Yes, He Can! (2)
What They're Saying in 2014

Short Books

Every reader feels a sense of achievement on completing a book, which is why short books please. 

--Anthony Daniels, reviewing a book about W.H. Auden in The New Criterion

 I understand this very well. The other side of it is the intimidating quality of long books. I was halfway through The Brothers Karamazov (800 pages) over a month ago, went a week or so without reading for lack of time, and found myself slightly reluctant to take it up again, though I had been enjoying it. I'm back with it again now. 


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I keep eyeing our kids' big box of Beatrix Potter books. I could read one each day, and wouldn't that be amazing?

yes, and wouldn't you be pleased?

I like short biographies - I read a really good short bio of Jane Austen.

I sometimes read those "Very Short Introduction" books. But, looking back over them, I must admit that they don't often make much of an impression.

I tend to find the bios of artists some combination of boring, disillusioning, and unenlightening.

Am I the only one who is simply put off by the physical weight of big books? And paperback versions don't lie open properly because of their tight/weak spine.

Probably just revealed what a philistine I am.

Yes, those are problems, although not ones I think about till I've actually embarked on the book. I'm reading a paperback Brothers K and am finding both those factors annoying. The size is the reason it didn't go with me when I was travelling a couple of weeks ago, which was where I really got off track with it, and which resulted in my reading Wuthering Heights instead.

there are problems with book-reading, but to me, they don't compare with the problems in kindle reading. A few months ago, I tried to read Charles Moore's bio of Margaret Thatcher on a plane, using my kindle. My attempts to tap the side of the page in order to 'turn' it frequently resulted in my inadvertently landing on the footnotes. And a frequent footnote took one to a website called 'The Thatcher Foundation'. I would land there, but it was impossible to get lift off from the Thatchter Foundation, because the kindle is not actually an internet device of the kind that has the gravitational force to drive an inadvertent traveller off its page.

I bought the kindle for travel reading - specifically, for readng whilest I was on a six week camino walk. It has its uses - it is lighter than one single book, let alone four or five. But I would never use it for reading outside of planes and long distance walking.

I more or less agree with that, with a little wider range of situations where I use the Kindle. And one other category: junk reading, books that are undemanding and that I will never want to read again. I read a thriller (supposed--wasn't too thrilling) on it a couple of months ago.

Sounds like your Kindle is one of the newer ones. Mine is the original type and I don't think it can even do internet, apart from going to the Amazon store. At any rate I've never accidentally landed outside it. I usually have the wireless turned off, which gives it amazing battery life.

mine wasn't newer, I don't think. I bought it in 2012 for the camino. It cannot do internet but it could somehow land on the Thatcher Foundation Site. It did enough internet to do that, but not enough to leave once it got there.

I would certainly read read-once-only books on it.

Books without footnotes and the kind of books one did not want to search backwards in, to be reminded of a point, would certainly be better on a kindle than any weighty, footnote laden tome.

Yes, it needs to be something that you just read straight through. I made the mistake of reading Greg Wolfe's Beauty Will Save the World on it, and regretted it. When I was in Washington reading Wuthering Heights, I actually went and bought a paper copy when I was toward the end, because I wanted to find and re-read a couple of parts near the beginning and still be able to get back to where I was without a whole lot of tiresome one-page-at-a-time movement.

Its remarkable that kindle is so linear. You would think it could envisage the book in 3D. Even selecting a bk requires a long process of keying in page 1 or 3 or 5 etc

Yeah, that to me is *the* weakness of it. It's been the flaw of every electronic reading mechanism I've ever seen: you have one screenful at a time, and the rest of the thing sort of ceases to exist. You have to do some conscious thinking and acting to get anywhere except maybe to the next or previous screenful. You can't just eyeball the approximate location, open the book there, and flip a few pages. Mine doesn't even speak of pages but of "location", and it isn't clear what that means. Screenfuls, I guess. In a 200 page book you'll have locations like 2127, and they relate to nothing physical, so if you flip back and then want to return to where you were, you have to make sure you remember that number. Then go through several steps of menu selection and typing in order to get there.

"you have one screenful at a time, and the rest of the thing sort of ceases to exist. You have to do some conscious thinking and acting to get anywhere except maybe to the next or previous screenful."

I'm enough of a Luddite to not want one full stop, but THAT would just drive me crazy. And I don't read enough "no reread" type of stuff to make having one worthwhile for me.

I travel enough to make it worthwhile. It gives one lots to read on an airplane journey, for instance. But I would never sit in my house and use it.

Yes, that makes sense.

A book historian I know said of his Kindle: "It really lets you feel why the scroll went out of fashion."



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