"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Monthly Books

The Book of the Month Club has remade itself in this era of Amazon and other ways to order books online, as well as an era of online social book sites like Library Thing and GoodReads. I was never a BOMC member, though I was a member of the Paperback Book of the Month Club for many years. It was a fun way to get books, and I looked forward to getting the monthly catalogue. Now BOMC has taken the experience online. It looks interesting.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Dark Star

TITLE: Dark Star
AUTHOR: Alan Furst

I finally finished this, one of Furst's early historical spy novels set during the time of World War II. In this novel, Andre Szara, a Polish Jew from Russia, is a Pravda journalist who has been co-opted to spy for the Soviet NKVD intelligence service. As a journalist, he can travel most anywhere in Europe without suspicion, making it easy for him to meet with couriers and run a network of agents. His work takes him to Berlin, Paris, even Poland during the German invasion. As with typical Furst protagonists, Szara is an ordinary man who rises to the occasion and manages to do extraordinary things, not the least of which, with some luck, is surviving. There are complications -- there are always complications -- and a lot of politics mixed in with the history, and enough theorizing to have me ready to pull out some history books to see how much is authorial speculation and how much of the secret machinations really happened.

Furst is one of the best when it comes to recreating the past and putting the reader right there in time and place. The book also typically is episodic, which made it too easy to put down. His books are not pageturners for me, but they are compelling, and his characters always get under my skin. Szara became a character I cared for very much.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

I Must Say

TITLE: I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend
AUTHOR: Martin Short (with David Kamp)

Comic performer Short's memoir is an entertaining, breezy read, laugh out loud funny in many places, yet poignant when he discusses his love for his late wife, Nancy Dolman Short. Excerpts of his comedy bit and some nice photos accompany the text. Short is one of my favorite performers and it's good to know his positive attitude isn't an act; this is a happy, resilient man who loves to spread cheer and laughs, and it comes across on every page.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Reading Hacks

I suppose these Reading Hacks might be useful to some folks. Here are my thoughts on them.

1. When You Can’t Read… Listen!
Well, no. I've tried it. I fall asleep. If I try to move around and do things while listening, I miss too much of the book as my attention wanders. Audiobooks are not for me. Also, since audiobooks have been around for decades, this isn't exactly a new concept.

2. Read Big Books In Tiny Pieces
This had me scratching my head a bit. It mostly discusses an app that will send you snippets of a book at a time, the size of the snippet up to you. Which could mean not being able to read more if it's compelling. And why can't you decide how much to read at a time. I actually prefer to slot my reading according to my own schedule, and I can usually find my own stopping point, thanks.

3. Read While You Wait
Yeah, a good idea. I read when I'm on the subway, and thanks to the Kindle app on my phone, I can easily read while waiting on long lines.

4. Lock Yourself Out of Your Phone
heh heh. Actually, I use my phone for a few things, and READING is the top of that list. I also use it to quickly check Facebook and email, and I have a pedometer app for when I'm walking. That's 90 per cent of what I use my smartphone for.

5. Spare Yourself the Reader’s Cramps With a See-Through Book Weight
Yeah, I guess keeping a fat book open this way is a good idea. I, however, read thick books on my Kindle app or my Kindle. I also own those books in hardcopy so they can grace my physical bookshelves, which makes me happy.

6. Make A Book/E-Reader Stand Out Of A Coat Hanger
Um, okay, if you need to prop it up. I just rest it on the table or hold it in one hand. Works fine for me.

7. Choose Your Next Read With A Little Creativity
This is a hack? Really? Read what you're in the mood for. Sure, trying something new is a great idea, but I'd hardly call it a hack. I have a wide variety of books, so the hard part, for me, is narrowing it down to what to read next.

8. Make a DIY Book Haven
This could be nice, I guess. "Setting up a special place for reading is a recommendation to make reading feel like a special thing for children, but we grown-ups are just taller children." Okay, if you have kids who are reluctant readers, sure. And if as an adult, you need extra incentive to read, sure. But I grew up thinking reading was nothing more special than eating or breathing, so I read anywhere and everywhere, quite often at night, in bed, under the covers by light of a flashlight when I was supposed to be sleeping. If it weren't so uncomfortable now, I'd still do it. ;) But really, anywhere is my "book haven."

9. Turn Your Physical Books Into Ebooks… For Free
This mentions an interesting app Shelfie to help you find free ebooks based on your hardcopy collection. I just Google for the books, and I don't mind spending a few dollars for them.

10. Get A Box of Books Every Month
Again, the site makes some suggestions for where to get books, mainly The Book Drop. I buy them when I see them and I have, literally, for real, a thousand or so here to be read. At the slow rate I read, I'll never get through them all, but I keep buying 'em!

11. Get Free Books
More sources suggested, such as Paperback Swap and Project Gutenberg.

Seriously, I'd hardly call ideas like this "hacks." I think the word "hack" is getting so generic and ubiquitous that it's nearly meaningless now. Most of these are just common sense ideas you could probably have figured out on your own. Or maybe you've found some ideas that work for you. If so, and if anyone is actually reading this, why not leave your "hack" in the comments.