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Booking Through Thursday: Pointed

btt buttonWhich is better (or preferred) … stories with multiple character points of view? Or stories that stick to just one or two at most? And, why?

For me, it really depends on the story itself, and a lotta context. I think especially of “team books” in comics–X-Men or the Justice League or Teen Titans–and with those, I would want numerous characters’ points of view…it’s how we’d really get to “know” the characters.

At the same time, if a character has a “solo book,” I’m more inclined to want things from that character’s point of view (the the occasional one-off issue switching things up isn’t bad, though).

As I type this, I realize it also depends on the point of view of the narration…a comic “checking in on” numerous characters (X-Men, Justice League, etc) giving us “omniscient” views of characters all over the place is a much different thing than getting an entire story from the limited point of view of only one character, who can’t tell us exactly what another character is thinking or remembering or whatever.

I’ve begun reading Allegiant, the latest book in the Divergent series, and I’m not liking the chapter by chapter changeup between two characters’ point of view. Just as I’m getting the “feel” for the progression of story from one character, it changes and the “I _____” or “my ______” references are totally changed, and it’s taking me out of the story.

I like the Song of Ice and Fire books (Game of Thrones and later books), and those do a chapter-by-chapter changeup as well, but it’s not as rough to transition as it’s not the characters talking to me as a reader.

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Booking Through Thursday: Carry-Ons

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Do you bring the book(s) you’re reading with you when you go out? How?
Physically, or in an e-reader of some kind? Have your habits in this
regard changed?

Yes–on my phone with the nook app for iOS. Otherwise, I try to keep a physical book at least in the car, and I have one in my desk at work.

My method has changed in the past year, as I largely adopted digital right around the turn of the year, opting to “go digital” for The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest and every book since, until I found a book I really wanted to read (The Brothers’ War) that is not even available anywhere (legal) as an ebook. (I touched on that topic last week in a personal blog post.)

The habit of bringing books with me has not really change–my biggest problem has often been situations where I could get “stuck” with nothing to read and time to kill. But having stuff to read on my phone–the nook books, the ComiXology digital comics–means that so long as I have the phone with me (it’s extremely rare that I don’t, and would be indicative of a some other “issue” if I didn’t have it) I’m good on having “something” to read, even if it’s not what I’m “in the mood to read” at the time.

Whether it’s to go get an oil change, or meeting someone somewhere, going to a movie and getting there early but not wanting to put up with the commercials and such before the trailers/commercials attached to the film itself, or a number of other situations…it’s just good to have something handy to read without having to scrounge through the immediate environment.

In fact, I have The Brothers’ War in a used shopping bag (to protect it from the likely rain) hanging from the front door just to make sure I don’t somehow forget it and walk out without this morning.

Booking Through Thursday: Periodically

btt buttonSo other than books … what periodicals do you read? Magazines? Newspapers? Newsletters? Journals?

Do you subscribe? Or do you buy them on the newsstand when they look interesting?

btt20120705aIt’s been quite awhile since I’ve had any real patience for a magazine. Used to be (back in the ’90s and early 2000s) I’d fairly regularly read Wizard (self-billed “The Guide to Comics”). But Wizard ceased print publication a couple years ago, and I’ve never gotten into any of the other comics-related publications. The closest to a replacement for me, for present, may be Bleeding Cool, which had a preview issue recently and begins official sequential publication later this year.

(There’s also “the Comic-Con issue” of something I’m blanking on at present…yet I’ve come to be quite disgusted at what the [San Diego] Comic Con has become and try to mostly avoid the hype).

btt20120705bNewspapers I also rarely read–I’ll flip through the paper at my parents’ when I visit, but overall that’s really my only exposure these days TO a newspaper. For the most part I tend to get my news from the radio, Facebook, and Twitter.

I can’t remember the last time I saw an actual newsletter.

And it’s been years since seeking a journal…half a decade, probably; not since grad school.

But we’re talking “periodicals,” and the list in the prompt neglects the most obvious response from me:

Comic books.

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Booking Through Thursday: Pet Names

btt buttonDo you have any pet that has a name inspired by your readings?

If not, what would you pick if you DID?

Do any of your friends have book-based names for their pets? (Or their children?)

When Dad was first looking to adopt the current kitty, the shelter had tagged him “Sigmund.” I liked the proper sound to the name, and thought we should add to it: Sigmund Dewey.

Dewey of course inspired by Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched The World.

But Sigmund or Sig never stuck…the cat responded more to a Z sound, “Zig” so quickly wound up Zig or Ziggy (or Ziggster or Zigmeister or any of a number of in-the-moment names).

deweyziggy

I’ve also had it in my head for a number of years that I’ll eventually adopt a pair of cats, naming them Kal and Kara, after Superman and Supergirl from DC Comics.

Not sure that I’m aware of family/friends with pets or children having book-based names.

Booking Through Thursday: Category

btt buttonOf the books you own, what’s the biggest category/genre? Is this also the category that you actually read the most?

scififantasybookclusterCategorically, I’d say “paperback.” That includes the “mass market” variety as well as graphic novels/comics’ collected editions.

Comics/collected editions/graphic novels certainly have it over prose.

Fiction has it over non-fiction.

Mass market paperback has it over trade paperback.

Fantasy has it over Sci-fi.

In the graphic novels, DC has it over Marvel. As far as hardcover graphic novels, Marvel has it over DC.

Super-heroes have it over non-super-heroes.

And in the non-graphic novels/comics, Sci-Fi/Fantasy would be the dominant genre.

Within that, Dragonlance has it over Magic: The Gathering; Dragonlance and Magic: The Gathering have it over everything else.

I’m thinking right now it’d be really cool to have actual NUMBERS to give based on those categories…but alas, that’s something I do not have. Someday I should attempt to re-create or update some sort of inventory of my collections.

As to reading…I think it’s safe to say that I still read more in the sci-fi/fantasy stuff than anything else. This year, I’ve been through The Last Days of Krypton (sci-fi), Dragons of the Highlord Skies and Dragons of the Hourglass Mage (fantasy) vs. The Summons and The Litigators (Grisham) and The Inner Circle (Meltzer), The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and The Walking Dead: The Rise of the Governor. Everything else offhand I either have not finished yet (The Overton Window, The Wastelands, Robopocalypse, The Lost Hero) or would be comics/graphic novels.

Booking Through Thursday: E-volution

btt buttonE-readers like the Kindle and iPad are sweeping the nation … do you have one? Do you like it? Do you find it changes your reading/buying habits? If you don’t have one, do you plan to?

No, I do not have either of those. Also do not have a Nook, and Barnes & Noble is getting dangerously close to me unsubscribing from their emails because I’m so danged tired of them pushing it so forcefully.

I’m pretty much “sold” on the iPad, in that “eventually…when I can actually AFFORD one” sorta way. A friend has one, and seeing it in action, I’m pretty sure that really, get myself a wireless keyboard that’ll sync with the iPad and a portable stand to prop the thing up like a laptop monitor, and I could pretty much go “computer-free” (“computer” = “laptop” or “desktop” machines).

I do have an iPhone, and recently I’ve dabbled with digital comics on it. I bought the classic Superman #75 a couple months back, just for the sheer novelty of having the thing right on-hand (next week marks the 19th anniversary of “The Death of Superman”). I’ve also bought two issues of DC Comics’ new initiative “The New 52.” Trouble is, the iPhone even is so relatively tiny that the reading experience feels like I’m trying to read through some sort of blinders.

As far as long-form reading…no-can-do. The iPhone is such a tiny thing that it’s even awkward to try to situate one’s self to even consider “settling in to read for awhile” with it.

An iPad might change that, but until I actually have one, I won’t be able to say for sure. And I certainly won’t be getting the iPad for the sole purpose of “reading”…the digital books/comics will just be a small part of the picture.

Right now, I don’t see any sort of e-reader changing my reading habits or buying habits. I’m buying one single comic series digitally and a month behind, for the discount…but that novelty is wearing off already, 2 issues in. Depending on pricing, I could see having an iPad having an impact on SOME of my comic buying, especially for the stuff that I just want to read once and be done with.

Once I’d get an iPad, I’d have to “take the plunge” with a book sometime to see how that experience would go…but really, I’d much rather have a $20 hardcover with me that gets lost/dropped/rained on/etc than a $500 tablet/computer device.

Given that I’m “sold” on the iPad, know there are “apps” for the Kindle at least and pretty sure also the Nook and OTHER e-reader formats, I absolutely can NOT see spending $150+ on something that’s arguably “just” going to be used to read e-versions of books. I don’t think I spend that much on new books in an entire YEAR, so it’s a huge up-front cost, BEFORE even getting to buy new books to read.

Even though $10ish is much cheaper than the $20-$30 most new (hardcover) tend to be priced at, it’s still $10 for something pretty much intangible (music I listen to, whatever the source…but if I’ve already paid $150+ for an e-reading device, the device itself isn’t going to get bigger or heavier for addition of a digital file). And I often feel that if I’ve already invested 1/3 to half the cost, why “settle” when I’m already on my way to the full, actual item?

The e-readers are also like computers to me, though: you buy one, and 3 months later, the next/greater version is out, or announced, and then it becomes a case of “well, I’ve waited all these years already…why didn’t I wait X more months?!?”

Of course…this all presupposes that I have to make the purchase myself: given a Kindle or Nook or such as a gift…I’m sure I’d find excuse enough to certainly make use of the device. Without an upfront cost to me investing in the actual device…that would certainly “level the playing field” in terms of books to be bought. And stuff like The Hunger Games or some of these other series–I wouldn’t mind getting those digitally.

Having the potential to have numerous books all contained in one device would certainly feed my “book-A.D.D.” and allow me to start numerous books and gradually work my way through ’em as the mood strikes for a given “book.”

Booking Through Thursday: Harder

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All other thing being equal, would you rather read a book that’s hard/challenging/rewarding or light/enjoyable/easy?

bookingthroughthursdayhardMaybe it’s splitting hairs, but I don’t know that it has to be one or the other.  A hard/challenging/rewarding book may still be something enjoyable and light, as far as something I’ve chosen to read and want to read as leisure.

Whatever the phrasing, though…it all depends on my mood at the time, and the specific book and context. There are times when I’d rather read something that could be deemed a hard/challenging read, and there are times I’d rather read something easy.

Comics OR written word, it all varies. Even a light read can be dense with dialogue or other wording which can slow things down and make it harder, while something harder may flow very nicely and be an easy, quick read (or it becomes a quick read when actually retaining the information fails and it’s just the eyes going over the words).

I don’t think I choose my books based on whether they’re hard or light reads. Hard OR easy, they are what they are. I think it’s more about how engaged I am with the material,and how I feel about the material. I might find, say, Comic Book Nation to be a light/enjoyable/easy read…I’m interested in comic books, and so a history of comics from the early 20th century to 2001 (something I’m familiar with but no expert on) will be light/enjoyable/easy, but to someone with zero familiarity or interest in comics, that might be a hard/challenging read that may or may not be rewarding in the end.

Just as–sitcom-joke or otherwise–I’m sure there are people who would find reading a dictionary, encyclopedia, or the equivalent of a science or math textbook to be light reading, while I would consider it hard and (barring coursework) probably highly unrewarding.

What I’m reading:

Right now, I’m reading back through The Walking Dead graphic novel/collections. And with payday tomorrow, I plan to purchase John Grisham‘s new book The Litigators, and dive right into that.

Booking Through Thursday: Sequel

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If you could get a sequel for any book, what would it be?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? Dragons of the Hourglass Mage?

Harry Potter’s the obvious: even though DH was a solid ending and there’s no great need of a sequel–it could be interesting to have stories of the kids’ generation. Either filling in the in-between time from the book to the epilogue, or better just picking up where the epilogue ended.

Or, I’ve long thought it could be very interesting to see the world of Harry Potter continued into comics. Soooo much potential there. Rowling could oversee things, of course, but let other writers and artists play in the sandbox. Granted, there could be the stipulation that the main characters, maybe even Hogwarts, would be off the table. But what about the other schools? Surely other students have had adventures!

Meanwhile–Dragons of the Hourglass Mage was the third in a trilogy of books set between the pages of the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy from the 1980s. It revisited the continuity and characters as they were at the time–almost as if expanding those original books by at least double. I would love to have more stories by Weis & Hickman set during their original Dragonlance run. Maybe during Legends, or short one-offs of The Second Generation. Of course, at the moment I can’t think of much of anything dangling, and I’d want it to be the main characters, not just a story of others set at the time.

But overall, I find that the single-volume books I read, lately mainly Grisham, Meltzer, and King–they’re a solid story, and I’m really NOT itching for a sequel. Or, I get into a property when there’s ALREADY a sequel, and there’s already (again) nothing to leave me itching for a follow-up.

Now, there are book series…do those count? I’m still stuck in The Lost Hero, but been looking forward to the next book in the series as well (which came out last week), so I guess technically that’s a sequel, except I’ve “known” it was planned from the start, and was trying to get through the first book before the 2nd came out.

Magic: The Gathering, Dragonlance, Aliens, Predator, Left Behind….all these series sit on my shelves (Magic and Dragonlance have far more books than I could ever hope to get for a “complete” collection). But right now none of them have anything screaming “sequel!” to me; and chances are that other than Left Behind, any of the books that would deserve a sequel could well have one already, for all I know.

I always mention comics, it seems, so let’s look there: by their nature, comics are typically ongoing periodicals, though the “mini-series” or “limited-series” has become extremely popular. Most individual comics will have a “sequel,” aka “the next issue.” But there are specific overall stories, and some of those tend to get sequels. Infinite Crisis was marked as a sequel of sorts to Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Dark Knight Strikes Again was a sequel to The Dark Knight Returns. JSA: The Kingdom was a sequel to Kingdom Come; so was the mini-“event” simply titled The Kingdom.

But other graphic novels that I own? I can’t really think of any offhand that I’d like to see have a sequel made. Scanning my shelves now as I type, the only things I see where I’m even interested in another volume, it’s stuff that I know already exists. More John Constantine: Hellblazer volumes. Preacher and Transmetropolitan. Original Ultimate Spider-Man. Heroes Reborn; X-Men: Age of Apocalypse; Brightest Day; Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps.

I suppose ultimately, this is a rather passive topic for me. Sure, if a follow-up comes out, that follows on or builds on or is billed as a direct/specific sequel to something I’ve already read and enjoyed, I’m more likely to go for that than an untried entity. But other than seeing the world of Harry Potter continued or getting even a short Dragonlance story set with old characters in an early part of a huge series…I’m just interested in reading good stories, and look forward moreso to new works by authors I enjoy than to specific sequels of specific books.

Final thought: I’ve found it interesting when I read one book by an author, and it references another. I want to say that the latest Meltzer book took place in the same continuity and referenced events from an earlier book, but was not itself an actual sequel. Ditto some of Grisham and King’s stories.

Booking Through Thursday: Odd

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What’s the oddest book you’ve ever read? Did you like it? Hate it? Did it make you think?

figuresI’m sure that throughout today as this prompt continues to circle in my head, I’m going to think of other examples.

But right now, I can’t really think of any actual prose books that have really struck me as “odd.”

When I was really young, I had “the faith of a child,” accepting what I was given as “fact” or “true” (though I obviously didn’t consciously know the definitions of those words nor any of the layered or politicized meanings).

I was also introduced to comic books, and sci-fi/fantasy at a young age–old enough to cognitively have and make a clear distinction between fiction and reality…but young enough still that I don’t recall all these far-fetched things striking me as particularly odd or anything.

Detectives could run around with communicators on their wrists and these weird opponents. Men could fly or dress up in a rodent costume and scare the crap out of the superstitious, cowardly lot. Mutant turtles and mutant humans, men transformed by radiation into super-heroes, worlds of dragons and dungeons or realms forgotten–all of these struck me as contextually plausible.

And yet in retrospect, perhaps they are odd. Perhaps moreso than not seeing stuff as odd, I’ve simply accepted the odd as a part of life, and simply gone about my life, knowing that the odd is possible, and that there will always be oddities to one degree or another, real and fictional.

So…books. Chances are if you’re reading this post, you’re looking for me to talk about BOOKS.

Dragonlance, Magic: The Gathering, Mechwarrior, Star Wars, Star Trek, Aliens, Predator. All may seem odd in their own ways.

But perhaps what most recently actually strikes me as odd can be found in the world of comic books.

DC Comics just relaunched their entire super-hero universe in an initiative called “The New 52,” and just last night I read two of the second issues in series. Animal Man #2 and Swamp Thing #2.

And lemme tell you–if only for the art alone, Animal Man in particular was odd and out of the ordinary. There’s a scene where the main character’s daughter is feeding her “cat” milk, and that absolutely creeped me out. And in Swamp Thing, the creature the main character encountered seemed odd, yet familiar.

I’ve generally liked all these books (and comics) that would seem oddities to others in my life. They do almost always make me think–whether through some almost direct parallel to real life, or just through being able to loosely identify with a situation or whatever. And even if everyone else in my life doesn’t quite “get it,” these have all given me an extra layer of analogies to better sort out and process actual reality, putting abstracts into more concrete terms.

Booking Through Thursday: Loud

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1. What do you think of reading aloud/being read to? Does it bring back memories of your childhood? Your children’s childhood?

2. Does this affect the way you feel about audio books?

3. Do you now have times when you read aloud or are read to?

1. These days, being read to is mostly awkward, at least in person. When I know they’re reading something TO me longform, I find I prefer to read it myself. Doesn’t really bring back memories…moreso just raises the issue of social awkwardness.

2. Nope…I love audiobooks, and they’re the main way I get through most books these days–because I can listen at work. But there, if I ignore the audio/tune it out briefly and all that, I don’t have a person right there expecting (and rightly so!) me to hang on every word.

3. Not if I can help it. Maybe a quote/very brief passage. Most people don’t appreciate what I’m reading, or aren’t in the mood for it. And if I read aloud to myself…I’d probably just be creeping people out, wasting breath, and feeling awkward at even the possibility of drawing undue attention to myself.


And because last week, I forgot it was Thursday until it was almost Friday, here’s my response for last week’s prompt:

Do you carry books with you when you’re out and about in the world?

And, do you ever try to hide the covers?

That depends on how we define ‘out and about in the world.’

I try to always have something handy to read. At home, I have more books than I’m ever gonna actually get around to reading, I think. I usually try to keep at least one book in whatever vehicle I’m driving–that way, if I get stranded somewhere, I have something onhand to read. I also try to keep something at work as “backup” so if I forget to take anything in with me to read, I have it as a fallback to read. And I tend to carry something between home and work that I’m actively “trying” to read or in the process of reading. I also often grab something “extra” to take with me for any weekend visits anywhere.

Now that I have an iphone, I have at least a half-dozen books saved on the device between a couple e-book-readers, and so long as I have a data signal, I’m good for internet browsing–typically browsing twitter for interesting links to read. Having the phone and doing the internet reading on it has significantly cut into my reading time–I often wind up not even getting to my book on breaks at work.

Carrying books out of this apartment–no, I don’t try to hide the covers. It may LOOK like I do–a habit I’ve developed in quick transport for comics is to drop my reading material into a plastic shopping back, pull the bag tight, and wrap the excess around so I’m holding the book or comics or graphic novel, but with plastic protectively around it, protecting against weather, other elements, and just so I don’t worry about covers getting bent or other travel damage.

I met one of my best friends by “openly reading” in public, and have had some interesting conversations with people who approach me and use whatever I’m reading as an icebreaker.

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