The Easter tradition of Paaskekrimmen, how to indulge your reading habit for the lowest cost and 4 book recommendations
I like to do something a little different for special events, so, with Easter coming up, I started researching Easter traditions around the world to see what blog inspiration I could find. My luck was in and I stumbled upon the Norwegian Easter tradition of Paaskekrimmen. Interestingly, this is one of the few traditions I know of where it's clear exactly when it began, almost 100 years ago in 1923. A Norwegian publisher had the bright idea of creating an advert for a crime novel in a way which made it appear like an actual newspaper story (not sure this would be allowed today). The idea was a big success, so big, in fact that it started a tradition and ever since then, while most of the rest of the world has been out frolicking in the Spring sunshine (or enjoying the longer days at least) Norwegians have spent their Easter tucked up with crime novels (although a lot of them do head out to the countryside to do their reading). Book publishers, magazines and newspapers all do their part by producing Easter crime stories (Paaskekrimmen) and even milk cartons can feature riddles and brain-teasers with a crime theme.
Now I'm partial to a good detective story, in fact I like reading a lot and while I'm totally fine with paying full price for new books I know I'm going to enjoy, I object strongly to paying a high price for out-of-copyright books (unless the publisher has added something of extra value like new commentary or illustrations). I also object to paying a high price for a book I'm not confident that I'm going to enjoy. So, here's are four tips on how to indulge your reading habit for the lowest cost, while still paying a fair price for authors who are bringing out great new books.
Make the most of your library, if you can
To be honest, for me, at this point in my life, using a library is largely impractical, which is rather sad but there it is. I live in a small town and commute to work, the library is always closed when I leave and usually closed when I get back. It is open on Saturday mornings, but I'd have to make a special trip there and I'd have to go without my dog as there's nowhere I'd be happy to leave him, so it just doesn't work. Having said that, my library, does now offer some content via an app, including a limited selection of books, which I hope will grow with time.
I am going to try to make some use of this, if only to encourage my local council to continue to support the library. As I understand it, this service is available for use in other countries, which would make sense, so it may be worth checking.
Second-hand bookshops/charity shops/eBay
My problem with charity shops in my own town is the same as with the library, but there are plenty of charity shops near where I work and they are always good places for a browse. If, however, you're looking for a specific book at a low price, these days, eBay is probably your best bet, even if you live in a city and especially if you live outside one. The reason for this is probably that eBay picked up the sellers who moved from Amazon after Amazon changed its rules in a way which made life more difficult for people who sold second-hand books. It's really easy to sell books on eBay and it's a great place to pick up what I call "off-the-boil books" in other words, books which have been recently published and which someone has bought new but not enjoyed enough to want to keep.
Head to Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg is the granddaddy of all the public domain ebook sites there are at the moment. I'm recommending it partly because it's my favourite and partly because it has pretty much everything you'd find anywhere else.
Make the most of Amazon
I'm still having a think about whether Prime Reading and/or Kindle unlimited is/are worth the money, but what I can tell you is that the Kindle market is a great place to score books for very low cost or even for free and that includes good, new, books. Let me explain. Books which are mainstream best sellers are probably going to be on the Kindle market for about the same price as they are in the real world. To be fair, in the UK, the fact that publishers save money on printing costs is offset by a quirk of the UK tax system which means you pay VAT (sales tax) on ebooks but not on paper ones (work that one out). Out of copyright books are often available for free or for a very low cost as are new books by active authors. The reason for the former is that Amazon wants to encourage people to use their Kindles (or Kindle apps) and this is an easy way for them to do so. The reason for the latter is because the arrival of the Kindle has made it possible for authors to bypass traditional publishing houses, which brings a lot of benefits but has also led to a lot of low-quality books being published, with the result that people can be wary about spending money on a book by an author with whom they are unfamiliar. As a result, many authors make at least one of their books available for free, to reassure readers of the quality of their work and also to generate positive reviews which can do a lot for their books in general.
Now the reason I've been investigating how to feed my reading habit for the lowest cost is because I've decided that I need to broaden my reading horizons, not so much reading more as making an effort to try new authors and genres, by which I mean authors and genres which are new to me. Some of them may (indeed will) be classic novels which I either haven't read at all or haven't reread in a long time. In fact, I'll be actively looking to read a mixture of respected (but fun) classics and new releases. I'm also going to be looking for books which can be bought affordably although there's probably going to be the occasional "splurge" recommendation. Usually, I'll be posting my reviews on Sundays, but to get started, I'm going to honour the Easter tradition of the Paaskekrimmen with a round up of four of my favourite detective stories.
The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin
Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
I'll be posting one review a day between Easter Friday and Easter Monday. Please follow me on my Instagram for a heads-up on what I'm posting where and when, my name is kit.m.maclean and as of today, I'll be aiming to post to Instagram at least once a day with photos reflecting my ethos of healthy, joyful, sustainable living, hygge, nature and, of course, books! I'll also be pinning my recommendations to my Pinterest board "Be your own door - book reviews".