e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Archive for the tag “30 DBC”

30 Day Book Challenge – day 20: A Book I’d Recommend To An Ignorant/Racist/Closed-Minded Individual

I doubt if anyone’s mind is completely closed. Perhaps in the final stages of dementia the door will be shut or seem so, but even there something is going on inside, it’s just impossible to follow for those outside.

But there are people who like to hunker down in the opinions they’ve held since school and pretend that they don’t need reappraising. To well of lost plotsthose people I’d recommend the books of Jasper Fforde.

They are extremely odd books, set in a world that’s a sort of spin-off of ours but not quite. They aren’t for the ignorant – they assume some knowledge of literature; they aren’t for the sexist or racist – they show individuals being effective, useless, opinionated and weird, but all the time as individuals not stereotypes; they aren’t for the closed minded – they open up the possibility of radically different interpretations of the world to the ones we know.

So to anyone whose cherished opinions are beginning to crumble and who’s fighting to shore them up, I’d suggest, ‘Give up for a bit, get down to your local library, borrow one of Mr Fforde’s books and enjoy some way-out thinking’.

Cover art from Jasper Fforde’s site, Thursday Next series.

30 Day Book Challenge – day 18: A book I love I can’t find on the shelves any more

This is an interesting challenge but one I can’t really deal with. I’ve no doubt that there are many books I’ve read that are no longer available, but I can’t think of any.

Also do books really disappear? Many bookshops used to run a search service where, for a price, they’d try and find Cato St cover artout of print books. I’ve used such a service a couple of times with success; the most recent was to find a copy of The Cato Street Conspiracy by John Stanhope – a book I found really interested and wanted to reread. By the time it was tracked down I’d almost forgotten I’d asked for it – but there is was, in good nick, even with its dust jacket.

Now I suspect that all this is done over the web. Also a lot of books, including Cato Street are available online – I’ve found it at Questia.

So what is a ‘shelf’? These days it’s as likely to be a collection of impulses on a disk as a plank of wood in a bookshop or library. And ‘can’t find’ may rarely be true – anyone can search the world for their loved book.

All this refers to real books, but what about ebooks? Will they eventually disappear from their electronic shelves? Will they vanish into the graveyard of out of date readers and computers no longer able to access them? What will be the fate of the millions of ebooks in Amazon’s catalogue? Is it even possible to keep them findable for the next ten years let alone for the decades we expect real books to keep for.

Does anyone know the answer to these questions?

Cover art from Abe Books.

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