Entertain me! - Livre d'Or








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livredor
Entertain me!
Thursday, 14 June 2007 at 04:11 pm
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Here's the thing: I need more books. Books are expensive here, especially English language books, and the selection isn't that great either. I can get by with libraries and the few charity shops that exist (it's not as common a custom as in England). But unlike in the UK, I can't really find affordable books that I want as fast as I can read them. If I'm going to buy full-price books, I might as well buy them online.

My thinking is that if I buy lots of books at once, I'll be efficient with the postage costs. That means probably Amazon, since something like Abebooks which is a market place, not a retailer, loses the advantage of combining postage. Or does anyone have any better ideas? I'm not terribly enamoured of Amazon, but I think it's probably the most useful service for the purpose I want.

So, now's the time to recommend me stuff and I might actually get round to buying it, rather than putting it on a list and hoping that the appropriate title turns up some time. I have found that just asking for recs doesn't really work, so I'm going to play a game. If you comment to recommend something that I should buy, I'll recommend you something in the same format. I most especially want recs for books, but I might buy computer games, or DVDs, or classical music CDs too while I'm at it.

If you recommend a book, please recommend a specific title, not just an author. For classical music, I want recs of recordings really, I generally know what I like in terms of composers. (I don't buy classical music as mp3s, because a movement of a classical work doesn't map sensibly onto a "track" in the mp3 sense.) That said, I am subscribing to emusic again at the moment, so if you want to recommend me pop music, please go ahead. Again, I'd prefer specific songs, or at least albums, rather than just names of artists.

Do you need to know my tastes? My last four years of reading material; my music listening habits thanks to Web 2.0. LastFM is basically useless for classical though, so I should add that I like almost all Baroque and most early 20th century Impressionism, but I'm pickier about Classical and the earlier Romantic stuff. As a very broad generalization, I prefer orchestral or instrumental chamber music to opera and choral music, and secular to sacred, but there are definitely exceptions. Favourite composers: Couperin, Rameau, Scarlatti, Bach (duh!), Telemann, Händel, Mozart, Schubert, Dvorak, Ravel, Débussy, Fauré, Scriabin, Stravinsky. I've probably forgotten some cos I'm bad at making lists.


Whereaboooots: Älvsjö, Stockholm, Sweden
Moooood: enviousacquisitive
Tuuuuune: Hespèrion XXI: Nani Nani fr Diáspora Sefardí
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coalescent: default
From:coalescent
Date:June 14th, 2007 03:17 pm (UTC)
15 minutes after journal entry, 03:17 pm (coalescent's time)
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Let's see ...

Geoff Ryman, Air
Anything by Maureen McHugh, but particularly China Mountain Zhang and Nekropolis
Ali Smith, The Accidental
Johanna Sinisalo, Not Before Sundown
Gwyneth Jones, Life
Matt Ruff, Set This House in Order
Anything by Kim Stanley Robinson -- you must have read some, surely? But particularly Pacific Edge and the recent series beginning with Forty Signs of Rain.
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rysmiel: words words words
From:rysmiel
Date:June 14th, 2007 03:27 pm (UTC)
26 minutes after journal entry, 11:27 am (rysmiel's time)
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I'd second the rec for Air, and indeed anything by Ryman short of The Unconquered Country which is definitely too horrible for livredor. I'd particularly like to see how well 253 works for her, come to think of it.

I thought Nekropolis had odd focus things wrong with it and sort of completely melted at the end, but China Mountain Zhang is brilliant.

Kim Stanley Robinson is very variable, to my mind. His early stuff tends to good-but-weird, and come to think of it I have a spare Icehenge which I should send you, but I am in the camp of those who think the Mars trilogy drags, and drags, and drags some more, and takes ten times the time and effort needed to make a point about ecology that is obvious to a toasted teacake, and then drags some more, and so on. Robinson writing about left-wing politics has the kind of vague Utopianism that comes from not having much experience of their realities, and you put his books next to Ken MacLeod and they sort of shrivel up and blow away on those grounds.

That said the Three Californias [ The Wild Shore, The Gold Coast, Pacific Edge ] as a whole thing are a work of genius, very much greater than the sum of their parts. They need to go in that order, IMO.
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livredor: livre d'or
From:livredor
Date:June 14th, 2007 04:54 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 04:54 pm (livredor's time)
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The fact that you came up with seven is just further evidence that you have read everything in the world and I'm not going to be able to come up with anything new to you, let alone seven such. I also haven't heard of most of them so I can't find matches. You're less well read on the mimetic side, aren't you? Let's see if I can find some suitable gateways. Going backwards:

I haven't read much KSR, I think Icehenge, which I have vague memories of enjoying but it was a long time ago. Connecting via the name, try Ruyard Kipling's Kim, which is great fun to read and has loads of great background of a world which is strange enough to be SFnal.

I was meaning to read Set this house in order when it won the Tiptree, but then I forgot about my intention. There's a very good and not very well known SF novel with multiple personality as a major theme, Aristoi. I'm hoping to find a copy for myself too, cos it's one I really want to own.

Free associating from Life to One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (who is hard to spell, thank heavens for Google's "did you mean" function). It's somewhat grim, but not unbearably so.

Keri Hulme: The bone people. I suggest you do read it before sundown, cos it is really, really disturbing. But it's also fantastic and everyone should read it.

From Ali Smith to Zadie Smith, you should read White Teeth, cos it's a romp, and isn't stuffed with references to literary stuff that an SF reader might not be familiar with.

The name Nekropolis reminds me of Tim Powers: The Anubis Gates, which is SF but not like very much else, and doesn't seem to be the sort of thing that every genre reader has already read.

I've enjoyed several things by Ryman, so Air seems appealing. It has absolutely no connection I can think of to AS Byatt's Babel Tower, but I thoroughly recommend the latter anyway. It has an SF sort of feel, without a lot of the reinventing the wheel that some mainstream stuff does while pretending to be too good for SF.
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coalescent: default
From:coalescent
Date:June 14th, 2007 06:09 pm (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry, 06:09 pm (coalescent's time)
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You're less well read on the mimetic side, aren't you?

Just a bit, yes. Having said that, I read Disobedience recently and thought "aha! I can recommend that!" Then I noticed that you'd already read it.

I didn't realise you were going to recommend back on a one-for-one basis! The Solzhenitsyn and the Byatt have been on my radar for a while, waiting to accrue enough recommendations to move them up to go-and-read status; on the other hand, Zadie Smith and Tim Powers I am for some reason skeptical of, despite the fact that I've read nothing by either of them. I think it's because they both quite often get referred to as funny writers, and I usually don't get on with funny writers. (Except that I love Charles Stross' Atrocity Archives stories -- out soon in a handy UK paperback if you've not read them -- and they often get compared to some of Powers' stuff, specifically Declare I believe.) Aristoi I'd never heard of (googles) which is surprising, because I thought I was quite familiar with Walter Jon Williams; but Night Shade Books are meant to be bringing most of his backlist back into print, so I'll keep an eye out. Thanks!
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rysmiel: vacant and in pensive mood
From:rysmiel
Date:June 14th, 2007 06:21 pm (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry, 02:21 pm (rysmiel's time)
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I've read most of Powers, except for some of the early stuff, and none of it would strike me as funny; Declare is a very John Le Carre sort of chilly and bleak, the similarity to Atrocity Archive is in permise rather than tone.

I would recommend Anubis Gates as the Powers to read; it has one of the most perfectly assembled Swiss watches of a plot in existence.
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lethargic_man: default
From:lethargic_man
Date:June 15th, 2007 09:11 am (UTC)
18 hours after journal entry, 09:11 am (lethargic_man's time)
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The Anubis Gates is fun, rather than funny. I think I did keep laughing aloud when I read it, but it was from sheer delight rather than because it was intrinsically funny, FWIW.

Declare has the same overall theme as The Atrocity Archive, and people kept telling Charlie this as he was writing it, along with "but don't let that put you off—they come out completely different", and this is true.

I'm not entirely sure if The Atrocity Archive is down livredor's line (The Atrocity Archives is The Atrocity Archive packaged up with its sequel novella). I'd heartily recommend Declare, though, though it's very different in feel from The Anubis Gates.
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coalescent: default
From:coalescent
Date:June 15th, 2007 09:21 am (UTC)
18 hours after journal entry, 09:21 am (coalescent's time)
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(The Atrocity Archives is The Atrocity Archive packaged up with its sequel novella).

In the Golden Gryphon edition. The UK edition appears to be The Atrocity Archive plus The Jennifer Morgue, but without any of the extras from either book, published as The Atrocity Archives. (And people still think Singularity Sky was his first published novel.)
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coalescent: default
From:coalescent
Date:June 15th, 2007 09:22 am (UTC)
18 hours after journal entry, 09:22 am (coalescent's time)
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I thought of one more! Have you read any of Jan Morris' actual travel writing? If not (a) it's all marvellous, so far as I have read, and (b) she wrote a great book about Oxford. Called Oxford.
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lethargic_man: default
From:lethargic_man
Date:June 16th, 2007 09:54 pm (UTC)
2 days after journal entry, 09:54 pm (lethargic_man's time)
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It was indeed Icehenge that you read. Also, you might like to hunt down the Ian McDonald novella Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone, which hsd a concept similar to that of the mudras in Aristoi.
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