Archive for December 17th, 2008

For All The Marbles…

I may have mentioned before that I have been playing in a Fantasy Football league for the last couple of years. It’s a closed (free) league, through ESPN, and is made up mostly of folks that do or have worked in the same area.

After a fourteen week regular season, and the first of two playoff weeks have passed into history, my team has made it into the championship game. The final (championship) game will be played this weekend – and I likely will not know the outcome until I return from my travels in January.

Just in case, like, you know, you care about fantasy football or anything…

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Traveling notes…

Since I will be gone for a few weeks, I thought it only fair to add the list of books that I will be taking with me. I will be taking four books – two Gaiman titles, a King, and The Painted Veil by Maugham. I don’t know how many of them I will actually get through before the year ends (or, during the trip), but that’s what I’m taking, and what will be the next few books from the queue.

The specific titles: Fragile Things (Gaiman) and Everything’s Eventual (King) are both short story collections, and will be the first books read. I am planning on alternating reads between the two books, and they will be the most likely to be finished (at least one of them). With less than 100 pages to go in Grafton’s “F”, these will be started long before the plane takes off on Sunday night.

After the story collections will be Veil, (originally published in 1925) to give a stark styllistic change from most of the other books that I have been reading for the last year, easily being the oldest (published) work recently read. If things are looking tight, I will probably just wait until January 1st to start this one, ushering in the new year with a clean start.

The other Gaiman book, Anansi Boys, will be the third novel of his that I will tackle, and will most likely not be started until 2009 – on the long flight back, if all goes well with Veil.

Beyond that, I will pull some more books from my shelves, and continue the reading streak.

Speaking of reading, a note on how I pick books…
First and foremost, in terms of getting books, I base on the author. If I like the style and content of a given writer’s work, then I will be more likely to get their books. As long as the content is relevant to my interests. Like Stephen King. I am more interested in his story collections, instead of his novels (I tried Salem’s lot about 20 years ago, but just couldn’t get into it, which probably soured me against most of his novels…) But I do want to try reading the “Dark Tower” series… And I have read his “On Writing”.

If I am looking into a new genre (I grew up mostly reading fantsy, science fiction, or straight fiction), I initially go with author reputation – and if there is a series I start at the beginning. Like Sue Grafton. I had gotten interested in the idea of trying to write several mystery stories – but to write something without reading any is crazy. So I sought out Grafton, initially, and started with “A”. I liked it, both the flow and the story involved (and, the use of a serial character), and have been progressing ever since.

In picking out new books, though, while walking the aisles of the local B&N… I look for interesting title names, or interesting cover art… And I read the back, or jacket description. If it sounds interesting, or looks like it might be in line with a style/genre that I may like, then I will consider it.

I also used the same strategy when going through my dad’s book collection. If there was author recognition or series recognition (Frank G. Slaughter, or the Nick Carter series), then I added it to my collection. If there were some that matched my genre interests (the “Baroness” series, or Ted Mark books), I added them. In most cases,if there was a series involved, I kept almost all of the matching books.

In picking books out of the stack (nay, mountain) to be read, things often go about the same. I pick out books that look interesting, and that I haven’t gotten to yet. If there is a story or style that I have in mind, I may tend towards those sorts of works (short story collections during the middle of the last semester, when I was focusing on short stories for class).

I do also consider length, to some degree (if the story is good, the length won’t really matter). Understand, though, that length can vary by edition. My copy of the King book mentioned above runs about 450-ish pages, but entries under Amazon show the same book at 600-ish pages. The trade paperbacks that I have been getting for Grafton’s Alphabet series run about 300-ish pages – but I have seen older paperback versions sitting around 200 pages.

And I try to avoid repeating an author too quickly. Imagine watching a TV series on DVD, or a string of movies starring X, or directed by Y, or all related to Z (like, a specific event – A WWII movie marathon, or a Bond marathon)… before long, the enjoyment would wane. (That’s why I am just now on “F”, when I read Grafton’s “A” back in 2007… and she has written through “T”!)

That’s the nut shell… now it’s time to go do a little more work before I leave for the day…

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