From Hellraisers To the WEIRDest People in the World

I’ve been discovering new variations for my electronic reading in the last few months and perhaps it’s time to share again.

First, I have almost completely eliminated reading real, ink and paper books. Even the very expensive ones that I traditionally avoid repurchasing in digital form are now being donated to the local public library and being replaced by a new entry on my iPad. It’s like this: If I stick with the book, it will never get read, so the alternative .. after all, it’s only money.

One problem I often run into is availability of a text in digital form. This is becoming less of a problem for contemporary and well-known classical titles but some of the obscure stuff I want to read is probably too specialized to merit the extra expense of digitization. However, in this new electronic world, digitization is often required even before a book is publish, so going the extra step to provide computer ready editions is probably a smart move.

Another problem I have had relative to availability is format and vendor exclusivity. I solved the problem of format by feeding all of my digital books into Calibre which converts the texts to my preferred format and also acts as a depository for all of my electronic reading material. Calibre links up to my preferred digital reader, Marvin 3, with no problem. Then Marvin allows my various devices (iPad and iPhone) to synchronize a text so I can read on my iPad at my desk and then take it to bed with me on my iPhone.

Calibre can translate vendor specific files (from Apple, Kobo, Amazon, etc.), but it does not overcome the restrictions vendors place on their wares. Therefore, I have the Kindle app on all my devices as well as Apple Books. Then, when I am looking for a new title, I can grab it from a public source or from a proprietary source and know I have an application capable of reading it.

Note that all my digital readers also allow for the text to be read aloud. Apple has provided this voice feature in its Accessability kit for many years and even Amazon appears to have gotten the message and lets Apple do it on their Kindle app.

So each month I will read most of the selected titles in Marvin but a few will only be available from Apple Books or from Amazon Kindle. I have even started reading some of the more obscure classical books downloaded from Project Gutenberg using Calibre’s own e-Book Reader (with spoken voice provided by Apple). Note that I don’t necessarily prefer digital books (they did take some time to get used to) but rather that old age and failing eyesight make them welcome extenders of my reading life.

In case you missed it, here are the suggested titles that piqued my interest last month:

06-01-21 – Hellraisers: The Life and Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole, and Oliver Reed — Robert Sellers
06-02-21 – Sweet Bean Paste — Durian Sukegawa
06-03-21 – A Burning — Meghanns Majumdar
06-04-21 – The Village of Stepanchikovo — Fyodor Dostoyevsky
06-05-21 – Utopia Avenue — David Mitchell
06-06-21 – The Complete Old English Poems — Craig Williamson
06-07-21 – Venus Drive — Sam Lipsyte
06-08-21 – Cardiff By the Sea: Four Novellas of Suspense — Joyce Carol Oates
06-09-21 – Cult of Glory — Doug J. Swanson
06-10-21 – A Bookshop In Berlin — Françoise Frenkel
06-11-21 – The Evening and the Morning — Ken Follett
06-12-21 – Missionaries — Phil Klay
06-13-21 – The Invention of Sound — Chuck Palahniuk
06-14-21 – Lila — Marilynne Robinson
06-15-21 – Boyhood Island: My Struggle Book 3— Karl Ove Knausgârd
06-16-21 – Snow — John Banville
06-17-21 – A Little History of Poetry — John Carey
06-18-21 – Exhalation — Ted Chiang
06-19-21 – The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense — Gad Saad
06-20-21 – Magdalena — Wade Davis
06-21-21 – Solar — Ian McEwan
06-22-21 – And Now She’s Gone — Rachel Howzell Hall
06-23-21 – Magic Lessons — Alice Hoffman
06-24-21 – The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism — Katherine Stewart
06-25-21 – The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil War — Michael Gorra
06-26-21 – Mona — Pola Oloixarac
06-27-21 – Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win — Jocko Willink
06-28-21 – The Hole — Hiroko Oyamada
06-29-21 – Shelter In Place — David Leavitt
06-30-21 – The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous — Joseph Henrich

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