Tag: Reading

The Dazzling Effect of Books

Let’s have a book quiz, shall we? The only thing better than reading books is talking about books. Books = Life as everybody knows. 

The Big Book Quiz Part 1

  • Do you prefer reading old-fashioned books or e-books? 

Tough question. A few years ago, I would have answered “real books”, but I admit that I prefer e-books nowadays. Why? For several reasons: 

a) They’re cheaper. Swedish e-books are, in general, more expensive than paper books (and Swedish publishers are complaining e-books don’t sell!), but I buy them through the US Kindle store; thank God for deals of the day! I buy so many books that I can’t afford to buy hardcovers at full price. 

The only exception is the annual book sale, a big thing in Sweden. All bookstores (including online) would offer discounted books, starting the last Tuesday in February (prettily timed to around the 25th when the monthly salaries are paid out in Sweden) and until the beginning of March. Heaven for book lovers. Then I would load my book bag with hard-covers.

Books on bookshelves. Photo by Mihaela Limberea

b) They don’t take up any room. I have a library room, and it’s crammed with books, obviously. There are books in every room of the house, except the guest toilet. That last bastion will fall, too, eventually. If you have as many books as I have (we’re talking several thousand), you appreciate anything not requiring more storage space.

c) They’re portable. Nowadays, this is not an issue anymore, since we’re not traveling anywhere because of the pandemic. 

But back in the golden days, pre-Covid-19, when the only travel annoyance was the safety checks or flight delays, I would always bring at least a couple of books with me. 

In fact, one of my fears was that I would run out of reading material during the trip. I would read while waiting at the gate, during boarding, during the flight, and at the hotel before going to bed. You cannot imagine how many books I would need for a longer trip! Some people are terrified of flying. Me? Running out of reading material.

To say nothing about the weight or bringing the “wrong” book, you know, when you feel like reading a science-fiction novel, and all you have is a biography.

Enter e-books. Suddenly, I didn’t have to worry about luggage weight, running out of books to read, or bringing the wrong books. 

d) They’re not set in stone; or paper, rather. I love being able to customize the page color, font type, and size. I wear glasses, and I appreciate everything that helps my eyes, like larger fonts.

To cut a long story short, e-books are practical for several reasons. But I do miss being able to argue with the writer on the margins (I know you can add comments in e-books, but it’s just not the same), leafing through the pages to see what my old me commented on, or that unmistakable smell of a freshly bought book. Oh well, February 25th is almost here.

Books on bookshelves. Photo by Mihaela Limberea
  • Paperback or hard-cover?

Another tough question. A few years ago, it would have been hard-covers; they feel luxurious, like books should. But nowadays, I’m more for convenience (age may have something to do with it). Paperbacks are smaller, take up less room, and are more pleasant to hold when reading.

  • Genre or Nobel Prize winner?

Both. A good book is a good book, period. There’s this misconception that genre books are somehow the lesser literature. I don’t buy that. Good quality genre books are good books; forget the “genre.” Publishers and booksellers invented genres to help them sell books.

  • Do you finish reading a bad book or do you abandon it?

I struggled with this my whole life; I couldn’t NOT finish a book, no matter how bad or boring it was. I would feel guilty because that poor author had worked so hard to write a book, and I, the reader, simply discarded that effort. I felt the author’s eyes drilling on my back, truly I did. 

I’m happy to report that I realized eventually that I couldn’t continue that way. You know, so many books, so little time … Nowadays, I curate my reading carefully; it’s not often I have to abandon reading a book. But if I have to do it, I’m quick and remorseless about it.

  • Do you read translations or original language?

An easy one. Original for the languages I speak (Romanian, Swedish, English, French), translation for the rest. I don’t count German here, although I’ve taken it for eight years at school and can manage some light reading. 

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An End-Of-The-World Book At Night

Welcome to Las Vegas Nevada-sign at night. Photo by Guido Coppa on Unsplash used to illustrate an end-of-the-world mood.
Photo by Guido Coppa on Unsplash

Vegas always carried with it an eat-drink-and-be-merry-for-tomorrow-we-may-die energy: a city perched on the cusp of a never-ending yet never-quite-happening end. It was a city permanently stuck in the predawn hour before the hangover truly hit. Right there at the Rubicon, still having fun and about to start puking, on the line between everything is amazing and the End Times are here.

Chuck Wendig, Wanderers

I’m reading Wanderers, by accident, really. I mean, I wasn’t looking for an end-of-the-world-book about a pandemic wiping out humanity (and 775 pages long at that) while we’re surfing Wave 2 of the real thing. Things happen, though, you know. Let’s call it the butterfly effect of reading.

Wendig is no Stephen King (The Stand is still the measure for end-of-the-world books), but it’s an OK read if you’re willing to put up with all the preaching. I’m researching my first non-fiction book * and I needed an easy read at the end of the day.

I usually read for pleasure somewhere between 7 pm and 10 pm (I only watch TV Fridays and Saturdays, it’s the only way to get anything done and have time to read). After reading non-fiction books and taking notes all day, I’m in the mood for some easy stuff in the evenings.

Speaking of notes-taking: this Zettelkasten method for taking notes changed my life. I’m so happy that I found it exactly when I was about to start my research. Well, I was actually looking for a better method, but this is revolutionary indeed. I’ll post a review once I’ve used it for a while. I have many books to read as part of my research, so it’ll be perfect to use Zettelkasten and see what it does for me. Hint: Zettelkasten means paper slip in German.

* I don’t want to talk about it yet, sorry! I’m still afraid I’ll jinx it.

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