Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chapter 12 - In which the best book in world history has been unearthed

Yes, you got me... "unearthed!"

Note: The post that follows should put a smile on your face.

So, I was out at the Eaton Center today, in order to have some prints of my latest facebook pictures to send to family and grandparents in Germany. Since I selected the "print in 1 hour" option, I had to kill one full hour at the mall (can you IMAGINE???)

Now, what to do when you have an hour to kill and no money to spend? Well, personally, I like to resort to a trick known only to us literature majors and bookworms (generally all the same people anyway): I go to the bookstore. Not with any intention of purchase. I go to either a) find out if there are any new awesome books and sit down in a shady corner to read or b) to talk about books with the employees.
And so, I set off for Indigo, my favourite bookstore in all of downtown Montreal (and Toronto). They have computers there, where you can type in the name of a book, author, etc. and find whether they've got it in stock (I suppose they put that in to keep people from over-harrassing employees... but, for some reason, the employees get harrassed anyway). On that computer, I typed in the name of my favourite author: Diana Wynne Jones. Now, most of the books that showed up in my search and were available in store were books that I already owned... except for one.
The Tough Guide to Fantasy Land.
Yes, that is the title of the ultimate awesome book of awesomeness! It is rather small, despite being a hardcover book: only 6 1/2 inches by 4 7/8 inches and only 1 1/4 inch thick. It has a nice glossy paper cover on top of the red cloth-bound harcover, with lots of colours to attract a potential reader's straying attention. The computer said it had three copies left in it's "Bargain Books" section. Well, that section is a true maze of books; books of all kinds, shapes and sizes are piled in tottering piles one atop the other on a total of about 12 tables and 1 measly row of shelves. Try finding a book there: not an easy task. Especially not when your book is as small as this one. But I didn't know that yet. I just looked at the mountains and towers and ruins of books and wondered whether I would ever find those three copies.
So I went to my favourite reference person in all of the Indigo store. Her name is Frankie. She's an older lady, with gray hair, and about a head shorter than me. She's really nice and loves books as much as I do. And so we both set off on the quest for this fantastic book. We found it, after about half an hour of searching, disecting and demolishing the piles of books. It turned out that Diana Wynne Jones' books were neatly tucked away in a corner of the set of shelves, but they were so small that I had overseen them... on several occasions. This is why the book has been "unearthed."

Now, about the book. Why is it the best ever? Because, without even opening the first page, you break into the greatest fit of giggles you'll ever experience in your life.
First, the cover. It looks like this (illustrated by Douglas Carrel).

Awesome, no? Then comes the awesome title: The Tough Guide to Fantasy Land, and the even better subtitle: "Actually very little to do with The Lord of the Rings". And the name of Dianna Wynne Jones in happy bright yellow letters.
The back cover, warning Lord of the Rings fans - this is genuinely hilarious, has "comments and critiques" about the book... The back cover is written as follows (parentheses are my own comments):
"An indispensable guide for anyone stuck in the realms of fantasy without a magic sword to call their own." - Terry Pratchett
"I've got a magic sword, actually, so I'll stick to that if you don't mind. Even if it is broken." - Aragorn son of Arathorn
(awesome!!! *squees*)
"Would have been a lot more use on the quest than three Elven hairs." - Gimli son of Gloin (even better! *fan-girl scream*)
This may look like just a Gollancz parody, but Diana Wynne Jones is actually a really good author. Look:
"I'd vote for Dianna Wynne Jones as a British National Treasure." - Locus
"Most adults with taste have been reading her books for years." - Good Book Guide

Okay, back to me now. This sounds good (and funny) already, no? But if you look up the book summary, it's EVEN BETTER!! I won't recopy it, because people might start hating me for it, but I will state that one of the features included in the book is "A map (obviously)".

Needless to say, the end of my hour was killed off pretty quickly. I bought the book. It was five bucks (fine, 5.66$ with taxes), so no regrets - that's waaay affordable. I bought it and just sat down and started reading... and giggling so hard people must have thought I was completely, utterly nuts! - wait, I am that way already, aren't I? Oh well...
So yeah. AWESOME BOOK! It just makes my desire to go to the UK and give Diana Wynne Jones a huge-ass hug even greater! She is awesome, worship her like I do!

Oh, and buy the other two copies of the book if you can. It' really worth it!

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