Posts Tagged ‘books’

Question

March 25, 2010

Once again, I found myself unable to sleep at 3.20am and so thought about what books it would be nice to own. I remembered that I’d seen a big stack of JG Ballard hardbacks in HMV for £3 each recently. The book on sale was his final novel, 2006’s ‘Kingdom Come’.
According to its Wikipedia page, the book deals with the supposed blurry line between consumerism and fascism. However, this wasn’t exactly enough information for me to make an informed decision on the back of, so I thought I’d consult the masses and posted onto Twitter, “They’re selling hardbacks of J.G Ballard’s ‘Kingdom Come’ in HMV for £3. Worth it/Not worth it?”
Now, I forgot that it was 3.24am and that Twitter isn’t exactly thriving at this time of day. Thus, there was no reply.
Eleven minutes later, I decided action needed to be taken. I was going to send a text to the Any Question Answered service to see what the opinion of the lucky person receiving an early-morning message from me would be.

✓? X?

I typed, “They’re selling hardbacks of JG Ballard’s ‘Kingdom Come’ for £3 in HMV. I’ve heard it’s not brilliant, but still, £3. Do you reckon it’s worth it or not?” into my phone and sent it to 63336.

After two minutes passing with no reply, I began to panic. I recalled a time in the past where I’d sent them a question at an equally ridiculous hour that was keeping me from sleeping and they didn’t reply until several hours later, by which point, the time for sleep had passed. Incidentally, this laptop has saved me from stupid questions preventing me from sleeping. I’ll think up something, then research it so it doesn’t plague me. The last time it happened, though, I could not find an answer to my query, “How do you define the word ‘and’ to a child?” Of course, later, in the harsh light of day, it was easy to come up with a nice sentence that flowed well to answer that. Brains are funny sometimes.
After four minutes, I was beginning to get impatient. I branded the workers at 63336 ‘slackers’ over Twitter, but immediately regretted it as my phone alerted me that a text had come through.

I read the message and felt grateful to whoever sent it. They earned the £8 they get per question answered.
It did make me wonder who exactly was dealing with these mundane mysteries sent in by faceless night-ghouls. Were they, like me, sat at a laptop unable to sleep and remarking to themselves that it was nice to hear birds chirping away so early in the morning? Possibly they had been out drinking earlier that night with some friends and my question had interrupted the sacred toast-preparation that often occurs when one finally makes their way back to the kitchen? Perhaps they were a student who was awake due to studying profusely, grateful to me for offering them a moment’s worth of procrastination that they could pass off as “doing their job”? Or maybe they were just some poor sod I’d woken up.

The message said, “£3 is a good price for a JG Ballard hardback. If you can spare it, why not? The book deals with the supposed blurry line between consumerism and fascism.
So I’m glad that’s been cleared up.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14, 2010

No, I don’t get it either.

Last Sunday we were, perhaps unwisely, left in charge of putting together a Valentine’s display. We had to pick the books that went on the shelves and write review cards for them. During the week, Matt and Chris had added a few books of their choosing to the bay, including…

and

because, as we know, nothing says “I love you” quite like the biographies of a woman from West Lothian and a man who used to hit people until they fell over.

We left the majority of books in because we couldn’t think of nice things to replace them with. So, the top shelf consisted of collections of love poems and a guide to romantic European getaways.
We had to write generic reviews for these, so I didn’t bother taking pictures of them. However, as I am a sad fuck, I took some of the ones that I liked.

Unsure of what to include, Shane came up with the brilliant idea of taking up a whole shelf with recipe books: one book representing one course of a romantic meal. Figuring out what such a meal might involve was far too much fun. I was insistent on the dessert book being the one pictured for the name alone. Valentinesy!
The photos are a bit unclear, but they should be clickable to make them biggerer…

Shane wanted to include ‘Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris: Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry’ by Leanne Shapton despite it being about the breakdown of a relationship on Valentine’s day so we thought we’d throw it in and see if anybody noticed.
It was when I tried to think of a novel I’d read that had a lovely story, I realised I couldn’t actually do it. Then I thought of ‘A Handful of Dust’ so grabbed it. I read the blurb, where it was described as “One of the most chilling and bitter novels of the twentieth century”, and remembered it was all about divorce and betrayal and child-death. Oh…
We’d just have to make an Anti-Valentine’s shelf!


“Valentines isn’t for everyone!
This clever work of fiction traces the demise of a relationship through the possessions the couple shared.”


“This is TECHNICALLY a love story.
Romance! Death! Betrayal! Tragedy!
…and what more could you possibly want?
Jungle-based adventures? Why yes, sir/madam, it even has that too…”


“Put down the Ben and Jerry’s and turn off that rubbish Meg Ryan film. He’s not worth all the trouble you’ve put into stalking him these past 3 months.” – Shane, thou art a genius!


“Turn to page 136 and you’ll see you’re already halfway there!”
I’m intrigued, Shane, what could possibly be on page 136?

How to pick up the laydeez in a bookstore! Smooooth!

Iain insisted that we put in some little gifts, so we did. The passion one contained ‘flavoured motion lotion’. Shudder. I wasn’t gonna let that go unmentioned…

“If it’s flavoured “motion lotion” you’re after, the Passion Box is for you…
If that’s not your cup of tea, then the Love Fortune Cookie is perfect for slipping your other half a romantic message.”
Did that sound sincere, guys? I think they nearly bought it… Sadly, not literally.

And now for some works of fiction that are perhaps more appropriate, but with the jaded spin of Pete…

“An entire bloody war fought over Achilles’ love for Helen and the strop he gets himself in when she’s abducted. Something we can all relate to, eh?”
[Scott has pointed out the flaw in this one, however, as Achilles wasn’t involved. He wasn’t even there, guy, he don’t know nuffink!]


“Not exactly the conventional love related read but one to help you remember that we’re all a little confused when the hysteria kicks in.”

Life lessons, all.

And that’s what it takes to be a bookseller: boredom, too much time on your hands and an unhealthily cynical outlook on life.
MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Death Before Dishonor [34/100]

January 3, 2010

This book defies all logic. It may well be my new favourite thing.

About a year ago, I saw this in our fiction section under ‘F’ for ‘Mr Fifty Cents’, read the blurb and destroyed myself laughing. For your pleasure…
“ONE REASON TO LIVE. THREE REASONS TO DIE.
Trill Johnson has five years of jail time under his belt, two women trying to get inside his pants, and one mission in his heart of hearts: Get the suckers who sold him out. And get ’em good.
Sunni James will do anything for Trill. Lie, cheat, steal. Even risk losing her successful beauty salon to save him from the mean streets of Richmond.
Previous Pay will do anything for Trill, too. She cribbed his kid while he did his time, so now she wants Trill to pay for the leg she lost in a robbery gone wrong.”

Hey, that shit sounds just like the Wire!

I’d forgotten all about it, somehow, until I stumbled upon it again in our crime section (now under ‘C’ for ‘Cent’, very sensible, or centsible, if you will) just a few weeks ago. Every page I flicked to brought about a new, hilarious extract that I could read out to m’colleagues.
On the outskirts of Richmond, inside the house in Caroline County, four guys and two broads were entertaining themselves. Lee, one of Diego’s lieutenants, was in the bedroom laying pipe to some hoochie momma he had picked up at the club.

Just then Beatrice, one of the stylists that Sunni had fired earlier that day, entered her office.

‘What is it?’ Sunni snapped, wondering why Beatrice was back up in her shop.

Trill was wearing a simple well-tailored black suit that complemented his sexy frame.”

We all thought these and… pretty much every other sentence in the book, were hilarious, but it wasn’t until I came across chapter five that I cried with laughter.
Now, it may shock you to learn that this book was not written by 50 Cent alone, but mainly by a woman called Nikki Turner. I had no clue who Nikki Turner was until this point, but then I read the following well-written piece…

The city was fienin’ for a huge event, and the town’s internationally bestselling author Nikki Turner, blessed the city of Richmond with a series of activities celebrating the launch of her latest masterpiece, Forever A Hustler’s Wife. She wanted to raise money for the G-Unity charity, so she played off the theme of her street life books and decided to have a “diamonds and furs” party to raise money to help increase literacy and advertise her new book at the same time.

The author made sure there were a limited amount of tickets available, which created an even bigger buzz for the event. People always wanted what they couldn’t have.
The crowd came in sellout numbers. Lloyd Banks from G-Unit was one of the MCs. Olivia from G-Unit hosted along with radio personalities Mahogany Brown and Wendy Williams.


Although many limelight celebrities came out and showed love and unity for the author and her cause, her hometown big hats, fans and ghetto celebrities didn’t disappoint.

Hell’s horses, Nikki! Way to completely demolish that fourth wall. I think this was the moment I truly fell in love with this book. So much detail, so much self-love. Astounding.
…She’s trying to increase literacy!

We got a bit obsessed with her and tried to find out more information.

Upon reflection, I feel such a fool for not knowing that I was reading the work of the, possibly self-professed, Queen of Hip-Hop Fiction.
I thought the book said she was an international bestseller though? You’d think at least one website would mention that… The amateurs!
Learn more about her at nikkiturner.com.

While you’re at it, why not read some reviews of the book?
Here are some of my favourites…

NIKKI TURNER AND 50CENT REALLY DID AN EXCELLENT JOB WITH THIS MASTERPEICE. THIS BOOK IS FAST PACED BUT YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO KEEP UP WITH THE STORY LINES USING YOUR IMAGINATION WHEN THE STORY DOESNT ELABORATE ON THE CHARACTERS HISTORY. THATS THE BEST PART ABOUT NIKKI.* SHE BRINGS TO LIFE SUNNI JAMES, TRILL JOHNSON, AND PRECIOUS PAY AND I AM ABLE TO RELATE TO THE ENTIRE CASE SENARIO. THE RUNNING FROM THE COPS IN THE WOODS, SUNNI OPENING HER DOOR TO HIM,”A FEARLESS RIDE OR DIE CHICK”. IF YOU UNDERSTAND ANYTHING ABOUT NIKKI TURNER, YOU WILL KNOW THAT HER WORK HAS ALWAYS BEEN ON THE CUTTING EDGE OF REALISM AND STAYING TRUE TO THE FICTUAL FACTS OF HIPHOPHOODISM**. THANK YOU 50CENT FOR EMBRACING HER GIFT AND BEING DOWN FOR HER VISION THAT WE MAY TAKE THIS BOOK THING TO A WHOLE OTHER LEVEL.
*You’ve got to admire that in an author; the inability to tell a story. Let the readers make it all up in their heads, that’s what makes a good book!
**I have no idea what this means.

Okay this book was actually pretty good in the beginning considering that it was writted by a looser like 50 cent. But the ending made you say WTF? I was so pissed that I wasted my time reading this book all because of the ending. Because the ending sucked so badly I would never buy a book from 50 cents series. Thank goodness this one was free!

Wonderful read, drama packed, great characters, and priceless humor!
Trill is a real baller, Sunni is a down chick, and Precious…well Peg-leg. Great job and I can’t wait to read the sequel…there will be a sequel right? There has to be a sequel!!!!

Well, judging by the other poor reviews, it doesn’t tie up any loose ends and it’s as though she just… stopped writing, fell asleep, dreamt she’d finished it, woke up believing she had and then handed it to the publishers who shrugged and put it out anyway. THIS HINTS TOWARDS A SEQUEL, RIGHT? AMIRITE? RIGHT?

Yes, I am aware this is an incredibly easy target. I was hardly expecting Dostoevsky, but I did not know I’d get so much joy out of a book that falls under the category of ‘hip-hop novellas’.

There’s more to life than books you know, but not much more

February 3, 2009

As much as I love working in a book shop, sometimes I wonder if it’s for the best that I do as not only do I have a tendency to judge books by their covers but also, probably the wiser option, I form an opinion based on their titles. I don’t think too much about titles until I see a really bad one. I’d like to claim that seeing a particularly terrible one ruins my day, but really the smaller version of me controlling my brain rubs her hands with glee.

So, I’m going to start a list of book titles that anger me to sheer joy. I feel this may be constantly updated or various entries on the subject shall be made.
I am aware I’ve said the word ‘titles’ too many times already. Strap yourself in, it’ll come up a few more times.
Any suggestions gratefully received!

‘I Don’t Mean To Be Rude, But…’ by Simon Cowell

HA! Oh, I get it! Because he’s a notoriously rude bastard! Ohh, good one, Simon! Of COURSE you mean to be rude, that’s your job, if you weren’t, you’d just be another dull music big-wig. What a truly witty title.

‘Déjà Dead’ by Kathy Reichs

I can’t put my finger on what’s so awful about this one. Perhaps it feels a little too Garth Marenghi-esque (albeit, not nearly as good). You can imagine Kathy sitting in front of the fire reading an actual line from the actual book, “He turned to look at the body. She wasn’t just dead,” a smug look to make sure we acknowledge how clever she is, “she was déjà dead…”*
I don’t know, I just get irritated by words that don’t have anything to do with each other being thrown together. What does déjà dead mean? Perhaps I should have read it… No! Mustn’t think like that. If it had an intriguing title like ‘Predict-a-Death’ or something, I may have been vaguely interested, but ‘Déjà Dead’ makes me want to force Kathy Reichs to ingest it through her eyeballs so nobody can buy it, thus I’d be saving lives.
*May not be actual line from the actual book.

‘N or M?’ Agatha Christie

I can’t help but feel she’s given the big question away here. And if the book’s conclusion can be reached simply by finding out if the answer is “N” or “M”, it sounds like a shit dilemma to be honest… It’s 50/50, innit?
Unless it’s actually called “Norm?”, like what would happen if there was a powercut in Cheers, shutting off the lights and the revellers weren’t absolutely certain that Norm Peterson had just arrived at the bar or if it was some other guy making a witty beer/laziness/bad health remark, and so would question if it was him rather than exclaiming that it was.

‘Celebrities My Arse!’; ‘Cheers My Arse!’; ‘Football My Arse!’; ‘Reading My Arse!’ by Ricky Tomlinson


I’m not so much opposed to the titles of these, but more the fact that they exist. Oh, Ricky Ricky Ricky… I loved you once… and yes, everyone cashes in on popular television shows and films they’ve starred in now and then and we could have called it a momentary lapse or a blip, but there’s four of them, Ricky, four… and it’s 2009. The Royle Family was excellent, but it’s not really relevant to today…
I do also wonder how true the sub-titles that claim these are the funniest _____ anecdotes I’ll ever read are. It seems a bit coincidental that Ricky Tomlinson tells the best celebrity and drinking anecdotes I’ll ever read… Are they really? Or is it just a way to give a quick description of what’s in the books? Oh, who am I kidding, obviously the man just has a gift.
I’m not angry, Ricky, just disappointed. Go home, Ricky, you’ve had enough…

‘This Is My Life’ by Eamonn Holmes

“Eamonn, this is important, this is your chance to win the hearts of the vast majority of people who think you come across as a twat. If you can come up with a title that’s funny and original, you could turn this around and make everyone fall in love with you like the gigantic teddy bear you are!”
“Really? Oh, okay then, well this is going to require some thought… OH! I’ve got it! How about ‘My Life’?”
“That’s good, Eamonn, but it needs something more. A little more sass! An edge, you know, something clever. A play on words or something. Maybe even ‘My Life As A Slightly Below Average TV Personality’!”
“Okay then, how about ‘This Is My Life’?”
“Eamonn, that’s good, but like I say, it needs something else.”
“But I don’t think you get it. Do you remember that show ‘This Is Your Life’?”
“I recall such a programme, yes…”
“Well, if you remember correctly, you’ll know that the host was none other than Eamonn Andrews. Now, his name was Eamonn and my name is Eamonn, but this isn’t your life, This Is MY Life. Get it?”
“Good god… You’re right, Eamonn, that’s genius. Everyone’s going to adore you! I’ll go ring the publishers!”

More to follow. Exactly when, I do not know…