Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Books, and reading.

As I have started to read again, after a long break, and because I was reading a book in bed before I went to sleep last night, it is understandable that I woke up today thinking about that subject.

I am not getting on that well with electronic reading. On the plus side, it is great to be able to read an ‘illuminated page’, with no need for additional lighting. And I can store a lot of books on something the size of an A4 sheet of paper. The downside for me is that the page-turning feature can be over-sensitive, frequently flipping back to previously read pages without warning. It also freezes up more that I am happy with, leaving me having to restart, to return to the last page I was reading.

So many of you report no issues with this, I am beginning to wonder if I have a faulty Kindle Fire. But it may also have something to do with me, and my unfamiliarity with using Tablets.

When it comes to the books, I have now read five of them in one month. Considering I only finished one book during the whole of the previous year, then that is progress indeed, and definitely a result of having the new way of reading, as well as not having to further clutter diminishing space with large paperbacks or hardback copies. I have enjoyed the books written by other bloggers, and have been pleasantly surprised by the high quality, readability, and refreshing subjects and themes.

That has not been the case with the mainstream books though. Despite great reviews, and large sales on Amazon and elsewhere, I was disappointed to find that familiar ‘formula’ writing very much in evidence. Characters conceived so that they can be featured in sequels, or living in stylised, unrealistic situations that are hard to identify with. Many years ago, I regularly read at least one book a week. I used to follow authors, including Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and some more serious writers. When they had a new book out, I would buy it immediately, believing I would be sure to like it.

But then they started to feel ‘familiar’. The names were changed, but the plots similar. Things happened in those books as I had come to expect them to, and I became convinced that we were all reading much the same story, with just the locations and characters altered slightly. That was one of the main reasons I stopped reading novels, and switched to non-fiction instead. After almost twenty years, I have returned to fiction, in the hope that things had changed. In many respects they have, but in some cases, I can see it is just the same old story. Literally.

So I am not sure about reading again. I feel a little cheated by some writers, but refreshed and inspired by others. Maybe that has always been the case? Not sure.

I am still thinking about it.

79 thoughts on “Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

  1. I am still using my Kindle that is about 9 years old. It’s not a Fire so it just does books and it has hard page turning controls, which means less accidental page turning. I have been rubbish at reading recently though. My only reading time really is my commute and it is so easy just to pop on Netflix so I have been doing that. Mr O reads avidly though and prefers a real book. He only really likes non-fiction… mostly travel, history and autobiographies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I started a book last week on the Kindle Fire, then got so fed up with the page-flicking, I stopped reading it. Good that Mr O still likes real books. I just wish I had the space to store them. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. Hi Pete, you have stated here exactly what I think, traditionally published authors have to write to a best selling book formula. It is so limiting. I recently bought Stephen King’s book, The Outsider. I was looking forward to reading it but am finding it disappointing. He has resorted to using a lot of graphic sexual stuff and detailed murder scenes which I don’t like. His earlier books didn’t have this to the same extent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Robbie. I don’t mind graphic details, if the book is about something dark and disturbing. But adding them for no better reason is unacceptable. I am beginning to wonder why so many current readers are happy to accept this ‘formula’ writing. I can only conclude that they want to know what to expect from a new book, and they are unwilling to challenge themselves with something different.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I hate kindles etc. Needs to be a proper book for me. I always return to non fiction (esp military history and β€œrock” music stuff). But I am an avid reader of crime fiction – but needs to be gritty and realistic. However I too find the genre has, apart from a few worthy mentions, become boring. (The mentions being Ian Rankin, Philip Kerr – now sadly no longer with us after completing his last novel- Stuart McBride and a couple of others I forget). My local library is rubbish so I find myself buying books either new or from charity shops. But I have ventured out into two areas I feel. Firstly, there is a photographer I follow on Instagram who regularly posts about authors so I have discovered Haruki Murakami and Paul Auster. But he also made me seek out β€œold” novels that passed me by such as The Rum Diaries by Hunter S Thompson, other Kerouac (apart from On The Road) for example. And…I confessed on FBook that I had never ever read (or seen the films) of Too Kill A Mockingbird or Catcher In The Rye. My daughter had TKAMB from her A levels many years ago. She lent it to me and I have just finished it. Sorry, Pete I have hijacked your blog to basically rabbit on!!
    What I’m trying to say is…look for something outside your normal areas….I have even dabbled in reading a little poetry.
    I will stop now lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No problem, John. I read so much as a youngster, that many books including ‘Catcher In The Rye’ and ‘TKAM’ are well known to me. Also Steinbeck, Hemingway, and many more authors. Modern authors lack their authenticity in many ways, so I may end up revisiting the ‘classics’. I have no more space for real books, so they are no longer an option for me.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, I know what you mean. I sometimes had the same issues, but six years later and still on the same Kindle Fire (fingers crossed), I’ve mostly managed to get used to things. It is always useful to bookmark pages, as you won’t lose them that way. I also find the possibility of writing notes or highlighting quite useful when I’m thinking of writing reviews. If you check the Go To, feature, there is always an option that takes you back to the furthest place you had reached in that particular book (that only works if the tablet is connected to the internet, though). And, I only realised this relatively recently, if you’ve lost your place suddenly, you just need to tap the back arrow and you’re back in the place you were before. It’s a bit what happens when you’re using Word and you do something silly and lose a lot of text. If you just press the back button, it’s right there again.
    Because my Kindle is quite ancient I haven’t used it for anything other than reading and some Apps (like some fitness apps I have there) for a long time, but I’m a fast typist and I find trying to tap letter by letter very slow and frustrating. And as my eyesight is not what it was, the screen is too small for many other things anyway.
    It’s also true what you say about books. I read a lot of them, and I’ve noticed that publishing companies seem to take fewer and fewer risks these days. If they come across a winning formula, they bleed it to death. Of course, it is impossible to be truly original, but you’re right. Less well-known authors are more likely to write more interesting books, and far more unique.
    Perhaps you could join a group of reviewers, like Rosie Amber’s. She always has an interesting mix of offerings, and most of them are by independent authors.
    Have a fabulous week.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for all those thoughts and tips, Olga. I do intend to continue with the Kindle Fire, as the space it saves is welcome. And I can access my blog and do Internet searches too, if need be.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  5. Great post πŸ™‚ I take it that you are still adjusting to tablets. I see your view on recents books although I am a huge fan of King and Koontz. I have not read some of their more recent stuff though. Hey just out of curiosity, did you ever read Daphne du Maurier’s short story compilation book entitled “Not After Midnight”? I read an old copy not too long back and I was just mesmerized. Anyway, keep up the great work as always πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, John. Yes, this is my first tablet, and I find it annoyingly sensitive. I don’t use it for blogging or emails, as I hate typing on it. It is just like a mobile phone, with a very big screen. πŸ™‚
      I read quite a few du Maurier books years ago, including ‘Rebecca’, and ‘Jamaica Inn’. But I have not read the short stories you mention.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Even though I do some reading on my tablet, I much prefer a real book. My mom reads more than anyone I know and to keep her suppled I’ve been picking up used books at the second hand stores. She reads them all and passes them back to me; I can’t keep up with her, but try to read the ones she especially recommends. In general though I mostly prefer non-fiction or historical fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If I was still at work, I could probably still buy ‘real’ books and pass them on to various colleagues. But as I have retired, and also live far away from family and friends, I simply cannot justify storing them. I will have to continue to persevere with the electronic alternative, and just get used to it in time. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have had my Kindle for six years and the main drawback as you say is accidentally going backwards or fowards. Apart from that I love it for reading in bed and taking on holiday. At the beginning I picked some dire novels, -but I choose those whose authors sound interesting or amusing and are recommended and have also read great autobiographical works I would never have found in the library or bookshop. Many of we Indie Authors have something original to offer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Janet. As I mentioned, I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the books written by bloggers who are not considered to be professional authors. Many are far superior to those by the writers who make the latest best-seller lists.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I can’t deal with the electronic devices after years of reading books. I have my own habits of looking back and forward. As for plots, a friend told me years ago that there were really only a few plots–the heroic journey, coming of age and romance/intimacy with obstacles. Now I guess we have the added ones of whodunit and girl in peril. As others have said, when you have read a lot there isn’t much you haven’t already read. Unfortunately one modern solution is to write totally abstract “novels” that only academics appreciate for their novelty. I too have begun reading much more nonfiction, particularly history. Now that I have lived 71 years, I find it much easier to grasp long trends in history.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I have to books to recommend, both page turners and when I read them I woke up earlier as usual, got myself a coffee and read an hour or two in bed before getting dressed. Klausbernd also loved them:
    The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by JoΓ«l Dicker (now a film) and
    I’m Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. Please give them a try. πŸ™‚
    Best regards to you from foggy Norway. x

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Always non-fiction for me Pete and I try to get more than one book / author for a rounded perspective
    As for reading on a tablet I love it, but also have pages flip on me usually due to my clumsiness.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Unfortunatel the ‘Great Unwashed’ want formulaic writing to the detriment of the classic way of telling a story Pete. I know this only too well, as do many of my fellow writers. We flatly refuse to dumb down a story. As a consequence our book sales suffer, while trash novels sell in their millions…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You make a good point, Jack. It does seem (so far) that bloggers take more care over their books, and write with real commitment. (I have one of yours on the Kindle, and will get to it eventually. πŸ™‚ )
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Reblogged this on Campbells World and commented:
    This is an interesting post.
    I have some of the issues with EReaders spoken of here and I thought it was just me and the voice over not getting along with the reader. Now maybe…?
    As to books, give Elevation by Stephen King a try. Short read but way powerful and different.
    Of course you could just go back to reading blogger’s books.
    LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Interesting perspective, Pete. When I’m at a dead end or stuck in reading, the library is always helpful. I tell them what I like, and why I feel stuck. They always come through. You may find success at your library. I am a huge fan of hard copy books, as page turning and going back and forth is a pain on the Kindle. Best to you, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I love reading and I love books, I doubt I shall ever go electronic on this subject. I rarely buy books now unless they are non-fiction like gardening books or poetry or a second hand one I fancy, as we have a bookcase full, but we do regularly visit our local library. There is a pile of six books on my bedside table as I write this! I’m into Scandi noir and Crime and there are some excellent authors out there, but for a change I will pick up a light ‘chick-lit’ book. I read anything by Ann Cleeves and Peter May and if you haven’t read The Lewis Trilogy I strongly recommend it. I also got stuck into the Phil Rickman books about Merrily Watkins an Anglican priest who is a diocesan exorcist. You won’t want to live in the borders after reading these! Yes, sometimes plots become formulaic, but if you are ‘attached’ to a particular character then that doesn’t seem to matter to me. I just love getting involved with a character. Once I would have read a book to the bitter end. Now though if I haven’t fallen in love with the plot after a couple of chapters I put it to one side.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Siri and Selma are taking care of the matter, The Lewis Trilogy is on the list. πŸ™‚ To revisit the Outer Hebrides is high up on our list and I’d love to read the books before we go. x

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Like you, I only read one book last year. It was written by the father of an acquaintance here in Las Vegas, and it was nonfiction. I have yet to get back to reading, but hope to do so sooner rather than later. As you know, my brain is more focused on writing at the current time. I suppose it’s true that many of today’s writers produce cookie cutter plots in familiar genres. I don’t know if that’s because they are emulating what they’ve read in the past, because this approach assuages their impatience by allowing them to churn out books quickly, or because they simply lack a sense of originality/creativity.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It could well be that by fulfilling the expectations of their fans, those ‘conveyor-belt’ authors retain their audience, and make good money into the bargain. But it is hardly classic literature, and makes me feel inclined to return to re-reading great novels of the past.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I know what you mean about the formula thing, even though I dont read much I got into the habit of reading the same authors to be safe only to be disappointed. I did have a phase of reading biographies which seemed to fix that. Of course now I read serialised stories on blogs, there is some very original stuff out there πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I’ve found that sometimes a change is good … I’ve moved away from fiction for a bit which is proving more interesting as I found everything all a bit predictable. Currently reading Watching the English by Kate Fox. Fascinating (but then I’m a bit geeky).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks for your thoughts. I started a 480 page book last night, set just after WW2. It will be a long read, but I am finding it very good so far. It is ‘The Survivors’, by Kate Furnivall.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. HI folks, I, too, loved King and Koontz but maybe we writers just run out of new things to say. That’s why I have left novel writing and turned to poetry. It’s only when something makes me really angry that I want to write a book about it and show how things could change. The last book, about a ‘romance scam’ is the latest attempt I have made to use fiction to get a warning across.
    I’m reading a book about the pit closures in Thatcher’s time at the moment ” Digging Up The Pitmen” by John Swain. It is full of bitterness but rings true.I don’t use the kindle. I just buy second hand books or get them from the library.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I only turned to an electronic device because I have no more space in the house (or anywhere else) to store them, Julie. Perhaps I need to learn how to pass books on, or even throw them away?
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

        1. I would give them to charity shops of course. πŸ™‚ I only use that term to indicate how I would be so reluctant to part with them. The wrong words, perhaps. Though some charity shops here say they have too many books already, so maybe I could donate them to the local school, to sell at their annual fair. I just find it so hard to let any of them go. πŸ™‚
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sue. Yes she does. As with films, I think we can be in danger of seeing too much, and reading too much. Eventually, everything feels like you have seen or read something just like it already.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Perhaps because we have read so much in our lives, we have come to expect more? Or get bored more easily? I remember that sense of excitement when a new book by a favorite author came out. Also I used to struggle to the bitter end even if I didn’t like the book that much, whereas now I just drop it after a few chapters. In that respect online books help, because they’re much cheaper.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a very good point, Marina. I have rarely abandoned a book in the past, always expecting it to just ‘get better’. But I can see I will be more inclined to do that in future.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  20. I am not much on the electronic reading thing…..I have had a Kindle since they were first introduced and the only time I use it is when I am waiting for a doctor or such…..I still prefer the smell and feel of a book….but then I am an old fart….LOL chuq

    Liked by 3 people

  21. I used to get the flipping too many pages thing, I find a light tap on the right of the screen is enough to turn one page. I too fell out of love with Koontz and King, but have recently read Sleeping Beauties a joint novel by Stephen King and his son Owen, who is also a writer and can highly recommend it, even Phil’s reading it and he just does war history normally 😊

    Liked by 2 people

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