05 December 2016

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Reading in the Digital Age

Reading in the digital age: Beth Fish ReadsMore thoughts on eReading: If you're a long-time reader of Beth Fish Reads, then you know about my struggles at getting used to reading and reviewing eBooks (see my eMerging eReader series). My problems weren't based in the act of reading on screen, after all, I do that all day long almost every day in my full-time job as an editor. Instead, I had three issues:

  • Eyestrain: At the end of the workday, my eyes are happier with print.
  • New habits: I had to get used to using the electronic forms of flagging pages and marking text I needed for writing reviews.
  • In my face: I simply forgot to look at my virtual bookshelf when picking my next read.
Nowadays, I'm well on my way (I hope) to conquering my eReading foes by tweaking my technological choices and putting together a consolidated book database.

I'm thinking about eBooks because this is #CelebrateEbooks week, sponsored by Open Road Media. Check out the hashtag on your social media and follow Open Road on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to get in the celebration. Share what you love about eBooks, your initial problems and how you solved them, what books you have loaded onto your digital device, or whatever you want. I plan to follow along and am already resigned to seeing my reading list grow in leaps and bounds.

What I listened to last week

I may not be reading much print right now, but I'm still listening. I finished two books last week and bailed on another. Here are my quick thoughts.

3 Audiobook reviews
  • Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (read by Polly Lee; Harper Audio): I ended up liking Lee's performance but had mixed feelings about how Johansen pulled together the different threads of the trilogy. In particular, I wasn't happy about the ending, which had a "poof! and now here we are" element. I would have liked a few more details on how it all happened or, better yet, a stronger finish that would have better fit Queen Kelsea. Oh well. Lee was especially good at bringing the action scenes alive and keeping me immersed in the Tearling universe.
  • Feedback by Mira Grant (read by Georgia Dolenz; Hachette Audio): This was a big fail on two levels. First, I should remind you how much I enjoyed the original Newsflesh trio, which cleverly imagined the near future as the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse caused by an anti-cancer virus gone wild. Problem one is that this book seems to start at the same place as book 1 (Feed) and is telling the same story but focusing on different characters. Frankly, I wanted something new. Problem two was with the narrator. Dolenz was awesome as the Irish main character but all the other people sounded the same. In fact, I couldn't the men from the women. It was so confusing. But when she mispronounced place names in the Pacific Northwest (easy to look up or research), I knew it was time to bail.
  • The Clothing of Books by Jhumpa Lahiri (read by the author; Random House Audio): In this essay, originally given as a keynote speech in Italy, Lahiri mused about the impact book covers have on readers. Sounds like it could be interesting, eh? Instead, it was a bit whiny and focused on how she pretty much hates the covers of her own books. I didn't really see the point. She's an easy-to-understand narrator but is emotionally distant. I can't recommend this hour-long audiobook.

What's up for this week

After work today (yes, I worked on a Sunday), I have the following books queued up:

2 books to read in December
  • Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman (read by Cassandra Campbell; Random House Audio): I'm excited to start this biography of Colette, who was an author, dancer, and early feminist. I've loved Colette's writing for decades and have always wanted to know more about her real life and how it compares to the one she created on the page.I listened to the first ten minutes of the audiobook and already love Campbell's performance. I plan to follow along in the eBook, which I checked out of the library (Ballantine Books).
  • Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh (Putnam; January 2017): Because I really liked her debut, Fever Tree, I am looking forward to McVeigh's newest book, which takes place in Kenya in the 1950s, a time of great change in British Africa. I love the setting and have faith in McVeigh's skills at describing the environment and creating complex, believable characters. I'm reading an eGalley (see #CelebrateEbooks)!
What's on your reading list this week?


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 12/5/16, 6:29 AM  

I am not a fan of ebooks. I forget about them. They disappear. I will read them if I am going on a long trip and can't bring a lot of heavy books, but otherwise...


rhapsodyinbooks 12/5/16, 6:58 AM  

Agree on the Tearling book.

Sarah's Book Shelves 12/5/16, 7:40 AM  

I'm glad you're finding your footing with e-reading. I have the reverse problem as you...I've been e-reading for so many years that when I go back to print, I find highlighting and taking notes for reviews cumbersome (I have to have stickies and/or a pen/highlighter right near me, what?!).

bermudaonion 12/5/16, 8:54 AM  

Aw, too bad about Feedback. It's been so long since I read Feed, though, I might enjoy it more than you did.

Laurel-Rain Snow 12/5/16, 9:47 AM  

I am finally getting to a comfort zone with my e-books, but that thing about my virtual stacks not being visible is a big thing. The only way I manage it is via my pages on one of my blogs, where I add my books as I buy them, by date, etc. I go through and make handwritten lists to decide what to read next. I also have a written notebook on my desk of books I acquire, as they come in, week by week. But it's not a perfect system, as I tend to grab the newest books first.

Another odd thing that bugs me: I don't like the e-books that only have a location # at the bottom of the page instead of page numbers. Page numbers help me track things better. The "locations" don't make any kind of sense to me. LOL.

Trials and tribulations!

Enjoy your week! Here are MY WEEKLY UPDATES

Marce 12/5/16, 11:08 AM  

I want to read Feed, out of my norm but I think I will enjoy it. I understand about Feedback, when I have read books expecting new and they go back it hasn't worked for me either.

Vicki 12/5/16, 12:17 PM  

I do enjoy ebooks, but if the book is available in both ebook and print, I'll choose print every time.

Anonymous,  12/5/16, 12:44 PM  

I keep meaning to read Colette. The biography looks interesting. I absolutely prefer print books to ebooks. I always have one of each going at a time and it takes me probably at least quadruple the amount of time to finish an ebook as it does a print book. I have found that I prefer easier, enaging reads in ebook form, and non fiction a lot of the time as well.

Kathryn T 12/5/16, 12:54 PM  

Interesting thoughts on the Tearling book, I only read the first one. I have been meaning to comment and say how much I enjoyed the audiobook webcast you helped facilitate, very informative and went so well after that first hiccup.

Bibliophile 12/5/16, 1:30 PM  

I find ebooks convenient - I love having a whole library at my fingertips - but I still prefer printed books. I am getting into audio books more and more, as I can "read" them while I do mindless tasks around the house.

I had to laugh when I saw the cover of Leopard at the Door, because it looks like it sprung from the same memo (or should I say meme?) as the cover of one of the books I'm reading: Be Still the Water by Karen Emilson, except of course the former has the acacia ubiquitous to many books that take place in Africa and the latter has a oak tree.

Kathy Martin 12/5/16, 1:57 PM  

I have come to prefer reading on my Kindle. I like being able to highlight and quickly retrieve passages. I keep all the books I own in my LibraryThing account. So it's easy to see what I need to read next. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

Girl Who Reads 12/5/16, 2:14 PM  

While I love the convenience of always having books with me, I struggle with same issues you did. I bought a non-backlit ereader and refuse to read on my phone unless it is an absolute emergency. That helped with the eyestrain. I'm still working on overcoming the "lost" book problem. I'm always forgetting what is on my ereader. I looked at some book lists to use with my bullet journalling and I hope that will help in the new year (I'll spend Christmas vacation trying to organize it!) Girl Who Reads

Kailana 12/5/16, 6:16 PM  

E-books are still very out of mind for me, so I go through spurts. I think next year I am going to try and do a trade off to work through some of my back list.

Nise' 12/5/16, 6:34 PM  

I forget about the books on my eReader too and need to keep a list going.

Yvonne 12/5/16, 8:42 PM  

I love my e-books. I only read e-books these days. Have a great week!

Aonghus Fallon 12/6/16, 9:09 AM  

Oddly enough, the biggest plus of using a kindle (for me) was how easy it was to read - ie, legibility. I have one of the earlier generation kindles. It isn't back-lit, and this is the essence of its appeal. I wouldn't recommend getting one that was back-lit, anymore than I would recommend trying to read an ebook using your computer screen.

Daryl 12/6/16, 10:55 AM  

as you know i am new to audio books .. tho i love my e-books i was a hold out on the audio because in the past it put me to sleep ... pathetic, i know

now that i am enjoying (and awake through out) audio books i am becoming very picky about who reads to me .. a much loved series by Carol O'Connell is read by a woman whose voice is getting on my last nerve .. i think i may not finish this book and opt for a e version to read and enjoy more my other issue was with Titus Welliver - i know crazy, huh - he's reading the Michael Connelly series featuring LA Detective Harry Bosch .. the problem is Welliver who is an outstanding actor and does accents and women well isnt making enough of a distinction between Harry's voice and that of his half brother Mickey .. sigh ... making me listen harder .. enjoying it less ..

anyway i have a slew of listening to do as well as reading e books .. and its all because you keep reviewing books i know i will love .. damn you

Iliana 12/6/16, 8:24 PM  

It's taken me a while to get into eBooks and mainly because I would only read them on travels. This year I've been reading more on my Kindle and it's ok but I just love a book in my hands to flip the pages, flag pages, etc. Interesting about the Lahiri essays. I've liked her fiction but not sure about this one.

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