Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Most Anticipated Books of 2012

The literary website The Millions has put together an extremely thorough list of most anticipated books of 2012. If you love books and especially love staying on the cutting edge of literature it is a fantastic resource. But to be thorough it has to be long and detailed and your eyes can go a little cross-eyed scanning through the whole thing. So I’ve pulled out three books on the list that are, for whatever that’s worth, Josh’s Most Anticipated books of 2012.

Varamo by Cesar Aira: In some ways you could say Cesar Aira does the same thing over and over; he writes short, strange, beautiful, intelligent, mysterious, philosophical novels. But each novel is different. They have different tones, different themes, even different prose styles, and they are all fantastic. I’ve read three of them; Ghosts, set in an apartment complex still under construction on New Year’s Eve, The Literary Conference, which involves pirate treasure, cloning, and works in translation, and How I Became a Nun, which starts with an accidental poisoning by cyanide-laced ice cream and goes, well...elsewhere. Whatever Varamo is, it’s sure to challenging, interesting, and exciting. Varamo is scheduled to be released in February.

A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava was originally self-published and is now being brought out by the University of Chicago Press. It’s gathering comparisons to some really big, really amazing, really ambitious books, such as Infinite Jest, Underworld, and even Moby-Dick. Following a New York City public defender who has never lost a case, De La Pava explores the underpinnings of our understanding of justice and order. What excites me about the book is the praise from critic Steven Moore, author of The Novel: An Alternative History (volume 2 please!). If he’s excited about this book then so am I. A Naked Singularity is scheduled to be published in May.

Your Name Here by Helen DeWitt and Ilya Gridneff: I’ve read much of this book as a PDF on my computer so I am thrilled to see it come out as a printed book. Playing with language, translation, narrativity, and the construction of words into books, and featuring a pretty great running joke about If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler (can there be any other kind of joke about If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler?). Your Name Here will (I hope) finally earn Helen DeWitt the attention and acclaim she deserves as one of our most innovative writers of fiction. It follows her daring, scathing, satirical novel Lightning Rods (which was a staff pick here) and picks up with the innovation and exploration that made The Last Samurai such a compelling book. Your Name Here is scheduled for publication some time this fall.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Tale of Two Apps

Odds are, this holiday season some of you got some fancy gadget on which ebooks can be read. If you got a Kindle Fire or a Nook Tablet, please see our post from last week about how to read our ebooks on those devices. Regardless of what device you’ve got (or are going to get), there are two apps for reading our ebooks on both Android and iOS devices. Both apps have their strong points, so which one you use depends on what you want out of reading ebooks.

IndieBound Reader App: If you use an Android device, this is the app for you. It allows you to shop with Porter Square Books (or the indie bookstore of your choice) directly through the app and since we added stored credit card information, you can buy and read PSB ebooks in mere moments. The app also supports highlighting and annotation and has a whole range of display settings, from font size to brightness. It also plays well with other ebooks sites like Project Gutenberg and NetGalley. (And probably any site that uses .epub ebooks, but I haven’t tried any of those yet.) With Project Gutenberg and NetGalley, at least, when I chose to download the ebooks I was given the option of importing them directly to my IndieBound Reader app library. I got the five-volume complete works of Edgar Allen Poe in about a minute. It also supports PDFs so you can download PDFs directly to your library and read, bookmark, and annotate them, making it a useful tool for readers and writers.

If you’ve got an iPad or iPhone or other iOS device, you still have to purchase ebooks through your browser and then download them into your app. Once you’ve purchased the ebook click on “download” and the ebook will download to your IndieBound Reader app library.

IndieBound Reader App for Android and iOS

Google eBooks: The Google Books app is really handy if you plan on reading ebooks on multiple devices. Because the books are stored in the cloud, if you start reading something on your iPhone on the train, you’ll be able to pick up where you left off on your iPad at home. It’s also a good choice if you want to conserve memory space on your device. You still have to use your browser to purchase the ebooks, but once purchased, you can instantly access them on every device with the app.

Google Reader App for Android and iOS

Both apps have their strong points and both apps give you the freedom to get ebooks from many different sources. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from using both of them for different books or situations. Also, because our ebooks are .epub, you can read them on all kinds of other software like Adobe Digital Editions and Calibre.

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