Cyberabad Days by Ian McDonald
Pyr, 2009, 278 pages, 978-1-59102-699-0, Trade Paperback, $15.00 in my cart. Finally.
Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S. Wilce
Magic Carpet Books, 2008, 438 pages, 978-0-15-205439-7, Paperback, $7.95
The Illustrated Life by Danny Gregory
How Books, 2008, 978-1-60061-086-8, Paperback, $19.99
Mainspring by Jay Lake
Tor, 2007, 358 pages, 978-0-7653-5636-9, Mass Market Paperback, $7.95
Midwinter by Matthew Sturges
Pyr, 2009, 344 pages, 978-1-59102-734-8, Trade Paperback, $15.98
Mushi-shi, vol. 1 by Yuki Urushibara
Del Rey, 2007, 978-0-345-49621-8, Paperback, $12.95
Mushi-shi, vol. 2 by Yuki Urushibara
Del Rey, 2007, 978-0-345-49644-7, Paperback, $12.95
The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente
Bantam Spectra, 2006, 978-0-553-38403-1, Trade Paperback, $14.00
Zoo by Otsuichi
Haikasoru, 2009, 978-1-4215-2587-7, Trade Paperback, $13.99
You might have noticed, but when a bookstore doesn’t have what I’m looking for, it tends to make me a little tetchy. In fact, it makes me outright rebellious. You don’t have my book? Fine. I’m going to order it from someone else.
This doesn’t happen all the time—just when I go in expecting to find a particular title but end up leaving empty-handed. If I just went in to browse, and I happened to think of a book I’d like to find, I don’t get quite so annoyed; I just shrug and put it on the list of things that I’ll have to order eventually (or, perhaps, I’ll mention it as a birthday gift. Not that anyone gives me books for my birthday. I have yet to figure out why not).
Of course, what really bugs me is that failing to find the book I want will completely kill my desire to buy anything else. Finding a replacement for the original title is near impossible, and I generally lose interest if my hunting has been thwarted (oh, and it is hunting. Bookstore-hopping is all about the hunt and the immediate acquisition. Otherwise, I’d just order everything and never be disappointed).
That said, I was more than a little miffed when I was unable to find Midwinter a couple of weeks ago. It kills me when I know I’ve seen a book at the store before but, all of a sudden, it isn’t there anymore. Just when I want it, it disappears from the shelf. I know I’m not the only one who hates that.
Well, it just happened that a friend of mine was making a rush order from amazon.com the following day. I chimed in to see if I could put Midwinter on her order and, kind as she is, she agreed.
I had to leave work an hour early to make it home in time for the UPS guy (my schedule is insanely tight, but she had no one who could be at home to pick it up, either, so we sent it to my place and hoped for the best), which turned out to be fortuitous timing, as he arrived fifteen minutes after I got home.
So, with Midwinter happily in hand, I ran off to the BBQ place down the road.
Before my second order arrived, I found myself availed of multiple $5 Borders Bucks coupons, and I couldn’t just let those go to waste. I struggled for almost an hour to decide what I wanted most. My final choice was Mushi-shi, vol. 1 (which I’ve always wanted to read anyway, but ever since it was reviewed for 365 Days of Manga over at Suvudu, I’ve wanted to read it even more), but before I could leave the store, I decided to go to the arts and architecture aisle.
Now, I have loads of art books from my days in art school: figure drawing books, animal drawing books, painting books, photography books, computer art books…you name it. Ever since taking a turn away from that industry, however, I haven’t found the need to buy quite so many (though I haven’t stopped completely—I’d be a shameful artist if I didn’t buy the ones that I know are excellent books and essential to my collection), so my forays into that section of the store are far fewer.
I’m glad I took a look on that day, though, because apparently the unthinkable had happened. Borders had stocked The Illustrated Life by Danny Gregory.
Now, I’m a huge Danny Gregory fan. Not because his art is the most fabulous thing on the planet. Not because he can do realism or CG art or anything like that. In fact, his artistic style isn’t anything like mine, and for the most part I’m terrible at doing what he does.
What I like about his art is that it’s relaxed, it’s real, and it’s colorful. He does doodles and sketches, and he uses color and text to fill up the space on the page. Half of what he includes in his various books is nothing more than his own personal sketchbook and journal images. And this is exactly why I love to look at and read his books. After reading them, I don’t feel like I have to reach the epitome of artistic excellence every single time I pick up a pen or pencil. All I have to do is make a few scratches on a piece of paper, if for no other reason than to remind myself why I love to draw. Sometimes those moments lead to grand ideas, and sometimes they just make for useful doodling time in my sketchbook.
The Illustrated Life isn’t all about his artwork, though. It’s actually a compilation of similar types of drawings from many different artists. Just flipping through it inspires me. When I have the opportunity to really sit down and read the entire thing, I’ll probably come away bursting with the desire to do character creations or random sketches in my journals. In fact, just looking at it the first day made me unearth my watercolor notebook to make sketches of my cats.
I can’t wait to get involved with this book. My creative fire needs some stoking. (For anyone who might be interested, my first Danny Gregory book was The Creative License. Definitely check it out if you like this kind of thing.)
And, finally, my original order came in—the one that I had submitted about a week before the one that brought me Midwinter.
I’ve been meaning to purchase a Catherynne M. Valente book since the moment I read about The Orphan’s Tales. It sounded like something I would love, and I was eager to try a new author. Sadly, this was a case of no bookstore I visited having a copy of her book (in fact, no store I’ve ever been to has copies of any of her books ever even though she’s published more than one thing by this point, and her works have been well received). I happened to remember her when I was choosing the books for my order (probably due to an ad for Palimpsest), so I put The Orphan’s Tales: The Night Garden on my list.
I had similar (or rather, the exact same) reasons for purchasing Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S. Wilce. I heard about her book and Valente’s first orphan book on the same day, and I remember tracking down images and descriptions to get a better idea of what they were about. In retrospect, after having finally seen Flora Segunda in person, it occurs to me that I should have been looking for it in the young adults’ department and not in sf/f. But it doesn’t matter now—I have a copy sitting happily on my desk, waiting for me to finish the books I have slotted before it.
Mainspring by Jay Lake and Cyberabad Days by Ian McDonald are both books that I’ve been staring at in the bookstore for months. Previously, I was unable to make a decision about which to buy first, but while I was making this order I figured, why not get them both at the same time? Works out well for me, except that I still have to make a decision about which to read before the other.
But everything will have to wait until after I’ve read Zoo by Otsuichi. Primarily, I want to read it first so that I can recommend it (or not) to my BFF. We’ll see how well I recognize whether or not the stories and the style are things she would like. Plus, Zoo is a book of short stories. While that might not be my typical format of choice, it is easier to work through a short story right now given my afore mentioned ridiculously tight schedule.
As a final addendum—since I was given the opportunity, I picked up Mushi-shi, vol. 2 today. I didn’t think one manga would adequately tell me whether or not I’ll like the series. Two might do it, though.