Before I forget and doze off, I was forced to break my rule of thumb to try not to buy shinies from Oxfam. I found Monkey - You know the one with Tripitaka, Pigsy and Sandy :) So I had to buy it. Then I was forced to buy The Dilbert Future to make up to the magic £5 card limit. Oh well, I've been good for weeks :)
Now if I can only find Shogun and The Water Margin going cheap...
The Intrepid Enchanter - L Sprauge de Camp and Fletcher Pratt:
This is and omnibus of five linked fantasy novella's written in the 1940's and 50's. The stories themselves are well-written and move along nicely without you being left feeling bored with detail or cheated of content. Because the stories follow on directly from one another, you get a feeling of having read a much larger novel in easy to digest segments.
Its also one of the earliest example of incorporating other peoples works into a new story that I've seen. The other being Samuel Clement's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. For what may well be a prototype of the technique it works really well. Of course there have been many uses of this kind of 'borrowing' technique since, from collaborative universes like Thieves World and Larry Niven's Man-Kzin Wars, and homages to other authors like Terry Pratchetts nod to Fritz Lieber and Anne MacCaffreys work in The Colour of Magic, and blatant rip-offs like Bored of the Rings and a title I saw in Waterstones: Harold Porter and the Shameless Parody... But this could be one of the books that led the way.
What I think also helped is that I am fairly familiar with the Norse, Finnish and Irish myth-cycles that three of the five tales are written around, but am completely new to Spenser's world of Faerie Queen or Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, so there was an element of familiarity with the concepts and at the same time an introduction to something new. :)
I've just noticed a gap in my vocabulary. A set of three books is a trilogy, and four is a quartet. But what do you call a set of two books? Anyone?
Having totted up my reading for this year, I have to admit glorious failure in attempting to read my height in books. This despite being shorter than some 10 year olds.
Looking through the list, it's not all doom and gloom. This year's favourites include Levitt's fantastically entertaining 'Freakonomics'; the bizarrely entitled 'Killing Yourself to Live' by Chuck Klosterman; Christopher Meyer's 'DC Confidential', which is like reading the best of Radio 4 politics, but with more bitching and Kate Mosse's 'Labyrinth', which actually lived up to the hype.
I also surprised myself by ploughing through Tariq Ali's 'The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity' and promptly forgetting most of it. Ditto Bill Bryson's 'A Short History of Nearly Everything', though it is far and away the more entertaining of the two.
In the 'don't bother' pile, I'd stick 'The Blind Assassin', because even Margaret Atwood gets it wrong at times, anything by Michael Moore (I should have known better) and the intriguing but irritatingly flawed vampire novel 'The Historian' by Elizabeth Kostova.
I'm not sure what my goal is for 2007. This year's reading has been heavily slanted towards non-fiction and unfortunately most of the fiction I have read has disappointed, so I'd definitely like to read more good fiction.
With that in mind, I found Pratchett's 'Wintersmith' in my stocking this year. I wonder, if I start it today, but finish it erm, tomorrow, probably, does it count for 2007? Or perhaps it's more likely that I'll start it today and tonight's guests won't be fed on indeed spoken to...
Update: Erk, I've been rumbled and asked to clean things. I suppose I'll be starting the book in earnest tomorrow.
I've just spent a silly amount of time confirming I do in fact own a copy of 'Dune'... ...and earlier today I could not remember if I had Ken McLeod's 'The Sky Road' or not...
Perhaps I need an index, though I'm not going Dewey Decimal until I have a lot more books.
Edit: Well its 00:15 and I'm 53 authors in... Which isn't really so bad considering the amounts of Larry Niven, Terry Pratchett and Michael Moorcock on my shelves.