We’ve all been there. You’re in the middle of a book, or even close to the beginning or end, and you see it sitting over on the counter, but you have no desire to pick it up. The story has slacked off, or the characters stopped being interesting 50 pages ago.
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You don’t want to finish reading the book.
The problem is, you’ve already invested time in the book. Hours, days, possibly weeks have already been spent in the effort to get through it.
You say to yourself, “I’ve gotten this far, I should just finish it.” You start thinking of yourself as a quitter for even entertaining the idea that you might give up on the book.
So, when do you give up the ghost and just put the book back on the shelf without reading another page? And what do you with the book once it’s back there? Do you try again a few months later? Does your inability to finish the book haunt you?
Okay, so I don’t usually talk about books before I read them, but I’m pretty excited about this one, so I thought I’d share.
Orson Scott Card’s newest book in the Ender saga, Ender in Exile is out now, and Julie over at FSB Associates was nice enough to send me a review copy and a link to a teaser video. In the video you get a chance to see Orson Scott Card talk a bit about Ender Wiggin. You’ll also get some previews of a graphic novel version of Ender’s Game as well. All pretty good stuff. Enjoy.
There have been multiple science fiction novels that describe books that contain all of human knowledge. Issac Asimov had his Encyclopedia Galactica, Douglas Adams had his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and that’s only naming two. While these books were helpful in their worlds, they lacked one thing — interactivity. They still demanded that you read them.
It’s likely that if you’re reading this site, you don’t have a fear of reading in general, but wouldn’t it be great if you had a book that built it’s story around you? A book that changed every time you read it, depending on how you were feeling? A book that answered your questions almost before you asked them?
The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson is a story about just such a book, and what a book like this would do in the hands of three young girls.
The great thing about starting Bent Bindings, is that I’ve become exposed to a larger variety of books. My world of reading has definitely expanded.
I would say, too, that I had I not started this web site, I most likely never would have come across The Scoundrel Days of Hobo Highbrow by Pal H. Christiansen. It is originally a Norwegian work, recently translated into English. Given this, the odds of the book finding its way onto a local bookshelf were already slim.
While the first sentence of the book (‘Some men make a big deal of the fact that women need a bit of extra time getting ready in the morning’) would have passed my litmus test, the strange almost biblical picture on the cover and the esoteric description of the book (about a man’s obsession with the band a-ha) probably would have made me put it back on the bookstore shelf.
That would be a shame, too, because I would have missed out on a very enjoyable, very humorous reading adventure.
Today, The Symposium is hosting the Book Review Blog Carnival. A Blog Carnival is a great way to get exposed to many new blogs that you weren’t aware even existed. In this particular case, the Book Review Blog Carnival is specifically for blogs centered around book reviews. So, if you like book reviews (and if you’re reading this site, odds are you do), head over to The Symposium to find some more great book reviews.
As I work on my own blog, I’m constantly amazed at the community of book review sites that are out there. Take a moment to head to the carnival and I’m sure you’ll discover more sites that you’ll really enjoy.
I have a long history with books, and over that time I’ve developed an appreciation not only of the words within a book, but also of the aesthetic nature of books as objects. I can admire a well made book simply for the way that it looks.
I also have my own idiosyncrasies when it comes to books. All my friends know not to break the bindings of my books (no matter how small and cramped that might make the reading experience). I don’t like people dog-earing books. My blood pressure has shot through the roof when I’ve witnessed a book held open by flipping it over on a table — use a bookmark, people!
Oddly enough, though, there is one thing that does not make my skin crawl in regards to books, and that’s writing in them.
I’ve mentioned this before in earlier posts, but sometimes when I go looking for books, I pick up books I’ve never heard of. I do this mainly based on the cover, the synopsis and the first sentence of the book. If the first two get me interested, I’ll use the first sentence as the final litmus test.
In the case of The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay, all these things came together. It had a nice cover (a good picture of old books), an interesting synopsis (that described working in an ancient bookstore called The Arcade), and a great first sentence:
I was born before this story starts, before I dreamed of such a place as the Arcade, before I imagined men like Walter Geist existed outside of fables, outside of fairy tales.
So all of my usual tests came together. I picked up the book, took it home and started reading.
That was when I realized my three-pronged test wasn’t foolproof; one of the most dreadful books had slipped through.
“Epic” is a word that is often used when talking about literature, but one that is used to mean different things at different times. Epic is often used to talk about the time frame of a book. If it happens over generations and generations of characters, then it is Epic. Epic is also used to talk about the shear scope of a work. If it happens over a broad range of locations and characters, then it is Epic. And finally, Epic is used to describe the length of a book. If a book is almost too heavy to pick up, then it is Epic.
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett falls into all these categories of the word Epic. It happens over generations of characters, large areas of the world (though it does focus on one particular area), and the size of the book could strain your arms while trying to hold it up in bed.
It is also one of the most enjoyable reading experiences I’ve had in a very long time. Continue reading →