Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Selected Tidbits from Shelf Awareness

Great Quote, and so true!

"Books can be passed around. They can be shared. A lot of people like
seeing them in their houses. They are memories. People who don't
understand books don't understand this. They learn from TV shows about
organizing that you should get rid of the books that you aren't reading,
but everyone who loves books believes the opposite. People who love
books keep them around, like photos, to remind them of a great
experience and so they can revisit and say, 'Wow, this is a really great
book.' " Daniel Goldin, owner of Boswell Book Company

World Book Night Book Nominations!

The top 100 nominations for World Book Night in the U.K. next year have been
unveiled. During the past two months, more than 6,000 people submitted
their 10 favorite reads. The collated results will inform the choices of
the editorial selection committee, chaired by novelist Tracy Chevalier.
A final list of 25 titles for World Book Night 2012 will be announced
October 12 at the Frankfurt Book Fair.http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz11698423

The World Book Night Top 100
http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz11698424 is led
by Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, followed by Jane Austen's Pride
and Prejudice, Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief, Charlotte Bronte's Jane
Eyre and Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife.

I love the smell of books, the feel of them, the joy of shopping for books that contain whole new worlds to explore, in the palm of your hands.

"Eric Hellman explored the concept of people who claim to love the smell of books, noting that it seems odd "until you think about the time-travel aspects of smell.... I've been talking to a lot of people about the books that they love. 'Love' in this context is not the 'love' people might use casually to describe their relationship with a product for sale. Instead, people seem to relate to books the way they relate to people. There's the love for a teacher who makes a difference in your life. Love for a friend you helps you feel joy. The thrill of discovering a soul mate. And among authors, there's the blind love for a child that goes beyond all rationality.

"The intensity of these emotions must get bound up with smells in the hippocampus to create a lasting impression on book lovers. When we smell a book all of these feelings resonate across time and they comfort us. Even in the future when all our reading is done on e-book readers or other screens, we'll keep real books around us like the clothing of a spouse or a parent lost to a tragedy, left in the bed to warm and comfort. And then we'll find strength to move on, but the spirit of the book will remain."

The Tempest is my favorite Shakespeare play, because the words are so beautiful and the characters so lush and real. This whole idea of revisiting it intrigues me, especially when another favorite author, Neil Gaiman, is evoked!

When Prospero Lost came out in 2009, L. Jagi Lamplighter's modern
version of the characters from Shakespeare's The Tempest seemed to draw
inspiration from Neil Gaiman, especially the Sandman comic book. It
wasn't just that Prospero's daughter Miranda--now the head of a
multinational corporation that keeps supernatural powers in check so
they don't wreak havoc upon the earth--had a full contingent of equally
immortal brothers (and a sister), each with their own magical weapon. A
more profound similarity lay in Lamplighter's efforts to create a
totalizing worldview, one in which all mythologies and folklores are
equally valid and capable of commingling.

Lamplighter built that premise up slowly in the first book and its
sequel, Prospero in Hell, as Miranda struggled to reunite her estranged
siblings after discovering that her father was being held captive by
demons. Their rescue mission was disrupted on the very last pages of
that second novel, and Prospero Regained picks up the story almost
exactly where it left off, as the family slowly reassembles itself once
more and then heads to the tower where their father is being held

Along the way, Lamplighter resolves several issues that have been
kicking around throughout the trilogy. Is Miranda's devotion to Prospero
simply a matter of familial affection, or could it be sorcerous
compulsion? Why does her brother Erasmus hate her with such intensity?
And where does Caliban fit into all this, exactly?

Prospero Regained also pushes the trilogy's theology in a new direction.
From the beginning, Miranda has maintained that her devotion to the
unicorn goddess Eurynome is not incompatible with her professed
Protestant faith. During this final novel's long treks across Hell,
there is much occasion for religious debate--since one of her brothers
was once a pope, such debate is perhaps inevitable--and Lamplighter
eventually puts forward a scenario that strives to reconcile pagan
pantheons with Christian views on salvation. (Sometimes the argument
gets especially wordy, and when the demons chime in, there's at least
one monologue that lays out its agenda so baldly it's as if we've
temporarily wandered into an Ayn Rand novel.)

Unfortunately, this isn't a story you can jump into mid-stream: although
Lamplighter recaps as much of the previous two novels as she can without
dragging everything to a complete halt, there's only so much internal
monologues and "let's go over what we've learned so far" conversations
can cover. To fully appreciate the magnitude of Miranda's dramatic
transformation over the course of Prospero Regained, readers need the
earlier books--but for contemporary fantasy fans who enjoy a healthy
dose of the epic, that won't be much of a burden. --Ron Hogan

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