Archive for the ‘Recommendations’ Category

Amazon’s 100 Biographies & Memoirs to Read in a Lifetime

February 18, 2015

Amazon’s 100 Biographies & Memoirs to Read in a Lifetime

Lists of books are popular features.

It’s interesting to me that that is the case.

After all, I doubt I’ve ever seen a list where I didn’t think there were omissions and questionable inclusions.

Perhaps that’s the point.

They spark a reaction, and reactions can mean engagement…and engagement can mean purchasing.

Not all lists are about purchasing, of course, and even an Amazon list of books like the brand new

100 Biographies & Memoirs to Read in a Lifetime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

isn’t about immediate conversion of sales.

In some ways, it’s about Amazon’s positioning as knowledgeable about books…knowledgeable and credible, which are not synonyms. You can be knowledgeable and have no one believe you (ask Cassandra), and you can be credible without having a lot of knowledge on a topic.

When I’ve trained trainers, I’ve even taught the latter…how to be credible.

A few quick notes on that:

  • Use numbers…that always impresses people. For example, if I was teaching an Excel class many years ago, I could be in front of people who thought they knew Excel quite well. I could say (back then), “There are 256 columns in Excel…does anyone know how many rows? 65,536.” That gave me instant credibility…even if it was just a memorized fact. It doesn’t have to be a complicated number: “There were seven castaways on Gilligan’s Island.” That may get people counting to confirm…and when they do, they are impressed with you
  • When in doubt, use big words. That also makes you sound credible…not approachable or relatable, necessarily, but it does help with credibility. :) That’s only true if you use them correctly…well, if somebody knows what the word actually means, that is. I have to reset my reaction when someone uses the word “decimated” (often “absolutely decimated” or “completely decimated”) to indicate a nearly complete reduction. “Decimated” technically means “reduced by one tenth”. If there were 100 soldiers, and you reduced it to ninety, you decimated that group. At least, that’s what it used to mean…my now adult kid who is a linguist has convinced me that it is usage that matters. I still have the emotional reaction, but I can reset it :)
  • Use the jargon. I work with medical folks, and when I can use a word that they use appropriately, it really ups my credibility
  • Speak quickly. Again, this is just when you are establishing credibility, not when you are training a concept. Most people don’t think you can lie at high speeds…that you have to think about what you are saying too much. If you excitedly say something, smashingallthewordstogether, people will think you are being honest. Don’t believe me? Try saying something really slowly and deliberately out loud…it will likely sound even to you like you are lying
  • Be imperfect. Pause, use an “um”, look to the ceiling (up to the left, typically), laugh at yourself for what you just said…those can all make you seem genuine, and not rehearsed

Now, clearly, you can’t just follow techniques to gain credibility…you need to be reacting in the moment and have empathy for what your audience is feeling.

That said, I come across as credible in person…and it can be a problem for me.

I’ve been a boss.

I’ve said to people something like, “Now, I don’t know yet if this is going to happen, so don’t hold me to it, but it’s possible that we are going to xyz.” I’ve then had people telling others we were going to xyz, and saying, “Bufo said so.”

That means I have to be careful about what I say. :)

I was being observed by one of my favorite managers, and in debriefing a class, the manager said at one point, “Then you did that hypnosis thing you do,” and just went on to another point.

I said something like, “Wait, what? What hypnosis thing?”

I realized later that I do use something like “guided imagery”.

Never, by the way, for nefarious reasons!

It’s just as important and difficult (sometimes) to make people believe in something which is true and good for them as it is to make them believe in something which is false and bad for them.

That said, let’s talk about this list. :)

I do like biographies and memoirs, but I like a lot of things. ;)

Here’s the list from Amazon, and whether or not I’ve read them:

  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers: no
  • A Long Way Home by Ishmael Beah: yes
  • A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway: no
  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson: no
  • American Caesar by William Manchester: no
  • American Lion by Jon Meacham: no
  • American Prometheus by Kai Bird: no
  • American Sniper by Chris Kyle: no
  • American Sphinx by Joseph J. Ellis: no
  • Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt: no
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: yes
  • Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy: no
  • Autobiography of Mark Twain by Mark Twain: yes
  • Ball Four by Jim Bouton: no
  • Black Boy by Richard Wright: no
  • Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin: yes
  • Born Standing Up by Steve Martin: no
  • Born to Run by Christopher McDougall: no
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey: no
  • Cash by Johnny Cash: no
  • Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie: no
  • Chronicles by Bob Dylan: no
  • Churchill: A Life by Martin Gilbert: no
  • Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose: no
  • Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron: no
  • De Profundis and Other Personal Writings by Oscar Wilde: no
  • Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller: no
  • Dorothy Parker by Marion Meade: no
  • Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama: no
  • Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp: no
  • Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston: no
  • E-Mc~2 by David Bodanis: no
  • Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert: no
  • Endurance by Alfred Lansing: no
  • Everybody Was So Young by Amanda Vaill: no
  • Helen Keller: The Story of My Life by Helen Keller: yes
  • I Am Malala by mlala Yousafzai: no
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou: no
  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer: no
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith: no
  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain: no
  • Knock Wood by Candice Bergen: no
  • Life by Keith Richards: no
  • Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela: no
  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius: no
  • Mortality by Christopher Hitchens: no
  • My Life in France by Julia Child: no
  • Naked by David Sedaris: no
  • Napoleon by Andrew Roberts: no
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass: no
  • Night by Elie Wiesel: no
  • Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin: no
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac: no
  • Open by Andre Agassi: no
  • Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen: no
  • Personal History by Katharine Graham: no
  • Robert A. Caro’s The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro: no
  • Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs: no
  • Savage Beauty by Nancy Milford: no
  • Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand: no
  • Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan: no
  • Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov: no
  • Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson: no
  • Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman: no
  • Tennessee Williams by John Lahr: no
  • The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone: no
  • The Andy Warhol Diaries by Andy Warhol: no
  • The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein: no
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X: no
  • The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll: no
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: no
  • The Color of Water by James McBride: no
  • The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman: no
  • The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: no
  • The Diary of Anais Nin by Anais Nin: no
  • The Diary of Frida Kahlo by Carlos Fuentes: no
  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: no
  • The Gulag Archipeligo by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: no
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot: no
  • The Kid Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans: no
  • The Last Lone Inventor by Evan I. Schwartz: no
  • The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr: no
  • The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara: no
  • The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester: no
  • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris: no
  • The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder: no
  • The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer: no
  • The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston: no
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion: no
  • This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff: no
  • Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow: no
  • Touching the Void by Joe Simpson: no
  • Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck: no
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand: no
  • Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes: no
  • Updike by Adam Begley: no
  • Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) by Stacy Schiff: no
  • West with the Night by Beryl Markham: no
  • Wild Swans by Jung Chang: no
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed: no

Well, I’ve only read five of these, but I have to say, I was very impressed with some of them. The Helen Keller book is amazing. A Long Way Home was devastating, but great. The Mark Twain book was so modern and so clever.

Certainly, though, there are many others I might list which I have read and which in some small way, let me live someone else’s life for a while.

Amazon knows that, and one of the synergies of their having purchased the social reading website Goodreads, is that they can do a curated list like the above and let people contribute to a crowd sourced one…which they have done:

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/85102.100_Biographies_Memoirs_to_Read_in_a_Lifetime_Readers_Picks

You can vote on and add titles to that one.

Without at all claiming that they are the best, here are some other biographies/memoirs which come to mind for me:

  • A Zoo in My Luggage by Gerald Durrell…and indeed, several of the Durrell books (not available for the Kindle)
  • A Job for Superman by Kirk Alyn…Alyn was Superman in the serials, and this book has some great stories! I bought it from Alyn at a science fiction convention, and that may have colored my perception of it. :) Still, I remember some of the stories easily. There was one where Alyn is talking about a scene carrying, I think, Lois Lane out of a burning building down steps. “Action!” Runs down the steps, but they have to reshoot the scene (smoke or something). Another take. Another problem. Another take. Another take. Another take. Eventually, the director says, “Superman, you’re slowing down.” Alyn explains that the actor is heavy, and the director says something like, “Actor? You’re supposed to be carrying a dummy!” That was part of the perception of Alyn on set as being Superman. Two more. :) Superman is animated flying, but they are standing around (very common on a set). Alyn asks what is happening, and they say they are trying to figure out how Superman is going to take off. Alyn, who was a ballet dancer, says, “I can jump over the camera.” Well, this is a tall camera! They don’t believe their star, but Alyn does it. Alyn points out, amused, that Superman takes off from a ballet position. ;) The last one was when They did have to do a close up of Superman flying. What they did was build a chest plate with wires, and Alyn would lay in it with legs (and hips) held straight out. That’s right…the plate didn’t get to Alyn’s hips! Picture doing that for a minute or more while they did the shot. Better, lie down on a table with your hips off the edge and try it…
  • Books by John A. Keel and Hans Holzer…very different people, very different writing style, sort of connected both writing about “paranormal” things. They are both field investigators and both bring you a feel for what it is like being there
  • Philip Jose Farmer’s “mythographies” of Doc Savage (Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (at AmazonSmile*)) and Tarzan

I could keep going. :)

One last thing, so those of you with Kindle Unlimited can read biographies and memoirs at no additional cost as part of your membership:

Kindle Unlimited Biographies & Memoirs sorted by most reviewed (at AmazonSmile*)

Don’t have Kindle Unlimited yet? It’s worthy of consideration, in my opinion:

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

What do you think? What are your favorite biographies and memoirs? I know people who say they don’t like to read non-fiction…what books do you think would convince them? These sorts of books also fit into Common Core…does this show the value of that program? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Bonus deal: pre-pay for three months of Sling TV ($20 a month) and get a Fire TV Stick for free, or $50 off a Fire TV!

Sling TV and Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

That’s the “cable cutting” way to get some TV networks at a cheaper price than paying for a full cable package.

Don’t want Sling TV? The Fire TV is also $15 off at time of writing, making it $84 instead of $99.

I use a Fire TV every day, and a Fire TV Stick some days.

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

10 random books

January 20, 2015

10 random books

I like to be surprised.

That especially goes for my entertainment.

I look for different ways to surprise myself, even in methods to discover new books.

Tonight, I used

http://www.random.org

to generate ten random numbers between 1 and 6400.

Why 6400?

The most results you can get in a Kindle store search is 400 pages. There are sixteen results per page (usually…the last page might have fewer). 400 * 1600 = 6400.

So, here are my results in the

USA Kindle store by New and Popular (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I’m very excited to see what shows up! I’ll be curious as to how many I’ve read, how many are in Kindle Unlimited…and how many I put on my wish lists. ;)

# 165: Brain Rules (Updated and Expanded): 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School
by John Medina
4.4 stars out of 5, 87 customer reviews

I’ve not only read this one, I wrote

Review: Brain Rules
coming up on two years ago. :)

#262 Inferno: A Novel (Robert Langdon Book 4)
by Dan Brown
3.9 stars, 17558 reviews
I read the Da Vinci code…haven’t read this one.

#796 The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad, Book 2)
by Tana French
4.0 stars, 635 reviews

848 Wickedly Dangerous (Baba Yaga Book 1)
by Deborah Blake
4.4 stars, 107 reviews

1643 The Cowboy’s Mail Order Bride (The Dalton Brides, Book 3)
by Kit Morgan and Kirsten Osbourne
4.3 stars, 42 reviews
Available in Kindle Unlimited

2058 Strategic Storytelling: How to Create Persuasive Business Presentations
by Dave McKinsey
4.2 stars, 5 reviews
Available in Kindle Unlimited

2231 She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman
by Ian Kerner
4.4 stars, 490 reviews

4017 Friction
by LD Davis
4.6 stars, 40 reviews

5346
Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel (Sigma Force Novels Book 8)
by James Rollins
4.5 stars, 666 reviews

5510 Have Me: A Stark Ever After Novella (Stark Trilogy)
by J. Kenner
4.1 stars, 139 reviews

Well, a couple of them are on Kindle Unlimited, but nothing stood out here as something I’d want to move to the top of my TBR (To Be Read) list.

Some relatives did get me books from my wish list at the holidays…looking forward to those! :)

Bonus story: in this

press release

Amazon announced that it is moving into producing movies to be shown in movie theatres…about twelve a year!

They have recently built a strong reputation (in part based on Transparent). We watched The Man in the High Castle, based on a Philip K. Dick book (which I had read recently…borrowed through Kindle Unlimited), and would be interested in seeing more of it, even thought my Significant Other (SO) didn’t find it that interesting.

It matters what we think, too, since High Castle is part of Amazon’s “pilot season”. These TV series which are not yet committed to becoming a series…customer feedback help determine which shows get made.

Theatrical movies, though?

Those are quite expensive! Even focusing on just smaller “art house” movies, you can’t realistically figure on an average production budget of under $10 million…and that is a low budget.

Still, I think people might see these. Amazon has hired Ted Hope, as the new Head of Production for Amazon Original Movies. Hope’s filmography as a producer is quite impressive. It includes:

  • Eat Drink Man Woman
  • The Brothers McMullen
  • The Ice Storm
  • The Tao of Steve
  • 21 Grams
  • Adventureland
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene

While none of these has gotten Hope an Oscar nomination yet (when a movie is nominated for Best Picture, the producers are the names listed), and Hope has been strong in TV, I think that’s the (unstated) goal.

I think Amazon would love to get an Oscar nomination in the next couple of years.

Here’s what makes it interesting for Amazon Prime members (in the USA, at any rate).

The movies will be exclusively available to Prime subscribers (at least initially) four to six weeks after their theatrical runs.

That’s quite short a period, and that could get Amazon some new Prime members.

That would be especially true if they timed a release around Oscar time, and it was getting a lot of buzz.

So far, the

Amazon Studios page at IMDb Pro (also owned by Amazon)

indicates one movie actually in production:

Tiger, Tiger

Co-written and directed by Mark Stouffer, who has worked with John Denver, done nature-connected works, and made a couple of movies.

This one is budgeted at about $19 million…not high by major studio standards, but still a significant risk for Amazon.

This Amazon effort is going to be fascinating to watch: they’ve announced a Woody Allen TV series, IMDb Pro shows a Barbarella TV movie in development, and they’ve optioned ZvG: Zombies Vs Gladiators from Clive Barker.

My guess is that this is going to scare investors…they may like it when Amazon tries to build new markets (like with the Kindle and the Echo), but I’m not sure they like them trying to break into mature markets.

What do you think? How many of the random books have you read? Do you think Amazon should be getting into theatrical releases? As an Amazon customer, does that scare you at all? Would you become a Prime member on the strength of wanting to see a particular movie earlier than other people? What if it meant you saw it before the Oscars were announced, rather than afterwards? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join more than a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

2015 Read the Oscar nominees

January 16, 2015

2015 Read the Oscar nominees

Certainly, movies were big drivers of book sales in 2014.

If we extend the influence outside of Adapted Screenplay, there are quite a few books on which Oscar-nominated movies were based (I am only including ones where this specific book was credited…there might be several well-known books on a historical figure, or unofficial inspirations of fictional works):

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
by Chris Kyle
4.5 stars out of 5, 5977 customer reviews
Nominations (6): Best Picture, Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Adapted Screenplay (Jason Hall), Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing

Alan Turing: The Enigma (at AmazonSmile*)
Movie: The Imitation Game
by Andrew Hodges
3.7 stars, 99 reviews
Nominations (8): Best Picture, Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), Supporting Actress (Keira Knightley), Director (Morten Tyldum), Adapted Screenplay (Graham Moore), Editing, Production Design, Score

The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig (at AmazonSmile*)
Movie: The Grand Budapest Hotel
by Stefan Zweig
4.6 stars, 28 reviews
Note: the movie is “inspired by the writings of” Zweig, according to the credit…it isn’t directly based on this book
Nominations (9): Best Picture, Director (Wes Anderson), Original Screenplay (Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness), Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, Costume, Makeup and Hairstyling, Score

Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen (at AmazonSmile*)
Movie: The Theory of Everything
by Jane Hawking
4 stars, 68 reviews
Available in Kindle Unlimited
Nominations (5): Best Picture, Actor (Eddie Redmayne), Actress (Felicity Jones), Adapted Screenplay (Anthony McCarten), Score

Gone Girl (at AmazonSmile*)
by Gillian Flynn
3.9 stars, 39195 reviews
Nominations (1): Actress (Rosamund Pike)

Still Alice (link not provided since the publisher has blocked text-to-speech access**)
by Lisa Genova
4.7 stars, 2013 reviews
Nominations (1): Actress (Julianne Moore)

Wild (at AmazonSmile*)
by Cheryl Strayed
4.3 stars, 7271 reviews
Nominations (2): Actress (Reese Witherspoon), Supporting Actress (Laura Dern)

Into the Woods (at AmazonSmile*)
by James Lapine (book), Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics)
4.8 stars, 48 reviews
Nominations (3): Supporting Actress (Meryl Streep), Production Design, Costume Design

Inherent Vice (at AmazonSmile*)
by Thomas Pynchon
3.7 stars, 222 reviews
Nominations (2): Adapted Screenplay (Paul Thomas Anderson), Costume

Note: I wanted to get this out this morning, so from here on down this will be a much more simplified listing. That is not intended to indicate anything about the nominees (including whether or not text-to-speech has been blocked). If I get a chance, I’ll add links later).

Here Be Monsters!
by Alan Snow
Movie: The Boxtrolls
Nominations (1): Animated Feature

Big Hero Six
based on Marvel Comics
Nominations (1): Animated Feature

How To Train Your Dragon
by Cressida Cowell
Movie: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Nominations (1): Animated Feature

Unbroken
by Laura Hillenbrand
Nominations (3): Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing

La Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty)
by Charles Perrault
Movie: Maleficent
Nominations (1): Costume Design

Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel Comics
Nominations (2): Makeup and Hairstyling, Visual Effects

The Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien
Movie: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Nominations (1): Sound Editing

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Marvel Comics
Nominations (1): Visual Effects

La Planète des Singes (The Planet of the Apes)
by Pierre Boulle
Movie: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Nominations (1): Visual Effects

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Marvel Comics
Nominations (1): Visual Effects

 

 Join more than a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Kindle Daily Deal: 125 books for “kids of all ages” for $1.99 each

December 26, 2014

Kindle Daily Deal: 125 books for “kids of all ages” for $1.99 each

Today’s

Kindle Daily Deals (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

are a great introduction to those daily bargains for those who might just be starting their Kindle journey (or perhaps I should say “Voyage”) ;), and present veteran Kindleers with some cool options.

As one of my regular readers and commenters, Lady Galaxy, put it:

“…Lots of great selections to start out a library for kids who got Kindles for Christmas.”

That’s true…but I have to say, that lots of adults read the books that are classified as “children’s books” as well. My tendency is to think of children’s books as ones which include that younger group, but don’t exclude the older one.

You should never be ashamed of what you read…assuming it’s legal and such. :)

Please check the price before you click or tap that “Buy” button. These prices may not apply in your country (I have readers all over the world), and they are only good today. Books can also go in and out of deals like this, although with the KDD (Kindle Daily Deal), that’s unlikely, from what I’ve seen.

Before I get to the ones they have listed as for “children of all ages”, let me point out a few others:

  • The original Ian Fleming James Bond books (now published as e-books by Amazon) are $1.99 each…not for children ;)
  • They have 43 (at time of writing) “top-rated romances” on sale. Top-rated doesn’t necessarily mean “best known”, but they can be a good opportunity to expand your horizons and discover new authors

I think it’s also worth noting that all of the above are part of

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

meaning that members (and you may have just started a free month) can read them at no additional cost.

Now, on to those 125 “children’s books”! These are some of the stand-outs to me:

  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin: a fantasy classic, 4.1 stars out of 5, 624 customer reviews…first in a series. Also in Kindle Unlimited (KU)
  • Lois Lowry books: Number the Stars (KU), Gossamer (KU)
  • The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare (Newberry winner)
  • Farewell to Manzanar (KU) by James D. Houston and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston: a non-fiction treasure which has been widely lauded about the Japanese internment camps in the USA…or rather, one person’s experience in one
  • Sleep Like a Tiger (KU) by Mary Logue, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski: Caldecott Medal picture book (note: text-to-speech is not enabled on this title, but I assume that it is due to the text being part of the image and therefore inaccessible to the software, not because the access was blocked by the publisher)
  • Catherine, Called Birdy (KU) by Karen Cushman
  • An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 (KU) by Jim Murphy (Newbery honoree)
  • Sing Down the Moon (KU) by Scott O’Dell
  • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virgina Lee Burton (some of us may remember being read this by Captain Kangaroo)
  • Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen
  • Curious George by H.A. Rey and Margaret Rey: a part of childhood
  • The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl (KU) by Barry Lyga
  • Yes, She Can! Women’s Sports Pioneers by Glenn Stout
  • Mary Poppins in the Park (KU) by P.L. Travers and Mary Shepard…not the first of the series about the magical nanny, but part of it

Enjoy!

Join over a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

31 “read-sons” to love Kindle Unlimited

December 26, 2014

31 “read-sons” to love Kindle Unlimited

Like a lot of people, you may be brand new to

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

You may have gotten a free month when you bought (or were given) an Amazon reader or tablet, or maybe you were given a gift of KU:

Gift Subscriptions to Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

If you are a reader, this is a wonderful thing!

Of course, you’ll run into naysayers who want to dismiss it…they may tell you how the biggest publishers aren’t participating, and how you won’t see the bestsellers in there.

Well, the part about the publishers is true (at least at the time of writing), but there are some recent bestsellers and a lot of great books that may not be topping the charts this week!

I decided to list 31 “read-sons” (reasons, but specifically things to read) to love having KU, but before I do, let me explain how it works.

For $9.99 a month, you can read certain Kindle books. The amount you can read in a month of those books is unlimited, although you can only have up to ten at a time. If you go to borrow an eleventh book, it will suggest you return the one you’ve had the longest, but it’s up to you.

You don’t own the books, but you can keep them as long as you are a KU member. It is possible for books to go in and out of KU, though.

More than one person can read the same book on your account at the same time…that still counts as only having borrowed one book. For example, if you borrow Water for Elephants, two people can both read it on your account.

For more information (both on how to use it and book recommendations, see the

Kindle Unlimited category of posts on this blog

Okay, here are 31 read-sons! I picked thirty-one so there would be one reason for each day in the longest month, since so many people are getting one month free. You don’t have to borrow only one book a day, though: again, you can have up to ten out at a time.

  1. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins! Yes, you can read (or re-read) all three of the Hunger Games books at no additional cost!
  2. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling! All seven of the books at your convenience…vide libri! Another cool feature: they have these books in different languages. If you’ve read them in English and are learning Japanese, it might really help you to read a book with which you are familiar in that language
  3. Bond…James Bond by Ian Fleming!
  4. More than 300 million copies of books by romance writer Janet Dailey have reportedly been sold…there are over fifty titles by hers in KU!
  5. Childhood’s End, Rendezvous with Rama, and more by science fiction master Arthur C. Clarke!
  6. 27 (at time of writing) of the Perry Mason books by Erle Stanley Gardner
  7. Good grief! You’re on Kindle Unlimited, Charlie Brown! The Complete Peanuts Collections (the comic strips) are available in KU…and they are $14.99 each at time of writing
  8. Cookbooks! Ever bought a cookbook, or browsed through a bunch in a store, just looking for a recipe to cook one dish? With KU, you don’t need to buy them…just borrow them! Have a vegetarian coming over for the holidays? You can borrow Holiday Vegan Entrees
  9. Travel books! That’s another example of something you might want to use, but don’t want to keep. Going to Australia for the holidays, so you can enjoy them on the beach? There are close to 200 Australia travel books in KU, including the Lonely Planet series
  10. Read the movie! Life of Pi, 12 Years a Slave, From Here to Eternity…
  11. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson: this 1962 book really launched the environmental movement in the USA
  12. Have a laugh with Erma Bombeck! One of the most popular American humorists and newspaper columnists, you can read If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?, Motherhood, and The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank and more!
  13. Lord of the Rings…and the Hobbit!
  14. All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriot!
  15. KU AudioBooks (at AmazonSmile*) There are close to 10,000 audiobooks at time of writing available through Kindle Unlimited
  16. The Wayward Pines books…recent books soon to be a TV series on Fox!
  17. George Orwell books, including 1984 and Animal Farm: not in the public domain in the USA, but available to read at no additional cost on KU!
  18. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks: super popular non-fiction book from 1985!
  19. The Heirloom Collection series, illustrated by Jaqui Oakley: Complete Sherlock Holmes (the original Arthur Conan Doyle Works) or the complete novels of Jane Austen, published at $99.99 in hardback, highly rated, new four color illustrations…sure, you could find Homes and Austen for free outside of KU, but these are relatively high quality editions!
  20. Capital in the 21st Century…a number one New York Times bestseller in 2014!
  21. Hundreds of books on Minecraft! Would you really pay for them? Maybe…but you are probably a lot more likely to read them
  22. The Princess Bride by William Goldman!
  23. Pat Conroy! The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini…
  24. John Jakes! North and South, The Kent Family Chronicles…
  25. The 87th Precinct books by Ed McBain
  26. The Wool series (popular recent science fiction) by Hugh Howey!
  27. Umberto Eco! The Name of the Rose, Foucault’s Pendulum…
  28. Thousands of joke books! Honestly, who reads a joke book twice?
  29. David Halberstam’s The Fifties!
  30. The “For Dummies” series! That’s another example of one where, once you’ve read it and learned it, you probably don’t want to own it
  31. The Best American Short Stories series (not 2014 at the time of writing, but early volumes)

There! If that “naysayer” still says there isn’t anything good to read in Kindle Unlimited…well, you’ll know better. ;)

Enjoy!

Update: thanks to reader Allie D. for a comment which helped improve this post!

Join over a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

2014 ILMK Holiday Gift Guide

December 1, 2014

2014 ILMK Holiday Gift Guide

There are a lot of options in gifts to consider from Amazon this year…and that’s both a good and a bad thing.

It’s good, because you may find something that fits your needs better.

It’s bad because it’s harder to find it! ;)

That’s a bit like books…so many more possible choices, and yet, it’s challenging to make one.

 Let’s start out with devices to use to read e-books.

Skipping the Fire Phone for now (I’ll come to that), there are two main categories:

  • EBRs (E-Book Readers): the Kindles
  • Fire tablets: (formerly “Kindle Fires”)

They are two pretty different classes of devices. In fact, a lot of people, like me, use both.

An EBR is great for reading books. You can read them outside without a problem, the reading experience is very comfortable, and the battery life is measured in weeks, not hours. If someone is a bookworm, this is a good choice.

Notice that I didn’t say the “best” choice. :) Different people use their devices differently, and what is best for one person might not be best for another.

For example, if someone wanted to read magazines, or perhaps textbooks, in color, an EBR (at this point) won’t do that. If someone reads a lot of novels and they read National Geographic, you are going to have to make the call as to what’s most important for that person (or, as I mentioned, figure on the person using both).

The Fires are “backlit” (you read what is on the screen by a light coming from behind a screen….like your cellphone, laptop, or desktop computer) tablet computers. You can read on them (I do), but you can always watch movies, TV shows, use apps (including popular games), visit websites, and so on.

If you have someone who is “all about those books”, I’d go with the EBR. If you’ve got somebody who is also going to want to do videos, apps, and robustly use the internet, I’d go with the tablet.

Let’s talk EBRs first.

There are basically three models this year, at three price ranges. I’m going to start in the middle, then tell you what you’ll miss or gain as you go up or down.

Kindle Paperwhite 2 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
Price at time of writing (all prices in the USA at Amazon.com, and may go down and back up during this season): $119 to $189
Options: $20 lower for an ad-supported model; $70 more for a model with 3G. Ad-supported models are a lower initial price, and you agree to see ads on the “sleep screen” and where you select the book to read…but not inside the book. Since they’ve been released, the ad-supported models have been more popular than their unsubsidized, full-price counterparts. 3G is a second way to connect to the internet (including Amazon’s servers). With wi-fi only, you need to be on a short-range network (you may have one in your house for your devices: some businesses, like Starbucks and McDonald’s may have it). With 3G, you connect like a cellphone would, so you can connect in more places, possibly like in a park or at the beach. It may be worth noting that 3G is easier to use (oh, and there’s no charge for it), since you won’t have to enter a password.
4.5 stars out of 5, 22030 customer reviews

This is my EBR, and I like it a lot. It is the most comfortable reading experience I’ve ever had…including paper. It has the latest software update.

It has a built-in “frontlight”…that’s not like the backlight on a tablet. It’s more like having an onboard booklight. You can read it easily indoors or out, and has great battery life.

This is a good, solid choice.

If you want to go for the top of the line, you move up to the recently introduced

Kindle Voyage (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
Price: $199-$289 (options priced same as above)
3.9 stars, 644 reviews

What you gain:

  • It’s sleeker (lighter, thinner, smaller)
  • It has a special way to change pages, just by lightly pressing (you can change the sensitivity) on the edge where you hold it (as opposed to touching the screen with the Paperwhite). This should make for an even more friction-free reading experience
  • It automatically adjusts the brightness
  • It has more PPI (Pixels Per Inch)…that’s the number of dots on the screen being to make the letters and images. The more pixels, the stronger the graphic

What you lose:

  • Some people like playing games on their EBRs (called “Active Content”). Active Content is not being made available for the Voyage, supposedly to give a more focused reading experience
  • There are combo deals for the other two models with Kindle Unlimited (more on that later) right now: that’s not available for the Voyage

If you want to get the most affordable Kindle, there is the:

Seventh generation entry level Kindle…I call it the “Mindle Touch” (it replaces the old “minimum Kindle”, and has a touchscreen) or the “K7″ (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
price: $79-$99 (no 3G available)
4.0 stars, 839 reviews

What you lose:

  • There is no light on this. If you want to read in a dark room, you would need to deal with it like you do (did?) with a paperbook
  • No 3G option
  • Lowest PPI (Pixels Per Inch…see above)…least sharp

What you gain:

  • Lowest price
  • Lighter than a Paperwhite (but heavier than a Voyage)

If you are buying someone a first Kindle, or you want to give someone an extra Kindle to have (some people like having two…one could be a “spare”, or be used in two different locations), or want to have a guestroom Kindle, this is a great choice. If you aren’t sure if somebody is going to like a Kindle, this is the least risk (although all current Kindles have a generous thirty day return policy from Amazon).

Overall, I’d say that the light does make a big difference…if you are comfortable spending $40 more for a better experience, I’d go for the Paperwhite over the Mindle Touch (again, just my name for it). Go for the Voyage if you want the “best”.

Next, let’s talk the Fire tablets.

It’s a little bit harder to pick a middle model here. I’m going to start with the one I use every day. :) It’s actually a generation back, but it is still being sold new by Amazon:

Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (at AmazonSmile*)
price: $199 ($179 Black Friday sale)-$294
options:

  •  With 4G (an additional way to connect to the internet, including Amazon’s servers): +$100
  • Go from 16GB on board memory to 32GB: +$20
  • Go from 16 GB to 64GB: +$60
  • Ad supported: -$15

I’ve been very happy with this device! I use it every day. I

  • read books
  • read magazines (in color)
  • use text-to-speech in the car (software which reads books out loud to you, unless the publisher has blocked the access. That’s no longer available on the current EBRs, because they do not have sound)
  • listen to music
  • watch videos
  • use apps (both games and utilities…it’s my main news source, using the Flipboard and Watchup apps)
  • check the weather
  • read and answer my e-mail
  • use it as my nightstand clock (including the alarms)
  • “mirror” it to my TV…anything on my screen appears on my TV through my Fire TV or Fire TV stick (more on those later)
  • and many more things

The onscreen tech help, Mayday, is amazing! Within fifteen seconds, you can have a technical advisor appear on the screen (you can see them, but they can’t see you). They can take over your device (if you want), tell you how to do something, or show you by drawing on the screen.

While it is the previous generation of hardware, it has the current generation software (Fire OS 4).

While no technology is perfect, it has been one of my favorites to date (knock virtual wood). ;)

Want to move up from there?

Fire HDX 8.9 (at AmazonSmile*)
$379-$594

Options:

  • Add 4g: +$100
  • Go from 16GB to 32GB: +$50
  • Go from 16GB to 64 GB: +$100
  • Ad supported: -$15

What you gain:

  • Bigger screen
  • More pixels per inch
  • Faster processor: 2.5GHz versus 2.2GHz
  • Another hour of battery life (despite the larger screen)
  • Better wi-fi connectivity
  • Adds an additional 8MP rear-facing camera (as opposed to the front-facing camera only on mine…the latter is really designed for video calls, and isn’t great for taking pictures or video of things besides you)
  • Current generation (you aren’t likely to see it replaced as soon as the one I have, so you might avoid “buyer’s remorse”)

What you lose:

  • It’s significantly bigger and heavier
  • Costs a lot more

The rear-facing camera is the biggest difference (besides overall technical quality), and some people love the bigger screen. I had an 8.9″, though, and often found it to be too big to carry around comfortably.

If you want to go less expensive, there are three varieties of the HD:

Options:

  • Going from the 6″ to the 7″ screen: +$10 on the regular HDs,  +$40 on the Kids’
  • Going from 8GB to 16GB (not available on the Kids’): +$20
  • Ad supported (not available on the Kids’): -$15

What you lose:

  • No 4G option
  • Lower PPI
  • Slower processor
  • Worse wi-fi connection (single-band versus double-band)
  • Onboard storage options smaller
  • Mayday

What you gain:

  • Lower price
  • Kids edition is “ruggedized” and guarantees a replacement if broken
  • More colors for the case

I would consider the Kids version for younger kids, or ones that you think would be more likely to need the extra protection (kids vary). You’ll have to balance off the lack of a rear-facing camera on the 7″ HDX with the additional cost and size of the 8.9″ HDX. The lack of Mayday on the HDs is a serious deficit, in my opinion, but I bought one of those to be our “guest Kindle” this time around…and it’s working out quite well.

Those are the EBRs and tablets, although Amazon often has refurbished ones of the older, discontinued models.

Certified Refurbished Kindles (at AmazonSmile*)

Those will be less expensive, and may include those older models. They come with same basic warranty as new ones, but they are “used”, so you need to take that into account.

Before I move on to other Amazon media devices, I want to mention a few things that can go with the EBRs and tablets.

Amazon Gift Cards (at AmazonSmile*)

They can not be used for subscription items (magazines, newspapers, blogs), but can be used for music, videos, e-books, the above devices, accessories (covers and such), and apps.

They come in lots of designs, and you can even customize them. You can do odd amounts, and even send them by e-mail.

I’ve seen something saying that gift cards top people’s wish lists…I think there used to be more of a stigma to them before than there is now.

Gift Subscriptions to Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Kindle Unlimited is Amazon’s subser (that’s what I call a “subscription service”) for e-books. You can have up to ten a time out, and there are over 700,000. While you won’t see every currently popular book, there are a lot of great choices. I think this is a wonderful gift for a serious reader…or even for someone you want to encourage to read. Even if they are already a subscriber, this will extend it: and they can exchange the gift, if they want.

I’ve written to them suggesting that they do one month gift subscriptions (I’d buy quite a few), but they are currently available in these amounts:

  • 6 months for $59.94
  • 12 months for $119.88
  • 24 months for $239.76

I don’t know how long it will last, but they are also doing bundles of a Mindle Touch and six months of KU for $99

Kindle and 6M KU for $99 (at AmazonSmile*)

That’s a savings of $39.94!

The bundle offer is also available for these devices (not for the Voyage, at least currently:

I think those bundles could be life-changing gifts!

If you get a tablet, you get a free month of Prime…but gifting a year’s worth would be appreciated by just about anybody:

Amazon Prime (One Year Membership)
at AmazonSmile

Okay, this has gotten to be quite long! Let me give a quick rundown on Amazon’s other media devices:

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
4.0 star, 13302 reviews

I also use this every day. Currently $99, they have had some sales on it already. You plug it into the HDMI on your TV, and you have access to lots of Prime content, apps for other services you may have (Netflix, Hulu+), your photos, and you can mirror your device. If you want to “cut the cord” (stop using or cut back on cable or satellite), this will be a big help.

Fire TV Stick (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
3.9 stars, 1796 reviews
$39 at time of writing

This is the Fire TV’s smaller sibling. I just got mine yesterday…and it’s quite impressive. It’s like the Fire TV, but is a much smaller device. I will say that it was noticeably slower at doing things (although once you got into something like a video or an app, it was fine). It doesn’t come with the voice search remote control that the “big” Fire TV has, but you can put an app on your smart phone and do it. One place I plan to use it as at work: you can mirror your compatible tablet or smart phone. We often have big TVs in conference/training rooms, with an HDMI input. I would just need to put the Fire TV stick on the network, and then I could mirror my device to it. That’s so much more convenient than using bulky projectors!

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
$199 unlocked at time of writing
3.7 stars, 137 reviews

This one notoriously hasn’t succeeded. I own one, and it’s a good phone with some unique features, but not an outstanding one…yet. They are still supporting it and playing with pricing. If they gave it a unique ability to work with the Echo (see below), that could be a big push for the Fire Phone. I’d be cautious about gifting it, though…I’d look at what brand of phone the person wants to have. It’s pretty hard to switch between an Android phone and an iPhone, for example.

Amazon Echo (not yet available for general purchase)
$99 for Prime members who get invites currently: expected list price, $199

This is the one where people would say, “How did you get one of those?” If you haven’t been invited (you can request an invite at the above link if you are a Prime member…doesn’t mean you’ll get one), your only hope is places like eBay.

What I’ve been reading from people who have one is very positive…I’m hoping I can get one, either by invitation, or by them opening it up to the public!

It appears to be improving every day, and I think that this device will become commonplace in the next few years. It’s sort of like the computer on the original Star Trek’s Enterprise, or like SIRI for your house. You talk to it: it does things (especially playing music, but answering questions, putting things on shopping lists, setting alarms…and I predict it will do a whole more in the next year).

That should give you some guidance and ideas! If you have any questions, feel free to comment on this post.

Join over a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Short stories

October 31, 2014

Short stories

I’m much more likely to read novels than short stories…but I do like both.

They are obviously very different sorts of works, and some authors are only good at one or the other.

What’s the strength of a short story?

To me, it’s often that it is so…direct. In a great short story, there isn’t a lot of wasted time. Not a lot of exposition, or secondary plot lines. You are involved, and you know you are going somewhere.

That’s another thing: short stories often give you less description…more suggestion than exposition. You build the rest of it yourself. They don’t have to tell you hair color, and height, and all of that. If a cop yells, “Drop it!” they don’t take the time to tell you what the officer had for breakfast.

Similarly, you don’t need to build up to a whole situation. In some cases, we are just dropped right into the middle of the action.

With a novel, you usually want it to be logical and organic…think of a novel like a three course meal, and a short story like a candy bar. ;) They are both good, but the latter can be much more intense.

The USA Kindle store actually has multiple “aisles” devoted to short stories.

Literature & Fiction: Classics: Short Stories (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

for example, has 2,114 at the time of writing…and 122 of those are eligible through

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That latter option opens up new possibilities. You see, with KU, you could borrow an anthology, read just the short story you wanted, return it, borrow another book, and so on. It wouldn’t surprise me if people start putting together “playlists” of short stories they recommend.

I’m not quite ready for that tonight, though. ;)

I can talk about some of my favorite short stories.

Before I do that, let me mention a little bit about getting into short stories in the Kindle store.

Generally, there are two terms you might hear: anthologies and collections. People don’t always follow these definitions (there are no regulatory bodies in literature), but traditionally, it goes like this:

  • An anthology is a group of short stories by different authors. They are often put together around a theme…for example, I’ve read an anthology about cats in space. Often, the theme is chosen and existing stories are brought together…and maybe a couple of new ones are written just for the book. Another common type of anthology is “Best Stories of 2014″, or things along those lines. Again, different authors, and the theme being the year in which they are released
  • A collection, on the other hand, is usually all the work of one author. There might be a collection of short stories by Mark Twain or Edgar Allan Poe

The third thing, and one really enabled by the electronic format, is that the Kindle store title might have just one short story in it. I often see complaints from people that they think they’ve overpaid in that case…they paid ninety-nine cents for ten “pages” of story.

You’ll find all three types in the USA Kindle store.

In the case of anthologies, one of the best things to do is get familiar with who the editors are. The editors choose the stories, and that’s often the most important thing. Groff Conklin and Gardner Dozois come to mind for me as two I like.

Anthologies and collections both often draw on magazine work. In the heyday of the pulps, some authors were highly prolific. They were paid by the word, and they wrote in multiple genres (often under multiple names), making a living. That doesn’t mean it was “hack” work: there was some  tremendously  imaginative work done under those circumstances. I think working under a deadline is often beneficial…even if it can cause problems in other circumstances.

Next let me make some specific recommendations:

  • The Country of the Blind by H.G. Wells is one of my absolute favorites
  • The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
  • The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke
  • The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain
  • A Scandal in Bohemia by Arthur Conan Doyle (and picked by Doyle as one of the author’s favorite Sherlock Holmes stories…it features Irene Adler)
  • The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
  • The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs
  • The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe (I’ll be running that as my annual Halloween read-aloud)
  • Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling
  • The Oracle of the Dog by G.K. Chesterton (a Father Brown mystery)

Those are just ten…there are many, many more. I’d be happy to hear your suggestions…and yes, I’ve already read The Platypus of Doom by Arthur Byron Cover. ;) That was is arguably a novellette, but I’m willing to be flexible with length definitions. I’m fine with using the Nebula Award definitions:

  1.  Short Story: less than 7,500 words;
  2.  Novelette: at least 7,500 words but less than 17,500 words;
  3.  Novella: at least 17,500 words but less than 40,000 words
  4.  Novel: 40,000 words or more.

http://www.sfwa.org/nebula-awards/rules/

and including anything significantly under a novel. :)

What do you think? Do you read short stories? Do you ever just read one at a time? What are your favorites? Do you have a favorite anthology (I’d have to put Apeman, Spaceman edited by Harry Harrison and and Leon E. Stover up there for me)? What really makes a short story work for you? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

 Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Halloween non-fiction

October 27, 2014

Halloween non-fiction

Let me address one question first: should you let children read books which purport to be true stories about the supernatural?

I’m sure it won’t surprise my regular readers if I give a resounding yes. ;)

Obviously, if you “believe” in ghosts, it makes sense for your child to read books about them.

What if you believe that ghosts don’t exist?

My feeling would be that it’s even more important for your child to read books that present the opposition opinion.

You want your kid (if they are interested) to read them with your knowledge…and encourage an open dialogue.

Ideally, you would also read the same book at the same time, and then you could have a full discussion.

Fortunately, the licensing in the Kindle store makes that easy to do. Even if you buy a book (and there are many well-known books on this topic available through Kindle Unlimited as well), you can typically have the book on up to six devices on the same account at the same time…for that one purchase price.

Not everybody agrees with this…even fictional books with supernatural elements are commonly “challenged” in schools and public libraries. Harry Potter is a good example. I think the basic argument is that children can be seduced into evil by reading about  it.

There is also a group of Skeptics (with a capital “S”) who worry about children being confused by unscientific ideas. For me, though, it would be a great opportunity to foster critical thinking. I would think for most kids we are looking at about eight years old an up for these discussions, but it would go something like this: “Why might that not be true?” That’s a core of critical thinking (and I’ve done a lecture on critical thinking before)…what are the other possibilities?

Does this mean I think every child should read non-fiction books on ghosts and such?

Nope.

If a kid isn’t interested, or is scared, I wouldn’t push it. What I’m looking at here is a kid who self-selects to read something…and whether or not a guardian should veto it.

Again, that’s just my opinion: feel free to offer your own by commenting on this post.

Last thing before I point out some books: these aren’t just for kids. :) I read books on these topics now. I’m fascinated with how people come to conclusions, and reading advocatory books on all sides helps illustrate that.

Okay, here we go…

Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*
by Hans Holzer
Kindle Unlimited (KU)

Holzer really popularized the idea of “ghost hunting”. An urbane and witty writer with more than 100 books published, that included being a New York Times bestselling author. This book is a series of short articles on investigations Holzer made. This is simple: either Holzer is lying, or there is very strong evidence here for something paranormal. Holzer couldn’t have been hoaxed in some of these situations without things being very, very complicated. While the book never gets explicit, there is some…I’d say racy material, but it isn’t really that. You might have to explain to a nine-year old why adults would go to a club to paint a partially naked woman, for example…although the accounting of that is written in good taste.

Monsters Among Us (at AmazonSmile*)
by Brad Steiger
KU

Steiger is another super prolific writer. This book is again one of short articles, although with a bit more structure as it covers different topics. For example, there is that Hollow Earth stuff…

Real Magic: An Introductory Treatise on the Basic Principles of Yellow Magic (at AmazonSmile*)
by Isaac Bonewits
not KU

This one isn’t scary…it looks at magic and breaks it down into engineering like laws. I’m going to from memory here, but there is something like the “law of similarity” (if it seems the same, it is the same…that’s why you can make a replica of something and use it to affect the real thing) and something like the “law of contagion” (the more intimate contact something has with a person, the more of their “essence” it picks up. In other words, if you want to cast a spell on somebody, their fingernail might be better than a spoon they touched once at a restaurant).

Strange Creatures From Time and Space (at AmazonSmile*)
by John A. Keel
KU

Keel was highly influential, and brought a sort of hard-headed, blue collar approach to the paranormal (Keel was, to me, the clear inspiration for Kolchak, the “night stalker”). While many people’s favorite is The Mothman Prophecies, this is a fun, wide-ranging book. One minor warning: Keel isn’t always what would now be considered to be “politically correct”. That might also be a topic for conversation with a young person reading the book…

Adventures in Paranormal Investigation (at AmazonSmile*)
by Joe Nickell
not KU

Nickell is one of those capital “S” Skeptics, but unlike some of them, doesn’t come across as vitriolic. If you want a kid who is leaning towards belief to get the other side, Nickell is a good choice.

There are a lot of choices…here’s one of the main categories:

Kindle eBooks : Religion & Spirituality : Occult (at AmazonSmle*)

Be aware that some of the books in there may be fiction…publishers get to choose their categories, and they don’t always make the categorizations that you or I might make. In some cases, it’s for marketing purposes, in others, it’s just not knowing which one to pick.

If you have questions about any specific titles, feel free to ask me. If you have any other comments for me or my readers, I look forward to those. Perhaps you think children should be protected from occult books, or you don’t want them to be led astray. Maybe you have other books you’d like to recommend (advocatory for the paranormal, or skeptical)…either way, happy Halloween! :)

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

#1 New York Times bestsellers available through Kindle Unlimited

October 5, 2014

#1 New York Times bestsellers available through Kindle Unlimited

It doesn’t surprise me that there have been a lot of…I was going to say “cynical”, but let’s go with “dismissive” comments about the selection of books available through Amazon’s subser (subscription service):

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I think people tend to test it in the same way they tested the Kindle store in the early years.

They look for books they already love, and see if they would be available.

Well, there is something to be said for discovery. :)

After all, you didn’t love those books you love before you read them, right?

You may have particular authors you like, or want to read the next book in a series…I completely understand that.

That’s why it’s important to realize that, if you do pay the $9.99 a month for Kindle Unlimited, you can still buy other books if you want. I know there will be a desire to have it eliminate all of your other book spending, and that’s certainly possible. However, if you have KU and you spend $9.99 on one other book, that’s still less than $20 that month for books.

I have to say, what I’m finding is that I’m reading much more expensive books than I would have otherwise through KU.

I read quite a few public domain classics, which are free, and I often find books that are on sale or are inexpensive. The big difference for me with KU is that I’m reading books which cost $9.99 or thereabouts, which I would not have read otherwise.

That’s a bit of a mental shift. You may have stopped looking at well-known older books, since they can be quite expensive (much more expensive as an e-book than they were in mass market paperback years ago). I don’t find that unreasonable, by the way. I’ve never quite understood why some people think an older book should automatically be cheaper than a new one…when the value you derive from reading it is the same it was when it was initially released.

I’m amazed at books which I stumble across in KU. Sure, there are a lot of indies (independently published books) which are unknown to me, but there are also some which were bestsellers.

What I thought I’d do in this post (and which I may do again in the future) is list ten New York Times fiction bestsellers which are available through KU.

To make it harder, I went only with ones which had been a #1 bestseller.

I started at the excellent site

Hawes Publications site

which has lists of NYT bestsellers.

The page to which I linked above is specifically #1 NYT fiction bestsellers.

Then, I just started going through them to see which ones were available through KU.

I started chronologically at the beginning (which is how they are listed).

The Robe (at Amazon Smile*)
by Lloyd C. Douglas
November 22, 1942
4.6 out of 5 stars, 203 customer reviews
$9.39 at time of writing without KU
Whispersync for Voice (WSV) ready

This is a faith-based novel set in Roman times. It was on the NYT list for something like a year, and was later made into a movie with Richard Burton.

Forever Amber (at AmazonSmile*)
by Kathleen Winsor
November 14, 1944
4.4 stars, 370 reviews
$10.99 without KU
historical romance

Otto Preminger directed LInda Darnell, Cornel Wilde, and George Sanders in the movie.

So Well Remembered (at AmazonSmile*)
by James Hilton
September 23, 1945
5.0 stars, 2 reviews
$13.99 without KU

The Kindle edition may seem expensive, but it’s actually a bundle with three complete Hilton novels (So Well Remembered, Random Harvest, and We Are Not Alone). Hilton is arguably best known for Lost Horizon and Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Trevor Howard was in the adaptation of So Well Remembered.

Gentleman’s Agreement (at AmazonSmile*)
by Laura Z. Hobson
April 27, 1947
4.2 stars, 23 reviews
$7.69 without KU

Huge bestseller which tackled the issue of anti-Semitism, and became a Gregory Peck starring Best Picture Oscar winner.

House Divided (at AmazonSmile*)
by Ben Ames Williams
November 9, 1947
4.7 stars, 37 reviews
$9.99 without KU

Historical novel set during the American Civil War.

Raintree County (at AmazonSmile*)
by Ross Lockridge
April 25, 1948
4.6 stars, 45 reviews
$9.99 without KU

Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor starred in the movie adaptation of this novel set in 19th Century America.

The Young Lions (at AmazonSmile*)
by Irwin Shaw
November 7, 1948
4.5 stars, 172 reviews
$9.99 without KU

A World War II novel…published three short years after the war ended. Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and Dean Martin starred in a 1958 adaptation.

From Here to Eternity (at AmazonSmile*)
by James Jones
March 25, 1951
4.2 stars, 151 reviews
$9.99 without KU

The World War II novel became one of the most-Oscar awarded movies, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Frank Sinatra), and Best Supporting Actress (Donna Reed).

Exodus (at Amazon Smile*)
by Leon Uris
May 17, 1959
4.5 stars, 445 reviews
$6.83 without KU

This one is about the founding of Israel, and became one of the bestselling novels up to that time in the USA. Paul Newman starred in the movie.

The Group (at AmazonSmile*)
by Mary McCarthy
October 6, 1963
3.3 stars, 263 reviews
$9.99 without KU

Almost two years on the NYT list, this novel was seen as a cultural touchstone. Sidney Lumet directed Candice Bergen and Joan Hackett, among several others. The controversial subject matter may have hurt the movie at the Oscars (no noms),but there was recognition from BAFTA (the UK) and the Golden Bear (Germany).

There you are! While you might not buy these books at these prices, you certainly might want to read some of them at no additional cost through your KU membership.

If you are a fast reader, you might get through all of them during your free month. ;)

If you aren’t a KU member, you can still buy them, of course.

I may add another set of these…and I think I would include some non-fiction. Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Enjoy!

 Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Kindle Unlimited dictionaries

September 21, 2014

Kindle Unlimited dictionaries

My Significant Other made good use of

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I think, by borrowing cookbooks just to get a few recipes.

Now, I did think about whether or not that was taking advantage of the authors.

If you don’t read ten percent of  KU book, the author isn’t compensated.

However, I assume that if you go to a spot more than ten percent of the way into the book, even if you don’t read the material before that, it’s going to count. I don’t know otherwise how they can tell how much you’ve read.

I also think if you had a 400 page book, and ninety percent of your readers were more than 10% of the way through in the first day, Amazon might investigate. I’m just picking the 400 and 90 figures for illustration…I don’t know what they might really be.

The idea of just using a small part of the book is a whole new way of thinking about books, at least for me.

Oh, sure, people go into the public library just to look up one thing, and some people would come into the brick and mortar bookstore when I was a manager and do the same thing…but I didn’t like that. If you were looking at the book to legitimately decide whether you wanted to buy it or not, it seemed like you were “stealing” the material to me.

In the case of KU, it seems different…especially if reading one recipe a third of the way into the book would trigger compensation.

I’m not likely to be looking at a cookbook for a recipe…I just don’t cook that much (although I’m quite good with a microwave). ;)

Dictionaries? That I could see.

I read an unabridged dictionary cover to cover when I was a kid, and I do like them.

Especially specialized dictionaries…ones where I might not know the word, or have forgotten it.

Well, I checked

Dictionaries in Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile*)

and there are 375 (including 30  thesauruses).

I do expect at some point I’ll jump in and check a few words in one of these.

A few that stand out:

  • A Sea of Words: A Lexicon and Companion to the Complete Seafaring Tales of Patrick O’Brian by Dean King and John B. Hattendorf: 4.5 stars out of 5, 89 customer reviews
  • Most Comprehensive Origins of Clichés, Proverbs, and Figurative Expressions by Stanley J. St. Clair and S. John St. Clair: 4.8 stars, 9 reviews
  • Roget’s Thesaurus of Words for Intellectuals: Synonyms, Antonyms, and Related Terms Every Smart Person Should… by David Olsen and Michelle Bevilacqua: 4.2 stars, 12 reviews
  • Well-Spoken Thesaurus: The Most Powerful Ways to Say Everyday Words and Phrases by Tom Heehler: 4.0 stars, 18 reviews
  • Let’s Bring Back: The Lost Language Edition: A Collection of Forgotten-Yet-Deligh… Words, Phrases, Praises,… by Lesley M. M. Blume: 4.2 stars, 17 reviews
  • An Uncommon Vocabulary by Jim Boyd: 4.6 stars, 5 reviews
    SALTY LANGUAGE: An Unabridged Dictionary of Marine Corps Slang, Terms and Jargon by Andrew Bufalo: 5.0 stars, 6 reviews
  • The Dictionary of Made-Up Languages: From Elvish to Klingon, The Anwa, Reella, Ealray, Yeht (Real) Origins of… by Stephen D. Rogers: 4.2 stars, 13 reviews
  • Talk the Talk: The Slang of 67 American Subcultures (Second Edition) by Luc Reid: 4.2 stars, 10 reviews
  • The Big Black Book of Very Dirty Words by Alexis Munier: 3.8 stars, 10 reviews
  • The 1333 Most Frequently Used IT Terms (The 1333 Most Frequently Used Terms) by José Luis Leyva: 5.0 stars, 1 review
  • Shesaurus: Dictionary-Thesaurus by Keshia Kola, Marquisha Gatewood and Howard Simpson: 5.0 stars, 1 review
  • Geektionary: From Anime to Zettabyte, An A to Z Guide to All Things Geek by Gregory Bergman and Josh Lambert: 3.9 stars, 10 reviews
  • Chop Squads, Molls, & Suckers A Brief Dictionary of the Vernacular from the 1930s and 1940s by M. S. Scicchitano: no reviews
  • The Dictionary of Vampspeak, Second Edition: Terminology & Lingo in the Vampire Community by Elizabeth Widell: no reviews
  • Dictionary of Imported English: Contributions to the Global Language (Knowledge of the Nerds Book 1) by David Govett: no reviews
  • A Martian Earthly Dictionary by Yavar Dehghani: no reviews

Again, that’s just a small sampling…I do think I’ll read some of those. That last one is particularly odd: it’s supposed to be a humorous dictionary that defines “Earthly” words for Martians. I glanced a bit at it…the English in it is imperfect, and the humor…is intended to be dry, but seems to bring in quite a few stereotypes.

There’s a lot more besides these. You can get travel dictionaries, for example, which could be quite useful to have at no additional cost when on a trip.

Naturally, you don’t have to be a KU member: you can pay for these if you aren’t. I have to say, though, I’m a lot more likely to read some of these as part of KU than I would be if I had to pay for them individually.

You might also consider some for gifts…remember that you can delay a gift book so it is delivered on the appropriate occasion.

I’m really hoping Amazon gives us an elegant way to gift KU this holiday season! Sure, we could do gift certificates, but it would be nice if it was like a gift certificate to Netflix or Audible.com. I might get a lot of those!

What do you think? What has been your favorite dictionary? Do you like reading word origin books just for fun? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

 Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 


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