On My Shelf: Last of the A-Bs

On My Shelf is a new monthly meme started by KJ Mulder over at Worlds in Ink and it’s all about sharing the books on your shelf in alphabetical order, according to author. It’s a very chilled-out meme, so you can plan it in any way you like, and post at any time of the month, any number of times you like. And who doesn’t like to show off some of their books?

Today I’m finishing off the A-Bs with a few random books. I’ll go in alphabetical order, starting with Paul Auster.

I bought The New York Trilogy (1985, 1986, 1987, Faber Firsts edition published 2009) with a voucher I’d received for Exclusive Books. It had been recommended to me and in general I’d heard good things about it. Turned out to be very odd and perplexing in the kind of way that I find compelling. Man in the Dark (2008, Henry Holt and Company) I bought in hardcover at an EB sale last year.

J.G. Ballard: The Drought, (1965, Triad Panther), The Drowned World (1962, Science Fiction Book Club) and Kingdom Come (2006, Fourth Estate). I’ve read two of Ballard’s novels – Empire of the Sun (1984) and Millenium People (2003). I read Empire because I loved the movie (with a very young Christian Bale, and a few shots of Ben Stiller who was also very young but looked the same as he does now), but the book I found boring. Millenium People was weird but ok. I would not have bothered reading more Ballard after those two, but I got more books because he has cult status and I wanted to try his sci fi. However, I’m reading The Drowned World at the moment, and finding it so dull that it might be time to give up on him. The Drought and The Drowned World I got through Bookmooch (where I also gave away my copy of Millenium People). Kingdom Come – not too sure where I got this, but since it’s a trade paperback I probably bought it at Paperweight, taking advantage of one of their constant special offers.

The Somnambulist (2007) by Jonathan Barnes. The edition on the left is Gollancz, the one on the right is William Morrow (in hardcover). The Gollancz on is an uncorrected proof I received while working at EB, and because I love hardcovers I couldn’t resist buying the William Morrow edition when I saw it at an EB sale. I have yet to read the novel though.

Two novels from Frank Beddor’s trilogy based on Alice in Wonderland: The Looking Glass Wars (2004) and  Seeing Redd (2007), both published by Egmont, both purchased at an EB sale. Unfortunately they didn’t have the third book. I bought it because I like the metafictional premise and yes, because I like the covers.

And once again I’m seduced by cult status, not to mention special-edition status. Lord knows when I’ll get around to reading this 50th Anniversary Edition of William Burroughs’s Naked Lunch (1959) from Grove Press New York, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get this copy for only R77 (possibly half that) at an EB sale.

And to end this post, some non-fiction on one of my favourite topics. This morning I noticed that I have a few other A and B authors on my non-fiction shelf, but unlike my fiction shelves, I’ve arranged it according to topic, not author, so this one was the only one I noticed and photographed. It’s a very special book because I bought at a bookshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia of all places. Why is this weird? Well in Addis the shops that sell books in English have very random selections that look a lot like leftovers from other parts of the world, plus a variety of books about the country itself. The fiction selections are small, and in the 6 months that I’ve lived here, I’ve only seen about two sci fi novels, both quite old. They occasionally show sf blockbusters at one of their cinemas, but the majority of the population are unable to afford movie tickets, and wouldn’t be able to understand a movie in English anyway. Thus it makes no sense for them to stock a collection of essays on sf, but as I said, the stock bookshops get is pretty random. So I was amazed and utterly ecstatic when I found The Science Fiction Handbook edited by M. Keith Booker and Anne-Marie Thomas. It was published in 2009 by Wiley-Blackwell, making it one of the newest books in Ethiopia. The bookstore I found it in mostly stocks textbooks, and although the place is relatively large, it’s obvious that their stock will never be taken off the shelf unless someone buys it, because they have a lot of very old, very odd, totally useless things, like a book on American elementary school laws from the 60’s.

This collection is divided into 3 sections: historical surveys of sf subgenres; representative authors; and discussion of individual texts. Should prove very interesting and useful.


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