Alternative Reading

I’ve been struggling to work in a bit of reading for myself on top of my review books for Booklist and Shelf Awareness. Needless to say, it’s not going very well.  I stubbornly check out stacks of books from the library and wistfully stare at them until it’s time to return them. I have found moderate success, however, with audiobooks and–dare I say it?–ebooks.  I know, I know!  I started this blog vehamently decrying ebooks and here I am reading them–sort of.  The first thing that popped into my head as I prepared to confess this was Benedict in Much Ado About Nothing, when he considers marrying Beatrice after being the bachelor’s strongest and most vociferous advocate (you can skip straight to 4:55 or treat yourself to the whole scene):

Let me take a moment to explain.  As a CyberNavigator, I get the occasional question about downloading library ebooks and felt I should actually try downloading one myself so I could better help patrons.  I don’t have an iPad or ereader, but I do have an iPhone, so I dutifully got the App and picked out a book from the catalog.  The whole process was surprisingly easy.  That’s when the unthinkable happened.  I found there were occasions that I preferred reading the book on my phone.

Ebooks Are Actually Nice:

1) When standing on a dark train platform at 5:45 a.m., en route to open the coffee shop

2) When standing on a windy train platform

3) When standing on a train platform during a polar vortex, while wearing magical touchscreen gloves

4) When going out and your book won’t fit in your purse (this is why I carry a messenger bag 98% of the time)

5) When sitting in a dimly lit bar too far from the nearest candle

As soon as I started reading that ebook I thought, This is a slippery slope.  And I was right.  I have since checked out more ebooks, though I have yet to buy one.  However, I have never read a book entirely in ebook form either.  I can’t bring myself to read that way at home.  I’m more connected to my phone than I’d like to be anyway, so I have absolutely no desire to curl up on the couch and Read on that tiny screen.  Maybe if I had another device it would be different, but, as of right now, I need tandem formats. Ebook and real book.  Ebook and audiobook. Something like that.  The only caveat I have for audiobooks, aside from the unknown quality of the readers, is that my attention is more likely to be distracted from the story because I’m always doing something else while listening.  I never feel I’ve gotten everything that a book has to offer when I’ve only listened.  Again, this is where the added format comes in handy.  Anyway, here are a few things I’ve absorbed lately:

AUDIOBOOKS 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. (Adult Fiction).Rosie

I found this book utterly delightful.  Set in Australia, the story revolves around a man, who in all likelihood has undiagnosed aspergers, and struggles with the social aspects of life, particularly the dating world.  He is highly intelligent and logical, however, and when he devises a survey to find a suitable mate as part of his “wife project,” a friend throws a wildcard into the mix (Rosie), who throws his orderly world into disarray.  It’s hilarious and heartfelt with wonderful characters, and if you choose to listen, the reader (Dan O’Grady) is fantastic.  Worthwhile in any format, if you’re on the lookout for a good summer read, this is it.

 The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie Alan Bradley Audiobookflavia2Flavia de Luce is my new favorite mystery series.  My mother told me ages ago I had to read them and they’ve been stuck in the doldrums of my mental reading list until very recently.  Since I never have the time for the reading I want to be doing, I decided give the audiobooks a try.  They are the best ever! Written by Alan Bradley and read amazingly by Jayne Entwistle, these are light mysteries (for adults) solved by a precocious 11-year-old girl who loves chemistry, most especially poisons.  I believe there are 6 in the series with another due out this year and rumors of a TV series this year, as well.  I’ve only listened to two thus far, but it’s enough to make me enthusiastically recommend them all!

Insurgent

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Second in the Divergent series, I listened to this while attempting to re-caulk my bathtub, which was a lot more work than I expected!  Emma Galvin reads it and does quite a good job.  I didn’t like this one nearly as well as Divergent, which I’m not sure is a result of having actually read that one or its being the “middle child” of a trilogy.  Middle books nearly always read as stepping stones to me–necessary but not as gripping.  There’s a lot of traveling broken up with fight sequences and I got a little bored at times. Still, I’ll definitely continue on to Allegiant at some point, hopefully soon. In the spirit of alternative reading, I will say that I saw the Divergent movie and enjoyed it very much.  I think there’s an added bonus of living in Chicago and having been so many of the places where they filmed.

eBOOKS +

after-funeral-hercule-poirot-mystery-agatha-christie-paperback-cover-artAfter the Funeral by Agatha Christie

Formats: eBook + Real Book

Status: Completed

As I mentioned before, this was my World Book Night book to give.  I’ve been a longtime Agatha Christie fan, particularly of her Poirot mysteries.  I found this one to be a little odd, though.  It’s an older Poirot–taking a case after retirement–and he is largely absent from the book.  The story follows various family members who would have benefitted by the recent death of a certain family member.  Poirot is called to investigate his death, which is only deemed questionable following the funeral when a flighty sister remarks how it was obviously murder.  The book shifts around from person to person, revealing possible motives, untruths, and alibis, until it finally swings back to Poirot for one of his patented reveals.  Not bad, but I prefer my Poirots with more Poirot.

FarFarAwayFar Far Away by Tom McNeal

Formats: eBook + Audiobook

Status: In Progress

Audience: Middle Grade/YA

National Book Award Finalist (2013), Far Far Away garnered much acclaim last year, yet somehow passed me by until now.  It is an eerie tale of a boy haunted by the benevolent ghost of Jacob Grimm–yes, of the brothers Grimm–who narrates the story.  An evil force, called The Finder of Occasions, is nearby yet unknown to both the narrator and the boy, and the reader knows it is only a matter of time before it starts causing trouble for them. That’s about all I can say at this point because I’m not very far into it yet. I’m enjoying the audio version, which is read by W. Morgan Sheppard.  The story is highly atmospheric and definitely carries the feel of old fairytales, but the versions before they were altered for children.

Mr. LemoncelloEscape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

Format: eBook

Status: In Progress

Audience: Elementary

Eccentric and wealthy game-designer Mr. Lemoncello designs a town’s new library and invites 12 12-year-olds to spend the night and compete in a challenge to escape from the building using only their wits and the library’s resources.  This book falls somewhere between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Chasing Vermeer, and The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  It celebrates libraries and the intelligence of children to form a fun adventure filled with quirk and puzzles.

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