Wednesday, August 03, 2011

A Variety of Stuff and Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

More great stuff from Shelf Awareness:

This guy sounds a lot like me and my husband, because both of us loved books and Sci-fi shows in the 60s and 70s!

Rainn Wilson (The Office; Super) shared "10 favorites from my sci-fi and
fantasy bookshelf"
on the Los Angeles Times Hero Complex blog, where he observed: "When I
was growing up in the '70s in suburban Seattle, I had a secret
obsession. I was a science fiction and fantasy nerd. This was waaaay
before it was ever halfway cool to be one.... I have many fond memories
of poring over the outlandish sci-fi and fantasy book covers at the
University Book Store
in Seattle and
choosing a stack to bring home with me to devour. I have managed to,
over the many decades since the late '70s, hold on to a good deal of my
collection and I'm proud to share with you now some of my favorite
authors and their covers from my bookshelf."

I have dreamed of going to Scotland for a long time! I would LOVE to visit these literary haunts!

Even if you're headed headed to Scotland later rather than sooner (the
Edinburgh Fringe festival begins this
Friday), the Guardian's guide to the "10 of the best literary haunts in
could help you locate "some of the literary hot spots that have inspired
writers such as Ian Rankin and J.K. Rowling."

I DID read all these books in high school, because we had reading lists,which I assumed were in every school. Apparently, not so, according to my husband who grew up in St Petersburg, Florida, and went to Northeast High School, which had no reading lists at all, ever...gasp.

From beach reads to back-to-school reads... for adults.
recommended "10 books you really should have read in high school"

"I think that there are characters that it would be a shame not to meet
like Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird or Holden Caulfield in The
Catcher in the Rye," said Misha Stone of the Seattle Public Library. "I
borrow from what world-renowned librarian Nancy Pearl says, and I will
paraphrase here--everyone has a different definition of what would be
considered a classic, but there are also books that it would be a shame
to go through life not reading. There are books that speak to the human
condition and the world we live (and lived) in in astonishing,
thought-provoking, and life-changing ways."

This is a somewhat fascinating peek into what writers eat. I just prefer chewing ice, myself.

What do writers eat?
In a New York Times Sketchbook feature, Wendy MacNaughton pictured the
"Snacks of the Great Scribblers," including Walt Whitman's oysters and
meat, Vendela Vida's pistachios and Lord Byron's vinegar, which he
sipped "to keep his weight down.

The famed Seattle 7 Writers are at it again!

Seattle7Writers, the organizer of last year's six-day, 36-author writing
marathon that resulted in the book Hotel Angeline, plans to break its
own record. On Saturday, October 15, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 100 writers
will gather in the Rainier Valley Cultural Center in Columbia City,
Wash., to create a novel in just a single day. The event, called Write
Here Write Now, will be followed by Up Late Reading, a performance art
and author reading collaboration featuring actors and musicians.
Admission price is one slightly used book or a monetary donation, which
will be used to maintain Seattle7Writers' many "pocket libraries" in
shelters for the homeless and abused. Erik Larson, Erica Bauermeister,
Dave Boling, Nancy Rawles, Robert Dugoni, Maria Dahvana Headley and
Laurie Frankel are among the confirmed contributors to this Guinness
Records-worthy undertaking. More information at

Interesting developments with the Pottermore website:

Harry Potter and the Magical Quill
Yesterday was Harry Potter's birthday, as well as registration day for
J.K. Rowling's Pottermore website (Shelf Awareness
Visitors to Pottermore were greeted by the following message:
"Those of you who would like the chance to gain early access to
Pottermore must find the Magical Quill and then submit their
registration details. Each day, from 31 July to 6 August, a clue will be
revealed here. Solve the clue and you will be taken to the Magical
Quill. Be quick, the Magical Quill won't be there for long and
registration will only be open while spaces are still available each

Pottermore is "the most significant development
in transmedia (and in storytelling in general) this year, and perhaps
ever," Jeff Gomez, a transmedia expert, told Forbes magazine

"What does is that, for the first time it brings the
Harry Potter brand from its basis in being a repurposed or repeated
story world, into being a true transmedia brand," said Gomez.
"Transmedia is signified by interactivity: the audience feeling not only
an intense relationship with the storyteller (they already have this
with J.K. Rowling), but a feeling that their input will have some kind
of impact on the story world itself. That's what I believe is happening
with Pottermore. It is designed to be a two-way portal between all of us
and the Harry Potter universe. It will promote participation by
validating and celebrating community, dialog and user-generated content.
It exists not just to sell e-books, but to nurture and ultimately expand
the canon of Harry Potter itself. That's historic in many ways."

I finished Jim Butcher's "Ghost Story" the 13th Harry Dresden novel (if you count the short stories) and though I was peeved as heck about the cliffhanger ending of "Changes" (which Butcher claims was not a cliffhanger, seriously) I found myself feeling soothed and feathers unruffled by the introspective and, dare I say it, philosophical tone of the book. Because Chicagos best wizard is a ghost, he can't physically use his magic to effect people or situations, which, while frustrating, causes him to reflect on the chaos and violence of his past. Harry realizes that some of the bad outcomes and unhappy situations of those in his care are directly related to how he taught them or conducted his business and his life. He also gets to do a turn as a Dickensian "Ghost of Christmas Past" to make certain that all the people he loves, who also loved him (which was something of a revelation for Dresden) are going to be okay going forward, including his daughter Maggie. Butcher's deft storytelling skills and magical way with making outrageous plots plausible are in evidence here, and by the time we reach the end of the book, I was in as much acceptance of his demise as Harry was, and I was ready to move on...only to have that twist of an ending set me up for another Dresden Files novel. I loved the archangel Uriel's gift of the few words that allowed Harry to make his soul his own again, and I look forward to seeing what happens in the "nevernever" in the next book. I don't want to give away the ending, but I do think a lot of Dresden fan prayers were answered by Butcher in this highly entertaining story. I'd recommend the book to all the fans who are worried that,like Arthur Conan Doyle, Jim Butcher was going to send one of the greatest characters in fiction over the Falls, never to be seen again. Thankfully, our worries were ephemeral.

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