Friday, November 14, 2014

National Readathon, Giving Books, Most Beautiful Bookshops and Sherri Tepper's Waters Rising

Well, I know what I will be doing on January 24! You should join me!

National Readathon Day Debuts January 24

The National Book Foundation, GoodReads, Mashable and Penguin Random
House are creating National Readathon Day
on Saturday, January 24, 12-4 p.m. (in each respective time zone). Under
the program, readers are asked to read a book for four straight hours
and to raise funds to support the National Book Foundation, which brings books to needy communities and promotes a lifelong love of reading.

Bookstores and libraries are being invited to host "reading parties" on
January 24, so that readers can gather, connect and read silently
together. Bookstores and libraries can enroll to host the parties
through the end of the year.

Readers can raise money individually or as organized teams (bookstores
and libraries, can organize teams under their names). National Readathon
Day is partnering with for this effort (more information
money goes directly to the National Book Foundation. National Readathon
Day is asking participants to share their experiences using the hashtag

This is a great idea and a wonderful campaign to get people to give books as gifts this year during the holidays. I know that I always ask for a bookstore gift certificate for my birthday and Christmas, and I always delight in going to the bookstore and just browsing for a couple of hours before I bring my stack of lovely reading material to the counter. I always buy more than the amount ion the gift certificate, and yet I really enjoy supporting local businesses and bookstores just when they need customers the most. 

B&N, Foyles Holiday Ad Campaigns: Give Books
Barnes & Noble is launching a national
holiday ad campaign with the theme "A Book Is a Gift Like No Other."
Created by Roberts + Langer DDB and featuring a voiceover by actress
Sigourney Weaver, the campaign aims to highlight that "books are like no
other gift because they provide inspiration, thrills, laughs, journeys
and so much more," the company said. "Books are beautiful, expressive,
lasting and impactful, and when given as a present, they can be as
meaningful to the giver as to the recipient."

The 30-second spot calls B&N "like no other bookstore in the world" and mentions the new Nook tablet from

Glenn Kaplan, B&N v-p & creative director, commented: "This campaign is
about going back to our roots to highlight books as meaningful and
inspirational gifts that can stay with the recipient forever. Books are
an expression of personal interests and passions in a way that other
gifts just can't match, and we look forward to welcoming customers to
our stores this holiday season to help them discover the perfect gifts."

"Welcome, book giver, you are among friends" British bookstore chain Foyles unveiled its Christmas campaign
which targets "book givers" and "celebrating thoughtfulness." The
Bookseller reported that the "adverts draw on last year's message, 'it's
the thought that counts,' but with 'the' crossed out, stressing that
books require more cognitive investment than other presents. It also
celebrates 'the true value of books as presents.' "

Foyles CEO Sam Husain said, "Books are, by their nature, very thoughtful
gifts. This campaign reflects how, when you give someone a book, you're
giving them something to enjoy over time."

"One night, in a phosphorescent sea, he marveled at the sight of some
whales spouting luminous water; and later, lying on the deck of his
boat, gazing at the immense, starry sky, the tiny mouse Amos, a little
speck of a living thing in the vast living universe, felt thoroughly
akin to it all." --William Steig, Amos & Boris

They missed Island Books on Mercer Island, and Elliot Bay Bookstore on Cap Hill in Seattle, but they did list Powells in Portland, Oregon, and several other drool-worthy bookshops I would love to visit on this list, so please enjoy the virtual thrill of a beautiful bookstore.
Showcasing its choices for the "USA's 10 most beautiful bookshops
Culture Trip noted these "stalwarts demonstrate that a bookstore is not
only a place to find books--new, used, rare or otherwise--but also an
important community gathering where you can hear great author lectures,
get recommendations from a knowledgeable employee or simply talk
literature with friends over a good cup of coffee." 

Waters Rising is a recent novel in a series by Sherri S Tepper, whose work I've been reading since the early 80s, when I was in college. I remember reading "Grass" and being fascinated with her world building and characters, and then reading "Beauty" and A Plague of Angels, The Gate to Women's Country, After Long Silence, The Awakeners, Gibbons Decline and Fall, Shadow's End or Sideshow (I don't recall which one) and then the Family Tree, which so offended me that I stopped reading Tepper altogether. What I remember of the Family Tree was that it was a novel about animals becoming intelligent and learning to talk and use their genetically modified "hands" of one kind or another to take over the world and enslave humans as a food source and as transportation, using them like horses. This was posited as appropriate revenge for all the years humanity enslaved and ate animals. Bizarre and sickening in its misanthropy, I just felt so outraged at Tepper's debasement of humanity, of which she is a member (and therefore complicit in "using" animals every day) that I couldn't find it within myself to read any more of her novels. Until last month, when her novel "Waters Rising" got a great review on a website that I love, and I decided to see how far she's come in the ensuing years. Here's the blurb for the book:
A dreadful, awesome killing power is resurrected from the past . . .
Powers are invoked and curses are being laid . . .
Great waters are rising and changing the world . . .
Long ago was the “Big Kill,” horrible, apocalyptic events that destroyed nearly every living thing on earth. Since then the last of humankind has scattered into widespread small kingdoms separated by superstition, war, and fear. And now, while facing a natural catastrophe that threatens to drown a world, an ancient evil resurfaces and may prevent any chance of survival.
With the future of humankind at stake, a small band of disparate charac­ters—a lonely child, a loyal servant, a mysterious wanderer, and a most unusual horse—sets out on a journey fraught with peril and wonder . . . a sacred mission that leaves no room for failure. . . .
Deeply original in scope and vision, The Waters Rising is a daring and remarkable work of speculative fiction—a tour de force from one of the most revered writers of our time.
While I've always been impressed with Tepper's world building skills and her creation of characters who are fully dimensional, I had forgotten that most all of her fiction is post-apocalyptic and that she tends to be very preachy about the state of the world. I felt the prose, though full of exclamation points in places appropriate and not, flowed nicely into the  almost fairy-tale style plot, everything comes to a screeching halt every time Tepper decided to lecture and preach and pontificate about those selfish, horrible people in the "before time" (meaning now) who used terrible "ease machines" ie computers, cell phones and everything else, from weaponry to washing machines, and destroyed the world with military violence and viral epidemics wrought for chemical warfare. The hypocrisy of Tepper herself living in this time and creating the manuscripts for her books on computers, and driving a car and using those 'ease machines' herself is supposed to be completely overlooked by gullible readers, I assume. So in Waters Rising, the big bad wolf is really an immortal super soldier who is able to clone women to do his dirty work of trying to take over various kingdoms while he plots to kill all the natives of a place called Tingawa, which we can assume is a place like Hawaii that is settled by various Asian races who have made the place into a utopia, and who are the descendants of scientists who are able to thwart the super soldiers and blow up their stockpiles of evil machines. The fact that they, too, use "before time" machines to aid in their quest is seen as somehow better, because they're not evil soldiers from the before time. The Tingawan geneticists have figured out, however, that the world is going to be completely underwater in about 200 years, so they have a plan for Xulai, who has taken an "egg" and swallowed it in order to become mother (with husband Abasio) to a race of mutant children who can breathe (with gills on their sides) and swim (with webbed feet)and live underwater while also creating another generation of children and grandchildren who can adapt in the same way. Xulai has the ability to mutate into an octopus, as does Abasio after he swallows an egg, and Xulai seems to be able to "lay eggs" like a chicken, which she then hands out to likely couples as the two of them travel around their shrinking world. Again, I found myself being offended that most of the men in the book were horrible people, or if they weren't evil and craven, they were cowardly and stupid. Of course, several of the women were also evil and horrible, but I believe we were meant to see them more sympathetically, because they were twisted into becoming evil by the old super soldier who created them. I also found myself wanting to defend humanity once again as not completely corrupted and evil. We have art, music, dance, drama and many other things to prove that we are not an entirely evil race whose time on the planet has wrought nothing but destruction. So I had reservations about reading the next book in this series, "Fish Tales" because I have a feeling that I'm in for more preaching about horrible humanity and the destruction of the world's environment. But I am going to give it 100 pages, and if the story doesn't grab me, I will send it back to the library and put Tepper back on my "Do Not Read" list.  Meanwhile, I will give Waters Rising a B-, with the caveat that the last 1/4 of the book is all environmental preachy stuff that will bore you to tears and insult you if you have a modicum of intelligence.

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