Book to the Future

A while ago in the library, I noticed a display covered in these tiny blue booklets.  Since I move around a few libraries every week, this was the first I’d seen of the display and had no idea what it was.

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It turns out there’s a super neat event going on, where you pick up one of these passports (for free!), and are then challenged to read ten books.  Remember when your mum dragged to the library at the beginning of the summer holidays so she could sign you up for the Summer Reading Challenge?  This is like that, except now you’re an adult and you have to drag yourself!

Apparently this is a thing that happens every year, which makes me feel all the more guilty for not knowing about it.  This year’s theme is the fantastically punny Book to the Future: for the challenge, you’re asked to read a book set or written in each decade from the 1920s up to the present, and one about the future.  It’s like your local library is a Dolorean and your library card is the throttle that takes you to 88 miles per hour!

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(I never really watched Back to the Future as a child, so when I see pictures of Doc and Marty my brain mostly interprets it as real-life Rick and Morty.  “W-we gotta — burp — read ten books, Morty!  T-ten whole books!”)

I’m not sure how many libraries are taking part in Book to the Future, and I have a depressing inkling it’s only really libraries in the south of England.  But there are plenty of details on the Reading Passport website, so do check it out even if you’re not from here.  The passport is nice, but you don’t necessarily need it to take up the challenge and support your local library.  (Please guys, we get so lonely.)

Is anyone else doing this?  Am I a dummy for only finding out about this now?  Why am I asking you all these questions?  Comment and let me know!

Good Luck, Brave NaNoWriMo Writers!

NaNoWriMo — short for National Novel Writing Month — is one hell of a challenge.  The premise is simple, and utterly insane: attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in just one month.

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I’ve completed NaNoWriMo a couple of times (and also failed once or twice), and each attempt felt like hurtling down a hill on three-wheeled skateboard, careening into subplots, characters, and plot twists, screaming all the way to the bottom.  The challenge is tough.  The pursuit of 1,667 words a day drags you away from other unnecessary things, like homework, or a social life, or a functioning sleep schedule.  But it’s all worth it when you reach that 50,000 mark on 30th November (or earlier, if you’re literally a wizard), in a caffeine-addled haze, and then you celebrate by collapsing on the sofa and sleeping until Christmas.

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I’m saddened to say that I won’t have time to do NaNoWriMo this year.  On the other hand, I feel kind of like I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo all year, as editing my steampunk book swallows up more and more of my life, to the point where I’ve developed a twitch when I hear words like ‘cogs’ and ‘goggles’.

To any brave writers venturing onto your first (or second, or fifth) NaNoWriMo this year: best of luck, and I’m rooting for you!

If you’re interested in signing up for NaNoWriMo, it’s completely free, and the website is just here.

Banned Books Week

I only just found out today that next week is Banned Books Week.

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I don’t want to get too heavy because this is not a political blog.  This is a silly book blog, run by a silly woman who loves books so much she once wept in the back of year nine maths because she just secretly finished reading Noughts and Crosses under the table and fine, confiscate the book Mr Camell, I don’t care, my favourite character is dead and maths doesn’t matter anymore.

But banned books?  They are a bad.  A big bad.

Reading books that challenge you is paramount.  Because otherwise you end up living day-to-day as a certain emporer with a certain set of invisible clothes.  To Kill a Mockingbird has been banned for both “being too racist” (it uses the “N” word, think of the children!) and “not being racist enough” (by people who have to launder a lot of pointy white hats, I presume).  I’m an awful person with an awful sense of humour, so I find this hilarious.  But really, it’s also horrifying.

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Because I only just found out about Banned Books Week, I didn’t have anything planned to read specifically.  However, I did happen to borrow a copy of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson a while ago, and if that’s never been banned anywhere, I’ll be stunned.  So I’ll try to read that.

Is anyone else reading something for Banned Books Week?  Tell me what you’re reading!

Ten Little Astronauts

If you’re following me, it’s fairly likely you enjoy fantasy and science fiction.  Also probably reading.  So please check out this Kickstarter for Ten Little Astronauts by my buddy DamonWakes!

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Ten Little Astronauts

Damon is a fantastic writer, and has been entertaining me with his flash fiction for years.  If you want to get a taste of his writing, I highly recommend you flick through his DeviantArt gallery.  Some of my favourites are:

Beauty and the Brick
Conveniently, at that moment, a vampire hunter jumped out from some other trees and drove a stake through the heart of the vampire. “Fear not, fair maiden!” he shouted. “For I am a vampire hunter, sworn to put an end to the undead menace once and for all!”
“I can see that,” she said. “It says so on your T shirt.”

Rebranding the Black Throne
“All I wanted was to have uncountable riches and limitless power and an army of goblin slaves. The dungeon was just the easiest way to organise it all, you know? Heroes come in, they get caught in some trap or other, you come in and enjoy a little leisurely gloating. Only now I’ve got it all set up, everyone who comes here is some kind of weirdo expecting a dirty thrill.”

Never Look Away
They say there’s nothing alive out here in the third layer. They say that there’s not enough energy to support it. That the background ALICE is high enough the place is sterile. But none of us really believed it.

If you like his work, please help fund Ten Little Astronauts!

Noli Temere Messorem

Sir Terry Pratchett is dead.

I was first introduced to Terry Pratchett the Christmas that Hogfather was adapted for television.  I remember finding a battered old copy of the book in my school library, the front cover almost torn off and the spine taped together.  The librarians let me buy it for 20p.

Since then I’ve read twenty-five of his forty-odd Discworld novels (and Good Omens besides): some ragged second hand copies, some in shiny new jackets, some begged off of friends, family and (mostly) my boyfriend.  When I was at college, I bought a black satchel from the Paul Kidby website with the Assassin’s Guild shield and motto on it: Nil Mortifi Sine Lucre.  It breaks my heart to know there’ll never be another new Pratchett book on the shelves.

Before Terry Pratchett (or Pterry, as he was jokingly referred to online), I thought that serious stories and comedy were mutually exclusive.  He proved me wrong: war, racism, slavery and death are all themes that feature in Discworld books.  And yet there is not a single one of his novels that failed to make me laugh.  It’s cliched to call someone inspirational, but he was.  If it weren’t for Pterry, my attitude to writing wouldn’t be the same.

There are a lot of Terry Pratchett quotes about death going around.  Considering one of his recurring characters was Death himself, such quotes are unsurprisingly easy to find.  In true Pratchett fashion, they’re all funny and achingly true, and I couldn’t choose between them.  Instead, I’ll leave this video, of the part at the end of Hogfather, that made me determined to read the book.

Humans need belief to be human.  To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.

I like to believe that Death greeted you like an old friend, Pterry; with his scythe in one hand and a copy of Reaper Man for you to sign in the other.