delphipsmith: (zombies)
I can't believe it's been six weeks since I posted anything, woah. And I was pretty spotty for a while before that. Real life has been keeping me pretty busy -- our local Ren Fest started which takes up most of our weekends, I've been deep into a re-read of Stephen King's Dark Tower series, we did a ten-day trip west to see family and take care of some business/financial stuff, there's been a bunch of aggravations at work, we've got family coming to visit, there have been some tough times for a close friend, and underneath it all is the constant barrage of nonsense coming from Washington, D.C. which I find more dispiriting every day.

Still, that is no excuse for not keeping up with friends, whether real or virtual. I hope some of you are still around lol!! As a kind of apology for being AWOL so long, I have some books to give away :)

These four I would love to get in the hands of a teacher or home-schooler. They're terrific activities for kids -- math, English, etc.

https://www.amazon.com/Workjobs-Activity-Centered-Learning-Early-Childhood/dp/0201043114
https://www.amazon.com/Workjobs-II-Number-Activities-Childhood/dp/0201043025
https://www.amazon.com/Mathematics-Their-Way-Activity-Centered-Childhood/dp/020186150X
https://www.amazon.com/Ideas-learning-centers-Discovery-children/dp/B0006W1KME

And then there are all of these:

The Hobbits: The Many Lives of Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin
A Window Opens by Jennifer Egan
After Alice by Gregory Maguire
Ghosts, Demons and Dolls
The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror by Joyce Carol Oates
A Fair Maiden by Joyce Carol Oates
The Elementals by Michael McDowell
A Darker Place by Laurie R. King
The Gabriel Hounds by Mary Stewart
Twenty-Five Years of American Short Fiction, Vol 19 No 63 Fall 2016 -- 8 short pieces by established authors (e.g. Joyce Carol Oates) as well as brand new ones, winnders of ASF's writing competition.

First come, first served. No need to pay postage; if you want to do anything in return, please donate to these folks or these folks or your local animal shelter.

Also of course if you get one and read it, come back and tell us what you thought :)
delphipsmith: (bookgasm)
The annual Bookshelf Cull is underway! Here is the first batch on offer -- claim one, claim some, claim all. I'll be doing another pass tomorrow. As always, no need to pay any postage, but a donation to Planned Parenthood or the World Wildlife Fund would be appreciated :)

The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
Crash by J. G. Ballard
After Alice by Gregory Maguire
Ghosts, Demons and Dolls by Erica Gammon
The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror by Joyce Carol Oates (ARC)
Fair Maiden by Joyce Carol Oates
The Elementals by Michael McDowell
Promise Island by Francis Clement Kelley (the one about religion, not the one about fishing)
More Than This by Patrick Ness
The Gabriel Hounds by Mary Stewart
delphipsmith: (Cicero books)
Each December, GoodReads thoughtfully provides all its members with a summary of "Your Year in Books." It's rather fun to go back and see what one has read, and the collage of book covers is always lovely.

This year I read 72 books for a total of 23,983 pages (although GR stats only count books read for the first time; including re-reads, my grand total for this year so far is 113 books!). One of my books was also read by 1.9 million other people (The Help), while another was read by only three other people (Promise Island, a good premise disappointingly executed). My shortest "book" for 2016 was 7 pages (a Ted Chiang short story) and my longest was 848 pages (a fantastic collection of women noir authors from the 1940s). Though again, that's only first-time reads; in actuality my longest books this year were Stephen King's The Stand and Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, both of which are perennial re-reads for me.

You can see my summary here -- and check it out, [livejournal.com profile] drinkingcocoa's Snape: A Definitive Reading is right there at the top :)
delphipsmith: (classic quill)
Anita Brookner has died. The first thing of hers that I read was Hotel du Lac, a battered copy found on a bookshelf in a bed-and-breakfast in Germany; twenty-five years later it remains one of my favorite books. Her finely crafted novels, with their precision of description and compactness of focus, are like medieval miniatures. I'm sad there will be no more from her.
delphipsmith: (Cicero books)
Recently over on GoodReads, someone started a discussion on "How Did You Become a Reader?" and kicked it off with the following three questions, to which I have added a fourth:

1) Do you remember being read to as a child?
2) Do you remember when you first realized you love to read?
3) Have you always liked to read, or is it something you developed later?
4) What are some "firsts" in your life as a reader?

I had a lot of fun thinking about these questions and my own history as a reader, and since so many of us here on LJ are avid readers, I thought I'd share with y'all. I'd love to hear your answers as well (if you answer over on your own LJ, leave a comment here and let me know so I can find it!).

I don't remember ever not being a reader. Mom was an English teacher and librarian so there were always books at our house. We went to the library A LOT and I was always allowed to take as many books as I wanted. (Our first trip to a bookstore was quite traumatic, apparently, as I did not like being limited to only two!).

Mom read to me, and later to me and my brother, until I was in my teens -- he was five years younger than me so it was quite a challenge finding something that suited both of us! I remember The Hobbit, The Paleface Redskins, Half Magic, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle...

Sometimes Mom would insist that I go outside and get some fresh air...so of course I would go outside with a book. My favorite thing to do was take a bag of apples and two books and climb a tree. I would sit in the tree happily reading for easily a couple of hours.

My parents divorced when I was really young, like about two, so for years I would go spend two weeks with my dad every summer. My stepmom had three kids when they got married; I was a pretty shy kid and they didn't like me much, or I thought they didn't, though more likely it was just that we didn't have much in common because...THEY DIDN'T LIKE TO READ (gasp). So every summer I took two suitcases, one full of clothes and one full of books. One year I didn't bring enough and had to read some of them twice.

The only time I remember mom taking a book away from me was when I was ten or eleven and I got my hands on her copy of The Godfather. Probably a good idea, I think it's a bit much for a ten-year-old. Although the best thing about books is that, unlike movies, if a kid runs into something they aren't ready for, they probably simply won't understand it or be able to picture it, so it just goes right past them.

The first book I actually remember reading was Lloyd Alexander's The High King. The first book I remember getting as a gift is Bambi, when I was about seven. The first book I remember eagerly awaiting publication of is Silver On the Tree -- I'd recently discovered the series and had zoomed through them, and was horrified to discover I would have to actually wait for the last one. I think that was my first introduction to the idea that books weren't some kind of natural resource -- they didn't grow on shelves like apples grow on trees, but had to be made -- written by a real live human being and then printed and bound and shipped and so on. (The logical corollary, which I arrived at almost immediately, was People Write Books + I Am A People = Therefore I Could Write A Book. I haven't yet, but I haven't given up on it either.) The first nonfiction book I remember reading is Jane Goodall's In the Shadow of Man, about her research with chimpanzees in the wild. The first book that actually changed how I thought about life was Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Growing up, I never went anywhere without a book, even if we were just running to the grocery store or the gas station. This is still true today; just as some people won't leave the house without putting on their makeup, I feel undressed if I leave the house without a book. They have been and continue to be the best of teachers and friends.
delphipsmith: (library)
delphipsmith: (BuffyVlad)
Rereading Gone With the Wind for about the thirteenth time and loving it, as always. However, for the first time I really noticed some of the ages mentioned, and was a bit taken aback. Gerald O'Hara is 43 when he marries Ellen Robillard, who is only 15. Suellen O'Hara's "beau" Frank Kennedy is 40 and she's 14. And Rhett Butler is mentioned as being 30 or 35 at the beginning of the novel and Scarlett is only 16.

For some reason this never struck me before, but even for the 1860s this seems rather a wide age disparity.
delphipsmith: (GilesLatin)
John Connolly, author of a number of very excellent books including The Book of Lost Things, has launched an art contest to find someone to do a set of art cards that will be given away with copies of his new book. The contest: Design your own cover to your favorite novel of horror or the supernatural. What fun, eh?? So get out there, all my artistic friends!

Read more ==>
delphipsmith: (despicable)
A group of authors have banded together to petition the Department of Justice to investigate Amazon and its stifling of competition in the market for both physical and e-books. I'm very glad to see this and I hope it leads to action on the part of the DoJ.

The letter says, among other things:

In recent years, Amazon has used its dominance in ways that we believe harm the interests of America's readers, impoverish the book industry as a whole, damage the careers of (and generate fear among) many authors, and impede the free flow of ideas in our society.

The statistics they cite are pretty stunning: Amazon now controls the sale of more than 75% of online sales of physical books, more than 65% of e-book sales, more than 40% of sales of new books, and 85% of ebook sales of self-published authors.

It's more than a little worrisome that one single corporation has that much say over what is easily available to the general public. Not to mention their detrimental effect on small independent booksellers, who throughout history have been far more sensitive and responsive to local and non-mainstream interests. When the giant gorilla in the room only offers you best-sellers while sitting on and squashing everyone else, it's a little bothersome. Not to mention the fact that Jeff Bezos has admitted in so many words that he doesn't give a rat's ass about books; all those books are loss leaders to Amazon who just uses/sells the data thus gathered. As the longer version of the letter puts it:

The idea that Amazon would intentionally use its power in a way that vitiates the book industry strikes many Americans as counterintuitive, much like choosing to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. But Amazon's goal has never been to sell only books. On the contrary, Amazon executives from the first spoke of their intent to build what they called "the everything store." Amazon analyzed twenty product categories before choosing books as the company's debut "commodity."

The letter goes on to put the situation in historical context with the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, anti-trust laws going back to the 1866 Telegraph Act preventing a monopoly of that particular brand-new information highway, and the recent FCC Net Neutrality rulings.

While Amazon contends that its goal is to serve consumers by eliminating middlemen in publishing (which it calls the "gatekeepers"), Amazon's executives have also made clear they intend to make Amazon itself the sole gatekeeper in this industry. But what's at stake here is not merely monopoly control of a commodity; what is at stake is whether we allow one of the nation's most important marketplaces of information to be dominated and supervised by a single corporation...The conviction that antitrust law plays a vital role in protecting freedom of expression continues to this day. Justice Anthony Kennedy, in the Turner Broadcasting case, wrote, "Assuring that the public has access to a multiplicity of information sources is a governmental purpose of the highest order, for it promotes values central to the First Amendment," and that, "[t]he First Amendment's command that government not impede the freedom of speech does not disable the government from taking steps to ensure that private interests not restrict, through physical control of a critical pathway of communication, the free flow of information and ideas."

So for myself, I'm boycotting Amazon and any possible way they might make money off me, including all their brands and subsidiaries. I'll still use abebooks.com to find used books, but I'll go straight to the seller and buy direct from them so Amazon doesn't get a cut. I'll still use goodreads (because damn it, I was there BEFORE the behemoth ate them) but I won't use any of their links to buy anything.

Now I just have to talk Mr Psmith out of renewing his Amazon Prime membership and get him to drop his Amazon credit card...
delphipsmith: (Cicero books)
A wonderful interview with him over on Huffington Post:

"In my view, all these ideologies have destroyed literary study in the graduate schools and in the academies...All these "isms" are preposterous of course; they have nothing to do with the study of literature or with its originality. As I've said before, the esthetic is an individual and not a social concern..." Read the rest ==>

He says the influence of Derrida and Foucault has been "pernicious," heh heh. Such a great word. But what do you suppose grad students would be talking about today if those two hadn't come along? Bloom also recommends reading aloud as a way to "get inside" a writer, which I totally agree with. I've always loved reading aloud; my mom read to me and my brother until I was twelve or thirteen. When the final Harry Potter book came out, neither Mr Psmith nor I could wait for the other person to read it first, so we read it aloud in turns -- I think it took us three days but it was wonderful. There's something really special and different about reading aloud: you can taste the words, roll them around in your mouth, listen as they fall onto your ears. It adds a delightfully physical component to what is otherwise a purely mental activity.

I am insanely jealous of those lucky few who get to attend the small seminars Bloom says he teaches at his home. Oh, what I wouldn't give!!
delphipsmith: (books-n-wine)
Day 1 - Ten random facts about yourself
Day 2 - Nine things you do everyday
Day 3 - Eight things that annoy you
Day 4 - Seven fears/phobias
Day 5 - Six songs that you’re addicted to

Day 6 - Five things you can’t live without
Day 7 - Four memories you won’t forget
Day 8 - Three words you can’t go a day without
Day 9 - Two things you wish you could do
Day 10 - One person you can trust

"Can't live without" is pretty strong. I'm not sure there's anything I truly couldn't manage to live without, other than Maslow's basics: air, water, food, clothing and shelter. So assuming this actually means "Things without which my life would be unbearably dreary, featureless and grim," I shall go with these:

1) Family
2) Reading and writing (sorry, can't separate these two)
3) Music (if I haven't got any, I'll make some)
4) Cats (for companionship, they cannot be beat)
5) Wine or tea (I'm torn on this one, they're so mood-dependent)
delphipsmith: (grinchmas)
"I am the ghost of Christmas Future Perfect Subjunctive: I will show you what would have happened were you not to have changed your ways!"

Heeeee...

I am nearly caught up on [livejournal.com profile] mini_fest, planning to work my way through [livejournal.com profile] sshg_giftfest over the weekend (some lovely stories over there, go see!), and eagerly anticipating the opening of [livejournal.com profile] hoggywartyxmas in just a few days.

This weekend I hope to also get books shipped out to everyone who claimed one in the Great Book Giveaway of 2014. Still a few left for you last-minute shoppers!

I am embarking on a nice, leisurely reread of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rgins Rings ('rgins' heh heh) as my holiday read. It's been a few years since I did this, and I can feel that it's time again. "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit..."
delphipsmith: (GilesLatin)
Still lots of free books left on my Annual Shelf Weeding and Book Giveaway -- stop by and claim a few!

No need to pay postage or do anything in return, but if you want to, please give to one of the following excellent causes: Planned Parenthood (people), the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (animals), or the Kansas Rural Center (sustainable agriculture).
delphipsmith: (Cicero books)
Yes, it's time again for the Annual Weeding of the Psmith Bookshelves, and the subsequent search to get them adopted into good and loving homes. It's a long list this year (I was very firm with myself), but the rules haven't changed: if you want one or two or six or ten, just comment to this post listing which ones you want. I'll box them up and ship them.

You don't need to do anything in return, but if you want to, please give to one of the following excellent causes: Planned Parenthood (people), the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (animals), or the Kansas Rural Center (sustainable agriculture).

Format (hardcover hc or pb) is given in the list. Unless otherwise noted, all are in very good condition. If you want to know more about any of them, just ask :)

Fiction )

Nonfiction )

I also have about 30 back issues of Piecework, the wonderful craft magazine published by Interweave Press. Packed with lush illustrations, gorgeous photos, ideas for beading, sewing, felting, quilting, lacemaking, etc etc etc. You can see sample issues on the Piecework website.
delphipsmith: (Cicero books)
So, the book meme! It's been such fun to read everyone's lists -- some of them overlap considerably with mine, while others consist mostly of books I've never heard of. It amazes me what readers you all are, and it's such an education to be exposed to new and different authors. I do love books. Books books books. We might have had a contractor in two weeks ago to talk about putting built-in bookshelves in my room (and maybe if there's room, a window-seat under the window for Drinking Tea and Reading In/On. [livejournal.com profile] anemonen tagged me with it, so here we go!

Rules: In a text post, list ten books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take but a few minutes, and don’t think too hard — they don’t have to be the “right” or “great” works, just the ones that have touched you. Tag ten friends, including me, so I’ll see your list. Make sure you let your friends know you’ve tagged them!

1) Atlas Shrugged (Rand)
2) Lord of the Rings (what, like I need to tell you who it's by?)1
3) The Velveteen Rabbit (Williams)
4) The Fionavar Tapestry (Kay)2
5) Little Women (Alcott)
6) A Wizard of Earthsea (LeGuin)
7) The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Shirer)
8) God Is Not Great (Hitchens)
9) Stories of Your Life and Others (Chiang)
10) On Writing (Stephen King) and Turn Not Pale, Beloved Snail (Jackson)3

1. OK, technically this is a trilogy -- but that wasn't Tolkien's idea, it was his editor's, so I'm only counting it as one
2. OK, this one's a trilogy too, but hey, who's counting?
3. They're both about writing, so I figured I'd squish two in one


I in turn shall tag [livejournal.com profile] nursedarry, [livejournal.com profile] ennyousai, [livejournal.com profile] madeleone, [livejournal.com profile] perverse_idyll, [livejournal.com profile] ladyoneill, [livejournal.com profile] mundungus42, [livejournal.com profile] chthonya, [livejournal.com profile] amorette, [livejournal.com profile] irishredlass, [livejournal.com profile] teddyradiator and [livejournal.com profile] a_boleyn.

(If you've already done it, which I know a lot of people have, just put a link to your post in the comments so I can go look at it!)
delphipsmith: (books-n-brandy)
Well hello there, LJ, long time no see!

I have been AWOL for quite some time lately. Partly this is because Fearless Leader of my dept is leaving has left and we are all busy sorting out who does what until we get a new Fearless Leader, partly it's because the semester has started up again so I suddenly now have lots of editing clients beating a path to my door, partly it's because the deadlines for [livejournal.com profile] minerva_fest and [livejournal.com profile] luciusbigbang are LOOMING HUGE on the horizon, and partly it's because I got my grubby little hands on the third in Lev Grossman's Magicians trilogy (squeee!) and I decided that I wanted to re-read the first two before getting into the third one so I wouldn't miss anything. So I've been submerged in The Magicians and The Magician King for the last four days (and WOW I'd forgotten how good they are!) and as of yesterday am deep into The Magician's Land. Yay!

While my dad was here a couple of weeks ago, we saw Lucy, with Scarlett Johansson and a VERY sexy French guy. Has anyone else seen it? All three of us thought it was just tremendous (probably because it's not a Hollywood movie, therefore has some originality to it). I only wish that it had been based on a book so that I could have had a deeper/longer version of it. An intriguing exploration of what a superintelligent being might be like and what they might choose to do. It has some similarities with Ted Chiang's novella Understand but the main character makes a very different set of choices.

On the fandom side of things, I've signed up for the always-fun low-stress [livejournal.com profile] mini_fest (yay!), but does anyone know what's happened to [livejournal.com profile] hp_holidaygen? It appears that reveals were never posted last year, and the comm has basically been silent since last December. I hope it has not been abandoned.

Finally, I am VERY happy to say that we have 46 participants for the inaugural [livejournal.com profile] sshg_giftfest!! We have not only attracted some experienced "old salts" to the ship but some new sailors as well, and I look forward to the wonderful stories, arts and crafts that will result :)
delphipsmith: (hobbes_giggle)
Two book recs for today. I don't recommend you actually read them, necessarily, just...well, take a look :)

Latawnya the Naughty Horse Learns to Say No to Drugs

BIRTH CONTROL IS SINFUL IN THE CHRISTIAN MARRIAGES AND ALSO ROBBING GOD OF PRIESTHOOD CHILDREN!!

Those exclamation points aren't mine, ladies and gentlemen -- they're actually part of the title.

Read the reviews, they are hilarious. And the "People who viewed this also viewed..."
delphipsmith: (bookgasm)
The World Science Fiction Conventio, aka WorldCon, (which I swear I will get to someday, like maybe next year since it's in Spokane) is where the Hugo Awards are given out. If you read much F/SF at all you've probably heard of the Hugos -- they're basically the equivalent of the Academy Awards for science fiction and fantasy. There are Hugos for Best Novel, Best Novelette, Best Professional Editor, etc. (Fic writers note: there are also Hugos for Best Fan Artist, Fan Writer, and Fancast!!).

WorldCon is also where the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer is bestowed. And now, you can read over a hundred stories eligible for the Campbell Award FOR FREE. Some brilliant person has compiled them all into The 2014 Campbellian Anthology.

I am soooooo excited!!

"A little over a year ago, a small group of us had a crazy idea. What if, we said, there was a way everyone eligible for the Campbell could publicize their work at the same time, so that readers might have some idea of who we are?...The volume you now hold in your hands...includes a multitude of works from 111 contributors, spanning more than 860,000 words..."

Read the full post (with download links) > > >

On a semi-related note, if any of you have a novel sitting around gathering dust (*koff*[livejournal.com profile] anna_bird*koff*), there's a new publisher in town and they're looking for submissions: Story Spring Publishing, click on "Submissions." Go ye and submit!
delphipsmith: (shiny)
For all of you who claimed titles from the Great Weeding of 2013, your books are en route!

For those of you who haven't yet, there are still some good 'uns left. You have until Sunday, when they go to my favorite local second-hand store down the street.

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