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Though I hardly ever speak of it, very perceptive readers will have realized that I spend a lot of my time writing about books. I write about books for the library’s blog; I write about books for the database NoveList; I have relinquished my soul to writing about books by publishing a reference text, a project that has consumed my sanity for more than two years now. (I may have mentioned this a time or two, now that I think about it.) By the way, that reference text is selling for a discount on Amazon, for the low low price of forty-four dollars. They’re practically giving it away!

If you feel guilty that this cheaper price may result in smaller royalties for the author, you may, as I believe I have already noted, make up the difference by buying me a drink. Apparently my hint to that effect last week was too subtle, as absolutely no alcohol whatsoever has materialized since then. (I would be tempted to opine that you’re a bunch of blockheads, all of you, but that might undermine my cause, so I suppose I won’t.)

I even write about books right here on this blog, sometimes, though I haven’t done so recently. With pretty much only one exception, I’ve been reading one book recently. Care to guess what book that is? Here’s a hint: I’m still preparing the indexes for it.

The exception, by the way, was a book by Brad Meltzer. I tried reading one of his traditional books once, because I like a good fluffy thriller now and again, but then I remembered why I hardly ever read thrillers: the prose usually sucks. At least with the Meltzer book I tried I got through a few chapters. My experiment with David Baldacci lasted nearly a page.

Anyway: Meltzer’s a tosser when it comes to normal books, but he did fine, just fine, with the graphic novel Identity Crisis. The other night I’d been talking with one of my volunteer computer instructors, these very nice people who do for free what I get paid to do, so let’s have a nice round of applause for them, yes?

Anyway, my instructor, in addition to teaching classes for me, reads a lot of comic books. I read a lot of comic books, too (or graphic novels, to be precise) but there’s a gaping hole in my knowledge: I don’t read many superhero books.

(Two gaping holes, actually: I don’t read many manga books, but that’s because I don’t usually like them. I do read one now and again, so as not to be completely ignorant.)

The reason I don’t read superhero books is because I am intimidated. I don’t know where to start. In my childhood, when I should have been discovering the canon by way of comic books, I was instead reading grownup books that, on reflection, were way out of my league. (Seriously, Mom: you had me read The World According to Garp when I was, like, ten. Are you sure that was wise? It did increase my vocabulary with regards to prostitution, though, can’t complain.)

So by the time I finally started reading books where the pictures come in panels and the dialogue comes in balloons, I had only the faintest familiarity with heroes of the caped variety. I’ve been wanting to ease my way into the genre, but I’m scared because I don’t know the back story for all the different people. I’m the sort of girl who insists on reading a series in order, so that I have context for character development. With the superheroes, we’re talking sixty years’ worth of character development.

At any rate, my computer instructor read a lot of superhero books, so I asked him where I should start. He thought, and he thought some more, and then he gave up. It’s not an easy question.

But then he emailed me a few days later and told me I should read Identity Crisis, so I did, despite its having Meltzer for an author. Throughout the story I was aware that I was missing out on some details, but it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t keep up. I have cautiously concluded that I like Green Arrow, and I think I’d like to know more about him (or any other superhero, for that matter.) Suggestions?

Back to our main narrative: I write about books a lot. Are we clear on that? Everyone with me? Jessica writes about books a lot.

So, it was with absolutely no suprise whatsoever, I mean this did not catch me off guard in the least, it was completely expected and not at all out of the ordinary, that today I received an email from a book publicist asking if I would care to review books. Apparently she’d found my blog and decided to see if I’d be interested.

(Naturally, my first action was to google the hell out of her. She’s legit.)

The nice thing is that she doesn’t expect me to review anything. She’s going to send me ARCs (that’s lingo for “Advanced Readers’ Copies”; now you know) and I’m going to do whatever I want. I’ll read them or not read them, I’ll review them or not review them, when and if I please.

What does she get out of it? Reviews of books (possibly), which is good for her, because she’s a book publicist. What do I get out of it? Free books!

…the thought of which would have thrilled me to no end, four years ago. Before I workd in a library, an environment where I am taunted daily by thousands upon thousands of free books, I would have been delighted. As it is, I have free books everywhere. I cannot walk from the front door to the kitchen without tripping over free books. At least the library is nice enough to take them back. The ARCs I’m stuck with.

Just, you know, try to act surprised if you receive a Christmas gift from me this year and it’s a very-slightly-used advanced copy. Try very hard to act surprised if you receive a Christmas gift from me even though we’ve never exchanged gifts (“That’s odd, Jessica’s never given me a present before. Why would she? All I do is bag her groceries at Food Loin”). Try very VERY hard not to act surprised if you receive a Christmas gift from me even though we do not actually know one another (“Who the hell is Jessica Zellers and why did she send me a book?”).


One response »

  1. eleemosenary arcihvist

    Books,writers,superheros,not many complex character backgrounders necessary? OK try the mild mannered Reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, his nice old deadline confronted editor,a sorta one dimensional cub reporter and the compulsory good looking Dame Lois fellow reporter Lane By the way the Prachett crew are a bit of a boggle,eh?One keeps gettin ’em mixed up with Potteresque types De-programming? Jeeves mix up a coupla greygoose Martinis,would you? Now back to you in Teheran,Chet.tgb/EA.


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