New authors have fairly weak power. Editors can exert their power to:
streamline the story such that it flows more smoothly
cut out dense detailed descriptions that take the reader from the story
their experience at what it takes to make a book become a bestseller gives them authority
The trick is when the author becomes a proven bestseller, the editor becomes weaker. You can look at the books in a series like Game of Thrones and see how the editor became weaker as the book lengths ballooned.
A Game of Thrones 726 pages
A Clash of Kings 761 pages
A Storm of Swords 973 pages
A Feast for Crows + A Dance with Dragons 1761 pages
I have not been one to look favorably on counting children’s books in my Goodreads list. However, I am really behind on my reading.
And my kid just had me read Oscar’s Book for the 9th time today alone. I am getting in a lot of reading that isn’t going counted. So, I may just start including those books on my Goodreads when they meet certain criteria.
When a formerly popular musician dies, I suddenly see a bunch of people posting in social media about them. They come back into the consciousness. And, many people are suddenly listening to the music again. Today it was Eddie Money. But, I’ve seen this trend for most.
I bet it means more sales and listens on streaming services. (For movie stars streaming their movies or sale. For authors more book sales.) In which case, it is good for the owner of the music as they make money off them. I guess the estate benefits from this renewed attention.
Which is crazy to me. I wonder if any of these deaths were tied to financial insolvency? And could have been prevented by getting the same amount of attention while still alive?
It seems sad that we only remember many of these people at their death. Why don’t we remember them in their life?
One of my favorite web sites is Urban Dictionary because people apply new meanings to words and phrases faster than official dictionaries track.
I first became cognizant of this in my teens. My mother had acquired a document from her school principal describing the symbols and words used by children indoctrinated into Satanic cults. To me, they mostly seemed benign things I associated with my friends into heavy metal music. And, of course, Dungeons & Dragons which I played at the time. Teenagers seek ways of communicating where parents are clueless.
Later, my second employer subscribed to various IT industry magazines. As I often stayed after close on Friday afternoon, he would engage me about things he read. I ended up getting free subscriptions to be able to better converse. The more I read, the more I understood jargon in IT mainly coopted existing terms for new things.
I also learned about how these new terms were poorly defined and understood at first. Only as they became super popular and everyone talked about them did their meaning get solidified into something real.
Finally, there is something unsettling at how African Americans continually are the bleeding edge of culture in the US. The music, clothing, and even terminology is sometimes adopted up by the overall culture. At the same time it is reviled as dangerous and feared for how those expressing it are doomed to go to Hell.
I have a Kindle Paperwhite for reading in the dark. It is for when lights are out, so I can read for a bit.
I have a book or two in the car for reading when I go to lunch alone.
October to March, it can be a hardback because the car doesn’t get warm enough to warp the cover. April to September, I read paperbacks. (Maybe a handful of times the car got hot enough to melt the glue, but that was in South Georgia when not parking in a shaded area.)
I love The Expanse series. I just got Tiamat’s Wrath in hardback a couple weeks ago. I should be done with it by now, but I keep not having it with me in the car trying to protect the cover. Leaving it in the right place is such an effective strategy.
So, I now have it in the house. I can get some reading in while the baby naps.
When I was twelve, my father recommended I read a book. It is the only book one I can think of that he has ever made to me. But, I have to say, it was probably the best recommendation anyone has ever made to me. See, when I was a kid, I loved space technology and astronomy. I could recite fact after fact about NASA missions, the planets, and the stars. Anything I could learn about them was appreciated.
A Brief History of Time by Hawking opened up to me cosmology, physics, and quantum mechanics. Reading about these topics stretched my brain and put me in my happy place. I save up the books about this stuff for when I feel at my lowest because diving into them will correct my mood. A difficult week at work? Definitely, time to remove thinking about that stuff by thinking about the multiverse, chaos, and quantum entanglement. Perspective is everything.
Dr. Hawking also represented something I think science desperately needed: celebrity. His popularity and brand recognition showed that academic papers are not the only way to talk about science to the masses. He paved the way for Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Brian Greene. Scientists are writing great books on their areas and the masses are gobbling them up because there is interest. It makes me happy that a society we think of as having gotten intellectually lazy has a hidden interest in science.
It makes me sad that he is gone because he provided me so much more than I could ever adequately explain.
Sitting at a restaurant reading while I eat is a normal thing for me. People know me as that guy. They make assumptions like that I only read paper or Kindle then ask when I show up using the other.
Last week a guy sat next to me and kept me from reading due to his need to talk. He was bragging about being a slow reader. That he only reads dense academic history with more endnotes than text. And switched to talking about the Olympic skating needing a 100m event. He never read while I was there and interrupted me when I tried to return to reading.
All the while I was thinking the reason he cannot as much as he wants is he is easily distracted.
The better metric for tracking how much I have read, in my opinion, is the number of pages. The number of books is okay, but the reality is reading a 50-page novella is not nearly the same commitment as a 1,500-page tome. (I might prefer a statistic for words when looking at my daughter’s reading counts.)
Unfortunately, Goodreads used to include the stats page in the challenges, but they removed the link to it. It is still there. (For now.) You can build the link to it by:
Go to your profile. In the top right corner is your user photo in a circle. Click it.
Click the Profile link.
Replace the URL up through show/ with “https://www.goodreads.com/review/stats/”.
Add “#pages” to the end.
You should have a URL that looks like: https://www.goodreads.com/review/stats/999-name#pages
The page has buttons for books, pages, and publication year.
Books: The number of books read broken down by year.
Pages: The number of pages read broken down by year.
Publication Year: A graph with year published in the vertical axis and year read in the horizontal axis.
It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones… People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us.
This quote amused me because it certainly feels like we are making the same mistakes. I suspect our lack of reading about the past (new or old books) leads to Dunning-Kreuger style hubris where we commit the same mistakes.