Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dam the reading list. Dam it to heck.

"The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones." - John Wooden

I was incredibly pleased to see my notes on Shelf Life being passed around and hopefully made useful to a great many people.  There's just something, to a writer at least, about being read that is exhilarating and uplifting as all hell.

Speaking of that session, one thing I distinctly recall the owner of the bookstore on the panel said is that one way to rise above the chatter of authors trying to get their books featured in her store is to become a customer and thus develop a professional relationship prior to the pitch for shelf space.  She's right; we tend to do business with people we know more readily than with ones we don't.  Besides, what she was asking me to do ain't exactly a bad thing.

Visit a bookstore?  Why yes, I shall.

I hadn't been in a small bookstore in a while, to be honest.  I've gotten fed up with many book stores, as some of my past blog posts hint, and I tend to be working during the hours they're open anyway.  Thus, I'd sort of forgotten the warm and fuzzy feeling I get when I'm in one.

I went last night.  I had opportunity to leave work at a reasonable hour, anyway, and I didn't have the credit card on me, so I was safe.  "I won't buy much," I recall promising my wife as I told her where I was stopping off on the way home.

Much is the key word.  Not "I won't buy anything" but rather "I won't buy much."  I couldn't help myself.  I was the only customer in the store so I got to chat with the girl behind the counter for a while; that was fun.  She was really knowledgeable about the new works out, and she showed me the fairly small section of fantasy works, which is right next to (as one might expect) the sci fi works.  Sitting right there on the border between the two was a book with a day-glow cover (I don't know whether it's more rightly described as red or orange) titled How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.  It also had a little white sticker on it proclaiming "Staff Pick." I think there was also a sticker on it that said "Stephen, buy me" though I can't find evidence of that now. Gremlins, I say. 

Worst thing: I had enough cash in my pocket to pay for it. 

Ah, hell.

Well, I can't just leave it sitting there in the "to be read" stack.  It glows too dang bright.  I picked it up this morning and read the first chapter.  It's good.  I'm going to enjoy it.  I'm just not sure which book in my stack to continue enjoying first.

Right now, my RIP (Reading In Progress) stack is massive.  Keep in mind that I'm not talking about my To Be Read list at all.  No, these are all books that have book marks stuck in them.  How to Live Safely is one.  I'm also a couple of chapters into Storm Front, the first book in the Dresden series which I admit to reading for pleasure despite, or more accurately in addition to, my professional interest in how Butcher crafts the successful launch of a first-person fantasy series.  I'm still trying to get into the first book in Martin's Game of Thrones series, a task that is a skosh harder than I thought it would be.  Before I became a writer, Martin's book would've already been responsible for a paperback-sized dent in the opposite wall (and at 350K-ish words, it would fly really nicely), but these days I owe it at least the effort of slogging through what really is a commercially successful work.  Meanwhile, the memoir I mentioned yesterday, Brooks's Sometimes the Magic Works, is there and probably leading the pack since that book mark is well past the halfway page.  Oh, and Matterhorn is still waiting for me to re-kindle (*snort*) my interest in war memoir enough to pick it back up.

I've still got The Philosopher's Stone sitting there in the stack looking for yet another read when I need inspiration.  Can't forget HP. 

I need to either get a bigger shelf for the RIP stack or squelch the flow of books onto the stack until I have time to finish some that are already there.  That, and next time I go to the bookstore I need to leave both credit card and cash at home. 


PS--the bookstore in question, again, is Fountain Bookstore located in the Shockoe Slip area of Richmond, VA. And I was kidding about leaving cash at home; all who seek entry to Shockoe Slip must be prepared to leave an offering at the altar of the evil bitch-goddess known as Parking. 


  1. You are in for a treat with Harry Dresden. The series doesn't really hit its stride until about three books in though, and book 1 is the weakest in the series, in my opinion (but still fun). Butcher does a great job of giving episodic stories with just enough "story arc" for the overall series, although he's gotten more into cliffhanger endings with the last two books.

    A Game of Thrones...I think it's one that you love or you don't. I'm in the "love" camp but I think that when it was released back in the (eek) mid 90s, it was in a league of its own.

    1. Indeed; for Yule some friends got me a copy of White Night and a copy of Ghost Story. Both books were awesome, but I wanted to see how Butcher manages to introduce the story and his own twist on world-building. Thanks for the comments!

    2. I think my favorites are Death Masks, Blood Rites, and Proven Guilty. I don't read much contemporary urban fantasy, but the Dresden Files books are so fun I can't resist. Storm Front still kind of hangs out alone in my mind, a little separate from the rest of the series. The second, Fool Moon (which could be called 31 Flavors of Werewolves), is where things seem to start pulling together. I'd be interested to see what you think if you work through the series.