Not Just Another Grouchy Grammarian

Musings about language, books, grammar, and writing in general

Archive for the category “Uncategorized”

Kindles and Tablets and Phones, Oh My!

As most of you know, I am a pretty deep and wide reader. I will read anything that doesn’t run away fast enough. My apartment has more books than bookshelves, even with the four additional bookshelves I inherited when one of my oldest friends moved. Further, my roommate is a retired librarian. If there is a flat surface in our house other than the kitchen counter and table that is not covered with books, you can be sure it soon will be. I love to crack open a good book, and I always will.

That said, I am a great fan of e-books and e-readers. I wasn’t always, I admit, but I have come around. E-readers and e-reading apps make life easy. My Kindle has, as of this morning, 3,098 e-books on it. Imagine the delight of carrying that much reading material with me, especially since having several major surgeries, both of which have required me to drastically cut down the amount of stuff I can lug around on any given day. Further, so long as I remember to bring a charging cable with me, the devices can be used to make long hospital stays much more endurable.

Even better, I can borrow e-books from both the Brooklyn and New York Public Libraries. This means that new books are just a few clicks away. I can even send things like knitting patterns to my Kindle or other e-readers, so I am lugging less paper.

Also, one advantage of e-readers and apps is that I can adjust the size of the print to whatever I can comfortably read. Many e-readers and apps also allow you to adjust the brightness and background color to something that your eyes find comfortable. I also like that I can easily make notes, place bookmarks so that I can pick up from the same spot in a book on my Kindle, my tablet, or even my smartphone. I can also choose to have a different book open on each device or app. Since I tend to read several books at a time, this is one of the biggest advantages as far as I’m concerned.

I have found only one downside to using e-readers and apps: I now tend to acquire books at an even faster rate than I did before. The thing is that people, both online and off, keep recommending books and series of books to me. And there are always newsletters and websites to tell me about all the books I might want to read Real Soon Now.  I have actually maxed out my Amazon store card on occasion because of this. It is far too easy, when buying a book for my e-reader, to just buy the whole series – just a few clicks and they are on my device. Still, this does have the upside of being able to have all of a series with me, just in case I need to look back to find something.

So, while books will always hold the premier place in my heart, e-readers and apps will tie for a close second. If you have not used an e-reader, I suggest that you download one of the many e-readers available to either a tablet or smartphone, and give it a try. You may discover that you enjoy the flexibility an e-reader or e-reading app.

I’d love to hear from y’all as to whether you like or hate e-reading devices and apps, so please feel free to comment below!

Reading, Religion, and My Quest for Knowledge

As you guys know, I am a reader. Nothing makes me happier than to curl up with a good book, whether it’s a hardcover or on my Kindle. What you may not know (unless you know me in real life) is that I read multiple books over the same period of time. I might grab a good Lawrence Block mystery in the morning (which I will undoubtedly finish at one sitting because I can’t put it down), and then dip into a few chapters of a cookbook. In the evening, I might read a bit about meditation or a few chapters of a biography.

This year, I am taking on two major reading projects. The first is to read the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) in a year. I’m using a New Revised Standard Version because I cannot find my King James version. I love the way the language is used in the King James. The New Revised Standard is a bit too modern for my taste but, in the smallish doses I read each day, it will serve. The reading plan I am using for this is www.walkthru.org’s “Walk Thru the Bible.

The other project is reading the Talmud. Since I cannot read Hebrew, I am reading the Koren Publications English version of the Steinsaltz Edition. The first three volumes, covering the first two tractates, arrived yesterday (I opted for “real” books for this, rather than an online or PDF version). I cannot claim to be going full Daf Yomi on this project — the reading for today is in the 26th volume, and I suspect it would take forever to catch up. However, I will advance at my own pace – I plan to try for at least two dafs a day on days when I don’t have doctors appointments or other things scheduled.

Now, those of you who know me know that I am not particularly religious so you might raise the question of why I am taking on these two projects. Well, I have always loved learning about religions, and I think it’s time to take the next step and start going deeper into that. I do not intend for these to be the only religious books I add to my list — there are a number of other religions I am also interested in. It just seemed to me that my own religion and the other major religion (Christianity as a whole, rather than any one sect of it) would be the proper place for me to start.

So, my reading multitasking just got bigger by two projects. We’ll see if I can stick to them.

Alexander Hamilton Comes to Town

Hi! I know it’s been a while, but I was off having spinal surgery.

The book I want to talk about today is Ron Chernow’s  in-depth biography of Alexander Hamilton. I bought this e-book because, like most of America, I was fascinated with the alexander_hamilton_ron_chernowsubject after hearing the score for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s play, Hamilton.

That Hamilton was, like many New Yorkers, an immigrant, was just part of what made him so fascinating. That his main weapon was words was another thing. I felt that this biography not only brought the man to life, but also brought to life the milieu he lived in. Further, the book didn’t reduce his foes or colleagues to cardboard characters. You could really feel the intensity of Hamilton and his colleagues and foes as they struggled to create and defend a new nation. Further, the political infighting was fascinating, especially given the election we recently had. Also, the writing itself was good

Also, the writing itself was good.Many history books are so dry that they remind me of bad textbooks. Alexander Hamilton avoids that fault. The writing is concise, but lively. While it was not a book I could read in one sitting, often I would sit down to read a chapter or two, get caught up, and be reading far longer than I had planned — sometimes deep into the wee hours of the night.

I highly recommend this book if you are interested in history, both of the United States and New York, or in biographies of the founders of our country.

Book Review: Writing the Novel from Plot to Print to Pixel by Lawrence Block

block - cover - writingJust for full disclosure: I was sent an advance reading copy of this book by Mr. Block. Further, I read the original when it came out years ago, and loved it then.

I still love it now. I probably should note that I am not by nature a novel writer, but Block’s views on writing are always interesting and engaging. And I have found his advice valuable, even as an essayist and a short story writer.

Block notes that, until now, he has not been interested in updating the original, because there was nothing substantial to add to it until now. He has become a great advocate of electronic publishing over the last few years, and has taken his own works online.

In order to maintain the book’s initial organization, Block has added his insights about electronic publishing to the various chapters they belong in, using a different typeface for them in the hardcopy version.

One of the best things about the book, however, is Mr. Block himself. He does not come across as preachy, or as laying down the law. He is clearly offering advice based on his experience of over 50 years.

I highly recommend Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print to Pixel, by Lawrence Block to anyone who wants to write, whether or not a novel is in their plans.

The Snark Mark

Ran across an interesting article on the Grammarly blog this morning, “Introducing the Snark Mark and Why You Should Use it,” by Stephanie Katz. In it, Ms. Katz propses using a period followed by a tilde (“.~”, created around 2007 by American typographer Choz Cunningham) at sentence end to indicate when one is being sarcastic online.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. I can see where it would be useful, given the opportunities online for miscommunication due to lack of the cues we pick up in real life conversations. On the other hand, I’m not sure that it would catch on. For one thing, many folks these days seem to have enough trouble using one punctuation mark correctly. For another, a part of online communication seems to rely on shortening things to their bare minimum, especially on venues like Twitter. Adding a new punctuation mark – especially a two-stroke one – would take up valuable space.

Still, the article is food for thought, and I’d love to know what you all think.

Your Grammarian is Still in Edit Mode…

Mind, she has several columns on her brain at the moment, and looks forward to getting them onto the web as soon as she comes up for air.

Hopefully, that will be by the end of the week.

Until then, a Happy Easter, and a good Passover to those who observe them, and a peaceful week to everyone else.

Post Navigation