Monday, July 30, 2012

Books, books, and more books!

I love books. Love them! If I had a million dollars, the room next to my perfectly laid out jewelry studio would be a huge library with a fireplace and rolling ladders and hidden doorways in the shelves.
One of these, please! Do you see the hidden door?!!
(Bibliothek St. Florian, photo from Wikimedia Commons)
But as much as I love the look and feel and smell of paper books, I have slowly been drawn to the 'dark side' of e-books. They have their drawbacks - dangerous/expensive to read in the tub, can't write notes in the margins, the possibility that the format of your whole library will become obsolete in 5 years when new formats have been created (they would be like e-book 8-tracks... how sad!). But they are undeniably convenient! Instead of devoting a whole suitcase to reading material on a long vacation, you can fit it all in one e-reader that fits in your purse (and if you have a tablet, you can even take Angry Birds breaks if the book gets boring.) They are also decidedly superior if you have a hidden trashy romance novel obsession that you don't want to share with the world.

So while I have my misgivings about actually buying and owning e-books (see the obsolete factor above...), I have found that e-books from the library are the absolute best solution. They appeal to my lazy side (don't have to drive to the library to pick them up or return them) and the selection through my library is quite good.  Since getting an iPad as a gift last Christmas, I have read way more books than before and a wider variety of genres as well.

So here are a handful of the great e-books that I've found from my library this year (just a handful - if you look at my Goodreads shelves, you can see that this is just a drop in the bucket. When I'm not playing with beads and wire or sleeping, I have my nose in a book (...or in my iPad? See, idioms haven't caught up with e-book technology yet, either!) -

Horns, by Joe Hill - I imagine he is tired of the inevitable comparisons to his dad (Joe Hill is the pen name for Joe King, Stephen King's son), but his writing style is so similar to Stephen King's that his books are great for times when you have already read and re-read all of King's books and are waiting for a new one to come out (*raises hand*). Horns tells the story of Ig, who, after being falsely accused of the murder of his girlfriend, wakes up one morning to find that he has grown devil horns and has the power to make people confess to and act on their most darkest desires. I liked this one - if you enjoy dark fantasy and Stephen King's books, you should like Horns. Joe Hill's first novel Heart Shaped Box is also quite good as well.

Angelmaker and Gone Away World, by Nick Harkaway - I actually read Gone Away World last year, but I liked it a little better than Angelmaker, so I felt like I should mention it. Both are excellent books. I would like to describe their genres, but I honestly can't! They both have a sci-fi/fantasy base. Gone Away World is a little post apocalypse, with ninjas and mimes and a huge twist at the end. I love this book - can't recommend it enough. Angelmaker was a little harder for me to get into but I still enjoyed it. It has a smattering of steampunk, a little bit of crime fiction, some spy intrigue and lots of British humor.

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President, by Candice Millard - This was an excellent nonfiction book. I should hang my head in shame as a history major, but I didn't actually know that much about President James Garfield before I read this. I knew he had been assassinated, but that was about it. This is not only a great biography of Garfield before his reluctant nomination and election as president, but also touches on Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the metal detector (to try to find the bullet in Garfield's body), the first air conditioner installed in the White House (to cool Garfield's sick room in D.C.'s sweltering summer heat), the deranged mind of the man who shot Garfield, and the deplorable medical conditions of the late 1800s. I highly recommend this - even people who don't care for nonfiction or history should find this interesting.

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing - Another great nonfiction book. This is quite a bit older, as it was published in the 1950s, but it is a great story and well written. It chronicles the experiences of Ernest Shackleton's failed trans-Antarctic expedition in 1914. His ship was caught in pack ice, was crushed, and sank off the coast of Antarctica and he and his whole crew were stranded on the ice for over a year. They eventually made it to an island, where half of the crew made camp while Shackleton and five others sailed in a 20-something foot open boat over 800 miles through the most violent seas on earth, then hiked across the uncharted interior of South Georgia island to reach a whaling depot. Shackleton then turned around and sailed back in a larger whaling boat to rescue the rest of his crew. The most amazing part of this was that the whole crew survived! Dog lovers may find some parts a bit distressing (the dog teams became dinner, sorry...) but this is such a great tale - fast paced, and very exciting.

This is just a smattering of the books that I have read lately - check out my Goodreads profile to see what else is on my shelves (or in my iPad...)! And support your local libraries!

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