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Posts Tagged ‘books’

As regular readers know, I have what I call The 40-Page Dropkick Rule. When I begin reading a book, it has forty pages to grab me, draw me in, and make me want to keep reading. For exceptionally long books, the forty page limit can be extended to fifty, sometimes eighty. Regardless the limit, if I’m not hooked by that time, the book gets tossed aside.

I created this rule because, growing up, I had a hard time putting down a book, even if I wasn’t enjoying it. It took me six months to finally finish The Agony and the Ecstasy, a book I might very well enjoy now but, when I was sixteen, it really was a slog.

Six months! One book! That’s a long time, time during which I might easily have read several other books if I’d just allowed myself to put Mr. Stone’s opus to the side. But I couldn’t. With my completionist nature, my overriding urge to “see the job through,” I couldn’t not finish the book. As years passed, my self-confidence helped me override these urges, and thus was born my 40-Page Dropkick Rule.

Once in a while, though, a book passes the Dropkick limit, only to falter farther along. Such was my experience of The Goldfinch, the Pulitzer Prize winner by Donna Tartt. (more…)

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This weekend I finished reading a book, the first one in a while. I enjoyed it a great deal, but it was an unusual read in that, from the book’s very first page, I felt a very real connection to it. You see, my library also includes a few stolen books.

On my “old/rare books” shelf lies an 1892 edition of The Lady of the Lake, by Sir Walter Scott. A family member—enamored of its exquisite etchings—checked it out from a library in the early ’40s and just “forgot” to return it. When it came into my possession, forty years later, it was agreed by all that returning it was unnecessary. Probably.

A few other books on my shelf have sketchy backgrounds, too. One is a Bible illustrated by Salvador Dali that I didn’t ask too many questions about, and another is a large-format book of the works Michelangelo that had been so obviously mismarked at a garage sale that paying the 50¢ asking price was nothing short of theft.

And so, when in the prologue to her non-fiction bestseller, The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, author and journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett describes how she came into possession of a book with a less-than-pristine provenance, I felt the echoed pangs of my own guilty conscience. (more…)

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Stack of BooksIt was my mother’s social ambition that taught me to love books.

My mother–the eldest of her siblings–had a hard-scrabble childhood. She experienced family disruption at an early age, knew it well in fact, as her mother (my grandmother) was widowed and abandoned by husbands and inamorati at a fearsome rate. Moving from city to city, home to home, dogged by the turmoil of constant change, their family suffered one “fresh start” after another (and for “fresh start” read “begin again, from nothing.”)

Smart, tall, and attractive, my mother wanted a better life than the one from which she came. She worked hard to better herself through schooling and difficult choices, and did not apologize when it meant moving on. Some–her siblings included–thought her haughty and snobbish. In my own time, I’ve been described as haughty, arrogant, and imperious, so maybe I get that from her. (more…)

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It's a Trap!To be honest, I started this blog because I want your money. That’s not the only reason, but it’s definitely in the mix.

As a writer, I want people (i.e., you) to read my books. I’ve worked hard writing them, I’m proud of them, and I want folks to read them and enjoy them. I think my books are worth something, though, so I (generally) don’t give them away for free, which means readers must part with some of their money.

Ergo, I want your money. (more…)

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A blog post has been going around lately, in which Hugh Howey (bestselling author and book industry watcher) attempts to debunk some myths about publishing. Specifically, he addresses the standard tropes that the fast growth of the e-book market is  (a) materially damaging publishers, and (b) decimating the independent bookstore market.

His post (which is a good read) pulls together simple graphics from sources such as The New Republic, Bloomberg, and Harper Collins’ own PowerPoint slides, and lays it out clearly.

  • Publishers are making more money from e-book sales than from hardcover sales.
  • Independent bookstores are thriving in this post-Recession economy.

As evidence of the first item, Howey shows how the profit margins publishers enjoy from e-book sales is nearly twice the margin provided from hardcovers. Publishers’ profits are not on the MSRP of a book of course, but on the wholesale cost of the book. So, in the graphic I’ve linked to on the right, keep in mind that the 41% and 75% profit figures are based on the publisher’s share of the MSRP (which are $13.72 and $10.49, respectively). (more…)

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Stack of Books

You know I like books. I mean books, real books, those things made of paper and ink. A well-made book is a treasure, not to mention a marvel of low-level technology and, while I have an e-reader, read the occasional novel on my e-reader, and while I was one of the earliest adopters of the technology (I owned a first-generation REB1000, back in the ’90s), I do not like them.

I like books.

I like the heft, the feel, the fixity of the thing. I cannot turn it off. I cannot download it. I cannot erase it.

A book is a quiet, confident thing. It does not shout or wheedle. It rests, waits, and says, “Read me, or read me not; your choice.” It simply is.

I like reading from a physical book more than reading off my Kindle. When I read from a book I get more involved, I experience a greater immersion in the words and the story.

And I am not alone. Science, it turns out, is right there with me.

(more…)

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We’ve had some tough times, lately, so when I looked at my TBR pile (composed primarily of history, science, and literature), I sighed. I just didn’t have the verve to crack one of those. I needed something fun, something fresh, something…easier. So, when a friend recommended Emily Arsenault’s The Broken Teaglass as a fun, engaging read, I jumped at the chance.

I’m glad I did.

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