Book Exchange Redux

Back at the end of October I proposed participating in Neil Gaiman’s new holiday tradition of an All Hallow’s Eve book exchange, and some of you were kind enough to play along. So…how did it go? What did you get? What did you give? If you’ve read the book you received, what did you think? Should we do it again next year, and try to get more people to join in the fun? Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments, or link to a post of your own, if you’re so inclined. My take below…

Right off the bat, I’ll admit that I was a complete slacker. I only sent my books out recently, due to poor planning on my part. Note to self – next year do not propose a book exchange then immediately go on two vacations in a row. Despite my own lack of organization, I was lucky enough to receive Catherynne M. Valente’s The Habitation of the Blessed from lowly_scribe in record time. I have since devoured it, and it was delicious.

Seriously. The framing device for Valente’s story of Prester John features books-as-fruit, which fits perfectly with her luscious prose. Her writing evokes taste and smell, along with the other senses, and it’s all painfully beautiful. It’s a book that is also a meal, one that makes me realize just how very lacking my culinary-literary skills are. I’m simultaneously jealous, and in awe, but ultimately I come down on the side of being incredible happy that a book so full of magic and gorgeous imagery and poetic language exists. Thank you, lowly_scribe, and thank you Ms. Valente!

In terms of book giving, Caitlin R. Kiernan’s The Red Tree and Laid Barron’s The Imago Sequence went to Jeff. As luck would have it, he didn’t already own them, and hadn’t already read them, so I feel like I chose well. The reasoning behind sending these particular books is that they both contain stories that I found subtly haunting, that stuck with me, circling in my head for days after I read them, and creeped me out in a completely undefinable way. In the spirit of All Hallow’s Read, they seemed like a very appropriate thing to share!

The other book I sent (which has hopefully been received by now, so this won’t spoil the surprise) is Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree, which went to cymry. Knowing how big her to-read pile is, and how busy she is, I wanted to provide a light, quick read. I also wanted to stick with the spirit of All Hallow’s Read, without sending an out-right horror book. Finally, if you’re particularly astute, you may have noticed that I have a very slight ALL CONSUMING OBSESSION with Ray Bradbury. I know, I hide it well, right?

So there you have it until next All Hallow’s Eve. Happy reading!

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3 Responses to Book Exchange Redux

  1. amy

    Whew. I’m glad I’m not the only slacker.

    I received a Caitlin Kiernan book from cymry (The Red Tree? I think that was it. Maybe.), which, being firmly mired in (finally the last!) (for now) the Wheel of Time books, I haven’t yet begun to read, but I’m excited!

    I waffled a really long time over what to send to Barry.. though I used to read exclusively horror growing up, I’m mostly scifi/fantasy/generic fiction now, so I considered just sending A Book I Liked. But leafing through my books, I found a book I both like and also is sortakinda dark and sinister, and sent him Moorcock’s Elric: Song of the Black Sword, which maybe he’s already read and hated, but I guess that’s the danger with these things! (Hopefully he’s received it by now, and that’s not his first hint of what he’s in for.)

    Overall I really enjoyed this experience. I mean, hey, I came home one day and a person (a stranger, even) had put a BOOK in my MAILBOX! That’s the best thing ever. And I loved sending a book I loved to someone else. It made me want to mail random books to random people all the time. So do this more often, and I’ll advertise better on my end next time, and get other people to take part!

    Maybe for Valentine’s Day. Twisted love stories.

    Great idea, Ali. Thanks for letting me play!

  2. Oooh, I like the idea of twisted love stories for Valentine’s Day. If Neil can start traditions, so can we!

    You’ll have to let me know what you think of the Red Tree. Clearly, I loved it, so I’m curious to see what you think!

  3. I second the idea that we should make this a recurring holiday. Though I was late enough to the game to turn it into Bookmas.

    Amy, a gift of Moorcock is a gift that says you care.

    By now Ali has received Joe Lansdale’s Dead in the West (which, if you’re not Ali, you may have a harder time finding but I recommend you make any effort necessary to find; Ali should have an easier time unless Derrick or the pets steal the book). Zombie western! Plus a taster of Dan Brereton’s the Nocturnals, because: reanimated cowboy corpses with guns protecting little girls who keep possessed dolls as toys.

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