Whew! I’ve finished.

eternity In case you’ve been wondering why I haven’t posted any book reviews lately it’s because I’ve been ploughing through Edge of Eternity, the third book in Ken Follett’s Century trilogy. There’s nothing I love better than a great big fat book but at eleven hundred pages this one took some time. Follett’s epic fictionalized accounts of real life events are always educational, entertaining, tantalizing and engrossing.

winterThe first book, Fall of Giants was, I thought, the best. Covering world events from the beginning of the twentieth century to about 1925, we are introduced to approximately one hundred and seventy-four characters all of whom are fascinating and relevant. Winter of the World takes us from 1925 until the beginning of the Cold War and this last installment, Edge of Eternity covers world events from construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 to its fall in 1987.

Reading about the race riots in Birmingham, Alabama in the sixties, the escalating Cold War, the assassination of President Kennedy, the Bay of Pigs debacle, Russian dissidents covertly releasing books describing life in Siberian gulags and other historical events fictionally recreated in the pages of this book was a trip down memory lane. Boomers will clearly remember the black and white pictures of race riots on the front pages of newspapers and the sanitized scenes of the Vietnam war that appeared on our television screens every evening. These events will all be recalled as part of lives our growing up. Some of the dialogue was a bit corny this time and the placing of characters a tad contrived, but that’s the nature of fiction.

giantsBecause I read all three books over a period of about three years, it was hard to keep track of the characters, particularly by the time I got to Edge of Eternity. At first I found myself scratching my head searching for the details and course of events that made the earlier characters so fascinating. Follett helps the reader somewhat by providing brief backgrounds but I found the earlier characters much more interesting, perhaps because I’m a fan of the earlier history. I plan to re-read Fall of Giants again some time as it was my favourite of the three.

What struck me most as I wrapped up this reading marathon was how little our world leaders have learned as a result of their twentieth century mistakes. Thanks to Comrade Putin, Russia is regressing to Cold War status. The current racial tension in Ferguson, Missouri and its ripple effect is tragically similar to events in Birmingham, Alabama in the sixties. Sadly, this time there is no Dr. Martin Luther King to calm the protests. And the bad guys are still engaged in pissing contests. Perhaps they should all take a break and read the century trilogy. We’re supposed to learn from our past mistakes.

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To “e” or not to “e”, that is the question

reading5Digital e-readers are becoming increasingly more popular and are available in different devices to suit most individual preferences and pocketbooks. A divide does exist, however, between those who have embraced the new technology and those who prefer the traditional hard or soft-cover paper version. I have one foot firmly planted in each camp. On one hand, I love the convenience of downloading books from a retailer or the library from the comfort of my LaZ-Girl chair with a lovely cup of tea at my side. On the other hand, I’m a dedicated fan of cracking open a wonderful new book, the old-fashioned kind with ink imprinted on paper. I admit to sometimes even bringing the paper version up to my face so I can smell the wonderful musty aroma. Older books have a very special warm-sunny-day-sitting-in-a-chair-by-the window dusty smell that only enhances the reading experience.

Over the past few years I’ve acquired four e-reading devices and I’m still not satisfied that I’ve achieved e-reader nirvana. Here’s an outline of the steps in my quest for the ultimate, perfect device:

  1. My first e-reader was a rather hefty and expensive (at the time) Kindle that I purchased shortly after they launched. I incorrectly concluded that bigger and more expensive would be better and would minimize the obsolescence factor. I found that first Kindle to be too big and heavy and passed it along to a grandson.
  2. The smaller, pocket-book-sized Kindle proved to be perfect for toting along in my purse but because of Amazon’s proprietary software I couldn’t download library books. Back to the mall.
  3. The next, and most expensive step was to purchase an iPad so I could add e-mail capabilities, colour screen, durability, reputation and web-searching benefits to my list of performance enhancers.  I loved being able to carry it around for web-browsing and e-mailing but before long, I again found it too big and heavy for everyday reading. Start the car! (Unlike a trip to IKEA, this quest is costing a lot of money.)
  4. reading4The Kobo seemed like the next logical step. Available at Chapters/Indigo, they had several models with various features and a wide range of price points. Previous experience with my first Kindle and iPad told me that bigger and most expensive was not necessarily the best way to go, so I opted for the Kobo Touch which is their least expensive version. I’m embarrassed to say that I still have not achieved e-reader perfection. My new little Kobo is a joy to carry around as it’s light as a feather and takes up hardly any room in my purse but it’s a bit hard to read in low light, such as reading in bed with poor lighting.

Looking back at my checkered past in e-reader experimentation, I now think I should have purchased an iPad mini or similar Kobo device with internet, colour and web-browsing capabilities. These devices will never replace my laptop for word processing but they definitely have value and are a joy to use. My second little Kindle would have been perfect except I’m now a colour-screen snob who likes to download from the library and my little Kindle can’t accommodate that.

Regrets, I have a few.
Regrets, I have a few.

In the meantime, I’ve pre-ordered an old-fashioned hardcover copy of Ken Follett’s Edge of Eternity, Book Three of the Century Trilogy. At more than eleven hundred pages, that should keep me busy for awhile and keep my mind off the tempting virtues of an iPad mini. I absolutely can’t wait to dig into Edge of Eternity and by the time I finish I should have steroid-worthy biceps and snoot full of lovely paper and ink smells. By then it should be Christmas-e time.







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