Monday, April 25, 2011

Mailbox Monday: Post- Pultizer pessimism edition

Happy Mailbox Monday!

And by the way, this is my new favorite mailbox photo.  What do you think?  So, this was a quieter week around the old mailbox.  In fact, this would have been the shortest Mailbox Monday post yet... if it were not for the Friends of the Public Library 50th Anniversary sale.  The sale was going on for five days, and I stayed away until the very final hours, hoping all the good books would be gone.  But who was I kidding?  There are always good books left, and among the 18 books I got for a dollar a piece, there were some treasures!

The Secret History of Costaguana
by Juan Gabriel Vasquez
Release date: 6/9/2011
Source:  Paper galley from publisher

Uh, I think I need to read some Conrad before I even think of tackling this one.

by Daniel H. Wilson
Release date: 6/7/2011
Source:  Paper galley from publisher

Oh, I had a good laugh when I saw the absurd cover and title of this forthcoming novel about a war between machines and humans.  Especially once I read this jacket copy: " entertaining and engaging thriller unlike anything else written in years."  Aside from just being bad copy, how many examples can you think of of something exactly like that being written?  It's a science fiction trope!  But then I read this little item:  "Steven Spielberg will direct Robopacalypse as a major feature film to be released in 2013."  So, looks like this is getting the big publicity push, coming to a bestseller list near you this summer.  I may have to read it, if only to ridicule. 

Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads
edited by David Morrell & Hank Wagner
Release date: 7/5/2010
Source: Finished hardback courtesy of contributor Katherine Neville

Thank you, Katherine!  The book came in record time, and I haven't been able to keep my nose out of it.  How is it possible I never purchased a copy?  It is awesome!  And just the thing to read leading up to this summer's Thrillerfest.

My top finds at the Friends of the Public Library sale:

Syrup by Max Barry

Okay, I am going to forgo my usual format with release dates and the like or this will take me forever.  Careful readers may recall me mentioning that I'm a huge fan of Australian humorist Barry in last week's Mailbox Monday post.  I've been a fan ever since this debut novel, Syrup.  I loved it!  And every time I see a hardback copy, I scoop it up.  I've discussed this with Max.  There were only like 3,000 hardbacks printed of this quirky debut by a then unknown foreign writer.  Of those 3,000, I have owned four, this latest acquisition being the fourth.  Max has already signed the first three, and I hold them to be bestowed on only the most worthy friends.  I gave one of the copies to Sara Leigh, and I have two other signed copies at home.  This new one is in the best condition of them all!  I hope he tours the U.S. for the new novel.  I can't wait to get this one signed too.  Book by book, I'm acquiring a significant percentage of that print run!

The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

This is one of those novels spoken of reverently by well-read individuals.  Funnily, the opening line of the jacket copy says it's "destined to become a cult classic," and damn if it didn't do exactly that!  I found a pristine hardback copy at the sale yesterday, and grabbed it without reading the jacket copy or having the slightest idea what it's about.  Now that I've read the book's description, I'm even more excited to dive in!

The Bachelor's Cat by L.F. Hoffman

When I lost my beloved Weasel nearly a year ago, I asked some well-read online friends for book suggestions that might cheer me a bit.  The description of this tiny novella really appealed, but it was out of print.  I found a lovely hardback copy at the sale.  I'm sure to devour it in the near future.

Sea Hunter by Paul Garrison

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I'm obsessed by "trashy underwater fiction," a genre coined by me.  I always tell people that I started reading the stuff back when I was the editor of a dive magazine to blow off steam, kind of like the folks that enjoy laughing at B-movies.  (And I'm a huge fan/collector of trashy underwater films, as well.)  But the truth is, I've loved this stuff since earliest childhood, and the seventies was a great decade for TUF.  Thank you, Peter Benchley!  I haven't subjected you to this obsession too much on the pages of this blog, but you'll see it.  Finding this book thrilled me, as only a really good TUF find can.  (I have hundreds of these books on dedicated shelves at home.)  Years ago I was discussing TUF with Justin (Paul Garrison's real name is Justin Scott) and he told me to find this book.  Look at that eye!  I can't wait to read this!  Well, I didn't wait.  I read the first three chapters in the bathtub last night.  Other than a complete failure to understand marine biology, it's awesome!  I promised myself not to pack any paper books for my trip to BEA, but I think I need to read this one on the plane.

More Trashy Underwater Fiction:

The Sea Lady by Margaret Drabble

Trashy Underwater Fiction doesn't actually have to be trashy.  That's part of the paradox of it.  So, I have no idea how I missed this 2007 novel about a marine biologist from Margaret Drabble.  But my surprise about that is dwarfed by being stunned to discover, this very minute, the existence of an obscure 1902 novel by H.G. Wells entitle The Sea Lady: A Tissue of Moonshine.  It's a mermaid tale, and I've never heard of it before!  Suffice it to say, I found a free copy online, and it has already been uploaded to my Kindle.  It will show up in next week's mailbox.  This is what keeps collecting exciting!

Emerald Sea by John Ringo

This is an author who, without ever having read him, I sort of dislike.  I don't remember the exact reason, but I think he wrote (badly) a novel with a somewhat offensive premise.  But, here's a mermaid tale, and as noted above, I'm a sucker for mermaid tails tales.  No pun intended.

Some stitching references:

Embroidery (French Chic)

This book had no author listed, but has several nice designs, mostly in embroidery styles I've yet to learn (freestyle, crewel, etc.), which is part of the appeal.  I'd like to do a little experimentation.  Also, it featured cute ways to embroider clothes, tablecloths, and other plain items.

More Needlepoint by Design by Maggie Lane

See that Japanese fish design on the book's cover?  I love it!  I want to stitch it!  I've been kind of slacking on my embroidery lately, but just looking at projects like this makes me want to pick my needle back up!

Needlepoint: The Art of Canvas Embroidery by Mary Rhodes

This book looks to be decades old, but the great thing about pursuing an art form that's centuries old is that nothing ever becomes truly dated.  Here's another book full of inspiring projects.  I love growing my reference library at a dollar a pop.

Nice editions of literary fiction:

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

Jon has, quite rightly, pointed out how shameful it is that I've never read Richard Russo.  Perhaps having two shiny new hardbacks in the house will move him up higher on my TBR.  At the very least, it will class up my bookshelf.  Now Empire Falls won't feel so lonely.  :-(

Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo

One day I will get to Italy.  And I will have to read this book leading up to my trip.

The New Yorkers by Cathleen Schine

New York, on the other hand, is a destination I'm jetting off to every other minute, and I always enjoy a good New York story.  I'm especially looking forward to reading this Schine title I overlooked, as The Three Weissmanns of Westport was one of my favorite reads last year. 

 Jenny and the Jaws of Life: Short Stories by Jincy Willett

I loved Jincy Willett's debut novel, the audaciously titled Winner of the National Book Award.  It was dark and hilarious.  David Sedaris loved this collection so much that he wrote a foreword for it.  I've always meant to read it.

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

For reasons I'm completely unable to explain, I still have not read this book.  Again, maybe now that it's in the house it will move up the TBR list.

Finally, some genre and other fiction

The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson

I had dinner with Stan (as he is known) and several other novelists the weekend before last.  He is smart, charming, and easy on the eyes--which is reason enough to pick up his books.  But I've enjoyed some of his speculative fiction (Antarctica) very much in the past.  I have an old beat up paperback of this book in the house, but let's face it, I'm never going to read that copy.  Maybe I'll read this one.  Oh, and maybe I'll get around to blogging about our lovely evening one of these days.

And Another Thing... by Eoin Colfer

I do so love DNA's Hitchhiker books.  Everyone says don't read this one, but I find resistance to be futile.

Mammoth by John Varley

I have no recollection of how I came to read this time travel thriller a few years ago, but I really, really liked it.  I always wanted a hardback copy for my permanent collection.  Now I can give Jimbo my paperback like I promised however many years ago.  Time travel--it's the only science fiction trope I really like.

The Sugar Queen  by Sarah Addison Allen

We've been discussing Allen's works this month on Play Book Tag.  This one is supposedly not as good as her first novel and not as bad as her most recent.  What intrigues me about this book is that one character has books magically appear just when she needs them.  Everyone agrees that I have almost the same power!

Alas, the magical book drawing power is a dangerous thing.  For starters, it makes Mailbox Monday a tedious slog.  I'll warn you for next week: seven books arrived in my hands today.  I need to move some books out the door!  Count on Humpday Giveaways for the next few weeks.  In fact, I may even put together prize packs of multiple books to give away.

I'm exhausted.  Ironically, I've begun looking forward to the day when my mailbox is empty.  Surely, there will be no books one week?  No wonder I can't find the time or energy to write my book reviews...

Books finished this week:

The School of Night by Louis Bayard

The Devil Colony by James Rollins - Count on me repeating over and over how AWESOME this book it!

Currently reading:

The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips - This book is excellent, but not a title to be gulped down as I've been doing lately.  I am reading it thoughtfully and taking my time--and gulping down other books on the side.

Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads by David Morrell & Hank Wagner

The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey

So, if anyone is still reading, what books did you acquire this week?  What are you reading?  Let me know in the comments!


  1. I got two books from you! The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark arrived along with Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut. Yay! Eat, Pray, Love also arrived thanks to Marnie and the PBT swap. In addition, from the library, I got, Spiral by Paul McEuen (AMAZING-devoured it in less than 24 hours-thanks for the recommendation!), Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, and John Fowles' The Collector.

    Currently, I am reading Invisible Cities and Davis Phinney's The Happiness of Pursuit (an egalley-due out in June). Phinney's book traces his cycling career and his fight with Parkinson's Disease-very good book so far!

  2. Oh, Care, you're turning into me! Warning: this way madness lies!

    Well, that's quite a haul of books, though you're still not at my level yet. I think I'm up to 14 so far this week. *rolls eyes* And, of course, unlike me, you've probabaly got an Alaska-sized home. I live in a San Francisco-sized studio apartment. So, unlike me, you should be okay. :-)

    I can't help but notice that you are reading up a storm lately! I'm SO glad you enjoyed Spiral as much as I did. I'm looking forward to meeting Dr. McEuen this summer. Can't wait; I love physicists!

  3. I've been divesting myself of books. I have to thin the herd to barely two bookshelves (must leave room for new acquisitions like the book I just got from you, Pale Demon). You'll be pleased to know that as I picked up and opened Syrup, I smiled, remembering when you gave it to me, and promptly put it on the "keep" shelf. Now, I'm trying to remember what box I put The Last Samurai in. Gah! I know I'll never read it again, but I did love that book! Maybe I'll just ask my nephew Todd (Katie's husband) to hold on to it for me. I'm donating all my giveaway books to their children's school's book sale. I was so happy to hear that they would come pick up the boxes and boxes of books I've packed up (still more to go with Jane's books; how do I decide which of her childhood books to keep for her?). I'll let you know the number of boxes.

  4. SL, did you sell the house already? OMG, I can't wait to catch up with you--but I suspect it will have to wait until I'm on the east coast.

    I'm sad you have to divest yourself of your books, but you're donating them to a good cause. And there will always be new books. Maybe I'll find a treasure for you at BEA.

    Meanwhile, I'm surprised you didn't comment on the stitching books, LOL.

  5. Ha! I forgot. I had the Maggie Lane at the store, and Mary Rhodes is the creator of the Rhodes stitch, I believe (seems obvious, doesn't it?). I can't remember what happened to the Maggie Lane when we went through everything that was sitting on the porch about a month or so ago. And yes, I signed a contract today to sell the house. Fingers crossed that nothing goes awry and I make it to settlement. I have the dates you'll be here on my calendar. Yay!

  6. as bad as I am about book procurement, it's nice to know that you are always worse. Seriously Susan, I'm afraid that one day you will walk into your apartment, put a book on an available surface, and your apartment floor is gonna go "fuck it, I'm out" and you and your New York Public Library of books are going to crashing down into the courtyard.

  7. SL - Gah! giving up Janes children's books? I still have MY childrens books.

  8. SL, congrats! This will be my last visit to the little stone house!

    Nic, you crack me up. I don't think I'm in danger of the floor giving way, but I will make a confession. One evening I placed a book on my dining table, which was already stacked high with books. It was a table; it held things, right? It never occured to me there was such a thing as "one book too many." Well, the table sort of collapsed, and a flood - an actual flood! - of books spilled across the floor nearly waist high. Not a great night.

  9. Hi Susan,
    Could I trouble you for a minute? I am looking for a copy of Cutting for Stone, Verghese. Do you have a copy I could borrow? I am in queue in the SFPL and Boston library (eBook). Am having NO luck! Thank you Thank you, A

  10. Also - a quick question - while in the Budapest airport (yes it sounds exotic until you realize you are about to start a 17 hour journey), I came across the PAPERBACK edition of The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Is there a reason why I was able to find this abroad, but not at home in the States yet?

  11. Hi Ann,

    How lovely to see you here! Sadly, as shocking as this may seem, I don't actually own a copy of Cutting for Stone, nor have I read it. (Thus putting to rest the rumor that I have a copy of every book ever published.) However, I'm sure if you put out a message on the SFBX board, as Ada just did, one of our members would be happy to loan you a copy.

    As for Hornet's Nest, that's an easy one. All of those Larsson books were published in Europe long before they were ever published in the U.S. Therefore, it's not too surprising that the paperback is already out there. So, did you pick up a copy? 'Cause that's one that I could actually loan to you--in paperback even. My copy is a pre-pub, trade paper galley. ;-)

  12. Hi and per usual - you are THE go-to-person for resourcefulness!! Thanks for the tip. I'm on it. And yes - I did pick up a copy of The Girl Who... in paperback. I'm well into it. Would love to read The Sea Lady when you are done!! I love a good mermaid tale. (Mermaids and Vampires.) Enjoy the day!

  13. Hi Ann,

    I don't have a hard copy of H.G. Wells' The Sea Lady, but I got a free electronic copy here:

    It's available in many different formats, so I hope that one of them works for you. :-)