It’s The End of the World as We Know It – Or Maybe Not

picture from wired.com

Well it’s hard to have a book blog in this day and age without a tip of the hat to e-books. They are everywhere and hard to miss. Personally, I am an old timer and would go for good old fashioned paper and ink rather than a Kindle or Nook, but I do understand their appeal. E-readers do make reading long novels on crowded rush hour subways ten times easier, and the fact that you can store multiple books on one device is appealing. Or if you are in the middle of no where and just dying for a new book, that’s do-able too. However, I find it interesting that there is a new push for more LED screens as opposed to e-ink, with more options for internet and games. For me personally, I like reading not only because of the stories, plots, characters etc, but also because I don’t stare at a screen while I do it. It’s a nice break. I would be okay reading a book on my Goodreads app, for example while I was on the bus or subway, if I was reading the physical version at home, and could curl up with that when I wasn’t in transit.

Maybe its because I’m a nerd and notice these things, or maybe it’s because I just finished a publishing program and like to read myself, but I feel like people have been reading more than ever now. And I can’t help but think that e-readers have to do with that. But it’s not just people reading on e-readers, although there are a lot of them. I’ve noticed more people reading books on subways, busses, or in cafes too. i.e – The Underground New York Public Library blog. I remember when ipods had just come out sometimes I would count the number of people with white headphones on the subway. But now, if I’m really bored on the subway (which can happen frequently) I count the number of people reading. E-books or regular books. And there are definitely a lot out there. Yay reading!

Another interesting thing (maybe only to me) is the kind of books that are popular on e-books. From what I have heard and seen it is primarily genre fiction. (The romance best seller list on Amazon for example) People are still buying real books though, maybe more expensive, or hard cover books that they intend to keep for a longer period of time. This makes me happy. It seems like we are coming to a place where e-readers and physical books might be able to co-exist.

These are just my opinions mixed with what I have heard on the topic – I am in no way an e-reader expert. Feel free to comment with your thoughts.

Going for Gold: A Book Review of Gold by Chris Cleave

The book Gold by Chris Cleave has been everywhere this summer, from prominent tables and windows in bookstores to the top of July’s Indie Next List . It’s timely release coincides with the start of the 2012 London Olympics next week. Gold tells the story of competing cyclists Zoe and Kate. Kate has a husband named Jack who also cycles. She also has her daughter, Sophie.  Zoe has a string of men, and they both have a coach, Tom. They also both have the same dream of winning gold at the London olympics.

When I first got this book, I knew I was going to read it, but I was expecting a full on sports book. Sports and cycling do take an ever important role in the plot, as well as in every character’s decisions within the story, but I would not classify Gold as a sports novel. This is because of Cleave’s raw yet touching prose and his attention to detail with each character that he sets on the page. I have heard that authors are supposed to know their characters inside and out. Cleave picks his characters apart piece by piece and leaves every little bit of them on the page for the reader to know, hate, pity or love. Each character has a raw backstory that draws the reader into the plot, and towards the character themselves. I found both Zoe and Sophie, an eight year old child who is battling leukemia in her own way, to be hauntingly strong characters that stuck with me throughout my reading of the book, and after I was done.

There are a couple of concepts in Cleave’s book that could be cliche if they were done wrong, such as “frienemies”, a sick child, or a competitive love triangle. But, I believe that Cleave delves into his characters and their motivations and pasts so deeply that it is hard to claim a cliche in his  novel. This book is definitely a must read, both for the London Olympics, and it’s powerful characters. I was hooked.

I also must admit, I have not read Little Bee yet, but after reading this it is definitely going on the list.

Summer Reads: Prodigal Summer

This book was recommended to me by a friend when I realized that the more books I acquire, the less I know what I want to read. And I have gotten A LOT of new books recently, along with multiple B&N gift cards. It’s a problem. I knew I wanted to read something that I enjoyed and was well written. And this is what I got.

In Prodigal Summer, Barbara Kingsolver intertwines three stories of people from the same small southern town. Usually I don’t like the intertwining model of alternating characters every chapter. I like being able to get to know the characters that I read about, and I think it is easy for things to get lost or uninteresting when characters are constantly being switched around and you only have one chapter of them at a time. However, I do like seeing how authors tie their book together and this is a good format to see that happen.

I was not expecting to like Prodigal Summeras much as I did. It might have been because I read it during summer and it is a very summery outside crunchy novel. I don’t usually think of myself as a crunchy person.

What I really liked about it was the relational focus of the novel. I’m an extrovert/past Psych minor who likes people and books, so that’s not too surprising. Also, Barbara Kingsolver’s use of language and description  is a-mazing. That’s what really drew me into the book. Kingsolver describes both the naturally beautiful, and the normal and plain scenes of life as equally elegant in her prose. The fact that her three characters are all at different stages of life has been well used in books, but she freshens up the trope to make it not a cliche.  She gives her reader a unique view which is always nice in literature, and ties in with the nature in the book. She is definitely a knowledgeable nature lover.

If a book is well written, uses fresh language, and has good description then I’m hooked. That’s all I need.