Sunday, 9 December 2012

Kobo, Audible and kick-starting my reading again!

This year has been a poor year for my reading - various factors have conspired to deprive me of the time I used to spend with my books - and as a result my Goodreads profile indicates I've only finished 9 books this year - a shockingly low number. Worse, it doesn't include the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings which it should have done as this was one of my Tolkien years.

Thankfully, I have lately taken action to start redressing this situation - this has been in three forms:

1. I have finally purchased an eReader. After years of wanting one but having been unable to justify such a purchase to myself, I have succumbed. I would have had one a long time ago if I had a job which involved a commute which allowed reading, or travelling away from home. What I had failed to realise was their practicality even for reading around the house and carrying about on a daily basis. And the ability to change font, font size and spacing is fantastic.

A couple of things finally persuaded me: the new generation of front-lit devices and reports that Amazon say they find that Kindle customers read four times as many books as others - and still purchase a mix of electronic and physical books.

Having got fed-up waiting on the realise of the Nook Simple Touch Glowlight, and having reservations about tying myself into Amazon's ecosystem and never truly owning Kindle books, I purchased a Kobo Glo. It may not be as sexy as Amazon's Paperwhite, but it does the job and the books are mine for keeps.

2. I've finally joined the Library. One of the key attractions of an Open Platform eReader, as opposed to a Kindle, was the ability to borrow eBooks. Joining the library allows me to download time-limited eBooks for nothing and to cost-efficiently explore new authors.

To date, I have downloaded two books in this way: Barack Obama's Dreams From My Father. I had been reading my physical copy for months but was struggling to complete due to other commitments; having a time-limited version focused my mind and I was able to finally finish it   The next book was Roald Dahl's Completely Unexpected Tales (Both his volumes of Tales of the Unexpected) - I finished this earlier and will post a review in the next day or two.

Now I'm about to embark on The Lord of the Rings. Like my edition of The Hobbit, my copies of the three LotR volumes are showing their age (28 years)... so I have invested £13.99 in an electronic version of the complete book.

3. I've joined Audible - which lets me download audio books once a month (and also ad hoc) - and will, I hope, also help to broaden my "reading" horizons. (The library also has an electronic audiobook lending service which I hope to likewise explore!)

My first Audible book from them was "On Liberty" by John Stuart Mill. Given it's weighty political philosophy, I need to sit down and properly concentrate on it sometime, so it was maybe not the best choice to start. 

I've since, though, downloaded Alexander McCall Smith's "44 Scotland Street" which I very much enjoyed. Originally written as a daily serial in The Scotsman, its bite-sized chapters were great for episodic listening and his wry wit and all too acute observations cut a scythe through a certain sector of Edinburgh society.

My latest download is a "semi-staged" version of Dawn French's latest novel "Oh Dear Sylvia" - which features the author's own narration, a full cast and additional sound effects. I'm only a few chapters in but am enjoying it immensely.

So, there we have it - 2012 has been a poor year on the reading front, but action has been taken and things are on the up...


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