Avid Readers, Occasional Bloggers

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The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking #2) by Patrick Ness

After having listened to The Knife of Never Letting Go in the car, I reserved the The Ask and the Answer in the audio format as well. But while I was waiting for that to come in, I decided to just read it on my Kindle (I had picked up all three ebooks sometime ago but never read them).

I think I enjoyed the second book more than the first. Perhaps it was because I was not as distracted by the unique dialects while reading as I was when listening. But I think it had more to do with the larger canvas and wider angle of this story.

The first book was all about Todd and the slow revelation of what life was like on New World. It quickly becomes a cycle of run and capture, seeming victory followed by seeming defeat, right up until the end of the book. This pattern got old for me.

In the second book there is more action as Todd and Viola end up caught up in the clash of the “Ask and the Answer.”  We learn more about Mayor Prentiss, and his son Davy, and start to understand the opposing forces known as the Answer. The varied angles and the additional characters make the story seem fuller and less repetitive.

I am not a big fan of dystopian fiction, and I still found some of the writing over the top and disjointed, but I enjoyed the suspense and ambiguity more in this volume; even as Mayor/President Prentiss seems to turn even darker and more maniacal.

Looking forward to the conclusion in book three (whether ebook or audiobook).

E-Books, Change and the Reading Experience

Interesting conversation over at the NYT between Mohsin Hamid and Anna Holmes on How Do E-Books Change the Reading Experience?

Hamid basically argues that in a world dominated by technology it is important to push back and find ways to generate solitude:

In a world of intrusive technology, we must engage in a kind of struggle if we wish to sustain moments of solitude. E-reading opens the door to distraction. It invites connectivity and clicking and purchasing. The closed network of a printed book, on the other hand, seems to offer greater serenity. It harks back to a pre-jacked-in age. Cloth, paper, ink: For these read helmet, cuirass, shield. They afford a degree of protection and make possible a less intermediated, less fractured experience. They guard our aloneness. That is why I love them, and why I read printed books still.

I understand this sentiment, in fact, I share it. I too find it all too easy to be distracted by technology and lose the chance to dig deeper and find meaning and serenity.

But I find my Kindle solves that problem. Reading books on my iPad not only hurts my eyes but offers the kind of distractions Hamid is talking about.  Cell phones, tablets, computers all have that call to another app or quick check of the web.  The Kindle doesn’t. It is just a reader. (This applies to all stand along readers bu my experience is with the Kindle)

Sure, they are bringing more interactivity to the device with social sharing and built-in Goodreads updates, etc.  But this is not much different from taking notes or highlighting.

I find it very easy to get lost, to be immersed in the moment, with my Kindle because it is just me and the text.  When I read it in bed at night there is nothing but me and that faint glow; the rest of the world disappears.

Anna Holmes on the other hand offers a few complaints 1) you can’t browse an eBook like you can a physical book 2) the progress tracking on the Kindle annoys her 3) an eBook can’t be a social signal for the wider world.

Not much you can do about #1. If you like to flip through a book sampling pages there is no direct equivalent in the electronic version.  Although you can get a sample sent to you and you could browse the highlights of other readers online.

I find #2 actually enjoyable. I like to know how far I have to go in a book whether in terms of time reading or percentage of the book, etc.  And this seem rather silly as you can turn off the progress function so it is little more than some tiny dots on the bottom of the page. Not much different that glancing at how far you are in a book based on your bookmaker.

It is the third point that strikes me as rather bizarre.  Does Holmes really want to be able to see what everyone is reading in public so she can make judgments about what that says about the person?  She wants to be able to see what book you are reading so she can add that to the social status and personality clues given by your choices in clothes, hairstyle, etc.? Oh…Kay….

As I have noted before when discussing technology and books, there are plenty of books for which technology is not an equal substitute.  I love books that are well packaged and beautifully illustrated; books that are an aesthetic experience.

Art books, illustrated children’s books, chapter books and other books for young people all have elements that ereaders or tablets just can’t match (although the technology has improved greatly obviously).  I love these books and seek them out at the library and share them with my family (and buy them when I can).

But when the text is the primary focus (as it is for most of the books I read), I actually prefer my Kindle.  As Hamid notes, it is easier to read for those of us with tired eyes and spouses who don’t want bright lights at night.  It is thin and light and ultra-portable.  I can read for long periods of time and that is the best way to get lost in a book.

So the key for me is not technology but the tool you choose. I use a dedicated ereader so I can focus on reading. I love my iPad but it doesn’t replace my beloved Kindle.

The curious denial involved in book addiction

book_addict_funny_reading_gift_magnets-rfbc62b02da644f53bf83f3ca128cf0ee_x7js9_8byvr_324I will admit it. I just don’t have the discipline nor motivation to blog on a regular basis.  My life is not suited to it at the moment and I don’t have the drive or will power to overcome that. That’s reality. No matter how I wish it were otherwise.

One thing that did strike me in the week or so since I lasted posted was the curious form of denial that is involved in my book addiction.  Yes, despite not managing to produce content on this blog I continue to collect books in an alarming rate (and read them at a not too shabby pace).

The denial involves the belief that somehow buying more books than you can ever possibly read is a good use of your resources.  Or that with as many books as I currently have I should be looking for more.  Why do I continue to visit bookstores, browse Amazon and sign up for book content on social media and email? I really don’t need anymore books.  I haven’t counted but I have a great deal of books at home that I have not read (both physical and digital). Hundreds of books I would guess.

The curious denial involved in book addiction

book_addict_funny_reading_gift_magnets-rfbc62b02da644f53bf83f3ca128cf0ee_x7js9_8byvr_324I will admit it. I just don’t have the discipline nor motivation to blog on a regular basis.  My life is not suited to it at the moment and I don’t have the drive or will power to overcome that. That’s reality. No matter how I wish it were otherwise.

One thing that did strike me in the week or so since I lasted posted was the curious form of denial that is involved in my book addiction.  Yes, despite not managing to produce content on this blog I continue to collect books in an alarming rate (and read them at a not too shabby pace).

The denial involves the belief that somehow buying more books than you can ever possibly read is a good use of your resources.  Or that with as many books as I currently have I should be looking for more.  Why do I continue to visit bookstores, browse Amazon and sign up for book content on social media and email? I really don’t need anymore books.  I haven’t counted but I have a great deal of books at home that I have not read (both physical and digital). Hundreds of books I would guess.

Kindle Quick Hits: The Flinch by Julien Smith

One of the interesting things that has developed as part of the growth of e-books is the ability to publish essays and shorter type works quickly and easily and reach a large audience.  If you want to publish something quickly and have the potential to reach a large audience you can now do it yourself in e-book form.  Charge little (anywhere from $.99-$2.99 usually) and make it easier for people to pull the trigger.

I have been taking advantage of this development to read some interesting e-books from a variety of genres and authors.  And over the next few days I want to take a moment to offer my quick impressions of these shorter works.

First up is a e-book that was actually free: The Flinch by Julien Smith.

A book so important we refuse to charge for it.

Julien Smith has delivered a surprise, a confrontation, a book that will push you, scare you and possibly stick with you for years to come.

The idea is simple: your flinch mechanism can save your life. It short circuits the conscious mind and allows you to pull back and avoid danger faster than you can even imagine it’s there.

But what if danger is exactly what you need?

What if facing the flinch is the one best way to get what you want?

Here’s a chance to read the book everyone will be talking about, before they do.

What are you afraid of? Here’s how to find out.

I saw this on Twitter and decided to check it out. After all, it was free.  It turned out to be a sort of digital pep talk.  It has an interesting hook and some useful challenges even if it is somewhat repetitive.

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