Category: BooksPage 2 of 59 (585 posts)

I am not dead

Oh, right, I have a blog. Ha. I have a barrel full of excuses for why I haven’t been posting anything, but I won’t bore you with them. Consider this a “yes, I’m still alive” post.

I just finished reading The Crucible of Doubt, by Terryl and Fiona Givens, and it is excellent. I highly recommend it. It’s largely about unwarranted assumptions about the Church leading to unnecessary angst. Lots of good stuff. I wish I’d taken notes while I was reading it so I had a quote for you, but the whole thing is enlightening.

I’ve thought about posting about the Hugos controversy (Sad/Rabid Puppies), but I’m not sure I want to open that can of worms. And I’m not sure I actually have anything to contribute to the conversation anyway.

I think I posted a while back about reading only two books at a time. Well, things got out of control, and…now I’m reading nineteen. I’ve got a better system in place for making sure I actually finish books, though.

As for my reading goals, I’ve been doing fairly well at expanding my horizons and reading more nonfiction. I need to do better at reading sf&f classics, though, and my progress on War and Peace is still pretty slow.

Anyway, I’m back, I hope.

Ray Bradbury on writing

A good Ray Bradbury quote I ran across today:

If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.

Reading goals for 2015

I recently came across a post about reading goals that got me itching to go and do likewise. I’ve had numeric goals in the past — read X books this year — but I’ve realized I’m less interested in the total number of books read and more interested in the types of books I read. (It’s also a grudging acknowledgement that this mortal life is finite and there’s no way I’ll be able to read all the books I want to. Such a sad thought. But there are massive libraries in heaven, right? I’m banking on that.)

Here, then, are my reading goals for 2015:

  • Read more books I wouldn’t ordinarily be interested in. Basically, expand my horizons, both in fiction and nonfiction.
  • Read more science fiction and fantasy classics. I did read the Foundation books in 2012–2013, but most of the time I tend to read newer stuff. (I guess I did also read The Stars My Destination earlier this year. I didn’t like it at all.)
  • Read more literary classics. Specifically, I want to read at least War and Peace and Dante’s Divine Comedy, and hopefully the Dostoevsky novels I haven’t yet read. Yes, I know, this isn’t the first time I’ve made a goal to read War and Peace. But this is the first year I’m going to actually do it, so help me. (I’ve read enough 1000-page epic fantasy novels by now that I can handle the length just fine.)
  • Read more nonfiction. Specifically, more history and biography. I’ve been reading more nonfiction this past year (Rubicon, Lies My Teacher Told Me, Food Rules, Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn, Stuff Matters, etc.) and it’s been quite enjoyable. Right now I’m reading and loving Edmund Morris’s Rise of Roosevelt, the first of a three-volume biography of Theodore Roosevelt, and Blake Harris’s Console Wars, a history of Nintendo and Sega in the 1990s.

Any of you have reading goals or happen to be reading something particularly interesting?

The Red Fairy Book

I’m back to making ebooks, this time continuing the colored fairy book series with The Red Fairy Book, edited by Andrew Lang, available in EPUB and Kindle editions.

Also, I’ve put the ebook source files on GitHub. (Mostly to allow for pull requests to fix typos, but also because I thought it would be nice to make the source files freely available as well.) I’ll eventually be posting sources for all my existing ebooks as well, though it’ll take some time to go through them.

Ebook poll

Last night I tried to find a decently formatted free EPUB of War and Peace. Nada. Most were painful, and not a single one had curly quotes. None of them.

So now of course I’m thinking about getting back into making free ebook editions of classic books. The hitch, though, is that in-depth proofing (checking the existing text — whether from Project Gutenberg or Wikisource or Google Books or elsewhere — for typos) takes a long time. It’s important, obviously, but it slows things down quite a bit.

Thus this poll. It’s for people who read ebooks. (Yes, I’ve done polls similar to this one in the past, but it’s been a while.)

Note: I plan to post the source of the ebooks I make (both future and existing ebooks) on GitHub, to make it easier for people to submit corrections and fork books and such.

The Poll

Of the following, which would you prefer?

  1. Lots of ebooks, nicely formatted, with occasional typos
  2. Much fewer ebooks, nicely formatted, without any typos

Second question: Which of the following kinds of ebooks would you be interested in?

  • Classics in English (Dickens, Austen, Tolstoy, etc.)
  • Classics in their original languages (War and Peace in Russian, Three Musketeers in French, etc.)
  • Classic sf&f (Verne, Wells, Morris, MacDonald, Dunsany, etc.)
  • Fairy tales and folk tales in English (Grimm, Lang, Andersen, etc.)
  • Adventure tales (Haggard, Stevenson, etc.)
  • Mystery/horror tales (Sherlock Holmes, Poe, etc.)
  • English poetry
  • Latin/Greek books
  • English translations of Latin/Greek books
  • History books
  • Essays (Chesterton, etc.)
  • Other (write-in)

Last question: EPUB or Kindle?

On writing

As I’ve begun blogging again, a voice in my head keeps demanding to know how I dare have the gall to consider my opinions important enough to post online for (an admittedly small sliver of) the world to see.

It’s a persuasive voice, and I see now how often it has silenced me, stifling my words because I am dumb or I have nothing worthwhile to say or I’ll just make a fool of myself or I’ll get in a heated argument and I’m not good at arguments. Its list of reasons is long.

While heated arguments still aren’t worth getting into, I’ve been thinking about what this voice tells me, and I’ve come to the retrospectively obvious realization that it is wrong. It is wrong not because I am important, but because other people are.

I write because someday, something I say may help someone else in some small way, and helping each other is one of the most important things we do here on Earth.

The voice is shouting at me right now that this is ridiculous and that I’m tremendously arrogant to think that my weak writing could possibly help anyone. Perhaps. But I’ve read many things that have changed me, and if others’ writing can do that for me, mine may yet do that for others.

I’m writing this about myself, but of course it’s just as true of everyone else, too.