Have you read any digital books lately? I’ll bet you have and that is why you are reading this post. I find myself going to the local library less and less and visiting my online library more and more. All of the recently read titles that are discussed here are Kindle editions that I downloaded from the Rhode Island Public Library System. I’ll bet there is a similar program in your state too.
I get each download for a period of 3 weeks. If something I want is out I just put hold on it and as soon as it becomes available I receive notification by e-mail. Then I have several days to download it before it is passed to the next person in line. I find that this system works very well. Amazon even keeps track of all the Kindle-format books I read and retains my bookmarks and highlights. While reading on the Kindle (I have an old first release version) I will sometimes switch to the iPad and read the same book there. The sync is automatic and does not even involve visiting my main computer. So, what follows are some short reviews of what I have been reading digitally.
Hunting Badger (Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee), by Tony Hillerman (fiction)
I really like the Tony Hillerman series of mysteries that center on the Navajo Tribal Police. Hillerman went to school with Navajo Indians and the knowledge he gained from his classmates helped him write novels that are rich in Indian tradition. These novels (it is a whole series) are rich in a unique Western flavor that few other writers have been able to capture. Hunting Badger and all the other Navajo mysteries have all the ingredients of a traditional mystery in a native American setting. Time period: 1970’s to 2006.
How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming, by Mike Brown (non-fiction)
“My very excellent mother just served us nine pizzas” translates into “Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto”. That’s how most people have learned the order of the plants in the solar system. All that has changed now. Along came Mike Brown who created a controversy that he did his best to avoid, but could not. He discovered several other ‘planets’. Some bigger than Pluto and some smaller, but all having credentials just as valid as those of Pluto. This fascinating story tells how the discoveries were made and why they provided just a bit too much information. Too much? Right, they convinced an international astronomical association that Pluto had to go. Brown tells a riveting story that deals with hard science, family life, and politics. This is a book for scientists and non-scientists alike. Learn and be entertained at the same time!
The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn, by Nathaniel Philbrick (non-fiction)
Everybody has heard the story of Custer and the Seventh Cavalry and how they went down to defeat at the hands of Sitting Bull and a rare confederation of numerous tribes. Very few people have heard the full story. Philbrick’s exhaustive research left no stone unturned. It is all here. Nearly a third of the book is just the listing of the sources used (including numerous first person interviews that were recorded many years ago). The detailed interpersonal relationships and highly descriptive narratives make you feel like you are experiencing the events, not merely looking back at them. Philbrick has a writing style that allows you to steam right along without pause. This is not a dry record; it is a living and vibrant record told in the voice of a great storyteller. This one will answer some questions and fulfill your need for history that engages. Put it on your short list.
212: A Novel (Ellie Hatcher), by Alafair Burke (fiction)
As you can easily see, I readily jump from fiction to non-fiction. I enjoy both. You may not have heard of Alafair Burke but you may have already encountered her famous father, James Lee Burke. James Lee Burke has authored numerous gritty detective mysteries that have Louisanna as their backdrop. His daughter Alafair has a different style than her dad but her work is especially well done. She learned well. This modern murder mystery will grab you right from the beginning and keep you guessing almost all the way to the end. The technology depicted in this one is right up to date. The art and craft of all traditional mysteries is also here.
Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear (science fiction)
It is a mystery. It is the very latest in virology. You will find yourself resorting to Wikipedia often while reading this book. That way you will be able to better understand the hard science that it is based upon. The premise here is that certain strains of viruses that have inoculated themselves into the human genome may be responsible for numerous intense and sudden changes in the evolution of our race. Read, learn, and be entertained all at the same time. What more could you ask for?
Dumb Witness: Hercule Poirot Investigates, by Agatha Christie
Christie is one of my favorite mystery writers. All of her collection is available at online libraries and each year more of it is released to the public domain. Start reading her now and you will open your imagination to a wonderful series of mysteries by the master. This particular one is delightful (as they all are).
One of the neat things about the Kindle is that at any time while you are reading a book you can quickly jump to the Wikipedia page for something you read or to learn more about the author. Kindle owner or not, most of us have access to Wikipedia and it is a terrific resource for accessing a list of all the works by your favorite authors. I sometimes print the lists out just so I can avoid reading the same book twice. The web also has interviews with many authors and these can often be very interesting. So, I have provided you with a few links below to get started on your search for the next book you read. I only linked to one interview or relevant video each. Search You Tube and you will find many more. This is a short list … so many authors, so little time to read all their books!
Video or Web Site
|Bear, Greg||Science Fiction||You Tube Interview|
|Burke, Alafair||Crime Mystery||You Tube Interview|
|Carter, Stephen||Mystery & Politics||Official Web Page|
|Chesterton, Gilbert Keith||Philosophy, Fiction||American Chesterton Society|
|Christie, Agatha||Crime Mystery||Festival on Eng. Riviera|
|Official Web Site|
|Greenlaw, Linda||Nautical Fiction & Nonfic.||You Tube Video|
|Larson, Erik||History||You Tube Interview|
|Laskin, David||History / Weather||TVW Interview|
|McWhorter, John||Politics / Linguistics||C-SPAN Interview|
|Melville, Herman||Classic Nautical Fiction||Why Read Moby Dick by Philbrick|
|Philbrick, Nathaniel||Maritime History||Book TV Speech|
|Smith, Martin Cruz||Fiction: Russian, Period||You Tube Interview|
|Stout, Rex||Crime Mystery||TV Series Music Video|
|Thoreau, Henry David||Nature & Philosophy||C-SPAN Introduction|
|James Lee Burke||Crime Mystery||You Tube Interview|
|Stephen King||Horror||“60 Minutes” Interview|
Presently (7/4/12) Reading: Heartwood (Billy Bob Howdy) by James Lee Burke and Powers That Be
(Petaybee Trilogy) by Anne Mccaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough.}