Best of 2001

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at
Mon Dec 31 14:56:46 EST 2001

On Mon, 31 Dec 2001 10:38:26 -0500 (EST), deborah wrote:

>On Fri, 28 Dec 2001, Melissa Proffitt wrote:
>|Megan Whalen Turner's _The Queen of Attolia_ and Alan Moore's graphic
>|novel/collection _The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen_.  We've already
>I have to agree with the definition of the QoA as addictive.  I
>finished it, went and grabbed the Thief, reread that, and
>immediately reread the QoA.  In one day.

I'm glad you mentioned that QoA was in paperback.  Santa gave me _The Thief_
in my Christmas stocking, but Barnes & Noble is so constipated about how
they shelve YA books that it took a bit of hunting to find it.  (_The Thief_
pb in their Young Readers section, hardbound QoA on a display case, pb QoA
in the Teen shelves.)  I think these will be the first books I read in the
new year.

>|Favorite Guilty Pleasure: _The China Bride_ by Mary Jo Putney.  Yes, I'm a
>|sucker for historical romance novels.  Yes, I know it demonstrates a
>|profound lack of character.  Yes, I know it's embarrassing.  That's why it's
>|a *guilty* pleasure.  Sorry.
>*blush*.  My boss lent me the prequel to this one (The Wild
>Child), and, though I had some major issues with it (the heroine
>was arguably not of sound mind when the hero first started...
>being a lech, and he knew it), I found the excerpt from the China
>Bride oddly compelling.

I saw _The China Bride_ in our library's New Release section.  Mary Jo
Putney is a favorite of a friend of mine, who recommended _The Rake_, which
is how I knew her books are pretty good.  _The China Bride_ is very good--I
like the parts set in China, the hero's religious conversion is excellent,
and there's a remarkable subtheme about tolerance that surprised me.  On the
other hand, the plot complication is very minor and only really shows up at
the end.  But it was very fun to read.  I haven't decided if I want to read
the first one yet.

>How do you do this, Melissa?  I can't even remember what I read
>this year.  I should do what several of my friends do and keep a
>list of what I read.

That's why *I* want to keep a list.  I wouldn't be able to tell you
everything I read last year, but as I'm reading, when something strikes me
(either positively or negatively) I make a little mental note.  Also, most
of the books on my list are ones I talked about to other people, so they
stayed with me.  Some of the other books I read last year: well, Sally's
books _Translations in Celadon_ and _Trinity Street_, Tad Williams'
Otherland series, Elizabeth Peters' latest Amelia Peabody novel, and a bunch
of stuff by Jack McDevitt.  Thanks to being in a reading group with a SFWA
member, I read almost all the Nebula nominees.  And I re-read a whole bunch
of books, like the Duel books and a bunch of Terry Pratchett.

>  Since I'm preparing to take the GRE in
>literature, though, my reading for the next three months would
>look like I'm preparing to write a sequel to the Western Canon.
>Spencer, Wordsworth, Pope, Dryden... all the people I need to
>have read but don't read for pleasure.

Ugh, yes.  My honors degree had a required reading list--12 books I chose
from a list, and 8 of my own.  It looked SOOOO boring.  I don't think I ever
did make it through the Faerie Queene.  It wasn't until much later that I
learned I could have chosen just about anything for my own 8, and my
feminist professor would totally have supported me in choosing modern
fantasy by women authors.  Duh.

>I can tell you my best discovery of the year though: Madeleine
>Brent, who writes strange historical novels, sort of romances but
>not really.  I think they might all be out of print.

I usually find her books at thrift stores or the library, though even the
library has been getting rid of them.  I did own one once, but I can't find
it any more, which is a pity because it was really good.  I like them
because of the emphasis on the historical.  I also like some of Julie
Garwood's books--in fact _The Wedding_ was my Most Addictive Book a few
years ago.  And does anyone else read Diana Gabaldon's
time-travel-historical-romance books?  I'm about to go get the fifth one
from the library.

This reminds me--and here we can get back on topic to DWJ--there is a big
display of this latest Gabaldon book, _The Fiery Cross_, at the bookstore.
Unlike the earlier books, which feature lovely elaborate illustrations on
the covers, this one has a bright red cover with a simple design in the
middle, the title, and the author's name.  Very appealing, and if I were
smarter I know I'd recognize the design.  Anyway, in searching the shelves
($55 for FOUR BOOKS?!? Is the world INSANE?!?) I found the other four, and
saw that they've all been reissued in trade paperback with covers to match
the new one.

The DWJ point is that so many of her books are coming back into print, with
new covers, that I like to look at them to see who they're trying to attract
as buyers.  Specifically, the Dalemark Quartet.  I bought them all in that
BeechTree edition, the one with those blue-tinged illustrations, beautiful.
Then they come out with the black covers and the jewel-tone designs that
look like something out of a medieval book, and I'm thinking--how is that
fair?  I would love to own these, but I can't spare the money, plus how
extravagant is that, buying MORE of something I already own?

Except that I'm already doing it.  Not with DWJ yet, but I am trying to get
all of the Riddle-master series and the Harper Hall trilogy in their
original hardcover editions.  The first editions are extremely expensive,
but if you can find later printings, sometimes it's a real bargain,
especially if you want a reading copy and don't mind ex lib markings.  And
there are DWJ books I'd like to replace.  _Howl's Moving Castle_, for
example, with the annoying picture of Sophie-with-unlined-face and
everyone's mouth open like they're singing the saucepan song in unison.
Also the _Fire and Hemlock_ with the weird fiery horse and rider.  Does
anyone else obsess over owning particular editions of books--certain
bindings, certain cover art?  Or is it just me?

Melissa Proffitt
(again grateful to Paul for the beautiful copy of _Power of Three_ so I
didn't have to buy the ugly paperback)
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