Wednesday, October 21, 2015

TTT: Things I wish a book genie would grant me

Better late than never, right? I, Cailey, forgot to post this lovely post yesterday, on Tuesday. So since it's back to the future day, let's all pretend it's Tuesday and enjoy!

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started on the Broke and the Bookish blog.
They set the topic, we make the lists. Visit their site to see more on this topic
10 Things I wish a book genie would grant me:

1. More Paul Cornell books: I would oh so very much love it if Paul Cornell could see his way clear publishing at least one more volume (and maybe several) in the London Falling/Severed Streets series. Cornell has a lot of irons in the fire and, as such, is probably kind of pressed for time. But I thought those books were first rate. Cornell established interesting characters and effectively combined police procedural and dark, urban whatever the Dresden Files are.

2. The power to quit: I’m just one of those neurotics who is obsessed with finishing books I start. As a consequence, I order up a lot of books (the people at SearchOhio must have a wanted poster with my name on it) but start very few because I know that once I’m in, I’m in. My colleagues are great at quitting things. Why can’t I?

3. A Children of Hurin movie: Okay this is a wish for a film about a book, but what can you do? Children of Hurin (as most of you don’t know) is a book about the history of men and elves that J.R.R. Tolkien’s son Christopher put together from his father’s notes. It’s really great, but I doubt that any such thing could be brought into existence without causing a rip in space/time, since a) The Children of Hurin is pretty obscure, and b) Peter Jackson has pretty much exhausted any residual public interest in seeing Tolkien on film with his execrable Hobbit movies.

4. More hours in the day: Being a librarian is, in most respects, awesome. I get to work with some really smart individuals who make me laugh, and I spend the day helping people, which I enjoy. But one of the challenges is that I am constantly facing book overload. Due to professional necessity, I have extensive knowledge of what new stuff is coming out, and I have people with good taste constantly recommending things to me. My “to read” pile is on the verge of becoming some sort of decrepit book fort, and things are getting worse and not better.

5. An audience with Charles Stross: Preferably to be held in a London pub with a liberal bar tab policy. Anyone who has read my posts will know that I’ve pretty much loved (or at least liked) everything I’ve read by him. I mean, the guy wrote a book (Neptune’s Brood) the main character of which was a forensic accountant…and it was awesome. No, I’m not joking. Cory Doctorow described Stross as the nerdiest person he’d ever met, and I’d like to test that statement over a few scoops.

6. Make Ernest Cline’s Armada disappear: Ready Player One was a really fabulous book. When Armada came out one of my coworkers (whose judgment is pretty unerring in these matters) said something like, “This book is so bad it makes me think that maybe his first one wasn’t as good as I thought it was.” I should have taken her hint and not read it, but I guess I was moved by prurient curiosity. I mean, who looks away from train wrecks or hockey fights? Not this guy. Anyway, those are hours of my life that I won’t get back and I feel like it would be best for all concerned if some sort of magic could be done to erase this book from existence.

7. Nathan Edmondson/Phil Noto/Black Widow/more please: Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s excellent run of Black Widow is ending (the last trade should be here about the middle of this month) and I am sad. It’s been brilliant. Edmondson creates stories about Natasha Romanoff with depth and subtlety, but it is Phil Noto’s beautiful artwork that really made this series. Noto’s work on these books has been a masterclass in the use of color to express emotion and action. Noto has moved on to do a Chewbacca series, which I kind of don’t care for. Meanwhile, it was announced a couple of days ago that a new Black Widow series would start next year written by Mark Waid and drawn by Chris Samnee, the team responsible for the recent (most excellent) run of Daredevil. If I had my way, Edmondson and Noto would keep doing Black Widow and Waid and Samnee would keep doing Daredevil, but (absent a genie) what can you do?

8. Writing like Elena Ferrante: I’ve just been reading My Brilliant Friend, the first of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels and it is just as good as people say. It tells the story of two girls growing up in Sicily in the early 1950s and presents a perspective that is very much undiscovered country in modern fiction. The thing that is really striking about this book is the quality of the prose. Ferrante’s writing is spare, but rich nonetheless, conveying beautiful details about the texture of life in Naples from the perspective of a young girl growing into adolescence. If it could write one paragraph with the quality of Ferrante’s book, well, things would be a lot different than they are.

9. An end to punk: I dearly wish that anything that people now want to designate as edgy they append the suffix -punk to. Cyberpunk was bad enough. Steampunk really makes me want to wretch. What does this actually have to do with punk? Well, my coworkers know not to ask me questions like that, since my answers tend to be long-winded at the best of times. Which these aren't. But the short answer is: zilch. Anyway, cyberpunk is just scifi, or dark urban scifi, or whatever. Steampunk is, well it’s pretty boring in my experience but there’s no accounting for taste.

10. No more politicians writing books: It seems like pretty much every book order I send in contains at least one book by some pundit or other from the American political firmament. I abhor these books for two reasons. One is that they tend to have a very short shelf life. Within six months nobody is interested in reading them anymore, and no one will be in the future. Second, and let me say that this is irrespective of party or political tendency, the vast majority of these people simply have nothing to say. Across the political spectrum, America’s politicians and pundits seem blissfully ignorant of the scientific literature on most matters of fact, often willfully so. I know why people like to read these books. It’s comforting to have one’s own views validated by some sort of “expert”. My motto is: it’s a lot more useful reading a book by someone with whom you disagree than by someone with whom you agree. If I had a genie at my command my wish would be that these writers be compelled to familiarize themselves with the scientific literature on their topic before burdening the book market with the products of their vanity. End of lecture.

What wishes would your genie grant?


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