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Showing posts from May, 2007

Why buy hardcovers? Or putting it another way: Why buy paperbacks?

I see these questions and variations thereof pop up regularly on the reading forums I visit on the web. Sometimes they’re posted in an attempt to start an earnest discussion about the pros and cons of each, while at other times the asker wants to convince the other forum members that one rules and the other sucks. I’m sure most book lovers know the pros and cons of each, so I’m not going to bother listing them here, but I do want to tell you about my own preferences.

I prefer to buy paperbacks when I am new to the author, I’m not sure I will want to keep the book after I have read it, all my other books in a series are paperbacks (e.g. J.D. Robb’s In Death books), or I have little money to spare on books.

I prefer hardcovers when I am going to give the book as a present, when I know I am going to want to keep and reread it, when I need to replace a paperback I have read to tatters, and when I can’t wait for the paperback. I don’t give any thought to resell value or collectability or how…

Mystery author #30 Veronica Stallwood

Title:Oxford Shadows
Series detective: Kate Ivory
No. in series: 8
Year of publication: 2000
Type of mystery: Murder, partly-historical, cosy
Type of investigator: Amateur (romance writer)
Setting & time: Oxford, England

Story: Suffering from writer's block and depression following a deadly attack (presumably in a previous book in the series), romance writer Kate Ivory is being hounded by her agent to begin work on a new, preferably spicy, novel. When workmen who are fixing the floors in her boyfriend's apartment find a box of papers and other items dating back to World War 2 under the floorboards and Kate comes across the owner's name on a tombstone shortly afterwards, she becomes interested in researching the war years for a novel. Before long she is digging after more information about the owner of the box, a young boy names Chris who was billeted in the house during the last months of the war along with his sister. The house had then belonged to an aunt of Kate's boyf…

Reading report for April 2007

I surpassed last year's monthly average a bit this month, with 18 books, a total of 4645 pages. Two were rereads. Most were less than 300 pages long and could be read in under 3 hours.
I have not been much interested in reading long books lately, but now I intend to try to finish the first part of the Gormenghast trilogy, which is about 400 pages of small type, by the end of the month. Another long book I have started reading is Wilkie Collins' classic novel The Woman in White, which is about 650 pages in the Oxford World's Classics edition, so I don't expect to read quite as many books this month, but just as many pages.

I have many partially read books strewn around my apartment and I think I should try to make an effort to finish some of them so I can either put them in my permanent collection or donate them back to the charity shop where I got them. I just finished one that I started reading in 2005 and feel very proud of myself, but I need to do more, so I have res…

A romance reader bites back

I came across a wonderfully sardonic description of some of the many formulas used in modern literary fiction, written by a fan of another genre that has been much abused for being formulaic, namely romance. If you didn’t think there were any formulas behind literary fiction, think again. Here is the full article: Guidelines for Writing Literary Fiction.

I especially like the last bit:
"On completing the book, the reader should have a satisfied feeling of accomplishment. There are a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is value. He or she will be able to say he enjoyed the book, but will probably not be able to explain why without reading a review. He or she can feel fully satisfied in recommending it to a book club."

I, of course, explore my feelings about books, and not just literary fiction, by writing reviews.

So, have you read a piece of modern literary fiction that didn’t follow any of those formulas? I know there must be some, but most of what I have read i…