If I think about it, my life is just a history of the books I’ve read. The Summer of the Lord of the Rings. The summer after that when I read Inkheart, The Thief Lord,The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and The Fog Diver all at once, drinking in every last gasp of words before heading off to school. The fall of my freshman college year will always be The Magic Thief, and then The Tombs of Atuan, sitting by myself reading at lunch under a tree. Watching the leaves fall (yes, so I sometimes wandered into class unwittingly with them in my hair), and the flowers bloom and petals fall on the open pages. And I can no longer think about that spring without the words of The Name of the Wind following me, waiting around every corner.
Books. My life is a story of books.
Lots of people say they love books. Sometimes–don’t be angry–I think they just really like them.
I cried over a movie trailer once because a favorite mythic hero was absolutely nothing like himself and everyone thought it was fine. A movie trailer.
I made a good friend through mutual book/movie ranting nobody else wanted to listen to. It’s rare if we talk long without books coming into conversation even today.
I’ll willingly fight anyone over them. Even if almost all other subjects leave me so disinterested I don’t even speak.
Sometimes I can’t respect someone who has only new books on their list of favorites–nothing more than five or six years old. How is that possible? Difficult as it is to pick a favorite, how can you neglect the hundreds upon thousands of glorious titles published in time ago? How do you know you’ll love it for a lifetime when it’s only been around you a few years? Haven’t you plunged into the musty pages? Gone exploring in the archaic words? Wouldn’t it be better to pick twenty titles, ten from new and ten from old? Fifty, even? More?
I quote book characters when the mood suits me–“Mo says that books…” or “Jacob Reckless was the one in the tavern, I remember now,” or “Bea would say that’s purple,” without warning people I’m talking about fictional things–because what’s the point?
I make a shopping list when I go to the library, and promptly forget to consult it twenty paces within the stacks, staring up at the shelves, eyes flicking across the titles, mouth open, drinking in the sight
So as an apology for not blogging as often lately, and for the absentee blogger I am almost certainly going to become during NaNoWriMo, I am going to bend one of my rules and blog about my life instead of books or things that didn’t happen or someone else’s stories. That way you can understand a few things that have been keeping me away from the keyboard.
Don’t get too comfortable with the idea; I enjoy my privacy as much as a curmudgeonly old cat lady and this is probably not going to be a regular thing.
After starting this post, I realized it was very long…so after a week’s delay, rather than have one gigantic story that will be too long for me to edit or anyone else to read…I give you three.
Starting (in chronological order of my Grand Bookish Adventures) with the
Feel free to use your imagination about what they’re like. And share the whimsical stories with me. I will gleefully fabricate more fantastical details for you. With dragons, of course.
In truth though, the biannual library sales are two of my favorite weeks of the year. The books are inexpensive to the point of making those of us buying them seem like sneak-thieves and robbers. There is almost always something for everyone, and if you walk out with only one book, you are stared at with a mixture of revulsion and disbelief (To my memory, I have never done this). Sales typically run from Wednesday through Sunday, fall and spring (you’ll see why this detail is important shortly).
This year I bought…way more books than I should have. Most are sitting in a tidily stacked little tower, patiently waiting to be shelved. My first recent adventure went something like this:
Went to sale on Day 1
(because, seriously. There are lots of other good book hunters out there. I don’t want someone to snatch my favorites before I get there. Also why I haven’t mentioned where the sales are held. I will share books with friends…but only very, very close friends)
Bought Nielsen’s Runaway King and anything else of hers I found.
C.S. Lewis’s battered Space Trilogy (but it’s complete, and in condition I won’t mind loaning out to other readers, especially those with questionable book-eating habits)
The Wise Man’s Fear–identical edition to the one I’d borrowed from the library.
What! you say. Why would she buy that book? Doesn’t she hate it? Wait…does this mean she loves it now? Why did she buy it?
…Because I need it. You’ll get a full explanation after NaNo is over and I have time to write the Rothfuss reviews. Now stop questioning my character inconsistencies. It was there, I wanted it, I bought it. Mine. The end.
The one-volume His Dark Materials…a friend recommended them, and I bought a battered The Golden Compass last sale…so now I have a duplicate…but it saves tracking down the others if I find out I like them.
Tehanu!!! Finally I have my hands on you and can keep reading Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea cycle. Also the sole LeGuin find for the duration of the sale.
Several Anne McCaffrey Dragonriders of Pern books. Including the first one so I can finally start reading the series.
Adam of the Road. Again, how have I never read this?
Several other Unknown Authors, Collection of Fairytales, and anthologies that made their way into my hands between Sale Days 1-2 (no, I didn’t camp out there, searching the stacks…that actually sounds like fun though…)
Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone. I’ve actually never heard of this author. Which is somewhat irksome and gloriously exciting at the same time. Usually I’m hesitant to buy an unknown book…but it was Ace Fantasy…and it looked good. Like Ursula LeGuin high-epic fantasy good. The covers were gorgeous, the volumes were slim, back-cover blurbs intriguing and condition practically brand new. They had vol. 1-4, 7, and the “newest,” The Revenge of the Rose, but I only picked up one, hesitant of an unknown author…which leads us to…
Day 2. Went back to the sale for the rest of the Moorcock series.
Yeah, I know. But if they were good, I’d be kicking myself for years for not getting the rest. And if I hate them…well, that’s nothing that hasn’t happened before. (Actually, if anyone knows anything about/totally loves this author, please fill me in! I love hearing what other people think of books. Just no spoilers, please!).
I was also browsing books for someone else who couldn’t be at the sale that day…so don’t judge me too harshly for going back just for Elric.
The Crown of the Collection:
Backtracking a little–Day 1 I made the mistake of going to the old/fine books section. Never do this if you aren’t willing to meet a book you can’t part with.
I found a limited edition Anne McCaffrey, Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern.
I gaped. Unfortunately, it was buy that book (because word of the wise Book Hunters, don’t bring your checkbook to the sale. Only cash. You will most assuredly overspend) or take home the towering stack of bargain books I’d already collected.
I went with the pile of books. Gave the limited edition a loving look and promised to be back on half price day. If it would wait for me.
Day 3 I refused to go to the sale again; I had too much work-stuff going on.
But if my loved ones trouping out the door on their merry way wanted to peek in on the McCaffrey, just to see how it was doing…
To Skip to the End…
Apparently there’s a rule I wasn’t aware of that better books are culled before half price and bag day.
…and I wasn’t there…
The Merry Troupe of Day 3 brought the book back for me.
They are awesome in every sense of the word. (initiate BookmarkedOne low, graceful bow of undying gratitude).
Here’s a grainy picture of the glorious crown to this year’s collection:
Did I mention the blue is fuzzy? Anybody else ever had a felted book cover?
Needless to day, I did not go back to the sale again this fall.
(Is that needless? Or would you keep wondering?)
Anyway. That really was the end of my visit to the fall book sale. If any of the titles struck your fancy and you’d like to see them reviewed first, let me know! I’d love to hear what your favorites are or what books you were curious about reading yourself.
And NaNo starts at midnight tonight so…for those of you who aren’t writing 50,000 words this month, happy reading and relaxing. And those who are…
Call your dragons and brew your coffee! Swallow your fears and stir your ink! Our day has come!
Alright, so after griping over The Wizard of Oz, I owe you a good book review. And here it is, in all its whimsical, gritty, beautiful, bizarre, glory.
The Thief Lord, everyone.
Book Review 7 (spoiler-free): The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
Genre: Children’s Fantasy/Magical Realism
Bookmarked One Rating: 8/10
Completion Date: Late Summer 2016
Content for the Sensitive Reader: some mild language/violence, robberies and pickpocketing without direct punishment, references to churches as “creepy,” and smoking.
It’s a weird book. Probably why I like it.
I didn’t actually fall in love with it at first read. I think this was around the time I had first gotten my claws into Inkheart and was reading everything else Cornelia Funke I could find.
The Thief Lord is not Inkheart, that’s for sure. And for 75ish percent of the book, it doesn’t even seem like fantasy.
She saved up for the last quarter of the book so things could get really interesting.
That being said, the first part has its own charm. I am the first to pounce on a rich, well-developed high fantasy, but some books don’t actually require a magical element to be good. Like Robin Hood. They’re just good. The first part of The Thief Lord is like that.
The scene is Venice. An abandoned movie theater. The characters, children, pickpockets and runaways by trade, and one Victor Getz, detective.
What else could you possibly need?
Just a boy who calls himself the Thief Lord, a man who takes him seriously, a few charming scenes with pigeons, a fat pawnbroker, a charming photographer with gondola earrings, and a magic carousel (which, by the way, makes an offhand appearance in Fearless).
After reading Inkheart, I easily fell in love with the beginning of The Thief Lord. In order of appearance,
I loved Hornet with her long braided hair and “slightly hoarse” voice. And she had my taste in books. If I were any of the characters (fun as it would be to play the part of Scipio), I have little doubt I’d be Hornet.
I loved the movie theater. Woo, did I love the movie theater! I’ve almost never looked at a movie theater since without thinking of theirs, slowly sinking beneath the Venetian waves. Somewhere in the ages since I read that book, I realized I wanted to live there, too. Hornet reading aloud at night, her voice echoing off the walls, Prosper mending Bo’s socks, everyone listening for Scipio’s footsteps…
I loved Prosper and Bo. They are the perfect pair of brothers. The kind that are so good and sweet you want to hug them both and tell them all their dreams will come true, just hold on tight, everything will be fine. They would give up anything for each other. Anything.
I loved the idea of the dashing Scipio running about Venice in his plague doctor mask–I want to do that! I want to stroll about in a mask and have his even confidence that nobody thinks twice about it. And I want to go running across rooftops in a long black cloak. I love the way he tells the stories of his exploits. Storyteller, liar, something in between, well, we have that in common. And by this point, I think I’ve made clear my weakness for good thief characters.
I loved the deceit. Weird thing to love, I know. But I love it when characters get snared in their own web of secrets and lies, when the web becomes so thick they can’t tell what’s real and what’s make-believe.
I loved Bo. Especially Bo and his kittens, Bo getting into trouble, Bo just acting like any other kid his age, and Bo being stubborn and knowing he isn’t a painting in a gallery just for looking at.
I loved Riccio! Riccio always made me laugh in the first half, especially his sparring matches with Barbarossa and hunting after sweets (note here, of the movie adaptation, Riccio was cast perfectly. It’s not often I get to say that).
I loved that the kids weren’t invulnerable. That they got colds living in the theater and had stuffy noses, and got banged up and admitted that life was scary and hard. It was gorgeous. So many books act like pain or the common cold don’t exist, and they’re so much less real for it.
I loved baby Barbarino. Oh, I laughed and laughed. Another thing the movie adaptation got right…minus the curly hair, that is.
I love the weird ending. I love how it doesn’t feel right. I love that Scipio ends up…well to avoid spoilers, not unhappy. I love that just when everything seemed over, Scipio showed up and said let’s have one more adventure and see if we can make things worse. I love that he went back for his cat, even though I thought it was weird until all of a few months ago, when I realized I’d sadly do almost the exact same thing. I love that Cornelia has twisted parts of an old story into something new, making us all wonder if Peter Pan had the right idea after all. I love that I still haven’t made up my mind about if she’s right or not. I love that every time I think about it, I realize I’ve fallen for it a little more.
It didn’t actually happen all at once. I finished it right before the school year started, sat in my beanbag chair, looked at the beautiful cover and thought well, that was weird.
Or some such. You get the idea.
I set the book aside, read something else (The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, was also that summer, if I remember correctly), wondered if I liked the ending. Thought it was a weird book.
Then something happened. I don’t know when.
Six months, maybe a year later. I found out about the movie adaptation.
Both halves of my brain: we must watch it.
So I did. Because I suddenly realized that I loved the book. All of it. Scipio, Prosper, Bo, Hornet, Riccio, the theater, Venice, the carousel, everything, everything, all of it. And I had to see the movie, even if it got things dead wrong because I wanted to see them all again, just like it was the first time, fresh and new as a clean white page.
And now I’m realizing that I’ve written almost the entire review with nothing negative to say about the book.
I guess it’s going to have to stay that way because I can’t think of anything now to grouse over.
I would have a few years ago.
Sometimes Cornelia’s books just have to grow on me. I was totally dissatisfied with Inkspell after I read it…and Reckless disgusted me the first time and a half…now I find myself talking about them like old friends (don’t get cocky, Jacob Reckless. I still don’t approve of you).
As for the movie adaptation…well, stick with the book. It’s not bad. It’s actually pretty good. But stick with the book. It’s better. By far.