This is a Worldbuilders Blog. Written by the Worldbuilders Team.
Today’s blog is a little different. It’s different, because Pat is being gently asked (forced) to take a couple of days off. So we’re helping.
We brainstormed what to do with our hijacked blog, and have decided to do a little bit extra for our supporters. You guys have no idea how much we appreciate the love and support we get from you, especially after a long day of fundraiser work. It’s easy to lose sight, but some of your emails, Facebook messages, and blog comments have really reminded us of how awesome you are, and how much we really love what we do. So Kat suggested (and we loved the idea) that we all donate our favorite books to the lottery.
Some of us agonized over which of our favorite books we should throw in (Nate, Brett, Nicole, and Sarah), while others of us knew pretty much instantly (Maria, Amanda, Kat, and Oot). A couple of the books are still stuck in Christmas Delivery Limbo, but since they’re our favorite books, we all had a copy lying around to take a picture of.
Part of what makes this interesting is that everyone here is a different kind of geek. We chose to pick our favorite books, regardless of genre and simply share a bit of ourselves with you.
So, without further ado, here’s the Worldbuilders Team and their favorite books.
- Kat’s Favorite Book: The First Chronicles of Amber and The Second Chronicles of Amber by Rodger Zelazny.
I’ve known Pat since 1993. Seriously, don’t do the math on how old we are. Pat was in my wedding (and he danced with me, pictures to prove it), he roomed with my little sister (she’s still bitter), we role-played and LARPed together (you make me cry, happy sobbing tears for the pain you put my characters through), and I was one of the people he warned not to cock things up when he introduced us to Sarah.
Anyway, I love Pat. He’s one of my closest friends and out of that friendship came the opportunity for me to work for Pat and help with Worldbuilders. I needed more work (aka money) and he needed more help. Sure, I do assistanty things for him, which does involve watching Oot from time to time (best job ever) but what I really enjoy is helping make Worldbuilders awesome. Being a part of this charity is amazing. I get to meet the greatest of geeks,covet the swag donations, and see our hard work provide for the needs of folks around the world. Good on all of us!
This year I had the idea that we, the lovely staff of Worldbuilders, should donate our favourite book to Worldbuilders and talk about them. Pat and the staff really loved the idea and got very excited about it. I even get to cheat a bit cause its a series of books in one volume and I decide to give both sets.Yeah, ten books, in two volumes. I’m Mistress Minion, I can do this sort of thing.
So with all that said, I am donating The First Chronicles of Amber and The Second Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny. These two hardcover books represent my favourite stories. Zelazny’s gift for painting a rich scene and dialogue with a minimal amount of words is a treasure. I love how he works myths into his stories and makes these god-like beings real. Roger Zelazny wrote many books and short stories and I hope these encourage new readers of his work. You will not be disappointed.
- Nicole’s Favorite Book: Cold Days by Jim Butcher.
When I started working for Pat, he was surprised to find out that I hadn’t read the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. As Pat’s love for these books is no secret, you can imagine the sales pitch that ensued. He told me frequently just how much I needed to read these books. (It was apparently Lots, with a capital L.)
I’ll admit that when I finally set myself to do so, it was with slight trepidation. You know how when someone talks something up to you so much, you’re afraid it won’t live up to the expectations you’ve developed? That’s where I was. But I’d heard so much praise that I felt I had to give the books a serious chance, and guess what?
They held up.
They’re chock-full of strong, distinctive characters, and the action always feels fresh and realistic. The world-building is solid and fascinating, and Harry, stubbornly determined and brimming with witty attitude, always manages to keep me guessing at how things will really play out. Each book is better than the one before it, and starting a new one is like being a kid in front of a bowl of Halloween candy. (You can’t wait to dig in, and no matter how long you’ve been at it, it’s impossible to walk away).
That said, I present to you Cold Days, the newest addition to the Dresden Files. I chose to add it to this year’s lottery for the simple reason that I’m in love with Harry Dresden. (Didn’t you see that’s where this was going?)
Oh, and did I mention? …This beautiful, hardcover copy is signed by the author.
- Amanda’s Favorite Books: The John Green Box Set: Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and The Fault in Our Stars.
To say that I love John Green’s books would be like saying Pat’s books are kind of long. It’s true, but it doesn’t fully encompass the subject.
John Green is an author who writes believable, interesting teen characters. In 2007 he started a video blog series with his brother, Hank, called Vlogbrothers, where the brothers uploaded videos every weekday for a year in the hopes of better communication. It led to a fun year (which led to 5 more years) of videos that gave us great insight into the brothers, their lifestyles, and their values. I spent my first summer home from college watching their videos. They were a bonding point for my boyfriend and me; we’d met and started dating in college, and now were living across the state from each other as opposed to across campus. We both loved watching them, and to this day, we watch Vlogbrothers videos together every week and talk about them all the time.
John had a couple of books out at the time, and I read them right away and fell in love with them. He was in the process of writing his third, and it was the first time I had any insight into an author’s life and process. He showed what a typical day for him was like, talked about things that influenced his work, and stressed over edits that were due by making videos instead of working on them. I’ve never felt so close to an author. (Well, except for Pat now, but I’d only known him for a few months at the time).
I have read all of John’s books many times, and back when I was still teaching high school English, I wrote curriculum for an entire semester that included two of them. They’ve made me cry, they’ve made me laugh, and they’ve made me think critically about things I wish I had thought critically about as a teenager.
Now, don’t worry – the books in the picture are my personal, teacher’ed-up copies. They have notes written in the margins, post its all over, and honestly, it wouldn’t make any sense to you. Instead, you’ll be getting a beautiful, special edition box set. It has a couple of new covers, a box designed by a fan, and two of the four books are signed. Congrats; if you win this, your books will be much cooler than mine.
If you take a few minutes to look up each book somewhere you trust, you’ll see what I’ve known all along: John Green is an author you should be reading and following passionately. And lucky for you, all it takes is a measley $10 donation to our Team Page for a chance to win all four of his solo books.
- Nate’s Favortie Books: The Warded Man and The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett.
(This is the best picture you’ll ever get of me, as I’m the one with the camera)
I actually picked up The Warded Man as a prize from this very fundraiser a few years ago (besmirched with Pat’s scribble as well). As a very picky reader I was just happy to have gotten something and tossed it on the shelf. My girlfriend, on the other hand, read it, immediately went out and bought the second book, raved about both of them and I duly ignored her.
The book pretty much just sat there for the next few years, followed me around as I moved a few times, and took up space on a shelf. Then I got a part time job that required a lot of driving. And as an already avid listener of audiobooks I quickly ate up my backlog of things I had been meaning to listen to. So after some persuasion I purchased The Warded Man, loaded it onto my iPod and hopped into my car. An hour later I was sitting at work, in the parking lot, and had been there for 10 minutes just listening, unable to break myself away.
These books are really that good. The world building is fantastic and extremely organic. You’ll find yourself understanding idiomatic turns of phrase so naturally you’ll feel like it’s the way that everybody has always talked. One of the odd conventions of these books is that the story is told from multiple points of view. At times we receive as many as 3 or 4 viewpoints on a single event. And while this style of storytelling can be jarring at first it quickly becomes second nature and you will soon relish the way that it expands not only your feel for the story but also the world the characters are living in. In time you no longer think about this being a story about a single character or even a set of characters. Instead, the story is about the world itself, and we get to experience the changes in the world from many different viewpoints
It’s worth noting that if you’re looking for a story that wraps up with a nice neat little bow, this isn’t it. At least not yet. This is a story that’s more about the journey than the destination. But if you’re OK with that (and lets be honest if you’re a fan of Pats books you probably are) These books are a worthy read. And the third book in the series comes out in February of 2013 so now’s the perfect time to grab them and catch up on the story.
- Maria’s Favorite Book: The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman.
(We don’t photograph Maria, as her cute would break the camera)
So I’ll start off by saying that of all the people Pat has on staff, I’m the least geeky of them all. To be perfectly honest I had no idea really who Pat was when I was brought on to coordinate Worldbuilders. But luckily, my mind has morphed over the last couple months and I’m constantly adding books to my winter read list. Winter read list? Yes, unfortunately I do not have the luxury to do much during the spring/summer/fall months and my book choice will further explain why.
In addition to working for Pat and loving the non-profit world, I also own and operate a small family farm with my partner, Chris, just outside of Stevens Point. We are both first generation farmers and I won’t get into the details of why and how we started farming, but let’s just say that after three full seasons of farming, our learning curve is still extremely high.
For those who are interested in small scale farming, especially vegetable production, this is a wonderful tool to help you get started. Elliot Coleman starts from the basics and will eventually educate you enough to grow vegetables during your peak season of production and beyond. Prior to starting my own farm, I had a few years of experience working on other organic vegetable farms. Making the change in my mindset from asking ‘what to do next’ to making the calls on my own farm is extremely intimidating. I look to this book continually throughout the season for advice and also inspiration. Elliot Coleman is an expert in organic vegetable production and has created a wonderful movement for those interested in getting their hands dirty!
- Brett’s Favorite Book: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.
(Brett just likes doodles better than pictures)
When I first saw Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, I figured it was just a gimmick book. Seriously, how far can you get with a bunch of old photographs? But, and I hate to admit how often this works on me, I really liked the gimmick.
I started reading it with mild interest. Jacob is an average kid, dealing with the same stuff I dealt with at his age. He’s likeable, partly because he has a few relatable faults. Then the awesome descends in the first chapter.
Ransom Riggs doesn’t spend any more time than he needs to set up a scene. He knows how to set a creepy tone and manages to hit the sweet spots pretty regularly. Eerie drive through Jake’s neighborhood? Sweet. Mysterious, bombed-out orphanage? Way cool. Bog mummy? Heck yeah! Violent, fire hurling little girl? Now we’re talking. And I can’t even begin to tell you about the rest of the awesomeness, because much of the fun is experiencing how Riggs mixes all the elements together.
This book is a delicious stew of gothic horror and science fiction. The SF is dealt with supernaturally, instead of technically, and so fits nicely into the Peregrine world. And this is why I love young-adult fiction so much: anything goes, and the big ideas come at you quickly. You don’t have to wade through any pretense.
At the halfway point, I stopped seeing the photos that originally intrigued me – I had to find out what was happening, and they were just in the way. I was too involved in the book to worry about the gimmick. That’s when I decided that Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is bottled awesome.
This book is pulpy, fun, and oh-so-delicious. There is plenty of mystery (most of it explained by the end, don’t worry). The characters all have their own distinct voices, so Riggs’s dialogue is easy to follow and fun to read. He uses just the right words to get his characters and settings cemented in your mind. There are no wasted scenes.
And that’s enough of me talking. Basically, I love the ride. It’s a wonderful mix of creepy horror, crazy worldbuilding and everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink sensibility. Things come to a satisfying close, but Jake’s journey is obviously just beginning. The next book is due out in 2013.
- Sarah’s Favorite Book: The Practical Cogitator; The Thinker’s Anthology edited by Charles P. Curtis Jr. and Ferris Greenslet.
My favorite book is The Practical Cogitator; The Thinker’s Anthology, a collection of writings by scientists, philosophers, Supreme Court Justices, etc. I picked it up in a used book store while going through a phase of purchasing extra dry philosophy books so I could feel smarter. This wonderful book is pretty juicy, and it has actually made me smarter.
The writings are bite sized, so you can get a clear glimpse of a big idea in 20 minutes or less. The editors, Charles P. Curtis Jr. and Ferris Greenslet, ordered their selections so elegantly that I’m led seamlessly from Jane Austen’s simple lines on how to be comfortable near a fire to five pages of Havelock Ellis holding forth on the nature of hypotheses.
This book is perfect on airplanes or to read in the morning if I want to be smart that day. It’s full, full, full of ideas, so a few minutes with this book keeps me thinking for a long, long time.
- Oot’s Favorite Books: Tinker and Tom and the Star Baby and The Inflated Dormouse and Other Ways of Life in the Animal World.
I have two favorite books: Tinker and Tom and the Star Baby, and The Inflated Dormouse and Other Ways of Life in the Animal World.
Tinker and Tom and the Star Baby is about a boy, a bear, a spaceship, and a baby. A baby that is a star!
The Inflated Dormouse has scary things in it. It also has flying squirrels and a skunk, but not a flying skunk.
Above is what Oot told Sarah when she asked him, and she wrote it down. Here is an audio recording of what Oot said when Pat asked him. Be ready – the cute may make you squee embarrassingly loudly in front of other people. It’s also 4 minutes long, and worth every moment.
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So there they are. We hope you liked them, and if not, we hope you didn’t mind us giving Pat the day off.
The tuckerization auctions all end TONIGHT, and you can see all the current Worldbuilders auctions here on e-bay, including those wonderful Wil Wheaton prints.
Or, if you’d like a chance to win these books that are near and dear to our hearts, and thousands of others, you can donate on the Worldbuilders Team Page, over at Heifer international. For every $10 you pitch in, you get another chance to win something cool.
If you want to see the other items that have been donated to Worldbuilders, or learn more about the fundraiser itself, you can head over to the main page.