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January 24, 2016

Sunday Morning Book Thread 01-24-2016: Rarities [OregonMuse]


Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library U of T.jpg
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto

Good morning to all of you morons and moronettes and bartenders everywhere and all the ships at sea. Welcome to AoSHQ's stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread. The Sunday Morning Book Thread is the only AoSHQ thread that is so hoity-toity, pants are required. And when I type up the book thread, my pinkies remain elevated the whole time, and I drink Earl Grey tea from a bone china cup, that's how classy it is.


“The true reader reads every work seriously in the sense that he reads it whole-heartedly, makes himself as receptive as he can. But for that very reason he cannot possibly read every work solemnly or gravely. For he will read 'in the same spirit that the author writ.'... He will never commit the error of trying to munch whipped cream as if it were venison.”
― C.S. Lewis


On The Necessity of Book Reviews

This has been mentioned by authors in the book thread comments before, and I'm sorry I haven't done so myself in my capacity as book thread proprietor, so let me to wit: writing book reviews for the books you read is important. You might say book reviews are like mother's milk to authors, especially new indy authors trying to get a leg up.

This is in response to an e-mail from Sgt. Mom, who asks:

Can you... encourage readers to take a bit of time to post reviews of books they have enjoyed? Doesn't have to be long and literary, and detailed - although that is meat and drink to the indy author soul -- but an honest rating with stars and a couple of lines specific to why they liked the book, and would recommend it to a reader -- might be an effective way to counter the juggernaut of Big Publishing.

In addition,

...posting reviews would be an additional excellent way to support authors that the Moron Horde likes. I have been told in other author discussion groups that having a huge number of for-real reader reviews (over 50) on a book, that Amazon will do a little more to "push" the book. Exposure to the casual surfer at Amazon is a good thing for indy authors.

None of us here enjoys the experience of reading a good story and then all of a sudden getting smacked in the face with some progressive/PC crap that ruins the whole thing. It's like cutting yourself a slice from a moist and delicious chocolate cake and then biting into a dog turd. We can help to minimize this sort of unpleasantness by, of course, including purchases from the authors we know and like into our book budget, and also remembering that posting online reviews is an important means of support, as well.

And so to all you book thread regulars and lurkers (you know who you are) I say this: get busy, do your duty, and write those reviews. We need to reclaim the culture, we need our own Long March, and this is where it starts. With you.


And Speaking of Rare Books

Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places by Rebecca Barry is a compilation of those maddening "why don't things like this ever happen to me?" stories such as:

the family whose discovery in their attic of a copy of Action Comics No. 1--the first appearance of Superman-saved their home from foreclosure. Or the Salt Lake City bookseller who volunteered for a local fundraiser--and came across a 500-year-old copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle. Or the collector who, while browsing his local thrift shop, found a collectible copy of Calvary in China--inscribed by the author to the collector's grandfather

And naturally with these things, teh internetz is involved:

Barry illustrates how collectors are as diverse as the books that they pursue. Some refuse to use the Internet, instead seeking their treasures in person and relying on long-accumulated insider knowledge. Others have stumbled upon their most desired finds on eBay—like George Koppelman, who in 2008 claimed to have found a quadruple dictionary annotated by Shakespeare himself on the online auction website.

This reminds me the kind of stuff I used to see on that PBS program Antiques Roadshow:

Naive Young Couple: "We found this painting in grandfather's attic in Sheboygan".

Appraiser: "Well, today is your lucky today, what you have there is an original Rembrandt masterpiece untouched by human hands and it still has some crumbs from ol' Harmenszoon's bologna sandwich he was eating when he painted it. This painting is worth 8 billion dollars."


Books: Rarities

If you're looking to purchase a particular rare or out-of-print book, a good place to start is BookFinder.com, which results will give you some idea of the availability of the book you're looking for and about how much you'd expect to pay. Moron commenter 'CBD' pointed me to this site, in particular, to their annual report where they discuss book finding/buying trends, and in particular, where they rank the 100 top most searched-for book.

There's a number of interesting titles. For example, for the past several years, the number one most sought after book is, hold on to your hats, Sex by that tiresome old slattern, Madonna.

Now, Madonna's book takes a provocative look at sexual fantasies in photographs and words, with the erotic imaginings highlighted by a series of innovative special effects. Contains adult material of a controversial nature. Includes a one-cut CD from Madonna's newest recording project. Full color.

Yawn. I remember when this book came out in 1992. This sort of pr0n seems pretty tame now, but I think it was getting past its sell-by date even back then.

And you may need to cough up $150 or more if you want to look this collection of Madonna's filthy pictures. Either that or sneak into one of your your liberal friends' homes and swipe it off the coffee table.

But, with all that, this anthology of Madonna's peep-show pics is not the top book this year. This year, it's On The Psychology of Military Incompetence by Norman F Dixon. I would've expected to see this one on at least one of the military lists I've discussed in the past few weeks. Pity that it's not. It looks interesting. According to the Bookfinder report:

The book dives into combat futility by using a fascinating series of examples of utter ineptitude throughout the 100 years prior to the book’s writing from the Crimean War to the Boer War and the disastrous ‘Market Garden’ operation of WWII. Dixon analyzes poor decision-making (or sometimes the lack of decision-making at all) from a psychological point of view...He also works to explain how officers of dubious skill made their way up the ranks by virtue of class and social connections. It’s a fascinating read, and if it didn’t involve so many tragic events for common soldiers it might almost be comical in parts. Clearly, the book has great relevance for today’s military leaders in helping to prevent the repeat of past mistakes.

And the Madonna pr0n book has slipped to #3. So a bunch of incompetent REMF-types are more interesting than Madonna.

Lots of Stephen King on the Bookfinder lists. Other recognizable authors include Nora Roberts, Ray Bradbury, Carl Sagan and Madeleine L'Engle.


Banned In Toronto

What, are you telling me that some social justice crybullies are purging politically incorrect authors from bookstores in Toronto

The devil you say:

I've talked to a couple of book store owners in Toronto and someone is sending out Jim Hines roundup of the SP/RP affair. As a result, they are stopping making orders for [Larry] Correia, [John C.] Wright, [Brad] Torgersen, [Mike] Williamson and others of the worst broadcasters who have supported homophobic statements.

The source for this is a commenter at File 770. File 770 describes itself as "a fanzine about the news of SF fandom".

Admittedly, this isn't the best sourcing for a story like this, and it hasn't been confirmed. So right now, it's basically a rumor.

But I just love the accusation. They "supported homophobic statements." What does that even mean? What statements? The authors that aroused the ire of the crybullies didn't actually make them, mind you, they just "supported" them, these bad, bad statements, whatever they are.

Doubtless the image of a bunch of crybullies running around Toronto trying to enforce RightThink™ is one that would make ol' Joe Stalin chortle in delight, if his hollowed-out skull was not currently being used as a charcoal brazier by Satan.

Thanks to moron commenter 'Bitter Clinger And All That' for bringing this to my attention.


Banned In America

But here's one that's been confirmed:

Following a flood of criticism, children's publisher Scholastic has decided to stop distributing a picture book about one of George Washington's slaves.

Why would that be?

The book, "A Birthday Cake for George Washington," tells the story of a Hercules, a slave used by the president as his chef. When the country is struck by a sugar shortage, Hercules and his daughter Delia cheerfully navigate the problem and bake the president a cake without sugar.

The book, which shows Hercules and Delia smiling on nearly every page and taking pride in their position, has been roundly criticized for whitewashing the history of slavery.

The author, Ramin Ganeshram, who is of Iranian-Trinidadian descent, spoke out in defense of her book:

“Bizarrely, and yes, disturbingly, there were some enslaved people who had a better quality of life than others and ‘close’ relationships with those who enslaved them,” wrote Ms. Ganeshram, who said she researched the subject for nearly four years. “It is the historical record – not my opinion – that shows that enslaved people who received ‘status’ positions were proud of these positions – and made use of the ‘perks’ of those positions.”

So it looks like Ms. Ganeshram is defending herself the old-fashioned way, by appealing to the facts. How quaint.

These days, that's a fool's errand.

But when all was said and done, Scholastic caved to the crybullies and yanked the book. You can still buy it on Amazon, though, but it'll cost you $150.

I wonder if Ms. Ganeshram's inbox got flooded with hate mail and did the crybullies threaten her job?

I also wonder if this children's book is going to be included on those 'Banned Book' lists that get published every year.

Thanks to @votermom for tipping me to this.


This Has To Be A Joke, Right?

OK, so this New York bookstore owner asked some celebrities what 10 books they would take with them on a desert island, among them Lena Dunham.

I'm not going to go through Dunham's list, because who cares, but sacred honor compels me to point out that the first book on the list is, if you can believe this, Lolita.

Really. One of self-admitted child molester Lena Dunham's favorite books is the story about a man who wants to molest a child.

If I were doing a parody list of Dunham's favorite books, I wouldn't put Lolita on there because the joke is just too obvious.

Can she be that clueless? Either that or maybe she took a page from the Obama playbook and she's just trolling conservatives. Yeah, that's probably it.

Open question: do you really have to be a conservative to think that Lena Dunham is repugnant?


Books By Morons

Sgt. Mom has a new book out. This one is called The Chronicles of Luna City and she co-wrote it with her dauughter, Jeanne Hayden. Luna City, Texas is a quirky town where

...the high school football team is called the Mighty Fighting Moths...and their yearly Homecoming game is under some strange and irregular curse.

Where half the townsfolk has the surname of Gonzalez or Gonzales, they’re all related and descended from the holder of the original Spanish land grant... but no one has ever been able to figure out whether his name ended in an ‘s’ or a ‘z’, due to illegible handwriting on the original paperwork …

Where the last two members of a Sixties hippy nudist commune still still keep the faith with peace, love, and organic vegetables at the Age of Aquarius Campground and Goat Farm...

And a historic marker on Town Square marks the spot where a local bootlegger was nearly hung in 1926 for (among a long list of offenses against the laws of God and Man) impersonating a nun.

Sgt. Mom tells me they've got two sequels planned.


___________

AOSHQ scholar-in-residence boulder terlit hobo has completed his translation (from the original French) of the book Mohammed and the End of the World: A Critical Study Of Primitive Islam by Paul Casanova. According to the introduction, Casanova's thesis is that the Quran really isn't all that:

One generally assumes of the text of the Qur’ân, such as it has come down to us, that it is authentic and that it reproduces exactly the thought of Muhammad, faithfully gathered by his secretaries as the revelations gradually appeared...I maintain, however, that the real doctrine of Muhammad was, if not falsified, at least concealed with the greatest of care. I shall set out soon the extremely simple reasons which led first Abu Bakr, then Uthman, to alter thoroughly the sacred text, and this rearrangement was done with such skill that, thenceforth, it seemed impossible to reconstitute the Ur-Qur’ân or the original Qur’ân.

Casanova's book was first published in 1911. And so now I have to wonder if Muslim scholars have ever come up with a rigorous answer to it.

Mr. terlit hobo has graciously made his work available to the rest of us as a .pdf document, which you can read or download from this link after you jump through a couple of hoops.

And bht's original review can be read here.

___________

Don't forget the AoSHQ reading group on Goodreads. It's meant to support horde writers and to talk about the great books that come up on the book thread. It's called AoSHQ Moron Horde and the link to it is here: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/175335-aoshq-moron-horde.

___________

So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.

What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as you all know, life is too short to be reading lousy books.

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