My first book love

Photography AdS

I love to read but what exactly made me fall in love with reading? Was it a particular character or a location? Was it a book or was it a magazine, a comic, what?

It took me some time but I finally remembered. In elementary school, I had a magazine subscription for Donald Duck. It was a reward for learning how to read faster than they had expected. The school issued magazines were all educational and boring.

One of the many stories in the Dutch version of Donald Duck were the adventures of Douwe Dabbert. The first one that appeared was about a spoiled princess. You can imagine the issues Douwe had to deal with as her mentor and teacher.

What drew me in was not so much her tricks and bluntness. It was the drawings by Piet Wijn. The details in her dress, facial expressions, and the way Wijn used a page. The main action was of course drawn in detail but the background was selectively left less detailed. It fascinated me. In school, I was always told to use the full page, you know, not waste paper.

What clinched the deal for me was Douwe Dabbert’s knapsack. He had inherited it from his grandfather who knew some magic. The knapsack always contained what Douwe would need precisely at that moment. It became a game for me as a child to see if I could guess what was in the knapsack.

As the story evolved over many magazines, of course the spoiled princess changed. Her facial expressions relaxed, she found her courage and even appreciation for the responsibilities of being a King’s heir. She also turned out to be less of an air-headed barbie doll than you would have expected in the beginning.

Reading this adventure made me curious. I wanted to see more of the drawings, the story, the changes in all the characters, and of course, that knapsack. It got to the point where I made one myself from an old walking stick and a scarf. And, I added my abracadabra!

I walked around the house and the apartment building thinking that at any time now, it would magically produce what I needed. Well, all it did was set off alarm bells in my parents who were convinced that I was running away. And explaining that Douwe had a knapsack too and that it always worked for him? That didn’t work for me.

I don’t remember much of the lecture I got about the dangers outside. I do remember that from then on, when the magazine came (always on Fridays) in the mail, I’d run to the mailbox but not before I told my parents (or older siblings) that I was just getting the mail.

I hope that your first book love didn’t get you in too much trouble.

P.S.: the story of the Verwende Princess first appeared in installments in the Donald Duck magazine in the Netherlands. Later, all the installments were released as a comic. Sadly, I don’t have the magazines anymore but, when this comic came out, I bought it.

Sundays are for reading

Photography and cork art AdS

Mild rain is trying to stain the gray driveway black. The overcast is heavy. It makes you want to crawl back into bed or curl up on the sofa with the good company of a book and coffee. So of course, that’s what I did.

The weather always has an affect on my energy levels. Start the day with sunshine and I feel like jumping out of bed and doing something. Start the day with so much overcast that you cannot see anything but gray clouds, and I’m like ‘meh, I’ll exercise tomorrow.’ Today, I’ll read.

Hope Sunday is good wherever you are, enjoy!

Three books at a time

Photograph AdS

Today’s topic for #Bloganuary is what book(s) you are reading. For me, that is always plural. I read in threes for books and in twos for magazines.

Magazines

For continued law education, I read magazines from the American Bar Association and the American Society for Criminology. It keeps me up to date on the latest developments. I don’t read them cover to cover as of course, some topics either do not apply or interest me. But, I do scan the latest decisions and recommended readings. This is general daytime reading.

Fun fun and also to keep myself curious, I read the BBC History Magazine. I love history. This magazine always has great articles, pictures, book reviews, interviews, and even historic recipes although to be honest, I never tried those. A lot of their book reviews have made it to my bookmarked file and from those, several are in my to-read pile. This is general day or evening reading.

Books

I read three books at a time but each category has its own assigned time slot. Books for continued law education are for daytime reading and are the first to be read. I review some of them on my website. After a chapter of two, I switch to books that I read to review on my website as per agreement with authors and publishers. This is still daytime reading. Books for fun come last but they cover the evening and usually run into midnight or later. So, what am I reading now in those three categories?

For continued education

Forensics; what bugs, burns, prints, DNA, and more tell us about crime by Val McDermid. I will review this book when done.

To Review

Partners in Crime, the next installment in the series ‘The Best New True Crime Stories’ by Mitzi Szereto. The review will be up soon.

For fun

The Council of Twelve from the series ‘A Hangman’s Daughter’ by Oliver Pötzsch. I read a few books in this series. The first book, I read cover to cover. I have to admit that some later books are about 25% too long. Some scenes are drawn out and slow down the book’s pace. Anyway, I am still curious and so far I am on page 157. The book has 496 pages.

What are you reading?

Books, of course!

Photography and art by AdS

The fourth challenge for #Bloganuary is about favourite toys when we were children. There’s only one answer: anything to read.

To be fair, as a child, I had more magazines than books. One magazine that I had as a child in the Netherlands were Okkie and Taptoe. I am not sure if they still exist, and of course, I had a subscription to Donald Duck. I stole the magazine Eppo from my brother and the Tina from my sister. When I got older, we had Club and later I subscribed to Mademoiselle.

Some of my favourite comics are shown above, I still have the series of both. Other series are Kuifje and Calvin and Hobbes. I also still have my Pinkeltje books and lots of Donald Duck pocket books.

That love for reading is still here. I am lucky to be married to one who shares that love.

We have a big library on the ground floor which also serves as my office. We have two separate professional libraries downstairs filled with textbooks and continued education materials. His is math and mine is law.

We have a small library in the storage room, in the bedrooms, and even one in the guestroom. Just never ask me to count how many books we really have in the house!

What stops me from buying your book

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

There are a few things that make me put a book back on the shelf and not buy it. 

A: the cover

The cover of a book should get me interested in the story, maybe it is a challenge, dare to read this book. Too often, the cover is very generic and doesn’t make me curious. But the next point is much worse.

B: the back of the book

There, I want to read a blurb of the book’s location, the plot, some character names, and what they face in the story. If all I see is generally phrased celebrity reviews and stickers about newspapers or publishers book lists, my interest in that book goes down. 

C: the font

Maybe this is showing my age but the smaller the font the less likely I am to read the book. For context, I sit behind a computer and read all day. Internet archive research, reading reports, writing case analyses, book reviews, all day my eyes are hard at work. Publishers I work with know that I want a manuscript or ARC in paper form, no PDFs as I need time away from the screen. And, what I read has to be eye-friendly. So, a font size of 10 isn’t for me. 

D: the margin in the middle

If the margin near the spine is narrow or, if the binding is very tight, there’s the risk that you feel the need to crack the spine just so you can read the whole text. A lot of older books and cheaper publications have this and unless I cannot get that book anywhere else, I don’t buy it. 

E: the chapters

Some writers make their chapters super long and others have a one page chapter. It makes no sense. The chapter size is part of the narrative flow. It is the emotional control system build in the book to move the reader from highs to a temporary slow-down before the story picks up pace again, etc. 

These are just a few things that I note about a book while book browsing. What turns you off about a book? 

Do you re-read books?

Me Reading/AdS

I saw someone raising this question today on social media: do you re-read books?

My answer: yes, and frequently.

Why I pick up a book for the first time is almost always related to book reviews. But the reasons why I re-read that same book are not. Here’s why:

  1. I may not have been ready for the book in the first place and have placed it aside. This sometimes happens when the theme comes too close for comfort.
  2. The author may have introduced too many characters within the first three chapters and I felt I needed a spreadsheet to follow along. This mindset can change over time.
  3. The author’s writing style might be on my mind more now that the story has sank in and I am still wondering how they put everything together so seamlessly.
  4. The characters may have evolved in a manner that I did not foresee in the beginning so looking back by re-reading, I discover elements or character traits that I missed before.
  5. If a movie has been made about the book, I often re-read to compare. I get it that with movies we are talking about different media. Perfect example, I re-read Tolkien after the movies came out. I was much better able to voice what I did and did not like, why, and how the Tolkien descriptions sometimes worked better than the CGI.
  6. After a few years, your outlook on life may have changed. Interests change too so a book that held your attention at age 20 may not work at age 45.
  7. Breaking news, an author’s death, a discovery in anthropology, etc., can all cause renewed interest.

So, do you ever re-read a book?