The best sort of surprise …

… is the discovery of book tokens, once lost, now miraculously reappeared – and, most importantly, not yet expired.

Not until the 13th, anyway. That gives me eighteen days – eighteen! – to decide what I should turn them into. These particular vouchers (rediscovered by my mother during a clean-out of my old room in the family home, in order that it may fulfil its destiny of being filled with crates of wool) were a Christmas present; therefore they must be exchanged for leisure reading and not, say, the equivalent value of dictionary.

With this thought in mind, and the tokens en route from Dunedin, I went to scope out Unity Books, beloved of bookish loiterers.

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl is one of those books-you’ve-heard-about; I don’t know that anyone I know has read it, but I know it’s been well received. I enjoy thrillers, and haven’t got my teeth into one in some time, so I picked it up for a trial browse and found … page after page of backstory. Starting at the first page of the book. 

And, yes, it is necessary backstory, I suspect, useful to the reader’s understanding of the plot as it unravels, but … look, sometimes I just want to read a book where something happens in the first ten pages other than exposition. Back on the pile.

Moranthology, by Caitlin Moran

I read and very much enjoyed Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman last year, and have been mainlining her Times Online columns ever since a lucky Google search directed me to them. My friends and I passed How to be a Woman around so often that it would have been ragged and dog-eared if it hadn’t been an ebook on the class iPad, and I’m sure Moranthology will suffer the same fate. Which, come to think of it, means that the cunning plan of action may be to wait until one of the others buys it, first, and then snaffle it from their shelf. Decisions.

On the Map, by Simon Garfield

Having spent most of my life convinced that fiction and fiction alone was Where It Was At, in the last few years I’ve been seduced into a new point of view by, er, actually reading some decent non-fiction. On the Map promises to feed both my desire for obscure trivia and my odd attraction to, well, maps. Plus, its title is a pun, which is always appreciated. A definite possibility.

Hard Twisted, by C Joseph Greaves

More a curiosity than a possibility, this cover features the most anime-eyed wee cowboy girl ever to creep me out from across a store. The cover did its job of making me notice the book, though, and the story sounds intriguing – until I discover that the Los Angeles Times has described it as ‘A kind of Dust Bowl Lolita.

Um. Perhaps not.

What Katie Ate, by Katie Quinn Davies

You know what I haven’t had in a while? this cover makes me think. Friands. And now I’m hungry again.

Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovitch

I’ve noticed a quiet swell of squee around Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London books, though it’s been indistinct enough that I never, er, caught exactly what the books were about. Nevertheless: pretty typography, check; urban fantasy, check; urban fantasy sans headless midriff-bearing model on the front cover, checkity-check; and, ooh, a map. 

On top of that the book is the first in a series. It’s been far too long (whole months!) since I had that all-encompassing greed for an ongoing series, the sort that has you spending far too much money on Amazon at far too ridiculous an hour, and not sleeping until seven the next morning. I’m in the middle of the Dresden Files at the moment, which is fun, but not scratching the itch – I need to try something new.

Wool, by Hugh Howey

Wool is a strong contender for my book-money. Australian-authored sci-fi, a dystopic future thriller about a society with Secrets? Sign me right up! Plus, Page & Blackmore in Nelson had a Wool stand with flashing red lights. If a publisher’s going to shell out for flashing lights, the book’s got to have something going for it.

These are all the books I had time to browse; after a while of picking up books, taking photos of them, and moving on, I suspected the staff thought I was one of those browse-now, Amazon-later types, and started to feel a bit self-conscious. And hungry. I’m sure there are dozens more books that would catch my interest if only they caught my eye. Until then, though, I will let these simmer as I wait for my miraculous book tokens to arrive.

What books are you anticipating – to buy, to be released, to exist in a form other than not-in-your-hands? If you had to part with $50 worth of book tokens by mid-February, what would you swap them for? Most importantly, though – where in Wellington can I gorge on friands without having to bake them myself?