Wednesday, May 18, 2011

No More Novels on DailyLit

Yesterday, I finished reading Paranoia by Joseph Finder. According to my Goodreads profile (, which you can also find in my links list under "Look! I read good!"), I started it on December 7 of last year.

It never takes me that long to read a book. But in this case, I read it through DailyLit (, which gives you a page a day via e-mail or a little longer, if you choose.

I chose Paranoia because it was a surprise to see a relatively recent book on there (well recent in paperback form, as that was published in 2006. It was first published in 2004), offered whole. You'd expect that with the novels of Charles Dickens, being in the public domain and all, but there that one was, full-length.

The plot sounded interesting, forced small-scale corporate espionage, and Finder is quite a writer, making every technical aspect easy to understand. He's not one of those aloof thriller writers who expect you to climb to Mount Olympus to even be able to understand what you're reading. He's like a friend telling you a story about something that happened. Your friend is going to make sure you know every detail, and that's what Finder does here.

In that span of time, between December and now, I bought all of Finder's books in paperback for cheap. I want to explore every other thriller he's written. I haven't started those yet (I also did the same with Tessa Hadley, after I read a short story of hers in The New Yorker, and just like with Finder, I haven't started reading her novels yet either), but I will get to his second book, The Russia Club soon (There was no reasonably priced copy of his first book, Red Carpet).

I liked getting a page a day from DailyLit (or rather a few compressed into one, since the mass market paperback edition is 448 pages, and there were 170 e-mails from DailyLit for it), but towards the end, I got impatient. I wanted to know how it all shook out, so yesterday, on "161 out of 170", I kept going. I clicked on the option of "Get the next installment right now," and I finished it.

I've done this before. On DailyLit, I read Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow the same way, except I read it in one sitting. And then I did it again a few months later, craving it again. And then I bought the book from Amazon. I expect that's what Joseph Finder also hopes for in having Paranoia available for free, and that's exactly what he got from me. But I don't like doing this often. I prefer the real thing, real covers, real pages. I could never read Dickens like this. In fact, in the years before DailyLit, when I was doing a book report in middle school, I found A Tale of Two Cities available online, and I read it all online. That's not the way for me. Never do I want technology to take over how I read. For music, fine. An mp3 player was a godsend, because I don't have to cart around my entire CD collection on a road trip as I used to. And my mp3 player is always with me whenever I go out. I can understand that. But I will never, never, never, never get a Kindle. Give me stacks numbering into the hundreds. Give me that aging, yellowing smell of a book that perhaps has been read by so many across so many years and is now owned by me. I could never get the same pleasure of downloading a title to a Kindle as I do when I search for a particular book on and can compare prices and figure out what's the best seller to get it from. That happened last night with On the Volcano by James Nelson. I'm a huge fan of his The Trouble with Gumballs, and his son Jeff informed me that not only is he still alive, but he's still writing, and On the Volcano was recently published.

I appreciate having found The Trouble with Gumballs while searching for books about vending machines on the County of Los Angeles library website, but I wasn't going to do the same with this one. I wasn't going to wait. And had plenty of copies. So it's on its way to me.

However, I am going to wait for Nelson's The Poor Person's Guide to Great Cheap Wines and Everybody's Guide to Great Wines under $5 to get to me from whichever library will send it. I don't drink wine, but I do love good writing about anything. It's why I sometimes read the wine column in The Wall Street Journal Weekend.

This entry has really wandered, so I'll get back to the point: No more novels on DailyLit. During the middle portion of Paranoia, I could wait, and I was fortunate to discover Finder's other books, but that kind of discovery doesn't happen that often on DailyLit. The last time was Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom a few years ago, and as mentioned, that ended up the same way. But I'll stick with my discoveries in print. I'll get that feeling right then and there that I should have a book in my collection, and that doesn't happen often either, but when it does, it's a feeling that the word "euphoria" can't contain.

I'll stick with poems and quotes-of-the-day on DailyLit. Shorter and less time.

Night Moves

Last night was one of those nights in which I slept in sections. It doesn't happen often, thankfully, but I drift off, wake up, drift off, wake up. It doesn't happen five minutes later, but probably an hour or two, and always a dream involved. I was surprised that no dream involved the taping of the third- and second-to-last Oprah Winfrey shows last night, which I followed closely on The Hollywood Reporter website via a reporter who had a live chat blog going while the episodes were being taped at the United Center in Chicago. Both episodes are called "Surpise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular" (They air on Monday, May 23 and Tuesday, May 24) and it seemed like nearly all of Hollywood was there. Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Beyonce, Queen Latifah, Jamie Foxx, Dakota Fanning, Usher, Kristin Chenoweth, Aretha Franklin, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith (the latter two hosted the second episode, while Tom Hanks hosted the first, apparently), Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, and many other names I've forgotten. The two episodes were producers' choice. Oprah didn't know anything about what was going to happen. The NBA agreed to push back the next Finals game (Bulls vs. Heat) for this. That's power over many decades.

I know the different parts of the night. I figured that when I woke up the first time, it was 1 a.m. The next time was 3. The third time was probably getting closer to 6, since the heat clicked on and soon enough, Tigger came to my bed, licked me and got in. I never look at the clock and I'm never overly concerned about being awake during the night. I just shift and drift right back off.

It also rained during the night. Not a "Holy-crap-why didn't-I-build-an-ark" downpour, but just a steady rain that there's always too little of here in Southern California, but that's expected with the desert atmosphere, though rare in May. Usually the heat ratchets up around this time and doesn't stop until the end of summer. I'm all for rain as late as we can get it.

That's pretty much all I have.