Sunday, 3 April 2016

Lupine Book Club: Sunday Afternoon Reader, Part 4

It's been quite a while since I last did one of these features -- just over a year! So for those who haven't read one before, the premise is pretty simple, really; I pull together a bunch of unusual, coffee table or outright bizarre books that I would read on a Sunday afternoon, when there's nothing on TV and I don''t have any activities planned. It's been something of a tradition since teen years, and though it fluctuates in frequency in this much busier period of my life, I always get a kick out of it. So without further ado, here's some more books perfect for Sunday afternoon.

Pic from
Lego Minifigure Year By Year: A Visual Dictionary
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley
Year: 2013

As some of you may have noticed, I'm a pretty big Lego fan. This doesn't just extend to building and photographing the stuff, either -- I like learning about the company itself, too. Now Lego Minifigure Year By Year: A Visual Dictionary is not a blow-by-blow expose of all of the machinations behind the scenes at The Lego Group, and nor should it be. Rather, it's a coffee table-style look at the wild and wonderful forms minifigures have taken since they were first introduced back in 1978 -- including three minifigures embossed into the cover: a Townsperson, a Robber and a Stormtrooper from Star Wars. Published in 2013, it's slightly out of date now, but not critically so. I believe there is now a newer edition doing the rounds, which excludes the Stormtrooper in favour of another figure -- perhaps one of our readers can confirm? Either way, this is an essential purchase for any Minifigure fan, no matter how casual or dedicated.

Pic from
Wonder Woman: Amazon. Hero. Icon
Publisher: Universe
Year: 2010

Not far from Central Station in Sydney is a clearance bookstore called Basement Books. Most of its stock isn't that exciting, but every now and then they get in some real gems -- such as this title, which I picked up for a mere $10. Covering the iconic Amazon's history up to 2010 -- so just pre-New 52 -- it's another coffee table-style book packed full of great art, and a rough history of her publication and place in comic culture. The main issue I had with it was that there didn't seem to be much information included on the various adaptations of the character outside comics -- so no Super Friends, no merchandise and perhaps most glaringly, no Lynda Carter TV show. Still, the art alone is worth the admission price, featuring luminaries like Adam Hughes, Brian Bolland and of course, George Perez.  

Pic from
The Field Guide to Extraterrestrials
Publisher: New English Library (Hodder & Stoughton)
Year: 1997

Ah, where would we be without at least one UFO/paranormal-related book in a post like this? Rest easy, I've got plenty more left in the Lupine Library, I'm unlikely to run short anytime soon. This particular collection is more geared at a children/young adult audience, serving as something of a primer to the idea of extraterrestrial visitation. It looks at a number of high-profile cases where entities are claimed to have been encountered, with an accompanying illustration of the alleged creature itself. Author Patrick Huyghe divides these creatures into four distinct categories (Humanoid, Animalian, Robotic and Exotic), which is a reasonable enough system. All the usual suspects like the Greys and the Nordics make an appearance, but there are some pretty bizarre characters included. Alien encounters or evidence of mankind's impressive imaginations? You'll have to decide for yourself.

Pic from the Fighting Fantasy Wiki
Fighting Fantasy: Sword of the Samurai
Publisher: Wizard Books
Year: 1986, 2006

I've picked Sword of the Samurai here, but really we could substitute just about any Fighting Fantasy book. About 10 years ago, when I first moved out of home, I bought a ton of these books from local thrift stores and book exchanges; there were loads floating around on the Central Coast at the time, for whatever reason. A huge phenomenon in the 1980s, they're basically a more sophisticated version of a Choose Your Own Adventure book, incorporating additional rules mechanics, like dice, to regulate combat. As you might imagine, they share quite a few similarities with the then-popular text adventures for home computers. While pretty dated in a world that has mostly moved on from this style of reading and gameplay, they're still a good stopgap for anyone who's between RPG groups -- and an entertaining way to while away a few hours in an old-school fantasy landscape, where death is virtually omnipresent.

 Well, that's it for Part 4 -- hopefully it'll be less than a year till part 5!  

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