Tag: Ken Follett

Hardcover verse Paperback

Posted October 26, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 15 Comments

I wanted to talk about hardcovers and paperbacks because I’m interested to know people’s thoughts on the topic and because Australians do things a lot differently to the rest of the world. Most books (outside Australia) have a hardback release and normally about a year later the paperback comes out. Obviously paperback release often changes and it does depend on popularity and many other factors. Why release a novel in paperback if we can charge more for the hardback edition?

Here in Australia most publishers have rejected this method. There are some hardbacks and there are normally special editions or if you are an author like Dan Brown or Ken Follett they may choose to adopt the same method as the rest of the world. Most releases in Australia come out in trade paperback (for their initial release). Trade paperbacks are the higher quality paperbacks that are normally the same size as the hardcover. Mass-market paperbacks (also known as B format) normally come out a year or more later, but the majority of books remain in the Trade paperback format.

I’m not sure why Australia does it this way but I prefer it. Sure hardcover books look better on the shelf but if I had to choose which I prefer to read I would pick Trade paperbacks. I just think they are more comfortable to read with, not too small and a little more flexible. I like the way Australia does it because really the whole hardcover-to-paperback method is slowly dying and it seems to work better for an indie bookstore. No longer do they have to get two lots of the same book, they just order what they think is the right amount and if it doesn’t sell as fast as expected that’s ok.

Let me know what you prefer and if you have more insights into the hardback/paperback marketing method. I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days and honestly I think it is a dying marketing ploy. I just thought I would express my opinion, let people know how Australian publishing differs and hopefully create a discussion in the comments.


Why do I Avoid Big Books?

Posted October 5, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 0 Comments

I’ve talked a little about my fear of large novels previously but I think this time to revisit this topic once again. More and more large books are turning up in my to-read lists and while I’m excited to read them, a book so large often puts me off. I do read large books but it seems to be on a rare occasions. Yet there seems to be more large novels still waiting that haven’t been read. Is there any way to motivate myself or force myself to spend the time reading a book over 800 pages?

It is not the classics that have calling my name; sure I want to get to War and Peace, The Brothers Karamazov and even In Search of Lost Time but there are some very recent releases that look interesting too. Including A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava, The Kills by Richard House, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I’m sure there are books that aren’t classics or recent releases that are deserve to be read as well that are over 800 pages, they just feel like a huge investment.

This month I’m reading The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett which sits at 973 pages and while I’m enjoying it so far, that is a big investment of time. I have read some great big books, including Anna Karenina, Les Misérables and Infinite Jest but if I want to compare the time investment of those books compared to reading two books, it seems to take so much more time. Now it is your turn, let me know what your thoughts are about big books; have you read some good ones? Are there any on your shelves that are scaring you? And do you have any tips to motivate yourself.


The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Posted September 29, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Book of the Month, Historical Fiction / 0 Comments

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken FollettTitle: The Pillars of the Earth (Goodreads)
Author: Ken Follett
Series: The Pillars of the Earth #1
Published: Pan Macmillan, 1989
Pages: 1088
Genres: Historical Fiction
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

The Pillars of the Earth follows the building of a cathedral in the town of Kingsbridge, England in the middle of the 12th century. Set during the time of King Stephen and the Anarchy, it explores the lives of Tom Builder and his family as he finally gets to achieve his dream of being master builder for a cathedral. There are forces that are working against the completion of this church for reasons of power and greed.

Ken Follett was an author of trashy thrillers before turning his hand to the epic novels. So it is not surprising that the novel attempts to explore themes of intrigue and conspiracy against this historical event. I’ve only ever read one other Follett novel (The Eye of the Needle) and while I thought this was a better book they are very similar.

One of the biggest problems I had with both novels is Ken Follett’s approach to women. In particular his creepy schoolboy approach to breasts, I’m not saying I’m not a fan but the way Follett’s writes about them, reminds me of George R. R. Martin and Haruki Murakami. I don’t know about you but it felt like every woman in Kingsbridge has massive breasts and if they didn’t they will be forever alone. On the plus side they won’t be raped either; but all the large breasted women ended up married and the flat chested ones were left for bigger boobs.

One of the positives of this novel was the cathedral; it was the most interesting character in the whole novel. We get to witness the rise in gothic architecture in the Romanesque age and I found the insights into the architectural evolution were so interesting. This seems to be the most researched part of the novel and I think was the only reason to read this book.

My wife loves this novel and I can see why people will enjoy this novel but considering that her favourite novels include this and Outlander makes me worry. She seems to be interesting in epic novels with incredibly flawed men. I hope she isn’t trying to tell me anything but I can appreciate her passion towards these epics.

Every man in the novel seems overly flawed with the exception of the asexual Prior. I know Follett’s loves sexual frustrated men and he struggled to write Prior Philip’s so he decided to make him completely uninterested in sex. Which is a huge contrast to every other male in the book. At times I had to stop reading this novel out of frustration but managed to power through.

I think if you really love this epic you don’t mind how long this novel is but if not this feels like it could use a good editing. This book sits at over a thousand pages and there is so much padding that could have been cut out to bring this book back down to at least 750. The themes in this novel didn’t feel like they were executed properly; there are many medieval novels that talk about the corruption of the Christian church, abuse of power, greed and gender politics. What The Pillars of the Earth did that felt unique was explore passion and base an entire novel around the construction of this one cathedral. The passion and architecture is the key to this book and really without them it would have just been a thriller written as a historical novel.

While I had a lot of problems with The Pillars of the Earth, I did like parts of this novel and enjoyed raging at the other parts. I can know join in on the cultural conversation for this novel, but maybe I’m too late for this. I read Twilight for the same reason and do enjoy raging in reviews but I can’t say this was a bad read. I respect everyone who loved this book and I’m not saying that because my wife loved it, I just can see what would interest people here.


Monthly Review – August 2013

Posted August 31, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 0 Comments

death in the afternoonAs we come to the end of August, it is time once again to have a look at the month’s reading. This month the book club read the non-fiction sports/travel book Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway. While I am against bullfighting, this was an interesting dip into a sport I had no idea what was happening. Next month we are reading one of my wife’s favourite books; The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

I feel very proud of my reading this month; I read some great books and hope this trend continues. Fifteen books read and some of my highlights include Fadeout, Oryx and Crake, The Third Man, The Unknown, Kiss Me First and We Need New Names. There was just so many great books and I feel like I didn’t have any wasted reading time (with the exception of The Suite Life) but the biggest thrill for this month was The Machine by James Smythe a wonderfully dark and complex novel that really deserves more attention.

My Reading Month


Top Ten Tuesday: Most Intimidating Books

Posted July 2, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Top Ten Tuesday / 0 Comments

I don’t normally participate in Top Ten Tuesday, which is a book blogger meme that is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. But due to not having a post planned today and the fact I couldn’t resist the topic today, I thought ‘why not’. I suspect most people are going to go for the big classics that people expect you to read, so I thought I might add some other books too. So in no particular order;

10. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Have you seen Liberal Arts? There is a scene where Jesse (Josh Radnor’s character) decided to read an unnamed popular vampire novel (Twilight) just so he can properly see what is wrong with it. I feel like I might have to do the same.

9. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
I don’t really enjoy reading Fantasy, so I’m not looking forward to these high fantasy novels.

8. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
I watched the miniseries and was so bored, but that could be because Eddie Redmayne has no facial expressions.

7. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
I’m expecting that my experience to this book will be similar to that of The Book Thief. Everyone loves it and I’ll think it was overrated.

6. Anything by D.H. Lawrence
After my hatred for Lady Chatterley’s Love I’m too afraid to try this author again.

5. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
Have you tried to read this one?

4. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
I was satisfied with the ending of The Hunger Games, I don’t feel the need to continue except there is a movie coming out.

3. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Heavy stuff, but someone’s got to read it.

2. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
My wife loves this book and I don’t want to end up hating books she loves (see Outlander)

1. In Search of Lost Time (Remembrance of Things Past) by Marcel Proust
Long and unfinished, I’m not sure what to expect from this one.