John Scalzi (A.K.A. AOL's Blogfather) has various regular assignments he posts for people to participate in on their blogs. My participation - mostly in his weekend assignment category - has been sporadic, at best. I think I may have participated in the Monday Photo Challenge once before. This week it's about books. How could I resist.
Your Monday Photo Assignment: Show us what's in your bookshelf right now. That's right, right this very second!
Well, John, here it is. You can click on the picture to see a larger image. The ones stacked up in front were rescued mere moments ago from my bedside table. They are the current quenching for my ever thirsty mind.
On top is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke, which came highly recommended by almost everyone I have ever met in my entire life. So I read it. And it was excellent. I finished it a couple of weeks ago, but haven't put it away because I think the wife will want to read it.
Of course, she is currently nine books deep in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, so she won't even consider looking at anything else. I'll tell ya, she's gonna be right pissed if book ten isn't the last one. (Edited to add: Duh! We already have book eleven sitting on our shelf. And I'm willing to bet there's another one coming after that. I mean, if you were writing them, and people just kept buying them and buying them, would you ever finish the story?)
Next in the pile is Le Morte D'Arthur, by Sir Thomas Malory. As you can see by the bookmark, I have only just started that one. I was intrigued by Guy Gavriel Kay's treatment of the King Arthur legend in his Fionavar Tapestry (another three books I have just finished reading (again) but do not appear here), and wanted a closer look at an earlier incarnation of the story. It is slow going. Although the spelling has been modernised, the language is...different, and it is dry, dry, dry.
Under Malory is LeGuin's Three Hainish Novels. I read The Dispossesed and The Left Hand of Darkness years ago, and found this on sale at my local Chapters, so I bought it. Three times. I'm not kidding. Twice I came home with it under my arm, only to find it already on my bookshelf, and had to return it. I really do need to learn to exercise some restraint in the book store. Or, at least pay some attention.
The Hero With A Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell is the non-fiction member of the group. I want to have a better understanding of how so many of the works of fantasy I read are constructed, and my wife had it kicking around in a box of other books she studied in university, so I snatched it. I haven't started it yet.
On the bottom of the pile is Umberto Eco's The Island of the Day Before. I read and enjoyed his Name of the Rose, and Baudolino, but the prose in this one is much denser, and I'm having difficulty plowing my way through it. Never fear, I will keep working on it.
Behind those, you can see a small selection of other works by various artists. To the left, books one and two of The Stone Dance of the Chameleon trilogy by Roberto Pinto. They were published in 1999 and 2002 respectively. As of this writing, I understand he is still working on the first draft of the third volume. ::sigh::
Also visible are several books by my favourite author, Guy Gavriel Kay. The Last Light of the Sun is staring out at me, demanding a second read in the light of the in depth commentary it has been subjected to over at BrightWeavings, Mr. Kay's authorised website. Ah, well. Better add it to the pile.
Wednesday-edited to add: In looking at that photograph, I have just noticed that my copy of Kay's The Lions Of Al Rassan (soon to be a major motion picture) has a bookmark in it, yet it is filed away on the shelf. This is somewhat of a minor embarrassment to me. While Kay is my favourite author, and I like to subject all of his books to multiple readings, I have been unable to get through a second helping of that one. In three tries I have got part way through and set the book down in disinterest. This is the book that is named by a significant number of the man's fans as being their all-time favourite Kay novel, and I can't get through a simple re-read.
Why? I suspect it has something to do with how Kay has examined the way people's understanding of unfolding events affects their opinions. There are two different places in The Lions of Al Rassan where the author leads his reader to believe that an event has had one outcome, and revealed later that the outcome was, in fact, much different. I remember feeling manipulated when I read it the first time. Perhaps I simply want to avoid the experience again. Sheer speculation, I know, but in three attempted re-reads, I have put the book down before reaching the first occurence of that perceived literary manipulation.