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Kindle vs Paper – A book lover’s dilemma

March 3, 2015 No Comments

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I’ve always thought of myself as forward thinking, liberal in all aspects of life, a backer of progress, but if you’d have asked me as little as six months ago which was better, the e-reader or the paperback, I would have scoffed. Paper, I would definitely have said paper. It turns out I’m a bit of a traditionalist in some areas.

I have 3 walls lined with books in the living room and there’s at least another box in the attic awaiting shelf space. The top of the fridge is lined with recipe books and there are a few choice tomes in the bathroom too. I rarely buy a new book though; most books are rescued from second hand shops or discovered in Falmouth’s book-shop-come-pub Beerwolf. I’ve been known to write anonymous notes on inside covers and leave finished novels on tables in places as far flung as Cambodia and Camborne. Lots of holiday memories involve reading books on trains, by seashores, or on balconies. Simply put, I have a long relationship with paperbacks. But this Christmas I received a Kindle Paperwhite, and it’s here that my firm moral stance on the physicality of books has become a bit murky. Firstly, there’s the sleek, modern design and the leather case that’s almost as satisfying as a new hardback with the dust jacket removed; there’s the sweeping page changes at the touch of a thumb; and it’s light as a feather.

I have fully embraced the Kindle, predominantly, because of its portability. Family holidays usually involve lugging around a bag of books and CDs and I don’t remember mourning the loss of the Discman in the early 00s (apart from the degraded sound quality of MP3s), so why get sentimental over tons of paper?

In fact, if I didn’t have the Kindle I probably wouldn’t have even bothered reading my current book, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. At 1,000 pages long, readers have complained that the only comfortable position to read it in is sat up straight, at a desk. With the Kindle, it’s all the same. There are no limits and no R.S.I. and you can have half of Waterstones in your back pocket if you so wish.

On the other hand, the tactile nature of the paperback has gone. Measuring your progress through a novel should be done through the feel of pages growing on your left and receding on your right. It shouldn’t be quantified in percentages, or hours left of the book, or how many minutes to the end of the chapter, which the Kindle does. We don’t all read at the same speed, or indeed read every passage at the same pace. Believe it or not, good writers can play with the speed you’re reading at. And some passages are worth lingering over.

True, nothing prevents me from lingering on Loc. 5,772, but it’s not going to happen. My Kindle screen is a cold, ascetic place. I’d no more linger on its page than I’d hang out at an airport security gate, or a dentist’s waiting room. The Kindle’s form invites a more linear reading experience for me than reading a book in hand, which more richly engages all of the senses.

I also have a habit of reading in bed, sometimes for hours. In fact, I’m pretty sure my parents engineered the illicit pleasure of reading under the duvet with a torch as a cunning ruse to encourage reading. Either way, the backlit screen means my partner now gets to fall asleep undisturbed by the bedside lamp, while I can carry on reading.

But studies have shown that people can recall more of the plot of a novel read on paper. Perhaps the Kindle screen creates the same kind of throw away feel to the information that we get when browsing through the internet?

That throw away nature is similar to how some feel about the ipod and music – with gigabytes of music at our fingertips we no longer have to make choices, to define our tastes, which allow us to have everything at our pleasure, but to not really be sure what we get pleasure from. The Kindle has enough storage for over a 1,000 books. After linking it to a friend’s computer, I now have over 100: from the complete works of John Steinbeck and Virginia Woolf, to ‘If Chins Could Kill’ by the B-Movie actor Bruce Campbell. But why? Because I could. I’m now carrying around a veritable library – including the sections I have no interest in. Maybe it’s supposed to be some sort of cultural currency? You can learn something about a person through their bookshelves: their questionable taste is laid bare for all to see. My virtual library tells people absolutely nothing about me. Maybe that’s a good thing: now you can read 50 Shades of Grey on the beach, with the children, without anyone batting an eyelid.

I can’t see myself ever completely giving up paperbacks, for the reasons given above and the romantic notion of the novel, crumpled, creased and dog eared after reading. But I’m not going to let that stand in the way of the convenience of the Kindle. Unlike the difference between vinyl records and MP3s played through tinny earbuds, words themselves don’t lose their quality or their power.

 

 

 

Children’s books based in Cornwall

November 14, 2014 No Comments

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As adults we all know the joys of getting stuck into a good novel when we’re on holiday. One of our fondest holiday memories here at Cornish Holiday Cottages is getting lost in The Kite Runner whilst sitting on the floor of a cramped train in Italy. We also know how a story linked to the place you are staying can add to the atmosphere of a place. It can help you see your surroundings through the imagination of someone else, especially as a child. It is so easy to get lost in a story as a child and to be able to live parts of that story in real life can give you both a reason for reading and a reason visiting.

 

Another thing we know is how hard it can be to get children to read sometimes, so we’ve done our research, delved into our own childhoods and most importantly, asked our own children what their favourite Cornwall set books are. Here’s the list we’ve come up with.

 

The Mousehole Cat – Antonia Barber.

 

Reading The Mousehole Cat has almost become a rite of passage for Cornish children. One of my fondest memories of primary school involves being read this book by my teacher. Beautifully illustrated by Nicola Bayley, The Mousehole Cat tells the story of one brave – and in reality, very foolish – fisherman taking to the stormy seas with his loyal black and white cat, Mowzer to catch some fish. The sea is drawn as a ginormous storm-cat toying with the tiny mouse of a fishing boat. Mowzer purrs the ocean into submission and everyone celebrates their return by gobbling down Star-Gazey pie.

This book is most suited to joint reading with younger children and will set up a trip to Mousehole and Newlyn quite nicely.

 

Why the Whales Came – Michael Morpurgo

 

Most of Morpurgo’s novels are set in the South West to some degree. The former Children’s Laureate and War Horse writer has a knack for marrying the global effects of war to personal, small town stories and Why The Whales Came brings the first world war to Cornwall.

Gracie and her friend Daniel have always been warned to stay away from the Birdman and his side of the island. But then they find a message in the sand and discover the Birdman is not who they thought. They build up a lovely friendship with him, but when the children get stranded on Samson Island they don’t know whether to believe the birdman’s story that the island is cursed.

 

Dead Man’s Cove – Lauren St John

 

Given five stars by one eight-year-old reviewer on Amazon, Dead Man’s Cove has a twisty plot, quirky characters and a strong, young detective heroine in 11-year-old Laura Marlin.

This St Ives based story is fantastic for the 7-11 age group and is a great introduction to the mystery genre for children.

 

Ingo – Helen Dunmore

 

Ingo builds on the myth of the Mermaid of Zennor. Sapphy’s dad disappeared into the seas years ago and when her brother is missing after a quick swim, she discovers him talking to a mysterious girl in the water at a nearby cove. Does the same fate await him? Sapphy and her brother are drawn in to the world of the ingo (or mermaids).

Ingo is the first novel in a series and brings new life to old legends. It is unusual enough to interest fans of Harry Potter and will add an extra depth to your child’s trips to the beach.

 

Winter Damage – Natasha Carthew

 

Set in a near future suffering the effects of climate change, Carthew’s young adult novel is a dystopian antidote to the sometimes twee and romantic novels set in Cornwall. Living with her dad and brother on a frozen Cornish moor, Ennor knows things are taking a turn for the worse. In a bid to save her family, she packs blankets, a saucepan and a gun and sets off to find her mum and bring her home.

The book I’d most compare this to is Meg Rosoff’s How I live Now with its strong and robust central character. Winter Damage is a compelling and exciting read packed with suspense, humour and heartache.

 

Stormbreaker – Anthony Horowitz

 

Finally, here’s one just for the boys. Stormbreaker is the first book in the Alex Rider series and most of the action takes place here in Cornwall. Stormbreaker tells the story of a teenage spy whose first mission takes him into the the depths of Cornwall to take out multimillionaire Herod Sayle’s super ‘stormbreaker’ computers. Alex soon finds himself in mortal danger. Will his first mission also be his last?

In the mould of a James Bond thriller, Stormbreaker should interest even the most boyish of children on holiday.

The Great Cornish Food Book

October 28, 2013 No Comments

Cornish Food Book

‘A collection of recipes, tales and morsels from the ocean, fields and cliff tops of Cornwall.’

What I thought would be a recipe book turned out to be much more! This brilliantly finished book is packed full of stories about the food industry in Cornwall. From fishermen to pasty makers! It’s got a great balance of recipes, stories and other relevant information, for example a big section on foraging which is a hot topic at the moment, a lot of local chefs use foraged produce in their restaurants and more and more people are choosing to forage for themselves. A beautiful balance of photography and illustration makes this book very easy and enjoyable to read.

It’s always a happy surprise when a book turns out to be more than what you expected.

Cornish Food book

Cornwall is so lucky to have such a thriving food industry. There’s always a foodie event going on down here from feast nights at the Hidden Hut, Porthcurnick, to pop-up events like Ken Symons from Olivers in Falmouth doing a charity evening at Espressini. So it’s worth keeping an eye out before coming down to Cornwall on your holiday for exciting events happening all over the South West!

To order your copy of The Great Cornish Food Book click here