Choosing Favorites

Robin wrote a post that I just loved reading the other day about how she acquired both her favorite book and her love of reading…well how she continued to develop her love of reading. I just love reading about the stories behind people’s favorite books in their collections. Even if there’s not much of a story, I love just knowing what they are. So I decided to invite everyone to share just that! What’s your favorite book or books in your library? Not necessarily the title, but the book itself. I couldn’t limit it to one, so I picked 5 :p Before Katrina I would’ve had a much harder time, but here are my favorites now.

My two most prized books are two that I’ve never mentioned on my blog before. They’re both psychology books that I acquired some time ago and I had to hunt them down for a long time before I found them. The first is by a psychologist who I would consider my “hero”. His name is Carl Rogers and I’m sure that many of you have heard of him. He passed away not too long ago and was an amazing therapist with such a gentle soul and worked wonders for the field of psychology. He invented a form of therapy called Person-Centered Therapy which is all about having the client do most of the talking and working through their issues and it’s very open and friendly and non-threatening. He wrote a book in 1967 called Person to Person: The Problem of Being Human and I always wanted a copy. It’s out of print now except for in other anthologies and the old copies you can have don’t have the groovy cover that I wanted. But I finally found it! And here it is! It’s my prize possession straight from 1967.

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The other book with it is a copy of Sigmund Freud’s A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis from 1943. It was originally published in the states in 1920 and I would love to have that edition, but I’ll settle for this one. It’s an awesome book and is divided into individual lectures with titles like “Children’s Dreams”, “The Dream-Censorship”, “The Sexual Life of Man”, “Wish Fulfillment”, and “Development of the Libido and Sexual Organizations” among others. Love this book! All the lectures are presented directly from Freud in first person. Really cool. It’s one of those old beat up books with yellow pages…wish I had more of these in my collection.

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The other three books are more modern. The first is my copy of Speaker for the Dead. This is my my absolute favorite book and yes, the only copy I own is my little mass-market paperback copy. But my love affair with this book has made this copy so special to me. I could never give it up and it’s almost become like a person to me. It’s the only mass market book that I own that I really love for what it is…the rest of them, I’d trade in a heartbeat for hardcovers or trade paperbacks. I took this with me when I evacuated for the hurricane because I wanted to make sure that it didn’t get ruined. Of course I raised all of my other books up four feet from the ground too, but that just wasn’t enough :/

The Absolute Sandman!!! Volume 1…I finally just sucked it up and bought this one last year. I didn’t pay the $100 that it actually costs…I found a copy for about $60, but it’s worth $100. This book is so beautiful and if you’re a fan of Sandman or Neil Gaiman, I’d say it’s a must have. It’s probably cheaper than buying all the individual Sandman books anyway. It’s leatherbound with gorgeous new coloring, some extras and then put into a slipcase. Definitely a new favorite of my collection and now I want volume 2 so bad! And volume 3 comes out now this year! What am I to do??

And finally, another Neil Gaiman favorite – The Subterranean Press limited signed edition of the illustrated Mirrormask script. I nearly had a heart attack when I found this one! Found you might ask? This is what happened. Every now and then, Subterranean offers these grab bags for $99 which are quite a bargain. For $99, you get like 8 or 9 random books…they choose. Well I bought one and this was in it! This alone is worth $125 and is now worth more than that. And of course it’s signed by one of my favorite authors and artists and it’s put together beautifully. And in case you’re wondering, I got copy 241 or 500. Oh and some Subterranean/Neil Gaiman news…they recently announced in their newsletter that they’ll be doing their own versions of Interworld and The Graveyard Book! So I’m sure I’ll be buying those in the future.

And Lisa Snellings-Clark is listing new poppets in her store as we speak!

That’s it for now. If you do you’re own post, let me know…I’ll link to it!

Robin’s Post
Becky’s Post
Deslily’s Post
Desannie’s Post
Nymeth’s Post
Kimmery4’s Post
Debi’s Post
Kim L.’s Post
Carl’s Post
Other Chris(@bookarama)’s Post
Tempting Persephone’s Post
Susan’s Post

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Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

eyeswatchinggod.jpgShips at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men.”

That’s the beginning of Zora Neale Hurston’s masterpiece, Their Eyes were Watching God. This isn’t a book that you would normally find on my blog, but thanks to Becky’s book club, I decided to read it and I’m so glad that I did. It’s a true modern classic both in the tale it tells and the way in which it is told. Hurston’s writing is some of the finest that I have read. I commented on Becky’s blog that I could’ve filled a whole quotes journal with quotes from this book. She writes with such heartfelt grace and pours such soul into her characters. She has ways of describing scenes that are unimaginable yet perfect. No one else but Hurston could ever come up with the some of the phrases that she so beautifully puts together.

She alters between the vivid, more literary descriptions given in her narrative and the African American dialect of the south right after the abolition of slavery used in the dialogue. The latter took some getting used to for me at first before it began to flow, but once I got used to it, it really brought the characters to life. The story centers around Janie who is born right after slavery is abolished. Janie is an incredibly strong woman who has much to overcome despite being born a “free” black woman. She is married to two men who still treat her somewhat like a slave before meeting a man who truly treats her well despite a few flaws in my opinion. But even with this marriage, she is doomed to struggle and forced to keep her strong exterior.

This is a novel of fighting…of overcoming things that most of us can’t even imagine having to overcome. I shouldn’t speak so generally. I should just speak for myself. When I read novels like this, it really makes me think of how far the world has come and how far we still have to go. Janie was a black woman in the late 1800’s. She was fictional of course, but there were many women like her. While many faced few problems, black women passed their lives silently each day letting things slip by that shouldn’t have…and it still happens today. Janie did of course grow a voice for herself and black women have grown a much bigger voice for themselves today. But they still remain a minority. There is still that word – minority. Hurston has certainly written a powerful, beautiful, meaningful, and thought provoking novel here and I’m sure it has made many think as much as it has me.

I leave you with another quote that I absolutely loved: “Love is lak de sea. It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore.”

Rabbit In The Headlights

An afternoon trip to the eye doctor ruined my planned evening of reading. Totally forgot that when you have your pupils dilated it completely incapacitates your reading ability…duh. I’m just now able to barely make out the computer screen as I sit in my dark room, so I decided to blog. Looks like my February reading numbers aren’t going to be all that more impressive than my January reading numbers. In January I managed to read 4 books, this month I’m hoping for 7, though I don’t know if I’ll finish Witch Ember by Friday. I’ve just been so busy and I’ve had so much on my mind that I haven’t had any time to read! So if Witch Ember isn’t finished by Friday it’ll become the first book for March…that’s how I work these things…don’t ask how I came up with that system, because I really don’t know.

I scheduled another interview today that I wasn’t planning on having. I figured I’ll fit in as many as I can while I’m in Austin…knock them all out. This one is at a company called Life Works and it’s a homeless shelter for children. Their aim is to focus on treating kids off the streets who have problems with depression, mental illness, violence, substance abuse, etc. I think it’s an awesome program and the director is a really nice guy. Look forward to meeting with them. That’s a place that I never would’ve seen myself but when I came across it, it felt right…so I set up the interview.

The advisory board meeting thingie was weird last night. I honestly don’t even know what we did. I was made chair of the sub-committee for state/federal relations…I guess that’s cool, but I have no idea what that means and I don’t think anyone else does either. It really sounds like we have an advisory board just to have an advisory board and it meets 3 times a year just to talk about “things”. What happens with those things…I don’t know. I guess I’ll find out. It’ll look good on a resume though and who knows where it will lead.

And finally, I’m starting to review for PYR books, and got my first batch (I asked for a small one) and got 3 really cool books yesterday! First is one that I’ve been wanting for a couple of years now…Ian McDonald’s award winning River of Gods! I can’t wait to read this one. I also got The Crooked Letter by Sean Williams and The Healer by Michael Blumlein, M.D. The books all sound phenomenal and I have the possibility of interviewing all 3 authors…I can’t even imagine an interview with Ian McDonald! So I’m psyched about working with this company. Oh, and a note to Deslily…they have a book called “Here, There, and Everywhere” 😉 Definitely asking for that one in the next batch…it sounds really good!

The World's Still Turning

Just writing to tell everyone hi. I feel like I’ve had absolutely nothing to write about lately, hence the lack of posts. I’m so ready for life to move on. Tired of doing nothing…though I doubt I’ll be saying that next week. I have the advisory board meeting on Monday at my old University (that should make me feel special) and then I FINALLY have my interviews in Austin the next week. I think I’m beginning to get arthritis in my fingers from crossing them so much. I can’t tell you how much I’m praying that those interviews go well. I need something to happen on the job front and a move would be really nice too. I’m just getting sick of this doing nothing routine…yeah, I work part time at the same old job with no benefits and I love that job (or the people at least), but it’s not getting me anywhere in life. I need a step forward.

On the book front, reading is the last thing I feel like doing right now. I’m just in one of those moods. I’m actually in the middle of a really good book now, too. I’m reading Witch Ember by John Lawson which he sent to me to review and it’s a totally captivating story which I’m really enjoying, but even that can’t lure me right now. Instead, I think I’ll pop in Stranger Than Fiction which Netflix delivered to me today. I’ve heard good things about it and it’s about a book, so that’s about as close as I’ll get to reading tonight :p Plus, I have a killer migraine…my eyes wouldn’t let me read anyway.

I think tomorrow will be a day of editing. I’ve been feeling more and more motivated lately to do something with that damn NaNoWriMo book of mine, so maybe I’ll finally do something with it tomorrow. We’ll see. That’s the intention anyway…even if it’s just 1 chapter!

The World’s Still Turning

Just writing to tell everyone hi. I feel like I’ve had absolutely nothing to write about lately, hence the lack of posts. I’m so ready for life to move on. Tired of doing nothing…though I doubt I’ll be saying that next week. I have the advisory board meeting on Monday at my old University (that should make me feel special) and then I FINALLY have my interviews in Austin the next week. I think I’m beginning to get arthritis in my fingers from crossing them so much. I can’t tell you how much I’m praying that those interviews go well. I need something to happen on the job front and a move would be really nice too. I’m just getting sick of this doing nothing routine…yeah, I work part time at the same old job with no benefits and I love that job (or the people at least), but it’s not getting me anywhere in life. I need a step forward.

On the book front, reading is the last thing I feel like doing right now. I’m just in one of those moods. I’m actually in the middle of a really good book now, too. I’m reading Witch Ember by John Lawson which he sent to me to review and it’s a totally captivating story which I’m really enjoying, but even that can’t lure me right now. Instead, I think I’ll pop in Stranger Than Fiction which Netflix delivered to me today. I’ve heard good things about it and it’s about a book, so that’s about as close as I’ll get to reading tonight :p Plus, I have a killer migraine…my eyes wouldn’t let me read anyway.

I think tomorrow will be a day of editing. I’ve been feeling more and more motivated lately to do something with that damn NaNoWriMo book of mine, so maybe I’ll finally do something with it tomorrow. We’ll see. That’s the intention anyway…even if it’s just 1 chapter!

Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

dragonflight.jpgI’ve always been a huge fan of dragons and dragon stories. There’s something about these incredible beasts that just captures the imagination like no other. So many authors have entranced our minds with tales of dragons or included dragons in their stories and they’ve all added their own spin on dragon-lore. You might call Anne McCaffrey the queen of Dragon literature. She’s written more than just a series…it’s more of a saga…it’s called Pern. And it’s fantastic. The first trilogy that she wrote is The Dragonriders of Pern and the first book is Dragonflight.

It would be hard for me to give a synopsis of this story. There is so much involved in this story even though it’s not all that long. It’s a traditional fantasy set in the world of Pern. Dragonriders look after the world, protecting it from destructive threads that fall from the atmosphere as a red star passes. In return, the cities of the world support the dragons, their riders, and their Weyr (the caves in which they live). However, it’s been so long since the red star has passed that the cities no longer believe that it is a threat and will not pay their tithes. Meanwhile, the dragon queen is dying and has laid a new queen egg and the dragonriders are on a search to find a new Weyrwoman, a companion to the queen who will soon be hatched. They find her in Lessa, a young girl from the town of Ruatha. Lessa is an amazingly strong character with a very determined mind that frustrates her mate and the Weyrleader, F’lar to no end. But she will prove to be an assett to the cause. She has gifts that have not been seen in Pern in a long time.

The dragons that McCaffrey has created are simply amazing. Ramoth, Lessa’s queen is simply beautiful (from what I pictured). She goes into such vivid detail when describing her dragons and we as readers share the same bonds that the humans share with their dragons. And when we witness the first hatching, we can’t help but hold our breath and then feel warm and excited. Truly breathtaking stuff here!

If you’re into fantasy and haven’t read these yet, I’d consider it a must read. It’s most certainly a staple of fantasy literature and the defining series of dragon literature. And she’s still publishing these Pern books! In fact, if I’m right, I think her son has even tried his hand at a Pern book or two. I’ll most certainly be returning to the other two books in this series and I’m sure I’ll continue on from there. I know this is one of Deslily’s favorite series and you can read her review of this one here and she gives such a better review than I ever could!

Drowning In Books

I’ve come to the realization that my books will soon suffocate me. I’ve even stopped buying them now but they’re still multiplying! I’ve only made one big purchase this year of 5 books from bookcloseouts.com, but I’ve been getting a lot of review copies, so they just keep coming in…I’m like a book magnet! I got my copy of Poppy Adams’ The Sister for Barnes and Nobles’ First Look Book Club today. Of course, you’ll hear no complaints from me. I love my books. But I can hear my poor TBR bookshelf weeping as the books begin to no longer even fit sideways on top of the other books.

So now I’m devising a system where I’m keeping all of the review books in a separate box and ordering them so that each company gets it’s proper turn…yeah it’s sad when you start needing a “system” to read. And of course I’m in all of these challenges too. I’ve made an oath to myself that I’m no longer signing up for challenges this year (which I haven’t) unless it’s the Once Upon a Time Challenge, RIP Challenge, or Eva’s yet to be announced challenge. I’m just too overwhelmed and really just can’t take the commitment factor of it. I’m way to much of a “can’t fail” kind of guy and I know there’s lots of failure ahead of me with these challenges that I got myself into! For instance, with the Series challenge, I’m supposed to have the rest of the Song of Ice and Fire series and the entire Chronicles of Narnia series read by May 31st…yeah right. It’s do-able, I just really don’t feel like reading Narnia right now, so it probably won’t get done. And I haven’t even started on my 5 books for the Themed Reading Challenge and one of them is over 1000 pages long…that one ends on June 30th.

One answer could be that I could back out of reading review copies, but I’ve been really enjoying those! You get to know authors and publishing companies and it’s just plain neat. So my new plan is to read 1 challenge book, 1 review book, etc. And if I want to throw something else in the mix (like the previous Four Letter Word ) I’ll do it! I guess it’s all in keeping a balance and trying not to get overwhelmed. That’ll be the day when I learn how not to get overwhelmed…maybe I should find a self help book in all of these, huh?