Friday, January 04, 2013

Weeked Reading: More Short eBooks Edition

Judging from my Amazon sales stats*, at least some of you liked my last list of short eBooks, so I thought I'd do another. I continue to enjoy short, self-contained things to read, because I continue to struggle to have enough time to finish a full length book before I forget what the beginning was like. This situation may improve now that Petunia is (mostly) sleeping through the night, but I doubt it will seriously improve until we manage to shorten her bedtime routine. We'll start on that soon, but if she's anything like her sister, we won't actually get a short, easy bedtime until she leaves day care and is no longer napping. Which is roughly three years away... so bring on the short eBooks!

Since I last wrote about short eBooks, I have discovered that searching "Kindle single" on Amazon turns up a lot of Kindle singles. (I know! What a shock. Unfortunately, it also turns up a lot of Kindle books about singles, which is less useful.) However, I would like to find a less Amazon-centric method of locating short eBooks to read- I have nothing against Amazon, but I don't really want their algorithms to become the sole arbiter of what I read. If you have any good ideas, leave them in the comments.

Also, I've read a few other short eBooks, but I'm only including things on this list that I would actually recommend to someone.

The first eBook I'll recommend wasn't discovered via Amazon... it was emailed to me by the author. Laura Vanderkam was nice enough to email me an advance copy of her latest eBook, What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend. I mentioned this eBook in an earlier post, and have now read the entire thing, and enjoyed it. It did indeed give me some ideas to think about for improving our weekends... but in the interest of full disclosure, I should also say that one of the things she references in passing is my own "Friday night beers" tradition, in which Mr. Snarky and I plan our weekend chores and fun over beers on Friday night. So, I think my way of thinking about weekends is fairly similar to Laura's way of thinking about weekends, and it is probably no surprise that I enjoyed reading the book. Hush and House of Peanut have full reviews of the book up, if you'd like more info.

From the supremely practical to the sublimely ridiculous... my next recommendation is a story about a goat. The fact that I read Midnight's Tale, by George Berger, is testament to the power of $0.99 pricing. I mean, really? A book about a goat? But it had a bunch of good reviews and $0.99 isn't a very big investment, so I took a chance. And it was a fun, laugh outloud funny story that probably also has some deeper meaning that will eventually become clear to me. It is one of those books that has kept bouncing around in my head long after I finished it.

I discovered The Uncertainty Principle, by John Moralee, in a search for short Sci Fi to read. This was a good find. It is a short Sci Fi detective story, and I enjoyed it.

I picked Gutenberg the Geek, by Jeff Jarvis, because I vaguely remembered seeing it discussed somewhere online. It was an interesting read- the basic proposition is that there are a lot of parallels between Gutenberg and the tech entrepreneurs of today. I'm not sure I completely buy the comparison, but it raised some good points, and made me want to learn more about Gutenberg, so I'm glad I read it.

Finally, I followed the almighty Amazon algorithm's advice and tried Beethoven's Shadow, by Jonathan Biss. Biss is a concert pianist who is embarking on a project to record all of Beethoven's piano sonata's. The eBook is about Beethoven, recording, classical music, and life. I really enjoyed it, but then, Beethoven is one of my favorite composers. I know that a lot of people think his 5th symphony is so overdone that it has become cliche, but I think they need to listen more carefully. I've played it several times (as a violist), and the transition from the third to the fourth movement is one of the most remarkable things I've ever played. The slow and steady building of tension at the end of the third, bursting out into an expression of pure joy at the start of the fourth... thinking about it almost makes me want to find an orchestra to play with again! I don't know if you will enjoy this book as much as I did if you aren't a musician, or at least very interested in classical music, but I found it fascinating and full of interesting insights. It meanders a bit, and probably could have used some more stringent editing, but I was willing to look past that because I thought what Biss was saying was so interesting.

That's all I have! If you like Sci Fi/Fantasy, Scalzi has a thread up allowing people to plug things they've written that are eligible for this year's awards, I suspect there are some good ideas of things to read in there. I'll probably go through the thread later, and see if I can pick up some new short eBooks.

And of course, if you have anything to recommend, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

*Yes, I can see what people buy when they click through to Amazon from my links. But I can't see who bought things, nor can I see what things were bought together, so don't worry- I don't have any sensitive information about any of you!


  1. Thanks for the link! I laughed at your comment about forgetting the beginning of books. I just had to return 2 lovely-sounding books to the library after 3 weeks because I didn't find any time to read. I can't read full sized hardbacks while nursing so I guess I need to read ebooks exclusively for a while. That's how I finished LV's book.

  2. Thanks for the mention! I will totally go pick up the goat story. I'll write a post at some point about the changing economics of books, but suffice to say, putting books into the impulse buy category changes a lot in terms of getting people to part with their money. I have gotten a fair number of emails from people complaining that the book was short. I'm not quite sure how to respond other than, yes, that's why it's $3, and not $24.

  3. Gracias! I wish I had other short ebook ideas to contribute, but honestly I'm still a bit of a luddite who sources reading material in paper from the local library.

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