Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Books Books Books

I hold a troubled relationship with my e-reader.  It's unusual, I guess, for something that holds claims of sustainability to feel less earthy and wholesome than the more carbon-hungry alternative.  It feels a little heartless to read something that provides me with such enjoyment and freedom but fails to offer the deep tactile sensation of joy and fulfillment that a physical book gives so unreservedly. 

So I persevere.  I tend to fluctuate between e-books and 'real' books because I just can't give up my tree-killing love.  There's a sense of community in walking around with a book that has a cover and a three-dimensional aspect to it - people are much more likely to ask about what you're reading, or comment on the book if they've also lived in that world for a time too.

My e-reader, on the other hand, opens up no discussion.  No-one has ever brought up what I'm reading in conversation if they've only seen my e-reader.  It holds me in its thrall, but once I flick a switch at its top it returns to its inert state of general anonymity.

It wasn't until I owned an e-reader that I realised how much physical pleasure I derive from the physical sensations offered by a pile of pages (and get that mind out of the gutter, please).  I turn to its back cover regularly (What did that reviewer say about this section?  Was this included in the blurb?  How did the publisher choose the font based on this story?), read about the author at least twice over during the course of the book (When was this written?  Where do they live?  Are they married?  With children? How many other books have they written?), and ruminate on the suitability of the cover art every time I pick it up and put it down (Why those colours?  That illustration?  That font?  That emobssing?).  I turn back to previous events in the book to re-read them in light of new storyline arcs, re-read how the protagonist viewed previous characters or issues, re-live beautiful sentences and find words I didn't know to look them up. 

On this final point I do manage to eke out a superior claim by the e-book.  A built-in dictionary is fantastic for those words I would otherwise just guess at due to context, and as was the case when I read We Need to Talk About Kevin, essential for me to fully engage with the novel. 

But when I sit down to write a blog post about books, it's just not as pretty or fun to take a photograph of my e-reader, is it?  But I include it out of a particular stubbornness to ignore a major source of my reading experiences at the moment.  Stubborn?  Me?  Noooooo.

So lately we have been indulging in quite a lot of written material.

*as usual is re-reading Wonder for about the seventy fifth time

*read The Secret Garden after it featuring in another book she thoroughly enjoyed

*has taken out many library books of late which I can barely keep up with, including:
     *The Wish Pony by Catherine Bateson (one of the excellent Vintage Children's Classics recently 
       released and The Worry Tree by Marianne Musgrove is another which was very well received)

*I am reading Prince Caspian to Ted at the moment but it's a slower horse to ride than our previous excursion into Narnia

*The Magic Treehouse series is our 'shared' book - Ted reads the first page out to me and then I read the remainder of the chapter.

*Why do I encourage him to read out the first page, I hear you ask?  Well for one he can easily (EASILY) read it, and reading aloud is great for developing comprehension skills.  For two, I want him to realise that reading can be a beautiful shared experience.  And for three, because he told me out of the blue the other day that he "can now read those Stink books" by himself and I want to continue sharing our reading moments together - they are one of few moments when he is blessedly still and attentive.

*The Usborne Puzzle series has been lauded on this blog already in times past when Harriet was of an age to enjoy them (they have older versions which she moved on to).  Ted has now read, re-read and almost memorised many from this series.  (Actually I have just looked at that link and realised we have all bar one and Ted has now memorised around 80%)

*I have 'read' the Patrick Ness trilogy called Chaos Walking.  I use inverted commas advisedly, since I read the first book in book form, enjoyed it, bought the second in e-book form, found it wanting right at the end and then started the final book as an e-book but read the first two pages, saw it was 590pp and couldn't summon the fortitude required.  So I read the summary on Wikipaedia.  This is my approach to the series novel. You can see why I eschew fantasy.

*1984 again, because it is just so damn amazing.  I felt much more enriched by this reading than in the past.

*Brave New World which was incredibly disappointing to re-read.  I didn't finish it this time.

* The Element by Ken Robinson which sounds like a self-help book but is actually about how people feel, act and live when they find the act that ignites their passion and gives them 'flow'.  More a psychological interest book than anything else.

*A Wrinkle in Time because I had never read it before and that was obviously remiss of me.

*Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan who I really love.  I didn't read his last book due to a high volume of bad press but this one was heralded as a return to form and I am enjoying it thoroughly at the moment.  In fact I'm really enjoying the summaries of the stories written in the novel almost (more?) than the primary narrative.

I seem to have been reading a lot lately (more than I can remember and more than is listed here), which is, of course, all kinds of awesome.  I'm moving into reading a lot of dystopian fiction (obviously) to give me some background ideas on how to create a believable and complete society for my next book.  Having an idea for a story that lies well beyond your normal reading zone is quite uncomfortable and I'm anxious but excited about my new endeavour.

Any suggestions on suitable books to read for this gratefully received, and any personal dislikes or loves about dystopian novels and the societies they describe also gratefully received.

And now enough procrastination - off to write.  Except that it's now pick-up time.  Whoops!


rachel ~sesame ellis~ said...

What Katy Did where there is a Clover!!!!

casso said...

Oh I forgot to write about What Katy Did - my fave from when I was a little girl. I love Clover and especially loved her in What Katy Did At School. I didn't make the connection!