Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Information Wellspring

I'm always on the lookout for informational goodies - books just chock-a-block full of nuggets focusing on a specific area. I thought today (er, tonight) that I'd share some of my findings. Some of these I own, most of them I want to own, and some I'd like to own but seriously have no use for them (yet...I'll probably get them at some point just in case. That and they're still super-interesting).

A World Treasury of Riddles by Phil Cousineau. In case you're looking for riddles, take a look at this book instead of the crap online. Not all of these riddles may work for you, but it's interesting to see some of the things different parts of the world have come up with.

Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart, my most recent find. Funny, because I remember some guy looking for this book many months ago, but neither I or whoever was looking it up thought much of it. It's got just about any poisonous or otherwise noxious plant you might want to know about, from the everyday poison ivy to the lesser known (at least to us) suicide tree. It's short, to the point, letting you know how the plant will kill or harm you, where its origins are, and how it spreads. It's a small book, for all it's nifty information, and one of the cooler books I've seen in a while.

Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku. Read it, loved it, and now own it. It was Dr. Who's box on the cover jumping through wormholes that caught my eye (yes, I kind of judge books by their covers, despite what we're all told). Kaku breaks it down into how "impossible" science fiction goodies really are, from ray guns to time travel. It's fascinating - even if you don't completely understand everything he's talking about all the time. Still, it's worth the read if you write SF in order to get a tighter grasp on some of your potential physics (depending upon what you're writing about and how hard you want the science to be). Read the full review here.

Weapon by DK Publishing. Anything made by DK automatically rocks my socks. Ever since I was a kid, I was always checking out DK Eyewitness books from the library. Dogs and Rocks and Minerals were my favorites. Imagine my joy when I discovered an adult version dealing with weapons. Naturally, they don't have everything, but they get close enough, complete with pictures and interesting tidbits, factoids, all in the spirit that is DK awesomeness. I don't have this one, and really wish I had the money for it, that way I could quit slogging through the Internet every time I want the name of a sword that I can't remember. It's a big book (not thick so much as just coffee table sized), and if weapons aren't your thing, there's also Warrior, Battle, and Battle at Sea. I just haven't had the proper time to examine them.

The Encyclopedia of Crystals by Judy Hall. I know. It's a new agey book, so how's that going to help? First of all, while I love DK stuff, I find that even their fieldguides can be a bit overwhelming. I've always loved rocks, minerals, gems, and so on, considered being a geologist when I was 6, and had a great time in geology class during college. But throughout all those years, never could settle on a good rock/crystal book. Now that I'm into Fantasy, I found a book that works out perfectly. This encyclopedia is color-coded and offers new age insight into what certain minerals and crystals can be used for (i.e. drawing energy, promoting power, and more). It does give some scientific bits as well, makeup, location, hardness, etc. But it's handy for magical systems and other spots that raw earth materials might be used. And it includes gorgeous pictures as well.

The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures by John & Caitlin Matthews. I did a lot of research for this one. I'd been trying to find a good, solid list of mythological creatures and as usual, found myself disappointed with the Internet. I compared this book to a few others, narrowed it to two, painstakingly compared those, and ended up with this one. It's an alphabetical listing of as many mythical creatures as you're going to find throughout the world and its legends. I needed new ideas for potential creatures and use this for inspiration. They say that good writers borrow, great writers steal. Well, I'm stealing animals and modifying them to my tastes and worlds, so there you go. The best part about this book? It's cheap. Jackpot.

Planet Earth - The Complete Series. Expensive as hell, but well worth it, especially if you've never seen it on The Discovery Channel. The pictures they capture are crystal clear and utterly amazing. There's so much going on on this planet that most of us don't know about and all sorts of nooks and crannies we've never seen. Even if it doesn't inspire you, you might find something in it you've already toyed with. For example, the ants that die from a fungus that literally makes them crazy and then grows out of them. I had a mini-freakout when I saw that because I did something incredibly similar in my thesis - only that was before I knew about the ant thing. Knowing it was real (albeit on a much smaller scale) was a bit unnerving.

That's all I have at this time. It wouldn't surprise me in the future if I found more.

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