Online book shopping: Booko’s what you need

Gone are the days of countless (and mostly fruitless) hours spent in dusty little bookshops feverishly bookhunting. The internet is rapidly becoming a cornucopia of riches for us mad bibliophiles (read: book addicts). With a few strokes of the keyboard and the click of a mouse, the world’s literary riches are available to us in all their glory – books, books everywhere!

However, with such a wide variety, the shrewd online shopper persona kicks in – we do want the best deal out there, don’t we?

Thus begins the exhausting process of comparing books. Pretty soon, nightmarish deal comparison spreadsheets appear, with figures filling every column, the result of hours upon hours of browsing. Needless to say, this scenario is completely unacceptable – we want the internet to do our work for us!

This is where Booko (booko.com.au) comes in. Booko (booko.com.au) is a splendid little book search engine, and what a wonderful thing it is. It lets you search for a particular book, and displays the results in an easy-to-read manner, with an option to view the various editions available.

Clicking on “editions” displays a list of the editions (with cover art), the current prices available for used copies, and the price range for new copies. As soon as you have clicked on the edition you prefer, Booko displays a list of websites that have the book in stock, along with the price, delivery charge and condition.

Really, how much easier could getting a good deal on a book be? From one bibliophile to another, I would suggest checking Booko out right away.

Tip: Used books are the real steals over here. If you want the best deal, get a used book – new books, like new cars, are overrated.

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Enjoying Roald Dahl, all over again.

I bought this fabulous collection of Roald Dahl books at a bargain price late last year; it was meant to be reading material for the daughter, but I ended up reading them first. Had a go at Boy last night and this morning, then Going Solo on the train in the afternoon. Danny, the Champion of the World is on the list tonight.

Reading them brings me back twenty years, to the childhood days in primary school. Nostalgic, and it is magical how every re-read made me relish every sentence and marvel at the simple, yet captivating style he wrote in. It makes me glad that I have had the good fortune to read his works, especially his autobiographies, and to be drawn into a time from long ago, when the world was a simpler and less connected one, where eccentricities prevailed, and conformity was less prevalent. Of course, it wasn’t always a good thing (read: canings), but it was definitely a more fascinating one.

Sometimes, life is just about simple joys like being able to read a good book.

Of politics and loving life.

The Kindle is always a blessing, especially on the daily train commute when I have nothing else to do but to either snooze, or read. And over the years, the hour or so spent on the train has been so valuable on my readings.

So, I’m on this current trend where the daily reading matter consists of nothing but biographies, one after another. And I’ve chewed through quite a few of them, check out the list (not in order):

  • Steve Jobs
  • Michael J. Fox
  • Paul Allen
  • Steve Wozniak
  • Ronald Reagan
  • And it’s on to Barack Obama now.

Needless to say, my reading pace slowed down considerably the moment I got to Reagan and Obama, the main contributing factor being the amount of understanding required on digesting political content. Have since concluded that politics is just too convoluted for normal people. There’s no way you can represent your own unique stance on every issue, seeing as you have to align yourself with the party stance. This means a stance on every debatable topic under the sun from education to abortion to taxes to gay marriage to religion; like seriously, there is just no way anyone would not be offended by the perspective announced, since everyone is entitled to their own views to begin with. And you being tied up by the party liners, might end up representing something you do not believe in, which means you might trust in the main article but not the smaller ones.

And when we get to all the debates that run through the government, all the red tape, the debates and special interest group lobbies, constant polling and speeches, public scrutiny, it just eats away at you. Democracy is a wonderful thing, but the government mechanism needed to run it just feels like an organism with multiple brains co-ordinating the limbs all at the same time – it is difficult to even walk straight. Concluded politics as deeply satisfying, but too draining to fight against the bulk of resistance to do the right thing.

All these being said, I really loved this excerpt about Obama’s mother, so much that I felt I had to share it with you:

Religion was an expression of human culture, she would explain, not its wellspring, just one of the many ways—and not necessarily the best way—that man attempted to control the unknowable and understand the deeper truths about our lives. In sum, my mother viewed religion through the eyes of the anthropologist that she would become; it was a phenomenon to be treated with a suitable respect, but with a suitable detachment as well.

Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope

An interesting perspective on the concept of religion. As an atheist, I view it objectively as a pillar of faith that many people subscribe to, and a means to living one’s life in a kinder manner. Not something to scorn at, but simply an ideal that requires a necessary leap of faith that the realist in me finds disturbing, and unnecessary in my own life. I believe in destiny and possibly a higher existence that has planned our lives, but nothing more than that.

And yet for all her professed secularism, my mother was in many ways the most spiritually awakened person that I’ve ever known. She had an unswerving instinct for kindness, charity, and love, and spent much of her life acting on that instinct, sometimes to her detriment. Without the help of religious texts or outside authorities, she worked mightily to instill in me the values that many Americans learn in Sunday school: honesty, empathy, discipline, delayed gratification, and hard work. She raged at poverty and injustice, and scorned those who were indifferent to both.

Most of all, she possessed an abiding sense of wonder, a reverence for life and its precious, transitory nature that could properly be described as devotional. During the course of the day, she might come across a painting, read a line of poetry, or hear a piece of music, and I would see tears well up in her eyes. Sometimes, as I was growing up, she would wake me up in the middle of the night to have me gaze at a particularly spectacular moon, or she would have me close my eyes as we walked together at twilight to listen to the rustle of leaves. She loved to take children—any child—and sit them in her lap and tickle them or play games with them or examine their hands, tracing out the miracle of bone and tendon and skin and delighting at the truths to be found there. She saw mysteries everywhere and took joy in the sheer strangeness of life.

Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope

The way it was penned, is just beautiful. I love the way it sounds, the way his mother was represented. Hopefully I will get to the same stage of love and appreciation for life that she had; it feels like another level of spiritual awareness altogether, to be able to marvel at the brilliance of nature and the miracles it weaves every day, every moment.

Keeping pace with life’s little distractions.

So yes, almost two months since the last post! I have been a little distracted with things here and there, namely:

  • The progressing pregnancy, much of which has been peaceful so that’s good. Almost six months, three more to go before V’s “holiday” comes! And the start of an entirely new hectic lifestyle I bet.
  • A short ten day trip back to Singapore which resulted in a continuous eating binge, and me falling sick a few days before my return to Melbourne. I relived the agony of helplessness while nursing a fever, and decided that I should look after my own health better from now on, especially after the kid comes – simply can’t afford to fall sick. I’m really happy I got to catch up with a bunch of people though, hadn’t expected to be able to get back this year. And at the same time, a little guilty I didn’t have enough time to meet everyone.
  • Clearing stuff at work. Like they all say, work is never done. And my work is usually varied and full of learning opportunities; I guess you can take it with a half-full or half-empty philosophy. There are however times when I feel like hurling the damn glass right out the nearest window with vile curses following.
  • Joining a local basketball league! Exciting days, full of experiences and I’ll write more about it in a separate post
  • Suffering from a lack of NBA thanks to the lockout – end it soon dammit!
  • Rereading the Pern series, dragonriders ahoy! So much fun to experience this epic series once again and read of flaming Thread outta the skies, teleporting telepathic dragons and Weyrs and Holds and so on. One of my favourite series ever, a wonderful blend of scifi and fantasy.
  • Preparing for my PR application – almost done and ready to mail it out the following week at long last. Paperwork is a biatch as always and I’m happy that it’s almost over.
  • Playing Dynasty Saga – been playing on S3 for more than half a year, and still going strong! It’s a time hog but hey it’s still fun for now.

That just about covers almost everything. I think.

Review: Sword of Truth series = FAIL

Boy was I glad I stopped at book 6 (Faith of the Fallen) and read the SoT wiki for the remainder. It was good at the start, but the later books began spouting meandering plotlines with a great chunk of attention paid to subplots, and somehow everything always fell into place at the end. WTF?

Not to mention the ending in Confessor – WTF?!

No wonder Aloy and LH stopped on the series long ago! Once again, thanks for the warning guys.

(And Aloy was right – stop at book 4!)

John Grogan – Marley & Me: review

First and foremost, thanks to MS and NZ for the loan of this book who have always been most generous in sharing good reads. Suffice it to say that my literary horizons have widened considerably under their influence, since the books they read usually do not fall under my list of preferred reads on an ordinary day.

Marley & Me is a tale about the Grogans and the family pet, a Labrador retriever that grew into a seemingly uncontrollable bundle of energy; about how their lives became a rollercoaster ride with Marley, and the many eventful memories that the dog brought about.

I began reading it on my flight to Darwin, and continued all the way past the connecting flight to Melbourne. It wasn’t exactly a gripping tale that the likes of Matthew Reilly would produce, and definitely not as captivating as what Robert Jordan would have written. Nevertheless, it is still a good read simply because it paints an everyday picture of a man and his dog, and the words capture threads that most dog owners would empathise with (myself included).

So do take a look at the book, and remember to smile while you read.

Matthew Reilly – Seven Ancient Wonders: review

This book was an unexpected travel companion during the recent Sydney trip (being purchased at the Avalon airport bookstore on a whim) and it turned out to be quite a refreshing read. Unlike the Shane Schofield (aka Scarecrow) series, a surprisingly minimal number of good guys die in the course of the book. This is quite unlike Reilly’s style, who has admitted to killing off characters unexpectedly so that the reader stays unhinged throughout the fast-paced action.

With regards to the story, it truly is a riveting masterpiece. The action does not match up to Ice Station of course, but the richness of the details and oh yes Sun-worship, the talk about how the Catholic Church might even be a transformed version is greatly intriguing, to say the least.

(I like conspiracy theories.)

The ending as always, is a little unexpected and even funny. Australia, as the unknowing country who holds power for the next 1,000 years? I like that : )

Jack West (the protagonist for this book) sits pretty well with me, and I’m looking forward to the paperback release of The Six Sacred Stones, the next Jack West novel.