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Saturday, September 19, 2015

New Goodies On My Cyber Bookshelves

Yesterday I stumbled across Philip K Dick's classic AU novel The Man In The High Castle, on the short-time $4.99 or less shelf in iBooks. Of course I had to have it. I'm guessing it has been out of print for some time, but everywhere, everywhere, I read about it. This is an AU what-if-the-Axis had won WWII novel written long before everyone else caught on to the idea. It was written in 1961, before Turtledove became the premier writer of this kind of AU! I've just made a start.

I've bought two Judy Blume novels in honour of Banned Books Week, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and Forever. Both of them are on the ALA most-challenged list. Yeesh! Some folk seriously need to get a life instead of interfering with the reading lives of others. And I say this as one who runs a school library. There are books I won't have in my library because they aren't suited to younger readers, just as films are rated G to R, but if the kids want to get their own copies, that's their business, between them and their families. And they do, believe me! I've seen some of them taking those books to their literacy classes. They'll outgrow their understandable urge for the sensationalist and I'll be there with real books for them, the kind that  won't make huge sales for a few years and then be forgotten when the next bit of sensationalist reading comes along. And if they don't outgrow it, well, again, up to them.

Next up: The Last Train From Kummersdorf by Leslie Wilson, a History Girl who talked about it on the blog. I thought it might be of interest to kids who had read and loved Morris Gleitzman's Once series. So far, not really similar, but interesting. The characters are older and smoke, and neither of them is Jewish. I'll see how I go, anyway. I think the older ones might like it.

I have downloaded my friend Lan Chan's new novel, Poison, and have read the only the first few pages, but it looks good so far.

I acquired Suetonius's The Twelve Caesars, because I couldn't find my own copy and desperately needed the bit about Julius Caesar's encounter with the pirates for my work in progress. I've had a copy since I was thirteen, a birthday gift from my school friend Andrea, who knew of my love of history. This one is a classic which was translated by Robert Graves, who used it as inspiration for his novel I, Claudius. It's the basis for how we see the early emperors of Rome in general. Any cliche you've ever heard about them - Nero's "fiddling while Rome burned" , Caligula's horse made a Senator, etc. - it all came from Suetonius. I love it, because some of it is memory of his own - for example, his memory of seeing, as a boy, a ninety year old man stripped to find out if he was circumcised, because Emperor Domitian was going after Jews. And some of it is his father's memories, from when his Dad had been serving the Emperor Otho. "I remember my father telling me..." It feels real, it's not just some dusty old academic writing from hundreds of years later. After I've finished my story, I will go back for a full reread. Of course, I chose the Robert Graves translation, the familiar one, even though I could have had the Project Gutenberg version for free.

I've re-acquired two Andre Norton novels which had disappeared after my first iPad broke and hadn't been saved in my backups. Did you know a few of them are now out of copyright and available on Gutenberg? I didn't till now - I got them first on the Baen free web site. Andre Norton was a favourite writer of mine when I was first discovering science fiction. I still love her, though I haven't been reading the books in a while.

I bought Lee At The Alamo, a Harry Turtledove novelette which was not too expensive, though what I really want is Guns Of The South, one of my favourites, which doesn't seem to be available at this stage, or not in the Australian iBooks page, anyway.

There's Nicola Upson's Fear In The Sunlight, an Archie Penrose novel. It's part of a series of novels in which the crime writer Josephine Tey is a character, but the real protagonist is policeman Archie Penrose, who actually solves the mysteries. In this one there's something about Alfred Hitchcock and the specially-built village of  Portmeirion. I think that's where they filmed that spec fic TV series The Prisoner? It cost me about $2.99 on iBooks. I thought, Why not? I quite enjoyed the first one after it became clear that Josephine Tey, author of the Inspector Grant novels, wasn't the sleuth. I'm not generally keen on books with real people as sleuths, though I have read some out of curiosity. 

I originally got Murray Leinster's collection, A Logic Named Joe when it was going free on the Baen web site, but it went missing after its backup failed me and I had to pay for it this time. I had to have it, of course. Apart from my love of Murray Leinster's classic science fiction(and I still can't find his story "First Contact" online anywhere)who can resist the title story in which the author predicts the Internet back in the 1940s?

I got a copy of Green Valentine(already reviewed on this site) and finally, the two Agatha Christie Project Gutenberg books which had gone missing on my cyber book shelf. The Mysterious Affair At Styles even had a nicer cover than my original copy. I took the version of The Secret Adversary with the original Gutenberg-supplied cover.

So, my recent ebook acquisitions. Got any of your own to share?


Anthony Panegyres said...

Hi Sue. No ebooks to let you know about as when I read fiction it's print all the way. But I will let you know that I loved The Man in the High Castle - hope you do too. Very philosophical and Dick's change in narrative voice in this work is remarkable.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Anthony! Glad to hear from a friend that the book I've chosen is worth reading. :-) Well, do you have a recent print acquisition you're enjoying? I've been buying mostly ebooks since my overflowing shelves just wouldn't take any more. It also means I can carry my library with me in the morning. I must admit, it has played havoc with my ability to defer gratification! ;-)

Lexa Cain said...

You have such a perfect attitude for a librarian or teacher ... or a human for that matter. People should be a bit more tolerant when it comes to banning books. If ideas are so dangerous people have to outlaw them, then they're not putting much faith in the ability of people to think critically. Congrats on all the new books! I've been getting a lot too by getting free books when I sign up for authors' newsletters. I love free stuff!! :)

Sue Bursztynski said...

Thanks, Lexa! :-) Nice of you to say so.

Free stuff is good, indeed, though only if the author is okay with it or it's out of copyright. And it looks like those authors who send you their newsletters are offering the freebies themselves. (Colin Falconer, author of historical fiction and the occasional police procedural, does that every so often, usually in exchange for signing up to his newsletter, but other times as a promo. I enjoy his blog posts anyway)