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Calling all Whovians

December 19, 2014 | Lynn | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

As a fan of Doctor Who, I am looking forward to the Christmas special airing this Christmas Day on the Space channel. This has become an annual tradition in my house as it is for Whovians (fans of Doctor Who) the world over. For the unintiated this series is a popular British television show that ran from 1963 to 1989 and came back to television in 2005 and continues to be popular today. The series is on it's 13th doctor and each fan has their favourite Doctor.  

To help gear up for the special, Toronto Public Library has a substantial number of materials for fans to discover in book form, short stories, DVD, eBooks, eAudiobooks, graphic novels and some books that can only be discovered at the Merril Collection which is housed in Lillian H. Smith branch. I will highlight a few from each format and I encourage fans, new and faithful, to discover the full extent of our collections.

Books

Doctor Who - Shada  The Doctor's lives and times  Doctor Who the secret lives of monsters

Doctor Who: Shada : the Lost Adventure by Douglas Adams

This is Douglas Adams completing the story of Shada, the episode that never made it to air. This is based on Adams' script.

Doctor Who: the Doctor's lives and times

To get the gossip on the man who has saved the Earth countless times from his closest friends and letters, this is a must read.

Doctor Who: the secret lives of monsters

If you are keen to add to your knowledge of the Doctor then this book will provide details relating to the Doctor's enemies.  

Short Stories

Doctor Who short stories

Doctor Who: 11 doctors 11 stories

Short stories brought to you by the leading sci fi authors of the era.

DVDs

Doctor Who the time of the doctor  Doctor Who the snowmen  Doctor Who the complete fourth series

Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor

This is last year's Christmas special which marked the 800th episode of the series and was a critically acclaimed episode.

Doctor Who: The Snowmen

This is the 2012 Christmas special with some old favourites returning for this special.

Doctor Who: The Complete Fourth Series

The Doctor and Donna run around time and space encountering Pompeii, Agatha Christie and the universe's largest library.

eAudiobooks

Doctor Who and the cave monsters  Doctor who and the terror of the autons  Doctor who planet of the daleks

Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters 

This is a novelization of an old episode and introduces the Silurians, a reptilian race who used to dominate the Earth.

Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons 

This novelization features the Doctor against the Master, the only other Time Lord in existence.

Doctor Who and the Planet of the Daleks 

This is a novelization of the Doctor again battling those he fought in the Great Time War, the Daleks who seek to simply exterminate with great prejudice. 

Graphic novels

Doctor who prisoners of time  Star Trek the next generation Doctor Who Assimilation

Doctor Who Prisoners of Time

This graphic novel features all 11 doctors in their own stories.

Star Trek the next generation, Doctor Who Assimilation, Volume 1

This is fan favourite crossover of two popular franchises, Star Trek and Doctor Who facing off against the Borg and Cybermen. 

Merril Collection

Doctor Who the caves of Androzani  Doctor Who the writer's tale  Doctor Who the infinity doctors

Doctor Who The caves of Androzani

This is the novelization of an 1985 episode where the Doctor must consider saving others at the cost of of one of his lives.

Doctor Who The writer's tale

This book provides an indepth look at a year on the show through the eyes of the head writer and executive producer, Russell T. Davies.

The infinity doctors

This is an original story based on the Doctor that provides the reader with a "what if" reading experience.

Please check out some of the recommendations and as the Doctor would say, "Geronimo!"

Life without Truthiness: The End of The Colbert Report

December 17, 2014 | M. Elwood | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

It's the end of an era. The Colbert Report is closing up shop on Thursday December 18, 2014. Stephen Colbert, the performer, will go on to a job hosting The Late Show but his creation, the right-wing political pundit Stephen Colbert, is being retired. There has been speculation that the character will be killed off based upon some recent Grim Reaper appearances on the show. 

Stephen Colbert, the character, first appeared on The Daily Show in 1996 where the pompous reporter became a fan favourite. In 2005, The Colbert Report, a parody of right-wing news programs like The O'Reilly Factor. During its nine year run, the show won two Peabody Awards. 

Colbert, the performer, has described his alterego as a "well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot".

Although we're losing The Colbert Report, we still have these books written during the show's tenure:

America again I am a pole I am america Stephen colbert's tek jansen

America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't
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I am a Pole (and So Can You!)

I am America (and So Can You!)
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Graphic Book

Stephen Colbert's Tek Jansen: Invasion of the Optiklons written by John Layman and Tom Peyer

Best of 2014: Quick Picks from Goodreads

December 12, 2014 | Soheli | Comments (5) Facebook Twitter More...

As we get closer to the end of the year, lists start popping up everywhere rounding up the best books of the year. I always like to take a look at reader-based selections, and the Goodreads Choice Awards is a good place to start. Here are a few of the selections from this year's list.

Best of Nonfiction
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

Opposite Of Loneliness

Marina was a top notch student at Yale (summa cum laude, in fact) who died in a tragic car accident shortly after she graduated. This post-humous collection of short stories and essays she wrote are sure to get you thinking (and sobbing). For a similar title, try This Star Won't Go Out.

Best of Fiction
Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Landline

Georgie knows her marriage is getting close to its breaking point. When she can't make it home for Christmas, and her husband takes the kids without her, she realizes something must be done. She discovers that there's a way to communicate with her husband - in the past. Can she save her marriage from the beginning again? For another book about complicated relationships in trouble, try Picture Bride by C. Fong Hsiung.

Best of Science Fiction
The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian


It's funny that I'd never heard of this book until a friend (at a crowded birthday party, nonetheless) pulled me aside and tapped his phone towards me: "Have you read this? It's AMAZING." And then he went into a corner and continued reading on that tiny screen. (I don't condone anti-social reading behaviour, but, hey, I understand it.) Described as a futuristic Cast Away meets Apollo 13, The Martian follows Mark Watney, one of the first astronauts to step onto Mars. After an accident leaves him stranded on the planet, with limited resources and no communication back to Earth, he must use everything he can to survive an impossible situation. For another literary, inter-galactic read, try Michel Faber's amazing The Book of Strange New Things.

Best of Humour
Yes Please by Amy Poehler

YesPlease


One of Saturday Night Live's most beloved alums offers advice and stories (all hilarious, of course) in her first book. Poehler dishes up anecdotes from childhood, her start in the entertainment industry, and her ongoing gig as the mom of two kids. For a similar read, try fellow SNL funny lady Tina Fey's Bossypants.

Best of Young Adult Fiction
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

WeWereLiarsa

This is one of those books that might technically be considered a young adult read, but will appeal to a much wider group of readers. It's also one of those books that's very hard to really talk about unless it's with people that have already read it (after all, we don't want to ruin it for anyone!) It's a story about secrets, friendships that change over time, and the memories we hold onto. This is also a book that seems to have you either loving it or hating it. Fellow blogger Margaret considers it exceptional, while I found it somewhat less so. Clearly, I'm in the minority, however, as this did make the Goodreads list. The only way to know how you'd feel is to read it yourself!

(Almost) Best of Poetry
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry by Anthony and Ben Holden

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

This isn't the actual winner of this category (that honour goes to Lang Leav's Lullabies). I couldn't resist putting this in anyway mostly because of its organization based on how it makes readers feel instead of what the poems are actually about. The Holden father-and-son team have compiled one hundred of the most moving poems, as selected by the poets, writers, actors, and others that love them. If you're a grown man reading this, please do let me know if you needed that box of tissues...

For the full list of Goodreads winners, check out their page. Also, don't forget that Book Buzz is on Goodreads too!

Popular and Award Winning Nonfiction of 2014

December 5, 2014 | Kelli | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

This past year has been fantastic for people who enjoy reading nonfiction. So many intriguing and interesting new books to read!  

Here is a selection of the nonfiction books published in 2014:

Being mortal Capital End of absence Innovators No place to hide

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
A look into the contemporary experience of aging and how doctors fall back on false hopes and treatments that are actually shortening lives instead of improving them. Gawande argues that what most of us really want is the autonomy to make decisions about the final chapter of our lives.  Reviewed in the The Guardian
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Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty
To uncover key economic and social pattern, Piketty has analyzed a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century. His findings will transform future debate about wealth and financial inequality. Reviewed in the New York Review of Books
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The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connection by Michael Harris
Harris chronicles the massive shift to a constantly connected world, exploring what we've gained and lost along the way. He argues that our greatest loss has been that of absence itself, that is, of silence, wonder and solitude. Winner of the Governor General's literary Award for Nonfiction.  Reviewed in the National Post.
eBook

 

The Innovators: How A Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson.
An investigation into the personalities that created our current digital revolution and explores how their minds worked and what made them so inventive. He begins with Ada Lovelace, who pioneered computer programming in the 1840s, and continues with Alan Turing, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee, Larry Page and many more.  Reviewed in the New York Times
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No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald.
An investigative reporter for The Guardian, Greenwald provides an in-depth look into the National Security Agency scandal. He explores the cooperation between private industry and the NSA, and the far-reaching consequences of the U.S. government's surveillance program. Reviewed in The Globe and Mail.
eBook

 

Sixth extinction Tastemakers This changes everything What if Zhivago affair

Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert.
Drawing on the work of geologists, botanists, marine biologists, and other researchers; Kolbert discusses the five previous devastating mass extinctions on Earth and predicts an upcoming sixth. Reviewed in The New York Times.
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The Tastemakers: Why We're Crazy About Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue by David Sax.
Through this look into the world of food trends, Sax reveals where they originate, how they grow and why they end. With examples such as cupcakes, chia and greek yogurt, his investigation leads him to many places, including food industry labs and food trucks. Reviewed in The Toronto Star.
eBook

 

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein
Klein exposes the myths that are clouding the climate debate.  She argues that the really inconvenient truth about global warming is that it’s about capitalism, not carbon. We have been told the market will save us, when in fact the addiction to profit and growth is digging us in deeper every day. Winner of the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction.  Reviewed in The Globe and Mail.
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What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurb Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
A former NASA roboticist, Munroe launched the very popular weblog xkcd.com in 2005. In 2012, he started answering reader-submitted hypothetical. That series, "What If," is the focus of this witty debut, which features an abundance of new black-and-white cartoons. Reviewed in The Wall Street Journal.
eBook
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Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over A Forbidden Book by Peter Finn and Petra Couvèe
Drawing on newly declassified government files, Peter Finn tells the dramatic story of how Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, a forbidden book in the Soviet Union, became a secret CIA weapon of the cold war. Reviewed in The New York Review of Books.
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P.D. James, 1920-2014

November 27, 2014 | Book Buzz | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

PD James Cologne

Phyllis Dorothy James was born in Oxford in 1920. She left school at 16 partly because her father did not believe in higher education and partly because the family needed income. She did clerical work at a tax office and later became the assistant stage manager for a theatre group. She married Army surgeon Ernest Connor Bantry White in 1941 and they had two daughters. After World War II, White suffered from mental illness and spent much of the remainder of his life institutionalized leaving James to support the family as a hospital administrator and later in the forensic science and criminal law departments of the Home Office.

Her childhood ambition was to become a novelist but she did not start writing until she was over 40; she regretted what she viewed as "wasted years".  Her first novel Cover Her Face was published in 1962 and introduced Adam Dalgliesh, the detective poet who is featured in 14 novels.

Best known for detective fiction, she also wrote The Children of Men, a dystopian novel. Her most recent book Death Comes to Pemberley, a murder mystery inspired by Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice was published in 2011.

Novelist P.D. James died peacefully at her home on November 27, 2014. She was 94.

Some of her works:

Children of men Cover her face pd james Death comes to pemberley The private patient An unsuitable job for a woman

The Children of Men
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Cover Her Face
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Death Comes to Pemberley
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The Private Patient
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An Unsuitable Job for a Woman
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Picture credit: By Benutzer:Smalltown Boy (Diskussion) (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Why you should judge a book by its cover.

November 26, 2014 | Soheli | Comments (6) Facebook Twitter More...

I'm guilty of reading pretty books. Chances are, you've been sucked into that too.

I recently had the pleasure of listening to Peter Mendelsund, sought-after book cover designer, talk a little about what goes into the process of design. 

If you think you haven't heard of him or seen his work, think again:

Stieg Larsson Trilogy

Here is some of his Kafka art:

Kafka Covers by Mendelsund.

Looking familiar yet?

An avid reader himself, Peter describes the process of interpreting a book into a single look as sometimes exhausting, but a great chance to connect words and art to make sometimes simple, but memorable, covers. For The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, he drafted nearly fifty versions before he settled on the subtle swirls we now know so well.

As he's often asked to do covers for many works by a single author, he plays with thematic elements that become a thread through them all: note his use of the eye in his Kafka series. (Some of his art has become so iconic, it's even made it onto phone cases and tote bags, which Peter finds both "strange and awesome.")

With other covers, he will focus on the particular feel of a book rather than a straight forward representation of 'what it's about'. In his design of Lolita, he reminds us that the story is still often child-like, and as a reader, he could never quite shake the idea that lovely Lo is really just a little girl despite the very adult situations. The pink paper cut out, phonetic spelling, and girl-ish handwriting covers allude to that.

Pink paper cut out cover of Lolita   Spelling out Lolita and Handwriting

 A lot of thought goes into designing the jackets of these books. Many of the titles have been published before, so a designer's job is often attempting to re-interpret a story or character and appeal to a broad audience. If you want to check out more of Peter's eye-catching designs, take a peek at his latest art book, the aptly titled Cover. And as if it wasn't quite ambitious enough, he's also released another book, What We See When We Read, this year. You can also read a review from the National Post about it that explores how we visualize and create meaning when we read.

Cover by Peter Mendelsund  What We See When We Read

If you're feeling inspired by all of this book jacket eye candy and are suddenly re-thinking your current career path, Peter also offers an online design course.

Of course, there are tons of other memorable, distinctive and gorgeous book covers from all over. Maybe you've heard of a little something called Jurassic Park?

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.

This easily recognizable cover art is courtesy of designer Chipp Kidd. He's also written a book for would-be designers called Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design

GO: a Kidd' s Guide to Graphic Design 

His design work is hugely diverse, with covers ranging from the deceptively simple...

The Antagonist  A Wolf At the Table
(The Antagonist by Canadian author Lynn Coady and A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs)

...to dazzling, colourful images that catch you off guard:

1Q84  South of the Border West of the Sun
Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 and South of the Border, West of the Sun (in eBook)


  Cool It
Cool It by Bjorn Lomborg

As Chip Kidd says, 

“Book designers responsibility is three fold. To the reader, to the publisher and most of all to the author. I want you [the reader] to look at the author’s book and say,

‘Wow, I need to read that.’” 

Isn't it Romantic? An Online Forum for Romance Readers

November 24, 2014 | Book Buzz | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

To celebrate the popularity of Toronto Public Library's romance fiction collection, Book Buzz has introduced a new online discussion section specifically dedicated to romance. Here you can meet with other readers, discuss books, and receive recommendations. It's a new way to share your reading experiences.

Romance Discussion Forum

Romance Fiction:
Get in the mood to join the discussion with these seasonal romance novels.

Angels at the table Baby it's cold outside Candlelight christmas Comfort and joy Dark celebration

Angels at the Table by Debbie Macomber
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An inexperienced angel sees two lonely people at Times Square on New Year's Eve and impulsively engineers an encounter. Chef Lucie and food critic Aron are perfect for each other but Will has gotten the timing wrong and senior angels Shirley, Goodness and Mercy must step in to ensure a happy ending.

Baby, It's Cold Outside
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Five of today's hottest romance writers have each provided a story for this festive collection.

Candlelight Christmas by Susan Wiggs
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A single father who yearns for love meets an independent single woman determined to stay that way. A heartwarming story of Christmas magic.

Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah
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Recently divorced librarian (!) Joy Candellaro impulsively leaves her orderly life behind and takes a Christmas vacation that will change her life.

Dark Celebration: a Carpathian Reunion by Christine Feehan
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The Carpathian community comes together for a Christmas celebration and to welcome the birth of a new member unaware that their enemies are plotting against them. The 17th book in the paranormal suspense series, Dark Series.

The heart of christmas Heroes are my weakness Hot mail Island christmas What a lady needs for christmas

The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak
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When she sees how happy her married friends are, Eve Harmon despairs that she is still single. Suddenly a handsome mysterious stranger appears at the B and B she runs. Could this be the man of her dreams? Received a 4.5 star review from Romantic Times.

Heroes are my Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
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This modern gothic romance novel was named one of the top ten romance books of 2014 by Booklist. It's the "tartly humorous and very sexy" tale of a woman on a frozen island with the man who once betrayed her.

Hot Mail by Janice Maynard
Jane's New Year's resolution is to stop lusting after her friend Ethan and actually do something about it. She decides that the best way to get his attention is by sending a series of anonymous Valentine's Day cards--one every week.

An Island Christmas by Nancy Thayer
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Free-spirit Felicia has finally found love with bumbling Archie and has agreed to a lavish fairy-tale wedding to please her mother while her mother secretly schemes to set her daughter up with a more "suitable" mate.

What a Lady Needs for Christmas by Grace Burrowes
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A marriage of convenience blossoms into something more. Beautifully written and full of social commentary, Library Journal named this one of the best romance books of 2014.

R.A. Montgomery, 1936-2014

November 21, 2014 | Andrea | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

You receive the news that the author of one of your childhood favourite series has passed away earlier this month. If you wish to read his obituary in the New York Times, visit this website. If you are saddened and filled with sudden nostalgia, pick up a Choose Your Own Adventure book (CYOA) to reread and reminisce.

Writer and publisher R.A. Montgomery leaves a legacy of interactive children's books that kept reluctant readers turning the pages. The second person point of view allowed you to be the protagonist of every story, an innovative format originally declined by other publishing companies. Montgomery recognized the fun of being able to choose the course of the plot by flipping to different pages. Each book had dozens of different endings, and you must choose wisely, else the outcome is often deadly... but the magic of the books was that you could always flip back and choose again. You can stop reading when you find the best possible ending, or you can read every single ending. It's up to you!

Choose Your Own Adventure books have sold more than 260 million copies around the world since 1977. You can find out more about the series on the CYOA website. Here are five early titles written by Montgomery himself:
 
Journey Under the SeaSpace and BeyondThe Lost Jewels of NabootiMystery of the MayaThe Abominable Snowman

Journey Under The Sea

You find the lost city of Atlantis.

Space and Beyond

You are an intergalactic traveler exploring the final frontier. TARDIS sold separately.

The Lost Jewels of Nabooti

Someone has made off with the (possibly cursed) treasure and it's up to you to track it down.

Mystery of the Maya

You dabble in archaeology and encounter aliens. (A film adaptation is apparently on its way, but wasn't this already an Indiana Jones movie?)

The Abominable Snowman

You and your best friend hunt a yeti atop the icy peaks of Nepal.

2014 Governor General's Literary Awards: Winners Announced

November 18, 2014 | Book Buzz | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The Governor General's Literary Awards winners were announced on November 18, 2014. Awards were presented in fourteen different categories for both English and French authors and in categories for adults and children.

Drama:

Age of minority God in need of help Secret mask That elusive spark

Winner:

Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays by Jordan Tannahill

Finalists:

A God in Need of Help by Sean Dixon

The Secret Mask by Rick Chafe

That Elusive Spark by Janet Munsil

 Fiction:

The back of the turtle Juliet was a surprise My october The opening sky Sweetland

Winner:

The Back of the Turtle by Thomas King
eBook

Finalists:

Juliet was a Surprise by Bill Gaston
eBook

My October by Claire Holden Rothman
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The Opening Sky by Joan Thomas
eBook

Sweetland by Michael Crummey
eBook

Non-Fiction

The end of absence Know the night The oil man and the sea Up ghost river

Winner:

The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connection by Michael Harris

Finalists:

Know the Night: A Memoir of Survival in the Small Hours by Maria Mutch

The Oil Man and the Sea: Navigating the Northern Gateway by Arno Kopecky

Up Ghost River: A Chief's Journey through the Turbulent Waters of Native History by Edmund Metatawabin with Alexandra Shimo

Poetry:

Lake of two mountains Leaving howe island Light light Night vision Prologue for the age of consequence

Winner:

Lake of Two Mountains by Arleen Paré

Finalists:

Leaving Howe Island by Sadiqa de Meijer

Light Light by Julie Joosten

Night Vision by Christopher Levenson

Prologue for the Age of Consequence by Garth Martens

Five Books about Comets

November 17, 2014 | M. Elwood | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The momentous news that the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft had successfully deployed a robotic lander on a comet was inexplicably overshadowed by nude pictures of Kim Kardashian last week. It's a shame. The arrival of lander Philae on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is far more rare.

The Rosetta was launched in March 2004 and has spent the past decade moving on a meticulously planned journey through space before landing on a moving comet, 300 million miles away from earth. That's mindblowing.

Philae transmitted sounds and pictures before its solar powered battery failed on November 15. It is hoped that the batteries will recharge in August 2015 when the comet will be closer to the sun.

Meanwhile, these are some books about comets:

Non-Fiction

Comets visitors from deep space Dreams of other worlds Near earth objects

Comets: Visitors from Deep Space by David J. Eicher
Learn all about comets in this book.

Dreams of Other Worlds: the Amazing Story of Unmanned Space Exploration by Chris Impey and Holly Henry
Profiles of several unmanned space missions that have increased our understanding of the universe.

Near-Earth Objects: Finding Them Before they Find Us by Donald K. Yeomans
Yeomans discusses the scientific efforts to find, study and track near-earth objects like comets and asteroids.

Fiction

Blood of flowers Night of the comet

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
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A comet is a sign of misfortune to a 17th century Persian town. Shortly after, a young girl's life is disrupted when her father dies and instead of the marriage she was planning, she becomes a servant to her wealthy rug designer uncle.

The Night of the Comet by George Bishop
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A coming of age novel set in 1973 as many people waited expectantly for the arrival of Comet Kouhoutek.

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