The Windup Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi Beloved - Toni Morrison Hardboiled: An Anthology of American Crime Stories - Elmore Leonard, Lawrence Block, Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy, Leigh Brackett, Ed Gorman, James M. Cain, Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Chester Himes, David Alexander, James Reasoner, Dashiell Hammett, Bill Pronzini, Margaret Maron, Evan Hunter, Andrew Vachss, Helen Nielsen Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge Thud! - Terry Pratchett Farmer Giles of Ham - J.R.R. Tolkien, Wayne G. Hammond, Christina Scull, Pauline Baynes

[Day 23] Favourite Novel With an Exotic Background


Because what's more exotic than a Bangkok that is a hair's breadth away from being submerged in a dystopian world where all technology has deteriorated into springs and clockwork?


[Day 24] A Book that reminds you of your English teacher


My junior year English teacher was strict and thin and ginger-haired, able to keep control of her class with a word and a look. She had a wry, understated, ironic sense of humour that left many in my class unable to determine when she was joking and when she was serious. Her name also happened to start with a prefix of "MacG". Behind her back, we called her "McGonagall," amongst other nicknames. Considering that McGonagall is one of my favourite characters in the Harry Potter books, it is not much of a surprise that I loved my English teacher as well.

She was, perhaps, the first and last English teacher I've ever had who really made me think about the books, who gave me a whole new understanding of the books we read. My favourite book we read that year was Beloved, and I remember thinking that I could read each chapter and think I understood the nuances, and then the next day, I would sit down in class and hear revelations.


 Honorable mention goes to Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (Collected Papers) by Sigmond Freud. In my first year in college, I took a class called "Mystery in the Story." It was taught by a graduate student who apparently didn't think much of mysteries. One of the charming reads he substituted for Christie or Sayers was Dora. He told us that we should "read it like a mystery." He believed in Freud. I am still mildly disturbed that anyone in our day and age can actually believe in Freud.


[Day 25] Book that is your guilty pleasure



Reading fiction, in general, is my guilty pleasure. Instead of reading academic papers and science books and erudite tomes, I read fantasy and mystery and science fiction. If I had to get a little more specific, then hardboiled/noir is probably my guilty pleasure. I know it's sexist and racist and cheap; I know it is trope-ridden and stereotyped. But you know what? I don't care.




[Day 26] The novel you wish you'd written

You might have to be a writer to get this one. I actually don't think I've ever read a novel and wished that I'd written it. I wish I'd had the imagination or wits of some writers like Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman or Kate Griffin, but those books are theirs. There is no way I could ever have written them.


On the other hand, there are tons of books that make me wish that I were a plot-hole-hunting beta-reader. But pointing out those books would be a bit of a name-and-shame, so I won't.


[Day 27] Best/Worst parents in fiction


Cruel Beauty was not a particularly memorable audio read--I still haven't gotten around to reviewing it, actually-- but it definitely features some of the most gawdawful familial relationships that could ever be imagined. Daddy Dearest trains up Darling Daughter #1 as monster bait for her entire life while coddling Darling Daughter #2, and that's only the beginning. Honestly, my main emotion while listening to this one was incredulity and a burgeoning belief that the world would be a better place if all the characters were deader than a flock of Norwegian Blue parrots.



And as for best parents, well, that's an easy choice as well.



[Day 28] Favourite animal character


I have a lot of favourite animal characters, but the one that popped into my head as I started this post was the marvellous dragon Chrysophylax. In fact, my favourite Tolkien book is not LotR or Hobbit but the humble Farmer Giles of Ham. It is lighthearted and fun, the story of a trickster, and with pen illustrations that positively delighted me as a child.