Alchemical Thoughts

Items about books I want to read, #19

Posted on: April 12, 2011

We are almost up to number 20. Maybe I should go out and have a celebratory drink or something when I get there. In the meantime, this is number 19, and I continue to add books to my lists of books I would like to read some day. As the old saying goes, so many books, so little time, but I sure want to try reading as many as I can. If of my two readers out there read any of the books listed in these posts, feel free to drop a comment and let me know how you liked them. In the meantime, this is what I have for this list:

  • There is a new release coming out on March 30, 2011 of an Elvis Presley comic compilation. The Elvis Experience, is being published by Bluewater Productions. The company’s press release here. This is part of a series of re-releases of vintage rock and roll themed comic books. According the press release, “this is the fifth re-release of the defunct Revolutionary Comics properties by Bluewater. The others include graphic novel trade publications featuring The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Joan Jett and the Runaways and ‘Hard Rock Heroes.'”The company does put out other biographical comics of various personalities and celebrities. I am thinking some of these could have use for young adult readers’ advisory. For me, well, this seems like a nice way to read about Elvis Presley in a format I like. (a hat tip to Comic Book Resources).
  • The Manga Critic, which is always a good source of manga reviews, had some short takes on March 22, 2010. Of the selections from that particular post, I am interested in the series House of Five Leaves (link to Volume 1 in Worldcat). The third volume in the series, which the critic reviews, is due out on April 19. In the meantime, I can catch up on the older volumes.
  • I have always liked quotation books. I just like browsing through them and reading the great, and sometimes not so great, thoughts and musings of famous, and sometimes infamous, people. I keep hearing that due to the Internet, quotation books may be dying. I am not quite ready to give up on them yet. So, when a quotations book about drinking comes along, I feel a need to take a look. The Liquor Snob blog points out Steven Kates’ The Quotable Drunkard: Words of Wit, Wisdom, and Philosophy from the Bottom of the Glass. The title already sounds like fun. And it seems to feature some recipes as well.
  • The Jewish Book Council blog highlights a new manga that covers the Purim story. I am familiar with the story from having read The Book of Esther, but this may be a neat new way to read the story. The book is Throne of Secrets. Go to the blog to read details. It seems it will be a three-volume set. I wonder how similar or different it may be in feel to The Manga Bible, which I read a while back. And I wonder if this is a new trend now to take Biblical, or other religious texts, and give them the manga treatment. Anyhow, when I find this, I may give it a try.
  • Guys Lit Wire provides a review of a Dungeons and Dragons novel. Much like the reviewer, I read a couple in my younger days. Recently, I have been giving a few a try. I’ve read two out of three in the Dragonlance Chronicles series, which I found so-so. I’ve also read the Minotaur Wars trilogy, a more recent Dragonlance series, which I liked better. Basically, like other series based on a property, like Star Wars, Star Trek, and even Warhammer 40K (which is fast becoming one of my favorites), D&D novels can be hit and miss.  This time, the folks at Guys Lit Wire do make Sandstorm by Christopher Rowe sound like a book worth reading; the novel is part of the Forgotten Realms series. According to the blog post, “Rowe is a Hugo, Nebula, and Theodore Sturgeon Award finalist who has written several fantastic short stories of speculative fiction.” An award winner in speculative fiction is always a good sign for me. In addition, John Scalzi highlighted it in his blog Whatever, so I am thinking the book must be good.
  • From Guys Lit Wire, a review for the graphic novel Vietnamerica by G.B. Tran. They also suggest Mark Hodder’s steampunk alternate history novel The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack. In addition, they are also suggesting one of those books I tend to call “stunt books.” They are the ones where someone goes out and does something that may be seen as odd, unusual, or quirky for a period of time (often a year), and then they write a book about it. Some books in this genre are good; some are ok, and others are just bad exercises in vanity. For example, I read The Year of Living Biblically, which I had mixed feelings about. It had some good moments, and some moments I would have preferred to skip. However, they are suggesting taking a look at Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States. It seems my local public library acquired it, so if I see it, I may pick it up sooner just out curiosity.
  • Sarah Johnson at Reading the Past considers a book and has an interview with the book’s author Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. I have not read Yarbro in quite a while, but the last I read of hers I remember liking. I may want to give this book a chance. The book in question is An Embarrassment of Riches. The novel “takes place in the Kingdom of Bohemia in 1269-70.”
  • The Manga Critic places this book in her Manga Hall of Shame. And yet, as I commented on her post, it sounds so bad that it is  like a train wreck you just have to look at. I do admit that I liked Crying Freeman, also by Kazuo Koike, but then again, I can handle some ridiculous in my manga. We’ll see how schlocky this one gets. The book in question is Wounded, with Koike this time collaborating with Ryoichi Ikegami. Katherine Dacey, the Manga Critic, writes about it, “I’d be the first to admit that Wounded Man is luridly fascinating. It’s hard to imagine who thought any of it was a good idea, though it unfolds in such a fast, furious, and utterly unironic fashion that readers may be swept up in the story despite their better judgment.” Yea, I have been known to read a thing or two against my better judgment (for good or ill). We’ll see. From her post, it seems there are 9 volumes in the series.
  • On the other hand, the Manga Critic does have another of those mangas you are not reading that you ought to read. Her series on “The Best Manga You Are Not Reading” always gives me some good ideas of what to look for that I may have missed. She does reflect a bit on a common problem in manga publishing: doomed series, usually because the publishers on this side of the pond decide to drop series after a couple of titles for any number of reasons, usually perceived lack of interest. The book she features this time is Qwan. There are four volumes out there.
  • If I wanted to grow my own food now, I would probably have a somewhat steep learning curve. Thankfully, there are books out there that can teach you how to do it. Via AlterNet, a review of the book Grow the Good Life: Why a Vegetable Garden Will Make You Happy, Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise. The reviewer describes it as “one of the best manifesto/memoirs so far this century on growing your own veggies.”
  • Via, a review of the Gunslinger Girl Omnibus, Vol.1. The premise and series sounds pretty good. Apparently ADV had the series, dropped it, Seven Seas picked it up where it had left off before, so new volumes. Plus Seven Seas is releasing the previous titles as nice omnibus editions. Personally, I tend to like omnibus books because, when well done, you get a lot of book and reading for a fair price. Also, you get more story without having to wait for the next installment of something.
  • Another one from the Manga Critic under the category of “Best Manga You Are Not Reading.” I really like it when she does that type of post as it gives me idea of new things to read. This time, she is highlighting Kekkaishi.
  • Manga Critic also has a new feature in her blog, entitled “Off the cuff,” which she describes as where “I review manga that falls outside my regular comfort zone as a reader.” My own comfort zone is pretty wide, but I do like as well going outside the zone now and then, so I like this idea and hope she does more. This time she is highlighting the manga The Red Snake.
  • Lambda Literary has a couple of books that caught my eye. First, they are reviewing James Masten’s and James Schmidtberger’s Aging with HIV: A Gay Man’s Guide. The reviewer describes the book as “rather than writing a medical tome, they have created a reader-friendly guidebook aimed at helping AIDS survivors stay alive and fit” and further says that it is “a source of timely information and a life coach.” I can see where this book would be appealing in some library communities, and it is one that probably needs to known more. It sounds like a necessary book. Second, they are reviewingLife, Leather, and the Pursuit of Happiness by Steve Lenius. I am not necessarily looking to expand my leather library, as the reviewer asks at the opening of the review; however, the book does sound interesting given it is “made up of selections from his infamous “Leather Life” column, originally published in Lavender magazine over the span of 15 years, now updated and annotated for the book.” The reviewer also describes the book as “a wonderful historical text, giving context and background on various aspects of the leather community, from bar culture and interpersonal relationships to leather contests.” I have to admit this is not a topic I know much about, so curiosity is a motivation for me to add this book to my list of books I would like to read. I am always looking for new things to learn about.
  • Lambda Literary reviews, with discussion of its author’s other work, Inside the Money Machine. This bit from the review was enough to make me want to read it. The reviewer writes, “Working-class men and women are not usually a part of poetry and poetic conversations. Although for thirty years, Minnie Bruce Pratt has been writing poems about things left out of usual conversations.”
  • My daughter recently picked up The Lover’s Dictionary from the local public library. Being a YA book, I did not think much more of it; I only read YA books here and there. However, the folks at Guys Lit Wire gave it a pretty good review, one that now makes me want to read it. So, I may pick it up sometime after my daughter gets done with it.

Lists and bibliographies:

  • SF Signal asks a bunch of authors what forthcoming SF/F/H books they are looking forward to the most (as of the article). The result is a nice list of books with some good commentary from authors talking about books they themselves want to read.
  • Comic-Con announces their nominees for the 2011 Eisner Awards. The awards themselves will be presented in July. The list has a lot of items I would be interested in reading. Manga Critic helpfully separates the ones for manga and manwha from the large list.
  • The Dirty Librarian has posted her list of books read for March 2011. There are a few items in the list I am interested in reading later.
  • Lambda Literary lists and links to the Book Finalists for TLA’s 2011 Gaybies. TLA Gaybies honor “the very best work in gay-themed movies, television, literature, online journalism and film festivals from the past year.” So the list at TLA has more than just books; Lambda Lit. folks helpfully culled the books out for us. TLA is a gay-themed online retailer for media, so the usual NSFW warnings do apply.

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April 2011
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