Friday, 27 August 2010

Holidays and books

I'm going away on holidays this week. I'm going to a small village by the seaside, near Murcia. It's on the Spanish coast but it would be hard to tell if it wasn't for the sun. Everywhere you go you'll find English and German people acquiring a surprisingly bright colour of beetroot under the sun.

There is such a large English community in that area, that many cafés have a corner with bookshelves where you'll find a curious array of books, and all of them in English. It's basically an exchange system where you pay 2€ for the book you take home and get 1€ for the books you leave at the café. This means that the stream of books is constantly flowing.

I find this the perfect way to discover new authors. These books come from very different people so you'll find books for all tastes, and as the choice isn't as wide as in proper bookshops you'll be more likely to get a book by an author you didn't know before.

Can you believe this is the part I'm most looking forward to? I've got a pile of books I'm going to leave there in the hope that those authors will be known to new people. However, I do find it difficult to decide which books I'll part with. 

Now there's something thing we can't do with eBooks! However, my eReader is coming with me too.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Are you an eReader?

I'm delighted with my eReader. I can fit it in my bag and take it everywhere with me, and it's pink and shiny!

For some reason, I read faster on the eReader than on paper, I haven't quite worked out why. Maybe, due to my job, I've got used to reading on screen or maybe it's just that the books I read on my eReader were lighter reads.

Having an eReader means I can download books from the e-Library and I can save on postage and package expenses which get quite high when living abroad.

However, there are a few inconveniences I've found: 
  • One is when I've got to choose the next book I'm going to read and I can't remember what the books I downloaded are about. There should be a system where you can access the blurb of each book directly, or say have it after the cover page of each eBook.
  • Another is giving eBooks as a present. I tried buying a few eBooks for a friend's birthday present yesterday and I can only give them to her if her eReader is connected to my computer. Also, I can't really work out how to wrap it up.
  • And the third inconvenience I've found is getting it signed by the author!

Do you renounce eReaders or are you a technology freak like me?

Sunday, 15 August 2010

What is your comforting vice?

Hi my name is Sarah and I'm addicted to...

For a long time, television was where I found comfort and I'd watch about anything. However this comfort was usually quite short, it would only last an episode or film, so the cravings would come back every 90 minutes. 

For a time I also found cooking had a calming effect but it had a very fattening side-effect, so I had to decrease the consumption.

Now I find my soothing weakness is reading. It can also have a fattening effect as it does mean I sit around all day, but its soothing effects last longer and I can take one book after another without risks (unless I left something on the cooker and forget about it). It's also something I can smuggle around in my bag and sneak it out when I'm feeling lonely and I've gone cold turkey, without raising too many suspicions. My eReader too has proved to be very useful with this addiction as others often think I'm working.

What is your comforting vice?

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

A Spanish Summer

For me, the arrival of summer not only means a change of season, it is also a complete change of rhythm. Not only because the heat seems to dry up all my energy and I drag myself from one place to another, but because people in general are more relaxed. There are no more races to and from schools and you can take your time to get ready and for some unknown reason. Knowing you'll soon be on holidays or having just come back from them makes staying up late much easier than during the winter, and having longer days makes you want to take advantage of those extra hours of light.

Summer is also a time to meet up with your friends, and Spain is well known for its bar terraces serving ice-cold beers and tapas. Wherever you go, you'll see tables full of people eating and chatting under the sun umbrellas. In the evenings, you'll still find the tables outside full of people whichever day of the week and often until late hours in the night.

Children will also be allowed to stay up later, but this won't lower their energy levels and you can usually hear their cries and splashes from swimming pools in the vicinity or a beach nearby. Also, there is always the option of the well-known Siesta which will reboot your system ready for more socializing.

I find the bustling of bars and beaches relaxing and watching other people so happy and at ease infects me with the same feelings. You forget that this country is afflicted with the crisis and political corruption by watching people laugh and joke around the table and I'm glad people still know how to enjoy themselves and have fun even under the circumstances and pressure.

What are summers like where you live?

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Do you write with a smile?

In a way I'm lucky that all the writing I do doesn't have any deadlines. This means I can write when I feel like it and I can set my own rhythm. I do however set myself a wordcount target because I do need a bit of pushing and it forces me to get into a routine. I usually stick to my targets and make sure I write every day, otherwise I get a bit lazy.

However, as I hear authors rushing to meet their deadlines and having to write 4000 words a day to reach them, I wonder if the pressure dampens the joy of writing for them. I often find myself smiling as I write because I'm enjoying it and I have time to relish in the process knowing I don't have to finish it by a certain date and there is no axe over my head when I don't write because I want to think the scene out at a leisurely pace.

After all, not being published, has to have some benefits.

Do you need pressure to write? Do you feel happy when you write or do you see it as an obligation?

Monday, 2 August 2010

Do you like them short or long?

I know people who will only go for long books. I'm not sure if this is a way to get their money's worth or because they feel more drawn into the story if it's longer. Others like short books because they don't read much or don't have much time and the sight of a big fat brick is a bit overwhelming.

I don't have a set preference but I usually go for average sized books (about 350 pages) because I feel I can read two books in the time it would take me to read an 800 page book. But this isn't always the case, because there are books that keep you so hooked you'll finish them in no time, whereas others you'll struggle to get through it and it will take longer. Also, there is the patience factor. I'm quite impatient and I want to know the end as quickly as possible, so really long books will have me racing through the pages to get to the (hopefully) happy ending.

With blog posts I've found I leave the longer ones for later when I've got more time to read them if it's something that interests me. However I'll read a short post right there on the spot. 

What do you prefer? Do you like short or long books? Do you think about it before buying a book?

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