Saturday, September 27, 2008

Choosing my 50 To Go Books

I'm flying to the UK for 18 months in two hours. Yesterday I had the sad task of choosing the 50 books that will get sent over. I already have 7 books that I will take in my luggage along with about 70 eBooks on my Mobile phone. In the end it came down to taking the books (diaries and letters) of Virginia Woolf that are still unread, the second volume of John Fowle's diary, collections of poetry by New Zealand poets, books on New Zealand art and some Camus and Said. I feel very sad leaving my large library behind..sob, sob... The only consolation is that there are heaps of fantastic second hand bookshops in the UK, and my postage from Amazon will be a lot less. Books purchased in UK will be OK as I plan to get a container to bring a motorcycle back with me and the books can act as padding (joking). Well I'd better go now and finish packing. There will be no entries to the blog until I get to UK in a couple of days and have an Internet connection set up. DK

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Eternal Life for Book Readers

That heading caught your eyes didn't it. It is somewhat tongue in cheek, but I will need eternal life to read all the books in all the languages that I want to. Life is too short for the avid reader!! I'm sure I would be more use spending eternity reading, than singing with the choir eternal (apologies to Monty Python!!) DK

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nurturing a Love of Reading

I have been considering which factors help to nurture a love of reading. There are three things that I can think of (at least!!): Being read to as a child - this is important. We learn the power of books to convey a story, literally from our parents' knees. The night time bedtime story is a great institution and one that turned me on to reading. We then carried this out with our three daughters. Having books in the home - being surrounded by books helps to foster a regard for them. This is strengthened if Mum, Dad and siblings are seen to enjoy reading. It always depresses me when I go into a home and see a paucity of books. Having Access to a Good Library - when I was a child I used to love the weekly trip to the library. I always left (and still do) with a clutch of books to carry me blissfully through the coming week. This being said there still seems to be an innate disposition to being a reader. Of my three daughters, all of whom went through the same "conditioning process", only one is what I would call an avid reader. Have a great day DK

Monday, September 22, 2008

What Makes a Book Good?

What are the criteria that makes a book good? Contrary to supporters of the so called Great Books, I believe that a book is good if it meets you where you are, speaks to you and helps you reflect on life's journey. Each of us brings a different self and set of life experiences to every book we read. I am fascinated from the Book Group I belong to, how each of us can read the same book, and have such different reactions and interpretations. Sure we have many points of connection, but what is surprizing are the points of divergence. We read an excellent book by Maurice Gee an eminent New Zealand author. The Book Called Ellie and the Shadowman (2000)was a great read, but one of our number completely missed the lesbian relationship between two of the book's minor characters. Because I had grown up and studied in two of the locations in the book, I had an added insight into some parts of the story that the others lacked. Still, we all agreed that it was a top book. Sometimes I wonder whether it is even possible to read the same book either as a group or individually. One of my friends was telling me that when he started his PhD at Glasgow that one of the students who was just about to finish his doctorate said, "Graham Greene should have an R30 sticker on his books. No one under 30 could ever understand him". My friend was offended, but now that he is past 30 himself, he now concedes the statement was correct. Happy Reading DK First published on Qassia

Saturday, September 20, 2008

How Many Books is Too Many?

There appears to be two types of readers. Those readers who read one book at a time, and those who read several, or many, concurrently. I fall into the second category. At the moment I have about 15 books that I am reading. Most are fiction with a couple of history non fiction books, and literary diaries thrown in for good measure. A lot of my friends say that I am crazy, but I get bored reading any book for more than 15 minutes. I have occasionally stuck to one book at a time, when the book has been absolutely gripping. The two books that come to mind are Noble House by James Clavell and the Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Both excellent, well written and fast paced books. What kind of reader are you? DK

Friday, September 19, 2008

Free eBooks- light and transportable

I have been a fan of eBooks ever since I purchased a Pocket PC. At that time there was an excellent site called Blackmask that had thousands of legitimate, out of copyright eBooks for free. Eventually under legal threat the site was put off line (shame on you who made the threats). Happily I have found the site where the entire Blackmask collection is available. eBooks don't weigh anything and are very transportable. I have about 30 books on my phone, and this is very convenient for when I am traveling. You can download thousands of free eBooks: Click Munseys Link Here Happy reading.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New Book Covers

I have noticed that several books I have purchased recently have a new kind of plastic cover/book ends. They retain the flexibility of a paperback but combine it with the durability of a hardback, without the bulk or weight. The cover is easily cleaned. I love it, especially as one of the books is a compilation of 100 Favorite Poems selected by New Zealanders that I am likely to dip into for years to come. Isn't technology great.... Grant

Monday, September 15, 2008

Books in other Languages

Further to my last post, I remember being depressed when someone told me, that even if I could read all the books written in English, I would still have all the books in other languages to read (Thanks for cheering me up Kath). I have been learning German for some time as I wish to read Goethe in the original, especially Dr Faust. For all that, I think I will keep chipping away at the books I still have left to read in English. What a pleasant predicament. DK

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Too many Books, not enough Time

It's the old lament for the keen reader. There are just to many great books out there. I have several hundred unread books in my library and many hundreds more that I want to reread. And still I buy more... I'm always on Amazon, Fishpond and Munseys hunting for books. I guess it is a glorious obsession. Still I am happy to be in this space and have no worries about what I am going to read next! The dilemma is that just about any book you read opens other reading avenues. A book or author is mentioned, often in passing, or there is a juicy snippet from their works in a book and I'm off on another chase. I guess its a bit like being wealthy and not ever having to worry about money. I am now book rich!! Ciao DK

Saturday, September 13, 2008

20 Chickens for a Saddle

I have been reading this book by Robyn Scott recently. It is a book that describes life in Botswana in the 1980's just as the AIDs epidemic is beginning to impact on African life. The following description is given off the website for the book: "Welcome to the official website for Twenty Chickens for a Saddle, a story that begins when six year old Robyn Scott's parents abruptly exchange the tranquil pastures of New Zealand for a converted cowshed in the wilds of Botswana. There, falling in love with the country where Robyn’s eccentric grandfather had served as pilot to Seretse Khama, Botswana’s first president, Linda and Keith Scott set off in his pioneering and unconventional footsteps. Their three small children, mostly left to amuse themselves, grow up collecting snakes, canoeing with crocodiles and breaking in horses in the veld. This is the funny and moving account of the family’s fifteen years in Botswana, during which Linda haphazardly and single-handedly homeschools Robyn, Damien and Lulu, while Keith runs a flying doctor practice, attempting, with erratic success, to adapt to the unique demands of rural clinics and the growing burden of AIDS. The book remains throughout an uplifting, engaging and deeply affectionate portrayal of an extraordinary place and family." I am really enjoying this glimpse into an African childhood. Highly Recommended DK

Friday, September 12, 2008

What is the ideal degree?

What is the best degree to make you a fit citizen, a member of society who adds value - to yourself, family and society at large? Obviously if you want to be a doctor you take a medical degree, if a lawyer, a law degree. I came to the conclusion, that for me, the ideal education encapsulates both academic and hands on content. You should be able to apply what you are learning academically in the real world as you learn it. There is no substitute for applied education. Education should be about making us useful members of society, not academic navel-watchers. I am not decrying the academic fraternity here, but even they would have to admit, that some of their writings are overly obscure and contain language to deliberately hide meaning from society. Many undergraduate programs, especially in colleges, are beginning to reach out to their communities, to give students the opportunity to get out, learn and apply their new found knowledge. This is to be applauded. DK First published on Qassia

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Traveling Library

I have many thousands of books in my library and I have to go overseas soon for 18 months. This poses a problem. Which books do I take with me? I can only take 25kg all up, so the question is a vexed one. My Choices at the moment are: Volume 2 of John Fowles Diaries Vol 3 and 4 of Virginia Woolf's Diaries and Letters The Charles Brasch memoir Clive Jame's book on culture Edward Saids book on Culture and Imperialism I think that will be all I can take. When my wife comes over later she will be able to bring more. One plus however is that I have 30 eBooks on my mobile phone and they weigh nothing, in fact I will load another 100 or so until I can find the local library. DK

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Call for Eclectic Reading

To broaden your mind, broaden your reading. If you always think and read in the same way, the chances are that you will not increase your knowledge or challenge your beliefs. I think it is Bill Gates who subscribes to a wide range of different publications, including many outside of his spheres of influence, so that he can expand his mind and challenge the way he looks at things. During my formal education I got introduced to three main ways of reading and thinking. Firstly the scientific method, secondly the business school approach, and finally the humanities way of thinking and writing. This surely increased the breadth of my learning. When I was in graduate school I decided to do a Greek History paper at undergraduate level for interest. I was amazed when I got my first assignment back and only got a B for it. I have never forgotten the lecturers comments - "You have told me what Smith thinks, you have told me what Brown thinks, you have even told me what Ventcatchalan and Jones et al think, but what do you think? Thios was a turning point for me. As an undergraduate in science and business we were expected to feed back what we had been taught. Your thoughts and opinions were for grad school. But here in a 101 Humanities paper, the professor is interested in my thoughts, Wow! This realigned my whole focus on education. Keep well DK First published on Qassia

Reading - a veritable Magic Carpet

Before I had even got out of bed this morning I had travelled to Africa (20 Chickens for a Saddle), Croatia (Finding O'Dwyer) and colonial New England (The Americans: The Colonial Experience). I don't even think the Space Shuttle could cover that distance so quickly. Reading is a truly wonderful journey into the imagination, the past, present and future. In a book you can be married/single, black/white, male/female, Muslim/Christian, Rich/poor without even going out of the house. Ever since I cut my teeth on Janet and John in the early 1960's, I have been an avid reader. There is nothing like it. Have a good day. DK First published on Qassia

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fishing for Books

Books, books, books! Those of you who have read this blog know that I am addicted to books. My day is made when I get the big Amazon smile or the Fishpond fish parcels delivered to my home. The Fishpond fish I hear you saying. Fishpond is a NZ based online seller of books, CDs and Videos. The advantage though is that the books are priced in NZ dollars not US dollars. That makes the books at least 30% cheaper before you make any savings from the site. Click the link below to explore Explore Fishpond Now Their $5 bargain pre-owned books cover a wide range... have a good day and keep reading DK

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Once Upon a Time before Google?

"Grandad what did you do before you had Google?" This question got me thinking, "Well let me see, son, it goes like this": When I was a lad, Google had not been invented. We had a computer, it took up a room the size of a basketball court and the head of IBM thought there was a market for about 5 of them in the US. When I did my undergraduate work we were still using slide-rules. All our assignments were hand written and it took hours of shuffling through thousands of library index cards to find information. Even then you had to wait weeks and sometimes months to get the information delivered to you. I'm sure it was all good training but I much prefer using the Internet to find information. Sure there is junk on the net, but there is junk in the library and bookshops as well. I would do at least 10 searches a day on Google to find things out. I don't need my dictionary or encyclopedia any more as it is so easy to access information. So stand aside young un, Grandad has to look something up on Google. DK First Published on Qassia

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Fathers Day - another Book

Isn't Fathers Day great. I got a book called, Our Favourite Poems, New Zealanders choose their best-loved poems. The book contains 100 of New Zealand's favourite poems, chosen from all over the world and voted for in a nationwide poll. As the blurb says,

These are poems that New Zealanders genuinely treasure, both high-brow and popular, traditional and contemporary, and while this anthology is firmly rooted in NZ, it retains a strong international flavour.
I will share one stanza from my favourite NZ Poem by James.K. Baxter:


Some few yards from the hut the standing beeches
Let fall their dead limbs,overgrown
With feathered moss and filigree of bracken.
The rotted wood splits clean and hard
Close-grained to the driven axe, with sound of water
Sibilant falling and high nested birds.

All you fathers out there have a great day.



Friday, September 5, 2008

A Trip to the Book Shop

This morning I woke up early and headed off to the bookshop. I was keen to purchase a copy of the biography of Professor J Beaglehole, the late eminent New Zealand historian, written by his son, Tim Beaglehole, another eminent historian. Luckily for me the bookshop (Wadsworths in New Plymouth - thank you Julie) had it as I was having trouble tracking it down!! And I got it $7 cheaper than it was selling for online at Fishpond. I am not meant to be visiting bookshops at the moment but I just can't help it. I have told my wife and she didn't explode at me, as happens sometimes. Happy reading one and all. DK

Adsense Works on Blogger

I was pleasantly surprised when I logged into my Adsense account that I have been making money by putting/activating Adsense on my site here. Well done Google. I'm working hard this weekend to build up my web exposure by a variety of means. I will of course still be getting in some book buying and reading!! Have a great weekend DK