Reading

ReaderCon Wold Newton Reading Video

At ReaderCon one weekend ago, I hosted my second Wold Newton ReaderCon special, with readings by a number of fine writers, namely:
Jeff VanderMeer
Veronica Schanoes
Jaym Gates
Daniel Jose Older
Jo Walton
and
Matt Kressel

Music was provided by Brian Francis Slattery and his amazing band!

Unfortunately, I forgot to turn on the camera until the first reading had begun so you miss the first little bit of Jeff VanderMeer explaining what he's reading, and my ridiculous silliness while dressed up as the Doctor. But here's the rest of the video of the whole event:

The Best of My 125 Book Year

Some years ago a "52-books-in-a-year" meme sprouted up, in which people "challenged" themselves to read a book a week for a year. I thought at the time, as I do now, that this is an absurdly small number of books; reading for merely a half-an-hour to an hour a day one can easily polish off a book a week (depending, admittedly, on the length and difficulty of the book and the reading speed of the individual). Considering that the "average" American supposedly watches four hours of television a day, sacrificing a quarter of that to book reading doesn't seem like much of a challenge, and I'm under the impression that most bibliophiles read quite a bit more and watch quite a bit less. To prove the point at the beginning of 2009 I decided to simply keep track of my reading. My final tally came to 125 books. You can see whole list at Library Thing. (The Doc Savage book "The Man of Bronze/The Land of Terror" counts twice as it's two books collected as one.) Below are short reviews of the best of this list.

Review: The Sony Reader

For Hanukkah, my father called me up and asked if I wanted a Kindle. As I've discussed here before, I think the Kindle is too expensive, too locked into its own proprietary, DRM'd ebook format and too goddamn ugly. I told my father that if I was going to get a book reading device, it'd be the Sony Reader PRS-505. (Not, mind you, the newer PRS-700 model, which has Internet,* touch screen (allowing for a keyboard) and horrible, blinding glare that negates all those features.) So I am now the proud owner of one of these:

Sony Reader 1 - Scarlet Citadel

It sure is pretty. And small, and light, and easy to read off of. There's just one major problem with it. The software with which you put books on it from your computer only runs on Windows.

Now, if this device had just been released I might be able to excuse this, since they might just have Windows available for the release and be working on a Mac (and perhaps Linux) version in the future. But the Sony Reader first came out in 2006. They've had years to port their software over, and it seems glaringly stupid to cut out a huge portion of their market this way.

Stanza Comes to Windows

Stanza, the ebook reader for the iPhone/iPod Touch that I blogged about previously, finally has a program that allows you to transfer books from a Windows machine to your device. (Previously, only a Mac version existed.) The program installed much more cleanly than that of rival BookShelf's, and I moved a PDF book from my computer to my iPod Touch wirelessly with very little trouble.

Stanza is clearly the best ebook reader for the device, there is just no contest anymore.

Also, I discovered that the service Stanza uses for public domain/creative commons ebooks is called FeedBooks and can also be used with the Kindle, Sony Reader and other ebook/PDA type devices. The formatting is designed for these sorts of devices so the books render better than those from Project Gutenberg. (Though Gutenberg still has the much larger library. Fortunately, Gutenberg books can be read on the iPhone and iPod Touch using Stanza.)

Steve Jobs: People don't read anymore

In an article in the New York Times yesterday, Steve Jobs sums up the problems with the Amazon Kindle thusly:

Today he had a wide range of observations on the industry, including the Amazon Kindle book reader, which he said would go nowhere largely because Americans have stopped reading.

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

Of course, as EnGadget points out, you're reading this right now.

Im Riddim and the Reading of Poetry Silently

I've never studied verse formally. I've read a few books and a lot of essays, but never in any sort of systematic way. For a long time I've struggled with the various ideas about rhythm in English language poetry as much of what a lot of poets say about rhythm doesn't really make a lot of sense. Ultimately, I've been left with the definite suspicion that much of what poets believe about rhythm is largely unconnected to what they practice when they're writing. Most important, there is a flaw in the concept of poetic rhythm being regular in the same way that music is regular. Existing systems of scansion that attempt to regularize poetry rhythm are therefore flawed at root and make for a dull and difficult tool for the analysis of poetry. Far more systematic and interesting is, I think, the study of prosody from a linguistic point of view and there is a great deal of very good literature available on phonology and phonetics which is illuminating when applied to poetry...