Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Book 61 of 2013: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I’m only a little bit behind on typing up my book reviews… just a tad. I suppose the fact that I’m reviewing a book that I read way back at the beginning of December kind of shows that. I’m slowly getting caught up though, it won’t be much longer before I’m reviewing books that I actually read this year!

I’ve mentioned A Christmas Carol before, but in short it’s a story about a man who is a bit of a miser. Ebenezer Scrooge is extremely wealthy but very mean with his money, that is until he receives a visit from the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley. Marley’s arranged a little Christmas gift for his old friend, three ghostly visitors who come to show him his Christmases past, present and future in order to encourage him to change his ways.

It’s a bit of a tradition for me to read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens each year right before Christmas. There have been a couple of occasions when I’ve read it right on Christmas Eve but now I’m older and I have more to do around Christmas Eve (like celebrate my anniversary) I don’t have quite the same time to read as I used to. Now I like to read it towards the beginning of the month to make sure I don’t miss out on it. It’s definitely become one of my favourite Christmas traditions.

Something else that’s becoming a bit of tradition on each reread is reading a different edition of the book. In the last few years I’ve read a paperback edition that I no longer have, the version online at Project Gutenberg, the DSi book version, a Kindle edition and most this time a Kindle app version. For my next reread I’m going to have to invest in a nice book-book version because as you can see it’s been several years since I’ve read it in actual printed format; I welcome recommendations, I’d really like a pretty illustrated version.

The ‘app’ version I read was a free download on the Amazon Appstore. I downloaded it because it popped up when I was looking for free Christmas apps and after playing around with it a bit I decided to go right ahead and actually use it for my annual reread.

It was good fun and I think it would really appeal to children or younger readers. Basically as well as the text there were also pictures which were often interactive. For example there was a picture of the Scrooge and Marley sign and you could swing it from side to side, you could also play with Scrooge’s money and turn a light on and off. It was all fairly simple, but it was always interesting to see what the next picture would be and what you could do with it.

That’s not to say it wasn’t without some problems. There were some errors in the text; odd bits where sentences or paragraphs repeated themselves mainly, once or twice there were notes from the apps designers as well which obviously weren’t meant to be seen. There was no way to place a bookmark, so each time I started reading it again after a break I had to scroll all the way through the text to find my place. There was a bit that sort of allowed you to scroll through thumbnails of the pages and as the pictures used on each page were quite memorable it was easy to see where you’d got to. It’s also a relatively short book so I didn’t have to put it down too often and I got through it in just two days. It just would’ve been easier if it had incorporated page numbers or a bookmark feature to make it easier to find where you were.

On the whole I really enjoyed reading this book. I don’t think that every book would benefit from having an interactive option, but I think that it is something with potential, especially books for younger readers. I think it would be lots of fun for a book like those of the Harry Potter series to have bits you could play with, cast spells, fantastic beast to interact with. It’d be interesting to see if other people develop these in the future.

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