East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Unexpected book haul

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android-developmentYesterday we had a little celebration, because yesterday my brother got his Nanodegree as an Android Software Developer, a professional certificate he’d been working on now for two years thanks to a Google scholarship he was awarded.
It was hard work, and there were a lot of frustrating moments because we live at the edge of the map, and there were often some very silly hang-ups; for instance, yesterday my brother had problems actually getting his certificate because the delivery system required a photo of his digital ID Card, but hereabouts we are still routinely issued with a non-digital, paper ID card. You can see how crazy it is.

I am very proud of my kid brother’s achievement, and I hope this new professional qualification will give him a ticket out of Astigianistan.
Anyway, we had a celebration (we also plan a night out and a dinner, but that’s yet to come), and I ended up splurging on some books, and as it usually happens, I bought more books for myself that I did for the guy that was the one being celebrated.
So here’s a quick overview of my unexpected book haul, that doubles as a collection of recommendations.

_collid=books_covers_0&isbn=9780262516792&type=First, through a Humble Bundle (that’s still going) I got a stack of MIT Press Essential Knowledge Guides on scientific, technical and social topics.
The ebooks are beautifully designed, autoritative but concise, and are quite good to brush up certain technical skills or competences.
One or two of these will also be useful for my podcasting course and related projects, so there, I even have a “serious motivation” and not just the lust of owning more books.

Then, I did a quick pass through my Amazon.it wish list, and was surprised when I found out a number of books on my list had been discounted over 80%. That’s when I lost it, you see…

612ChLjRcGL._SY346_So I got myself, Dreams Must Explain Themselves: The Selected Non-Fiction of Ursula K. LeGuin. I always said I appreciated more LeGuin’s non-fiction than her fiction, so this one’s a keeper. Four-hundred pages of articles, reviews, speeches and what not on a variety of subjects. Very beautiful. I have included the link because apparently it’s still discounted as an ebook also on Amazon.com, so maybe you’d like to take a look at it.
LeGuin was a powerful voice for the dignity and importance of imaginative fiction, and in this collection you get a lot of good stuff.

And talking about stuff you might like to take a look at…
I do not describe myself as a horror fan, and I go through long periods during which I do not read horror books or watch horror movies. It’s sort of a thing I need to be in the mood for. Ditto when it comes to writing it. But there are some authors I often come back to, and one of these is Phil Rickman.
51n0SKq4ftL._SX166_SY265_It all started when I chanced on his The Man in the Moss, many years ago, that I bought on a whim and that really left a lasting impression on me.
The sort of book that makes me go This! This is what I want to be able to write!
Rickman usually sets his stories in rural Britain and in Wales in particular, so it’s somewhat cognate to what is often called rural horror. His Merrily Watkins series, about a Church of England female exorcist, ride the thin line between the straightforward mystery thriller and the quirky supernatural story, while his stand-alone works are more openly and unashamedly horror.
41Is3993WdL._SX166_SY265_Currently it looks like his stand alone works are massively discounted, so I bought five of them – included the one I already own in paperback and I really wanted to re-read, and one I read when it was lent to me by a friend (and I’ll post a review next week, if anyone’s interested). The titles are The Man in the Moss*, **December, Curfew, Candlelight and The Chalice. As I said, each one is a stand-alone story and they can be read in any order.
The whole bundle will set you back about six bucks, and Rickman is a very fine author with a wicked imagination and a great eye for detail and setting.

I mentioned in the past the way in which I set up boxes of emergency books for lean times. My digital emergency box includes a couple of Merrily Watkins books by Rickman, and now a couple of these will go in there, too.
For some reason, I tend to read horror in the fall and in the winter, and now I am all set for the coming colder season.

Isn’t it good when you have a good excuse to burn ten bucks on about fifteen books?

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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