Sunday, 8 June 2014

What I'm reading

Firstly, a birds'-eye view.   What I am reading for the most part are my Kindle and my Android tablet, although to be fair, I suppose those are what I am reading things on.

I got myself a Kindle Paperwhite a couple of months ago, second-hand, nearly new, perfect condition, on Le Bon Coin, and I have to say that it's a fine reading device; light, compact, legible in all light conditions, easy to carry around and with ample battery life.   Not the fastest screen response on earth, but good enough.  Shame about the lack of colour, because book covers can be quite artistic and attractive.

There's a whole heap of pros and cons about electronic books, and tying yourself into one particular format or supplier.  I really don't like the fact that Amazon can wipe your book collection without notice, explanation or your being able to defend yourself, and I can see why some people might want to use Calibre and other software to get around this problem.

On the Kindle I am reading a novel in French and one in English.  "Les Rois Maudits", "The Cursed Kings" is a multi-volume historical fiction series that starts with the execution of the last Knights Templar by Philippe le Bel.  I have just finished a novel in English called Henry by Christopher Hooks, describing the antics of an octogenarian widower who has lots of spirit left, if not much energy or concentration, that I can recommend.
On the reference side, I've just finished Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell, an excellent exposition of common sense.  I'm also re-reading Churchill's "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples".  I got volume 2 for free on an Amazon promotion, but I'm still on the first volume, pondering how the legal reforms put into place by Richard II that led to the right of an Englishman to a trial by jury, can by swept away by the European Arrest Warrant, whereby you can now be tried by kangaroos.  Mind you I'm not sure that English courts have anything to recommend them these days, other than to people who want to get let off for robbery or violence.  But whatever happened to free speech?

I've always been suspicious of "man bags", considering that carrying them might be a bit effeminate, maybe even gay.  Not that I've got anything against gays, but I don't especially want to mislead the world at large as to my sexuality.  However, pragmatism rules OK, and I found this leather bag the other day, that neatly carries my Kindle and a pair of reading glasses. 3 euros at a fleamarket, not bad at all.  Fits onto my belt too, so I can pretend it's not there.

The Android tablet is a 7 inch Google one, again a fine device, not perfect for reading like the Kindle, but much more versatile.  It plays games, acts as a remote controller for my stereo, it displays books, blogs, facebook, magazines, the weather forecast, emails, stocks and shares prices.......  For reading, it is my main route into the blogs that I follow (mornings over breakfast, instead of a daily newspaper) and it runs the Economist app, Le Parisien (French newspaper), Al Jazeera, and  Zinio.  I got a man bag for it as well, at the same fleamarket.

Zinio is a magazine subscription manager, that delivers electronic magazines to my tablet.  I'm noticing that many publishers are taking advantage of the low costs of production and distribution of electronic mags, and offering very cheap subs.  (Economist please note).  Having tested the Zinio app on a single issue of Wired and found it perfectly useable, I bought a sub to Audiophile at just over 3 quid for the year.  Come on, that's 25p an issue, how can I refuse?   And I can drool over the $25,000 amps even if I can't afford them, but the CD reviews are good and I can play the featured music on Spotify.

Physical books and magazines present me with a bit of a problem.  I like reading them, but I don't especially like owning them; I resent the shelf space they take up.  On the other hand, I find it difficult to throw them away, and so they tend to accumulate, until I crack down and have a clear-out.  (They're a bit like CDs except I don't chuck out CDs.)    Perhaps I need to learn to just dispose of them once I've read them.  Until then, electronic ones take up no space, so I don't need to bother with all that.

But for all that, there is something about a bookshop.   There was a souvenir book shop at the Phare des Baleines, on the Ile de Ré, with all sorts of books relating to the sea, lighthouses, fishing traditions and so on.  I find it diffcult to resist the temptation to buy something that allows me to take back a permanent reminder of my visit.   And Editions Ouest France print brightly illustrated books on just about every subject that you can think of that can be sold in a souvenir shop.  They are everywhere.   You're on Robert Louis Stephenson's trail that he took in the Cévénnes, and there's a Ouest France souvenir book about it.  You're in the chateau des ducs de Bretagne in Nantes and there's a Ouest France book on the history of Brittany.   And so on.

I succumbed.  A book about the Ile de Ré was a must, presenting a history of the island to the present day, and a book on the Knights Templar, their rise and fall fits nicely with Les Rois Maudits, so I got that too.  *sigh*  I guess I'll just have to find shelf space for them, once I've read them.  Be a shame to throw them away.  And besides, they're holiday souvenirs.  And they're not very thick.

Special bonus feature:  Freebie pic of a house on Ile de Ré, at La Flotte


The bike shed said...

Ah yes, man bags - very questionable I agree.

I have Kindle Fire - horrid; too distracting; prefer standard Kindle any day

Helen Devries said...

Les Rois Maudits! That takes me back!
I read the series years ago...and it was on the box too - back in the days when the BBC could make decent series without having obligatory man bags in them...

And the hollyhocks took me back too...

James Higham said...

Man bag! Man bag! :)

CherryPie said...

I am a fan of 'real books' and have a house full of them. Every now and then I have a purge and get rid of books I no longer want.

At the moment I mostly read history books and they lead me to out of print books, which means a long wait after requesting a copy at the library or paying a premium for a second hand book.

I found that most of the books are available to download (or read online) from 'The Gutenberg Project' and/or 'Open Library'. So last year I obtained an iPad Mini so I can download and read the books whilst I am 'sitting comfortably'. The iPad also allows me to sit in comfort and browse the internet rather than log onto my computer.

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