52 Books, 365 Photos

Friday 11th Feb 2011

At the beginning of the year I decided to follow a couple of resolutions, of sorts. I’m not the kind of person that does resolutions, but projects, they’re different. So I started two fairly easy-to-do personal projects, a 365 photo project and a 52 books reading project.

They’re both pretty simple to explain — I’ll take a photo every day for the whole year (and post it to Flickr) and read one book a week for the whole year. The photo one isn’t a problem, I can take loads of pictures — I kept a photoblog going for 5 years after all — and having to take one everyday adds a documentary necessity to the whole thing. Basically it doesn’t matter so much if you post shitty pics now and again (or the whole time, I hear you critics snipe!) because it’s just whatever camera you have wherever you are.

The books thing is a bit trickier. Books aren’t all the same length, or written to be read at the same speed, so sticking to a strict schedule might not do the books justice. I decided to keep to an average rate instead of strictly one a week. So, this is the list so far, which I’ll happily admit does include a couple of re-reads (hey, good books deserve it):

  1. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
  2. Ubik, by Philip K. Dick
  3. The Drowned World, by J. G. Ballard
  4. The Player of Games, by Iain M. Banks
  5. The Bridge, by Iain Banks
  6. Currently reading: The City and The City, by China Mieville

Ubik and the Drowned World I read in about a few hours each, they’re pretty thin in terms of pages and plot (insightful review, huh?) but the Stephenson book was a good (enjoyable) week-and-a-half job. The City and The City is pretty damn good, even though as an ebook it’s a little disappointing — whichever software they used to put it together didn’t understand the ź character, and given that the book is mostly set in a city called Besźel, this can get pretty fucking annoying, as you can see on these screenshots:

All those extra line breaks ruining the flow of text? Yup, those are because the ź characters are all oversized, blurry, crappy images. I am firmly in the pro-ebook camp, but crap like this is just insulting. I like the idea that ebooks could replace the cheaply-produced books — the novels, biographies, whatever — leaving my limited amount of shelf space free for the quality books, reference materials, beautiful editions, graphic novels and the like, the kind of book where the physical artefact is as much a part of the pleasure of it as the content. But I think the publishers and Amazon (and other vendors) need to make sure that the typography is at least up to a decent, error-free standard. We shouldn’t still be seeing character encoding issue on the open web, let alone copyrighted, (supposedly) professionally produced books from major publishers.

Anyway, this wasn’t meant to be a sodding great rant. I’ve got a list of books waiting, so I’d better get The City and The City finished this weekend, you know to keep up to my schedule. Kinda. Now, if I decide to add War and Peace into the list, I’ll be doing some schedule juggling then, I’m sure.