Ben Crowder /blog

#reading

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I’m reading Daniella Martin’s Edible, on how eating insects is good for humanity, and I’m pretty close to ordering some wax worms for eating (both live and fried, because I may as well). The thought of it all makes me somewhat squeamish, but that squeam is obviously learned — there are other cultures that don’t have the same hangups — and it’ll be interesting to see if I can unsqueam myself in this regard.

On ebooks

For a long time I couldn’t really get into ebooks (in spite of publishing dozens), primarily for nitpicky typographic reasons and because of availability/selection. Over the last few years, however, things changed, and my reading is now pretty much all ebooks.

For EPUBs, I use Marvin on my iPhone and couldn’t be happier with it. (Also, I’ve written a personal-use Python script that replaces f-bombs and other strong profanity in EPUBs with bullet points. Came in handy for Worm, Ra, and UNSONG, all of which I really enjoyed.) In fact, as near as I can remember, reading HPMOR on Marvin was what convinced me ebooks were great. HPMOR also convinced me that fanfiction done well can be amazing. (I liked it better than the originals.)

I’ve also been reading loads of books on Libby, and it’s been great — my public library has a fairly good selection of books on it, and the app itself is far better than the old Overdrive app.

To my surprise, I’ve also started buying books on Kindle. I used to be hesitant to do that (walled garden and all), but I’ve come to terms with it. (To the point that I’ve bought around, uh, 300 books since the beginning of the year. I may have a problem.) (Also, it’s crazy how many books go on sale for a couple dollars. I use eReaderIQ to watch for those sales.) While I do have an old Kindle, I use the app on my phone, since I always have my phone with me. Oh, and the Prime reading library usually has some interesting books, too.

Last but not least, for print books (primarily nonfiction), I tend to scan a chunk of forty to fifty pages using my camera app, turn it into a PDF with Readdle’s Scanner Pro app, and read it using Readdle’s Documents app. That way I can make an “ebook” out of pretty much any print book, letting me read it anywhere without having to lug the physical book around. This method catapulted my nonfiction reading forward, and it’s been great. The only downside is that the scanning takes time, but it’s been worth it. I estimate I’ve read at least 15,000+ pages this way over the past five years.

Overall, I love ebooks. Having them with me all the time is unbeatable. In fact, I just checked and it looks like I haven’t read a print book in over six months. I still love print, but ebooks are the future, at least for me.

Over on r/Fantasy, they recently ran a poll to rank the top self-published books. It’s admittedly limited to the books read by those who frequent r/Fantasy, but it’s still a handy guide if you’re interested in self-published fantasy fiction: the results.

(I’ve only read a couple so far, but generally I’ve liked them a lot. Right now I’m halfway through Sufficiently Advanced Magic, the first Arcane Ascension novel, and it’s great.)

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?

Reading statistics

Since August last year I’ve been keeping track of my reading via Bookkeeper, as I’ve mentioned before. It wasn’t till the other day, though, that I realized I could pull stats on how many pages I’m reading each day.

For curiosity’s sake, then, here are the charts. I wrote a Python script to get the data from Bookkeeper and then charted it all in Numbers. You can click on any month to get a bigger image. X axis is day of month, Y axis is number of pages.

Also: Those two crazy 600-page days in December and April were awesome, but man, they make everything else look small. Oh well.

And my monthly averages:

  • Aug 2011: 36 pages/day
  • Sep 2011: 82 pages/day
  • Oct 2011: 30 pages/day
  • Nov 2011: 38 pages/day
  • Dec 2011: 52 pages/day
  • Jan 2012: 65 pages/day
  • Feb 2012: 48 pages/day
  • Mar 2012: 63 pages/day
  • Apr 2012: 60 pages/day
  • May 2012: 39 pages/day
  • Jun 2012: 66 pages/day

I think I might be a nerd.