Archive for October, 2009

Time Critics 100 best books from 1923 to present

Posted on 29 October 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

This list from the Time Critics is interesting as it contains adult and childrens books. Some of these books are very new while others are not. I’ve read a total of 10 of these books and plan to remedy that as soon as I can, I’ve actually just found Snow Crash today and picked it up as my cousin recommended it. I’ve heard of most of these books and without actually reading them I agree they should be on the list.

I’m curious how many of these books you’ve read.

The Complete List In Alphabetical Order
A – B
The Adventures of Augie March – Saul Bellow
All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
American Pastoral – Philip Roth
An American Tragedy – Theodore Dreiser
Animal Farm – George Orwell
Appointment in Samarra – John O’Hara
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret – Judy Blume
The Assistant – Bernard Malamud
At Swim-Two-Birds – Flann O’Brien
Atonement – Ian McEwan
Beloved – Toni Morrison
The Berlin Stories – Christopher Isherwood
The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
The Bridge of San Luis Rey – Thornton Wilder
C – D
Call It Sleep – Henry Roth
Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
The Confessions of Nat Turner – William Styron
The Corrections – Jonathan Franzen
The Crying of Lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon
A Dance to the Music of Time – Anthony Powell
The Day of the Locust – Nathanael West
Death Comes for the Archbishop – Willa Cather
A Death in the Family – James Agee
The Death of the Heart – Elizabeth Bowen
Deliverance – James Dickey
Dog Soldiers – Robert Stone
F – G
Falconer – John Cheever
The French Lieutenant’s Woman – John Fowles
The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing
Go Tell it on the Mountain – James Baldwin
Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
H – I
A Handful of Dust – Evelyn Waugh
The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers
The Heart of the Matter – Graham Greene
Herzog – Saul Bellow
Housekeeping – Marilynne Robinson
A House for Mr. Biswas – V.S. Naipaul
I, Claudius – Robert Graves
Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace
Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
L – N
Light in August – William Faulkner
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
Loving – Henry Green
Lucky Jim – Kingsley Amis
The Man Who Loved Children – Christina Stead
Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
Money – Martin Amis
The Moviegoer – Walker Percy
Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
Naked Lunch – William Burroughs
Native Son – Richard Wright
Neuromancer – William Gibson
Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
1984 – George Orwell
O – R
On the Road – Jack Kerouac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
The Painted Bird – Jerzy Kosinski
Pale Fire – Vladimir Nabokov
A Passage to India – E.M. Forster
Play It As It Lays – Joan Didion
Portnoy’s Complaint – Philip Roth
Possession – A.S. Byatt
The Power and the Glory – Graham Greene
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
Rabbit, Run – John Updike
Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
The Recognitions – William Gaddis
Red Harvest – Dashiell Hammett
Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates
S – T
The Sheltering Sky – Paul Bowles
Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut
Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
The Sot-Weed Factor – John Barth
The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
The Sportswriter – Richard Ford
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold – John le Carre
The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller
U – W
Ubik – Philip K. Dick
Under the Net – Iris Murdoch
Under the Volcano – Malcolm Lowry
Watchmen – Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
White Noise – Don DeLillo
White Teeth – Zadie Smith
Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys

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Ladybird Books

Posted on 27 October 2009. Filed under: Collections |

Ladybird Books were first published in 1940. They have been much loved throughout many generations and are fantastic for beginner readers. They are a small book so ideal for small hands (such as mine) and they have published so many titles over the years and cover a multitude of topics. The publishers have even printed the level of reader a person needs in order to be able to read easily with only a few challenges.

If you want to collect them you’ll need to be aware of several things and I’m going to send you to my favourite website for checking these things. The most basic information you need to be aware of is that when a title was republished some years later they didn’t change the publishing date so to check if it’s a first edition or not you really need to be on your toes.

Here’s the checklist but to get all the fine details you’ll need to visit The Wee Web Identifiying First Editions page:

* Check the price on the dustjacket or the back cover.
* Check the list of books on the dustjacket
* Were the titles printed in white?
* Check the logo as it changed over the years
* Dating the end papers
* Pictorial Boards and Pastedowns
* Full-colour pictorial front boards
* Spine text direction
* Catalogue pages
* Printed dates
* Tally Numbers

As you can see there’s a large number of different things you have to check, a lot of them you have to check simultaneously, it’s just not possible to rely on one individual point. If you’re buying on eBay, Oztion or some other online website you’ll need to ask a lot of questions before you can be certain it’s a first edition as many sellers will rely on the words on the publishing page saying “First Edition” just because they don’t know any better so you really need to be aware about all these things and use the Ask a Question form. I’m just as guilty as the next seller as I have a shoebox full of Ladybird books which all say “First Edition”, I bought them as I was so excited to see so many “First Edition” books and it was only when I started researching a couple of them I found out how wrong I was.

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Dirk Bogarde

Posted on 25 October 2009. Filed under: Authors |

Dirk Bogarde – actor, author, artist, screen idol. He was born Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven van den Bogaerde on 28 March 1921 and died on 8 May 1999. In my childhood I knew him as one of the most gorgeous looking actors on screen, star of the three Doctor movies, Doctor in the House, Doctor at Sea and Doctor at Large based on the books written by Richard Gordon. He was a really good actor as well as being very good looking and starred in so many things I can’t possibly write them all here so if you’re interested just follow the link to IMDB.

His official website was created by his nephew, Brock Van den Bogaerde. While I can’t recommend this site too much, it does have a very good timeline: clear, concise and easily readable. This fan website is much better for getting a list of his books along with a precis of the book. Not to mention Wikipedia which has a very comprehensive article on him.

Having seen him in the movies I was quite astonished to find some books with his name on them so I had to buy them. I was more than pleasantly surprised to find they were eminently readable. I find his writing style to match his looks, witty, elegant and literary. While some of the things he wrote about weren’t pleasant they were still very readable and I was left with an indelible impression of his life. It was lovely to see his acting career from his point of view, especially the beginning and it was quite touching to see how he coped with his partner’s illnesses and his own health challenges. Certainly an author to watch out for.

Currently for sale on the Suz’s Space Website, Cleared For Take-Off, A Short Walk from Harrods, A Postillion Struck by Lightning and Snakes and Ladders.

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Why Me – Kevin Hitchcock

Posted on 24 October 2009. Filed under: Book Reviews |

“Swinging out on a rope over the Hawkesbury River, sports-loving journalist Kevin Hitchcock didn’t have a care in the world. He, his wife and two children were enjoying their summer holidays with the latest addition to their family, five-week-old Kirralyn. Then Kevin hit the water, then the sandy river bottom, then… silence.

Hours later he is told he will never be able to move again.

The story of Kevin’s refusal to give in the doctors’ grim diagnosis or to surrender to the depression that threatened to defeat him is truly extraordinary.

Walk With Me is his journey of survival, of triumph over unbelievable odds. It is a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit that will inspire and uplift all who read it.” Taken from the author’s website.

I loved this book and shed lots of tears. It gave me a new admiration for those people who have been in accidents and lost the use of their arms or legs. It’s given me a new understanding for how much they must have gone through in order to get themselves back into some semblance of order. It also answered many questions about how these people need to be cared for from the time of the accident through to the time they start making some sort of recovery. Not every recovers from a neck injury to the point where they are able to walk but some do and this book shows it is possible.

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Website Update

Posted on 23 October 2009. Filed under: Downtime | Tags: , |

You probably need an update on the website. This is going to be short and I’ll probably be keeping most of my posts fairly short or cheating and giving you a book list for a while.

Things are going well and the website is actually up and running. There are still problems but I’m finally able to actually get books listed. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to buy anything as some parts of it are still not working but I can get books up and that has to be good. If there’s something you’re interested in and the buying part doesn’t work just email me and we’ll work something out.

You will notice changes in the colouring scheme as time goes on and I figure out how the graphics programmes work. At present it’s looking a little strange but I’ll get there. One of the things I noticed is that I have an option to include WordPress in my website so when things are settled properly I’ll be having a look at that to see if I can import the blog into the website.

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I’m not writing much tonight

Posted on 22 October 2009. Filed under: Downtime |

I’m not planning on writing much tonight. My website is starting to take shape and I’m going to get some books listed there instead. There is a problem with the prices as it doesn’t seem to like the price I put in but I’ll just keep going and put that in later.

If you want to have a look you can click here.

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Murray Whelan – Shane Maloney

Posted on 21 October 2009. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , |

Tonight I’m going to break with tradition and give you three-in-one book review.

I’m shamelessly pinching some stuff from Shane Maloney’s website as his summary is nice and concise.

“There are currently six Murray Whelan novels.
Each is a stand-alone story. Sequentially, they follow Murray’s journey through the ranks of a well-known but entirely fictional Australian political party. The action takes place mainly in Melbourne, a city on the way to nowhere.”

I’m currently reading the first Murray Whelan trilogy containing: Stiff, The Brush Off & Nice Try. Actually, I’ve read Stiff and The Brush Off and am partway through Nice Try. Stiff and The Brush Off were made into movies with David Wenham as Murray Whelan with John Clarke directing Stiff and Sam Neill directing The Brush Off. In the books our hero looks like he actually knows what he’s doing but in the movies it looks far more haphazard. I saw Stiff some time ago as David Wenham is a drawcard in my books and with John Clarke directing I knew it had to be good so when I saw this trilogy in the op shop I just had to buy it. It’s been sitting on my shelf for quite a while and I’ve been saving it for a rainy day.

I think you could class them as political thrillers and they give a very nice insight into the way politics works. They are based in Melbourne so it’s lovely for Melburnites as we get to see our landmarks and we can actually picture the streets and walk in Murray’s shoes, so to speak. Stiff is partly set in the trade unions in Brunswick with all the colourful sights and sounds around there, The Brush Off is set in the world of the Arts so you get to see more of the city with the Arts Centre and the Botanic Gardens right in the centre of the action. In Nice Try he’s moved to the Olympic Bid and Fitzroy Street so we see that area and also Heidelberg. The descriptions are fitting and I love reading the descriptions of buildings that are no longer there and just picturing them. I’m thinking most specifically of a building that used to be next to the Arts Centre.

One of the colourful aspects of the books is the totally Australian phrases the author has thrown in. And wouldn’t you know it but it’d take me a month of Sundays to find one of them now. I have just spent a few minutes trying and come up with nothing so I might edit this with one or two next time they come up.

Warnings: Violence, death, sex and swearing.

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Libraries

Posted on 19 October 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Libraries are a wonderful invention. I know I shouldn’t be advocating the use of libraries as it reduces the number books you actually buy, but I think they’re wonderful. My local library is having a bit of an upgrade and while some of the stock has been distributed to the other libraries in the area some of them have been relocated to a temporary building in the carpark so it’s not quite closed but it does have reduced stock.

I’ve been to many libraries over the years. I grew up in Hawthorn, fairly close to the library, and spent many happy hours browsing, reading and borrowing. I spent a lot of time working my way through the Alfred Hitchcock collection as well as Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. It was a lot cheaper than buying all those books.

I won’t detail all the libraries I’ve been in but I do want to make a special mention of the library in Shrewsbury, England. We visited England a few years ago and made sure to spend a little time in Shrewsbury as I’ve read so much about it over the years, what with the Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters, the Lone Pine Adventures by Malcolm Saville just to mention a couple. I felt it was very important to walk around the township of Shrewsbury to find out how big it is and to get a feel for where everything is, I also wanted to walk across the border to Wales but that didn’t happen, 19 miles was just a little much for me at the time and we ran out of time. Anyway, while walking round Shrewsbury we came across a statue of Charles Darwin. He’s sitting in front of a beautiful building which used to house the school he attended and we just had to go closer for a look at the statue and also to go inside the library. I don’t have any photos of the inside and can’t find any links but it was just gorgeous. It had a separate children’s area and the doorway was very inviting, unfortunately I don’t recall the details.

Why don’t you write a few words about your favourite library?

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Mary Elwyn Patchett

Posted on 17 October 2009. Filed under: Authors |

I’m really annoyed. I’m trying to list a few things on eBay in order to make some quick money. I grabbed a box of books that looked good and started researching to see which would sell best.

First of all I got Mary Elwyn Patchett mixed up with Elyne Mitchell which sent me on a merry-go-round trying to find a non-existent book. The reason it annoyed me is because I’ve known since my childhood that these two Australian authors are totally different people. They both wrote brumby books set in the area in and around the Snowy Mountains. The were both very talented authors and were always on my list of favourite authors who I’d happily recommend to child and adult alike. Normally, there’d be absolutely no way I’d confuse the two so I’m very annoyed I did so this time.

The other thing I’m annoyed about is that there is almost no information on the web about Mary Elwyn Patchett. The only thing I can find is on Fantastic Fiction which tells me she lived in Australia, was born in 1897 and died in 1972. Her brumby books and dingo books are absolutely fabulous and totally stand the test of time. They are as good to me now as they were when I first read them and I feel there should be some information about her somewhere. Unfortunately all I know about her is that her books are fabulous, and I don’t know of any printed information that I can look up to find out more about her to create a wiki so this post will have to serve for the present. Should you know more about her or should you know where I can look I’d really appreciate it as she really deserves to be more prominent.

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Sara Douglass, Celebrating Ten Years of Crusader This Month

Posted on 16 October 2009. Filed under: Authors, Guest Blogger |

Sara Douglass, Celebrating Ten Years of Crusader This Month

This month celebrates the tenth anniversary release of Book 3 of the Wayfarer Redemption by Sara Douglass.

Sara Douglass is an Australian author whose books were first published in 1995 with her first published book Axis, book one of the trilogy by the same name. Ever since then she has been churning out books at a rather prolific rate.

Her writing has won her three Aurealis Awards and had several books make the Aurealis Awards finalists list. She is also an internationally recognised author, although some of her works go by different names overseas. At this point for those of you not from Australia I will point out that what I have referred to and will continue to refer to as the Axis trilogy is known internationally as the first three books of the Wayfarer Redemption.

Before becoming a published author she worked for many years as a nurse in Adelaide she then worked towards her BA whilst still working as a nurse. She studied Modern English History and then later began to teach Medieval History at Bendigo’s Latrobe University.

Why is she one of my favourite author’s to date? For that you’ll have to read on and endure my unwieldy word smithing.

Every birthday and Christmas my mother has a little ritual of making sure that my brother and I get at least one book, this is something she still does to this day even though my brother and I have both long since finished school and left home.

On the Christmas Day of 1996 my mother gave me the Axis trilogy, I felt I was really lucky this year as I got not one or two books but a trilogy! That night full of way too much food and thoroughly sick of family visitors I cracked open the first book of the trilogy. It was one of those experiences that most avid readers have every now and again where you find a sparkling gem of literary genius that helps you to step out of this world and into another realm, in this case I stepped into the mystical realm of Tecendor.

Ever since then Sara Douglass’ books have graced my favourites shelves. Yes that’s correct I have a set of shelves dedicated to my favourite books, or in some special cases favourite author’s whose entire works grace these shelves. After all why not? Some people collect models or stamps. Me? I collect books, lots and lots of books.

Nine years later and many books later (praise be brilliant yet prolific authors!) Sara Douglass’ works was now occupying an entire shelf and I had started studying history at university. It was then that I began to realise quite how great her works were. She was taking all these elements of history and weaving them seamlessly into her works creating a flowing world of magic and adventure with elements of our own world entwined within.

This seemingly effortless grace of utilising pieces of our own history and working them into her own works made sense once I’d done a little bit of Googling and found out some information about her. I was not at all surprised when I found out that she was a historian herself. Being a historian she has quite an impressive arsenal at her disposal and makes very good use of it.

One of my favourite things about her books is the way it feels like someone is telling you a tale. The comfy feeling you get as if you are snuggled deep in your favourite armchair in front of the fire with a cup of Earl Grey listening to this tale of wonder unfold. I know this sounds silly but it wasn’t until I discovered her Nonsuch Gardening Blog and started reading her gardening adventures in windy Tasmania that I realised it wasn’t Azhure or Grace or any of my favourite characters from her books narrating the story to me but Sara herself. It was her voice telling the tale, the same one telling of her own gardening adventures.

Cut to present day and now here I am thirteen years after I started reading her books trying to put some semblance of direction into my words on why she is one my favourite authors and to give her an appropriately biased tribute.

So if you are looking for well written books with decently flowing story lines and interesting twists I would recommend Sara Douglass to you. She has been a prolific author ever since Axis hit the shelves so there are a good number of books available to read and in my biased opinion are worth reading. The future direction of her literary career is uncertain since her diagnosis with cancer last year. Although she has finished The Infinity Gate book three of her latest trilogy Dark Glass Mountain her life understandably is taking her in a new direction and it is yet to be determined whether her readers will see more books from her.

For me she joins the list of Australian Authors that have helped put Australia on the literary map. She joins the ranks of authors such as S.A Wakefield and Juliet Marillier. More than that in fact, I would say that she easily creates a new world of fantasy as real and great as that of J.R.R Tolkien.

However don’t just take my word for it, take a trip to your local library or bookstore and pick up one of her books and see for yourself.

Mark

Resources:
Aurealis Awards
Holistic Page
Sara Douglass’ Official Webpage and Blog (Current)
Sara Douglass’ Official (Now discontinued) Webpage
Wikipedia

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