5 good things for May

Alternate title: no, the Read-a-thon did not swallow me whole!

Sorry for being MIA after the Read-a-thon (which was great, if a bit tiring), I’ve been traveling and got sidetracked. Now everything should be back to normal. And to get back on track, I’m starting with good things:

  1. Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting a Neverwhere readalong! I am still struggling to keep up with the Bleak House one, but I am appreciating the experience and look forward to more of it: on top of that, it’s Gaiman, and it’s Neverwhere, so I do hope I will be able to participate!
  2. The Book Depository is offering a 10% discount on everything, both on the .co.uk and on the .com sites. Time for shopping!
  3. Science fiction eBook publisher Tor UK decided to drop DRM, starting from July. I’m not expert enough to comment on it (just started on eBooks and not really enjoying the experience), but I mostly agree with the article posted.
  4. May 5th is Free Comic Book Day! Just head to the nearest participating comic book shop and get a free book!
  5. This may only be good for me, but… I’m currently working on the first joint review for this blog, and so far I’m enjoying the process! YAY!

What are you looking forward to in May?

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A Kindle Touch experience

Image credits: Yon Garin on Flickr

Margie even wrote about it that night in her diary. On the page headed May 17, 2157, she wrote, “Today, Tommy found a real book!”
It was a very old book. Margie’s grandfather once said that when he was a little boy his grandfather told him that there was a time when all stories were printed on paper.
They turned the pages, which were yellow and crinkly, and it was awfully funny to read words that stood still instead of moving the way they were supposed to–on a screen, you know. And then, when they turned back to the page before, it had the same words on it that it had had when they read it the first time.
“Gee,” said Tommy, “what a waste. When you’re through with the book, you just throw it away, I guess. Our television screen must have had a million books on it and it’s good for plenty more. I wouldn’t throw it away.”

Isaac Asimov, The Fun They Had

I remember reading this story for the first time in primary school, and the idea of reading books on a screen seemed at the same time ludicrous and marvelous. So it feels strange now to be able to read endless books on the same little touchscreen.

I didn’t really buy into the idea of e-readers for a long time. Where’s the feeling, the smell, the touch of paper? When husband and I finally decided to buy one, it was because of the wealth of free books (as in: copyright-free, but also cost-free) that would become accessible. Which is of course a good thing, although it will only mean a growing TBR rather than a cut in reading costs.

So now it’s time to evaluate my experience, and I’m sad to tell that the misgivings I had were right. I feel the absence of the book as physical object:

  • I think I already mentioned as I don’t use bookmarks. I feel my way through the book to the point where I left off, I don’t think I can explain how (oh, wait, that’s matter for another post, right?). It is part of the reading experience for me, and I miss it.
  • The book I am reading is a big tome. With such books, the visual sense of how far into the book I am is important to me. The Kindle shows you a percentage, which is fun, but not nearly the same.
  • On a smaller scale, I often leaf through the next few pages to see how much it takes before the end of the chapter. Of course you can do that with a Kindle, but it takes forever, and you cannot put your finger between pages to mark the place where you left off.
  • Not to mention all the times you leaf back to double check a name or a fact (oh, you don’t? Really?). With the Kindle I just don’t, it’s too complicated.

Of course this is a first experience. I hope things improve with practice.

How about you? Have you had this kind of reaction to your first e-reader experience? Do you think it gets better with practice? Any tips to share?

Challenges and book clubs and read-a-longs, oh my!

Sorry for posting so little lately, it’s been an IRL whirlwind, and still is. But I’m still here and, guess what?, I’m ready to challenge myself some more. As if I had not over-committed already. Oh well, I cannot resist.

Earlier this year, I mentioned that I wanted to try read-a-longs. Alex directed me to Unputdownables.net, and I have to say that Wallace seems to be an extraordinary and extremely well-organized host. So I decided to take the step. Starting today, Unputdownables is hosting a 13-week read-a-long of Dickens’ Bleak House (follow the link for more information and sign-up).

I downloaded this as an e-book (it is also my first experience with my brand new Kindle) and hoping for no tech problems I am all ready to go. It’s been a while since my last Dickens book and I am looking forward to it, but even more so I am looking forward to the read-a-long experience. To say it all, it looks daunting… but I’m ready for the challenge 🙂

Speaking of which… I have a new postful of reading challenges to sign up for!

Remember how I was looking for a non-fiction challenge? This one, over at The Introverted Reader, may be the best one around. It lasts the whole year 2012, you can sign up any time, it features 4 levels and basically all you have to do is

Read any non-fiction book(s), adult or young adult. That’s it. You can choose anything. Poetry? Yes. Memoirs? Yes. History? Yes. Travel? Yes. You get the idea? Absolutely anything that is classified as non-fiction counts for this challenge.

Last year I read 4 non-fiction books, and I want to do better, so I’m signing up for the Explorer level, 6 to 10 books.

Kinna is hosting the Africa Reading Challenge. I discovered this through Alex and was tempted to follow her idea and read all Lusophone authors. Then I thought again, because I want to read some Francophone lit too. Aaaand, I still hope to visit South Africa sometime soon, so that comes into the equation for the Travel With Books Project. Anyway, the idea is to read 5 books by African authors in 2012. That’s it! I’m in.

I’ve seen this challenge around in the past, and never participated… but I think this is the right challenge for me. According to host Vasilly, a chunkster is 450 pages or more of adult literature, whether non-fiction or fiction. And because, as they say, I do like my books fat and chunky, here I am. I should probably sign up for level 4, but I couldn’t resist the name of level 3: “Do These Books Make my Butt Look Big?“, so I’m in for SIX Chunksters from the following categories: 2 books which are between 450 – 550 pages in length; 2 books which are 551 – 750 pages in length; 2 books which are GREATER than 750 pages in length.

And the Chunkster Challenge also has its own book club! The Chunky Book Club has a schedule of four reads this year. I am already late to participate in the first discussion, and I am not sure I will be able to read the other books in time, but I sure hope so!

That’s all (for now…). If you want to join any of these events, just click through!

In My Mailbox

No, I’m not beginning to participate in one more weekly meme (and this is one I don’t really understand… I don’t usually get things every week in the mail, let alone books! But there’s a meme to every taste, right?). No. It’s just that today I received a package and I just had to share.

Here it is. What will be inside?

Hint: it comes from Amazon.com and it’s not a book!

Yes, I entered the army of e-book readers and I am now the proud (co-)owner of a Kindle Touch! *happy dance*

One more shot to show you the rest of the package contents (i.e. Kindle accessories):

And while I still have to try and switch it on (actually, do you switch it on, or do you turn it on, or do you touch it on? Dunno. I’ll have to learn a whole lot of things!), for the time being I have to say that I am pretty impressed with the packaging! Including the eco-friendly paper slip the Kindle cover came in:

(and yes, I was one of those girls that would discard the toy and play with its box instead! *giggles*)