Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reading in The Dark

I don't know any writers who aren't also voracious readers and that means I read a lot of books. That hasn't changed at all. What has changed is HOW I read.

I've had an iPhone for a while and I assumed for far too long that it was too small to read on. WRONG! As I discovered a couple or three years ago. It was a slippery slope, my friends. Stanza reader, Kindle App, iBookstore.... suddenly I could never be out of reading material because if, for some reason, I'd read all the books in the apps, give me 2-3 clicks and I had a brand new book.

Then I bought an iPad. I'd told my son we'd get one, but an unexpected expense came up that required a different use for the money. A few months later some writing money came in and off we went to the Apple Store. I LOVE reading on the iPad. LOVE it. Since I'm in the process of self-pubbing my reverted backlist and need to view my files in the various readers, I also have a Nook and a Kindle-Fire. I really like the K-Fire's smaller footprint. The Nook is pretty nice, too. I primarily read on the iPad (because the iPad also has Quordy, a word search game I'm addicted to -- because of the sound effects. Lame, but that's how I roll apparently.)

I have a few more confessions before I get around to talking about books I've enjoyed recently. Here's one: I LOVE LOVE LOVE high fantasy. George R.R. Martin? Hook me up to the IV, baby. Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks? Same thing. There is, however, a downside and I can express that in a number: 900. Nine hundred effing pages. Now, I want my high fantasy to be long and involved and you can't do that in a paltry 300 pages. 600 pages? Pshaw! To steal from Romance author Candice Hern, my dears, 600 pages is barely a note in the world of High Fantasy. (Do NOT click on her website if you are a history buff because otherwise you will spend HOURS drooling over pictures of her collection of Regency-era artifacts. Let me just say that she is a serious collector. OMG. Don't click!!!! At least finish my post first okay?)

So, there I was reading a 900 page hardback fantasy ... and I got annoyed. Reading while on the treadmill? Impossible unless I wanted to be under 3mph. Reading in bed? A limited number of positions available. At one point in my reading, my hands started getting numb, I kid you not. Carrying the book around with me to read during breaks, waiting time etc? No. I vowed I would never again buy a 900 page behemoth. And guess what? I don't have to. All those annoyances go away with an eReader. I can fit 100 900 page monsters in my purse.

Promise Not To Laugh?

I read in bed just about every night and 99% of the time it's with the iPad or K-Fire. Recently, a series of unfortunate events forced me to buy a book in paper (more on that in a bit.)

That night, I got into bed with my book, and . . . .

. . . . I turned out the light.

And I lay there for at least 5 seconds, I kid you not, wondering why I couldn't see my book.

Oh. My. Lord.

The iPad and K-Fire are backlit you see. You can read in the dark.

Stop laughing.

In Which Carolyn Is REALLY Annoyed

Judith Ivory is a Romance author whose prose is stunning. Story, plot and characters, complex and full of details that make the characters real. It's hard to believe they weren't going to call on me for tea later in the day. (Ivory, alas, is not currently writing.) Since I'm on deadline, I was desperate to procrastinate and someone blogged about her book Black Silk which is 1) one I hadn't read and 2) one I'd been hearing people lavishly praise for years. Perfect timing, right? I know! The eBook was $9.99. What the Fudge?

The trade paper was marked down to $5.49 from $20 so I bought that. And when that trade paper came, the cover was crooked, front and back. I measured the type to make sure I wasn't wrong. I wasn't. Not only that, the paper was newsprint. I kid you not. A consumer who feels she's been ripped off .... not pretty. I returned the book for a refund and bought a used Mass Market Paperback (MMP) for 5 bucks. I was peeved at not being able to read it as a digital book, which was shocking to me because the MMP is physically convenient. It won't kill your hands and I can be on the treadmill at 3.5 mph or more and still read. But the type was so small and well, basically, it made me realize that E is now my preferred format.


As you might imagine, Ivory's Black Silk is one of my recent recommended reads. For a Romance, it's not particularly romantic, but my Lord, what she does with her words.

There's another book that's a recent read, EL James's Fifty Shades of Gray but it's BDSM (ADULTS ONLY) except I will hasten to say it's absolutely not what you're thinking. Whatever you're thinking? No. You're wrong. The book isn't about that and that doesn't happen. This book surprised me at nearly every turn. I am not a fan of present tense, but in this book it works. There is a paper edition available but it's so outrageously priced ($30.00) they can't possibly be selling many copies in print. It is, however, very reasonably priced as a digital book.

I also read Barry Eisler's The Detachment because I love spy books with killers and lots of fighting and hot Black Ops dudes. Check.

Rachel Herron's My Life In Stitches was a wonderful, wonderful memoir, framed through stories about her knitting. Rush out and buy it.

So, what have you read lately that you liked, loved, hated, or were meh about?

Do you read eBooks? Do you prefer paper? Spill in the comments.

Carolyn Jewel is an award winning writer of historical romance and paranormal romance. Catch Not Wicked Enough, a Regency-set historical romance from Berkley Books, coming February 7, 2012.


  1. Hi Carolyn, I was dragged into reading ebooks...and I love them. I still buy hardcopy books, too, but I do love my Kindle.

  2. I'll have to check out A Life in Stitches. I enjoy knitting and spinning so that sounds right up my alley. Have you read The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood? So good! Two other books that I have enjoyed recently: Finding Emilie by Laurel Corona; Fireflies in December by Jennifer Erin Valent.

    I read while I walk the dogs. I know that sounds weird but we live in the country and no one drives down our road. So aside from stopping the dogs from rolling in something putrid, they don't really need my supervision. That said, the Kindle is GREAT to take on walks. I can increase the font size so I can still read the words as I'm bopping up and down and the wind doesn't blow the pages around. Also, I live in WI so I'm required to dress in a million layers for 6 months out of the year. Ever tried turning a paper page of a book with huge mittens on? It doesn't work.

  3. I still prefer paper but read some on my Kindle. Last book I read that I really liked was Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I was really meh on Tiger's Wife and the Paris Wife. (Both wife books... hmmm.)

  4. Sara: Thanks! I do buy hardcopy sometimes, too.

    Kelly: If you're into knitting you might know Rachel from her blog YarnaGoGo. That's awesome about reading and walking the dogs.

    Karin: I bought my mom The Tiger's Wife -- she reads mostly on Kindle now (I bought one for her a couple years ago). She has arthritis and has trouble holding books so the Kindle allows her to read again. I'll have to ask her if she liked it.

  5. I just love paper. Can't help it. Love the smell, the feel of a real book.

    That having been said, I've read a ton of books on my iPad. There's something nice about instant access and not having to lug around a ton of heavy books.

    I'll have to try the whole reading on the phone thing!!

  6. I love my physical books. The feel of paper and the musky smell of the pages, and I simply love flipping on re-reads. I've only recently started to read eBooks, primarily on my iPhone since I lack an eReader. The only thing I have against eBooks is that I don't want to pay twice. If I really like a book then I want to own it in physical form, but why would I want to do that if I already purchased the eBook or vice versa? Though I have to admit that I've been debating the purchase of an iPad or Kindle Fire...

  7. Make no mistake, I have a serious love for paper, too. I own several rare books, and there's just no getting over the beauty of the paper and (for some) the typography. I have a book from the 1900's (A list of all the members of Brooks's from inception to 1907, privately printed on handmade paper. Really lovely. I have another from about 1815 where the paper still retains the impressions from the printing press striking the paper.

    But with now rare exceptions, books are no longer hand-made and hand-sewn etc.

    Patji: If you think you'll be primarily reading, then, right now, the K-Fire is a really cost-effective choice. If you want reading plus a really vibrant app environment, email etc. then go iPad.

    I was surprised by all the other things I do with the iPad that I never expected would be so fun/useful etc.

  8. I am torn. I love e-books and am purchasing and reading more and more e-books. The Nook didn't work for me until I bought one of those leather covers--I needed the physical sense of turning back the cover to get into it. As for paper books---they are treasured trophies for me--'Look what I read!' I also dissect the writing in the books that I love--w/stickies and highlighters and I just don't feel as well equipped to do that (and then find the highlighted passages again) within my e-books. I am certain that someday my grand children will whisper in awe at all the 'paper books' I still have--simply because they are my friends and I want to touch them and couldn't ever dream of parting with them.