Tag Archives: Kindle

A year in books – J. C. Greenway

Books have gone into and out of boxes this year, with the weight restrictions of international travel making it easier to borrow and pass on instead of adding to the permanent collection. I have also had to admit that, despite my early protestations to the contrary, the eReader is a very useful machine.  That said, as last year’s list contained six ebooks while this year I downloaded five, perhaps I am not quite ready to give up on print yet.

stack-of-books

After a cracking start to the year, where at times I was whipping through a book a day (oh, the beautiful reading weather that is England in January!), reality intruded and it became almost impossible to get through one a month (ah, motherhood). And yet I seem to have finished the year only one short of last year’s total and that is without counting the almost nightly re-reads of Beatrix Potter, The Hungry Caterpillar and other joyfully rediscovered childhood favourites.

Here then is my list of books read in 2013, in chronological order, with links to reviews I wrote along the way and some further thoughts following:

  1. Good Behaviour, Molly Keane
  2. Finding George Orwell in Burma, Emma Larkin
  3. A Life in Letters: P. G. Wodehouse (ed. Sophie Ratcliffe)
  4. Stuart: A Life Backwards, Alexander Masters
  5. Instead of A Letter, Diana Athill
  6. The White Cities, Joseph Roth
  7. Ellis Island, Kate Kerrigan
  8. The Assault, Harry Mulisch
  9. Bring up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel
  10. Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg
  11. Homage to a Firing Squad, Tariq Goddard
  12. Racing Through the Dark, David Millar
  13. Ratcatcher, Tim Stevens
  14. Maus, Art Spiegelman
  15. The Diamond Smugglers, Ian Fleming
  16. That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick, Ellin Stein
  17. From Russia With Love, Ian Fleming
  18. All At Sea, Memories of Maritime Merseyside, Evelyn Draper and William David Roberts
  19. The Undercover Economist Strikes Back, Tim Harford
  20. Call For the Dead, John le Carré
  21. The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, John le Carré
  22. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, John le Carré
  23. Churchill’s Wizards: The British Genius for Deception 1914-1945, Nicholas Rankin

Highlights of the year were Finding George Orwell in Burma, The Assault and Homage to a Firing Squad which all told very personal stories in attempting to unravel great conflicts. In spite of all the plaudits, I found Bring up the Bodies a less enjoyable encounter with Mantel’s admittedly outstanding characters.

In non-fiction, P. G. Wodehouse’s letters were a hoot – as if you would expect anything less – and his thoughts on Mr Orwell raised a wry chuckle. David Millar’s ride on the dark side of Le Tour de France’s peloton and (full disclosure, good friend) Ellin Stein’s whip smart tale of the National Lampoon crew making it from Harvard chancers to Hollywood legends, shared a compelling sense of the shadows concealed within hubris and humour, for all their differing subject matter. Stuart: A Life Backwards will stay with me for many years to come and is a must-read, albeit a harrowing one at times.

I finished the year with a run of gripping, classy and classic spy novels, comparing and contrasting the old masters Fleming and le Carré for a soon-to-be-produced (honest!) ten minutes hate review.

Thanks to everyone who has read or offered their comments on the site over the last twelve months and a very merry New Year to you all. May it be full of great books and the long journeys, bad weather days and cosy tea rooms that allow you to fully appreciate them!

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No Kindle required

Recently, I have been plugging the heck out of three great ebooks:

  1. Quakebook
  2. Reconstructing 3/11
  3. The Teas that Bind

Image

Since the launch of my own ebook last weekend, it seems that the question that has been on everyone’s lips is ‘when’s the print version coming out?’ It may be that the love of having pages to turn will win out over the new technology. If that is the case – well, I can understand. A little piece of my heart will always prefer the scratch of nib and smell of ink to tapping things out on a keyboard or smartphone.

But if you think you might like this whole ebook thing, you’re just not sure as you don’t own a Kindle, rest assured, there is no need to buy one. Amazon has a free app that you can download for PC or Mac, which will allow you to read ebooks on any computer. The type is large, there is no need to scroll down the page and it looks rather lovely. Although initially resistant to the idea of anything not involving actual paper, I downloaded mine to view Quakebook and have been pleasantly surprised by how much I have enjoyed using it since.There are some useful functions, especially for non-fiction books like these three – such as highlighting text and using hyperlinks – that make life a little easier than pencil margin notes.

So, as it’s a rainy weekend, I can recommend downloading the application and charging it up with these three cracking reads.

Don’t delay!

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Clear away the rust

Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week

– Joseph Addison

Blair is on the front pages, Terry on the back ones.  It snowed again, so a good, long walk might be out of the question.  Still, you don’t want to spend your whole Sunday looking at a screen.

Except that I would recommend you take a look at this from The Onion and allow yourself a wry chuckle.  I think Mr Salinger would approve.

Then, have yourself a read of this excellent post and, feeling inspired, turn off the computer, recline on bed or sofa and listen to an album from start to finish while reading a book.  Perfect rust-clearing for the week ahead. 

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