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January 17, 2021

Sunday Morning Book Thread 01-17-2021

Till's Bookshop Edinburgh Scotland 01.jpg
Till's Bookshop, Edinburgh, Scotland

Good morning to all you 'rons, 'ettes, lurkers, and lurkettes, wine moms, frat bros, crétins sans pantalon (who are technically breaking the rules). Welcome once again to the stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread, a weekly compendium of reviews, observations, snark, witty repartee, hilarious bon mots, and a continuing conversation on books, reading, spending way too much money on books, writing books, and publishing books by escaped oafs and oafettes who follow words with their fingers and whose lips move as they read. Unlike other AoSHQ comment threads, the Sunday Morning Book Thread is so hoity-toity, pants are required. Even if it's these "pants", which are suitable only if you've been invited to Anderson Cooper's barbecue.

Pic Note:


Established in 1985, Tills is one of Edinburgh's oldest second-hand bookshops. It sits overlooking the Meadows, and has carved out a small literary corner in Edinburgh's South Side. First opened by Rick and Ann Till, the shop was taken over in 2019 by Kate and Joshua McNamara.

Open seven days a week, with a big selection of literary fiction both contemporary and classic, quirky sci fi, history and biography, philosophy and sociology, and the odd antiquarian gem. There are a few seats, a cosy fire, and staff ready for all manner of bookish discussions.

It Pays To Increase Your Word Power®

Here's something else we're going to be seeing a lot more of in the months ahead:

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Books in the New America

26 Probably the book that matters right now is Fahrenheit 451.

Posted by: blaster at January 10, 2021 09:12 AM (ZfRYq)

(This is a revision of a piece I wrote in June. h/t 'ette author Gunnar Grey for her contribution)

With the Democrats' successful theft of the 2020 election, our cultural life will shortly be entering a new phase as the 'woke' crybully mobs are now emboldened to come after us and our books. Because they only want you reading the correct books, the books they approve of, and all others will be banished, and all unapproved authors cancelled. Now, personally, I don't think they're going to succeed in this endeavor. I think 'wokeism' will eventually collapse. But the key word here is 'eventually'. It probably won't happen quickly. It's likely going to take quite a while. I will be 65 years old this year and I may not live long enough to see wokeism's defeat. It may be very rough going for us for a number of years.

So how do we go about preserving the books we have?

Obviously, the first choice is dead-tree editions, preferably well-bound hardback copies. But there are downsides: they're susceptible to damage from fire, water, pests, and age-related deterioration. Nothing lasts forever.

Also, they're bulky, take up a lot of space and so are easier for the woke mobs to confiscate or burn.

E-books solve many of these problems, but present difficulties for their own. Most of these drawbacks aren't intrinsic to e-books themselves, but just how most of them are purchased: from a single source (Amazon), each e-book wrapped in a layer of encryption (called DRM for 'digital rights management') installed by the vendor as an anti-piracy measure, and e-books are stored, ultimately, on their servers, not yours. Yes, they're actually on your device, but at any random time, it may ask to connect to Amazon to reconfirm the download, especially if you haven't connected for awhile.

So can we get around these limitations, and if so, how?

First, I've never liked "the cloud". It has always seemed to me to be so antithetical to the whole PC revolution. Because, in case we've forgotten, PC stands for "personal computer" with emphasis on the personal: It is my computer, my applications, my data. Back in the early days, due to technological limitations, computing was a bunch of dumb terminals wired to a giant central mainframe kept locked away in an air-conditioned room. All of your work, all of your data, was ultimately controlled by someone else, not you.

And that's why the PC revolution was so, well, revolutionary. It decentralized and redistributed computing power and resources downward to greater numbers of users.

So, in my view, "cloud computing" is a giant step backwards.

I was rudely awakened two three years ago when I picked up my device and it informed me that Amazon had pushed out "an important update" to one of my Kindle books. I guess it was some the minor edits in the text, but I also noticed that a free chapter of a subsequent book that I had been meaning to read was now gone.

I thought, hmmmm, if they can do that, they can make any changes they want, whenever they want, and I can do nothing about it. Because that's probably written to the terms of the agreement for using their platform and buying stuff from them.

You'll need to make or acquire backup copies of your purchased books to store in a safe place, preferably offline.

Whatever device you own, you're going to have to learn to "side-load" it. Meaning, transfer ebook files to it (usually via a USB cable) without going through Amazon or B&N. In order to do that, you need to find out where exactly ebooks are stored on your device. You'll have to familiarize yourself with its folder structure so you know where to look. A bit of sleuthing around using Bing or Google should be helpful. Then you can plug your device into your laptop or desktop PC and I don't know how it works in the Mac world, but in Windows 10, you'll be able to open the device in Explorer and navigate to where the ebook files are stored.

Anything you purchase from Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook) or Google (Google Play) you need to consider a loss. At any time, whatever purchase you've made can be modified or deleted by the vendor, and there's not much you can do about it, because they're a lot larger and a lot more powerful than you. So do not think that whatever books you buy from those vendors will always be available to you.

Another example: a couple of years ago, I changed the credit card I was using for Amazon purchases and suddenly I had to re-download the Kindle book I was reading. This suggests that your credit card info gets encrypted into the DRM layer of the ebooks you buy. They didn't change the content, but this incident reminded me that your device is expected to maintain minimal contact with the Amazon servers in order to be functional.

There are a couple of things you can do about this.

You can look for books without DRM. Baen's books are DRM-free as are some small percentage of Kindle books. Smashwords also sells DRM-free books. And check Gutenberg.org and archive.org if it's an older book.

There's also Calibre. It's not a book-seller, it's an application to manage your e-books. There are versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux. You can do all sorts of organizing and editing of your ebooks with this application, and, in particular, you can install plug-ins to remove the DRM layer from your ebook. If you just search for "Calibre DRM removal", you will find all sorts of information on what to do.

So, once you've done all of this and are now in possession of a library of DRM-free ebooks, what do you do with them?

Here is what I do: I have a Samsung Android tablet I do all of my reading on, and if I want to read one of my ebooks, my favorite e-reader app is Google Play. It can handle pdf and ePub files, and I just sign in to https://play.google.com/books/ebooks and it's very easy to upload books. Since I didn't purchase the book from Google, it technically doesn't know I own it, although I suppose it can see it if some Google tech does some snooping. So I upload the ebook using my desktop and eventually, the Google Play app on my device will see the new book and automatically download it for reading. When I've finished the book, I delete it. And my archival copy is not involved at all.

If you don't want to use the Google Play reader, there are a number of other e-reader apps you can download (or side-load) that allow you to read e-books of a variety of formats, epub, mobi, pdf, azw, doc, txt, etc.

Obviously, I store nothing permanently on "the cloud". All of my archival copies are stored on a 6TB drive in a non-standard folder. That is, the folder is not named "Documents" or "My Documents" or "My Books", which are Microsoft's standard names for data folders. I thought it would be best if I used other names in another location. My folder structure is I:\archives\ebooks\author\title or something similar. If I really wanted to be safe, I'd unplug the drive when I wasn't using it, but I'm not that vigilant.

So that's my "system", and it works pretty well for me. Oh, and no 'Alexa' or 'Siri' devices for me, thanks. A lot of my friends think they're great, but they give me the creeps.

Who Dis:

who dis 20210117.jpg

(Last week's 'who dis' was actor, conservative, and all-around great American Gary Sinise.

Books By Morons

'Ette author Sabrina Chase wants you to know she has promotions going on for some of her books, including a free one! She thinks many Morons could use some discount escapism these days. The sale runs from January 13-22.

The Last Mage Guardian (was 3.99, now 1.99) Steampunk fantasy with magic, book 1 in the series.

Her great-uncle, the mage Oron, bequeathed to her his oak-shaded chateau and a debt of magical honor. But in a world where women do not do magic, Miss Ardhuin Andrews must hide her magical talents. How can she repay the debt? When Oron's enemies attack, how can she survive? Political intrigue, duty, and echoes of an old war not truly ended combine to create a smoldering crisis in a world where magic and science coexist.

The Scent of Metal (was 3.99, now 1.99) Space opera SF, book 1 in the series.

The expedition ship Kepler races to Pluto, intent on uncovering the secrets of the alien structure recently discovered under the ice. Computer scientist Lea Santorin can’t wait to figure out the alien technology. Instead, she wakes it up … and it continues its long-interrupted journey across the galaxy, taking Lea and Kepler with it.

Rogues and Heroes(FREE!) January 16-18 only, though. Collected short stories of all genres, including ghost Western :-)

...with a young woman desperate to leave her dusty planet for space ... a British boy determined to end WWII all by himself ... a cop in a dark world willing to do anything for a good read... an old cowboy with a final, heavy burden...and more, in this collection of short stories.


Claudine Wolk has been a lurkette author for many years and now wants to share her book, It Gets Easier! . . . And Other Lies We Tell New Mothers: A Fun, Practical Guide to Becoming a Mom, which she describes as "a humorous but honest guide for new moms" that

...Featur[es] interviews with hundreds of moms and candid stories from author Claudine Wolk’s own experiences as a mother, It Gets Easier! . . . and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers employs a healthy mix of humor, honesty, and insider strategies to give new and expecting moms a “leg up” on the challenging task of first-time motherhood...by addressing issues such as: “The Talk” you need to have with your husband before you give birth; what you really need to know about labor and delivery; the importance of a baby schedule (no matter what anyone else says); the 6 Baby Commandments that can foster good eating and sleeping habits; 5 new mom mantras that will help keep you sane; body image after giving birth; and how to keep housework to a minimum.

The Kindle edition is $7.99.


They Don't Publish Books Like This Any More:

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Actually, they do, I'm sorry to say. This is a real book. No, I'm not kidding. For those of you who aren't aware of the context: the 'woke' industrial complex has taken over huge chunks of the 'superhero' comic/graphic novel publishing business and this is the kind of crap that's now being cranked out. And they fully expect it to sell. When it doesn't, they'll blame it on "toxic fandom" or "white supremacy" or some such. Personally, I've always thought "we hate you, now give us your money" is not a good business plan, but maybe they're just being ironic.

Moron Recommendations

68 So a couple of weeks ago I re-read Killoyle: An Irish Farce by Roger Boylan. It's set in the fictional Irish town of Killoyle and is ostensibly about Milo Rogers, a headwaiter at Spudorgan Hall, the town's big hotel, but also dives into the lives, loves and drunken escapades of various other town characters.

What makes the book unique, though, is that each page has footnotes. Not, mind you, footnotes explaining things, but footnotes in the voice of an unseen narrator who, in the book's conceit, is reading over your shoulder and jostling you at various points to make an observation or tell a joke.

This is the sort of thing you like or hate, so take a look at the preview before you decide whether or not to buy. I happen to like it, a lot.

Posted by: Mary Poppins' Practically Perfect Piercing at January 03, 2021 09:32 AM (2JVJo)

Terry Pratchett also does the "humorous footnote" thing and I think it's a great gag if used sparingly -- which the footnotes in Killoyle definitely aren't. Any page in Killoye can have a footnote that takes up half of it. Fortunately, from what I can tell in from the preview, all of the footnotes end at the bottom of the page and don't continue on into the next, as some do in other books, which I find quite irritating.

A few years ago, my kids used to watch a TV series, I think it was Arrested Development that used this device -- an "omniscient" narrator commenting on the actor and it just drove me nuts, because (a) I wasn't interested in the show, (b) the TV was in another room so I couldn't really hear what was going on but (c) the actor who was doing the narration had a voice that carried, so I could hear him just fine. Only he just wouldn't shut up and it was like this constant irritating noise like a dripping faucet or squeaky wheel and I thought, why did they need a guy to tell you what you just saw and what should you think about it? That should be part of the story itself. It struck me as crappy storytelling.

Anyway, Killoyle: An Irish Farce is only available in paperback. It does have a sequel, The Great Pint-Pulling Olympiad: A Mostly Irish Farce, published in 2003, which is available as a Kindle edition. Same [delightfully silly | insufferably irritating] footnotes.


Lurkette Claudine e-mails:

I ripped through a book this week - Verity by Colleen Hoover, who apparently is a prolific, successful romance writer but dipped a toe into suspense with an Indy publisher with great success. Couldn't put it down. A great escape book and, whoa boy, do we need escape?

According to comments made by 'ette author artemis in this forum a couple of weeks ago, as popular as the romance genre is with women, the suspense+romance subgenre is like crack cocaine. Yes, yes, women readers are saying, I want you to shoot that stuff directly into my vein. Well, that's not *exactly* what artemis said, but I think it's probably close enough. :grin:

Here is the Amazon blurb:

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity's notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn't expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity's recollection of the night their family was forever altered.

Comes with this warning:

Due to graphic scenes and mature content, this book is recommended for readers 18+.

The Kindle edition of Verity is $4.99.


So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, insults, threats, ugly pants pics and moron library submissions may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.

What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as you all know, life is too short to be reading lousy books.

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posted by OregonMuse at 09:00 AM

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