Thursday, 28 August 2014

August Reads

Time for the August round up! Shockingly low numbers here. I have actually read a third, but it is a manuscript under consideration so I can't tell you anything about it. If it ever gets published I'll review it though.

I do hope that I can bring my average up next month. I'd like to keep the average around 3/4. It is really tough to balance around work.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Karen Joy Fowler
Profile 19/06/14 Paperback
Off The Shelf

Waacbo, as it is affectionately called in the office, was long listed for the Man Booker Prize. Shortlist to be announced (9th Sept). I'm fairly certain it will be shortlisted, and might even win! It is outselling all the other long list books put together.

I was nothing to do with this book, it was all sorted before my time, but I was very glad to have read it. It has a very interesting look at a topic I knew nothing about. The characters are curious, and intriguing. They are not necessarily people I would want to know... But they make for fantastic reading. READ it. BUY it.

I found the book so interesting, (I can't give away the twist!) and it is written so well. A brilliant insight into humanity, how and why we do things and why it is important. Not to mention the bizarre nature of childhood memories.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers
Katherine Boo
Portobello Books 7/06/14 Kindle

I hadn't realised that this was non-fiction until I read the acknowledgements at the end of the book. I discovered that Katherine Boo is a journalist (I didn't know she had won the Pulitzer, or that would have been a giveaway...) who threw herself into the slums of Mumbai and became so much part of the furniture that she could recount the incredible stories and events in this marvelous book.

What I loved about this book was not just the stories of poverty, but that within poverty there are different levels of ambition, pride and ability. That a garbage sorter's lively hood might not be as meager as others might think, despite the taboo of the job. An incredible and inspirational story.

See my review of what I thought of reading on a kindle here.

I may have only read two books this month, and one that I can't tell you about, but they were all 8/10. The highest mark I've given so far. I think 10s pretty much belong to old favourites like Diana Gabledon's Outlander series. By the way, is anyone else watching the Starz series of Outlander?

Thursday, 21 August 2014

My First Kindle

I always swore I would never get a Kindle. I LOVE real print books.

When my Granddad died, one of the things that I took from the house, as well as two of my Grandmother's necklaces and a trinket or two was his Kindle. It seemed appropriate to take something like that, I like books, I used to recommend books to him and he to me. I was excited to see what was on there, his last recommendations, if you will. ;(

He had a few John Grisham's and both The Moonstone and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I had been reading The Moonstone to Grandma when I visited 6 months before, and had recommended it. So it was lovely to see what he had been reading and that I could carry on reading his recommendations for a few months after his death.

For the past couple of weeks, my Kindle has lived in my handbag. I read Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo on it, John Green has been mentioning it for years and Nerdfighters around the world have just read it for the book club.

So lets really get down to the pros and cons.

Kindles are great for having more than one book on it. You never have a moment without a book to read, without the hefty weight of carrying a shelf around with you.

On that note; very lightweight. I hardly notice it in my cavernous handbag. chosen for it's ability to hold paperbacks - Side note: how else do you choose a hand bag? Colour, yes. Pockets & secret pockets, yes. Does it hold a paperback, absolutely.

The size is also pretty good, I can hold it in one hand, and not feel like I have to juggle too much.

My last blog mentioned the best gadgets for books, many of them were to help hold a book open with one hand or no hands! With a Kindle you can stand up and read with one hand and turn the page. Which is really useful for standing up in the tube.

Sending word documents to my kindle is a god send. As an editor, carting around great sheafs of manuscripts is just ridiculous, with a kindle I can read what ever I have on the go

Covers. I don't like that I can't see what people are reading on the train. I love the little train conversations about books and the stories both of us are reading. I also do alot of my window shopping on the train, to really get a feel of what people are reading. Not having book covers with clear titles is a huge loss of effortless publicity for the publisher.

Covers. I inherited my kindle from my Grandfather, it never left the house and was carefully put on the bedside table. The poor thing has had a baptism of fire in the depths of my handbag and has something sticky on the screen, and the paint is chipping off a little. I now have to buy one of those fetching kindle covers I see people using. But I don't really want a cover, it makes it bulkier and

Locations? What is this "locations"? Non linear, random, totally mental deviation from the page number. Very irritating. My hackles are up!

The percentage, pretty useful when talking about the book you're reading: "I'm about 37% through, shes just found the cat..." That does make things simpler than holding up the book and saying: "errrr about that far." But you can't collaborate with people.


It is more likely that I'll use the kindle for work stuff and utilise my currently 1hr 20 min commute every day, while pleasure reading would remain a more 3D experience.I hope people continue to read on trains so I know what to read next. This is one reason why I really like @Booksundergrnd. A company, putting print books into the tube system. Check them out!

I saw the shock of the fall only last week, making it's way along the platform at Piccadilly Circus.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Booky Gadgets

When you work in publishing, one can't help feeling the immense pleasure of being utterly UTTERLY swamped in books, I have books on every surface of my bedroom, the bed itself is surrounded on four sides by shelves and windowsill, desk and wardrobe, all of which have books on them. If there weren't shoes in the draw under my bed, there would be books in there too, but lets not get crazy and start throwing out pumps.

There are still a million books I want to read, and every birthday and Christmas, or just because, I am ALWAYS pleased to take a book as a gift. It is a definite winning gift for me. A book? Brilliant. I honestly love getting a book, especially if it is on my wish list. ;) 

But I've been thinking that there might be some other bookish things that people might like that are not books, and I'm not talking about Kindles, that is just a very fancy, very thin library. I'm thinking Gadgetry and accessories. So if you have a bookish friend with a birthday coming up, and you're not sure about what book to get them, why not try one of these:

Prism Glasses

Reading in bed is one of life's little luxuries, but sitting up to read can crick your neck and numb your tail bone. Or you lie on your side and read everything side ways. I would love to try prism glasses. especially at the bargain price of £6.79 on amazon. Buy here.

Transparent Book Weight

So, this is an awesome design by the geniuses at TENT. But after some research, you can't buy it anywhere, and it is almost £50 to buy it from Asia and get it to the UK! If you're ready to invest you can buy it here. I've wondered though, if it would break all your paperback spines...

A Thumb Thing

want want want want. Reading on the tube standing up has opened my eyes to the problem of one handed reading. This is how not to get an achy thumb! There are mixed reviews on Amazon, mostly about the size (medium is very small apparently) and some reports that it might damage your books. hmmm. 

Book-scented Candle!

From the Etsy shop Frostbeard studio, a husband and wife team make Bibliofile style candles including potterhead tea lights that bring the smell of your favourite books, movies and games into your room. And they're soy. Buy it from Etsy.

Magic Book Clip

Similar to the thumb thing, but I feel like this would be more of a textbook/student gadget. for when you need to prop open a book for reference for long periods of time. Buy it here!

Mark My Time Book Mark
This is meant to be to make reading fun for kids, with the Mark My Time bookmarks, you can time how long you read for, an hour here and hour there with an alarm that goes off when the hour is up. It also means when you only have ten minutes to spare before running out the door, you can lose yourself in the book without glancing up at the clock. 

The BookSeat Pillow
Another nifty solution to the crick in the neck. £35 from Amazon. There are a couple of complaints that it isn't weighted well enough and added some bean bag beans to help it stay in shape. Lots of people use it to multi-task while eating or standing and cooking, or knitting. A handy gift for anyone with RSI injuries or recovering from surgery.

Readers Night Stand

You can get these on Amazon for about £30. I think they're a great idea. Although, I do need a drawer for all the things I need every day, tweezers, sleeping pills, kindle charger...but perhaps that could all live in a box...Have a browse on Amazon.
Book Shaped Light

This clocks in at the most expensive at £95 or $160! But I just love this design. I think it would be the best bedside light ever, forget the glare of desk lamps, it casts a gentle light, and when it is closed you can just put your book on top or pop the Lumio into the bookshelf, so you can use the top of your bedside table for other things, like more books...If you buy a Readers Night Stand. Lumio is a Kickstarter success story, by designer Max Gunawan. There are a couple of things I'd be interested in learning about the Lumio design, if I ever get one, I would definitely review it with my thoughts.

Sadly I do not own any of these nifty things but I wish I did. Consider this my Christmas list.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Starting and Finishing

Let me know if anyone else feels this way, but often the hardest moments of anything are the beginning and the end. I like getting comfy and enjoying the middle ground of most things and I actually think that I need a change of attitude. Becoming equipped in starting and finishing what ever I set my mind to is an important skill I need to get used to.

Allow me to explain.

When I read a book, I love the experience. I like turning each page and letting the story unfold through my fingers. But I find it difficult to let go once the story is over. It even spreads to the next book. for a few days I struggle to get into the new book without remembering the characters from the old one. It isn't severe, but I do like to enjoy the middle of a book and starting a new one is harder than I expect it to be because it would mean letting go of the one I just finished. Perhaps that is why I keep so many of my books around me. I never feel I've moved  in somewhere without my library or at least part of it.

If I want to keep up my average of 4-5 books a month for the next year I've got to get over this. In my job I will have to be able to jump between texts familiarly and expertly and constantly. It is one of the reasons I have stepped up my reading goals. I already read a fair bit, but now I am trying to train my self in STARTING books and once they are over, to acknowledge and let them go. That doesn't mean forget them necessarily but I do need to hold on a little more lightly.

For an intern being able to be dropped into any office and get along with the people you find there is harder than you think. Most of us take a few days to warm up to strangers. Keeping quiet, smiling sweetly, keeping your ears open and your mouth shut. Particularly when you become aware of the scrutiny. it is really hard to leave somewhere that you have enjoyed working at and be faced with the uncertainty of the future placement. Like I've said before, you can't know what each placement will be like. I've practiced this a fair bit over the past year! I think I am getting better at it. It has made me more confident going to new places for sure.

And relationships. The middle is always my favorite. The start will always fraught with learning about the other person, and sometimes you don't get much further than that. I've often tried to stretch the middle past where it should be, because if you've got as far as the good bit you've done so well. learning to finish relationships well is almost as important as starting them. you don't want lurking ex's and you don't want past feelings to surprise you because the finishing was not complete, that will in turn make starting new relationships more difficult.

Starting a new job, a new relationship or a new book is difficult; finishing them is even harder, but it has to be practiced, and you have to get good at them all.