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1Q84, by Haruki Murakami (#1)

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I have mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand, i enjoyed the story and will continue with books 2 and 3. On the other hand, with regards to the female characters, it reads like a male fantasy version of these characters.

P.S It’s annoying the way this trilogy has been published. I purchased the Kindle edition which has books 1-2 bundled together but i can’t buy book 3 on its own. That leaves me with the options of either buying the physical version of the book or buying the entire trilogy on Kindle.

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Posted by on May 25, 2019 in Books

 

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Tablet (2)

I enjoy sharing articles and videos a lot.

I used to do most of this using emails i.e. sending the link to specific groups of people who would be interested in the particular topic i.e. life, technology, board games, football.

Although I still do that, now i share most articles through facebook and twitter. This is something that has definitely improved with the tablet. With the Kindle i often read an article, made a note to share but then forgot to actually do it. Now i can do that instantly. It’s not only that though. I can now follow the links included in articles, something i could never do with the Kindle.

Of course there is a drawback with this.

I’m always tempted to share too many things because it’s so easy to do which can result in a flood of links and information. When you do this you basically end up spamming people. So sharing has become easier to do but now it requires more self control and a better filtering.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2013 in Lifestyle, The Web

 

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The Book Backlog (update 5)

Status: 29 books read and 1 books left to read before new Credit.

Credits available 1

The Backlog list

Kindle edition
Fiction

  1. 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami
  2. The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi
  3. Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories, by
  4. Room, by Emma Donoghue
  5. Clash of Kings, by George R.R Martin
  6. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov

Non-Fiction

  1. Bank 2.0: How Customer Behaviour and Technology Will Change The Future of Financial Services, by Brett King
  2. Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance, By Nouriel Roubini
  3. Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire, by Judith Herrin
  4. River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze, by Peter Hessler
  5. Shadow of the Silk Road, by Colin Thurbon
  6. The Making of Modern Britain, by Andrew Marr
  7. The Essential Bertrand Russel Collection, by Bertrand Russel
  8. History of Western Philosophy, by Bertrand Russel
  9. Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets, by David Simon

Paperback/Hardback edition
Non-fiction

  1. Born To Run, by Christopher McDougall
  2. Once A Runner, by John L.Parker JR.
  3. The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence, by Martin Meredith
  4. After The Prophet, by Lesley Hazleton
  5. Puskas On Puskas, by Ferenc Puskas
  6. Hitler’s Willing Executionaries, by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
  7. We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families, by Philip Gourevitch
  8. The World Cup’s Strangest Moments, by Peter Sheddon
  9. Hitler’s Empire, by Mark Mazower
  10. What i talk about when i talk about running, by Haruki Murakami
  11. The Myth of Sisyphus, by Albert Camus
  12. A long way gone: Memoirs of a child soldier, by Ishmael Beah
  13. Money (Art of Living), by Eric Lonergan
  14. The Gate, by Francois Bizot
  15. Pompei: The Life of a Roman Town, by Mary Beard
  16. Fast Food Nation: What the All-American Meal is doing to the World, by Eric Schlosser
  17. Massoud: An Intimate Portrait of the Legendary Afghan Leader, by Marcela Grad

Fiction

  1. Baudolino, by Umberto Eco
  2. A Quiet Belief in Angels, by R.J. Ellory
  3. Say You’Re One of Them, by Uwem Akpan
  4. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  5. The Fall, by Albert Camus
  6. Small Island, by Andrea Levy
  7. Everything Illuminated, by Safran Foer
  8. The Bookseller of Kabul, by Asne Seierstad
  9. Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Theorem, by Apostolos Doxiadis
  10. The Complete Stories Vol. I, by Isaac Asimov
  11. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke

Audiobooks

  1. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
  2. In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson
  3. Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel
  4. The Count of Monter Cristo, by Alexander Dumas
 
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Posted by on March 27, 2013 in Books

 

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Kindle edition Vs Digital access – pricing and content

I am currently a subscriber to the following magazines and newspaper. From the below one can easily ascertain that the model is not yet mature in terms of pricing and content access.

Financial Times

– Digital Subscription EUR299 (1 yr – standard)
– Digital Subscription EUR415.48 (1 yr – premium)
– Kindle USD335.88 (1 yr)

I am a subscriber to the FT Kindle edition and i currently pay USD335.88 which is around EUR270. This is just the actual FT daily newspaper. On the other hand the standard digital access FT subscription costs EUR30 more but allows almost full access to the FT content. Using Calibre one can also get the FT paper on the Kindle using the digital subscription, although with some hassle involved.

Foreign Affairs magazine

– Digital Subscription USD34.95 (1 yr)
– Kindle USD47.88 (1 yr)

I only subscribed to the FA magazine a week ago. The digital subscription gives full access to all the content including the print magazine’s articles. Using Calibre you can also get it on the Kindle and so far as i can tell with no problems whatsoever.

Compare that to the Kindle edition with which you don’t have access to the site’s content and it actually costs USD13 more. How does that make any sense? The Kindle edition does have “extras” such as the number of words an article contains (this is basically the only way to figure out how long an article is, which is one of the Kindle’s limitations) but are these “extras” worth USD13?

The Economist

– Digital Subscription EUR125 (1 yr)
– Kindle GBP119.88 (1 yr)

Finally, there is The Economist (part of the Pearson group which includes the FT). There is a difference here compared to the other two which is that the Kindle edition is not actually available to Cyprus yet. It’s good to look at it however because it does have the same pricing immaturity when it comes to its content. I am currently subscribed to the digital subscription model which again using calibre can provide me with a Kindle version in addition to the site’s content. I am paying EUR125 per year for this  while the Kindle edition would have set me back EUR150 and no access to the site.

Conclusion

It’s obvious that the Kindle editions are not just overpriced but the subscribers are also completely cut off from the sites these magazines and newspapers have. This can change once the Kindle (or any other ebook reader) becomes more capable of browsing the internet and therefore accessing sites. Currently ebooks are basically cut off from internet content. The Kindle Fire is a tablet and lacks the e-ink screen so i don’t see it to be the solution. Of course this will be solved at some stage further into the future when tablets and ebook readers have the technology for some sort of dual screens.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2012 in Books, The Web

 

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The Book Backlog (update 1) – Books Vs Ebooks

The poor weather in Cyprus has done wonders to my reading. I am currently on book number 4 this year (The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak) from my book backlog.

As I am going through this backlog I am also reading paperbacks again instead of ebooks. Comparing my experience with ebooks to that with paperbacks is inevitable and there are some things which I realise i do miss from the physicality of books.

The feeling of a book’s texture and it’s smell for one. Not as enjoyable as that of a high quality magazine but still great! With paperbacks it is much easier to estimate how long it will take to read a book. This is actually quite important as there are times where I am more in the mood to read shorter books and I have not been able to get the hang of this with ebooks. I am never sure when an e-book will end, even after I’ve started reading it.

Also I do miss having the different types of fonts and spacing. It gives the book more “personality”. Finally, when I am looking at The Book Thief lying there on the coffee table (or any other book on the shelf) it makes me think of only that particular book. It generates emotions and thoughts that are directly associated with my experience with it. In contrast when I look at the Kindle I don’t really think of anything specific. Maybe an article or a newspaper I haven’t finished but no more than that. The visual “connection” to what I am reading or have read is not as strong.

However, I appreciate the practicality of ebooks. For example if the fonts are too small or the lines too dense I can fix it. The integration of the dictionary and the ease with which I can look up words is now more obvious to me. I rarely look up words when reading a paperback while i always do it on the Kindle. It’s just there and requires no extra effort. I am also not worried that I am bending the book too much while reading. I am not particularly “anal” about the condition of my books but I still take care that they are in good condition. All in all it’s a much more functional and comfortable way to read on the Kindle.

As a person in general, I am usually inclined to value the practical advantages over any emotional or sentimental aspects and books are no exception. I really can’t see myself going back to buying and reading paperbacks. Given the option I will probably always choose the e-book version.

The Backlog list
(highlighed in bold are books i’ve read)

Kindle edition
Fiction

  1. Hard Boiled Wonderland And The End of The World, by Haruki Murakami
  2. 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami
  3. Snowdrops, by A.D. Miller
  4. The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes
  5. Ender’s Game: Ender Series: Book One , by Orson Scott Card
  6. Black Lung Captain, by Chris Wooding
  7. The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi
  8. Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories, by
  9. Room, by Emma Donoghue

Non-Fiction

  1. Operation Mincemeat, by Ben Macintyre
  2. Bank 2.0: How Customer Behaviour and Technology Will Change The Future of Financial Services, by Brett King
  3. Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance, By Nouriel Roubini
  4. Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire, by Judith Herrin
  5. The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rules, by Richard Mcgregor
  6. River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze, by Peter Hessler
  7. Shadow of the Silk Road, by Colin Thurbon
  8. The Making of Modern Britain, by Andrew Marr
  9. With The Old Breed, by Eugene B.Sledge
  10. Havana Nocturne, by T.J. English
  11. The Essential Bertrand Russel Collection, by Bertrand Russel
  12. History of Western Philosophy, by Bertrand Russel
  13. Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticism, by Ian Bogost
  14. Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets, by David Simon

Paperback/Hardback edition
Non-fiction

  1. Born To Run, by Christopher McDougall
  2. Once A Runner, by John L.Parker JR.
  3. The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence, by Martin Meredith
  4. After The Prophet, by Lesley Hazleton
  5. Puskas On Puskas, by Ferenc Puskas
  6. What The Dog Saw, by Malcolm Gladwell
  7. Hitler’s Willing Executionaries, by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
  8. We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families, by Philip Gourevitch
  9. The World Cup’s Strangest Moments, by Peter Sheddon
  10. Fermat’s Last Theorem, by Simon Singh
  11. Hitler’s Empire, by Mark Mazower
  12. What i talk about when i talk about running, by Haruki Murakami
  13. The Myth of Sisyphus, by Albert Camus
  14. A long way gone: Memoirs of a child soldier, by Ishmael Beah
  15. Money (Art of Living), by Eric Lonergan
  16. The Gate, by Francois Bizot

Fiction

  1. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradburn
  2. Baudolino, by Umberto Eco
  3. Burnt Shadows, by Kamila Shamsie
  4. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
  5. A Quiet Belief in Angels, by R.J. Ellory
  6. Say You’Re One of Them, by Uwem Akpan
  7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  8. The Fall, by Albert Camus
  9. Small Island, by Andrea Levy
  10. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
  11. Battler Royale, by Koushun Takami
  12. Everything Illuminated, by Safran Foer
  13. The Bookseller of Kabul, by Asne Seierstad
  14. Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Theorem, by Apostolos Doxiadis
  15. Mister Pip, by Lloyd James
  16. The Complete Stories Vol. I, by Isaac Asimov
  17. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
  18. The Black Dahlia, by James Ellroy
  19. American Tabloid, by James Ellroy
  20. The Venus Fix, by M.J.Rose
 
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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Books

 

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The Double Cross System

I finished Ben Macintyre’s book, Operation Mincemeat last week. Operation Mincemeat was the World War II operation carried out by the British Intelligence to deceive the Germans about the planned Allied invasion of Sicily.

Macintyre talks about the top-secret Twenty Committee, which was in charge of the exploitation of double agents (real and fictional), and the suitably named Double Cross System (XX System).

What i found quite extraordinary is this:

“…of the several hundred enemy (German) spies dropped, floated, or smuggled into Britain, all but one was picked up and arrested: the exception was found dead in a bunker after committing suicide. The Germans did not have an intelligence operation in Britain.”

But the Germans did not know that.

Nor did the British know the extent of their success, until after the end of WWII.

The British used this Double Cross System to fool the German Intelligence (Abwehr) into believing they were receiving valuable and reliable information from British double agents, real and fictional. Abwehr even stopped sending more agents after a certain point of the war and became completely reliant on these double agents.

The most famous of whom was Agent Garbo, who established an entire network of 27 fictitious(!) agents who were supposedly providing intelligence to the Germans.

“Garbo’s agents had nothing in common except for the fact that they did not exist”

Brilliant!

In fact, Graham Greene based his classic novel Our Man in Havana on Agent Garbo.

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2012 in Books

 

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Books in 2011

With my “falling out” with video games, particularly from June onwards, I found myself with more time to read than in previous years.

There were a few disappointing books and some abandoned halfway through but overall the quality of the books i’ve managed to read has been excellent.

In recent years my reading habits have changed as i am turning towards non-fiction books.

However, it seems that i might have been mistaken as to the extent of this shift. Of the 15 books i read during the year only 6 were non-fiction. Had i not written them all down i would have said that it was the other way around.

My impression proved to be so wrong that it is definitely something i need to think about!

In any case, here is the list of the books read in 2011 and HAPPY NEW YEAR:

Must read
(i have linked the must read and recommended books to the Kindle editions on Amazon US)

  • Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. If you’ve lived in the 80s and/or have an interest in that decade’s geek culture then this is a fantastic book. Brilliant!
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein. A tear jerker  of a novel, as narrated by a dog. I haven’t read a book that made me feel this way since Tony Parsons’ Man and Boy.
  • The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis. This was my first Michael Lewis book and it wasn’t the last in 2011. Lewis has a gift in making a subject accessible and exciting regardless of the reader’s background. A fantastic read on how a few people were predicting the US housing market collapse and were ready to gain from it.
  • Nothing to Envy, by Barbara Demick. Another book which deals with a topic that is hot at the moment. It’s about life in the totalitarian and secretive state of North Korea. About people living in another world.

Covers


Highly Recommend

  • The Dark Tourist, by Dom Jolly – I know of Dom Jolly as he is the star of the UK TV show Trigger Happy TV. He travels to countries and location where there was death and suffering (which is the definition of Dark Tourism) and also to oppressive regimes. Funny, sad, interesting and  is worth more than the sum of its parts.
  • Moneyball, The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis – About people looking at the sport of baseball from a different angle than the one long-established over decades in order to compete against baseball teams with greater financial muscle. Someone who is not familiar with the sport needs to look up some baseball terms along the way but still engrossing. Although the book is better, the movie is also very good.
  • Underground, by Haruki Murakami – A non-fiction book by one Japan’s most renowned novel writers. Murakami interviews survivors from the sarin gas attacks in the Tokyo Underground. He asks them about what happened on that day, how they are coping and what their feelings are towards the perpetrators. He also interviews some people who were members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult which was behind the attacks. This is almost a must read.
  • The Giver, by Lois Lowry – This is a short, classic utopian book and is easily enjoyed over a few days.
  • World War Z, by Max Brooks – Fun, exciting, interesting, action packed “Zombie” book. I loved it even though i hate zombies!
  • The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman – Another very good and short sci-fi book.

Covers

Undecided

  • Get Me Out of Here, by Henry Sutton – The first quarter was enjoyable but later on it felt like it was repeating itself. After the halfway mark i just wanted it to be over. However i keep thinking about it which is why i’m still undecided on how i feel about it (Best not to reveal anything about the plot to avoid spoilers).

Do not recommend

  • The Last Child, by John Hart
  • The Prague Cemetery, by Umberto Eco (70% and then gave up)
  • The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth
  • Lying, by Sam and Annaka Harris
 
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Posted by on December 30, 2011 in Books

 

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