Reading


By no means am I on the cutting edge of anything.  In my literary life, I still haven’t recovered from:

  • the loss of my local bookstore
  • the disappearance of B. Dalton & Walden Books
  • A Common Reader going down in flames
  • Borders falling off the map
  • Barnes & Noble changing from a discount catalog for remaindered books into the local bookstore

Now it looks as if a Chrome extension has Amazon in it’s sights.

Chrome Extension Turns Amazon into a Catalog for Oyster’s eBook Subscription Service, 1 Feb 2015, Ink, Bits & Pixels

And thanks to the plugins, readers have the opportunity to ask themselves if they really want to buy the book they’re looking at, rather than read it in Oyster’s apps for Android, iPad/iPhone, and their web browser.

I can’t keep up with it all — probably a result of being one of those people who thinks 1990 was ten years ago. To put an even more elderly gloss on my situation, I was fifteen when Alvin Toffler first published Future Shock.

Yeah, yeah, I know: “Alvin who?

Mr. Toffler enlightened a generation about the awareness of information overload, coupled with the stress and disorientation of continual frequent change.  In modern parlance, remember when there were no smart phones to perpetually upgrade?  About the only consistent feature of today’s consumer environment is that whatever you’re using is almost guaranteed to be archaic long before it wears out.

Not so long ago, using old stuff just showed you were unfashionable, out of date, unhip.  You couldn’t get out of the box, man, because you were the box. At worst, you were L7 (hold up your fingers so that you have your left thumb & index finger as an L and your right ones as a 7 — put them together): a square.

Today, using old stuff doesn’t make you just uncool, it can leave you stranded (hence, why poor people need cell phones). You’d be left out of most loops because not only is your gizmo old (at least by one year), but it can’t connect to anything.  Just try getting that information off those floppy disks in the bottom of that drawer, or watch a VHS tape. How much longer will anyone bother producing devices to play DVDs or CDs?

Given Amazon’s effect on businesses-you-can-actually-drive-to, I don’t know that I’ll mourn the company’s possible twilight (although I love being able to find esoteric items that businesses-I-could-drive-to never had). The effect of always expecting future shock, though, has me already wondering not only what’s going to replace Oyster, but who is going to make it worthwhile for authors to produce any new work.

Magic.  E-publishing is magic.

Until about half an hour ago, I had a “Kindle app” only on my Ipod Touch I-gizmo.  For most purposes, reading on the I-gizmo was satisfactory but lately I’ve been buying instructional books and I wanted to make notes.  Using the I-gizmo to read books from which I want to take notes is do-able but the screen keeps turning off while I type (and if there is an off-button for the auto-off function, I haven’t found it).  If I take notes from the books, I also have to flip back and forth between reading the I-gizmo and typing on the computer.  Because of this, I bit the bullet and clicked on the Kindle app for computers.  Actually, I only clicked near the Kindle app button to find out more, but whaddya know, I’d downloaded something.

Seeing that I’d already taken that first step in putting a Kindle app on my laptop, I kept on clicking.  The app-fairies did their bit and, within a minute, all my e-books were neatly lined up awaiting my merest click.

I know that we all take for granted the stuff that we grow up with, which for my generation would be

  • Marilyn Monroe, Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor
  • televisions,  tape recorders and party-line telephones
  • supermarkets, yellow margarine and tv-dinners
  • Snoopy, Dagwood and Alfred E. Newman
  • Disneyland, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
  • jet planes, the USSR and bomb shelters
  • Elvis, the Beatles and the Monkees
  • rock & roll, Dick Clark and teenagers (as a population demographic and not just as people older than 12 and younger than 20)

Just as all the above seemed as natural as air to me and my peers (but maybe not our parents), it seems as if the e-reading devices have been around for a long time.  In reality it has only been within the last decade or so that the computer capability explosion has magnificently rocked the amount of stuff — books, music, movies and games — made almost instantly available to customers.  The Kindle e-reader was introduced only in 2007.

I don’t know whether Hermione Granger could have conjured up dead-tree books any faster than my installation of the Kindle app, and if that’s not magic, [insert Harry Potter wand-wave] Publarium computatis!, I don’t know what is.

On an email list, the question of the week was what titles the members had read this month.  I decided to answer it, just for fun, out of curiosity about how many books I had read.  I didn’t think it would be many.

In searching my Audible books, my Kindle app, the Nook and my overdue library notices, I found that I could reliably say I’d read:

  1. Gunpowder Plot, Carola Dunn
  2. The Odessa File, Frederick Forsyth (audio)
  3. The Woodcutter, Reginald Hill (audio)
  4. Never Tell A Lie, Hallie Ephron
  5. Still Waters, Nigel McCreary
  6. Pictures of Perfection, Reginald Hill
  7. The Clocks, Agatha Christie (audio)
  8. At Home, Bill Bryson (audio)
  9. Roseanna, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (begun)

Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope is an ongoing project, dipped into when I remember to do so, but it’s been going on so long that I don’t think I ought to include it in the August total.  (the photo doesn’t count, either, as I was 14 when it was taken — The Emperor’s Pearl by Robert van Gulik)

The audio books are listened to during my two-mile walk each day (or as many ‘each days’ as I insist that I do — willing spirit, reluctant flesh and all that), so I’m assuming they bump up the total.  Still, I’ve managed more than I expected.

Now, if only I’d written as many words as I’ve consumed.  Mr. Trollope, who held a full-time job while he wrote, would tsk.

I can’t write about my fiction because, first off, it’s not yet published and that makes the stories difficult to promote.  They are accumulating, but the process is slow.  I also can’t write about my fiction as that would decrease the pressure I’m feeling to have it published.  Telling you that my heroine will be doing this, that or the other thing soothes my itch to tell her story.

I have drafts of general-interest blog posts, but they languish on the hard drive because the very act of writing them to demonstrate my superior way of thinking about the topics showed me I was right.  Once I’d shown myself the validity of my thinking, I didn’t need to tell everyone else about it.   (you’re welcome)

All the reasons I have for not writing leaves me with a problem — a blog needs entries to keep it from being Just Another WordPress Blog.  To keep things active, I’ve put together a list of Other Peoples’ Writings for your reading enjoyment.  I found these blog entries either amusing, illuminating or fun (and yes, Scalzi’s the outlier, but so worth it).

Happy reading!

In other news, I am presently enjoying Donna Leon’s latest book Beastly Things.

One question circulating on an email list is which fictional detectives are the list-members’ favorites.  As a long-time reader of mystery/suspense stories, I do have my preferences, but it surprised me to see so many detectives whose names are new to me.   If I jot them down, I’ll have an entirely new section for my Word.doc reading list.  (I like keeping the list there as I can add things in alphabetical order, something that is difficult to do with a pen & paper list.)

Back to the inciting question for this entry (since the name of the blog game is frequently-added novel content), who are my favorite detectives, limiting them to 10 in number?  I think I have two sets of favorites, one from my childhood and teen years, and one adult group.  I don’t know if that’s ‘cheating’ on limiting the number to 10, but I find it difficult to exclude some favorite characters, and also hard to look at a  list containing both Freddie the Pig and Andy Dalziel, although some people might see a similarity.

Without further nattering and fwiw, here are, in no particular order, my two top-10 lists.

  1. Rupert the Bear (for the preschool set; Rupert was always tracking down some mystery or other)
  2. Freddy the Detective
  3. Nancy Drew
  4. Beverly Gray
  5. Miss Pickerell
  6. Lewis Barnavelt
  7. Matthew Looney
  8. Judge Dee
  9. Gideon of Scotland Yard
  10. James Bond

Edgar-worthy juvenile mysteries are listed here.

My list of detectives from my adult years is:

  1. Anne Beddingfeld (the main character in my favorite Christie story, The Man in the Brown Suit)
  2. Amelia Peabody
  3. Inspector Clouseau (the Peter Sellers Clouseau)
  4. Dalziel and Pascoe (can’t have one without the other)
  5. Morse and Lewis (not cheating very much)
  6. Spencer and Hawk (still not cheating much)
  7. Cordelia Gray
  8. Kurt Wallender
  9. Harry Hole
  10. Recently rediscovered Honey West (if only because she was a pretty pioneering PI)

Ask me next month about my favorite detectives-for-grownups and I’ll probably have a different list.

===============

Update:  Runners-up

From my DVD collection: Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle with his sidekicks, Samantha “Sam” Stewart and Detective Sergeant Paul Milner.

From Mysteristas:

  • Lady Georgiana
  • Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane
  • from the comments section: Brother Cadfael

From DorothyL:

  • Perry Mason
  • Adam Dalgliesh
  • Hamish Macbeth
  • John Rebus
  • Christie: Tommy and Tuppence
  • Sayers: Wimsey, but only with Harriet Vane-they complete each other
  • Dorothy Gilman: Mrs. Pollifax
  • Elizabeth Peters: Jacqueline Kirby
  • RALPH McInerny’s Father Dowling is a parish priest
  • Jim Qwilleran.
  • Marcus Didius Falco
  • Napoleon Bonaparte (Upfield)
  • Guido Brunetti
  • Sister Fidelma (Tremayne)
  • Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee
  • Walter Mosley! He’s probably best known for the Easy Rawlins
  • Charlotte Macleod’s Peter Shandy
  • Michael Bond’s M. Pamplemousse
  • Peter Lovesey’s Bertie Prince of Wales

A blog for EQMM!  Something Is Going to Happen

In years past, my routine fix of EQMM arrived (eventually) in the mail via the Army APO system.  Those of us who spent many years overseas were resigned to all of the American magazines to which we subscribed appearing in our boxes at the mailroom long past the same magazine’s arrival in the Stars & Stripes bookstore.  Periodicals in the U.S. are not priority mail and are sent to overseas subscribers in bulk.  Those shipments can sit for a while, depending on the available transport space.  Still, those of us who subscribed to magazines kept our subscriptions in order to receive all of the issues (or at least most of them) and not just the ones we happened on when we visited the bookstore.

Fast-forward a few decades and now all we have to do for a quick fix is click a link.  Ain’t technology (usually) grand!

Hat tip for the information to Terrie M. at Women of Mystery.

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