If you looked at my list of books read so far this year, you’d think I’d abandoned the idea of paper completely. Eight e-books, two audiobooks, and only two traditional print books. The situation is not quite as dire as all that though – part of the reason for the scarcity of real books is that I’m struggling my way through Elizabeth Knox’s Black Oxen, which is not doing much to cure my aversion to NZ writers – it’s pretty much incomprehensible. I’ve been persisting with it in the hope that it’ll start to make sense at some point (though so far every time it’s shown promise of doing so, the narrative stream suddenly shifts to a new place and time (or possibly even an alternative reality – I’m not entirely sure) with what seem to be a completely new set of characters (though some might be the same ones just with new names…), so I just end up completely lost again), but after a few pages of it I always feel the need to rinse my brain out with something light and fluffy on the Kindle.
Not all is happy in Kindle-land though. I bought my textbooks for my Linguistics course the other day, and one was available cheaply in Kindle format so I thought I’d give it a try. Not good. Reading it was fine (though occasionally figures and tables got separated from the referring text by a few pages, which was a pain having to keep paging back and forth), but I realised how much I like to read texts with a pencil in my hand. You can take notes on a Kindle, but it’s not easy (especially with my model without separate keyboard), and definitely not instinctual. By the time I’ve faffed around adding a note I’ve lost my train of thought, and reading back the notes again later is a bit convoluted too.
So while the Kindle is great for leisure reading, I don’t think I’ll be using it for more academic pursuits. If I ever do go electronic for study material (and I’ll probably be forced to eventually – our library is definitely heading in that direction) I think I’ll have to get some sort of tablet device with a larger screen (reading PDFs is another thing that’s technically possible on a Kindle, but not easy, especially not the tiny print and complex diagrams of journal articles) and better notating options (ideally I’d want some sort of stylus thingy so I can underline and scribble all over the text in my preferred manner). But not an iPad, because everything with i at the front is evil ;-p
The week’s half over already, and I still haven’t written about our bookcrossing(ish) party on Saturday. I say bookcrossing-ish because although it started life as a replacement for the traditional bookcrossing Christmas party (that never happened because of the earthquakes on the 23rd), in the end there were more non-bookcrossers than bookcrossers there. So it was actually just a party that happened to have a few books floating around.
It was a fun night though – as well as Rarsberry and Otakuu, Jenny and Megan (union president) and their respective partners were there, so the conversation was wide-ranging and interesting (though occasionally veering towards the overly-academic, with three PhDs in the room!). We never did get to the board games I’d promised (sorry Rars!), but I reckon that’s probably a good sign that everyone was having such a good time anyway we had no need of additional entertainment.
Jenny brought round a huge box of unregistered books to donate to the cause (slightly depleted after I let Otakuu pounce on them), plus I ended up with all the leftovers of the meetup books, so I’ve got plenty of release fodder for a while.
Talking of releases, a few of the local bookcrossers who’d been inactive most of last year have started releasing the odd book again. I even managed to catch one: I spotted the release alert for Digging to America by Anne Tyler in time to dash across to the other side of campus and catch it.
And I’ve had a few good catches myself:
Bonk by Mary Roach garnered a new member after I left it on our book exchange table at work (not many books I leave there get journalled normally, but I know they do get read and appreciated, because I’ve spotted more than a few on colleagues’ bookshelves).
The High House by Honor Arundel has travelled from Dunedin to Auckland after a hiatus of a few years.
Also after a few years of being incommunicado, White Ruff by Glenn Balch is now in the UK and is travelling again.
And Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon, which started life in the now-defunct Coffee Club OBCZ, has been travelling widely by being passed hand to hand, and is now in South Africa.
In other bookcrossing news (yes, for a change I’m actually devoting most of a post in a blog supposedly devoted to bookcrossing to actually talking about bookcrossing!), I’ve decided as part of my “no unnecessary stress” policy for 2012 to ask Christchurch bookcrossers to make up their collective mind on the meetup issue. For the last couple of years (so we can’t even blame it on the earthquakes) attendance at meetups has been dropping off, and it’s been feeling more and more like a losing battle to keep them going. So I’ve posted a message on our yahoo group asking if anyone actually wants to continue with meetups, and so far (admittedly only 24 hours later) there’s been nothing but silence. So I’m expecting I’ll be able to finally remove my organiser crown and give up the frustration of organising meetups and trying to encourage people to attend, only to end up having to cancel because nobody’s RSVPed.
It won’t stop us having occasional meetups, of course – I fully expect to still get together with Rars or Otakuu when the mood strikes one of us, and we might even post something on Yahoo when we do in case anyone else wants to join us. And I’m sure we’ll still have meetups when there’s a visiting bookcrosser in town. But (unless there’s a sudden rush of demand in the next few days, which I doubt), there won’t be regular monthly meetups in Christchurch any more. End of an era