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Hello Friday! Hello Follow Friday with book bloggers! Meet Juniper, a science fiction lover who recommends a bunch of amazing titles not only for sci-fi readers. Keep on reading.
Follow JUNIPER GREEN's blog on BookLikes: http://junipergreen.booklikes.com/
What are you reading right now? How do you like it?
Right now I'm using the time between two fiction books to read some short fiction. I've just finished Calved by the always amazing Sam J. Miller. The short story is set in Qaanaaq, eponymous floating city of Miller's recent novel Blackfish City, and follows Dom, an ice boat worker, at his desperate attempt to mend his relationship with his estranged teenage son Thede. It's well imagined cli-fi – science fiction dealing with the consequences of climate change – as well as a gut-punching tragedy. “Crushing” is probably the most fitting expression to describe it. That I anticipated the ending quite early on just made it worse. (In case it isn't clear: That's a compliment.)
Apart from that, I'm reading a non-fiction book, Gypsy Sexuality: Romani and Outsider Perspectives on Sexuality a collection of essays, studies, and interviews edited by Jud Nierenberg. It's less about sex and more about Romani civil rights and relationships, dealing with such diverse topics as the self-image of Romani women, the objectification of Romani by outsider media, the difficulties in Romani / non-Romani relationships, and also about atrocities like the forced sterilization of Romani women. I think it's an important book and deserves to be more widely read. It could use a more professional editing, some contributions seem a bit haphazardly translated – on the other hand, that lends them a certain kind of authenticity.
Which book made you a book lover?
I can't remember a time when I wasn't a book lover. When I was little, I wouldn't go bed without a bedtime story. I was lucky enough that my family encouraged my love for books and stories. I grew up surrounded by books. My parents read to me, children's books and fairy tales and comics, and when they didn't have the time, my grandfather would make up stories about a heroic Saint Bernard called Bello and tell me about his adventures.
How did your book blogging adventure start? What do you enjoy the most about it?
I started writing book and film reviews for our local newspaper when I was a teenager. I've been reviewing books (and films) on and off ever since. I enjoy writing about what I've read, about what I did and didn't enjoy. Reviewing helps me to analyse why certain things work for me while others don't. It also helps me remembering more details about what I've read. I've used Goodreads for a while, but couldn't really get into the community. Booklikes' blogging structure seems a bit more suited to the way I actually review, and also allows me to blog random stuff about music and films.
Why reading is important to you?
Reading is a mind-expanding experience. I can examine different points of view, giving my empathy-muscle some work-out.
In your short bio we can read you live in Germany. Do you read both in English and German? Does the book language influence the reading experience?
Whenever possible, I try to read books in their original language. Most books I read are in German and English though, and occasionally I will read a book in translation, if I can't find a copy of the original or if the translation is much cheaper (yeah, I'm somewhat of a cheapskate. And I love vintage paperbacks). When reading in German, I can more easily lean back and relax, getting into the flow of the story. Reading English or another foreign language means more work for me. The language barrier creates a greater distance between me and the text, I have to work harder to form a connection with a story and its characters. But putting more work into it also means the book will stick with me longer.
Which books are you most excited recommending to your followers?
I have so many books to recommend, it's hard to narrow it down. Especially because I don't yet know what my followers here prefer to read. But here are some of my favourites:
Falling Out Of Cars by Jeff Noon. British SF and weird fiction author Jeff Noon's most lauded work is Vurt his breakthrough novel first published in 1993. I love Vurt, but I like Falling Out Of Cars even more. It's the weirdest thing I've ever read, without exaggeration. In this dystopian novel, people are falling prey to a disease overflowing the human mind with static, making it impossible to tell signal from noise. Marlene Moore tries to navigate this world, following a mysterious job, picking up enigmatic passengers along the way. This book is her diary, a nightmarish road-movie borrowing motifs from Alice in Wonderland (as Noon is wont to do), creating something complex and haunting.
Tales of Nevèrÿon by Samuel R. Delany, the first book in the Nevèrÿon series. Delany uses the sword-and-sorcery genre to examine power from all angles – sexual, political, economic, you name it, it's here. He also explores themes like language, desire, gender, psychology, the nature of civilization. Also also, he tells a rip-roaring story about a couple of gay lovers leading a slave-revolt. Also also also, dragons.
Schilf by Juli Zeh (In Free Fall (US) or Dark Matter (UK) in English). Zeh combines physics, love, and murder into something that's not quite a mystery. Oscar and Sebastian are friends since their days at university. After Sebastian's marriage, the relationship has grown tense. When Sebastian's son Liam appears to be kidnapped, events spiral inevitable downwards. “Physics is for lovers”, and this book is for everyone who likes to read literary mysteries.
How do you find new books to read?
Lots of different sources. Recommendations by trusted reviewers, following favourite authors and publishers on Twitter, stalking their blogs, professional reviews...
You're a sci-fi fan. Are you an adventurous reader picking up new genres or are you loyal to your favorite book genre?
As a younger teenager, I used to be a very loyal reader of horror (Stephen King) and vampire stories (Anne Rice). When I got my first library card, it expanded my reading-universe immensely. I used to pick up books solely going by cover and title, discovering many great authors this way, even some all-time favourites (José Saramago, most importantly). I still read pretty widely, including lit-fic, noir, science fiction and fantasy, weird fiction, and some horror, but currently I'm focusing on catching up with science fiction and noir classics.
Do you read one book or several at a time?
I try to stick to one book at a time. Reading more turns too stressful for me. But sometimes I'll read a fiction and non-fiction book parallel to each other.
You’re an editor, a journalist and a lecturer. Does your book related occupation influence your reading list?
Sometimes. I teach linguistics and semiotics, and I find myself drawn to book dealing with these topics. Sometimes I can even use books I've read for fun in class.
Being an editor – copy editor for non-fiction texts – influences my reading in less pleasant ways. Spotting mistakes in books really annoys me, and I can be extremely nit-picky.
Your BookLikes Bookshelf presents many thematic shelves. Does it mean you’re an organized book lover?
Oh, no! Not at all! My shelves are mostly named by association, and sometimes even I can't tell any more why I put a certain book on a certain shelf. My shelves at home are organised by colour and my Kindle isn't organised at all.
There's a German saying: “Ordnung ist das halbe Leben” (order is half of life). Well, I prefer the other half.
What are your three favorite book covers?
The Poem Skull by J.M. Hushour. A very fitting cover. Weird, zany book, too.
Recently I find myself in love with the UK edition of Sam J. Miller's Blackfish City, the next book I plan to read. I like the neon-coloured US-edition too, but the UK cover with its crisp ocean colours and contrasting pink letters really stood out to me.
A paper book or an e-book?
Firmly both. I like my Kindle for practical reasons; it's easier to travel with, and I can adjust the font size to my convenience. But I also like the look and feel (and smell) of paper books, of books brand new from the factory as well as of vintage paperbacks which have already traveled a bit, gaining personality and having more than one story to tell.
Three titles for a holiday break?
For a day (or a month) at the beach: Der Schwarm (The Swarm) by Frank Schätzing. Biological thriller featuring everything (EVERYTHING!) you ever wanted to know about marine wildlife. Plus a few things you didn't want to know.
For people who don't like holidays: Thomas Ligotti's The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. The sun shines too brightly? The birds sing too chirpy? Your life's too damn groovy and you need something to bring you down? This is the perfect book for you. A veritable antidote to happiness, darker than sunshades and as soothing as a rainy day in November.
Der Mensch ist ein Loch im Nichts. // The human being is a hole in nothingness.
~ Juli Zeh, Schilf (In Free Fall/ Dark Matter)
If you could pair a book with a drink, what would you prepare to sip while reading?
Something with caffeine. Coffee in winter, in summer diet coke with lots of ice.
Shelfie time! Please share your home library photos :)
I don't collect books. Usually I donate or re-sell after reading. So I don't have that many shelves I could show you. But here's a look at my less than impressive, and somewhat chaotic, library and at my Kindle content.
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See you next Friday!