Saturday, May 29, 2010

Some books I recently bought...

When I was a child, I loved books more than I do now. They were my keys to the real world, which seemed locked up in many ways.
I never felt quite sure that when I read the same book again it would contain the same things - somehow they seemed to change. Of course it was me who was changing, learning new things every day, and whatever ideas the books suggested fitted into my changing world differently every time I read them.
I still collect books that remind me of that feeling.
That's what I'd like to do myself, with my own books: make you want to stop reading and go out and make a map, build a thing, discover something or make something up, be a detective or a cat... and that's what I'm thinking about every day when I'm walking around muttering to myself, how to charge up books with that little buzz of energy that zaps you into excitement about your own world.

Recently I've bought more books than I used to, it's like I've caught the scent again. Chris Riddell's Ottoline books are mighty impressive, they are packed with maps and plans and plots and creatures and features. If you just flick through one it's almost like another reality whooshing by.
And this one is a masterpiece, rather: "Meanwhile" by Jason Shiga. And it actually IS different every time you read it. When I saw that in the bookshop, I thought: Ah!! Someone has finally made that book... it's a non-linear narrative that you read making choices and using tabs. I've tried to design one like that several times but never reached the required degree of complexity to make it worth-while... well, this is worth-while, and the flap text made me feel a lot better: apparently this guy needed to write a program to work out the layout and run it for 12 hours.
I read it through once in the bookshop, going from feeling pleasantly entertained to worried to slightly upset and wanting to try again and make different choices... so I bought it, and read it five or six times more the same evening, every time feeling like now I'd read the story but also thinking: hmmm, maybe there is more to it, what if I try again... and I did, and discovered something new every time!
In the end I was quite sure I had read it all and wondered if now I had license to leaf through the whole book to see how it was made, and after having worked out the narrative this was like seeing a story in five dimensions.
Amazing.... and the actual story staid with me as well, in a little emotional time-space-knot somewhere in my mind.

I'll definitely need to get a new book-shelf soon... I think I've reached the point where I'm buying more new books than I give old ones away. Argh.

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