Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Rambling About: What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton

As any reader of Jo Walton's Among Others might guess, Walton is both an inveterate reader of SF and fantasy, and a chronic re-reader of books. In 2008, then-new science-fiction mega-site Tor.com asked Walton to blog regularly about her re-reading—about all kinds of older fantasy and SF, ranging from acknowledged classics, to guilty pleasures, to forgotten oddities and gems. These posts have consistently been among the most popular features of Tor.com. Now this volumes presents a selection of the best of them, ranging from short essays to long reassessments of some of the field's most ambitious series.
Among Walton's many subjects here are the Zones of Thought novels of Vernor Vinge; the question of what genre readers mean by "mainstream"; the underappreciated SF adventures of C. J. Cherryh; the field's many approaches to time travel; the masterful science fiction of Samuel R. Delany; Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children; the early Hainish novels of Ursula K. Le Guin; and a Robert A. Heinlein novel you have most certainly never read.
Over 130 essays in all, What Makes This Book So Great is an immensely readable, engaging collection of provocative, opinionated thoughts about past and present-day fantasy and science fiction, from one of our best writers.
Sometimes I just feel like rambling... I decided that I am going to just ramble sometimes! It will likely be about non-fiction because I normally read it slower than a novel.
  • I love Jo Walton. I bought this because I love Jo Walton. I actually didn't really know what the book was even about until a couple days before my copy arrived.
  • I remember the first time someone told me to read Jo Walton. That book is still sitting unread on my TBR. I wound up reading Among Others first. I can be slow.
  • I used to read lots and lots of science-fiction 'back in the day', but my interests transferred to fantasy more so. Walton reads both; but we actually don't really cross over very much because it is mostly vintage science-fiction.
  • Reading this book makes me want to read ALL. THE. BOOKS! Sadly, I don't own very many of them and a trip to the second-hand bookstore tonight only resulted in 3 books. That wasn't even a full list because I haven't finished this book yet.
  • I think I know why my reading is so slow so far this year. I want to read everything and am having a hard time settling with one book. This book is not helping!
  • In the meantime, I will just keep making a list and hoping I can get to some of the books on it as the month goes on!
  • Jo Walton also tried Harry Potter and didn't love it. Yay! I am not alone... 
  • I will be curious to read more of the books and see if I agree with her impressions. I think this book will reside on my bedside table this year so I can go back and read the essays when I read one of the books.
  • I need to reread more! I want to... I keep books so I will... And then I don't. At least by listening to audiobooks the last couple years I am doing better with rereads, but there are so many books I want to reread every year. 
  • After I finish this book I have to make sure to a.) Read the rest of her books on my TBR and b.) Read her Tor.com articles more.
Anyone else reading this? Thoughts? Do you reread as much as you would like, or do you find yourself reading the new, shiniest books because your TBR is insane? (And, do you think it would be different if you weren't blogging?)

20 comments:

  1. Boy, this one is making the rounds! Loving both science fiction and fantasy, I can't wait to see what these essays reveal!

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  2. I'm still waiting for a copy of this, but a lot of what you've said rings true from when I've read similarly styled collections, especially the part about wanting to read all.the.books - heheh - and dashing to the second-hand shop to hunt for O/P volumes.

    Lately I've actually been putting little reminders in my calendar to see if I'm keeping up with the little "wants" I have, like your last points; sometimes I am doing them, sometimes I'm not.

    And, no, I don't reread as much as I want to, all because of those shiny temptations, but they aren't always new temptations in my case, just new-to-me temptations; just as you're finding with this collection, my TBR has a tonne of backlisted books for every new one I'm adding. But it's nice to know that one's not alone in this, right?

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  3. I haven't read this yet but I am going to give it a try. I love rereading and in total awe that Walton does it all the time. I rarely reread because of shiny new (and library) books.

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  4. I must buy this book! Just waiting for it to get a bit cheaper... or my birthday... whichever comes first. LOL!

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  5. I've never read Jo Walton, but I am so curious about Among Others. I've heard wonderful things about it.

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  6. Hahaha, I am so glad you warned me that Jo Walton didn't care for Harry Potter. I'll just skip that essay. It would only make me sad. :p

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  7. I am not really a reader of Sci/Fi but probably reading this book I would get more excited about it! I loved Among Others and actually have another Walton book somewhere on my stacks. Glad to hear you are enjoying this one! Oh and no re-reading for me usually.

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  8. I saw this and thought it might be a very dangerous book leading to a bokk buying spree. I might get it anyway, it just sounds too good.

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  9. This does sound interesting but I've never been much of a rereader. There are a few exceptions, though, so I know how a beloved book can be comforting.

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  10. I don't re-read much -- so many books, so little time. I like the idea of a book about vintage science fiction. I suspect I'll recognize some of the books that were on my dad's bookshelf (and then be sad that we gave them away). I never got much past the robot series by Isaac Asimov.

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  11. I loved all her articles on tor.com - it's cool that they're publishing them in a book. I've had so many recs from her posts!

    Li

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  12. I reread a bunch of books last year and it was a really good experience. Sometimes I take so long between series books that I need to go back and read just so I know what is going on. I've already added this book to my TBR list thanks to you :)

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  13. I reread a bunch of books last year and it was a really good experience. Sometimes I take so long between series books that I need to go back and read just so I know what is going on. I've already added this book to my TBR list thanks to you :)

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  14. I reread a bunch of books last year and it was a really good experience. Sometimes I take so long between series books that I need to go back and read just so I know what is going on. I've already added this book to my TBR list thanks to you :)

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  15. I reread a bunch of books last year and it was a really good experience. Sometimes I take so long between series books that I need to go back and read just so I know what is going on. I've already added this book to my TBR list thanks to you :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I reread a bunch of books last year and it was a really good experience. Sometimes I take so long between series books that I need to go back and read just so I know what is going on. I've already added this book to my TBR list thanks to you :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I reread a bunch of books last year and it was a really good experience. Sometimes I take so long between series books that I need to go back and read just so I know what is going on. I've already added this book to my TBR list thanks to you :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I reread a bunch of books last year and it was a really good experience. Sometimes I take so long between series books that I need to go back and read just so I know what is going on. I've already added this book to my TBR list thanks to you :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. I reread a bunch of books last year and it was a really good experience. Sometimes I take so long between series books that I need to go back and read just so I know what is going on. I've already added this book to my TBR list thanks to you :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. I reread a bunch of books last year and it was a really good experience. Sometimes I take so long between series books that I need to go back and read just so I know what is going on. I've already added this book to my TBR list thanks to you :)

    ReplyDelete

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