Tag Archives: Harry Potter

A Tradition of Books for Christmas

Christmas with bookIn my family, we have a long tradition of giving each other books as gifts. I can’t remember a single Christmas where no-one has gotten or given a book.

Some years I’ve ended up with a big, delicious stack; other years, one or two volumes, or even none, as I’ve been a giver instead of a receiver of books. They’ve ranged from secondhand paperbacks to quality editions, from literary classics to Star Trek tie-in novels to the latest in whatever SF or fantasy or historical series I was obsessed with that year.

My family first discovered Harry Potter through a holiday catalogue put out by a local bookstore, the dearly departed and sorely missed Greenwoods’ Bookshoppe. That year, I read the description of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone — I’d never heard of it, nobody had back then — and decided to buy it for my brother, who was just the right age. He loved it. I might have loved it even more than he did.

Speaking of Star Trek tie-ins, I discovered Star Trek in 1992, just at the beginning of my teens. At that time Star Trek: The Next Generation was on its first run, so that’s what I watched, and initially what I read, borrowing all the tie-in books from my Trekkie aunt. But she was also an avid fan of the original series (TOS). For Christmas that year she gave me a copy of her favourite TOS novel, Uhura’s Song – getting me hooked on a whole new series.

More recently, my mom started giving my siblings and me books she hoped would serve us well as new adults heading off on our own — books of recipes, books on decorating your first apartment.

My immediate family doesn’t have any young children in it right now, but you can bet that if and when it does, I’ll be buying kids’ books for Christmas, and I’ll do it with glee.

Your turn! Do you buy books as holiday gifts? Have you noticed a theme or themes to your buying over the years?

If you liked this post, you might also like The Best Christmas Stories Ever, featuring my favourite seasonal books, movies, TV specials, and even a radio show.

Top 5 Imaginary Worlds

Girl Genius Color Omnibus Vol. 1

The cover of one of the Girl Genius books. The thumbnail doesn’t do it justice — click through to see it bigger.

Following on last Friday’s post about your favourite place on Earth, here’s a related question for you all:

If you could live in any made-up story world, from books or movies or TV, which would you choose?

Here are my top 5…

(On a writerly note, you’ll notice all of these are series. Of course, this gives an author the room to really explore a new world and make it rich with details and layers – it’s hard to do the same in a standalone book or movie. But it didn’t take more than one book, and often much less, for me to fall in love…)

5. The world of Girl Genius

This series by Kaja and Phil Foglio is a webcomic and a graphic novel series (aimed at both adults and teens), so it’s not surprising that their world is chock-full of visual delights – enormous airships, quirky circuses, mad scientists, and lots and lots of clockwork machinery. Every place our heroine goes is more fantastic than the last. If I had my own airship, I’d be happily occupied for years.

4. Middle Earth

I admit to being influenced by the art that’s been made about Tolkien’s world, from paintings to the Peter Jackson films (famously shot in New Zealand). They all make the landscape look so gorgeous, and I’m a sucker for the beauty of nature. Plus there are elves and dwarves and hobbits. As long as I stay away from Mordor, it’s all good. (If Middle Earth isn’t available, Terry Pratchett’s satirical version, Discworld, would also do.)

3. Hogwarts

A school full of magic-users appeals to my fantasy-loving side and my old-fashioned-English-literature-loving side, not to mention the part of me that felt pretty lonely at school in my early teens. Sure, Voldemort is lurking around and there’s something wrong with the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, but still, getting to learn spells, wield a magic wand, and fly, all while living in the niftiest boarding school ever? Yes, please!

2. Pern

Aside from the danger of Thread, Anne McCaffrey’s Pern is a pretty sweet world – cozy stone halls, tall ships, and dragons – and for a (sort-of) pre-industrial planet, the larger centres are pretty modern-thinking. The only tough part would be deciding whether to Impress a dragon or go into training at Harper Hall (and maybe adopt some fire lizards).

1. The universe of Star Trek

I discovered Star Trek when I was 12, fell in love, and never really fell out of love. It offered a hopeful and essentially optimistic vision of the future, one that was missing from dystopian stories (yep, the ’80s had a round of dystopian novels too). Sure, there are wars and dissension, but the Federation is a pretty good entity overall. The chance to live on a spaceship, work with aliens, explore new planets with every mission, do science, and fly among the stars? Well, let’s just say that if I were given that choice, even today, I’d be gone faster than Jean-Luc Picard can say “Engage”. (Barring that, the TARDIS or the Firefly ‘verse would do in a pinch…)

Honourable Mention: Earth’s own history, at least as filtered through historical fiction. When I was growing up, some of my favourite books were historicals. I devoured any and every time period, from Ancient Egypt to the pioneer days to WWII. My favourite time periods were the medieval era, with its castles and romance, and the Victorian era, with its quaint manners and beautiful dresses. Of course, there are plenty of reasons I’m glad I don’t live in the past (women’s rights and modern medicine being just two!), but a girl can dream.

Your turn! Which fictional world or story-verse would you choose to live in if you could?

Weekly Roundup

We survived another week! (Almost. I am writing this on Thursday night.) Here’s what I’ve got for you this week…

books

What’s the difference between high fantasy and epic fantasy? Here’s one well-reasoned argument. And here’s another one based on the level of the stakes.

general geekery

Ever wondered what Harry Potter would look like as a girl? Now you can find out: Genderswapped Harry Potter characters.

inspiration

When I am 101 years old, I want to be like this paragliding great-grandmother.

Domythic Bliss had a wonderful series last week looking at mobile houses: Roma-inspired wagons, trucks, boats, and buses.

For writers (and interested third parties)

Kristen Lamb debunks the myth that Real Writers never struggle.

Ollin Morales writes about how chasing your writing dreams may not be enough — you also have to chase your other dreams.

If you’ve been reading too many blogs or books on writing craft and tearing your hair out because you don’t write like that, Tahereh Mafi has an awesome post on how there is no right way to write. She also talks with beautiful openness about being a debut novelist (a.k.a. a Real Writer), how it changes you and how it doesn’t.

(Can you tell the space I’m in with my writing this week?)

That’s all for now, folks. Happy Friday!