I’m a big book fan, I love reading and I love the feel of books, the sensation of the paper turning in your hands, the spine cracking as you get immersed in the story – just the tactile response you get when holding the few hundred pages, tightly bound in your hands.
I probably read somewhere around four books on a good week and two on an average week – double that if you include audiobooks.
I’ve tried reading books on a computer, I’ve tried reading books on a PDA and I’ve even played with ‘eBook readers’ but none of it comes close to the sensation and immersion of reading an actual book made of paper and ink.
My boss once said to me: “In a world where everything is going computerised, you being a massive tech head but still loving books leaves me feeling a lot more confident for the rest of us.”
Don’t get me wrong though – I’m not completely against eBook readers or reading on a Smartphone. There is something to be said for not having to cut down six trees so I can read a story, there is more to be said for the ease of holding a small Smartphone (hand sized) compared to a slightly larger than hand sized paperback.
Then there is the capacity – for something half the size of that same paperback book I could carry hundreds of books around with me, and in the case of the Kindle – get any book at any time on a whim.
But I still like a book, I know I’ve killed six trees and am probably personally responsible for sinking a small island somewhere – but it is just nicer to hold, a better experience and the batteries won’t die on me half way to work.
My comprimise is that I read some of my books in Audibook form – no paper, no ink – just someone talking into a microphone for a couple of days, a decent set of earphones (never underestimate the importance of a decent pair of earphones) and a device capable of playing it (lets be honest here – for most people it will be an iPod of some kind).
But this post really isn’t about my love of killing trees because of a desire to hold on to an ancient method of passing on stories – no its actually about finding those stories.
I’ve already talked about my love of books, my thirst for stories – but I tend to get stuck in a rut of reading the same authors or books based on the same television programme.
I’ve got dozens of Doctor Who books, more Torchwood books, I’ve got Sarah-Jane Adventure books, Stargate books and even the odd Star Trek book – they make me feel safe, I know the characters, I don’t NEED to get to know any new ones.
But I WANT to get to know new characters. The problem I’ve got is that I have fairly limited tastes – I cross genres all the time but I like to be challenged, I like to feel suspense throughout (not guessing in the first chapter what the ‘big reveal’ is going to be.
So I tend to stick to the same book – I will occasionally buy a book from a charity shop, read the first couple of chapters and then either give it back to the charity shop – or get my hands on EVERY book by the same author.
I did that recently with Alex Scarrow – I found A Thousand Suns in a charity shop, read it by the next day, left it on a bus with a note (I’ll explain in a minute) and then went out hunting for the rest of his books.
So far I’ve found Last Light, which I’ve just started and will look for the rest when I’ve finished that. I’ve also got a book by James Rollins for when I’ve finished the Scarrow later this week – before that my obsession was with Harry Turtledove.
I’ve got half a dozen Rollins to work through, half a dozen Doctor Who and Torchwood books, a couple of Turtledoves and two Scarrows – after that I’m left on the hunt – I’ve been through Fry’s, I’ve finished Clarkson, Hammond and May (plus I’m really on the hunt for STORIES and not columns).
So what I really need right now is a website that has a number of forms, I fill out those forms/answer the questions, and it gives me a list of authors I should read – I can then work my way through them.
It could be a social service as well – so people can comment/tag books to help the forms work better – just as long as I get my author list at the end I don’t care – as long as it isn’t GENRE based as that is normally bollocks.
With the exception of Alt/History – that’s a genre where I’ll give almost any author ago as long as it isn’t TOO bizzare.
So – ideas? Do you know of a website that does the above? If not any suggestions for books I should read? Maybe I should got and build it myself – but that would rely on tagging thousands of books to get the right answers – maybe a mashup involving Amazon could be the answer to that problem – coupled with a social media element – a new Twitter game?
Oh and the bus thing? Basically when I’ve read a book I write a note in the front cover (without my name) that basically says ‘I enjoyed this book, hope you will to’ and then leave it somewhere – usually a bus seat.
The hope is that somewhere else will find it, enjoy the story and possibly even find a brand new author they wouldn’t have considered otherwise – and it helps cut down on the number of dead trees at the same time.
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