Book Loot and Internet Travels

I’m a book person. This has become sort of widely known. This Christmas saw a wealth of stories come my direction…

They won’t last long, of course. I devour books the way a Hostess-goody-deprived youth devours Twinkie cakes; but right now with only one book devoured, and several to go, a veritable feast awaits. Here are the books I received for Christmas:



 Stardust by Neil Gaiman

  I already ate this one. I’ve been curious about Neil Gaiman books  for some time, having not read anything by him, but rather a lot  about  him. I saw the movie Stardust, but didn’t know that he wrote  the story  for it. The book read quickly, it was engaging and well  crafted. I’ll be  putting more of his offerings on my book shelf.



wickedd Wicked by Gregory Maguire

 You’ve likely heard of this one. I looked it up, and yes, this is  the novel that the Broadway musical is based  on. It is the  story of the Wizard of Oz told from the perspective of the  Witch… kind of like Mists of Avalon for the Arthur story. I  have read about eighty pages, and I honestly don’t  understand how this novel would translate to a musical. I’m  curious. Under the Tuscan Sun, the movie, was  unrecognizable from the book, though they were both  excellent in their way. I wonder if ‘Wicked’ manages that.  Maguire is cerebral and detail oriented, and the prose have  been smooth and intelligent, so far.



posesion Possession by A.S. Byatt

 I don’t know anything about this novel yet, so here’s some text I  found on

 “Roland Mitchell, underpaid English research assistant, is on a  search for nineteenth-century poet Randolph Henry Ash’s copy  of Vico, in the hopes that Ash will have written something  enlightening in the margins. The book is brought up from the  vaults of the British Museum, and in it Mitchell finds far more  than Randolph Ash’s thoughts on Vico. Hidden between the  pages, unknown to anyone, are two rough drafts of a love letter to an unknown woman, written by Randolph Ash – a man scholars believe was eternally, faithfully married. From here on, the plot thickens, as they say, to include romance, poetry, parodies of feminist and Freudian criticism, trips to old houses and foreign countries, thefts, deceptions, and true love. Possession is a novel about literary scholarship – a hymn of praise and an attack – a book about modern romance and the lack of it. It is a novel of many voices and about the difficulty of knowing anyone’s voice, even one’s own. It is a magnificent read – thick and engrossing.”

Hm. Well, we’ll see.


thunderhead The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

 Ah, my darling Bryson, sent to me by my other darling, who also  sent ‘A Walk in the Woods’ into my life. Alas, alack, where is my  darling Katz? Stephen Katz does not show up except in a brief  sidenote, in this novel, and that almost makes me want to cry. It  is a very nostalgic look back at the world Bryson grew up in: The  fifties. There’s lots of boy joy and young boy humor throughout-  little grossness bits that make this memoir more fun and more  refreshing than watching the Cleavers. But I do miss Katz. I think  Bryson should be primarily employed with writing novels that  feature his cream-soda loving, plain-speaking, plump-rumped, semi-insane travelling buddy, because… well, it would make me very happy.


rocketsci1 Not Exactly Rocket Science by Ed Yong

 Ed! Yong! Yes, of my very blogroll, Ed Yong. Our friend, the  science wizard, has collected many writings from his first  year of blogging into a well-crafted book of amazing science  discoveries. ‘Not Exactly Rocket Science’ is written in his  signature, down-to-earth prose, language that a regular,  non-scientist human can actually understand. Since I read  Ed’s blog during that first year, this book means a bit more to  me than if this were just an excellently crafted collection of  amazing scientific revelations. But even if it were just that…  that’s rather a nice addition to the library, don’t you think?



selawardPride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field by Melissa Nathan

 Regrettably, I have read half this book already, and while  the idea is cute, like a lot of the movies that have come out  lately, the execution is pretty disappointing. I’m reading it  anyway. It is basically the story of Pride and Prejudice told  in a contemporary setting, around the seed of the plot of  some people putting on the play, ‘Pride and Prejudice’. The  fact that the characters are supposed to represent the  characters from the novel is so thinly disguised, it’s  ludicrous. So are the exhaustive descriptions of each  character’s attractive personal appearance. Ms. Nathan  overwrites, and she also mixes up columnists, critics and  the word ‘journalism’ so liberally that I’m not certain she discerns between the concepts. However, she’s still young. Maybe there’s a work of literature on her writing horizon.

Robert Bateman Natural Worlds (with text by Rick Archbold)

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories by Tim Burton

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Bag of Bones by Stephen King

Goodnight Bush by Erich Origen & Gan Golan

*  * * * * *  * * *  * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

(This post in progress. I wanted to put something up, though, and didn’t realize it would take such a very long time to go through all those books)


16 thoughts on “Book Loot and Internet Travels

  1. What a haul. You must have bribed the elves. I did manage to get three books though – first, Understanding Exposure (it is a photography book, A!!!) and second, Last Child in the Woods, which everyone has read except me, I think, and third, Amphigorey by Edward Gorey, a delightful naughty book for kids that I find quite entertaining. You do know of Edward Gorey, yes?

  2. The boy and I are the last two people on earth to get into the Harry Potter series (well, seriously, right?) We got books 4-6. I’ve already been through #4 and started #5 last night and only take a break to eat and read the occasional blog :-) Nothing is better on a long vacation from work like this than having a pile o’ books waiting to be opened!

  3. Great list here. Your first three are also on my to-be-read list. I also just learned recently that he wrote the Stardust story behind the movie. I just finished his The Graveyard Book and would recommend it.

  4. Possession is a gorgeous, gorgeous book … and it’s even better if you are familiar with the poetry of Robert Browning and Christina Rossetti, as Byatt does a freaking amazing voice-channelling of both of them … although the characters are her own, they are clearly based on those two authors, as far as the style and ideas of their poetry.

    Wicked is pretty good, though I found I lost interest recently when I tried to re-read it. As an imaginative feat, though, it’s pretty phenomenal. His re-imagining of the Cinderella story is better, I think … though I can’t remember the name of it right now.

  5. I used to get books for my birthday and Christmas but I don’t think I’ve gotten any in the past three or so years.

    I do have Wicked and plan on reading that one day soon but not yet. I find myself unable to read much these days. My mind is moving very rapidly and I can’t seem to concentrate on anything long enough to get past the first chapter.

    But soon. Soon I will read.

  6. I had exactly the same reaction when I read Wicked — I couldn’t visualize it as a musical. I guess that’s why I don’t write musicals. Well, one reason. I won’t tell you how it ends. Heh.

  7. I wanted to find Possession gorgeous, but I found it boring. :( Hope you love it. So many people do.

    I loved Girl In a Pearl Earring, though. Lovely book.

  8. Lucky you, amuirin! I look forward to reading more about the other books. I haven’t read any of these, and am always on the look-out for recommendations.

    I read Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates over the holiday break. I was curious about that genre of writers. I’m familiar with John Cheevers, and I find that era of writing to be so distinctive, so alive to the period in which it’s written. I liked the book a lot, although it was pretty heavy and at times oppressive. I want to see the movie now, although it has gotten mixed reviews. Kate Winslet is one of my favorites, though, and he character especially is intriguing.

  9. I’m a book person, too. :D Looks like a good haul!

    Stardust: I haven’t read this book of Gaiman’s, but have read several of his other books. The first book I read by Gaiman was American Gods. I was hooked from that point on.

    I did, however, see the movie and really, really liked it.

    Wicked: A favorite of mine. I haven’t seen the musical and wonder the same thing.

    I just finished reading the sequel to Wicked a month or so ago. I’m looking forward to reading the third book (which is out but I haven’t gotten a copy of yet).

    Possession: Sounds interesting. Penciling it in on my reading list. Will wait to hear what you think of it.

    Bryson is always a favorite of mine. Think I’ll add that to my reading list too.

    So many books, so little time. *sigh*

    Happy 2009, Am!

  10. I used to be a book person, but not so much anymore. Seeing your haul has inspired me to go out and buy some books. Perhaps something from your list. We’ll see. :)

    Happy New Year!

  11. I just added Stardust to a book reading challenge I’ll be doing. :) I saw ybonsey just finished Revolutionary Road…that’s the book I’m reading right now. Really well done, but yeah, somewhat oppressive.

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