Well, it has taken a little while for me to get back to this, but here goes.
I read two pieces of speculative fiction:
For Historical Fiction, I read The Sudbury School Murders by Ashley Gardner. I really like these books. They are mysteries set in the early 1800s. As is always the case, the mystery was good, and the glimpse into England at that time was quite enjoyable. Captain Lacey has taken a job at a boys school, apparently to solve the problem of serious pranks being played on people at the school. It ends up being much more complicated than that, as the title would imply. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!
I read two pieces of shorter fiction:
I also got back in to listening to books, Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy this month. It was an interesting story of how the world might have been in the year 2000. Bellamy had much higher hopes for us than we deserve, I’m afraid. I got the audio version from Librivox.org.
So April wasn’t a bad month for reading, but it wasn’t great, either. Let’s see how May goes!
I didn’t do a lot of reading in April. My classes took a lot of time, getting the students all settled and comfortable with the courses. But I did some, and I’ll tell you about it here.
I read one non-fictoin book, Hagakure: the Book of the Samurai by Yamamoto Tsunetomo. It was read a research for the books. The edition I read was a poorly done one, but it was free, so I guess I can’t complain! It was an interesting read, but by now it seems familiar. If I were going to read this again, I would opt for a different edition.
I read 4 mysteries:
OK, that’s all I have time for today. More tomorrow?
I read an article on the Guardian today that has me thinking. The title is “How eBooks lost their shine: ‘Kindles now look clunky and unhip’. Unfortunately, I am not sure what I think about it.
The author talks about the resurgence of physical books, stating
figures published today by the Publishing Association show that sales of consumer ebooks have dropped by 17%, while sales of physical books are up 8%.
Overall sales of books in Britain have risen, she goes on to state, which is the good news in all of this as far as I am concerned. The format of the books isn’t as important as the reading of books.
What irritated me was this:
Once upon a time, people bought books because they liked reading. Now they buy books because they like books. “All these people are really thinking about how the books are – not just what’s in them, but what they’re like as objects,” says Jennifer Cownie, who runs the beautiful Bookifer website and the Cownifer Instagram, which match books to decorative papers, and who bought a Kindle but hated it.
In general, this seems like a throwback to the days of people having libraries or bookshelves filled with books that were there to impress, not to be read. That doesn’t seem like progress to me. Books are for reading, not as a kind of art. It shouldn’t matter what the cover looks like; the story is what matters.
And I have to wonder why she didn’t like her Kindle. Was it because it was unhip or because reading on it was not pleasurable? Did she give the Kindle a chance or just abandon it right away?
Buried way down in the article was a very important statement:
The figures from the Publishing Association should be treated with some caution. They exclude self-published books, a sizable market for ebooks. And, according to Dan Franklin, a digital publishing specialist, more than 50% of genre sales are on ebook. Digital book sales overall are up 6%.
Most of the authors I read are self-published. Part of that is because there are some awesome self-published authors out there, and part is because traditional publishers often price their ebooks at or higher than the paperback editions.
There is another side to this discussion, too, and that is privacy. My husband sent me a link to a First Monday article by Clifford Lynch on reader privacy in the age of reader analytics. I will admit to not having read the whole article, but his closing thoughts include these:
At some point it’s worth asking what readers of various kinds will actually tolerate before the creepiness factor becomes overwhelming and repulsive. Suppose, as a thought experiment, that Amazon said it would share every purchaser’s e-mail address with the author of books they purchased? (Pick your own opt-in or opt-out boundary conditions). How about sharing this information with the book’s publisher? Would a discount on the purchase price or some other reward make most readers more comfortable? What conditions (enforceable or not) might be imposed on the author or the publisher regarding reuse of this purchaser information, and would this make any difference to readers’ comfort levels? What choices would customers make in such situations?
I probably don’t worry as much about privacy as I should. Do I need to worry about Amazon or Kobo selling my data? Would I be better off switching to paper books? Amazon could still sell my data if I buy my books from them. I don’t see much way around it: we have very limited privacy anymore.
My husband loves to buy and read physical books. He only reads used books that he buys or gets from lending libraries without any paper trail. He is very concerned about privacy and, although he has had two ereaders, never got into ebooks. His approach is a fine one, I think. But it doesn’t work for me.
I love my ereaders. I love my ebooks. I buy mostly genre fiction by independent authors, so ebooks are right for me. What about you?
I had thought that Deathless, this month’s free tor.com ebook club selection would be easier to read than Shadow and Claw was last month, but I think I spoke too soon. I am over half way done with it — just over halfway done with it. It is going very slowly for some reason.
I think it is because the fantasy isn’t realistic — as silly as that sounds. It is too fantastic for me. The book is based on Russian folklore, and it just isn’t working for me. Maybe if I knew the stories behind the book, it would be easier to follow. But I don’t know the stories, so…
I am going to finish this book just like I finished last month’s. And I will get next month;s book and read it, too. But I will begin to lose interest in them if they keep being too strange for me. Even a free book isn’t worth struggling through if it isn’t enjoyable.
I hope, if you happen to have read this book, that you will leave a comment and tell me what you thought. I am completely open to believing that the fault is mine, not the book’s. I just need for someone to help me see it through different eyes!
If you were considering reading Deathless while it is available from Tor.com’s ebook club, I encourage you to do so. I am more than a quarter of the way through it, and I have been pleasantly surprised. In some ways it reminds me of Shadow and Claw, but it is much, much easier to read. I can’t say that I really love it so far, but I am enjoying it. So if you were wavering, I encourage you to give it a try. After all, it isn’t going to cost you anything! Remember, it’s only available through April 16. Get it here.
Humble Bundle just advertised a bundle of Brandon Sanderson ebooks, audiobooks, and even a game! I bought it, of course! For $15 you can get 9 books, both Elantris and Warbreaker in audio format by Graphic Audio, and the Mistborn game with more game resources. It is a wonderful opportunity, and I encourage you to take advantage of it!
The free Tor.com ebook can he found here. After last month’s read, I was hoping for something this month that would be easier to read. Not sure that this month’s is going to be any easier. But I will try it.
The book this month is Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente. It is set in 20th Century Russia and is based on Russian folklore. Not exactly my normal reading material (Although I’m not really sure what my normal is!), but I will give it a try. If you are interested, go to Tor.com’s ebook club page and sign up!
Hopefully this is the last installment in the report of my March reading!
I only read one piece of historical fiction last month, and it was another book that I almost put in the “Other Fiction” category. It was Silence by Shusaku Endo, translated by William Johnston. In the end, I decided to call it historical fiction. It was a fascinating book. I had wanted to see the movie but it didn’t play in my small New Mexican town, so I decided to read the book instead. And I am very glad I did. The story, as you probably know, is of Portuguese missionaries to Japan and their struggles with their faith in the face of persecution. I imagine I would like the movie if I saw it, but I question whether or not it could really do the book justice.
I also read six speculative novels:
So that finishes my March reading. April is off to a little bit of a slow start, but it will pick up as we go along, I’m sure. I’ll let you know all about it next month!
OK, on to the mysteries and thrillers!
I also read Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, which could be classified as a mystery. Since you don’t really learn anything about the actual crime until you know who did it (and even then there is nothing straightforward about it!), I wasn’t sure I wanted to lump it in with the other mysteries. It is so much more than that. It was a very good story told in a way that made the story even better. Too much knowledge as you go along would have made this much less interesting to me.
So that does it for today’s installment of March reading. Tune in tomorrow for the last of it!