November 6, 2013 @ 7:22 pm | Filed under: Books
The next volume of Scott’s alternate history/thriller series, Uncivil War, is now available for Kindle. A collection of five short stories, on sale for 99 cents. If you’ve read Vol. 1, The Island, and are eager to hear more about Harry and Buttercup, you’ll have to wait… 🙂 This volume, After the Fall, features new characters, new story arcs (and is decidedly not YA, I should add, in case the first installment gave that impression).
More books I wanted to mention: Sarah Elwell’s The Memory of Light and Otherwise. Sarah’s writing has been some of my favorite on the internet since I discovered her old blog, Homespun—way back in 2005, was it? She blogs now at Knitting the Wind and Gnossienne, and writes poetry and fiction as well. I have a special hand-bound edition of Otherwise that I cherish. Both books are available as ebooks, and Sarah is offering them on her website, asking a small donation toward her daughter’s athletic training. (She is a serious—and seriously talented—windsurfer, working toward Nationals.) You can find out more at Gnossienne.
Thanks to my pal Karen Edmisten, I recently read Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple, and loved it, couldn’t put it down. Made Scott read it immediately afterward so we could discuss. (He’s very obliging that way.) Have you read it? Want to gab?
I’m still reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things, which, since it’s about a nineteeth-century lady botanist, is the very definition of had-me-at-hello. I’m not very far in yet; got waylaid by the aforementioned Bernadette and then a sudden inexplicable need to reread Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time. These things happen. But Alma’s a mighty captivating character and I’m looking forward to following her farther into the century.
What are you reading right now?
July 13, 2010 @ 9:13 pm | Filed under: Books
To cut to the chase: a Kindle has come into my possession, and I’m surprised to find I adore it. That’s right, Mac-fangirl, iPad-coveting me.
After a mere four days of Kindle use, I find myself eyeing the stacks of books in the TBR pile and wishing I had their digital versions instead.
This feels passing strange, considering how much I love the tactile aspects of a book-book. The intriguing or unsuitable cover, the shush of pages rustling, the crisp words springing up from the page. Font, margin, endpapers: these things I cherish.
But: the Kindle—it’s so slim and smooth in the hand, and one hand is enough. Tap, tap, tap, a single thumb—either thumb, a detail I appreciate—advances the pages. Three chapters into a book about Sudan, I find myself wanting some background; I nudge the little square button and make my way, lightning-quick, to Google or Wikipedia. (How much saner I’d have been had I read the recent Byatt book this way instead.) Dickens makes me laugh, and I want to share the passage with Scott: chk chk, I’ve highlighted the quote and added a note of my own.
The Dickens was free, of course, and easy to find.
Unlike my iPod Touch, I can’t read the Kindle in the dark. But any book I download to the Kindle can be sent to the Touch as well, and there’s a sync function to make sure my bookmark is always in the right spot.
When I first turned the Kindle on, I was disappointed. The contrast is not terrific; the background of the page is gray, not white, not the creamy color my Touch can produce. Oh dear, I thought, this is going to be a bust. My eyes require good contrast. I drive Scott crazy by wearing down my laptop battery with the screen turned always to maximum bright.
But I wasn’t sitting in good light during that first encounter. I upped the font size and moved to a sunny corner, and I could read just fine. Under a lamp or reading light, it’s the same as reading a real book.
(I will always call them real books, you know.)
When I read on my iPod, the device seldom ceases calling attention to itself. I’ve written before about feeling curiously distant from the text of a book-on-iPod. Is it the small screen? The backlighting? Whatever the cause, I have to concentrate harder. That isn’t happening with the Kindle. The Kindle disappears. There’s just the unfolding story. I’d heard people say that, but I was skeptical. It’s true. It disappears—until the moment I desire its presence. I really love that note-and-highlight function.
The iPod Touch is a brilliant multitasker. You know I love its versatility: mail, web, games, books, language lessons, social networks, videos, good grief is there anything it can’t do? Well, it seems it can’t stop nibbling at my attention, that’s what. I’m reading a book but I know I can do a quick mail check with two taps. Temptations. Distractions.
The Kindle’s web browser is boring black-and-white, not at all tempting. It’s a unitasker, and that’s what this fidgety brain of mine needs in order to focus on a book. A real book is a single-purpose tool. (Unless you count serving as the dominant element of my home’s interior design.)
These are just notes on the honeymoon phase of the Kindle experience. The novelty may wear off quickly; we’ll see. I have all these lovely realbooks here waiting to be read. Real books with no DRM attached—that’s a major strike against the Kindle, when it comes to newer publications, the kind you actually pay for. And of course with a great many children’s books (picture books go without saying), you want to turn real pages, pages your four-year-old can point at and and pore over.
For classics, though? And thinking as a homeschooler? There’s a lot to recommend a cool, slim, ten-ounce tablet that can put any of the Great Books before your children’s eyes in a matter of seconds. As for new books, even if you can’t live with DRM-laden purchases, you gotta love the free download of first chapters to help you decide what to buy, in any form.
Well, we’ll see how long the honeymoon lasts.
January 30, 2010 @ 7:13 am | Filed under: Links
January 28, 2010 @ 6:17 am | Filed under: Links
• iPad @ Publisher’s Weekly
“The device was demoed with newspaper content from the New York Times and supports video and audio embedded in the content. Most importantly, the iPad will support the ePub e-book standard and Apple has developed its own e-reader software, iBooks, and will also launch an iBookstore. E-book pricing is reported to be in the $15 range.”
• Confused Texas Education Board bans kids’ author from curriculum | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Texas Regional News
“In its haste to sort out the state’s social studies curriculum standards this month, the State Board of Education tossed children’s author Martin, who died in 2004, from a proposal for the third-grade section. Board member Pat Hardy, R-Weatherford, who made the motion, cited books he had written for adults that contain “very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system.
“Trouble is, the Bill Martin Jr. who wrote the Brown Bear series never wrote anything political, unless you count a book that taught kids how to say the Pledge of Allegiance, his friends said. The book on Marxism was written by Bill Martin, a philosophy professor at DePaul University in Chicago. “
• Cybils: REVIEW Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
“This absorbing story told from the viewpoint of Jason, a boy with autism, would appeal to readers who enjoyed The London Eye Mystery or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, says Abby.”
The other day I mentioned two book-related social media platforms I use: GoodReads (faithfully) for logging the books I’ve read, and LibraryThing (sporadically) for cataloging the books we own.
I’ve experimented with several other platforms—
• BookGlutton is growing on me. It’s an ebook reader for your browser, with some nifty features built in. You can write notes in the margins, and other people can see these notes and comment back—so just imagine, we could all read a book together and discuss it page by page if we wanted.
For example, if you click on that widget it’ll open to the first page of the book, and there’s a chat window (the TALK button on the left) and a place to write margin notes (the MARK button on the right). Has possibilities, no?
(I’m curious—did the widget add to this page’s download time?)
• BookBalloon—a forum for discussion about books and the arts. Every time I visit I wish I had more time to participate there. Very high caliber of conversation. There’s a monthly book club, author interviews, all sorts of good stuff.
• Readernaut—same concept as GoodReads, I think?
• Reading Trails—a place to create lists of related books, in that rabbit-traily way that appeals to so many of us.
And a few I’ve not yet explored:
• Shelfari (I see the Shelfari widget all over the place; it’s the one that looks like a real bookshelf.)
What have you tried? What’s your favorite way to talk about books online?