#ReadHarderChallenge 2017 – update

Here’s an update on how my BookRiot Read Harder Challenge 2017 list is looking:

  1. Read a debut novel – The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
  2. Read an all-ages comic – Lobey’s the Wee Boy!: Collected Lobey Dosser by Bud Neill
  3. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location – Saltire Invasion by John Ferguson
  4. Read a travel memoir – The Desert and the Sown: Travels in Palestine and Syriaby Gertrude Bell
  5. Read a book you’ve read before – The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey
  6. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location – A Splendid Isolation: Lessons of Happiness from the Kingdom of Bhutan by Madeline Drexler
  7. Read a fantasy novel – The Obsidian Throne by James Oswald
  8. Read a superhero comic with a female lead – The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua
  9. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey –Warrior of Peace: The Life of the Buddha by Jinananda
  10. Read a collection of stories by a woman – Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland
  11. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color – Little Green by Walter Mosley
  12. Read a book about books – The Gifts of Reading by Robert Macfarlane
  13. Read a book published by a micropress – The Birlinn of Clanranald by Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair (Alexander MacDonald), translated by Alan Riach, (published by Kettillonia)
  14. Read a book about sports – Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
  15. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950 – The Hidden Staircase (Nancy Drew #2) by Carolyn Keene, 1930
  16. Read a classic by an author of colour – The Man in the Iron Mask (The D’Artagnan Romances, #3.3) – Alexandre Dumas
  17. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love – Nua-bhárdachd Gháidhlig/Modern Scottish Gaelic Poems: a bilingual anthology – edited by Donald Macaulay
  18. Read a book about war – Damn’ Rebel Bitches: The Women of the ’45 by Maggie Craig
  19. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+ – The Marvels by Brian Selznick
  20. Read a nonfiction book about technology – Unbound: How Eight Technologies Made Us Human, Transformed Society, and Brought Our World to the Brink by Richard L. Currier

The year’s top reads so far

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Read Harder Challenge 2017

rhc_cover_pinterestI’ve decided to take part in the Book Riot reading challenge this year. I came to it rather late but I’d already finished several books that met various challenges so it’s achievable I think.

For the rest, I’ve been scouring my bookshelves and Kindle lists for items to fit the bill. I love that it’s encouraging me to read things which have been literally gathering dust until now. I’ve looked out books which have been languishing, for years in many cases, and added them to the ‘Book Riot Challenge pile’.

However, this is my personal reading and I have my own reasons for taking the challenge. Therefore, I may not stick stringently to the requirements in every case. For example, my pick for the ‘Central or South America’ challenge is likely to be a book about the Caribbean by a Cuban author – but it looks interesting and it’s already in my possession (also, there was some debate on the challenge forum about whether the Caribbean was or was not part of ‘Central America’. I have chosen to embrace that grey area). And, of course, there’s always going to be a Scottish slant to my choices whenever possible.

For those remaining challenges my current bookstock just can’t meet I’ll be utilising local libraries and the Scottish branch of Better World Books. A few of the challenges have me seeking books I wouldn’t normally consider reading at all – which is, of course, the whole point… But enough writing, I have reading to do! I just finished “an all-ages comic” so I’m off to pick my next read now. Which one to choose? Maybe that Caribbean one?… Or a banned book? So many choices!

FYI, here’s my list so far:

  1. Read a debut novelThe Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
  2. Read an all-ages comicLobey’s the Wee Boy!: Collected Lobey Dosser by Bud Neill
  3. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your locationSaltire Invasion by John Ferguson
  4. Read a travel memoir – The Desert and the Sown: Travels in Palestine and Syria by Gertrude Bell
  5. Read a book you’ve read before – The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey
  6. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your locationA Splendid Isolation: Lessons of Happiness from the Kingdom of Bhutan by Madeline Drexler
  7. Read a fantasy novel – The Obsidian Throne by James Oswald
  8. Read a superhero comic with a female leadThe Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua
  9. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey –Warrior of Peace: The Life of the Buddha by Jinananda
  10. Read a collection of stories by a woman – Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland
  11. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color – Little Green by Walter Mosley
  12. Read a book about booksThe Gifts of Reading by Robert Macfarlane
  13. Read a book published by a micropressThe Birlinn of Clanranald by Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair (Alexander MacDonald), translated by Alan Riach, (published by Kettillonia)

Book Review: Want You Gone by Chris Brookmyre

Want You Gone (Jack Parlabane #8)
Chris Brookmyre

Published February 2nd 2017 by Little, Brown and Company
ISBN: 9781408707173

“Chris” Brookmyre writes straight, solid crime fiction. I do miss the joyful anarchy of “Christopher” Brookmyre (and I dearly hope he comes back one day) but these books are certainly a thrilling read. A majo31356782r feature of this one for me was, in amongst enjoying a right rollocking read, I learned a whole lot of terrifying new stuff about hackers and data security. Top tip: TRUST NO-ONE! Ever.

I loved the few wee links to Brookmyre’s other works that show Jack Parlabane inhabits the same world. DI Catherine McLeod is mentioned in passing but my favourite was a cameo from All Fun and Games until Somebody Loses an Eye, one of my top 3 Brookmyre books.

Jack is something of a long-suffering character and I’m starting to imagine him as one, gigantic bruise (inside and out). Come on Chris, give the guy a happy ending! Just once. The trials of Mr Parlabane aside, this is an extremely well written, pacy thrill-ride from start to finish. Highly recommended.

Stationery fish and the rule of law

So, I’ve long been commenting on the fact that legal publishers seem to embrace the use of copyright-free images for their cover art. This, however, goes beyond. Surely this…thing is the product of some child-art-prodigy. An editors offspring maybe? It looks like a poor sad fish has been skewered by a paperclip.

I’m wracking my brains but I see no connection between stationery fish and the rule of law. Help me out?

41rv2mQ8s-L__SX312_BO1,204,203,200_Reinforcing Rule of Law Oversight in the European Union by Carlos Closa (Editor), Dimitry Kochenov (Editor)

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (13 Oct. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107108882

 

 

Book review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

#amreading #neilgaiman #norsemythology #librarybook #mythology #librariesrock #bookstagram

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Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Published: February 2017 by Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN: 9781408886816

Gaiman uses simple language to tell these stories but they are deeply compelling and evocative nonetheless. Old as these tales are – and well known to me – his simple, elegant words paint new and vivid pictures in my mind. Thor with his red beard and comic stupidity; beautiful, haughty Freya… and Loki – who “makes the world more interesting but less safe”.

There’s a lot of humour and lightheartedness in these myths but the whole mood is somewhat darkened by Gaiman’s prophecy of Ragnarok:

“This will be the age of cruel winds, the age of people who become as wolves, who prey upon each other, who are no better than wild beasts. Twilight will come to the world, and the places where the humans live will fall into ruins, flaming briefly, then crashing down and crumbling into ash and devastation”

I found this passage eerily familiar. Are we now living through the end times? Is Ragnarok almost upon us?…

I devoured this book like a wolf devouring the moon. Neil Gaiman’s reputation as a Bard of Epic Standing is now assured in my opinion. Highly recommended.

What can a battered old copy of Pilgrim’s Progress tell us about how books were printed in the past?

An interesting post explaining why we talk about ‘folio’ and ’12mo’ sized books. A nice accompaniment to my previous post ‘Adventures with auld Acts: Pre-1707 Acts of the Scottish Parliament’

University of Glasgow Library

Both big books and small books usually started out being printed on sheets the same size Both of these early printed books could have been printed on the same size sheets of paper

When you look at an old printed book you’re not really looking at a single book but a series of smaller ‘booklets’ joined together. Books weren’t printed one page at a time but on large sheets of paper subsequently folded into booklets (called gatherings). Therefore pages aren’t the building blocks of early printed books; sheets are. Whether it’s a teeny wee pocket book or a heavy big lectern book, it may well have started out being printed on on the same size sheet of paper.1

A big book, like a lectern Bible, will often contain a series of four page booklets joined together, each booklet formed from two pages printed on either side of a sheet of paper which has then been folded once (books made in this way are described as folio format).2

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Seasons Greetings

Merry Christmas

Nollaig Chridheil and Guid Yule to you!

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Bliadhna Mhath Ùr (Happy New Year)

and all the best for 2017

from A Very Fine Library!

 

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