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May, 2009

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Non-readers (*Gasp!*)

Friday, May 29th, 2009

I think readers tend to gravitate towards one another: even at work, in a vast sea of humanity (most of the members of which I interact with either briefly or not at all), I’ve found a fellow book lover and we’ve become fast friends.

Unfortunately, it’s not always that way. Sometimes, you’re part of a group – be it at work, your neighbors’ barbecue, your family reunion – and you are the only one with a book under your arm, on your desk, shoved in a back pocket or, if the crowd is particularly boring or annoying, in front of your face.

Do you have unavoidable non-readers in your life? Do you steer clear of topics related to books, or try to tempt them with your latest find? Do they tease you about your reading habits? Do you counter with attacks on the time they spend watching television or playing video games?

It’s all about the accessories, dahlink…

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

My consumerism doesn’t stop with books themselves, ohhhh no – accessorizing is a way of life. Here are a few of my reading-related purchases from the last few months:

The Peeramid
peeramid

While part of me wishes I’d researched a bit more and purchased the Book Seat instead, I’m happy overall with this lightweight bookholder that moves with me from bed to couch to backyard. The benefit is more something to prop my book up against than something to actually hold it, which is my only real qualm; I have carpal tunnel, and would LOVE to read truly hands-free. Meanwhile, though, this gives me a free hand, I only need to hold the book lightly against the peeramid, and the built-in bookmark means no fumbling for one when I need to step away quickly – like when the cat’s about to topple a stack of books on the computer desk. Whoops.

Thumb-mounted page holder/bookmark
page holder

Very handy (hand-y – get it?? hahaha, I kill me) way to keep your book, particularly a tightly-bound paperback, open wide without muscle or tendon strain. The angle isn’t perfect, but it works well enough. It’s probably more convenient for slower readers than I, though; I find myself having to move it whenever I get to the bottom of either side of the page so I can see the last few lines.

Magnetic Bookmarks
magnetic_bookmark_front

I couldn’t find the exact ones I got, but I found a four pack of penguins and a four pack of sassy shoes on these little one-inch-square magnetic page clips. I thought they were lightweight plastic when I bought them, but they’re just glossy card stock. They probably won’t last long for that reason, but they’re adorable and functional, and they were inexpensive enough that a few books’ worth of use from each will suffice.

What sorts of book-related purchases have you made? Or do you think more in terms of, “If I don’t get that reading lamp, I can get two more books…”?

Reading Roundup

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

So I figure mid-week is a good time to revisit the books I’ve completed and started over the past seven days. Without further ado…

The Titan’s Curse, Rick Riordan

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This is the third book in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. While the books don’t seem to increase in complexity or profundity like some authors’ works tend to do over time, they don’t lose any of their charm, either, as we follow Percy and his friends on adventure after adventure. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud funny moments, moral and ethical dilemmas, and dynamic battles, and we are left with Riordan’s now customary cliffhanger ending. Thankfully, I had purchased the subsequent novels the night before completing this last in my boxed trio of the start to the series!

The Battle of the Labyrinth, Rick Riordan

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More of the same about Percy and his friends. The books maintain their addictive nature throughout, though I am starting to notice a trend towards phrases like, “And I know this from experience,” which is a tad annoying when reading the series straight through; I don’t need the reminder, I just read about you doing that!

The Demigod Files, Rick Riordan

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A cute supplement to the series; nothing integral, but some fun insight into some of the minor characters.

Lamplighter, D.M. Cornish

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I have to give it to this guy – the creation of a whole world cannot be an easy task, and the thoroughness with which Cornish accomplishes it is to be commended. This second book (the first book being Foundling) in the Monster Blood Tattoo series in particular is a tome, but the story is intriguing and the characters truly lifelike, even in their utterly unearthly circumstances. The cliffhanger ending is oft employed by authors across genres, but you can usually see it coming; with the thick appendices at the end of this volume, I thought surely it couldn’t be the end but —— ! Now, the next chapter of Rossamund Bookchild’s life must wait until it’s written. May 2010 doesn’t need to hurry any faster (I’ll be the big three-oh, don’tcha know), but if he wanted to release the book a bit sooner, I’d be ok with that :)

I’m still working on Oliver Twist, and I’ve begun The Last Olympian to complete the Percy Jackson series. I’ll also be leading a group read of Terry Brooks‘s Magic Kingdom of Landover series on the Hogwarts Express forum on LibraryThing; feel free to join us!

In the meantime, what are you reading this week?

Overheard at the pool

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

While on our mini-vacation, we were lounging by the pool and I noticed that a gentleman a couple of chairs away had a Kindle, and was talking books with his companions. The authors and titles were more my partner’s speed (James Patterson’s Cross novels, Patricia Cornwell’s Scarpetta series), but I was itching to jump in: “Are you on LibraryThing? Have you read this series? What did you think of that book? Can I play with your Kindle for a minute??” It was all I could do to keep my trap shut and my nose in my own book.

Do you start random conversations with other readers? Only at bookstores and libraries? Any time you see someone carrying a book you’ve read?

Hey, I’ve been there!

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

It can be a lot of fun to read about about places you’ve been or lived. At the same time, if it’s a city or neighborhood I know well, and especially if it’s somewhere special to me, the author had best have done his research. In Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series (beginning with The Lightning Thief), the heroes spend time in San Francisco, my current home, and Bar Harbor, Maine, not far from my previous residence, makes a cameo appearance, as well.

Growing up in Maine, we of course had Stephen King‘s horror novels and short stories coming to life around us, and back on the west coast, Armistad Maupin‘s Tales of the City and subsequent novels are all about life in San Francisco. What novels have you read with familiar settings? Did the author do the place justice, or were there moments of, “What?! That’s not right at all!”

My torrid affair with e-reading

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Clearly, we are all both readers and Internet users. There has been a lot of discussion (ironically, most of it online) about how the electronic age has affected the time – and more importantly, the money – people spend on print media. Book bloggers and sites like LibraryThing may be able to make up for some of the losses sustained by the disappearance of newspapers (and the book reviews within), but the damage inflicted goes far beyond what recommending a good book can repair. I wrote my final paper for my recent English composition class on this topic, and while I won’t subject you to the paper itself, I really don’t feel like I even began to talk about it in any real depth.

Personally, I am addicted to books themselves. Nothing in the world is quite like the feel, sound, and smell of the first time a brand new hardcover is opened. That has not, however, completely prevented me from testing other means of enjoying fine literature, particularly those novels which are in the public domain, and free to read via various means (we mentioned Gutenberg earlier, and there are other sources through my Stanza reader application on my iPod, as well). I will probably never own a Kindle or other dedicated e-reader, but I have to admit that the convenience of a “book collection” that fits in my pocket is pretty unbeatable. So far, though, I’ve been purchasing paper copies of the books I read electronically or listen to on audiobook/MP3, and thus keeping a good chunk of my income flowing directly to local sellers of both new and used books. So yes, I have a clandestine love affair with e-books, but I will always return to my stable, supportive, memory-filled shelves of “real” books, in the end.

What are your thoughts on the state of the publishing industry, and the internet’s connection to the demise of print media? Are you digging in your heels against Amazon’s ubiquitous hold on book sales worldwide? Gleefully donating your physical books as you replace them with digital copies? Trying to find a happy medium between keeping up with technology and keeping bookstores from folding altogether?

Today I am…

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Alexander.

Alexander

Drawing by Ray Cruz

I think I’ll move to Australia.

What book character are you most like today?

Confessions of a bookaholic

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

This has been a particularly heavy book purchasing week, with tonight’s haul definitely overshadowing the results of any other recent trip by far. Here’s the list, and a brief “why” for each title:

Shoeless Joe, W. P. Kinsella. Someone on LibraryThing inquired about books to help an older teen get into literary comprehension, and listed baseball as an interest. This turned up in a search and sounded good.

Dude, Where’s My Country?, Michael Moore. I’ve only seen a couple of his documentaries; never read his books. Part of a buy one, get one free deal.

The Battle of the Labyrinth, Rick Riordan. Picked this up twice tonight – once in paperback, new, full price; again remaindered hardcover, four bucks, also part of buy one, get one free. Anyone need a copy?

The Demigod Files, Rick Riordan. Had to get it to complete the series, I was told!

Stone Butch Blues, Leslie Feinberg. It was in the bargain box for three bucks. I couldn’t NOT buy it, even though I already own two other copies. I may run a contest at some point and offer a choice from a selection of books; this would go on that list.

My Life as Author and Editor, H.L. Mencken. Utter impulse buy. I’ve never read Mencken, but have meant to, and the fact that the biography was ordered to be held until 35 years after his death was too potentially delicious to pass up.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling. Mare had to get this one; it’s an early edition Bloomsbury Press release, one of the hardcovers with the illustrated binding.

Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum. Never read it; figured I’d pick up an el cheap-o used copy and give it a shot. Should have checked Gutenberg first; didn’t think of it. Need to work on that.

Oroonoko, The Rover, and Other Works, Aphra Behn. Another bargain box find; read some of her poetry I think in last semester’s women’s lit class.

Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie. Read the e-book and wanted to own a copy.

Ironhand, Charlie Fletcher. Book two in a trilogy; both Mare and I thought it looked interesting, and it was a remaindered hardcover in the buy one, get one boxes. Ratings are good on LT, and one review calls the first book “basically Neverwhere for children,” which is a positive recommendation as far as we’re both concerned.

The Last Olympian, Rick Riordan. Rounding out the series, since I’ll likely finish it this weekend.

Thunderstruck, Erik Larson. Mare’s pick from the remaindered books at Red Hill; definitely up her alley, and whether or not I read it will depend on her level of enthusiasm.

The Price of a Dream: The Story of the Grameen Bank, David Bornstein. Another Mare pick; this could be fascinating, but not something I’d pick up on my own. Will again gauge her reaction and decide whether or not to read :)

Pure Dead Brilliant, Debi Gliori. Found this one for Mare; she’s read the first two and loved them.

Anyone have any feedback on any of the titles I’ve not read? Besides the Percy Jackson books, of course; I know you’ve got plenty to say about those! I’m getting there, I promise…!

Decisions, decisions…

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

How do you decide what to read next? Is it completely on impulse, systematic, or somewhere in between? Do you have a physical location for the books you are planning to read within the next X amount of time? What, if any, circumstances bump a book straight to the top of the pile?

I try to complete series if I enjoy the first installment; beyond that, I’m making a conscious effort to read new books rather than consistently re-reading books I’ve read once before but want to revisit, or old favorites (particularly if they’re series and require a commitment of more time than a standalone novel). If someone I know or a community I’m part of is planning to read something, that can influence my choices, but primarily, it’s mood-based.

What are the next three books on your list, if you have one, and why are you planning to read them? Recommendations, longstanding promises to yourself, library due dates?

Great First Sentences

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

I am addicted to words, which probably comes as no surprise to any of you; chances are, you are similarly affected by the myriad ways in which our language can be constructed to elicit emotion, convey fact, and capture a moment in time. While most books require a few pages to really engage me, some are so brilliantly crafted that all it takes is a single sentence. One such work I’ve just begun as my next e-read: Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist.

“Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born; on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events; the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.”

Care to share a favorite first sentence?