Tuesday, December 27, 2011

All I want for Christmas is BOOKS

I am spending the holidays in New York City. My friend Kata, who was my roommate back at Trinity College, invidited me over, to spend Christmas together. I feel like the Country Mouse, and in a way, that is exactly what I am, for now.

I have a love-hate relationship with New York. I would not live here even if they paid me, but wandering the streets for a few days at a time can be tons of fun.
(A T-shirt I saw on a girl who pushed past me in the crowd at the Union Square market kind of sums it up: "Go [heart] your own damn city.")
I have a three-day limit on Manhattan. Three days of awesome fun and miles and miles of walking and shopping bags, and then I kind of curl up on Kata's couch and refuse to face the crowds and the noise and the crazyness for a day or two. Repeat as necessary.

But. No one can deny that the holidays in New York offer a lot of opportunities. Instead of targeting specific places, I took tours: walked down Broadway from Union Square to Bowling Green; walked up 6th Avenue from 14th to 42nd; walked across town randomly, stopping whenever I found a shop, a building or an event that looked kinda interesting. I nerded out in all the comic book shops I could find; bought dice for the gaming class; poked at bones and stuffed animals in the Evolution shop; hunted up and down the Holiday Market (The Unemployed Philosophers' Guild takes the cake!). The weather was kind to us this year: sunshine and no snow, and just a sprinkling of rain. Since, according to my experiences, "white Christmas" in a big city quickly turns into "grey, kinda slushy Christmas", I didn't really mind.

Long story short, I ended up in the Strand.

It is a cruel, cruel place. You get lost in there for long hours, and when you finally defeat the dungeon, you leave your money behind. I kid you not, I strained my shoulders going home from that place, carrying bags of books.
Of course, it is everything a bookworm can dream of. Even with the pre-Christmas last-minute-shopping crowd, I wandered around sqealing like a happy mouse. I would stop randomly in corners and aisles, and stare at the rows and rows of books without actually reading a title. I would drag ladders from one shelf to the other and climb them to perch on the top, balancing the books I already had in my hands and the ones I wanted to flip through. I would seek out the names of my currently favorite authors and find long rows of their books. Mark Twain, Mary Renault, Gerald Morris. And of course, the Myths & Epics section. Oh, that section. Yeah, I was the girl who blocked the aisle with her back against the Fiction section, sitting on the carpet, pulling out one book after another.

And boy did I find cool things! Unfortunately, I did not have money for everything. For one, I tried to avoid big and heavy books, because there is no way I can take all of them home; with a heavy heart I had to leave all the Fairy Encyclopedias and the Arthurian Albums and the Dictionaries of Monsters and Imaginary Places. But, of course, I did not leave the place with empty hands.

So, without further ado, here are my picks for the holiday season:
(None of them are holiday-related, as you will find, but that was never the point)

The Green Hero (because I can never leave behind a book that has Finn Mac Cool written on it)

Parsifal's Page (another great Gerald Morris book I have not read yet. I don't know what I'll do when I run out of them. Write fanmail to the author demanding more, most likely.)

Tales of wonder (Mark Twain meets steampunk, your argument is INVALID)

Tom Sawyer abroad (no one ever told us in school Tom Sawyer has a sequel. Duh.)

Digenis Akritas: The two-blood border lord (Byzantine-Arabic half blood hero fighting everything that moves? sign me up! Every day you find an epic you have not read yet is a good day.)

King Harald's Saga (because it is one of my ever favorite sagas. Hands down.)

And now comes to the curl-up-on-the-couch reading séance. See you all next year!

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