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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Special Music Issue - Just to Share

I was hearing this song, and loving it, (thanks to Afrouz) and I finally took the time to find it on YouTube. The fun thing is that they are a DJ and singer from Montreal/Toronto, and the sad thing is that they are no longer together. The song is awesome. There are these two great videos that go with it: the first one won a contest to be the official video for the song, but the other is also cute and good for sharing with a general audience. There appear to be more videos of this song, plus remixes and all kinds of other cool Thunderheist songs, but you can just go search them on YouTube on your own!

The marigold wonders if it would be useful as a status message on Facebook or BBM or whatever: I am dusting it off and jerking it. Maybe not. I think it would make me nervous.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

1st meeting of the New Neologisms Club

 I suppose you are wondering why I have gathered you all here today.

Well,  I wrote it in haste, but as I think about it, I am ready to make a motion that we adopt our first new neologism: stryve. Try is very casual; strive implies a lot of effort over time; stryve is trying harder than try but not quite as hard as strive. Good for working up from 90 to 100 as a total-books-read-for-the-year stat (TBRY). Requires sustained effort, but in a pleasant way. More than just try, but not quite strive. Of course stryve is a homophone with strive, but I don't think that need stop us. Do I have a second?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

OMG Reading is kewl: Best Reading of 2011

I just realized that it is time to prepare my best of 2011 reading list. God!!

Actually, I finished the year on a high note. I read a lot, A LOT, of YA (young adult) fiction this year, and it was really fun. I could spend the rest of my life reading there. However, I received a couple of grown-up books as Christmas presents, something that has become more rare, as even my nearest and dearest are not quite sure of what I have read or what I might like, or more so, what I might already have on my to-read pile.

One of the books I received was Reamde, by Neal Stephenson (2011). He is one of my favourite writers, and all his books are grown-up and enormous. A few of them are historical, and a few of them are (not-quite)-five-minutes-in-the-future, although this one is set squarely in the present. He loves the the intersection of math and words, aka coding, and his books are an actual thrill to read. Even this title, with its multiple meanings: a mash-up of 'read' and 'me' - where are the boundaries between input and self?  Or is it 'remade' at play? (Thanks, O.) Does that refer to the individual, the world, culture, language? These are huge questions, posed so simply and elegantly in the style of the current moment. Plus there is the textual aspect of 'Reamde' being the name of a virus, offered with the misspelling as a clue; plus the textual aspect of it being the name of a I'll leave it to you to find it out, but it all gives one something to fall asleep thinking about.

After just 100 pages, Reamde was already on the top of the list. "Number One Champion!" (in the delightful words of J-Lo, a pseudonymous alien in Adam Rex's The True Meaning of Smekday. Don't ask. Just get it and read it.) After 400 pages, I was already sad that it had to end. After all 1044 pages, consumed in about 4 days, I decided that it was a really great example of genre fiction, only I can't really figure out what to call the genre. Chinese gaming thrillers? Mobster computer thrillers? Midwestern computer business thrillers? Gaming mobster romantic thrillers? Very readable and engaging, I must say. Which would not necessarily be said of all of Stephenson's books. Or all my choices on this list, for that matter. What a way to end the year!

I think there are about another dozen really great books that I read in 2011, but the books on this list all offered something particular. Anyway, without further ado, here are the other entries, in alphabetical order by author, as usual:

L'elenco telefonico di Atlantide by Tullio Avoledo (The Telephone Directory of Atlantis) (2003) - the story of bank consolidation in Italy, mixed with sci-fi/time travel/Atlantis - like dealing with my actual bank in Italy, but with slightly less humour. Ha ha (laughed grimly). Unfortunately it is still only available in Italian, but I am willing to translate it, if anyone is looking for a translator of Avoledo's work into English. Meanwhile, since I can't buy his books here in Canada, I realized I can buy the next one I want to read as an e-book from his publisher, Einaudi, and read it on my device. In 2011 he published a science fiction novel, Un buon posto per morire, (A Good Place to Die) in collaboration with Davide "Boosta" Dileo, keyboard player of the Turinese band Subsonica. I love the idea of a collaboration, and with a musician at that. The novel won the Emilio Salgari Prize 2012 for the best Italian adventure novel. Coincidentally, this past summer I bought a reissue of a Salgari book, now on my to-read pile, Il corsaro nero (The Black Corsair - actually also available in English) a pirate adventure written in 1898 and recommended by an Italian relative as a high point from his childhood during the war. Everything does connect.

And here is a nice Subsonica video for you to enjoy.
(tutti i miei sbagli: all my mistakes)

And now, back to the books:

The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker (2009) - one of the most poetic writers of our time, writing about poetry writers. Very clever and often very beautiful.

The Year of Miracle and Grief by Leonid Borodin, a Soviet dissident writer (published in English in 1984 and possibly in Russian at that time, too) - this book is mysteriously beautiful and poetic, and, also mysteriously, no one I know has heard of him or it: neither the Russians of my acquaintance, nor the students of Russian of my acquaintance. (Ta-da! Winner of the MOST PRETENTIOUS ENTRY!)

Matched by Ally Condie (2010) - not for the quality of the writing so much as the starting point that even benevolently managed society sucks. (Hello Canada of the future). (I think another grim laugh is in order here, no?) Stood out against the background of dystopian-future teen novels. (I also mentioned this in my post Thumbnails of the Hot Young Adult Book Series.)

A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé (published in English in 2010, in French in 2009) - a perfect book about books in a crowded field, from the beautiful publisher Europaeditions. My full-length review is here.

Switched by Amanda Hocking (2010) - what an accomplishment by an outsider. Hocking wanted to sell her books on at the impulse price of a song on iTunes, so she did. As soon as I read about this phenomenon, I so wanted to support the idea of indie publishing that I rushed to Amazon and bought the book. And then, it was so fun to read, I bought the second. And when I went to buy the third title in the series, I couldn't find it. Anywhere. Then I managed to find out that a publisher had bought it, withdrawn it for further editing and reissue on paper. You go girl!

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (2008) - the concept was so interesting: our current communication environment has already reduced our mental white space to virtually nil, and thinking about it led Ness to write a science fiction about a place where there is no silence in your brain from the thoughts of other living beings. (Also mentioned in Thumbnails of the Hot Young Adult Book Series.)

Catch Me When I Fall - by Patricia Westerhof (2011) - this exquisite Canadian book of short stories took my by surprise. My full-length review is here.

Nine books this year, I guess.  Well!

PS I usually have a lot of reading time during the last few days of the year, and I use them to get in a last couple of books and up my total-books-read-for-the-year stats (TBRY?). This year I read 90 books, my second highest total, after the 92 I read in 2009. You can check my records as Souci on LibraryThing and check the tag for 2011 for the other 80 books of this year, in case you want to dispute my choices. Although you should always remember: de gustibus non est disputandem. There are also tags for 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006, if you care to have a look.

I thought I might also link to my previous "Best of the year" posts:
My Top Reads of 2010
The Nervous Marigold's Top Eleven Fiction Reads of 2009
The Nervous Marigold's Best Reads of 2008

The marigold wonders nervously if I should try for (strive for, or, potential neologism on the model of guesstimate: stryve for) the 100 book challenge on LibraryThing. But, what are the rules? What if I fail? What do I need to sacrifice in order to make it? And why are my posts so long? And does anyone read to the end? And should that matter?

And I guess I need to make a new tag here on the Nervous Marigold: "best of" will do, I think.