Sunday, August 28, 2011

First Officer's Log No 38: Events, Events, Events!

Soooooooooooooo.... rumor has it that there's a shindig going down at the Haunted Bookshop on 9 September, to celebrate the remodel and the grand reopening. Not to mention 7 years under Captain Nialle's leadership. Yes, that is right, the USS Haunted Bookshop will be setting sail (or flight) for an exciting 8th year with Nialle as owner, and zipping ahead into our 3rd year at our new home on the corners of Market and Linn Streets in Iowa City's Northside neighborhood.

We're celebrating the awesomeness that is Nialle and the bookshop in early September, but mark your calendars! There's more events to come!

Banned Books Week is 24 September through 1 October this year. Check back for updates on little things we might be doing to promote literacy. You never know when a section might suddenly become 'member only' or 'forbidden' during the last week of September... Keep your eyes open.

Also happening on 1 October is the Northside Oktoberfest. This is the first time this event has happened, and I confess that I'm not as informed as I should be about it, but their website is filled with updates, calendars, and all sorts of good information about the festival. There will be music, a beer garden for grown ups, and a soda garden for kids.

There may also be a Captain and a First Officer walking about with puppets strapped to our backs, selling them and conversing and carrying on in our generally silly way.

Busy month ahead!

Until next time, fellow bibliophiles!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hugo Awards 2011

Hello, all! Your First Officer is here to present you with hi-flying Science Fiction inspired madness in the form of the 2011 Hugo Award Winners!

Best Novel: Blackout / All Clear by Connie Willis

Best Novella: The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang

Best Novellete: "The Emperor of Mars" by Allen M. Steele

Best Short Story: "For Want of a Nail" by Mary Robinette Kowal

And, just for fun, here's an added bonus -

Best Related Work: Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O'Shea, published by Des Moines, Iowa's very own Mad Norwegian Press

Congratulations to all the winners and the Mad Norwegians!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

First Officer's Log No 37: The Book Madness Commences...

My book list has thinned itself out, and just as quickly, it resumes its towering stance, and mocks my fruitless efforts to whittle it down to a manageable state of affairs.

I have finally caught up on two of the book series I was devouring, Karen Traviss' excellent Gears of War military science fiction novels (seriously, Traviss is an incredible writers. Check her out. Go, go, go!) and Anton Strout's Simon Canderous books, which are urban fantasy mysteries with bureaucracy and a firm tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. Having caught up on these two series allows me to look at all the rest. What I come to the conclusion of with regard to my book collection is that a number of the books on my shelves are titles that I simply don't read.

I have found this to be the true test of the bibliophile's spirit: I make lists of books that I'll want to read; sometimes, should I find the book for a reasonable price, I will procure it and add it to the ever-growing horde. The issue is when I get to that book's place in the Towering Would-Be Inferno, I find that my interest has waned or vanished altogether, thereby making that book a waste of space.

And I hate that.

It's truly the test of the bibliophile's spirit and interest when a book is taking up space, desiring to be read, and yet the reader has no interest.

It's not the first time this has happened to me. I've taken to reacquiring some books I fondly recall from childhood only to go back and read them for a few pages before relegating them to the 'Nostalgia' pile. It's a sad state of affairs when the bookseller can't even get into an old book.

Perhaps that's why the book list thins. I find that my reading time is valuable to me, and if I can have the time to read, I want to read something worthwhile. Even if I deign to read something that could be construed by myself and others as 'junk food fiction' (I have no shame about my love for this genre, and all it entails [mysery, science fiction / fantasy, trashy YA]), I still am somewhat picky: the book can be all kinds of bad for me, but I still want it to taste good.

Junk Food Fiction = spicy hot chocolate from the Java House (hot chocolate, cinnamon, whipped cream, cayenne pepper, and a chili pepper placed in the cream). It's delicious, terrible for me, and I'll probably regret it later, but it sure tastes good at the time.

So, despite my reading time being valuable, I haven't spent it reading classics this summer. I intended to attack the Russian novelists, but found my attention being grabbed by other novels and writers, most of whom were not classics, and suffered that terrible burden of still breathing. My intention was to continue my summer attempt at reading the major works of a certain country's writers; this didn't happen. So Dostoyevsky will probably be devoured sometime in November; I was informed that this is a good month in which to read dead Russians.

Book lists are unique to each person; I've seen countless people wander through the shop with lists in hand, either on paper or on a phone. Some people fill their reading lists with long dead Germans and Brits. I fill my reading list with contemporary politics, military history, and the odd urban fantasy vampires-are-bad-guys-oh-my novel.

And sometimes there's a contemporary political military history novel with vampires as the bad guys. That novel was called 'The Nymphos of Rocky Flatts' by Mario Acevedo. It's hilarious.

Hey. Don't judge.

Until next time, fellow bibliophiles.

Friday, August 12, 2011

You know it's an ACE night when

"You're okay? Okay, well, I have to get back. Antony just died, and I'm hoping they'll let me play Cleopatra's death." - Customer speaking into cellphone

Sunday, August 7, 2011

First Officer's Log No 36: Ack!ademic Leanings and Readings

I took something of a cue from Jon and sat down to take a look at my bookshelves, or, rather the two bank boxes, five cubes, and one reluctant desk shelf that amount to bookshelves in my apartment. My scholarly tomes (did I really just say tome?) are relegated to one bank box, wedged up against the corner of the living room beside the DVD tower, packed full of movies and video games, while the second bank box contains untold papers, almost all articles, academic scribblings, and at least two half-photocopied books that I couldn't find in physical form outside of a university library.

It astounds me, to a degree, to realize how ridiculously complicated I made my academic life when I was a Real Academic, as opposed to the Amateur Post-Undergrad Academic that I am now. That is to say that I still view the entire world through academic eyes, as well as possessing a tendency to critically evaluate all of my entertainment as though it were a liberal artistic specimen to be hacked to pieces during a long, drawn out debate amongst fellow students, and then repaired with a pen and a great deal of patience.

I suppose, then, that when I examined the cubes in my room that contain books, I wasn't entirely surprised to find that they are mostly filled with urban fantasy novels, several paperback mysteries, a number of classics, some contemporary Serious Fiction, the odd poetry collection, and several volumes of Nietzsche and Aquinas. There's also some film and literary criticism that I picked up on whims throughout the years, because, apparently, at some point, I reached the Point of No Return when it came to books: if it's interesting or likely to hold my attention, then I'll buy it, read it, and probably shelve it away until such time as I can pass it on, read it again, or pack it away for a rainy day.

The truth is that I used to have a collection of about 800 books. While not a staggering number, it's a big enough number to show that I had quite the book addiction. When I moved out of my parents' house, I must have whittled that collection down to about 300 books, which quickly became 150 due to the presence of friends, libraries, and a pesky little brother who kept nabbing the best books for himself.

The collection has grown somewhat in the past 3 years, and has evened out at about 275, by my last count. It's curious, since I haven't owned a proper bookshelf in years, that I can still find what I'm looking for. I have a good feeling for where the book might be, and I suppose that I classify my book cubes to a degree. I know that most of the 'junk food fiction' (mysteries, urban fantasy, et cetera) are on the left hand side, and the more serious stuff is on the right. There are also piles of history books around the bed. I don't need shelves. I just stack them neatly, according to point of interest. Hence why all the military history is within arm's reach of the bed.

Books are an addiction, ask anybody in the store. The fun part, though, of this particular addiction, is that you get to explore, have adventures, solve mysteries, and appreciate other lives, all from the comfort of your bed or your favorite chair. It's why books are fantastic, and why even an ac(k)ademic like me (I now owe the pun jar a quarter) can learn to look past the book-as-specimen and just appreciate the book as a book.

Until next time, fellow bibliophiles.