I discovered a new magazine last year, only published once a year but somehow last year's was close at hand for most of the year and this year's likely to be the same, The Royal Society of Literature Review.
At £50 a year subscription and living so far from London I'm not a member and I doubt bloggers make it to Fellows, so either I've missed this review in previous years or it has just been made available to us on the outside to see what those on the inside get up to, and I found my copy in Waterstone's.
This issue has, amongst other articles, Penelope Lively et al on the short story, a commentary on the enduring (or not) power of Bloomsbury, a fabulous discussion between Hilary Mantel and Beryl Bainbridge on writing historical novels, John Carey on William Golding and the full transcript of the Hawthornden Anglo-American lecture given by Elaine Showalter and entitled American women and Jane Eyre fever examining the excitement and imitations the Brontes have inspired across the Atlantic and there's plenty more. It's £5 well spent to my mind because I shall be dipping in until the next one.
Of interest also, several writers discussing the e-book and its implications.
Now I've got to admit I do like a bit of new technology and I don't like letting it get too far ahead of me, let it emerge and settle and then I seem to plunge in just before the next new thing arrives. So I'm currently exploring the joys of my iPod Touch, Apps are my new best friends and I shall just let the forthcoming iPad do its own thing, I have enough on my plate with this.
How can something so small hold full length films, hundreds of books, let me find WiFi hotspots and check e mails and the blog when I'm travelling and it probably cooks and washes the dishes, I just haven't asked it yet for fear of usurping Bookhound from his favourite occupation. I have War & Peace and Ulysses on there, the complete works of Shakespeare and who knows what else.
It now seems light years since the Sony e reader arrived here amidst much fanfare, prophets of doom predicting the end of the book as we know it and me frantically fumbling around installing things on the computer to make it work.
The Tinker took one look and realised it was the answer to his every reading need, ordered one and has caught up on countless classics, using it almost constantly ever since. When he was in hospital last year I left him mine, ate some more of his jelly babies, took his off to recharge and he just carried on reading The Count of Monte Cristo.
Whilst most authors seem rightly exercised about copyright issues Philip Pullman is also not optimistic about longevity, asking whether it's all a flash in the pan and can time sustain access to the technology or will an e reader become a dinosaur.
Frances Wilson fears this 'smirking silver object.'
Jenny Uglow is wary regarding intellectual property rights but welcomes the idea that readers 'will be exposed to a range of literature they couldn't possibly imagine - or carry' ....magic paper with the power 'to reach the maximum number of people.'
Philip Pullman is an iTouch convert as am I, but books + travelling = e reader for me.
I'm with Bryan Appleyard writing recently in the Literary Review who likes the e reader (he has a Kindle) for the simple reason that it is only for books.
Nothing else can intrude on the reading experience, no little box popping up to tell me there are e mails, no temptation to go off and have a quick go on Scrabble (TEXTILES - 96 points this morning) or catch up on who's had what for breakfast on Facebook, just me and hundreds of books in my bag which I find are enough to get me through most of those unforeseen moments of boredom as well as train journeys.
Once I became accustomed to the screen and the buttons I hardly noticed the difference, I'm reading without distraction and that's all that seems to matter. I can cope without the paper and the cover and the feel of the book and the weight of ten books in my luggage quite easily, though I do always carry one slender book at all times in case of withdrawal symptoms.
In turning the pages there is a very slight delay between press and next page so now I'm like a swimmer doing a tumble turn and have timed my press to perfection as I'm reading the last line.
I can bookmark as I'm reading, and to cope with not being able to write in the book I keep a notebook and pencil tucked inside the bespoke cover I made the day it arrived after having serious issues with the ghastly slurry coloured faux leather one the Sony e reader came in.
I'm sure they're not for everyone but mine is definitely for me and I love it still. I'm currently en route to London for two days of 'day job' staff meetings, I'll be reading this month's Ulysses chapter and if I do manage to leave a comment here it will be down to the wonders of iTouch technology and some WiFi somewhere.