don’t purchase illegally downloaded books

If you see someone selling ebooks on Shopee, especially if they’re popular titles by relatively large publishers and not something self-published, those are likely pirated copies. Ok, not just ‘likely’, they’re almost definitely pirated. Publishers tend to sell on their own platforms, or on Amazon or Google Play or Kobo and the like.

Books are expensive, I get that. But if you’re buying those pirated books, you’re not only funding someone who had nothing at all to do with getting those books out (except possibly crack the DRM so the books could be distributed illegally), you’re also not paying the people who actually did work on the book. You think, eh, it’s a big publisher, it can take a hit. But it’s not just the publisher. Publishers engage writers, editors, proofreaders, illustrators, designers, typesetters, printers, the people who do sales and marketing, system administrators, accountants, analysts, receptionists, security guards … you get the picture.

You want free ebooks? Try the library. Try Project Gutenberg for older works that are no longer under copyright. Follow Twitter accounts of authors or publishers—sometimes they announce free or highly discounted ebooks. There are options out there.

December reading wrap-up

Happy new year. Here’s to this year being better than the last.

If you’re curious about what I’d read in 2020, Goodreads compiles the data in its Year in Books page. Nothing terribly impressive there; I’m not a very fast reader. Some of them are audiobooks, which totally count, and there’s only one comic. Strange. I kept thinking I should check out more of those from the library and never got to it.

My favourite book of the year is A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine. (I’m excluding the Dorothy Dunnett rereads.) Space opera with a political bent as well as a smattering of alien literature—what’s not to love?

Books finished in December:

  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  • Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
  • Abaddon’s Gate by James SA Corey
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my love affair with the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett

So. My favourite book series is the Lymond Chronicles, written by the incomparable Dorothy Dunnett. You’ve probably never heard of it. It’s historical fiction, following the life of one fictional Scottish nobleman named Francis Crawford of Lymond (Lymond to you and me, Mr Crawford to irritated young girls trying to save him from himself, Francis to his very few friends) over the span of a decade or so. Here’s the thing: historical fiction is a genre I tend to avoid, but Dorothy Dunnett is just that good.   

My love for the series started quite accidentally. I was browsing in an old bookshop sometime in 2008 when I found myself eyeing a copy of The Game of Kings, the first book in the series, thinking that the title sounded familiar. Upon reading the blurb I realised it wasn’t what I expected at all—it was about a minor nobleman turned outlaw in 1547 Edinburgh who was trying to trace three men. I considered it for a while. On the one hand, if the title stuck to mind it probably was because someone had recommended it. On the other hand, I didn’t even read much historical fiction (my primary genre of choice had always been science fiction and fantasy), and knew nothing at all about sixteenth-century Scotland.

It was on sale. The cover had a castle and horses. Maybe it’ll have interesting sword fights, I thought, so I picked up the book, paid for it, and took it home with me.

Thus began my love affair with the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett.

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November reading wrap-up

Four books finished in November:

  • Caliban’s War by James S A Corey
  • The Next Together by Lauren James
  • The Masnavi, Book One by Rumi (translated by Jawid Mojaddedi)
  • The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Caliban’s War by James S A Corey

The second book in The Expanse series. I enjoyed this very much, but it won’t make much sense if you haven’t read the first book, Leviathan Wakes. Basically: humanity has colonised the solar system, and tensions between Earth, Mars and the outer planets are high. A lot of things are going on! The technology is believable, the cultural and physical shifts that happened as humans spread out into space are intriguing, and the characters are mostly likeable. And that’s just the first book.

I like the new characters that were introduced here (Avasarala! Bobbie! Prax! Okay, so I like all the POV characters) and the story is still fast-paced and exciting, building on what happened in Leviathan Wakes

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Dune, and books on loan

I don’t mind lending books to friends, really. Mostly because we have lots of books. Also, while some of the books end up being reread, a lot of them don’t, so it’s not like they’re terribly missed while they’re out on loan.

Sometimes, though, I scan through the bookshelves and notice a book is missing. Usually that’s because it’s part of a series, or by the same author. I was just poking through the shelves today because I was feeling restless and couldn’t find anything I wanted to read (crazy, really—I have way too many unread books but this happens every time I finish a book), and noticed that the first Dune book was missing. I think we had a copy. If it’s with you, that’s fine, just keep it until you’ve finished reading it.

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2020 reading challenge

I’ve been on Goodreads for a very long time. Since June 2007, says my profile. I’ve always been meticulous about tracking my books using the site, and it’s been very helpful when I’m at a book sale and just couldn’t remember whether or not I already own a copy of a book.

I’m pretty sure I always mark a book as read when I finish it and usually I remember to put down the date I finished it as well. Data from the last few years should be very accurate. It’s both a puzzle and a mild source of embarrassment when the statistics show that I sometimes read fewer than twenty books a year in the last five years or so.

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currently reading: The Masnavi

Tidying up the bedside table on a rainy afternoon, I realised that this book, The Masnavi, by Rumi (translated by Jawid Mojaddedi), has been sitting there since the end of last year. Oh, I pick it up every now and then, read a few pages, then put it back down. I think it’s the rhyming couplets that’s giving me a headache—sometimes it takes some effort to parse what’s being said.

I appreciate the attempt at authenticity—I picked up this version of the translation because I thought if I were to read The Masnavi, I might as well go for the real thing and not the watered down version some white dude ‘translated’ into love poems. So here we are, three-quarters of the year in, and I’m still trying to understand what a Persian mystic is attempting to teach us.

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