Friday, 16 July 2004


I've lost the enthusiasm for my little book reviews, it seems. Thus, short summaries of my recent readings follow.

After finishing White Teeth, I basically couldn't be bothered going to the bookstore and buying yet another book. With no place to store them, and no real personal predilection towards re-reading, it really doesn't make sense. A reasonable person would have subsequently joined a library, but I was too lazy for that too. This left only one avenue: that friend of all sloths, the internet. I have downloaded my last 4 books, and intend to continue doing so where possible. The advantages are clear, soft copy is easily transferred (I have the cutest USB key I've ever seen, courtesy of my excellent colleagues at DSTC), free, and readily available at work. The downside is that reading a screen is just not as nice as reading paper, and my laptop is heavier than any novel.

The first 3 "eBooks" (though I hate the term, its shorter than the alternatives and, as established above, I am nothing if not lazy, although I realize the irony that this argument counteracts itself in its verbosity) that I downloaded were by Cory Doctorow. He released them under open source, which seems to have worked well for him, and certainly worked well for me; I would never have read them if they weren't. They were good, if not great, reading - certainly well-written, and topical to me in their subjects and their settings.

More recently I have gone to the well of Project Gutenberg, where old texts go to be archived. I've downloaded Kim, by Kipling, and am most of the way through it (it will certainly not last the weekend). I was skeptical about going back to Kipling. I enjoyed him when I was young, in the form of The Jungle Book, Just So Stories, Captains Courageous, and Stalky & Co, but have become increasingly wary of his imperial British bent since then. To be fair, this was influenced more by an essay I read on him by George Orwell than by any real personal insight, and it has proved no stumbling block in my return to his work. Kim is beautifully and vividly written, and I am enjoying it immensely. I am aware that its a bit "Boy's Own", but its fiction, and I don't mind.

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