I suspect that people read less nowadays then they used to. Obviously I have no scientific evidence for this at all, but I think its probably common sense. When Charlotte Bronte was penning her stories up in Howarth her other options for entertainment were housework or painting (or maybe polishing the church pews!) so writing and reading would have been all she had to do.
Nowadays of course, we not only have tv and radio, but computers, the internet, games consoles, mobile phones the list goes on. I read somewhere recently that nowadays people go for months without hand writing anything. This means that soon adults will forget how to write completely and will only be able to type. I think it’s hard not to argue that tv and social media has had a massive effect on reading as well and definitely its had a negative effect on peoples ability to concentrate.
TV shows tend to treat us as though we have the attention span of a half dead goldfish. I recently watched an hours show about criminal psychology on Channel 5 (I know, it’s the red top of the terrestrial tv world) It started by telling us what they were going to show in the programme, then we had 10 minutes of actual show, before we got ‘Coming up…’ Then of course we had the first of 3 ad breaks (all over 3 minutes long) Then back to the show which spent 5 minutes telling us what we’d seen before the ad break, just in case we’d forgotten in the space of those 3 minutes.
This went on for the entire show. I imagine if you added it up (which I may try shortly) you would probably only get about 30 minutes of unique material in the whole hour.
This is why I think people no longer read books. Unless they can actually sit and read them in a whole session (Do they still make Dick and Jane books?) then people forget what they’ve read the following day. They are so used to having everything repeated and repeated that without someone going – ‘Welcome to chapter 2, in Chapter 1 we found out…’ – they can’t remember what happened.
Maybe this could be a new business idea? In a recent conversation with a friend she pointed out that my ability to read very fast is a great attribute. Maybe I could use that to start a whole new series of books. I’ll read a book and then turn it into the equivalent of a channel 5 documentary with a few pages at the beginning of each chapter summarizing what you are about to read, and a few pages at the end of each one saying what is about to happen in the next one. Of course this will definitely have to only be available as kindle editions – can you imagine the size of a Mark Billingham novel if you did this?
It could be a winner though and yet another great reason for owning a kindle. I’m off to contact Amazon now (This idea is copyright of acrimereadersblog…)
Once again me and my kindle (someone should write a song about that) have been out and about, this time reading The Dead Tracks by Tim Weaver. This is the first of his novels I’ve read although the second he has written. In the Dead Tracks a girl is missing and her parent’s employ widower Raker to help find her. As this is obviously a crime book, she’s not the only missing girl,there are lots of suspects and there is a serial killer involved.
I thought this was another good story that was a great introduction to this author. However I did feel that it slightly lost its way towards the end. The ‘who’ of the ‘who dunnit’ was quite predictable, although the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ were not. There were a lot of potential suspects throughout the book which I did feel was an issue and almost a bit farcical.
It seemed to be heavily influenced by films, for example Silence of the Lambs, and Seven, both had echos of their plot lines in this. They are both however, very good films so that is not a criticism although it does make for a bit of confusion at times if you don’t concentrate properly. I did think though that the overall story was qute interesting and original.
Tim Weaver is talking in ‘Drawing the Line’, where authors apparently describe their struggles with morality. This was quite a descriptive book, with some blood and gore which I do like in a crime book. It involves a Russian Mafia type group so it was never going to be a nice fireside rom com (which would have been very disappointing!) so I can see how he fits into that particular session.
I would definitely want to pick up his first book, and I think that would help to understand Raker and his background, and maybe garner some sympathy for him (which I found myself distinctly lacking) Yet to me this book just seemed a little bit too long, and I suspect that a bit of firmer editing would have changed it from good to excellent.
The End of Everything – Megan Abbott
This was another kindle on the train read. The end of everything is a story about two children Evie and Lizzie who are best friends and spend all their time together. They are heading into their teenage years and their heads are filled with boys and clothes. Until one day Evie goes missing, taken by a family friend.
The story is told from Lizzie’s viewpoint, she obviously wants to find her friend and so starts playing detective. She begins to gets close to Evie’s Father Mr Vern who she describes with awe, and Dusty, Evie’s sister who is standoffish and threatening to Lizzie.
This was a quite good story, but it is difficult to review without giving too much away. Although some of the writing seemed to me to be a bit sloppy, ‘shimmery things shimmered’ for example. I did think this was a very thought provoking novel. Throughout the story you are never quite sure what the truth is. Its basis is in sexual abuse which is implied although never explicitly shown. The fact that it is all told from the viewpoint of the young girl gives an unusual perspective on the crime. Events are only told as she sees them, rather than what factually happened, and often you suspect that were she an adult witnessing the same things she would interpret them differently.
I thought in a way it called into question people’s judgements. The lines of right and wrong are well drawn, when the belief of love comes into the argument these lines can sometimes get blurred, and actions that are wrong can be seen as a consequence of affection.
Whilst I suppose the word enjoy is wrong in the context of this book, is it possible to enjoy a book where the undercurrent of sexual assault gives it a quite threatening tone behind the thoughts of a 13 year old? It was a good read. Some of it is pretty unbelievable, for example the wife of the man who abducts Evie sends him money when he runs out. Whereas some of it you only realise the motivation behind the character towards the end, this is especially true of how Mr Vern’s wife reacts to her daughter going missing. The 13 year old viewpoint also lacks a sense of belief in certain areas I thought but overall I think this book made a great train read (that could be the title of my next blog – books for the train!)
My newest Kindle related purchase last night proved itself to be completely worth the 99p I spent at Tesco. I’d been looking at the clip on lights on amazon which were about £14, then in the bargain household section of my local store they had pretty much the same thing for the bargain price of less than a pound.
Since buying it I hadn’t actually used the light. Luckily there is usually electricity in pretty much all the places I travel. However last night we had a power cut!
Now obviously down my way this was not something that the neighbours would let pass by. There had been earlier power related incidents apparently, so I was reliably informed by Hilda1 as soon as I arrived home. According to her though, normal service had been resumed and everything was ok again now.
However a disaster that not even the Hilda’s could predict happened a few hours later – the power went off again! My initial thought admittedly was that I’d somehow blown the microwave up which had shorted the whole house. However luckily the spirit of the blitz lives on and it became obvious it was the whole street when first out of her front door came Hilda2 charging up the road to where the power company was working on the earlier problem.
She was quickly followed into the street by Mrs Pyjamas from next door (in her pyjamas as always) and Mother Hubbard in the corner. Obviously as it had gone 6.30 Hilda1 was in bed asleep (she has to be up for 5am of course, the perils of retirement) but there was slight concern as to the whereabouts of the Howards and Drinks alot Lady from over the road.
Luckily Hilda2 got straight to the route of the problem. She returned up the road to inform us all that the power would be out for the next 4 hours but she’d sent baby Hilda up the road to buy some candles. Turns out the Howards houses had been the cause of the power cut in the first place so sensibly they had gone out. Drinks alot Lady hadn’t noticed anything had happened.
A few glasses of wine and a takeaway pizza with a friend (dinner was postponed due to lack of electricity to cook) was fun by candlelight, but once she’d left the lack of tv was quite daunting. However, even scarier was the prospect of having to go to bed without being able to read…until I remembered my 99p purchase.
Now as mentioned before the kindle is for travel reading, and real books are for home reading but that’s the joy of the light. Off to bed I went with my 99p light attached to the top of my book…happy days. Luckily this morning the power had been restored, but I may go and stock up on my clip on lights just in case.
As an avid reader who travels by trains a lot the purchase of a kindle was obviously a no-brainer (especially thanks to a generous donation by my Gran!) The idea of being able to have thousands of books all on something the size of an average paperback is to me pretty amazing.
I should say at this point that I am not a gadget person. I don’t get excited by new phones, or flashy IPads, and my perfectly functional computer is about 10 years old. Gadgets to me are similar to assembling flat pack furniture, something I leave to my sister. However the kindle is a different matter. It doesn’t flash, sing or dance, it looks like a book, acts like a book, in fact it is just a book but better.
Now don’t get me wrong, they are not perfect. For a start it is way too easy to buy books on them. All you have to do is click a few buttons and you have the whole of Amazon at your fingertips – for someone like me who has a real fear of running out of things to read this is dangerous. (I wander if there is a term for that, nobookaphobia maybe?)
I still love real books, and personally despite predictions I don’t think the printed word will ever be completely taken over by kindle. At home I would still rather read a real book. I love browsing in bookshops, and can easily spend hours wandering round Waterstones. There is something satisfying about seeing a row of books lined up waiting to be picked that will never be replaced by a simple list in a kindle. At home I have shelves of books in my house and am always slightly disappointed that when I read a book on a kindle it won’t get added to those shelves.
You can’t share Kindle books with others either. I enjoy swopping books with friends, if I’ve really enjoyed a book I like to be able to pass it on to someone else and say read this. Telling someone that you’ve just read a great book on a kindle is not the same. I think people are less likely to read a book if they have to write down the title, look it up on amazon and then buy it themselves. Many a time I’ve been given books by someone that I would never in a million years have actually bought myself, no matter how good someone told me it was. The Twilight books are a good example, I was given the first one by a friend so I read and really enjoyed it. I didn’t think I would though so if she hadn’t put that physical copy in my hand I would probably have never actually read it.
Another thing that is a shame with a kindle is that you have no idea what other people are reading. On a train or in a bar I think its interesting to see what people are reading and I think there is no better advertising than having your book read by a load of people sat on a train. Of course the fact that no one knows what you are reading can be a good thing sometimes. As an event organiser I spend a large amount of my time out of the office, so with a kindle in my hand I could be reading important work related documents. Then again…