It’s been a long time since I nearly missed my bus stop because of a book! But it happened today with I Am Pilgrim. And yesterday, on the way home, I got off a stop later because I had to know the outcome. It was very exciting.
I read on the bus, with my head down and being partially sighted I need to pay attention to what I’m reading. You would think that this causes me to nearly miss my stop a lot. However, I have learnt that I have a subconscious awareness of where I am on the journey. I expect I am monitoring the turns subconscously and, when I look up I know where we are before I’ve seen. It works very well. Except on a few notable occassions where I have been so engrossed in my book that only a fortuitous glance, moments before the stop, has prevented me from missing it entirely. I think if I did I’d just carry on reading and have a day out!
But this morning was one of those mornings. This is a special book indeed. It is very well paced, with the author dropping breadcrumbs, leaving you to gather them up at a satisfying pace. None of your Agatha Christie “I want everyone in the library where I shall reveal the murderer” here, where all the breadcrumbs are gathered in an overwhelming handful. If I had any criticism, and I think this is an anti-criticism (like “My only fault is I’m too hard working”) it would be that everything, although chaotic, is a bit too perfect. Our hero’s hunches pay off. But perhaps I’m being a bit harsh and just caught up in the story and not noticing the blind alleys he runs up.
The other great thing about this great book is that it’s long and well paced. So you can keep reading in great swathes without worrying about running out of story. Like your favourite biscuits coming in a big enough packet that you can’t eat them in one sitting.
So read it!
My wife came across this in the The Times (Oct 19, 2013) under the headline Beowuluf? It’s not as epic as Google’s rules.
Apparently researchers at the University of Nottingham have incorporated a standard literacy level test used by teachers (using only word and sentence length) into a browser plug in called Literatin and compare internet texts to established literary works.
Then using this tool to look at terms and conditions of various websites they found…
Google’s are more complex than Beowulf!
Facebook’s are worse and similar in complexity to The Prince by Machiavelli!
No wonder we just whizz through them and click accept.
It amazes me that we tolerate this given that so much of the development effort put into these web services and sites is around usability and the user experience, Google is popular because it’s got one box and knows what you are thinking, and yet they can’t put their terms and conditions into plain English. I’m not a conspiracy theorist but I think I know why.
Update: I wonder if their new customer pages have the same readability as 50 Shades of Grey?
- Beowulf? It’s not as epic as Google’s rules (thetimes.co.uk)
- Google’s terms more complex than Beowulf (bcslaw.wordpress.com)
“This is an excellent book” – I couldn’t stop myself saying it out loud. You have to read it, it’s great as just a book or a Blissfully Ignorant Book (BIB). It has the feeling of being extremely well constructed and worked on, so either Terry Hayes is a genius or is a very good editor of his own work. Just read it. I am Pilgrim
I greatly enjoy the contextual life blog. I like the weekly roundup of links, which are serious, interesting, quirky, grammatical and topical.
In this weeks there was a link to the BookSmash Challenge. This is
Use imagination and technology to build software that goes beyond the traditional ways we read and discover books
Interesting stuff there, it’s really worth looking at the entries and voting. This is just the kind of thing we, as readers, need to be thinking about.
It struck a chord with me and the ethos of this blog. It did get me really thinking about How do I not pick a book?, I wondered if that would make a good idea for a book browsers (or not). “Book Look” has some features that are similar to my ethos, but doesn’t quite go far enough.
Perhaps a Blissfully Ignorant applicatioin could choose you random books against a profile (you’d need to be careful there) but I was thinking things like very broad categories in fiction, e.g. child/adult, new/old and possibly some more specific “absolutely nots” e.g. sci-fi, romance, historical fiction, violence (I quite like all of those btw). Probably the most important part would be the aspect that would cover “recommendations”, as I feel this is the key to success with this technique of Blissfully Ignorant reading (so you’d use some algorithm on ratings/number of ratings. For example, my new BIB has 4 1/2 stars from 211 reviews so that’s pretty convincingly good.
So a randomly selected good book would be chosen for you.
I should have entered!
So what do you think? It’d make a great mobile app too.
By the way, I’ve cracked! I’m still reading my non fiction book on body language but I had to get my fix of fiction. I just don’t seem to be able sustain my interest in non-fiction. I am interested but there’s always a bit that I want to skip and that make me feel uncomfortable. I will finish the body language book.
I’ve started reading I Am Pilgrim – Terry Hayes, this was a recommendation from a friend.
I haven’t read much, but it dives straight in. I’m pretty sure of the genre. There’s some unusual quirks to it. So it’s making a great first impression.