Update: I first posted this in June, and the publication date has slipped back several times. Right now, it shows a release date of September 15, or tomorrow, so maybe we’ll see this set next week. Graham Johnson, the pianist behind Hyperion Record’s monumental series of Schubert’s complete lieder, is known for having a lot […]
“What do we look for when we want to read? What should we be looking for? I look for wit, authenticity, soul, a strong narrative, good prose; you might not be interested in any of those things. The point is that reading is too important, too time-consuming and too demanding to drift into. Choose literary friends whose taste you trust and who know you well and critics you respect. And watch what’s lasting, too — in the end, the canon chooses itself.”
Novelist Nick Hornby has been reviewing books for a literary magazine called The Believer for about ten years. He writes about books he’s read, without paying attention to new releases. The article has some interesting thoughts about what it’s like to review books, and how he chooses the books he reads.
If you’re a Shakespeare buff like I am, you probably like having all of the Bard of Stratford’s works on your iPad or iPhone. It’s great to be able to dip into a play or poem when you have some down time, or when you’re waiting for an appointment. You can download free or paid […]
If you’re a Kindle user, you know that you can manage your Kindle library on your Amazon account page. There’s a link that says Manage Your Kindle: This takes you to a page where you can see your content and your devices, and alter some settings related to your Kindle account page. From the Your […]
“We might be better off with public readings of Shakespeare,” says Harold Bloom in Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. “Ideally, of course, Shakespeare should be acted, but since he is now almost invariably poorly directed and inadequately played, it might be better to hear him well than see him badly.” Not being able to judge the quality of current Shakespearean performances as the erudite Bloom, I suffer more from a dearth of Shakespeare here in the French countryside.
While we cannot always find such public readings, we can listen to recorded, dramatized versions of the plays, as with this set of Shakespeare’s 38 plays. With a cast of hundreds, most actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company, these works come alive through a skillful combination of reading, sound effects and music. As radio used to do when dramatizing works, the Arkangel set gives you the acting and the atmosphere. While one may be a bit irked by the “original” music, a sort of Coltrane-inspired Elizabethan music–why didn’t they use actual music of the period, including that composed for Shakespeare’s plays?–the overall production quality is about as good as it gets.
It’s time for Take Control Books’ 50% off back to school sale. Buy now to expand your ebook library at half off; it’s the perfect opportunity to polish your tech skills, and start working more efficiently. Grab my Take Control of iTunes 11: The FAQ, Take Control of Scrivener 2, or Take Control of LaunchBar […]
“Why is it that the three books usually (and according to experts incorrectly) named the Gormenghast trilogy never achieved the level of success of that notable fantasy behemoth, The Lord of the Rings? I am not suggesting that the two works should be viewed as counterparts, and yet in very different ways they are two cornerstones of fantasy writing in the second half of the 20th century. One is universally known by anyone who’s ever become a reader; I’m lucky if I find one person who has even heard of the other in any given audience of two hundred or more.”
An interesting examination of this little-known series of “fantasy” novels. I recall trying to read Gormenghast a few decades ago. I think I read one and a half books then gave up. I do recall the intricately obsessive nature of the books, though, and perhaps it’s time to try them again. They’re available in one-volume editions; at 960 (UK edition) or 1160 (US edition) pages, they’re enough to keep one immersed for quite a while. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)
And, I have a kitty named Titus (though he’s not named after Titus Groan, but Titus Andronicus).
“…making books less expensive might benefit Amazon and its customers, but it sucks the life out of publishers and the authors who need their services. Big publishers bear much of the blame for their troubles. They pay out vast sums for dubious projects, often ignore their “midlist,” publish far too many titles, and generally treat the book trade as if it were a business like TV, when, in fact, it’s closer to an artisanal craft.”
Glenn Fleishman gave a good explanation of the Amazon/Hachette dispute in a TidBITS article, but one of the broader questions here is whether or not books should be a commodity. As both a reader and author, I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I want to be able to get books for less; I have a couple thousand of them, and any savings I can make on one book allow me to buy more.
But as an author, what’s happening is a bit chilling. I buy the occasional Kindle ebook from Amazon at prices from £1-2 (I live in the UK), and I know how little authors get from these. Yes, some are loss leaders; for example, my friend Peter Robinson has a new mystery out Abattoir Blues, (Amazon UK), and, to get readers into the series, one of his older books, Wednesday’s Child (Amazon UK), is currently on sale for £0.99.
The real problem here is that the value of books is being cheapened; when you can get books for a buck or a quid, you’ll be less likely to pay full price for any other books. Sure, the ones by your favorite author will still tempt you, even in hardcover, but if books get too cheap, authors won’t be able to afford to write.