A brief review of John Pilger’s Freedom Next Time, a survey of political failure in Palestine, South Africa, India, Afghanistan and the Chagos Islands.
A few brief reviews of some recent reads: Tony Hawks’ Round Ireland with a Fridge, Frank Herbert’s Dune Trilogy, Ethel Lina White’s The Lady Vanishes & The Spiral Staircase, and Frans de Waal’s Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
Reading this post recently, I found myself asking why ebooks haven’t really taken off as a medium. Certainly more recent efforts, such as Amazon’s Kindle, have helped to reignite the market after a rather dubious development period over the past decade or so, but if one compares the ubiquity of mobile phones or digital audio players, e-books are entirely missing from the landscape. 1According to The Guardian in April 2008, ebooks accounted for less than 1% of the total publishing market, albeit this share has no doubt increased since.
In purely utilitarian terms, should the technology ever be fully and appropriately used, ebooks have a lot to offer over their paper counterparts. There are far fewer requirements and resources needed for production, and distribution is much easier. Whilst a device on which to read ebooks might outweigh a single volume, additional books add nothing, and in terms of transporting books en mass, ebooks are clearly in favour. The ability to flick through a paper volume might be lost in the electronic form, but this is clearly compensated for by vastly improved tools for search and cross-referencing. Likewise combining other forms of media such as video and audio is a perfectly reasonable conception with ebooks, that the paper variety can’t really compete with on any level. They’re also more easily manipulable, in terms of being able to zoom, highlight or simple leave your own annotations about the place. All of which is to say nothing of the potential advantages for newspapers and other periodicals.
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|1.||↑||According to The Guardian in April 2008, ebooks accounted for less than 1% of the total publishing market, albeit this share has no doubt increased since.|
It’s fairly rare for me to bother reviewing anything I read on here, however since I had some spare minutes and some actual opinions on some of the books I read this last month, there seemed to be enough to say to make up at least a short post. In fact it turned out to be a bit on the long side, so scroll down the relevant review if you’re really interested—being Stephen Fry’s strange debut The Liar, J.M. Coetzee’s rather aggravating Slow Man, Isabel Allende’s book for children City of Beasts, Zadie Smith’s impressive opener White Teeth and Murray Walker’s charming little autobiography Unless I’m Very Much Mistaken.
This is one the larger circulars out there, of a fairly arbitrary list of books to read. The source is a title of the same name that appeared in print, edited by Peter Boxall. It’s not a particularly bad selection, and with any such list it would be impossible to please everybody, but I think it is fair to say that the more recent decades were rather over-represented (in particular 70 books from the 2000s, despite the book only being published in 2006). However, the list does make a good starting point, and it’s nice to see Miss Rowling’s works were conspicuous only by their absence — just such a shame that the price to pay was that of excluding all children’s literature.
As for getting through the list, I doubt very much if I’ll even read 1001 books before I die, let alone fiction books, or the particular ones from this list. However, I have ticked off a few titles already, and no doubt as many of them coincide with titles on my reading list I’ll be able to whittle the list down a little further. Titles I’ve read to date are in bold.
Last update: 26th December 2018