jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
So last night I was thinking about how I love listening to new album releases as they're streamed online at various websites--I love the idea of giving something a full-album chance rather than a thirty-second sample once-over. This is mainly because I often take albums as a whole--there's the singles and the suites and so on, but there's always the one or two random songs on there that make me stop whatever I'm doing and pay attention. Over the last few years I've found quite a few albums that I loved that I'd otherwise not have paid attention to, were they not being streamed.

The secondary thing I like about these streamed albums, especially when they're grouped together with other new albums like AOL's Spinner (I'm still not sure if they closed that down or if it's merely being rebuilt...), is that it gives many indie bands a brief showcase. It's sort of like those old CMJ magazines that had the sampler cd inside--there are some well-known tracks, but there's also some otherwise hidden gems.

So last night it occurred to there a literary version of this? I really think there should be, if there isn't.

[Bear with me here...if there is something like this out in the wild and I'm just oblivious to it, I'd love a link to these things if you have one. If not, well...feel free to steal my idea. :) ]

I'm thinking sort of like a sampler, perhaps: a website where you could go and read the first chapter or so of a new novel, just to check it out. Maybe you can download a txt or pdf file of those chapters so you can read them later on your Kindle/Nook/iThingie (and that right there is key as well: make the sample an across-the-board, non-DRM format, to reach the maximum number of potential readers). And in this electronic day and age, the last page of the sample can offer links to buy digital and/or physical copies, the author's website, and so on. [Note: yeah, I know this could be seen as giving readers yet another reason not to go to a brick and mortar store, but I'll get to that in a moment.]

I realized this would actually make a bit of sense, considering that one thing avid readers like doing when they're at book stores is to pick up a book or five, find a quiet corner or an empty chair, and read a chapter or so to check it out, see if they like it. The sampler would pretty much be the same thing--a free and quick read as a test drive. If you like it, come and buy it!

One of the reasons I thought this might work is that, a few years back when Tor went online, they gave out free copies of novels for a month or so--DRM-free pdf copies of full novels packed in zip files. Many thought it was a brilliant idea, because it introduced many readers to books they may heard of but never read. There's also the fact that many of the books were "Book One" in a series, so you got to check out the beginning of the story. Kate Elliott, John Scalzi, Jo Walton and other writers were more than happy to take part in this. Since then, I've seen various publishing websites do this type of giveaway every now and again, and it always has a positive effect.

So I'm thinking--how about some kind of site based on distributors rather than sellers--a distributor that would be willing to set something like this up, and do it right? I think a distributor rather than a seller would make more sense. I know Amazon has this to some effect with their "Check inside!" link to some of their available books, but those really aren't the best quality; most often they're middling-quality scanned pdfs of the book, and it's arbitrarily the first x number of pages, often cutting off midsentence. We'd need something more complete, a full first chapter or so, so the reader will be given the opening as well as a good stopping point.

I'm also thinking that with a distributor, they technically don't have to sell it--they just need to tell you where to get it. If the reader likes it enough, they'll order it online, or go to the local bookstore. That's exactly what the streaming sites for music are all about, right?

As mentioned earlier, yeah, this could very well be seen as yet another nail in the brick and mortar store coffin, but honestly, it really doesn't have to be. I understand that the life of bookstores has changed both for the better and for the worse, and the economy, and the closing of various box stores like Borders, and so on. But there are those out there who are still open despite all that, and I really believe it's because they're paying attention to what they're selling and who they're selling it to. They're not only stocking 50 Shades of What Have You and Dan Brown and all the Big Author Names. They're stocking the occasional quirky book, maybe some PoD titles of local writers...they don't just know their stock, they know what their clients like, and what they might like. A lot of music fans really enjoy playing the "RIYL" game ("Recommended If You Like [musician]"), and if you look at the notes that employees put on the endcaps in bookstores, they do the same thing as well. Having a site like that would definitely introduce more readers to authors they may not otherwise pick up.

So that brings it back--why not a multi-title, multi-genre "spinner" site where you can check out new releases for free? I know there are readers out there who would like to find even more books to add to their TBR pile... ;)

Okay...enough about that. I have some writing to do. :)
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
Jon Courtenay Grimwood, 9Tail Fox*
Harry Connolly, Child of Fire
Harry Connolly, Game of Cages
Joshua Foer, Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
Harry Connolly, Circle of Enemies
Leni Riefenstahl, A Memoir
Masashi Kishimoto, Naruto Vol 53
Masashi Kishimoto, Naruto Vol 54
Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 10
Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 11
Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 12
Joseph Heller, Catch-22
Joseph Heller, Closing Time
Pseudonymous Bosch, You Have to Stop This
Raina Telgemeier, Smile (A Dental Drama)
Brian Selznick, Wonderstruck
Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 13
Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 14
Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 15
Andrew Peters, Ravenwood*
Tony DiTerlizzi, The Search for WondLa
Michael Lang, The Road to Woodstock
David Browne, Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970
Greil Marcus, Ranters and Crowd Pleasers: Punk in Pop Music, 1977-92
Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 16
Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 17
Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 18
Masashi Kishimoto, Naruto Vol 55
Kent Hartman, The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Best-Kept Secret
Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 19
Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 20
Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 21
Simon Spence, Just Can't Get Enough: The Making of Depeche Mode
Robert W. Boyczuk, Nexus: Ascension*
Galina Mindlin, Don Durousseau & Joseph Cardillo, Your Playlist Can Change Your Life*
Masashi Kishimoto, Naruto: The Official Character Data Book
Masashi Kishimoto, Naruto Vol 56
Lev AC Rosen, All Men of Genius
Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 22
Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 23
Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 24
Kim Stanley Robinson, 2312
Hisae Iwaoka, Saturn Apartments Vol 1
Hisae Iwaoka, Saturn Apartments Vol 2
Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 25
Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 26
Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 27
Arne Bellstorf, Baby's in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles in Hamburg
Seanan McGuire, Discount Armageddon
Katharine Kerr, Apocalypse to Go
Hisae Iwaoka, Saturn Apartments Vol 3
Chuck Wendig, Blackbirds*
C.L. Anderson, Bitter Angels
Brooke Gladstone & Josh Neufeld, The Influencing Machine
Tony DiTerlizzi, A Hero for WondLa
Haruki Murakami, 1Q84
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (reread)
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (reread)
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (reread)
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (reread)
Masashi Kishimoto, Naruto Vol 57
Masashi Kishimoto, Naruto Vol 58
Raina Telgemeier, Drama
Maile Meloy, The Apothecary
Johan Harstad, 172 Hours on the Moon*
Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Hisae Iwaoka, Saturn Apartments Vol 4
Hisae Iwaoka, Saturn Apartments Vol 5
Rachel Hartman, Seraphina
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (reread)
Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Katharine Kerr, Love On the Run
David Byrne, How Music Works
Masashi Kishimoto, Naruto Vol 59
Rhiannon Lassiter, Void
Christopher Moore, Sacré Bleu
Rob Reid, Year Zero
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (reread)
Hisae Iwaoka, Saturn Apartments Vol 6
Matthew Jarpe, Radio Freefall*
Adam Christopher, Empire State

* - Did not finish, for varying reasons.
jon_chaisson: (Default)
Ah, Sunday comes and once again it feels like a Sunday of youth--a sort of day where there's nothing of import to do, maybe a few small errsnds, and that itch that I really should get some work done before it's too late and Monday comes. And in a few weeks or so, it'll also be the Sunday of turning on WAMH's Potted Plant countdown, another old Sunday habit.

Emm and I did a bit of shopping yesterday, and against our better judgement, went to Tanforan Mall in the early afternoon when pretty much all of San Mateo County was there. We also bent the "no bookstores for the next few weeks" rule and stopped at the B&N, primarily so we could buy the Rosetta Stone Level 1 of French. I know, I know...I took four semesters of it in college and it's part of my heritage, so you'd think some of it would have stuck in my head, right? Either way...thought it would be good to brush up on at least a passing dialogue instead of "je ne parle pas Francais" or making a hash of what little I remember from those classes.

Anyhoo...also picked up David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and [ profile] aberwyn's fourth Nola O'Grady book, Love on the Run. Looking forward to reading both! So yeah, if you're wondering about the 'no bookstores' rule, it's because I've decided that my birthday present to [ profile] emmalyon this year is to go on a Book Crawl.

Yes, a Book Crawl. I know how dangerous that sounds, believe me! :p

Our plan is to make the rounds of some of our favorite North Bay bookstores like the multiple Copperfields (including the one in Petaluma that we haven't gone to yet), the new-and-used stores in Santa Rosa, Sonoma, and maybe even Napa. Yeah, I know. This is wine country, we should be stopping at all the vineyards and so on, but we're bibliophiles, not oenophiles. We even did a small book purge to clear up space for possible new purchases! It's gonna be a hell of a lot of fun. :)

Other than that, our weekends have been relatively quiet and unexciting, which is totally fine. After Emm's DC trip and Outside Lands the weekend after, it's been nice to have a few weekends where we do as little as possible except hang out and relax. I figure the rest of today will be a walk to Laurel Village to get more coffee, and a few other boring errands. Such is Sunday.

One last thing! Thanks to listening to KFOG on the way home yesterday, we were introduced to a local band that sounds all sorts of awesome: The Novelists. They're sort of quirky acoustic alt.folk and kind of similar to Ben Folds, and on the strength of one song, I now want to download the album from their site. Well worth checking out! :)
jon_chaisson: (Default)
Whew! Long day today. Double win at IKEA, as I was able to get a new Billy bookshelf--I think their model has changed somewhat, as this one is about four inches higher, an inch or so deeper, and about an inch or so wider. Still, was able to park it in place of the smaller one and fill it up with all the YA and manga. The shelf near the door is now filled with my music books, and we even have some space left!

Also! NEW DESK! Bought this puppy right here for a measly $69, and it's quite nice. So now Spare Oom has two desks in it, at least until I get rid of my old one. I'm going to post something down in the lobby and see if anyone here wants it, and if not, then I'll go the Craigslist/Goodwill route.

I still need to move around and/or arrange a few more things here in Spare Oom, but I'm really liking how it's shaping up. I shall post pictures once everything is settled.

I should also add that it was RIDICULOUSLY foggy for most of the day, at least here in San Francisco. The stuff as so thick that on a stretch of Route 35 near the Olympic Club (yep, that's where they had the big golf tournament the other week), I could barely see three cars ahead. It cleared up a little more by the time we hit 280, and of course it was relatively clear by the time we got past SFO. It kinda-sorta cleared up a little this afternoon, but it's now ridiculously foggy again, and I can hear the foghorns in the bay going off like crazy.

Now to write some words!
jon_chaisson: (Default)
I'm still not happy with my writing output at this point. And I know it's my own damn fault. I've been letting myself get distracted again. I know exactly why I'm doing it, and I've already talked about it here, so I won't repeat myself.

So...time to pull out the Big Guns again--the Schedule.

The Schedule under this here cut to save space )


I love it when I find the perfect book completely by accident.

[ profile] emmalyon and I went to Green Apple yesterday for our usual book shopping, and as I walked past the PC/Computer/HTML how-to section, a book caught my eye: Scott McNulty's Building a WordPress Blog People Want to Read. This is EXACTLY what I need to get the WP site up and running correctly. This is one of the weekend projects I'd need to work on initially, just to make sure I have it up and running okay. Once I have the technical side down, then I'll be able to blog to my heart's content. I'll let you know when that's up and running.


Aug. 27th, 2011 05:47 pm
jon_chaisson: (Peanuts Linus fainting)
So I got a really nice bookshelf at IKEA today with the idea of replacing the one currently squeezed between my desk and the wall. It's got one of those open backs so I can put things like the phone on it and not have wires kicking around everywhere.

Well, that didn't quite work.

The new bookshelf is about a half inch wider than the one it was replacing, so that meant that it didn't quite fit due to the floor heater being in the way. D'OH! So let's see...I could always replace it with the other open-backed one that's between the desk and the door...nope, it was a little too close to the corner, and what with another bookcase being kind of close to that door, the entryway was way too narrow.


After a bit of mental planning and trying not to strain myself (why yes, I moved that smaller open-backed bookcase without emptying it first, why do you ask?) I did the following:

--donated the smaller bookcase that was in that corner to Emm, who has it next to her desk in the living room and has filled it with her knitting books.

--moved the desk so it's about a foot from the door. Not as narrow as when the bookcase was there, and it's nearer to the lightswitch.

--nice new tall bookcase is flat against the wall with nearly all my writing filed on it (some still in folders--I need to arrange that soon).

--said folders o' writing were taken out of one of the wooden boxes that were in front of the window. That box now has sweaters and older clothes in it and is in the bedroom closet.

--related, the big box that took up a big footprint in the bedroom closet is now up on the top shelf of said closet, now that said sweaters and clothes are out of the way. I hope to empty out the other box and combine it with the blue bin o' stuff that's here in Spare Oom.

--accidentally fried the USB hub I had by plugging the wrong power cable into it, but it's not a complete loss since my PC has more USB ports than the other one did, and since I retired two external HDs, I plugged the two remaining externals and the printer directly into the PC.

--smaller open-backed bookshelf is now in front of the window, and will most likely be thinned out and/or moved elsewhere at some point. That one is filled with reference books, which I may or may not put on the new bookshelf.

And to top it all off, I just walked over to Hot Sauce and Panko for some wings to go with our ridiculously large amount of figs.

So yeah...tired, but I got a lot done. :)
jon_chaisson: (Tunage)
I'm currently re-reading Richard Neer's excellent book FM: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio, and I have to say that if you are in any way a fan of radio, and especially if you have a background in it, however small, you should definitely read this book. It reminds me why I love radio--both as an entertainment vehicle and as an industry I once briefly worked for. (Why I never followed up on it is another thing entirely, which I won't go into here.)

Specifically, the book follows the history of progressive radio, alternating between his own story of getting into the industry completely by chance (he'd originally gone to college to study acting), and the story of radio's evolution from a crackly AM entertainment to the rise of FM radio. Even more specifically, it delves into the fascinating history in which the radio industry and the FCC didn't quite know what to do with this newfangled frequency band or how to regulate it in its first years. This controlled chaos on the FM band in its infancy is the birth of progressive radio--the idea that instead of rigid Top 40, the playlist was more experimental and adventurous, giving knowledgeable deejays near-free reign in what they played...which in its own way created the art of mixes and segues. It's fascinating to watch as Top 40 remained on the AM band well into the 60s (and even the 70s) while FM was regarded as a curiosity and an experimental playground for disc jockeys and general managers. The "fall" of the title comes in the late 70s when FM finally takes hold on the public and becomes more commercial, stations change sounds to make more money, and the creativity of the deejays is stifled. [In an interesting parallel, I'm seeing the same exact thing happening now with satellite and internet radio--some stations are staying with the rigid playlists, but a number of internet/satellite stations are much more experimental. Note to self: see if Save Alternative is hiring!]

It's also fun to read about his initial thoughts about radio as a kid, thinking that all stations, as in the 30s and 40s, were large glamorous studios with big house bands and audiences, only to find out that most are tiny shoeboxes with extremely outdated equipment, crammed into dank basements of hotels and office buildings, and held together by tape and half-assed welding. Further along he describes how WNEW, in its 60s heyday, became a proving ground for the new type of rock music coming out of the woodwork.

I say all this because this book is very much a template for my Walk in Silence project. While I personally don't have much of a current radio industry perspective (two years at Athol's tiny local station and five semesters at Emerson College's stations), nor do I have the "scene" perspective as an insider or a clubgoer, I do have the obsessive love of a music fan and I'm utterly fascinated by the history of alternative radio--not just alt/indie rock, but its history and its outlets--and so does Neer, so this book is a great reference for me.

Definitely worth reading.
jon_chaisson: (Default)
Thanks to everyone who's stopped by to snag a few titles!! I've pulled yours already and put them aside, and will start boxing them up for shipment over the course of this coming week. I'll let you all know once it's all in the mail.

We still have a HUGE list left, though! Feel free to foist this upon your friends who may also be I said, as long as they're going to a good home, we're happy. :)

Still available and waiting for a good home! )
jon_chaisson: (Default)
Interesting reading from Joshua Bilmes (head of the publishing agency JABberwocky) about the slow and sad demise of Borders bookstores. Short version--it's vital to pay attention to your finances.

I haven't minded going to Borders in the past, but it always seemed that there was never one close by to me. Back when I was in Massachusetts, the closest one was (is?) across the border in Keene NH, but I figured, why go there when I could go to Toadstool Books in the center of town, which has a fun selection and a great atmosphere? Down in NJ, I'd go to the B&N on the corner of 202 and 10 rather than out to the Borders in Rockaway (nice and big as it was) or the one near the Eisenhower Parkway (which was a PITA to get to if you were heading east). Even out here in SF, we've got B&Ns galore and a lot of great indie shops...I think the last time I went to the Borders in Union Square was at least a few years ago.

Still...I've always felt more comfortable in a B&N...they've always felt homier, cleaner, and a little more on the ball. Borders always felt a little too flashy and mall-like to me. Not to mention, like JB states, that they seem to completely fail at being ahead of (or even on, for that matter) the curve.
jon_chaisson: (Default)
Fifteen books you've read that will always stay with you. You have fifteen minutes to think of them. Go.

1. Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves
2. Lee J. Hindle's Dragon Fall (inspired me to start writing)
3. Richard Paul Russo's Carlucci
4. Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine
5. Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing
6. JN Stroyar's The Children's War
7. JK Rowling's Harry Potter series (okay, that's 7 books, but I'm counting as 1 here)
8. Douglas Coupland's Generation X
9. Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front
10. JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (sure, I FINALLY read it after all these years...and yes, I LOVED it. :p )
11. Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome
12. pretty much most of the late 50s-early 60s Peanuts collections from Charles Schulz
13. Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
14. Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time
15. Steve Kluger's My Most Excellent Year
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
Okay, so in the midst of my musical retrospectives and other "best of decade" memes out there, I thought I'd post what are probably my favorite books of the decade. Interesting that they're either genre or YA...there's only two nonfic books that really jumped out at me. This is far from complete, of course, since I know I'm probably forgetting a few titles.

For your enjoyment...

House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. My favorite of the decade. This novel has so many levels to it, and so brilliantly woven together. Not to mention it being the written equivalent of The Blair Witch Project. Creepy, mindbending and entertaining all at the same time.

The Children's War by J.N. Stroyar. By no means the best "Germany won WWII" alternate history out there, nor is it exactly the most brilliantly written novel, it's nonetheless one of my favorites in that genre in terms of story.

Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series. Poor Harry Dresden is always in deep shit at the start of every novel, and it never seems to let up...but when he faces his foes by quoting nerdy things like Looney Tunes or They Live, you gotta love it. Exciting and funny at the same time.

Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series and Harper Connelly series. Sure, they're the latest thing, but they're all kinds of fun to read. The Sookie books are fun in terms of supernatural weirdness, and the Harper books are just damn creepy.

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Sure, some of them came out in the late 90s, but nonetheless...brilliantly written, and contains some of the best worldbuilding out there today. A series I wish I'd written.

Wen Spencer's Ukiah Oregon series. Interesting series about a guy raised by wolves who works as a tracker...and eventually finds some rather interesting things about his past. Lots of fun reading this one.

Sergei Lukyanenko's Night Watch series. There's something to be said about foreign writers writing in genre...they always give it a great twist that you don't always see elsewhere. This series is not quite horror, not quite supernatural, but pretty harsh and exciting to read.

John Harris, Britpop!: Cool Britannia and the Spectacular Demise of British Rock. One of the best books about a genre I listened to and obsessed about in college.

Inside 9/11: What Really Happened, from the editors of Der Spiegel. Out of all the books about 9/11 I've seen, this one got me the most, simply because it was decidedly clinical and nonpolitical. Pure reporting without any heartstring-pulling, anger-inducing or flagwaving, and extremely well-written.

Hitori Nakano, Train Man. Go ahead, buy the book and read it already...I dare you not to get all "Awwwwww ^_^" at the end! Very cute and excessively nerdy love story told in the form of a 2chan bbs. SO worth reading!

Cory Doctorow, Little Brother. Great YA book that takes place here in SF, and pretty intense in places. Sure, the parents might be a bit flat in the book (I'd like to think that was done on purpose to show a "go with the flow" fear on their part), but it's a great read.

Miyuki Miyabe, Brave Story. A doorstop-sized YA novel about growing up, changes in life that you can't always control, committing to a quest, and of course, learning now to be brave. Well-written, exciting, and definitely worth it.

Frank Portman, King Dork. Another YA book, this one written by the singer of the Mr. T Experience. Funny, nerdy and goofy in a very John Hughes-ish sort of way.

Steve Kluger, My Most Excellent Year. Most of my all-time favorite books and movies are ones that get me all wound up and want to sit down and get some hardcore writing done. This one, on the other hand? I just wanted to start it over and read it again, it was that enjoyable of a read. I did a brief blurb of it here. Not bad for a book that I impulse-bought up in Napa. :p

Alex Robinson, Tricked and Box Office Poison. Let me start off with BoP. If you gotta pick up an indie comic omnibus, you MUST pick this one up, and I'm not just trying to shamelessly plug [ profile] alexbot3000. It's just that good. Sure, most of the issues came out in the late 90s, but the omnibus is from '01, so it counts. ;) As for Tricked, very interesting take on the jaded rock star story, not to mention AR's great ability to tell a story from multiple POVs.

Terry Moore's Strangers in Paradise series. Sure, it started while I was still living in Boston, but he finished the series about the middle of this decade, and it's a great series to follow.

Here's to hoping we get even more great novels out there next decade! :D
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
Reporting from the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco (a few miles away from the quiet Richmond area where I live), Booksmith on Haight has A Kidnapped Santa Claus set up in a nice mid-store area surrounded by other classic Christmas-themed books. Why yes, I did in fact buy one! :)
jon_chaisson: (Default)
I am psyched that I bought not one but two books I didn't know had come out: Douglas Coupland's newest, Generation A (a sequel of sorts to his debut Generation X), and Pseudonymous Bosch's newest, This Book Is Not Good For You. I'm a big fan of DC's work and had no idea he had something new out already! As for the PB book, it's the third in an incredibly silly and fun YA series (actually, it's in the young readers' section, but well worth reading). I've been good with the impulse buys book-wise (I keep reminding myself that I need to work through my pile of unread stuff, and that usually works), so two buys today isn't too bad.

That said, recent books I've read:

And Another Thing... by Eoin Colfer, aka, the sixth book in Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide trilogy. As said to Emm, this one felt a lot like it was written as fanfic. A very good and well-written fanfic, though. It had less of the absurdist silliness of the first few books and more of the satiric Britishness of Mostly Harmless, of which this is a kinda-sorta direct sequel. It took the characters in interesting directions, especially Zaphod and Ford, formerly caricature-like and somewhat one-dimensional. They were both shown in a more expanded, deeper fashion. And extra points for a character quoting Bladerunner with a completely straight, serious face and making me giggle uncontrollably. Interesting expansion on the series, if anything...I'll probably end up picking it up once it's in trade or mass-market.

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger. LOVED this YA book. Not only is it fun and silly, it's epistolary (in the form of an english class journal assignment, multiple emails, and IM sessions, all in multiple POVs, including the parents), and it captures blue-collar Boston brilliantly. At the heart of it, it's a simple boy-meets-girl, girl-despises-boy, boy-wins-girl-over (boy's-silly-sidekick(in this case gay and realizing it for the first time, after everyone else in the novel including his love interest has figured it out)-getting-all-the-laughs) type of story but so full of Boston-smartassery and sheer goofiness that I was tempted to read it again right there and then. HIGHLY suggested.

Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes, by John Pierson. Been meaning to read this one for quite some time now. Man, this book is like I'm reading one of my college textbooks again! :p Seriously, it's a bit dry and self-important in some places, but at the same time it's an interesting read about indie movies that came out during a time when I was watching a lot of them in college. Interesting read, but not really sure if it's one I'll keep.

Farthing by Jo Walton. Reading this as my commute book. Very well written, it's like reading one of those old Ngaio Marsh/Agatha Christie sort of myster novels, but it's set in an alternate history. Emm's already read the two sequels and deems them AWESOME, and I'm inclined to agree. :)
jon_chaisson: (Default)
...Barnes & Noble's Nook eReader is pretty darn sweet!

Definitely something to put on my B&N Wish List think about for future purchasing... ;)
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
Forgot to tell you...yesterday I stopped by Edge's really nice setup in the dealer's room at Worldcon and said hi...and ended up finally buying Not Your Father's Horseman. Just thought you'd want to know. :D
jon_chaisson: (Default)
Elizabeth Bear has an interesting take on the latest Hugo kerfuffles.

Apparently there are those out there who think this year's titles are all kind of meh. Personally, I've read only two--Durham's Acacia (which I found insanely dull and overly pompous) and Doctorow's Little Brother (which I LOVED, but it's based in San Francisco and is a YA and I'm biased like that. ;) )--but still, some of the blogs she links to are kind of's like editors fandom turning around to the authors and saying NOT GOOD ENOUGH DO IT AGAIN *WHOOPISSSH*.

As a reader, I agree with her--I read for the enjoyment, and a goodly amount of people do also. The last thing I want to do at the end of the day or on the commute home is to read a novel that makes my brain explode. On the other hand, if I'm in the mood for something challenging, I'll give it a try.

As a writer, I also agree that sometimes "good enough" isn't. I learned this recently when [ profile] dancinghorse (Judith Tarr) read the first few chapters of my novel Love Like Blood and came away thinking that it was good but I did a half-assed job on it, which I wholly agree with. Sometimes writing it off as "well, I did what I could" isn't good enough, when you know that's not true. Or as Judy said to me, phoning it in only pisses the reader off. ;)

All in all, it's apples and oranges. I personally dislike dystopian novels and find them boring and tedious, yet some love them (The Road is one case in point, and yet it won a Pulitzer). You're not going to please every reader out there, but the fact is that with those you do, that's really what counts.

[Word of warning: Bear rarely pulls punches in her posts, so if you're easily offended, were warned. ;) ]

EDIT: As an aside, the original kvetch was written by Adam Roberts, a UK author. I read his book The Snow a few years back. Hey, guess what? It's a dystopian novel. Had a lot of good ideas, and I liked it for the most part, until the end, where in my opinion he pulled something out of his ass and called it done. Oh the irony. :p
jon_chaisson: (Default)
Yeah, we pretty much passed on going to Amoeba today. Being that we finally got to uninterrupted sleep sometime around 1am, we're both too lazy to do anything other than some necessary errands, most of which we've already done. No big, we'll go at a later time...for now, some random updates:

--Most likely will go to Borderlands on the 18th (two Saturdays from now), as [ profile] jaylake is going to be signing there and I really want to pick up Green.

--As said, nearly all errands done. Just need to do laundry, vacuum the apartment (which takes all of ten or so minutes to do--the good thing about a small place!), and run the dishwasher.

--I'm not sure, but I think the people across the street--you know, the guy I talk about who stands in front of his window for hours on end, either staring or talking on his phone, and I swear he's watching me--look like they're moving out. I can't be sure, but there seems to be packing going on in that apartment.

--In a related note, the quiet, unassuming woman that lived next door to us (not the couple across the hall) that we've only ever seen in person maybe three times since we've been here, seems to have moved out as well. We can see into her apartment from one of our windows and it looks empty.

--Also related, I'm seeing a strangely large number of empty apartments here. But to be honest, this is normal this time of year, when all the kids move out at the end of their college year. On the plus side, I've seen our management showing people apartments all the time, so at least business is moving.

--One of our local channels played How I Won the War last night. I'd forgotten just how absurdly weird this movie was... :p

--Amazon's having an anime dvd sale! YAY! Going to order the Paniponi Dash and Ergo Proxy box sets!

--I just started reading The Lord of the Rings, after not picking up the books since 7th grade (and even then, I didn't get far). I find it a bit unnerving that I found myself geeked out by the "Notes on the Text" and author's foreword about how he wrote it? I haven't even gotten to the novels themselves yet. And why do I get the sinking feeling I'm going to feel all this nerd love for the books? This may or may not be a good thing... O_O

--If I have the time, I may post a few more [ profile] edencycle chapters. I'll let you know when I do. :)

That's it for now. Hope everyone has a swell weekend! :)
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
B&N stop today, bought a book I had a few years ago and for some reason didn't bring with when I moved down to NJ, Roger Zelazny's Great Book of Amber: the Complete Chronicles. I remember really liking this book when I first picked it up (I think at Toadstool up in Keene NH) and almost completely forgot about it until I saw someone with a copy of it at work when I was on the 5th floor...good to have it again! :)

There were a few other books out there that looked interesting, but just didn't quite grab me...well, there's that, and the fact that there's pretty much a glut of "vampire hunter" stories out there right now. Not exactly good for my Love Like Blood (which isn't so much about vampire hunting as it is about making sure friends don't act like idiots ;) ), but I digress...I guess I just go through moods. my current bout of music collecting, I've been picking up and reading older books I should have read ages ago, such as Le Morte d'Arthur and so on. It's kind of fun going retro on books as well, come to think of it. Kind of like catching up on books I was too lazy to read in high school and college! :p

Of course, I also have the big pile of books I downloaded from Project Gutenberg awhile back that I should read as well...not sure when, but I'll get to them soon enough. Kind of cool that I can get a hold of these online, though, and not have to clutter up our bookcases!

Ah, many of them, so little time... :p
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
When I'm working from home, I tend to listen to a lot of music via my mp3 collection, and lately I've been listening to Beck's Sea Change a lot. Partly because I just really like that album a lot, partly because "Little One" from that album keeps popping up in my head lately.

The interesting thing is that listening to that album makes me think of when I used to go to a sadly-departed bookstore in Harvard Square in Cambridge (Wordsworth Books) when I lived in MA. That store was always one of my main stops when I did a daytrip into the Boston area, usually near the end of the day after lengthy stops at used record stores. I'd spend the final few hours hanging out there, more often than not buying a few titles. The reason the Beck album pops up is because they'd played it in its entirety one of the times I was there.

It also ties in with the book I'm currently reading, Endgame 1945 by David Stafford, mainly because it's about immediately-post-WWII Europe. Why, you say? Because that was the same evening I bought The Children's War by JN Stroyar. So now that I'm listening to that album and reading the Stafford Book, I keep having this nagging urge to read Children's War as well as House of Leaves again, which are two rather large books I like reading every few years or so. The last I read both were about the time we moved here, so it's high time for me to pick them up again. Thing is, I have way too many other books before it to pick them up now! :p

This is also bringing up the fact that I've been thinking about the IWN again lately. Sure, I have two other current WIPs going on, so it isn't helping that I want to pick it up again, especially with the current political climate over the last six months. I figure that urge will die down a bit once I'm finished with the Stafford book (less than 100 pages to go at this point), but it does amuse me that I still get urges to write specific things due to what I'm reading or listening to.
jon_chaisson: (Default)
No, I'm not sick...that's just me sniffling and coughing from the insane amount of dust that's been kicked up over the last couple of hours. We got rid of a LOT more books than expected, so we now have a lot of space on our bookshelves again! [Also, we suddenly have a bit more room on our kitchen counter too, as some of the appliances there that we don't use on a daily basis are now on the shelf near the front door.]


Granted, this has caused my "read and get rid of" pile to grow exponentially, so I'm going to have to go through it again and thin that out as well--there are some titles I definitely don't need there, and can borrow from the library at a later date.

SO! Next step--to start making the list of the Emm n' Jonc's Big Book Purge. As said before, I'll be sending it out first to family to make sure we're not giving away their stuff. And once that's all good to go, I'll be posting the list here on the LJ. I'll definitely let you all know when that happens!

And now, off to get us some coffee!! :)


jon_chaisson: (Default)

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