Archive for April 2012
I love audio books, mostly. They can be a great way of ‘reading’ a book in a place I wouldn’t normally be able to read; while walking or driving are two typical times. I’ve ‘read’ a lot of books over the years in the car and have enjoyed or not the delivery of the reader. My most recent book was Gilgamesh by Joan London read by Deidre Rubenstein and I’ll talk more about that another day, it’s a great book and, I feel, made better by a great reader. One of the best parts of ‘reading’ a book while I’m driving is it limits the things I’m doing, I have to concentrate on my driving and the book so it eliminates any ability to think of other things and ruminate, it’s a great way to clear my head of unwanted and unnecessary thoughts.
Audio books are fabulous for reading books in awkward places, they’re even better for people who have vision problems and are unable to see the printed page, they’re also great for people with mobility issues who can’t hold a book or turn a page. There should be more and they should be cheaper. There are definitely more than there used to be and they’re more easily available. When I first started listening about six years ago the range available at the library was rather limited as was the range at book shops. The library has now tripled their range and also introduced books on CD as well as audio cassette, it’s still challenging to find them in book shops but there are more around. At the time I was sent to a book shop that only sold audio books I never made it there but it looked very promising, a good business niche.
I looked up Deidre Rubenstein and found very little information on her audio books, she does have a brief mention of it on her Wikipedia page and at the bottom in the References section there’s supposedly a link to the Louis Braille website with some information about her and the awards she’s won but it appears someone has hijacked the domain and inserted a rather useless blog instead. What I’d really like is a website listing the audio book readers and the books they’ve read. Rubenstein was really very good and I would like to be able to ‘read’ more books read by her. If you happen to know of a suitable website I’d appreciate hearing about it.
The best readers are those who are accomplished actors and can do a wide variety of accents and characters. When you have a poor reader it’s hard to distinguish between the book and reader to be able to tell if the book is good or not. I was listening to a Terry Pratchett book some years ago and the reader was just okay and it made a big difference to my liking of the book. I’d like to suggest Miriam Margolyes would make a good reader, I’ve seen her do a range of different characters, all excellently.
This is the first in a series of books where all of a sudden there is no-one over the age of 15, it seems to be the magical number and as soon as you turn 15 you ‘wink out’ and go somewhere else. It’s an interesting book in that it illustrates, at least for me, how books can polarise people. I read a couple of reviews of it on GoodReads and was quite interested to find people who hated the book enough to struggle to the end and then had to defend themselves whereas I found it a fascinating book.
The basic premise is that one day everyone over the age of 15 disappears, parents, teachers, garbage collectors, everyone. Later on in the book we find people disappearing the second they turn 15 and that scares everyone. Just imagine what happens when the oldest person in the village and surrounding areas is almost 15, my first thought was of Lord of the Flies and judging by the reviews I wasn’t the only one. There are two factions in the place, the village kids (Perdido Beach) and the private school kids (Coates) – the ones who were sent to a boarding school as their parents had money to be able to afford to send them away when they were trouble, not in trouble but trouble with a capital T. Then they start finding out some of them have powers. Different types of powers, Lana is able to heal, Sam is able to create a light which can burn, others can teleport and others can run so fast no-one can see them.
Sam is a reluctant hero, he’s the one who keeps his head and we keep being reminded of this, one day he was in the school bus when the driver had a heart attack, he saw, took the driver out of the seat and brought the bus to a safe stop, ever since then he’s been called School Bus Sam. This is brought up constantly as a reminder that heroes can be anywhere and also that sometimes it only takes a clear head to be a hero. Everyone looks to Sam to lead them but he doesn’t want to do that. Caine is the opposite, he wants power, he wants to lead and he thinks Sam will get in the way so he does everything he can to destroy him. Drake is crazy and loves his guns far too much, he’s just waiting for Caine to ‘wink out’ at 15 so he can take over.
I loved this book. It’s aimed at the young adult market, there is violence and it’s rather more controlled than in Lord of the Flies by William Golding. I had so much trouble putting it down and at 560 pages it took a while to read. I was constantly wondering what was going to come next, what would happen when Sam and Caine came to the point of ‘winking out’? Other things going through my head were that with that kind of stress the kids of Perdido Beach would be maturing much faster than normal but would it be fast enough to replace the population? Would they ever rejoin the world? Would they figure out they needed to grow food and would it be fast enough?
Other things I found interesting about this book were the characters. Little Pete is autistic, he’s lost in his own world and is only interested in his game, but it turns out that when he’s threatened he can remove himself from the scene and saves himself and his sister, Astrid from Drake. Astrid is interesting in her own right. She’s 14, 10 years older than Little Pete, she’s brainy and has no friends as she alienates them by being too brainy and pointing out different parts of speech after they’ve said it. For example:
‘Demand of who’ Sam said. He zipped his jacket. It was chilly. ‘You want to go demand justice from Caine?’
‘Rhetorical question,’ Astrid commented.
Pointing out that it was a rhetorical question was totally useless but this is the kind of thing she did. She did this continually throughout the book, not just this but also helping to steady Sam and keep Little Pete quiet. I suspect she was also on the Autistic Spectrum but much higher functioning than Little Pete.
I’m waiting anxiously for the next book called Hunger and the one after that, Lies. This is one of the books I was given at the Digital Parents Conference last month by Hardie Grant Egmont, it’d be nice if they gave me the rest of the series but I suspect I’ll have to buy or borrow.
Peter Pan is one of those books from my childhood, from most people’s childhood. It is iconic and full of innocence with the most gorgeous images. I often wonder why one book can do so well when another flops. First published in book form in 1911 it has endured several generations and I’m sure will continue pleasing many more.
The character Peter Pan is forever young and so many of us try to imitate that in so many ways. Some people will dress young, others will put themselves through countless surgeries in order to halt the aging process and others just act young. So many people are searching for that elixir of life that halts the aging process completely and makes us young forever. I don’t want to live forever.
I don’t understand why Wendy becomes a ‘mother figure’, I do wonder if Barrie is telling us that boys never grow up but girls do. Just speculation, what do you think?
Watch out for Squid Ink next week on a very special day!
A new regular feature here is Mondayitis, published every Tuesday, it features guests discussing a series of questions. People have their own view of the questions and some use them as a starting point while others actually answer them, in their own particular way.
What do you read?
Books made of paper. Anything in general adult fiction that is widely popular fills me with suspicion and is to be avoided. My favourite genre is fantasy fiction, either adult, young adult or childrens and makes up most of what I read. I also read a lot of history books, some mythology, random non-fiction that catches my eye, biographies, the occasional mystery or romance, and a little historical fiction. And loads and loads of old childrens books.
Why do you read?
Usually when people ask me this question it’s more of the “Why do you read so much?” variety followed by a proud declaration that they themselves do not read. This usually happens in a workplace, at lunchtime, where people would feel the overwhelming need to interrupt my quiet reading time to ask me this question. And then tell me that they don’t like books. This seems to be a perfectly acceptable practise. I wonder then, if I should launch myself on unsuspecting people in lunch-rooms who are not holding books, ask why they are not reading, and then proudly proclaim that I love books.
I suspect, this would be unacceptable behaviour. Or would at least earn me some rather strange looks. But I have to admit i am often tempted…
So why do I read? I don’t know. I can’t imagine not reading.
Do you read for work or pleasure?
Pleasure, always. Even if the book is bad. If I had to read a boring book for work I would probably secretly enjoy it.
Can you do the Safety Dance while reading?
I’m quite sure I have asked Suz for a demonstration of this mysterious Safety Dance but so far she is dodging me.
Are you a Discworld/Twilight/Harry Potter fan?
Yes, No, Yes. I’m currently collecting Discworld but I have only read three of them so far. I’m in the habit of wanting to have a whole series on hand before I start reading.
I adore Harry Potter. I have a big collection of Harry Potter books including first editions, collectors copies and various paperback editions, and I desperately want an owl.
I did read the first Twilight book as I don’t think I should make fun of books so wholeheartedly if I haven’t read them. (I can now make fun of it without guilt) I passed the book onto my best friend who furtively purchased the next three books. She very bravely owned up to this several months later.
Would you attend a flash mob dressed as your favourite character?
No. I probably couldn’t choose my favourite character from a book, then I would spend weeks agonising over whether or not it was technically correct.
I really hope this works.
I had to do a Powerpoint presentation as part of my studies, it had to show off my skills and not my business but they wanted it within a business framework to showcase part of that business. I chose part-work magazines as people don’t seem to know much about them. If I was doing a proper video I’d have put in photos and it would have been much, much longer.
I don’t have much equipment here and I certainly don’t have video editing software, I do have a friend with the software but I haven’t asked her to do any pretty stuff with this so it’s just raw footage. As I totally underestimated the time the upload would take and didn’t write a script beforehand I don’t have a transcript as yet. I should add that in later.
The Chalet School books were written between 1925 and 1970, all written by Elinor Brent-Dyer. They were and still are magical books with really lovely characters who all believe the best in everyone and are disappointed when someone turns out to be less than perfect. I’ve loved them for years and have to be careful when opening a book to list as I’m likely to read the whole book as witnessed in this post.
I’d definitely recommend them for the pre-teens age group, there is the odd bit of violence but swearing is very much frowned upon. With only 60 books it’ll keep them going for a little.
Currently bookshops generally have to do something else besides just sell books, internet sales go hand-in-hand with this and there are always other goods available at the checkout to entice you to spend a little more. Sometimes people combine a coffee lounge with the books although this brings all sorts of other challenges such as what to do when the customer has no intention of buying the book, takes it into the coffee lounge to read it and spills coffee all over it, but what if there was another way entirely.
I was having a chat on twitter a few days ago with some friends and one of them mentioned boutique bookshops, she wasn’t serious and was talking about bookshops which have a particular focus. So how would a beauty salon combined with books about beauty, chick lit or romance work? While they’re doing your hair you could be talking about books and be sold a book on the way out. There could be a package deal, a pamper session combined with a book or two so as to continue the pampering when you get home.
Of Science and Swords in Melbourne have exactly this arrangement. Their focus is on science fiction and fantasy and they have all sorts of goodies available besides just books. You can buy unicorn meat, tshirts, all sorts of Doctor Who paraphenalia and other exciting stuff focussed on the science fiction and fantasy books. It’s a haven for people like me.
I can’t help wondering what other combinations we could come up with. Romance would be easy despite those people who are closet romance readers. You could put in anything to do with hearts and love, including little heart shaped chocolates which are readily available near me. Then add in heart shaped pillows and those thingy whichies you use to make heart shaped patterns on your toast, I was given one many moons ago and never used it, can’t think why people think I’m romantic. Add in some roses, both real and fake and you’ve got it made.
A literary theme would be a little harder. Penguin released all sorts of goodies to go with their books so stocking those would be a must. They’ve got mugs, pens and teatowels, I’ve been given a Virginia Woolf teatowel in a cylinder. I’d be considering adding in anything people do while reading, including chocolates and muffins, tea and coffee, and also adding in long lasting versions of gluten free and caffeine free options of these items.
When it comes to non-fiction you can over specialise but I suspect that wouldn’t be a viable business model. Let’s take dinosaurs for an example. There are a lot of dinosaur books around and you could also put in dinosaur toys and copies, maybe even some real examples of dinosaurs for those with a little more money. You’d want to have your shop in a very good and cheap location as well as developing an extensive online model in order to survive, while there’s still good interest in dinosaurs I don’t think it’s enough for a whole shop.
Anyway, what are your thoughts? Can you come up with a business model for a specialist book shop? Can it possibly work?
What do you read?
Why do you read?
Do you read for work or for pleasure and is there any difference between the two?
Do you read to your kids or to someone else’s kids?
Can you do the Safety Dance while reading?
Are you a rabid Discworld/Twilight/Harry Potter fan and would you attend a flash mob dressed as your favourite character?
Not really, just trying desperately to catch up after the rush of Passover. I’m getting there with some things but others I’m still way behind. I’m meant to have finished module 8 of my current studies by last Saturday and I’m still part way through module 7. I have some special stuff coming this week. Tomorrow is a special Mondayitis (aren’t they all special?) then I have an idea for an article which some people might find familiar as it’s heavily based on a conversation I had on Twitter last week, after that is the regular Squid Ink. Friday may or may not happen. Part of my studies this weekend included doing a Powerpoint presentation and I chose to focus on a segment of the business, it looks like something that could be of interest, if I can figure out how to work that into an article I will. With all of that foreshadowed I must now go back to my studies and attempt to finish module 7. Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye and be grateful you can’t hear me singing.