ebookclassics

I get by with a little help from my …

writingThanks to all of you who have posted comments, tweeted and generally followed ebookclassics (hey tweet bots, you don’t count). Please bear with me as I continue to fumble my way through the next 92 books on the list. I’m really having a lot of fun. Not getting much sleep, but heck … it’s a labour of love.

As you can probably tell, I’m new to reading classic books and blogging, and maybe just winging it. Some days I question what I tweet or post, not sure if I’m going in the right direction. Thankfully, whatever classic book I’m reading serves as a reliable source of inspiration. I feel that if I keep reading, I’ll keep tweeting and posting, and somehow it will all work out.

It occurred to me that I could probably use a little sage advice from those more experienced in the Blogosphere. I have my reasons for the format of my reviews (namely lack of time), but feel there’s plenty of room for improvement. I have read many articles with tips for bloggers (tell a story, write for your audience, blah blah blah). I would rather hear from YOU fellow readers and bloggers.

If you have a few minutes to peruse my questions below, I would really appreciate anything you might like to pop into the comment box.

Reading Questions

  1. Do you take notes as you read?
  2. What is a good website to find background information on a classic book? I always end up on Wikipedia.
  3. Should I finish the book before I watch a movie adaptation?

Blogging Questions

  1. Do you feel it’s necessary to summarize the book?
  2. Should I rate the books I read?
  3. Are book discussions better on blogs or Twitter?

Merci beaucoup!

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6 comments on “I get by with a little help from my …

  1. Roof Beam Reader
    February 5, 2013

    Reading Questions

    1. Do you take notes as you read?
    I definitely annotate the heck out of my books. I underline, dog-ear, and post-it. I write notes in the margins and will write up in the spare spaces at the end of chapters or on the black final pages/inside covers. I prefer to keep my notes, for the most part, inside the book itself… I’m not sure why, but I rarely keep notes (except for favorite quotes/passages) outside of the physical book.

    2. What is a good website to find background information on a classic book? I always end up on Wikipedia.
    Don’t use Wikipedia! If I need background information or if I’m trying to find out more about a particular book, passage, theme, etc., I usually search around for scholarly essays. This is easier for me, as I’m currently in a graduate program so I have access to a research library and all its databases, but there’s still usually plenty that can be found on the web. Depending on the period, I do love Luminarium (www.luminarium.org) – this is specifically for English Literature, though.

    3. Should I finish the book before I watch a movie adaptation?
    Yes. Yes, yes. Yes.

    Blogging Questions

    1. Do you feel it’s necessary to summarize the book?
    Definitely. Not only is this a service to my readers, who may know nothing about the book, but it also helps me in the long run. I read a lot of books and it’s impossible to remember everything about everything, so keeping summaries in my reviews will remind me of things I might forget, down the road. (“I know I enjoyed Vanity Fair but, for the life of me, I can’t remember that one lady’s name!”)

    2. Should I rate the books I read?
    Totally up to you. I know a lot of people rate books as a “sell/buy” scale for their blog readers; personally, I rate them for my own benefit – and it’s not so much about enjoyment as it is about quality, for me. I recently read, reviewed, and rated Mansfield Park with 3.75 out of 4.0, even though it was not as enjoyable for me as most of her other works. Why the high rating? Because it was important and, in comparison to other works, it was more complex, more daring, etc. If I want a quick reminder of the “best books I’ve ever read” (because this question comes up a lot), I can just scan through ratings and see why I put certain books at the top, bottom, or somewhere in-between.

    3. Are book discussions better on blogs or Twitter?
    I think most discussions are better on blogs, but they’re more convenient on Twitter. Both are useful, in my opinion. I get much more in-depth when involved in a comment-discussion on blogs, but Twitter book chat can be a lot of fun.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      February 5, 2013

      Wow, this is fantastic! Thank you for the advice. Lots to think about now. Ha! I knew Wikipedia was bad news …

      Like

  2. Ben
    February 5, 2013

    Reading Answers:

    1. I note obsessively. I can’t bring myself to mutilate the book so I have a separate writing journal in which I log quotes, thoughts, reactions, etc while reading.
    2. I generally Google the book or author. I don’t do this often because I’ve come across editions with great introductions but when I do, I tend to Google what I’m looking for. Sometimes I stumble on some enlightening things 🙂
    3. Definitely finish the book before watching the movie, or find a good reading friend who has already read the book and can tell you if you need to read the book first. For example, Life of Pi…not imperative.

    Blogging Answers:

    1. I don’t usually summarize the book at all. I recently read a post online about what a good review should look like and immediately decided that I don’t review books. I simply write an essay, of sorts, depicting my ideas about the book. I try and assume the reader has read the book but might give a little background info for an idea if necessary.
    2. I like rating the books, more for myself than others. I love organizing 🙂
    3. I like discussions on Twitter but perhaps I haven’t tapped into the potential of blog discussions.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      February 6, 2013

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I will have to figure out some kind of note-taking because.my ereader is from the stone age and my preschooler deletes notes off my smartphone. We share the same aversion to mutilating books. I feel this way about new notebooks too.

      Like

  3. I’m gonna take a stab at this, but more from the perspective of a blog reader than blog writer. (I do blog, but not constantly or terribly efficiently, so.)

    Do you take notes as you read?
    I didn’t use to (and still don’t when reading paper books), but now that I mostly read on my laptop/tablet I find it very easy to copy passages or jot down some thoughts.

    What is a good website to find background information on a classic book? I always end up on Wikipedia.
    Wikipedia’s reference section can be a good place to start – it can direct you to other sites about the book or to monographs etc. For some classic authors, you’re also likely to find sites maintained by academics/very knowledgeable fans with links to a lot of resources, so googling for the author first and branching out from there might be useful.

    Should I finish the book before I watch a movie adaptation?
    This depends a lot on your tastes/what you’re after when you read a book or watch a movie, so I don’t know how to answer. I usually like to read the whole book first.

    Do you feel it’s necessary to summarize the book?
    I don’t, but this really depends on your style of reviewing. There’s nothing wrong with summarizing, especially if you use your reviews as a kind of reading journal that you can return to and refresh your memory. I tend to skip over summaries when reading posts, though, because either I know the book and don’t see the point of reading a summary, or I don’t know the book and want to be spoiled (when I am just looking for a recommendation/general opinion).

    Should I rate the books I read?
    Only if you feel comfortable with it. I tend not to pay attention to this aspect when I am reading posts about classic literature. (I do pay attention to them when I’m reading reviews of contemporary literature and looking to buy a book based on the recommendations.)

    Are book discussions better on blogs or Twitter?
    I like the speed and spontaneity of Twitter, but a combination is probably best.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      February 6, 2013

      Really appreciate your suggestions! I haven’t summarized the plot because I assume the reader already knows it. I also don’t want them to leave the post before reading my key thoughts on the book.

      Like

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