by velocibadgergirl

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tam Lin by Pamela Dean

O I forbid you, maidens a',
That wear gowd on your hair,
To come or gae by Carterhaugh,
For young Tam Lin is there.

Even before I knew about this book, I was vaguely familiar with the ballad of Tam Lin, and I read the Jane Yolen version when I worked in the children's department of the college library. Over the past few years, two friends have separately and enthusiastically recommended Pamela Dean's retelling to me. I even went looking for it once, only to find that it was out of print. Then, last year, I was puttering around at Barnes & Noble and saw it in a glossy brand-new paperback. The next time I talked to my friend Tamsyn online, I told her, "Hey, guess what I saw at B&N! Tam Lin in paperback!" She replied: "*bangs head on desk* I'm sending it to you and the Untamed Shrew for Christmas. Don't tell her."

And she sent it! Most fun of all, I had actually completely forgotten about our conversation by the time the book arrived, so it was a surprise after all. I had it in my to-be-read stack until last month, when I packed it for our camping / wandering trip. Dean's Tam Lin is set at a Midwestern liberal arts college in the 1970s. The classic ballad actually plays a somewhat small role in the overall scheme of the book. Most of the tale is the story of main character Janet and her college years. Dean perfectly portrays the exciting but intimidating freedom of the first years away from home, the forging of intense friendships and the desperate sadness in the fleeting moments when you realize those friendships may not last forever, and the topsy-turvy emotions of 18-year-olds falling in love.

When the final magical encounter at last occurs, it's rather short and matter-of-fact, but it works. In Tam Lin, Dean spins a believable and very readable tale with just the right amount of magic mixed in. It's a great read for lazy summer days or cold winter afternoons in bed.


Monday, October 01, 2007

A New Book Meme

Total number of books owned: I have no earthly idea, so I'm going to guess somewhere between 500 and 700. I'll let you know when we move again and I have to pack them!

Last book bought: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. I checked it out from the library and loved it so much that I bought it at Barnes & Noble the day I finished it.

Last book read: Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

Five books that mean a lot to you: This is going to be difficult!

1. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

It was one of the first Discworld books I read, and is still one of my very favorites from that series. Whenever I'm trying to introduce someone to Discworld, I usually recommend this one, because it works pretty well as a first look. It's funny, it has action, and you don't really have to be familiar with the whole Discworld universe to be able to enjoy it. Plus, I love Sam Vimes.

2. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

I'm counting the whole trilogy as one item. I realize they're not for everyone, but I really do love them. I have my mom's 1970s paperback copies, so they have the wonderful old-book smell and everything. Thinking of these books reminds me of reading The Return of the King for the second time. It was the summer before the movie came out, and I was reading it at this really cool outdoor church in a weird artsy commune type town, sitting on a ledge overlooking a field. I don't think I could've found a more perfect place to read about the battle at Minas Tirith.

3. Rusalka by CJ Cherryh

This has been one of my favorite books since I read it the first time. I think I was about twelve years old then. I also have a fondness for it because my mom recommended it to me. In a way, I feel like I grew up with the characters hanging around in my head, because I read it several times over the years that I first started trying to write fiction of my own. Rusalka and its two sequels really aren't the best books ever, but they'll always have a special place in my heart.

4. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Whenever a really and truly amazing book comes along, it's always special. American Gods was that book for me last year. Other than Good Omens, this was my introduction to Neil Gaiman, and I've been hooked ever since. With a really good book, I feel like I'm caught up in the story. With this one, I felt like I was actually in the story, down on the ground, watching it unfold right alongside Shadow. It was a great ride.

5. Tailypo by Joanna Galdone

This book scared the pants off me when I was a kid, but I loved it anyway. I don't know how many times I looked at it at the school library. My mom works at the public library now, and several years ago she brought home some raggedy picture books that her branch was going to throw away. She saved them from the garbage and was planning to take them to Goodwill so they wouldn't go to waste. One of the books was Tailypo and I snatched it up. It still scares the pants off me, but I'm so very happy to have it.

Tagging: the bibliophile, Megs, Blogapotamus Rex, the Pop Culture Librarian, and Danger. Who knows if they'll see this, but I figured it was worth a try!

Labels: , , , , , , ,