Saturday, July 23, 2016

Speculative Fiction: Best Series by Women & Must-Read International

What is speculative fiction? One article says:

Speculative fiction is a term, attributed to Robert Heinlein in 1941, that has come to be used to collectively describe works in the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror... Speculative fiction can be a collective term to describe works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror and also addresses works that are not science fiction, fantasy, or horror, yet don't rightly belong to the other genres.

Another says:
The term 'Speculative Fiction' was originally a "backronym" for the initials SF; at the time, during the New Wave Science Fiction movement of the 1960's, some writers felt that science fiction, or 'sci-fi,' was equated to flying saucers and rubber monsters, and wanted to distinguish themselves with a new genre label. ...Speculative Fiction can be applied to a work — correctly or incorrectly — in order to help it avoid the Sci Fi Ghetto; it can allow the more pretentious to believe that their favorite work is a proper 'literary' work with no connection to, and thus obvious superiority over that geeky science fiction or fantasy. 

We prefer:
Speculative fiction is a world that writers create, where anything can happen. It is a place beyond reality, a place that could have been, or might have been, if only the rules of the universe were altered just a bit. Speculative fiction goes beyond the horror of everyday life and takes the reader (and writer) into a world of magic, fantasy, science. It is a world where you leave part of yourself behind when you return to the universe as we know it, the so-called real world. Speculative fiction defines the best in humanity: imagination, and the sharing of it with others.

Margaret Atwood prefers the term "speculative fiction" to "science fiction" - you can read her reasoning in her book of essays, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination. Her friend and fellow writer Ursula K. Le Guin argues for "science fiction" over "speculative". Yet another article has author Juliet McKenna using the term speculative fiction, but turning the debate upside down by making the case for it being "considerably harder to write than literary fiction." You can also see a definition of the genre (with a helpful Venn diagram) on writer Annie Neugebauer's website. Where do you stand on this issue? Let us know in the comments!

You can find some sci-fi and fantasy booklists in our Booklists for Adults and Teens LibGuide, but here are some recommended series by female authors and some must-read titles from around the globe for you!

Best Series Written by Women

Ursula K. Le Guin - Hainish Cycle
Start with: The Dispossessed

Lois McMaster Bujold - Vorkosigan Saga
Start with: The Warrior's Apprentice* [eAudioBook]

Octavia E. Butler - Xenogenesis Trilogy (Lilith's Brood)
Start with: Dawn [eBook]

C. J. Cherryh - Chanur series
Start with: The Pride of Chanur

Julie Czerneda - Night's Edge
Start with: A Turn of Light - Marrowdell

Madeleine L'Engle -Time Quintet
Start with: A Wrinkle In Time

Margaret Atwood - Maddaddam Trilogy
Start with: Oryx and Crake

Connie Willis - Oxford Time Travel Series
Start with: Doomsday Book*

*first available in series

Must-Read International Fiction
(mostly in translation)

The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo

Texaco by Patrick Chamoiseau

The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino [eBook]

The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abé [eBook]

Dendera by Yuya Sato   

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Ice by Vladimir Sorokin

The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma

Cold Skin by Albert Sánchez Piñol

Zig Zag by José Carlos Somoza   

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
The Apex Book of World SF edited by Lavie Tidhar 


100 Must Read Works of Speculative Fiction in Translation [Book Riot]

8 Great Sci-Fi Series Written by Women, From Ursula K. LeGuin to Margaret Atwood [Inverse]

Thursday, July 21, 2016

How to Adult

What is adulting? The linguistics journal American Speech has offered up these definitions:
1. to behave in an adult manner; engage in activities associated with adulthood
2. to make someone behave like an adult; turn someone into an adult
The internet is full of adulting memes, from "Who do I speak to about quitting adulthood?" to "That horrifying moment when you're looking for an adult, then realize you're an adult. So you look for an older adult, someone successfully adultier adult," not to mention "Being an adult is basically a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but every choice sounds terrible" and "So it turns out adulting is mostly just Googling how to do stuff" and "I have decided I no longer want to be an adult. So if anyone needs me, I'll be in my blanket fort...coloring." You can get stickers for your adulting achievements - "I paid my bills on time!" - and some places are offering adult summer camps with events like digital detoxes and throwback parties for those who want to escape the stresses of everyday life.

Author and adulting pundit Kelly Williams Brown has a blog wherein she takes you through the "steps" of adulting, which include Wear Your Stupid Seatbelt (#237), Your Stress is Not a Real Thing to Anyone But You (#228), Carry At Least $10 in Cash On You (#221), and Grocery Shop and Meal Plan Like a Champ (#173); they might not be the perfect ground rules for adulting, but, she says, "I can tell you that I feel more in control and more happy when I know I’m taking the small steps to assure that I am running my life in at least a semi-orderly way."

There's a strong backlash to the idea of adulting; journalists for Cosmopolitan and Jezebel have both spoken out against the trend. "'Adulting' implies that being an adult is not a necessary part of growing up, but rather a life choice you're hesitant to fully buy into. It's a singularly Millennial — especially female, at that — immaturity that reduces being a grown-up to a hobby," fumes Danielle Tullo.  Madeleine Davies scolds:
Adulting is a term most often used when a person fulfills a basic prerequisite of adulthood and wants to feel special—or, worse than that, be charmingly self-deprecating—about it. We can all recognize that being an adult is hard. We can also recognize that there are legitimate challenges to modern adulthood that didn’t exist 50 years’s time to put aside your need to feel special and praised and simply do your adult diligence without putting a cute word on it. Pay your bills, clean your rented apartment (because you’re too poor to own, obviously), and show up to work on time. Or don’t, and face the consequences.
There are some wry internet memes that express this viewpoint, too, like "Adulting just means taking care of yourself so an actual adult doesn't have to" and "Another fine day ruined by responsibility."

What's your take on adulting? Journalist Christine Birkner admits "Every generation has, to some extent, felt like it's faking it at grown-up life," which we totally agree with. Do you think adulting is limited to millennials, and mostly female millennials? We could argue that every generation has had its "adulting" dropouts, it's just that it's never been talked about so much - we've met plenty of folks over the years (men included) whose mothers bought their clothes or did their laundry long after they left home, and who could have used some tips on how to "adult" on their own. It seems like millennials do like to feel "special", but sometimes it's a relief to find out that you're not alone, not the only one who can't get your finances together or who needs an incentive to eat right and exercise or who is not Julia Child in the kitchen. There's things about adulting that are too cutesy, or just trying to sell us more stuff, but we like the idea that we're in this together, trying to make sense of this world, even if we don't feel as together about growing up as our parents made it look.

Here's a few books about adulting from the library catalog - some offer more guidance and some more laughs, so we've split them up accordingly.

How-To Guides

Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown

Don't Worry, It Gets Worse: One Twentysomething's (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood by Alida Nugent [eBook]

Grace's Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-Up by Grace Helbig

The Funny Side of Adulting 

The Worrier's Guide to Life by Gemma Correll 



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Top Circulating Titles - Genres Part Two

The Yellow Books, 1887 . Fine Art. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 18 May 2016.
“Knowledge is like money: To be of value it must circulate, and in circulating it can increase in quantity and, hopefully, in value.”
― Louis L'Amour, Education of a Wandering Man  

In the library, "circulation" means a lot of things.  What's sometimes called the "library card desk" is also known as "circulation".  When we look at a book's record, we count how many times it has checked out as its "circs". The library's collection floats (items checked out at one branch and returned at another stay at the branch at which they are returned), but its items circulate.

For this second genre post, we've chosen to feature the top circulating adult books system-wide from three fiction genres, as of July 8, 2016. Mystery still holds its own as the most popular genre in the top circulating fiction books system-wide, but we found the top ten for a couple of other genres - although two of those genres seem to be dominated by one or two (and in one case, related) authors!

Top Circulating Horror Fiction

1.  The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
2. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
3. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
4. Revival by Stephen King
5. Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
6. The Fireman by Joe Hill
7. The Shining by Stephen King
8. Night Shift by Stephen King
9. Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
10. Lost Souls by Seth Patrick

Top Circulating Western Fiction

1.  The Collected Short Stories by Louis L’Amour
2. Hard Country by Michael McGarrity
3. The Revenant by Michael Punke
4. Wild Cowboy Ways by Carolyn Brown
5. Great Train Massacre by William W. Johnstone & J. A. Johnstone
6. Sixkiller, U.S. Marshal by William W. Johnstone & J. A. Johnstone
7. Winchester 1887 by William W. Johnstone
8. Vengeance of the Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone & J. A. Johnstone
9. Robert B. Parker’s Blackjack by Robert Knott
10. The Trail to Crazy Man by Louis L’Amour

Top Circulating Science Fiction

1.  The Martian by Andy Weir
2. Transgalactic by James Gunn
3. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
4. The Orion Plan by Mark Alpert
5. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
6. A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab
7. Poseidon’s Children by Alastair Reynolds
8. Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
9. Visitor by C. J. Cherryh
10. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood