I love reading books. I grew up without a television, so books were the only way I could read stories. [Editor’s note: Why does everyone laugh at that sentence? I didn’t have a TV, for all I know you read on those too] Even back in elementary school, I read mostly science fiction and fantasy. I’m not sure if my brain is just wired to like those or if it is because my father read me books like The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet and The Hobbit, while my mom checked out Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain books and the Narnia books from the library for me to read. In fact, my mom was the one to introduce my dad to J. R. R. Tolkien, so she is a great judge of good books too. As I got older my friends showed me more cool books, especially the Wheel of Time series.

These days I am always looking for new awesome books, but it is hard. There are a lot of mediocre books out there. There are a lot of good ones. But the excellent ones are harder to find. The trouble with excellent books is that they are hard acts to follow. It’s hard to get into merely good ones afterwards. I am having this difficulty right now. I am coming off The Way of Kings, and it’s dashed hard to find a book to interest me after reading that. Brandon Sanderson (TWoK’s author) has that skill that makes a book unputdownable. I call it book charisma. It’s like a slightly lesser version of what Robert Jordan had that made Crossroads of Twilight more intriguing to me than other fantasy books in which stuff actually happened. CoT is a long book covering many characters only briefly so it is uneventful, and yet Jordan’s storytelling made me not care. I can see why it annoyed fans who waited a year for it to come out, but now that there are almost 3 books following it, I don’t mind reading though it at all. In fact, if I could have a 200-book version of the Wheel of Time where the plot progressed at the rate it did in CoT, I would be happy. Jordan and Sanderson both have this gift for storytelling that makes their books compelling regardless of the actual events taking place. They are good at having awesome events happen too though. But not all authors, even those who can write exciting stories, have this gift of storytelling. Fortunately, while I was waiting between the latest Wheel of Time book and The Way of Kings, I discovered a third author who is right up there with the best fantasy authors: Patrick Rothfuss. His only epic fantasy book is The Name of the Wind, which came out 3 years ago and is the first in a trilogy. The second is coming out next year, which isn’t nearly soon enough. He has also written a children’s picture book, The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed, which is awesome but much shorter. I hope I can find more great authors, otherwise I will be out of luck in the long intervals between the books I am looking forward to. The awesome upcoming books I know of are, in order of emergence:

  • I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett (September 2010)
  • Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (November 2010)
  • The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (March 2011)
  • A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Early 2012?)
  • Book 2 of the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson (Late 2012?)

Stay tuned, the next post will be about book collecting and various media. Then I will write some book reviews so that I can convince Pat Rothfuss’s publisher to send me an ARC of The Wise Man’s Fear so I don’t have to wait so long. The book reviews will be separated off into a special blog, Book Warlock. Check it out!

The Second Post

The moral of the last two weeks is: if a book you have been looking forward to a lot is about to come out, don’t start reading a trilogy a week before. I had to put off reading The Way of Kings for another week while I finished the Hunger Games trilogy. It was Terry Brooks’s fault, even though he didn’t write any of the books I’m talking about. When he came to the University bookstore a couple Tuesdays ago, he said that he had been tempted to not show up so he could stay home and read a new book that came out that day called Mockingjay. There were copies of it all over the bookstore, and they had even had a release party at midnight that day. I decided to see what the fuss was about, forgetting that I had only 7 days before The Way of Kings, and started reading The Hunger Games, which starts the trilogy that Mockingjay concludes. I was partly through book 2, Catching Fire, when The Way of Kings came out and I had a choice: read the new book I had been waiting for while forgetting what was going on in the Hunger Games trilogy, or finish the trilogy and put off the new book a while longer. I decided that the trilogy was good enough to finish properly and so I did. It was quite a trilogy so I’m glad I finished it. It was good enough that I actually enjoyed it even though it was keeping me from The Way of Kings.

The Way of Kings is a 45-hour-long audiobook. That hopefully means it will last through my drive home to Los Angeles in two weeks even if I start reading tomorrow. I am going to a signing next week when Brandon Sanderson comes to Seattle, so I hope no one gives away spoilers. There is nothing worse for someone not finished with a book to have someone ask the author, “How did you come up with the idea for the part at the end when Dumbledore kills Darth Vader’s sled, only to find that it’s made of people?”

Dr. Who is awesome. Watch it. The Doctor is not only awesome, but he’s awesome in a British way. British things just tend to be better. Proof: P.G. Wodehouse, Christopher Nolan, Terry Pratchett, Dr. Who, Radiohead, Muse, the accent, blackcurrant juice, sweets, Wallace and Gromit, etc. The Doctor not only travels through space and time, he does it in a 1950s police box. And does he have a blaster, or a tricorder, or a lightsaber? No, he has a sonic screwdriver. If that doesn’t sound awesome, you haven’t seen enough Dr. Who.

It has been a month and a half since I first saw Inception, so I have had time to watch it again and cool off from the initial excitement. And I can still confidently say that it is the best movie I have ever seen. I give it a 10 out of 10, and in order to keep things to scale, I have to move the previous 10s (e.g. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Empire Strikes Back) down to about 7. They didn’t get worse, but the scale had to change to fit Inception.

I will start reviewing things like books on this blog, mostly so I can get Tor to send me ARCs of books I am impatient to read. But I won’t start today. I will leave my many readers with this question: why do people enjoy boring books? I’m referring to bestsellers that I haven’t read that are about real people’s life experiences or introspective journeys, or fiction about boring characters’ life experiences or introspective journeys. Or books about how to invest, etc. Have the people who read these books already exhausted the science fiction and fantasy section, so they are forced to turn to these boring books? That can’t be the case, or more of the good books would hit the bestseller lists. What is it that makes people want to read stories about the contemporary real world? We don’t need the book, we live here already! A book is like the TARDIS (follow my advice two paragraphs ago if you don’t know what that is) and can take you on fantastic journeys and adventures to other worlds, or at least to more interesting times in this one (e.g. medieval Europe). Why read about people going to jobs and doing their taxes or traveling to boring places when you could read about magic or space? I’m being a little facetious in belittling everything outside the realm of speculative fiction, but I’m also genuinely concerned that the reason many people don’t read very much is that the books they always see people reading look mind-numbingly boring. Of course, they wouldn’t be bestsellers if they looked boring to everyone. And many great books might look boring. There should really be some kind of idiomatic expression about how a cover isn’t a great way to judge a book.

Books need rating systems on what content is in them, like movies and video games have. Elitist Book Reviews puts this information in their reviews, which is big help. There are many interesting-looking books that I consider buying but then don’t because I don’t know if they are going to be a swearing sleazefest or in good taste. I am currently stuck with books EBR reviews and YA novels. Another good way to see what a book is like is to download a sample on your Kindle.

I tried to end this post a couple paragraphs ago, but I failed. Let’s try again.