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40 Years of Favorite Part Three: My Favorites From My Thirties

14 Feb

In honor of my milestone 40th birthday I created lists of books I loved as a child/teen and 20 something.  I’m finishing out my 40th year with a look at favorite books in my thirties.

31. Little, Big by John Crowley

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One of the member of the library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club, recently brought up this work and I remember how much I enjoyed reading it as an enjoyable escape while stuck in bed while recovering from the flu. Little, Big features a charming extended family living in a 19th Century mansion surrounded by a fairy filled forest. The enchanting novel is told from multiple family members perspectives.

32. Stardust by Neil Gaiman

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I’ve talked in previous posts about my love of Neil Gaiman.  Another of his novels besides American Gods and Neverwhere that I have enjoyed is Stardust, which was adapted as a film in 2007 starring Claire Danes. The novel has a charming fairy tale like quality, with its story about a young man’s search for a fallen star to give to his beloved and is surprised to learn that star has a human form.  You have the option with the novel of the illustrated version or an updated version without illustrations.

33. Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair and 34. Shades of Grey

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Jasper Fforde is one of my favorite authors. His work is uniquely quirky, which I love. His Thursday Next series beginning with The Eyre Affair, is about a literary detective who can literally jump into books and interact with the character there.  She has a pet dodo bird and a relative who travels through time.  For teens and adults who enjoy YA fiction, check out his Last Dragonslayer series.  I am eagerly awaiting the next in the Shades of Grey series, the original book of that name is now subtitled in later editions The Road to High Saffron, imagines a dystopian reality where everyone’s social class is determined by the specific colors they can see.

35. Fantasy Works of Kage Baker

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I had previously written in another post about one of my favorite Science Fiction series, The Company by Kage Baker, about immortelle cyborg who live forward perpetually in time. Besides that series, Baker also wrote several novels set in a fantasy world including The House of the Stag, The Anvil of the World, and The Bird of the River which can be checked out from BCCLS libraries. Like her science fiction works, the characters in her fantasy novels are complex and the stories thought provoking.

36. Donna Andrew’s Meg Langslow Mystery Series

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I love Meg Langslow’s quirky mysteries. Like many in the cozy genre they all have a theme, in this case all in some way involve birds, which is unexpected considering that Meg isn’t an ornithologist, but a blacksmith. I discovered Andrews, after she had written several books in the series and I remember spending one summer reading one book after another.  Andrews had two new books out last year Gone Gull at the beginning of August and How the Finch Stole Christmas at the end of October, both of which I highly enjoyed.

37. Kerry Greenwood’s Mysteries

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Kerry Greenwood is my favorite mystery author so though I have written about her previously, I can’t resist mentioning her again.  Check out her fabulous Phryne Fisher series about a flapper in Australia or her contemporary series about baker Corrina Chapman.  Quirky characters are found throughout both.  Greenwood went on a bit of a writing hiatus, but she is currently working on her next Corrina mystery and fellow Phryne fans can check out her short story “Taking the Waters” in her American Publisher Poisoned Pen Presses 20th anniversary collection Bound by Mystery published last year.

38. Gail Carriger’s Steampunk Series

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I’ve probably written more about Gail Carriger’s works than any other author for this blog. I love the humor that infuses her cool supernatural steampunk, which also features a dash of romance. Check out her Parasol Protectorate series, Custard Protocol series, and Finishing School series and see if you agree!  The latest in the Custard Protocol series Competence is scheduled to be released in July.

39. Robin Paige’s Victorian/Edwardian Mystery Series

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Robin Paige is the pen name of William and Susan Albert Wittig. In one of my first blog posts back in 2013, I discussed Susan Albert Witting’s Darling Dahilia series which is set in the 1930’s. I had discovered the Victorian-Edwardian Mysteries after the series had been completed and was re-released in paperback.  Although it can be sad when you learn there won’t be any more of something you love, it can also be delightful getting to binge on a series that has been completed.  I found the couple at the center of the mysteries charming and there is something sweet about knowing they were brought to life by a married duo of writers.  Part of the reason the series was ended was the amount of research it took the authors to achieve the authenticity of the books and you will come away with interesting knowledge of different aspects of the eras.

40. Jennifer Arena’s 100 Snowmen

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To end this list I decided to pick a recent favorite picture book read that I enjoy sharing with my son, since I know my love of books started early with my mom reading to me as a child and my dad passing on worn copies of his favorite speculative fiction when I was a teenager. My son loves math so much he is even fond of doing addition problems before bed along with me reading to him. Jennifer Arena’s 100 Snowmen combines his love of math with my love of reading as on each page there are simple addition problems to add up the Snowmen doing fun activities from snowball fights to hide and seek.  A fun read to checkout this winter with the kids in your life.

Tell us about some of your favorite reads from the various decades of your life in our comment section!

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Moon Madness: Radiance, A Trip to the Moon, and Moonday

16 Mar

The moon has been a source of wonder, myth, and mystery since the first human looked up at the night sky.  Few of us actually get to walk on its surface, although perhaps with the promise of space tourism that may soon change.  Until that day we have these fantasy works that allow our imaginations to take flight.

Catherynne M. Valente’s Radiance

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To me this was the best book of 2015.  Inspired by the silent film, A Trip to the Moon, Radiance takes place in alternate reality where Edison’s hoarding of copyrights means that talkie films never caught on, but space travel is commonplace.  People now live on the moon and other planets whose native species while being named after creatures on earth are decidedly alien.  Valente’s clever creative descriptions of this alien menagerie was only one of the many features which charmed me.  This quirky book is told through a variety of found materials including transcripts, gossip columns, and more.  This adds enjoyment to the audiobook version (available from Hoopla) as actor Heath Miller brings to life the characters. All together the found materials forms the mysterious story of deceased filmmaker Severin Unck whose life is slowly revealed.  Her documentaries were a reaction against her father’s over the top fantastical works and Valente notes that her own filmmaker father helped to motivate her writing of the novel.  Retro futurism has never been so delightful or thoughtful.  Read it in print from the Hoboken Library or as an eBook from eBCCLS!

A Trip to the Moon

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Georges Méliès’s  A Trip to the Moon was inspired by the novels of Jules Verne and other science fiction novels from that time period.  It uses the effects and the aesthetics derived from the Féerie theatrical productions which were popular in France in the 1800’s; ironically the beginning of film saw the decline of its popularity.  Despite the fact that the film was created in 1902, it has kept its charm and due to the recent fad for retrofuturism it seems oddly modern with its depiction of astronomers who use a cannon to launch their rocket to the moon.  Beside Valente’s novel, it has been the inspiration for one of my favorite music videos, Smashing Pumpkin’s “Tonight, Tonight.”  There is a colorized version of  A Trip to the Moon.  Although currently films can be colorized via computer, at that time each print of films had to be individually hand colored.  The coloring leads another level of whimsy and visual interest to the film.  Valente discussed the job in her novel; I would definitely recommend watching the film while reading Radiance.  You can borrow the DVD, Méliès le Cinémagicien from BCCLS which includes a documentary about Méliès as well as several of his films.

Adam Rex’s Moonday

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If your children, like my three year old son, are fascinated by the moon, then you should check out Adam Rex’s Moonday, where the moon takes up residency in a family’s backyard.  Although at first it seems exciting to be able to literally reach out and touch the moon, it soon has some odd consequences including the town’s people’s lack of sleep and a tide that begins to fill up the yard.  Rex’s realistic illustrations bring this surreal concept to life.  You may remember Rex from previous blog posts as the illustrator of my son’s favorite picture book series centered on Chu, the panda bear with the mighty sneeze, written by Neil Gaiman.  Moonday is available from Hoboken Public Library and you can borrow a picture book on video adaptation from Hoopla.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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