Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Author, author - what's your perspective?

There is no luck in literary reputation. They who make up the final verdict upon every book are not the partial and noisy readers of the hour when it appears; but a court as of angels, a public not to be bribed, not to be entreated, and not to be overawed, decides upon every man's title to fame.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
(American essayist and poet, 1803-1882)

We each put our own interpretations on what we read, so to hear from the authors themselves can sometimes be an enlightening experience, depending on whether or not your "translation" followed the authors' intent. You might read a book before you've seen or heard anything of the author, yet get a whole new perspective when you hear the author talk about the work. That is one of the joys of reading and writing, though - there is generally no right or wrong!

I had no joy finding any of my preferred authors on the several sites I tried (I'm not sure what that says about my reading habits?) so I browsed and chose some I was familiar with. Most are on my "to read" list at this point, so it was good to hear the authors talk and know that yes, I really do want to catch up with their writing. It does seem easier to find talks or interviews with fiction writers, but there were 2 sites that I was drawn to more than others. Both had nice layouts, the information was easy to follow, and having the authors listed down the left hand side of Powell's Books made browsing much easier than many others. The podcasts from the Free Library of Philadelphia were easy to access and I may even download some to my MP3 player and listen to them at my leisure. There are several here from authors I have been intending to read, so this will keep them on my radar! I will check back with Authors on tour live in a couple of months to see if Jon Katz, who has a new book of fiction coming out, after some years of writing non-fiction, and who will be touring to promote it, features at all. Through following his blog, and reading his numerous books, I'm now very interested in hearing him speak. I'm sure our patrons too would be interested in knowing about some of these sites, so any opportunity we have to inform them of such things can surely only add to their enjoyment and enrichment, too.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Readers and booklovers - always hunting for the next one

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down and commence living on its hint... What I began by reading I must finish by acting.
Henry David Thoreau

As librarians, at the core of our work day are Books! We buy them, we read them, we promote them - and we just never run out of a "to read" list! I already find it a challenge to get through my 'borrowings' and my basket of future reads is added to every day, so I fear becoming a regular browser/user of these online book groups - I may never surface if I get too immersed in them. The one factor that will make it easier for me to turn away from these dens of pleasure is that many tend more to discussions on fiction, which I don't dip into much. And as this programme has already impacted on the time I spend sitting at the computer, when I would usually more than likely be reading a book - well, that would be craziness indeed to spend time looking for yet more treasures to fill my mind (and notebook) with. I looked at several sites, but didn't really have any great joy with the titles I went hunting for, although I did discover a favourite author is soon to publish another book, which is a sort of follow-on to his previous book which I count amongst my all-time treasures. That was a very happy find!

We are constantly hearing about the many new devices appearing, giving people more options as to how - and where - they do their reading, but one thing is obvious from the abundance of these online groups - the written word will never die. I also don't believe the physical book will disappear anytime soon - if anything, our online world seems to have given a fresh "push" to the publishing world. It seems easier for people to get published today, with no apparent negative impact on the 'best seller' market - and of course people are so eager to join in discussions, be it online, in book groups (organised or informal), one-on-one or with their neighbour or friendly librarian! We can rest assured there is no shortage whatsoever of places to go a-hunting for the next recommended read!

Clever Google docs and File converters

I'll be happy to make these unnecessary changes to this irrelevant document.


(cartoon created by Scott Adams, American cartoonist, b.1957)

What a nice surprise Google docs is. We're often apprehensive over the plaintive cry for help when documents at the Internet stations can't be opened, so this little gem could be the answer when the usual "tricks" fail. While the image from our "test" document got lost somewhere along the transfer trail, and some of the fonts and formatting changed, it wasn't too dramatic a change, and didn't affect the information itself. We are pretty used to having to relearn formulas and formats when new versions of Word, Excel, etc appear, so this isn't too different. I tried another quite large document, with lots of columns, and was quite satisfied with how it came through. There wasn't a lot of change apparent, other than the loss of some 'bullets' - and its' quite straightforward to delete documents, with a nice "safety" option in case you decided you didn't really want to delete! All in all, this is a very nice tool, quite straightforward to use, and one I will endeavour to put to work. I haven't yet looked at any of the other file converters, nor revisited Zoho, but just knowing these tools are out there is enough for me at this point. I fear I'm approaching my information overload point, and need to stop, take a breath, and digest the bounty. Google continues it's march to conquer us all - but at least we can play and learn, and have some fun along the way - or if it really gets too much, you could try this!