24 December 2011

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas! 
(Or Happy whatever you are celebrating/doing this December).
Thank you for reading.

I've not been very good at blogging just recently, my apologies.
I intend to blog more in the new year. I'll try and keep up with what I'm reading, even if the posts aren't as long or rambly as they have been (I know how fascinating my rambling is).
As I have some time off work over Christmas and New Years I'll try and finish some of the half-done blog posts I've gpt saved up. And maybe I'll even start some of the ones I've been thinking about.

16 December 2011

Recent Reading

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
This is one of the weirdest and most inventive fictional worlds I have ever read. And I read a lot of fantasy.

In many respects the plot of Shades of Grey is a familiar one. Naive inhabitant of a seemingly-utopian rules-based society learns more about how things really work and his faith in 'the system' is shaken when he learns the Dreadful Truth. We've all seen/read this story before, but I'm sure that it's never been done quite like this.

Shades of Grey is set in a world where people can only see one colour -or none at all. Greys -whose vision is entirely monochrome- are the labouring classes. The rest of society is made up of Reds to Purples who vie for position in a society that is base on which colour you can see and how well you can see it.
As if this premise were not interesting enough, the book goes on to create a very strict society based on rules that sound like they were taken from a 1950s manual on being a Thoroughly Good Chap (and might have been as for all I know). T
hen there are the tantalising hints about the Previous (I assume this refers to us) who existed over 500 years earlier before the Something That Happened. It becomes clear that the people in this setting are physically different to us in various strange ways.

There are so many rules in this world, many of them strange, most of them absurd. Fforde's protagnist, a young Red called Eddie, is a bit of an ingenue who discovers the seedier side of his society when relocated to the fringes with his dad. His reaction to those who bend or break the Rules tells us a lot about him, and about the society that supposedly lives by them. All this worldbuilding is told through the character interactions and the plot events with Fforde's trademark wit, meaning that the exposition becomes fascinating and leaves you wanting more.

8 December 2011

Scary Trains

In my job I see a lot of book covers.
I know that, proverbially-speaking, people aren't supposed to judge a book by its cover, but the fact of the matter is that they do. So if you are in the business (or in my case, the service) of promoting books the cover is pretty important.
There are thousands of books in the library, many of those are fiction and -despite what people think- my job does not involve reading all/most of them. However it does involve making recommendations, often about books I have not (or don't particularly want to) read. Being able to look at a book and quickly get an idea of what it's like and who it might appeal to, is very useful. I also have to make displays of attractive and interesting-looking books that people will want to pick up and take away.
From a professional point of view I do have to judge books by their covers.

Recently I noticed a new book cover from the prolific James Patterson (a man who must keep an army of co-writers in his garage).
Here a man is being chased by a scary train, which may or may not be on fire.
I haven't yet had a chance to look at the book itself to check whether the front of this train is actually on fire, or just lit to look like it is (I'm guessing it's the latter).

That James Patterson cover made me flashback to 2009.

In 2009 the following 2 books were published within a couple of months of each other. I saw these covers every working day for the better part of six months.

It's not just me, is it?

I discharged a copy of the Patterson book yesterday and found that the train is not on fire. It just has fiery front lights.