deeper, however, Adventure Time is clearly set on a half ruined Earth after a disastrous “Mushroom War” wrecked havoc on the world and mutated life forms into all kinds of strange creatures. Check out the Adventure Time wiki for a full list of references to the mysterious events that ended the world and created Ooo.
What’s your favorite post-apocalyptic story and why? Tell us in the comments below!
Tagged: Adventure Time, apocalypse, best post-apocalyptic fiction, Books, cartoons, East of West, Emily St. john Mandel, Good Omens, list, Mad Max: Fury Road, Maddadam trilogy, Margaret Atwood, Mira Grant, movies, neil gaiman, Parasitology Trilogy, post-apocalyptic, Station Eleven, stories, Terry Pratchett, trilogies
Posted September 4, 2015 by Emily Stamm
You can buy this card (and some other awesome geeky cards!) from linchpinseo.com.
This weekend is Father’s Day, and you might be wondering what to buy your dad. A tie? A new hammer? Why don’t you get your dad the best gift of all and share your passion for science fiction and fantasy?
If your dad loves VINTAGE CARS….
Buy him Christine by Stephen King. It’s an oldie but a goodie about a possessed car that kills a bunch of people. What’s not to love? Bonus! There’s even a movie you can watch together after he reads the book!
If you dad loves INTERNATIONAL POLITICS…
Buy him World War Z by Max Brooks. This is an amazing book set up as an “oral history of the zombie war.” Brooks takes us to surviving groups of humans all over the world, and we see the social and political complications the zombies caused.
There’s a movie for this one too, but if you like your dad you probably want to skip it.
If your dad loves SURVIVALISM…
Buy him The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. (Maybe your dad is into politics AND survivalism and you can get him two books! What a good offspring you would be!) The Zombie Survival Guide is an amazing parody of a more traditional survival guide. It has tips, advice, and history lessons about how to deal with the dead rising.
If your dad loves THE OUTDOORS….
Buy him The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. In this great science fiction series people learn how to visit infinite parallel Earths. Most metals can’t pass between the worlds, so people who settle on alternate Earths start out from scratch like old fashioned pioneers. Bonus: If he likes it, there are three more you can buy him!
If your dad loves SPORTS…
Buy him Future Sports edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois. This is a great sci-fi short story collection all about, you guessed it, sports. It features stories by Arthur C. Clarke, Andrew Weiner, and Kim Stanley Robinson (among others.)
If your dad loves CHESS…
Buy him The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon. While the most obvious choice might be Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, this is a more recent book where chess becomes a major plot point. It’s wonderful and your dad will love it.
If your dad loves MUSIC…
Buy him Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. The main character is a space-ship who collects songs from all across the galaxy. Snippets of the fictional songs are weaved throughout the book and feel like an important, natural part of the world Leckie has created.
If your dad loves IRISH HISTORY….
Buy him The Last Quarrel by Duncan Lay. Lay pulls from Irish history and folklore in his engrossing episodic fantasy series, now available in print! Check out more about the links to history here: Gaelland – The World of the Last Quarrel.
And if your Dad already a geek? AWESOME! See if you can find a signed copy of his favorite book at your local bookshop, ebay, or www.signedpage.com/.
Are you getting anything really awesome for your father this year? Tell us in the comments below!
Tagged: Books, books for dads, dad books, fantasy, fathers day, geeky hobbies, hobbies, novels, science fiction, short stories, The Last Quarrel, what to buy dad for fathers day
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Posted August 7, 2015 by Emily Stamm
These days, Hollywood can’t seem to get enough of rebooting our favorite books into gritty dystopian movies and television shows. The latest beloved classic to suffer this fate is Little Women. The loving sisters are going to be uncovering conspiracies and trying not to kill each other in Philadelphia, while we watch and wonder how on Earth someone thought this was a good idea.
Let’s take a look at how we could remake five other childhood favorites into ridiculous television drama or made for t.v. movies.
The Secret Garden
After her parents are murdered, sixteen-year old Mary Lennox is sent to live with her reclusive uncle. She’s miserable until she discovers a mysterious locked garden…with an attractive boy inside! Mary breaks into the garden and is shocked to discover that eighteen year old Dickon is running her uncle’s opium smuggling operation out of…The Secret Garden. We’ll kill cousin Colin off early, throw in a dash of star-crossed lovers from different socioeconomic backgrounds, and BAM! You’ve got a hit.
Wilbur the pig is shunned by the other barnyard animals, until Charlotte the spider takes an interest in him. She is the leader behind a group of animals who want to revolt against humans and take their lives into their own hands. Charlotte comes with with a scheme to spell words in her webs, manipulating the humans to think that Wilbur is chosen by God and should not be slaughtered after the fair. She begins convincing them that he should be set free, along with all the other farm animals, but is tragically killed in childbirth before her plan can come to fruition. Almost all of her children flee as soon as they hatch, but three remain behind to carry on her fight to free the animals.
Anne of Green Gables
Anne’s parents are killed by rival wizards when she is a baby, leaving her to float from foster home to orphanage and back again. When she is in her early teens, she is accidentally sent to the Cuthberts on Prince Edward Island. Furious that she isn’t a boy, they threaten to send her back. Anne casts a spell that makes them, and the entire town, adore her. The wizards who killed her parents find Anne, and she must battle them while maintaining her spell on the town. Scenes of note include the wizards changing the raspberry cordial into currant wine in order to discredit Anne; Wizards trying to kill Anne, but instead killing Matthew; and Anne becoming a powerful enough witch to teach at the Prince Edward Island equivalent to Hogwarts.
A Little Princess
Young Sara Crewe is taken by her father to one of the best boarding schools on the moon in 2075. Knowing her father is a rich explorer who has been doubling his fortune every five years on Mars, they treat her like a little princess. A few years later, the school receives word that Captain Crewe’s whole team was lost on Mars during a dust storm, and he was most certainly dead. The school, especially the headmistress, begin treating Sara like a servant. She regularly has to go outside in a spacesuit to collect rocks and clean dust off the solar panels (because space). Meanwhile, a mysterious man moves in next door to the school. He slowly recovers his memory, and realizes that he was the lead scientist on Captain Crewe’s mission, and that’s why he has a research monkey living with him. The monkey escapes (in a tiny monkey spacesuit) and Sara finds him while cleaning solar panels. When returning the monkey to the mysterious stranger, they learn of their connection.
Bonus sequel: The mysterious stranger and Sara go back to Mars to try and recover Captain Crewe’s body. Once there, they find that the whole crew has become zombies. Space zombies.
Little House on the Prairie
A few decades after most of the world was wiped out by nuclear bombs, the Ingalls family struggles to survive in the desolate wasteland that was once America. If we change the tone of the narrator from unending optimism to resignation, we can even keep most of the major plot points the same! Everyone gets malaria, sister Mary goes blind, locusts eat all the crops, nuclear winter strands the family in their log cabin, and there are so many chores to be done. Think of the possibilities for costumes! Special effects! Dramatic acting! There is no way this wouldn’t be a hit.
Whether you love them or hate them, we want to hear your thoughts on the gritty reboot trend. Do you have any hope at all for the new Little Women series?Tagged: Books, fantasy, fiction, gritty reboots, hollywood, list, Little Women, Little Women remake, movies, remakes, Sci-Fi, television, zombies
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Posted July 10, 2015 by Patrick Lenton
Momentum is the digital-only imprint of Pan Macmillan Australia. Established in February 2012, we publish high quality ebooks globally. Our website and blog is the hub of our operation, and we’d like to include as many diverse voices as possible. Our blog currently hosts opinions from Momentum employees, authors and other contributors, and now we’d like you to have the chance to have your say about the world of books, writing and reading on the Momentum blog.
We are looking for THREE BLOGGERS who are interested in books, specifically with an interest in genre fiction (predominantly thrillers, romance, science fiction/fantasy, new adult and horror). We are looking for two bloggers for the Momentum blog, and a romance and erotic romance specific blogger for our Moonlight imprint blog. Obsessive readers in these genres are encouraged.
What we want from you:
– 4-8 blog posts a month, with a minimum word count of 300 words each.
– Each week the Momentum marketing team will take pitches from the bloggers about topics of their choice and sometimes ask for specific material for the blog (posts about particular books, movies, TV as well as genre-specific content and trending events).
– Preference will be given to a blogger with a relevant social media presence (Twitter, Facebook, etc).
– Genre bloggers step to the front of the line. If you love romance, science fiction, fantasy and thrillers show us your passion for your genre(s).
What we are offering in return:
– An audience of readers and writers
– $25 per post (minimum of 4 and maximum of 8 posts per month)
– free Momentum ebooks
To apply, send a sample blog post on the topic EBOOKS VS PRINT BOOKS, as well as a covering letter and brief resume to email@example.com by July 20th 2015 with the subject line ‘Momentum Blogger’. Be sure to include your name, city, country of residence and occupation. We welcome applicants from all over the world, but the posts must be in English.
Your sample blog post should be the type of thing you’d be posting on a regular basis (not a hokey introductory post). And of course, if we select you as our resident blogger then you will be compensated accordingly if you decide to use your sample blog post as your first post.
If you have any questions, feel free to email or ask in the comments below.
Terms & Conditions
- The winning applicant will be subject to a trial period of one month.
- Posts will be vetted by staff before going live.
- Posts will remain the copyright of the author, however, Momentum will retain an exclusive right to first posting for a period of no less than six months.
- The successful blogger will invoice Momentum monthly for posts within the previous four week period.
- The successful blogger’s contract can be terminated with two week’s notice.
- Momentum welcomes international bloggers. However, we do not accept responsibility for additional bank fees or transfer costs for international invoice payments.
- These conditions are subject to change.
Posted April 23, 2015 by Eve Merrier
Last week I came to a point in my life where I thought I had too many books. I’m talking physical books here. Thankfully no one can see how stuffed my ereader is and its fullness doesn’t affect how easy it is to walk around my house, unlike the paperback pile-up. Then I realised I was being ridiculous. There is no such thing as too many books, just not enough bookshelves. That’s more easily rectified than parting with my tomes.
Having bought my wall-sized shelving monolith, the issue was how to arrange my books. I have a good deal of book arranging experience from my time in libraries. The Dewey system is a clear option for the non-fiction, but that did feel a little too much like work. My home is not a library. Yet.
It would be sensible to have the fiction alphabetically by author, but that just created a multi-coloured wall that was rather hard on the eyes. Also, it felt a lot like work.
It briefly crossed my mind to have it thematically, organised by similarities and genre, but that seemed too much like pigeon-holing works that deserved more.
So I went with the only solution that made sense to me. I organised them by colour. And, my goodness, is it beautiful.
It’s a rainbow of absolute joy, and very easy on the eyes, so simple to see what’s where. I also learnt that I have a lot of white and cream books, very few greens and a lot of mauve and purple. I wonder if that shows a genre preference or a shopping prejudice?
It was lovely to do and involved minimal admin and no cataloguing whatsoever. It was the ideal librarian’s day off.
How do you arrange your books?Tagged: alphabetical, book covers, Books, bookshelves, Dewey Decimal system, ereader, library, organising by colour, reading, too many books
Posted April 7, 2015 by Eve Merrier
Pet care, military history, even the reference shelf: this guy is going to read a book from each of them. Robert Sedgwick wants to expand his reading, and to promote his local library. He decided the best way to do this was to read a book from each bookcase in the library – there are 133 bookcases, by his count – and blog about it here. He has over 20,000 books to choose from.
As with any self-imposed Herculean challenge, one must set oneself some rules:
Firstly, he defined a bookcase:
‘For my purposes a bookcase is a set of parallel horizontal shelves with vertical sides. As soon as you cross a vertical line it’s another bookcase. Tables of books laid flat I will treat as one bookcase.’
Then a book:
‘I will only read English prose/poetry books, so things like telephone directories and dictionaries which are not meant for reading I won’t consider as books, likewise audio cds and recordings of people reading books are not for this project. If there are no valid books on a bookshelf then I will ignore that shelf.
If possible I will not read any book or author I have read before and I will select books at least 150 pages long. I’ll only break this rule if there is no other choice on the bookshelf.
My intention is to stick to the adult library and not to select books from the children’s section.’
He also states that if he is utterly loathing the chosen book he reserves the right to abandon it and choose a different title from the same bookcase. Very wise.
He started at the beginning of the year so is already 19 shelves into the challenge. He began at the front door and is working his way around the library in an anti-clockwise direction, gradually spiralling into the centre. He’s been through true crime, thrillers, young adult and book of the week. You can take a virtual tour of his chosen library here to get a sense of what he has in store.
As a person who works in libraries I have two things to say about this:
1. Everyone should look around sections in the library they don’t often visit – there are hidden gems and Dewey-decimal quirks that mean you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Ask the people working there for recommendations – we know where the buried treasure is (and we’ve read half of it)!
2. Also, keep going back to your favourite sections because libraries are constantly getting new books, either brand new or circulated from around the county. They don’t all go on the ‘new titles’ section to make sure you go to the shelves and see the older stuff too. We want you to take out a new book and an old favourite!
What do you think of Robert’s idea? Could you do it? Is there a section you’d never consider taking a book from? Comments please!Tagged: book blog, Books, bookshelves, challenges, crime, Dorking Library, First Off the Shelf, library, reading, Surrey Libraries, thriller, young adult
Posted February 3, 2015 by Michelle Cameron
Gaelland is a nation gripped by fear.
In the country, fishing boats return with their crews mysteriously vanished, while farms are left empty, their owners gone into the night, meals still on the table. In the cities, children disappear from the streets or even out of their own beds. The King tells his people that it is the work of selkies – mythical creatures who can turn from seals into men and back again – and witches. But no matter how many women he burns at the stake, the children are still being taken. Fallon is a man who has always dreamed of being a hero. His wife Bridgit just wants to live in peace and quiet, and to escape the tragedies that have filled her life. His greatest wish and her worst nightmare are about to collide. When an empty ship sails into their village, he begins to follow the trail towards the truth behind the evil stalking their land. But it is a journey that will take them both into a dark, dark place and nobody can tell them where it might end …
The Last Quarrel Episode One is now for sale. All other episodes are available for pre-order.
Tagged: Books, cover reveal, fantasy, fiction, reading
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Posted January 23, 2015 by Eve Merrier
This week I read Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It’s very special. One of its best qualities is the blend of ordinariness with the fantastical. This is epitomised by the eponymous ocean, which looks like a duck pond. It struck me that all the best means of travel through space, time, and various other dimensions, are ordinary. Or at least they look it. That’s the joy of it: bringing the magic into the real world, making it feel like you just have to find the right wardrobe…
Narnia is a good place to start. The wardrobe is, of course, the most iconic means of reaching Aslan’s realm, but you can also get there via train platforms, with magical rings given to you by a sinister uncle, or through a picture in your aunt and uncle’s spare bedroom.
Fireplaces work well too. Not to take you to a different world, but to travel around Harry Potter’s version of our own. The traveller also needs to be in possession of Floo powder and to speak the name of the place they want to go to. Apparently, it’s also important to keep your elbows in. I think I might start telling children that Santa Claus is Dumbledore’s brother, travelling by Floo.
The TARDIS may be iconic these days, but the UK used to be covered in police boxes, so it was a subtle way to travel. The interiors of the boxes used to be used as mini police stations, so you could, quite easily, plop it down anywhere and step out without anyone batting an eyelid.
Powered by the fire, the innocuous wooden door of Howl’s Moving Castle has a dial to turn, depending on where you’d like to step out. This works no matter where the castle is. The flower meadow, which Howl is showing Sophie for the first time below, is my happy place.
In Yonderland, the funniest TV series in existence, the pantry functions as a portal. Debbie is a suburban English mum, and a bit bored, until and elf appears from her cupboard, insisting that she is The Chosen One and must save Yonderland. Though they’ve lost the scroll that says how she’s supposed to do it. Each episode, they venture through her pantry to a magical realm, ensuring she’s home in time to pick up the kids. Watch a clip.
Fiction is also full of swirling wormholes, rips in time and high tech teleporters. They’re cool too. But I think there’s something truly excellent in using the ordinary as the basis for the extraordinary. The more closely it resembles our world, the easier it is to believe in magic.anime, Books, C. S. Lewis, Diana Wynne Jones, doctor who, fantasy, fiction, Floo, Harry Potter, Howl's Moving Castle, J.K. Rowling, Miyazaki, Narnia, neil gaiman, police box, portals, science fiction, Studio Ghibli, tardis, teleportation, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, time travel, writers, Yonderland
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Posted January 20, 2015 by Michelle Cameron
Love, revenge, secrets – and murder – in a medieval kingdom at war.
A young woman, left alone and destitute after the mysterious death of her mother, plants a sprig of rosemary on her grave and vows, somehow, to bring the murderer to justice. But who can Janna trust with the truth? Even the villein Godric, who wants to marry her, and Hugh, the dashing nobleman, have secrets that threaten her heart and her safety.
In a country torn apart by the vicious civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Matilda, Janna needs all her wits and courage to stay alive as she comes closer to those who are determined to silence her forever.
Tagged: Books, cover reveal, Historical Fiction, Janna Chronicles
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Posted January 16, 2015 by Eve Merrier
You’ve heard that enough monkeys with enough typewriters would eventually create the complete works of Shakespeare? Well some people with access to monkeys got a grant, and a computer. Then Hamlet happened. Sorry, that’s not true. Here’s what really occurred:
They put the computer in the monkey enclosure to see what literary masterpiece they might type. It turns out that monkeys really like the letter ‘S’. The six Sulawesi crested macaques, called Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan, typed little else on the five pages they produced. They also mostly destroyed the machine and used it ‘as a lavatory’. Monkeys, we expected more of you.
To look at it from one aspect, the point is not actually to discover if monkeys can do it, but to find out if randomly punched keys, ad infinitum, will create Shakespeare. In fact the origin of the phrase held no mention of monkeys. It’s probably a variation of Aristotle’s example of a book whose text was formed by letters randomly scattered on the ground. Eighteenth and Nineteenth century French mathematicians often discussed the idea of a book which was created by a random splurge of letters from a printing press. It was one of these French number-chiefs, Émile Borel, who brought monkeys into it: he said they could eventually come up with every tome in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
So real life monkeys are no good – they will just pee over everything – and the capacity for monkey concentration is kind of not the point, but how about hypothetical virtual monkeys? A computer generation was set up, in which virtual monkeys typed at random. Each day they created an eighteen or nineteen character string of real words that happen in Shakespeare.
Pretty early on a twenty-one character string, recognisably from Love’s Labour’s Lost appeared:
KING. Let fame, that [wtIA”yh!…
Which looks remarkably like:
KING. Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
Live regist’red upon our brazen tombs,
And then grace us in the disgrace of death.
The record was this from Henry IV, Part 2:
RUMOUR: Open your ears; [9r’5j5…
Which matches the first part of:
RUMOUR: Open your ears; for which of you will not stop
The vent of hearing when loud Rumour speaks?
On average, one character was added to the string each year, so truly infinite (virtual) monkeys, with infinite time and/or greater speed might just pull it off.
Shakespeare’s fab, but we’ve already got Shakespeare. What use is monkey plagiarism? If I had infinite monkeys, I think I’d try and coax them into writing something new. I would like to see infinite monkeys trying to get an agent, securing a publishing deal, and eventually collecting the Booker Prize and making their awards speech. Sadly, I don’t think that’s going to happen, so for the moment I’ll stick to reading books written by humans. Reality, you disappoint me sometimes.
Tagged: Books, infinite monkeys, Monkeys and typewriters, reading, Shakespeare, typing, writing
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