Some years back, I decided to grow a collection of critically acclaimed graphic novels. It was (and still is) perhaps my favorite storytelling form, and I already had some of the classic superhero and fabulist novels: Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. After encountering Art Spiegelman’s daring and sensitive depiction of the Holocaust in Maus, I realized for the first time that the graphic novel wasn’t a genre, it was a medium packed with every genre imaginable.
As an aside, I shouldn’t have been so surprised–I’d already grown up in Japan with manga in school textbooks, in comic weeklies in every respectable ramen bar and beauty salon, and in the hands of men and women on the train as detective and romance and period drama.
I wanted to discover what other wonders existed in the graphic novel space outside what was most prominently displayed in my comic book shop. I found unforgettable gems like Eisner’s Contract with God, Clowe’s Ghost World, Tezuka’s Buddha, and Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan. If you like graphic novels and haven’t read any of these, or if you think graphic novels are all about superpowered heroes in too much or too little spandex, I recommend you check any of these out.
While I still plan to hold on to the graphic novels that are most precious to me (the ones I read again and again), I do want to share some of the great literature that is mostly gathering dust on my shelves. One of these is Marjane Satrapi’s honest and heartbreaking autobiography of coming of age as an outspoken girl in the years surrounding the Islamic Revolution that deposed the Shah’s regime.
So if you’re interested in receiving Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, recommend a graphic novel to the rest of us, and tell us why you think we should read it. I’ll arbitrarily pick a commenter. And don’t worry–there are a few more graphic novels down the road.
[Update: as of 6:28pm Pacific time on January 20th, only Generation Dead, Infidels, Battle for God, and the New Testament Exegesis books are available]
Many apologies for slacking on the posts. The past week has been crazy busy, and I didn’t realize how much this project could add up, in time and shipping costs!
First of all, I’ve created a PayPal donate button for the blog. So far, the books have averaged about $2.40 to ship across the US at book rate. There’s absolutely no pressure to donate anything, but I’m just coming to my senses and realizing that this project could cost me $70-80 extra per month, so anything to offset shipping costs would be appreciated.
If I receive more than my costs in any given month, I’ll donate the extra to ProLiteracy or another nonprofit that promotes literacy and education and post the amount and organization.
Second, I have some major catching up to do, so I’m going to post 12 books on this post. I’m not crazy about this impersonal, batch giveaway, and will try hard to avoid this in the future. Each book deserves some personal commentary and your responses! But for this group, I’m giving them away on a first come, first served basis. This will be from my perspective–you may see your comment go up first, but if someone else’s went into moderation (because it’s their first time commenting) before yours, then I will give them the book. I hope that makes sense.
So, if you’re interested in a book, please leave a comment and the title of the book in which you’re interested. If you’d like, tell us why it appeals to you.
Also, many of you have been waiting for “the right book.” I have A LOT of books to give away, and some people are going to receive more than one or two–please don’t hold back, and don’t worry about asking for more than one book if something piques your interest. (Exception: please don’t ask for more than one in this particular batch, unless you really really have to get your hands on a couple of these titles. It would be poor form for someone to leave the first comment and ask for all twelve titles, for example.)
All right, on to the books. There are six SF/fantasy, and six that deal with religion (either critically or favorably):
City of Golden Shadow (Otherland, Volume 1), by Tad Williams
Archangel (Samaria, Book 1), by Sharon Shinn
Generation Dead, by Daniel Waters
Dark of the Sun: A Novel of the Count Saint-Germain (Saint Germain), by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Escapement, by Jay Lake
John Constantine Hellblazer: All His Engines (Graphic Novels), by Mike Carey and Leonardo Manco
The Battle for God, by Karen Armstrong
The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics, by Elaine Pagels
Without God, Without Creed: The Origins of Unbelief in America, by James Turner
Infidels: A History of the Conflict Between Christendom and Islam, by Andrew Wheatcroft
Not of This World: A Treasury of Christian Mysticism, edited by James S. Cutsinger
A Beginner’s Guide to New Testament Exegesis: Taking the Fear out of Critical Method, by Richard J. Erickson
Sorry for my absence this past week! I’ve got some catching up to do!
I’m giving away two books today in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today.
This is one I pulled off my regular shelves (as opposed to my “giveaway” bookcase). I may be an atheist of sorts, but I’m also partly a cultural Christian, and I still feel a strong kinship to my liberal religious siblings who have made social justice the primary expression of their love in the world. I got this book used, and it’s been well-loved by me and by others to prep for Church lessons and sermons. And in spite of the title, it includes plenty of references to the Prophets as well.
Dr. King’s did not always advocate non-violence. It’s something he struggled intellectually with, and his journey definitely influenced mine. You can read excerpts from his Pilgrimage to non-violence that I posted a couple of years ago.
Another influence on my anti-war stance is His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The second book I’m offering today is Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama
There are other, perhaps more primary, influences on my pacifism. Growing up Japanese near Nagasaki helped. Gandhi is another one.
If you’re interested in either of these books, read the following excerpt from Dr. King’s Pilgrimage to Nonviolence and respond to it, intellectually or emotionally. You don’t have to agree with his words, and I have no idea how I’ll choose from among the responses, but I am looking forward to reading what you all have to say. Oh, and please indicate which book you have a preference for, if any.
From Dr. King:
Prior to reading Gandhi, I had about concluded that the ethics of Jesus were only effective in individual relationship. The “turn the other cheek” philosophy and the “love your enemies” philosophy were only valid, I felt, when individuals were in conflict with other individuals; when racial groups and nations were in conflict a more realistic approach seemed necessary. But after reading Gandhi, I saw how utterly mistaken I was.
Gandhi was probably the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale. Love, for Gandhi, was a potent instrument for social and collective transformation. It was in this Gandhian emphasis on love and nonviolence that I discovered the method for social reform that I had been seeking for so many months. The intellectual and moral satisfaction that I failed to gain from the utilitarianism of Bentham and Mill, the revolutionary methods of Marx and Lenin, the social-contracts theory of Hobbes, the “back to nature” optimism of Rousseau, the superman philosophy of Nietzsche, I found in the nonviolent resistance philosophy of Gandhi. I came to feel that this was the only morally and practically sound method open to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.
In 1954 I ended my formal training with all of these relatively divergent intellectual forces converging into a positive social philosophy. One of the main tenets of this philosophy was the conviction that nonviolent resistance was one of the most potent weapons available to oppressed people in their quest for social justice. At this time, however, I had merely an intellectual understanding and appreciation of the position, with no firm determination to organize it in a socially effective situation.
The rest is history. And we should make it the future, too.
[Update 1/17/2011: Book gifted to Tyler--please see comments below!]
Connie Willis’ Hugo and Nebula-nominated Doomsday Book is still up for grabs! At this point, it’s first come, first served.
I mailed out the first batch of books on Thursday, and hand-delivered a few yesterday. I love the little human connections I’m making, and the possible impact of a few of these books. They’re going from looking pretty on my bookshelf into the hands of people who will value and utilize them more deeply. I hope a few of you will get back to me and share your stories (and thanks, Ruth, for sharing yours).
Today’s title is a book of Tolkien art:
I loved Tolkien growing up, and read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings religiously every 18 months or so. Some of the kids’ earliest memories are of me reading about Frodo’s journey every night before bed, and it was a geeky parental point of pride when CatGirl decided to spend one winter break watching the extended version of all three Peter Jackson films, and then went back to watch the various commentaries.
I think I may have outgrown Tolkien. Or rather, there is so much else that is strange and wonderful out there that I no longer feel the need to return to the comforts of Middle Earth. But I still have a deep and abiding love for the stories and characters in that world.
Tolkien’s World : Paintings of Middle-Earth is a coffee table book. It’s full of art by the great Tolkien illustrators: John Howe, Alan Lee, Ted Nasmith, Michael Hague. It includes my favorite LotR picture:
To be honest, it’s not the most impressive coffee table book in the world–the pictures could be a bit more vibrant, I think. But I reveled in it, and any Tolkien lover would appreciate it.
If you’re interested, leave a comment below telling me about what Tolkien means to you.
The title for January 7th is Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book. Willis is known for her research, and this is as much romance and time traveling story as it is a gory, detailed historical novel about 14th century England. (I remember the locals thinking the time traveller was royalty because of how healthy her teeth and nails were).
Connie Willis is one of the most decorated authors in SF-dom and is one of my heroes, though more for her short stories. One of my all-time favorites is her “Death on the Nile.” As much as I idolize Ted Chiang, I’d rather write short fiction like hers.
We had multiple opportunities to hang out with her at Clarion West, and she was gracious, humorous, vulnerable and down to earth.
This particular copy is signed by Connie to “Jenny, Gode helthe & long lyfe!” Jenny was my high school girlfriend and old friend who introduced me to Connie Willis, but who I never managed to track down after getting this signed for her over 13 years ago. So, preference for this copy goes to any Jenns, Jennys, or Jennifers who comment below (or if you can convince me you know a Jenny who would love this). Otherwise, copy a snippet of Old or Middle English into the comments to get a chance at this book.
Cosmos is still up for grabs! It’s a beautifully-written book full of awe-some photos and sciencey-goodness.
Today’s book reflects my love and frustration with knitting:
I began knitting years ago when I had my worst bout of insomnia and anxiety (after ditching grad school dreams). The repetitive action required little awake-brain-power and was calming. The book that got me into it was Debbie Stoller’s irreverent Stitch ‘N Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook. But I never got past scarves and iPod cozies.
Now my current knitting textbook is:
Knitting With Balls: A Hands-On Guide to Knitting for the Modern Man is not for giveaway.
If you’re interested in Folk Bags: 30 Knitting Patterns and Tales from Around the World (Folk Knitting series), tell me about your why you knit, and what your proudest or craziest creation is.
Congrats to Elaine Emmi, who has great plans for Torjesen’s When Women Were Priests.
I’m actually having a lot of fun giving these books away. Part of it comes from the opportunity to make connections with people who share my interests. Most of these books were just sitting on my shelf, anyway–it makes me happy to think that they’ll be put to much better use this way.
I’m giving away today’s title in honor of my fellow science lover (and Carl Sagan fan!) and dear friend, Wendy Wagner:
Cosmos had a huge influence on me growing up. Both the book and the PBS series were like religion to me. More than any other human, Carl Sagan spun a narrative of the universe that was honest, that included me and us, and that was completely awe-inspiring. He’s a large part of why I want to be an SF writer.
If you’re interested in a chance at this title, please share one fun or fascinating science fact in the comments.
For seven years, I pursued my dream to become a religious studies scholar. Even got accepted into Stanford’s graduate program, though attending didn’t seem like a viable option at the time. The dream is dead, but its book-bones are embedded in my shelves like fossils.
I plan to give a good chunk of these away, so if you’re interested in religion (Christianity, Mormonism, Quakerism, Buddhism, Japanese religion, ritual, gender studies, liberation theology, etc.) stay tuned!
Tonight’s book is Karen Torjesen’s accessible but well documented When Women Were Priests: Women’s Leadership in the Early Church and the Scandal of Their Subordination in the Rise of Christianity. The central argument is that Christian women lost leadership power as the early church moved out of the home and into more and more public spheres.
If you’d like a chance at this book, just let me know why you’re interested in the topic in the comments below.
I’m sending leisurelyviking the Name of the Rose for her love of The City and the City (which I also loved, and would give away, but I only have the Kindle version…)
But this next book should be a lot of fun:
It’s called Punk Rock Aerobics: 75 Killer Moves, 50 Punk Classics, And 25 Reasons To Get Off Your Ass And Exercise and is full of the DiY zine look and snagged tights. It’s more mosh pit than Curves or 24-hr Fitness, I’ve seen all their gym clothes on the racks at Goodwill, and you use bricks instead of dumbbells. It is a fun book, and another hard one for me to get rid of, but my first love is for climbing. Which isn’t to say that I won’t be rocking out by myself on some lonely night.
If you want this one, you have to let me know just how punk rock you are, or how punk rock you aren’t but how you aspire to be punk rock.
I need to say punk rock three more times. Punk rock. Punk rock.
FYI: Aidan is getting book #1, Card’s How to Write Science Fiction. Here’s book #2, which I’m posting at 11:30pm on Day #2:
I don’t quite know where to begin with Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. It’s one of my favorite novels–I rarely reread books, and I’ve easily savored this one five or six times. I’m cheating, though–I have an extra copy. The Name of the Rose has it all: gruesome murders with apocalyptic portents in an isolated abbey, 14th century papal intrigue, a brilliant Sherlock Holmes style detective monk and his affable Watson-like young novice. And don’t be turned off that it’s written by the world’s foremost semiotician–even though there are layers of enjoyment and decoding, he’s as approachable as Agatha Christie and less insulting than Dan Brown.
If you’re interested, simply share your favorite mystery story in below, and I’ll pick one lucky commenter, possibly at random.
I moved to a new apartment last week. While books may have been about half of the boxes the kids and I lugged from one place to the next, they probably represented 80% of the weight we carried.
So perhaps this new year’s resolution is largely brought to you by my lower back. My brain’s involved, too. I probably have nearly a thousand books. If I make a supreme effort, I can read a book per week, but I’ve averaged something closer to a book or two per month. Half of these I check out from the library, read on my Kindle/iPhone, or listen to as audiobooks.
So, what utility do these books have? I don’t reread many of them. In fact, I tend to buy extra copies of my favorite books to share with others. Some are important to me as reference works, or mementos, or as books I’ll *definitely* get around to reading some day. But most of them just sit there. Or get moved once every few years.
We did try to make art out of them:
So here’s the deal: every day this year, I’d like to offer a free book. I have pet topics: recent and classic SF and fantasy, religious studies (especially Buddhism and Christianity), graphic design, writing. Cookbooks, knitting, history, social media, and politics. Graphic novels. And I’m not giving away my obscure or uninteresting titles–I want to share what is meaningful to me, or was at some point.
I’m still working this all out. I’m paying the shipping for now, though I may include a paypal link for donations later. Sometimes I’ll give the book out on a first come, first served basis, at other times I’ll ask for reasons why you want the book, or make you tell jokes or give answers to quiz questions. I give myself permission to be uneven, unfair and arbitrary.
And what I ask in return, if you get a book, is to comment on the post when you receive it, and maybe again once you’ve read it. Links to pictures or posts or reviews would be much appreciated.
So, let’s get on with it, shall we? Today’s book is:
The subtitle is: “How to spin a dream, a wish or a speculation into a vivid, convincing tale of human possibilities.”
It’s one of those Writer’s Digest how to books, and it’s the book on writing I’ve owned the longest. As much as I disagree with some of the man’s politics, Card has created some of the most fascinating characters in SFdom, and he’s distilled the essence of writing SF into 137 pages divided into five sections, including ones on World Creation, Story Construction, and The Life and Business of Writing. It may be where I first learned about the Clarion workshops, and I know it inspired some of the creativity that others have pointed out as one of my strengths. I *love* this book. It’s difficult to part with it. But one of you needs it more than I do.
If you’re interested in trying to win the book, please post a comment below telling me: 1) why you write (or want to write) SF, 2) who’s influenced you the most to write SF, and 3) the most compelling character or story you’ve read. Be sure to include your email address in the appropriate field (it won’t be posted, but it will allow me to communicate with you).
I’m not sure when I’ll close comments off–it depends on the response. The earliest will be at midnight Pacific Time tonight.