Something's been bothering me ever since I started reading books, especially non-fiction, on my Kindle:The entire article is very interesting, but these paragraphs in particular caught my eye - finally, an articulation of one of the main reasons I find myself dissatisfied when reading in any kind of digital format.
I can't remember where anything is. Physical books are full of spatial reference points; an especially beloved book is a physical topography in which we develop a vague sense of which chapters contain relevant information; even where, on a page, a particularly striking sentence or diagram lies.
Ebooks have none of these referents. They're searchable (or at least, some are) which mitigates this issue somewhat. But I'm unlikely to remember that a fact was at "41% through a book" for one simple reason: my hands never got a chance to find out what 41% through a particular ebook feels like.
I rarely reread anymore because of how huge my stack of new reading is. But tonight ... you know, I'm looking at my shelf of Pratchetts right now, and I think it's imperative to my health and well-being that I read one of the Witches books tonight. And I have just now picked Maskerade (loosely - very loosely - based on the Phantom of the Opera), mainly because of sections like these:
Ahahahahaha! Ahahahaha! Aahahaha!
The Opera Ghost
"What sort of person," said Salzella patiently, "sits down and writes a maniacal laugh? And all those exclamation marks, you notice? Five? A sure sign of someone who wears his underpants on his head. Opera can do that to a man."
"Well, basically there are two sorts of opera,' said Nanny, who also had the true witch's ability to be confidently expert on the basis of no experience whatsoever. 'There's your heavy opera, where basically people sing foreign and it goes like "Oh oh oh, I am dyin', oh, I am dyin', oh, oh, oh, that's what I'm doin'", and there's your light opera, where they sing in foreign and it basically goes "Beer! Beer! Beer! Beer! I like to drink lots of beer!", although sometimes they drink champagne instead. That's basically all of opera, reely."
I (rather surprisingly) LOVED this book. A clever mix of supernatural and steampunk, hilarious characters, enthralling plot. I make no claims that it is well-written, but something about it really caught my fancy and I flew right through it. In contrast, I'm currently struggling through the author's City of Bones, without making much headway. I just can't get into the story... so maybe it was the steampunk-ness of Clockwork Angel that I liked.
2. Dilemma: a priest's struggle with faith and love, Fr. Albert Cutie
I approached this with a good deal of skepticism; I've generally not been impressed with religious figures who seem to court the media, so the fact that Fr. Cutie used to be called "Father Oprah" for his tv talk show didn't win him any points with me. I sympathetic with his struggle and am truly glad he's found both love and new home in the Episcopal church as a married priest, but I was not impressed by what seemed his attempts to justify and excuse his actions...and I had to laugh when he described his (at the time future) wife as someone who would "never tempt a priest" when in practically the next paragraph he says, after they realized they were attracted to each other, she sent him a letter asking to become better friends, whereupon they went out to dinner in a secluded restaurant and generally acted as if he wasn't a priest who had taken vows of celibacy! Also troubling was his obvious bitterness towards the Catholic Church - understandable, given that he was treated more harshly than some priests who had committed illegal acts, like child abuse, but still... not a very Christian attitude to display to the world.
All in all, very interesting.
3. Real Life Journals: designing and using handmade books, Gwen Diehn
Gorgeous ideas for handmade books. I'm not sure if I'll ever attempt any of the more ambitious projects, but they sure are pretty.
4. Year of Disappearances: an ethical vampire novel, Susan Hibbard
I would describe this book as vague: vague writing, vague plotting, vague characters. There's a lot left unexplained, little character development, and a plot that drifts about without reaching any real resolution. The thing that annoyed me most was the vampires-are-better-than-thou tone, liberally sprinkled with environmentalism, as evidenced by the last paragraph:
"Meanwhile, I dedicate this book to mortals, and I leave them these questions: Are you comfortable with the values your society holds dear? When's the last time you looked deep into your own eyes? Do you know the limitations of your vision?"
Poor little book. It's trying so hard to be intelligent, Serious Literature, and just ... isn't quite there.
5. The End of the Affair, Graham Greene
Many years ago formerly-of-LJ Alissa W. (anyone remember her?) recommended this one. In book #9, Susan Hill made a comment to the effect that Graham Greene is one of the few writers who can write convincingly about all forms of love, and this book has it all - lust turned to love turned to revenge. I wouldn't say I enjoyed reading it so much as I just marveled at the craftsmanship of a true wordsmith.
6. Coptic Egypt: Christians of the Nile
Just a little book but informative. I didn't know much about the Copts, but now I do.
7. Wives and Daughters, Elizabeth Gaskell
I had the opportunity to watch the miniseries again, which made me want to read the book again ... so I did. The Squire = <3. He's precious! Forget Roger. ;)
8. The Unidentified, Rae Mariz
I liked this dystopian tale of education turned into a giant corporation-sponsored Game. My attempts to describe this have all been made of FAIL, so do yourself a favor and check out the blurbs on goodreads or amazon - it was unique, fast-paced, and used jargon well. The ending seemed a little rushed and unclear ... but then again, maybe I read it too quickly, since I couldn't seem to put it down.
9. Howards End is on the Landing, Susan Hill
Really, what do book-lovers love to read about more than books about books? Susan Hill decided to spend a year reading books she already owned rather than buying or borrowing new ones, and this book grew out of what she encountered that year.
This one is covered with an old tablecloth and accented with rinestones. I love the sort of Indian/Turkish look. Inside is brown paper (stamped with different bird outlines on each page).
I've been caught up in Wives & Daughters (watching the miniseries AND reading the book) most of the weekend, so everything sounds British in my head. But I've been cooking quasi-Turkish, having discovered a spice blend that comes passably close the seasoning at that Turkish restaurant in Albuquerque. Baharat seasoning. Easy to make, tastes yummy. And Turkish, although it is still not to be compared to ransomedsea 's lamb. Thus continues my quest to eat my way around the world without leaving my kitchen.
Currently on facebook: an experiment in plovers, statii, and mysteriously changing friend counts.
It was 77* today but only 47* is predicted for tomorrow. But, having spent most of Friday going hither and yon (hither defined in this case as a town thirty miles away, and yon as another entirely different area, not a town but entirely in the middle of NOWHERE the same distance away but in the opposite direction) to find a car part that is outrageously expensive ordered from the dealership and outrageously cheap found in a salvage yard ... I have now forgotten completely where I was going with that sentence, or how it connected with the weather. At any rate. It is warm now, won't be tomorrow, and with any luck I should have Sir Galahad back in fully functioning form within a day or two. Also I stood up to salvage yard guys were all patronizing and trying to tell little old female me that I didn't need X, what I really needed was Z, and I was all OH NO YOU DON'T.
Remember those brownie cookies I linked to a few days ago? Yeah, those. This is what the dough looked like. (It tasted good. More than good. Wonderful!)
The cookies weren't half bad either.
And then just to shake things up I made bread - rosemary walnut bread. Sounds odd, tastes delish. Definitely going to try it again sometime.
I have no idea what this means.
I hitched a ride into town with random stranger (kids, don't try this at home), worked exactly 30 minutes and then decided I was no use to anyone and should get back to the car before it got towed. Hitched another ride with a not-quite stranger. On the way there we saw three cars stuck in the ditch and two others in the process of getting pulled out. Just as I was despairing of ever getting a tow truck out (I called several who laughed at me when I asked how long they thought it would take to get to me) another not-quite stranger pulled up, declared his Land Rover could tow it anywhere ("as long as you keep your head out of your butt when you drive, this thing will never get stuck") and proceeded to do so.
I owe a lot of people cookies when this is all over.
Also I unclogged a toilet all my own today. Clearly I am on my way to being a Real Adult now.
1. Fool's Fate, Robin Hobb
Finished up the trilogy. *sob* <--- pretty much my reaction
2. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Oliver Sacks
I think I read this book once before, years ago, but it's been so long that it all seemed new to me; very interesting stories of bizarre neurological disorders.
3. In Small Things Forgotten, James Deetz
When ransomedsea , jkgeroo and I visited Jamestown, the part I found most interesting was the museum of "small things forgotten" that were dug up while excavating the ruins. Dice, buttons, pins, teeth-and-ear-picks (really!), keys ... all the little bits of everyday life that get lost and forgotten. So when I found this book about the American archeology, I was interested. It was very good but focused less on the "small things" (WHEREFORE THE TITLE, HUH, AUTHOR?!) and more on the architecture, pottery, and gravestones. All very nice, but I was curious about those small things, dangit!
4. Queen Hereafter, Susan Fraser King
A fictional account of Margaret, queen of Scotland and later, saint. I wasn't sure if we were supposed to admire or be disturbed by her religious-inspired neuroses (Hey Margaret. I'm pretty sure God doesn't find anorexia a suitable expression of devotion), but the gradual building of love between Margaret and her wild Scottish king husband was sweet and realistic.
5. The Water Wars, Cameron Stracher
Absolutely gorgeous cover art. Unfortunately the plot was hurried in a introduction-action-action-action-BOOM-
6. As Always, Julia, Joan Reardon, editor
Book of the month. :) It's a collection of the letters Julia Child and her dear friend Avis DeVoto wrote to each other during the writing and publishing of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. There's a ton of goodness here for foodies, but plenty of other topics as well. I'm hoping against hope that Avis and Julia's witty and conversational writing style will rub off on my in my own correspondence; the letters were absolutely delightful.
7. Save the Males, Kathleen Parker
Excellent subject matter - the subtitle is "why men matter and why women should care" - but I disliked the crass language Parker often used to make her points, and I just found that her style rubbed me wrong. I still recommend it for the simple fact that it's a message that more people need to here: Men are important.
As long as I have power I am happy as a clam, and since the power has stayed on (good boy!) I am indeed happy as a very happy clam. Have baked brownie cookies and rosemary walnut bread, spent hours in bed reading (Clockwork Angel has captured my attention in a way I did not expect) and writing letters, watched Fawlty Towers (CK WATT?!) and Hogan's Heroes, and generally enjoyed the heck out of this snow day.
I rather suspect tomorrow will be much the same. Cause, uh, it's gonna take awhile to move all this snow.
*I tried to measure it with a wooden skewer. We officially have more than a skewer deep of snow.
I have prepared by packing an extra bag with enough stuff to keep me in business if I get stuck in town tonight, although I am guessing we'll be allowed to leave early if it really starts doing anything. I will also be buying four dozen eggs, which suddenly seems important. Also have made a mental list of Things To Do If The Power Goes Out, but mostly we are just NOT EVEN GOING THERE.*
* see the Massive Ice Storms of DOOM a few years back, with power out for 14 and 10 days respectively.
Although it's hard to articulate, I have a decorating style (something like eclectic-world-traveler-brings-home-
But there's something new in my bedroom these days:
As an aside, I can't stand the popcorn-ceiling thing and I have NO idea why anyone ever thought it was a good idea. =P
* this is hard to explain. It just Is. Snow makes me feel peaceful and safe and assured that God is in control.
I read Pillars of the Earth a few years ago and absolutely devoured it. I didn't remember having any issues with the writing style, so I was really confused when I started this one and it draaaaged the dialog was stilted and the writing generally drove me to distraction. For the first third I kept contemplating giving up on it completely, but 1/3 of a 938 page book is a considerable amount and I hate stopping a book after investing that much time in it.
Before too long I got wrapped up enough in the characters to keep reading, but the writing never did get better. This makes me wonder if Pillars of the Earth is really as good as I remember. Or perhaps that time period was just better suited to his style somehow. I did learn a lot about WWI reading this book!
2. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People, Farahad Zama
I'm so thankful to mainemilyhoon for mentioning this! It's a bit like a Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency book, only with an Indian marriage bureau. Absolutely delightful. Also, made me hungry for Indian food.
3. Dexter is Delicious, Jeff Linsay
Speaking of food ... I think this creeped me out more than any of the other Dexter books, which I guess means I find cannibalism worse than serial killers? And yet at the same time it was remarkably tame for a Dexter book. Dexter himself is ... mellowing. But not, we suspect, for long.
4. A Secret Gift, Ted Gup
A disappointment. The story is inspiring, about a man who anonymously gave money to destitute people during the Great Depression, but the execution of the book was extremely poor ... very repetitive and based on a lot of conjecture.
5. The Last Hero, Terry Pratchett
My Christmas gift to myself was the luxury of rereading an old favorite. I love the Silver Hoard! And Rincewind! And Leonardo of Quirm! And Carrot! And ... okay, everybody.
6. Fool's Errand, Robin Hobb
... and then I spent most of the rest of Christmas lost in the world of the Farseers. I think my favorite thing about Hobb's writing is her timing in revealing mysteries - neither too quickly nor too slowly.
7. Golden Fool, Robin Hobb
Finished this at ten minutes til midnight. :)
Books from the stack: 1
And thus ends 2010's reading, which means it's time for the 2010 BOOK AWARDS!
First, the numbers:
I read 116 books; 40 adult fiction, 60 adult non-fiction, and 16 young adult. Only 5 were rereads. 43 were from the huge stack of books beside the bed, the ones I want to read soon and then sell, loan, swap, or otherwise get rid of. (The stack hasn't gotten noticeably smaller.) Incidentally, it was an off year - usually I average closer to 150-180 books.
I love looking back over my reading list for the year - it seems to capture my year in a special way. And I love picking out the titles I found particularly memorable. In no particular order:
Best Kid's Book: How to Train Your Dragon, Cressida Cowell
Best Young Adult series: Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Best Foodie Book: My Life in France, Julia Child
Best Crime Novel: The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
Best Science Fiction Novel: Shades of Grey, Jasper Fforde
Best Audiobook/Most Inventive Use of Food in a Novel: Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquieval
Best Non-fiction: Twelve Little Cakes, Dominika Dery
Book I Would Blame My Speeding Tickets On (if I had gotten any): The Driver, Alex Roy
Most Surprising Second Novel: Swan Thieves, Elizabeth Kostova
Author Who Impressed Me Most: Cory Doctorow
Top Three Books I'm Surprised I Loved:
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
Odd Thomas, Dean Koontz
The Help, Katheryn Stockett
Top Three Religious Books:
Notes from the Tilt-a-whirl, N.D. Wilson
Blue Like Jazz, Don Miller
At the Corner of East and Now, Frederica Mathews-Green
Worst Book: Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
And finally, The "Why Didn't I Read This Sooner?" award goes to Nine Coaches Waiting, Mary Stewart.
1. Thornyhold, Mary Stewart
Such a gem! Romantic, suspenseful, a little mysterious ... it left me wondering why I had passed over Stewart's books for so long.
2. Ah-CHOO: the uncommon life of your common cold, Jennifer Ackerman
A very engaging micro-biography that left me constantly paranoid I was getting sick.
3. Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before, Jean M. Twenge
I liked this because it's written by one of our own generation (albeit the upper end of that generation), not a cranky old person yelling "dang
woodchucks stop chucking my wood kids get off my lawn!" I think it's a fair and honest look at both the problems and strengths of GenMe, and I absolutely LOVED what it had to say about the self-esteem movement and the problems it has created. I'll definitely reread this when I have children of my own.
4. For Your Eyes Only, Ian Fleming
I was about three stories into this before I realized it was a book of short stories and not a novel that just seemed very randomyl disjointed. Heh.
5. Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt
Good GRIEF this was SAD. WHY?!
6. And Both Were Young, Madeleine L'Engle
Apparently this was a controversial book at the time, but I don't really understand why. It was as good as L'Engle usually is, although not one of her very best.
7. Burning Road, Ann Benson
There seemed to be a lot of loose ends and things not explained, so I rate this lower than her first book. However, historical stories about the plague still = ♥.
8. Peony in Love, Lisa See
I loved See's previous (first?) book Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, but this one didn't quite live up to that standard. It's elegantly written and offers much insight into a mostly-forgotten portion of Chinese history, but I couldn't quite get over the needless tragedy involved.
9. The Little Lady Agency and the Prince, Hester Browne
When I went to add this to my Goodreads account, I had read it so fast that I was almost at the end, so it came as a shock to find that it was ALREADY listed as someone I'd read ... back in 2008. I don't think I've ever reread something and gotten so near the end without realizing I'd read it before. I guess that illustrates that while this is good fun and well-written chicklit, it's still forgettable.
From the stack: 6
My favorite part was a long hallway with a glass ceiling. On top of the glass, lit from above, were thousands of overlapping glass pieces.
It was stunning.
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