The Pleasures of Reading

Although I do enjoy various nonfiction, here I mostly concentrate on fiction.

In spite of the increasing computerization of the world, I maintain that one of the greatest pleasures this world has to offer is the joy of reading a good book. I myself have a strong preference for the genre of fantasy (see my favorite fantasy books here), in which a well-written book can transport you away from this imperfect world and into a carefully crafted world in which any imperfections are there by design (well, aside from typos, plot inconsistencies, etc.). A good book has the potential to enable the author's and the reader's imagination to combine to create an idyllic experience without distractions (except for typos, historical revisionism [which tends to creep into multi-volume series which grew larger than the author originally planned], and other such things).

The computerization of the world has enabled readers everywhere to enjoy many good out-of-print books at reasonable prices. Whereas at one time, despite cruising numerous used book stores you might not be able to locate a specific out-of-print book, nowadays you can often find it at various websites, such as the online auction site (including its subsidiary for fixed-price sales and the used/new book online search facility Of course, the prospective buyer must decide whether the book is worth the price. Some of the out-of-print book prices I've seen online have been outrageous, but as is usual, buyers decide what the market will bear.

A downside of this computerization is that independent booksellers find it difficult, if not impossible, to compete with the numerous online sources of books, whether it be large (or small) booksellers, or even individuals who are selling their books. However, as a reader who has found long sought after out-of-print books thanks to the Internet, you will not find me in the corner of the Luddites on this point.

Some short stories I rate very highly Some books I have enjoyed reading and/or found quite compelling

* Timothy Zahn, an author whose thorough craftsmanship is evident in his work, also wrote the Specter of the Past and Vision of the Future pair, his fourth and fifth Star Wars novels, which I didn't like as much. My feeling is that all of Zahn's Star Wars novels are superior to most or all other authors' Star Wars novels, a few of which I've tried reading, but which have never sparked my interest enough to get beyond a few pages.

Each of the following two authors wrote some books I found very entertaining (Anthony) or exciting (Crichton), but after reading several of their works I grew tired of the formulaic feel to them. Nonetheless, some of the ones I read were great the first time I read them (it's harder to imagine rereading the Crichton books, though) and might be similarly great for you, too, if you haven't read them.

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