kchew: (Default)
2017-04-09 10:25 pm

Maybe posting here more often?

Like many people here, I used to use Livejournal a lot. My usage really dropped off about five years ago, once I started using Facebook on a regular basis, but my account still existed (if somewhat dormant) at Livejournal.

However, since Livejournal has recently decided that it doesn't recognize the legal and rightful existence of my LGBTQAI* friends, I don't want to have anything to do with it, and so I'm here.

It's possible, now that I've been reminded of it, that I might even post here on occasion. Because, slammed as I am with work, I need another place to spend my time. Har.
kchew: (Default)
2010-10-09 10:18 pm

Random stuff

Recently read: Game of Cages by Harry Connolly; City of Fire by Lawrence Yep; Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews. Am now laughing my head off at Harry's original title for Game of Cages, Everybody Loves Blue Dog, as I get it now and it's hysterical. Completely not good as the final title, but very very funny.

New Plan! I have a lot of very cool books in the house which I am not reading because I buy them and then get distracted by the latest hold to arrive at the library for me, and so on. My New Plan is to read one book I've already bought and have sitting on my bookshelves for every book that I bring home (including from the bookstore and the library). I'm experiencing Total Fail in this department so far, but I have hopes that it might catch on.

I have, because I Love My Husband, and he is experiencing general lifesuck, given him first crack at I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett. He was reading it in the bath, earlier in the evening. The book did not hit water, nor did water hit it. My husband still lives. Did I say that I Love him? I must.

I've been working in the bookstore (one day a week) for about three months now, and it is a Good Thing. I'd forgotten how much I like recommending books to people, talking away about this or that with that boingboingboing...read this! feeling of fun. I'm starting to get my book-selling feet under me again...it's been a long time since I worked in the bookstore and I was feeling that I had missed out on all the trends of the last seven to ten years, but it's getting better. Now I can tell myself that my reading at home is work-related, which it is, really, because how else can I recommend books but by reading as many as possible? I love having a justification beyond simple greedy book lust.

And how are you?
kchew: (Default)
2010-05-22 09:19 pm

(no subject)

Life and circumstance have dictated that I need to sell a number of books. Most of it is fairly common; some of the books are scholarly, and I know where I can best sell those.

This leaves me with some books that are a little more unusual, and that I think that I could get more money for if I sold them online than to a used bookstore.

Does anyone have any experience or advice for selling books online? I have no presence on eBay or other sites, and would like to know how that might influence how much I might get for these titles. I'm also trying to figure out if it's worth my while to try and get what these books might be worth, or to just let them go.

Advice? Comments? Offers to buy? :)
kchew: (Default)
2010-01-05 11:14 pm

(no subject)

We went to visit my mother at Christmas, at her house in [city I no longer live in]. My mother has at least six IKEA bookcases of my books in her basement, as I didn't bring most of them with me when I moved to Toronto about sixteen years ago. I had originally intended to store them for a couple of years, while I did my grad work, but life intervened and they are still there. My mother is patient.

Every time I go to visit her, though, I bring a few back home. This time, I filled three bags full of books that I'd been thinking I'd like to reread, but only had room for one bag (the car was as full as it could be with books, presents, necessaries, and one guitar, and the guitar had precedence over the books. It's a 1963 Gibson; there is no way it's not coming with me). I'm rereading the Jhereg series, inspired to give the later books another go after [livejournal.com profile] papersky wrote some thoughts about them on the Tor website, and found all my copies except for Yendi. I have no idea why that one in particular is missing... I also found my Fafherd and the Grey Mouser books, and my six-volume Elric reprints from the 1980s. Last year, I put aside six boxes of paperbacks and other books for selling, but haven't sold them yet; the space I cleared still isn't anywhere near enough for the books I had before, let alone the books I brought back home, but that's beside the point.

Going home and browsing through my old bookshelves is like being able to take home anything I want from a bookstore I like, and intensely nostalgic at the same time. I think I'd save a good deal of money if I "went shopping" at my mom's more often...
kchew: (Default)
2009-09-09 07:15 pm

Reasons for 2010 to come quickly

To quote the quotable Inigo Montoya, "I hate waiting." Why? Because I would really like to have any of the following three items NOW, plsthxbai.

1. Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale, February 2010. She is one of the few romance novelists who makes me want to read everything she's ever written. It had been so long since her last book (Shadowheart, 2004), and I'd heard that she'd burned herself out quite badly, that I had no expectation of her ever writing another book. And here one is, coming my way! Yay! That'll keep me distracted briefly, however, from thinking about
2. A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner, March 23, 2010. I actually squee-d aloud when I heard it was coming out. And look! It's actually being released (according to Amazon.com) on my *birthday*. Ahem. Thank you, universe!

However, we have until the fall of 2010 to wait for:

3. Super Mario Galaxy 2, because my five-year-old wants it yesterday and OMG has to wait a WHOLE YEAR. We may buy a Japanese Wii just so that he can play it when it's released earlier in Japan. Well, probably not, but we'll wish that we did.

There are rumours of a new Pratchett as well, Unseen Academicals, that might come into my hands sooner than later, if I can beat my husband to it. But he's tricky. And it's a Pratchett. I hope that I don't have to break a tooth again to get it (see this entry for an explanation...).
kchew: (Default)
2009-07-08 04:17 pm

Reading accomplishments

I've been getting more reading done in the last few months than I did last year at this date. As of the end of last month, I've read 38 books so far this year, which means that I'm more than on target for the 50-book-a-year challenge. Yay! This makes me very very happy.

I've been enjoying the books that I've been reading, too. I'm working my way through the Merchant Princes series by Charles Stross (1 and 2 down, 3 under way) and started the Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs (totally fluffy, totally tasty), finished a Meg Cabot novel (Boy Meets Girl) and read Michelle Sagara's new Cast novel (Cast in Silence).

The second Mercy Thompson book just came into the library for me, and I'm going to use it as a very tasty carrot to help me to finish off a project sitting on my desk.

Reading makes me happy. Obvious, but still worth performing a happy dance over occasionally.
kchew: (Default)
2009-05-31 09:08 am

Japanese magazines

Yesterday, at the bazaar at my son's Japanese school, I found someone selling old magazines [ETA: in Japanese] and such (old to a value of published within the last year or two and in good condition). I picked up two children's magazines--one devoted to Miffy the Bunny (complete with Dick Bruna interviews at the back), and another a more literary magazine, with short stories and lovely illustrations. I also found two books on science at the grade three level, which I didn't realize were grade coded at the time (despite the big 3 on them; I was in a hurry), and a large board book by Gomi Taro, who is my favourite Japanese children's author right now for the 5 and under set.

The win for me, however, was finding a magazine entirely devoted to daytimers, called Minna no Techou. Yes: entirely devoted to daytimers. Not just brands or types, but containing discussions and examples of different list-keeping methods for use in your daytimer, at least 8 profiles of different people and the ways in which they use their daytimers, and so on. Some people use books designed for the purpose; some people repurpose other books or use blank books. There are PICTURES. Everything is lovingly detailed to the nth degree. The design, needless to say, is lovely.

This is stationery porn. Seriously. I love this issue. I can't even read most of it, but I love this issue. Somewhere in the house we have an issue of the same magazine (I think; I'll have to look) devoted to cucumbers (my husband bought it in New York, I think). When my husband wakes up, I'll get him to translate more of this issue for me and I'll share the good bits if I can.

It's so *cool*, people!
kchew: (Default)
2009-05-25 02:39 pm

Women's Commercial Fiction (question)

I've been looking into the differences between romance, literature, and women's commercial fiction, and was wondering if anyone out there has any opinions on the matter. Yes, women's commercial fiction is a horribly vague category, but there are a lot of books sold using this term as a marketing category. I do believe, as well, that there are certain conventions in women's commercial fiction (e.g., the heroine must be, somehow, better off at the end than at the beginning), but would be interested in knowing what other people think that they might be.
kchew: (Default)
2009-04-22 10:53 am

Books bought (January)

I forgot to post this list at the time, but I want to have it here for the sake of completeness:

Pole to Pole by Michael Palin
Victory by Susan Cooper
The Tears of the Salamander by Peter Dickinson (these three were library castoffs)
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
Jane on Her Own by Ursula LeGuin
365 Unplugged Family Activities by Steve and Ruth Bennett
AIrborn by Kenneth Oppel
The Shadow in the North by Philip Pullman
The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein (a double! D'oh!)
Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Nornby

Books bought to date (April 2009): 39
Books read to date (April 2009): 22

I'm not allowed into any more bookstores, anymore.
kchew: (Default)
2009-04-12 11:26 am

Books purchased, books read

The ratio of books acquired to books read is still out of whack, but it was my birthday last month and that always throws things off.

Read more... )
kchew: (Default)
2009-03-28 11:57 pm

but why?

Why, oh why, has it taken me so long to read "Books v Cigarettes," "Bookshop Memories," and "Confessions of a Book Reviewer" by George Orwell? Was I living under a *rock*? Goddamn, they are funny. And true.

I swear, I had no idea that Orwell could be this funny. Now onwards to read other essays in the volume, which promise less funny but more thought, such as "The Prevention of Literature" and "My Country Right or Left." Most excellent.

I am reading, for those interested, the new, green, "Great Ideas" series edition from Penguin, entitled "Books v Cigarettes," which is a pretty little object.
kchew: (Default)
2009-03-25 08:42 pm

Proof that some publishers are very cool human beings

who can be moved by matters greater than publishing...and that even an economics professor can be an incurable romantic.

I can tell you right now that the editors and production department had *so much fun* with this.

kchew: (Default)
2009-03-05 12:40 am

(no subject)

It has been a rather long time since I've done anything but lurk on LJ with the occasional comment. The reasons have been mundane: work, children... Until they're older, ten consecutive minutes of active brain time will remain precious and rare.

I had to adjust the way that I read, and what I read, over the last while. I had, at one point in the fall, four copyediting and proofing projects at once, and I'm not quite sure how I managed to finally dig myself out from under it. It's preferable to where I find myself now, with no work at all, but I console myself with the knowledge that freelancing can be cyclical, and I've had an excellent eighteen-month run of steady work. At the same time, I completed only 41 books in 2008: a personal nadir. I bought 109 books. This imbalance, actually, provides an excellent snapshot of my stress levels, as I buy books at a more furious pace when I'm completely stressed. This list includes new books, used book, gifts, salvaged books, and library castoffs: I'm also not particularly fussy.
Read more... )

And now it is late, and I have to get some sleep to prepare for another day of job hunting.
kchew: (Default)
2008-11-02 11:00 pm

David Gilmour, The Film Club

Every once in a while, I'll buy a book on impulse instead of dutifully noting the title down in my notebook for when I go to the library or to avoid making that impulse purchase. When I do yield to this particular impulse, I generally read the book in two days or less, and the book in question is almost always different than what I usually read in some way. Sometimes I'm lucky, and sometimes I get that slightly sick feeling like I've just eaten too much candy. I bought David Gilmour's The Film Club as I was almost out of the store yesterday, I'm finished now, and I'm feeling the second much more than the first.

Gilmour was a film critic for the CBC, and I quite enjoyed his film reviews when they were on. I had heard a little about the book beforehand, and knew that it was a focused memoir. Gilmour's son Jesse, when he was 16, dropped out of school and spent the next three years living with Gilmour and his wife rent free, with pocket money and no requirements other than he watch three films a week with his dad. I'm not going to comment on the choice Gilmour made to allow his son to drop out; it's not my kid, not my life, not my situation. I do have two small boys, however, and I confess that I was curious about the book on that level in that I suppose that I'm already scouting for information and ideas for when they reach that age and I may be dealing with the same sorts of problems. Also, for a large portion of the book, they even lived in my neighbourhood, which gives it some more immediacy.

Be that as it may, I feel somewhat cranky about the book, to the extent that I will be passing it along soon rather than keep it. I'm cranky just looking at the cover on the radiator by my chair, which isn't all that good, and I'm trying to figure out why. A lot of great movies are discussed in passing, which is good, and Gilmour dishes a little about some of the directors and actors he's interviewed, which is not as much bitchy fun as it should have been. The first big problem is that Jesse remains a cypher to me throughout the book. I am not sure what he's all about, and I don't think that Gilmour knows either. To his credit, he just wants to connect with his son in any way he can, but the boy is opaque. Also, and here I think is the crux of it, I just don't like Gilmour that much. He's judgmental, a bit juvenile in some places, and I'm not sure if he didn't convey the interesting bits of what was a rather interesting and brave experiment very well or if there wasn't enough material to make it most of the book (it's about 256 pages). He also reveals an enormous amount of very personal detail about his son's girlfriends, and while the first does sound like a total piece of work, I still think that a lack of perspective or balance turns the book into a hatchet job on a girl who can't fight back, and is clearly identified. I was jarred by his identifying the girlfriends by name from the beginning (there is no disclaimer about changed names, if he did decide to mask them even lightly), and can't but think that this was wrong of him.

I'm still picking at this, as you can probably tell, but while I enjoyed thinking about certain films, and am glad that Jesse a) has a first-class film education and b) pulled his life back together, in large part thanks to his patient and creative parents, I think that Gilmour's neglect of the positions and feelings of others is a serious flaw in the book. Not that you should listen to me; a quick look at Amazon shows that a lot of people think I'm wrong. But I can say, without a doubt, that something didn't work for me here.

Ah...you know, I think that I just figured it out: this is a guy's book for other guys. I wasn't really meant to get in there in the first place.
kchew: (Default)
2008-11-02 06:54 pm

Annie Proulx short stories

I read a short story by Annie Proulx in the New Yorker recently (I think it was a May or June issue), because I did like the short story that the movie Brokeback Mountain was based upon (also called "Brokeback Mountain"). I don't usually read the short stories in the New Yorker, despite reading almost every other part of it, for a couple of reasons. First, I don't appreciate the form as much as I should, for reasons that I am unable to articulate articulately but that circle around being asked to emotionally connect with characters and situations too quickly. On further reflection, I may not want to make the connection because I find that short stories can be more emotionally intense than the average novel. The other main reason that I don't read the New Yorker short stories is that their emotional subject matter is often seamy and depressing.

The Proulx story, about a young girl from Wyoming who tries to forge a life for herself after a neglected childhood and failed early marriage, was certainly depressing. Come to think of it, I read another short story of Proulx's earlier in the year, which was about two young people who married as teenagers and who both die by the end in particularly poignant and grim ways. It made me wonder, only half facetiously, has Annie Proulx ever written a happy short story? Seriously, people. I love the way that she writes, but I'm down for hours afterwards. Has she ever written a happy short story? Because I'd really like to read it.
kchew: (Default)
2008-10-21 08:09 pm

Proof of how boring I really am

Book meme!

Grab the nearest book. Open the book to page 56. Find the fifth sentence. Post the text of the next two to five sentences in your journal/blog along with these instructions.

Don’t dig for your favorite book or something cool, pick the closest.

From page 56 of Editing Canadian English, 2nd edition, prepare to be enlightened:

"4.30 The system of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) uses no symbols but rather a three-letter code preceding the figure: two letters identify the country and the third the currency type. For example:

CAD Canadian dollar
GBP British pound
CHF Swiss franc

A Web search for 'ISO 4217 currency codes' will yield complete lists."

Sexy, isn't it?
kchew: (Default)
2008-10-18 08:41 pm

(no subject)

My 13-year-old niece Anna just sang both national anthems on nation television to open the Ottawa Senators-Boston Bruins game.

To say that I'm proud is such an understatement.

kchew: (Default)
2008-10-01 10:18 pm

(no subject)

It's been a great year so far for buying books, but much less awesome for reading them (work, kids, 17 other options). I'm not going to make my 50+ in a year for the first time ever, I think. Rather than mope about it, however, let's move on. In September, I rifled through a number of books, but only succeeded in finishing Chalice by Robin McKinley, and A Few Seconds of Panic: A 5-Foot-8, 170-Pound, 43-Year-Old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL by Stefan Fatsis. Chalice was a comfortable, lovely read, and a bit more on A Few Seconds of Panic in a moment.

Read more... )
kchew: (Default)
2008-05-22 11:04 am

Bookstore squee

Much to my surprise and delight, I discovered a new bookstore in my neighbourhood yesterday. The store is named TYPE, and is (apparently) the third TYPE store to open in Toronto (the others are on Queen West and in Forest Hill somewhere). Of course I went in, and found that they are a) a more high end store, with gift books, art books, and a nice selection of fiction, and b) they are friendly and helpful. It's a small space, which means that they are going to be the sort of store where you talk with the staff about their recommendations, and will find either that the buyer is a kindred spirit or not. So far, all my happy buttons have been pushed. This neighbourhood has needed a second bookstore ever since Another Story moved across town, and I can barely contain my squee.

So, of course, to encourage TYPE to stay, I bought a book. I snatched up Michael Chabon's Maps and Legends, passing over (regretfully) Margaret MacMillan's The Uses and Abuses of History and a Moleskine City Notebook: Barcelona. The Chabon is a McSweeney's book, and, as his first nonfiction book, is a collection of his essays. As I haven't seen any of these, I am very excited. And, because it's a McSweeney's book, it is a beautiful physical object. The binding is black, with silver stamping, and the dustjacket is in three layers, one slightly smaller than the last, with illustrations. When you remove one layer, the one beneath it is fully covered in illustration, even though you would never see it unless you removed that covering layer. It is utterly impractical (they sell it in shrink wrap to prevent damage), and rather wonderful because of its impracticality and the attention to detail. The inside isn't as utterly fabulous or beautiful, but the interior layout is nice and clean. The type is slightly larger than I would have chosen, but I can see why they decided to do that.

Fabulous writer; beautiful object; lovely new bookstore.

kchew: (Default)
2008-03-26 10:12 am

Bad books

[livejournal.com profile] oyceter and [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija have been discussing the top five worst books they've ever read. I normally don't like to bitch about bad books (life's too short), but there have been a few books that I've wanted to scrub from my brain.

I've read a lot of bad books in my time--badly written, badly plotted, and even vaguely unpleasant--because a bad book can be better than no book or I didn't know any better, and I've learned my lesson; or there was a test. Most of them I've forgotten, and moved on from. Some, however, have stuck in my head and have continued to annoy me. In no particular order are:

1. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy. I think that this was the first book or author that I ever developed a true animus for. The main character is unpleasant, it is true, but this unpleasantness is crushed underfoot, relentlessly, by Hardy's use of deus ex machina, ensuring that horror, bleakness, and total ruin must occur just when the character's doing something good or right with his life. There is no redemption; only punishment when one dares to find happiness after error. I had to read it for Grade 12 English. The horror. The horror.
2. Apaches by Lorenzo Carcaterra. Very early on, there is a gratuitous, graphic child rape scene that I wish I'd never read. Book abandoned, but not soon enough.
3. Little People by Tom Holt. I'm tossing this one in for my husband, who recently gave it to me and told me that it could leave the house and he would not mind at all. Please understand that he is a packrat of the first order, and so this is rather damning. I am given to understand that the payoff at the end is cheap and unfair, and leaves a very bad taste in the reader's mouth after the lead up.
4. Piers Anthony. I know, we all pick on him, but after Firefly, he particularly deserves it.
5. Sexual Personae, by Camille Paglia. A book that I have repeatedly wanted to throw against a wall, despite several tries to make it through. Chthonic, all-consuming mother goddesses vs Apollonian, creative male sun deities without which we'd be stuck in stagnant, uncreative darkness. Where do I start? However, I understood right away where Elizabeth Hand mined her ideas for Waking the Moon, which I didn't dislike as a novel.

An honorable mention, of a sort, goes to The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence. I had to read this book for Grade 13 English (that dates me, somewhat), and hate hate hated it at the time. To grossly oversimplify the plot,it is the story of Hagar Shipley, a woman who, through her own stubborn pride, locks herself emotionally from those she loves, and makes a general hash of it.

The problem with the book was, despite how much I detested the main character, I kept arguing with her in my head. For years, as I kept the book on my shelf instead of selling it. Slowly, because I can be dense sometimes, it dawned on me that I was doing so because Laurence had written her *that well*. God damn it. So, while I can't say that I'll ever love the book, I respect it and Laurence for the strength of the character that she created.