Trying out FBReader (Android app at Google Play) – And a few more notes on The Count of Monte Cristo


My eyes are hurting again. I’ve been testing out some new e-readers and staring at my tablet — not just reading but fiddling with all the settings and customizations.

After a few days of getting into e-reading, I began to want a reader where I could insert my own background image behind the text.

FB Reader does the job admirably. It has a lot of other features which I haven’t explored but so far, the app seems a good alternative to ReadEra.

Mind you, the Linux version of FB Reader was too barebones for my liking. But the Android app seems pretty decent.

One reviewer at Google Play complained about “ads” but I didn’t see any. Sure, one can buy premium features but in the free version, I haven’t noticed a single popup or irritating ad.

Here are a few screengrabs. I darkened the screen because this was taken just before nightfall.

Two-column layout
Full-page layout
Night mode

The orange highlight in the first two daytime modes is just a bookmark. The blue highlight in night mode shows the available options at top screen:

  • Bookmark
  • Translate in a specific database (several choices)
  • Search Google (usually for a definition, translation, info or image)
  • Share (keyed in with Android sharing)
  • Copy
  • Close

As for the book itself – The Count of Monte Cristo – gads I am struggling with this as much as I am loving it. The language is archaic, which is nice but also demanding. You pretty well need an auto-lookup feature unless you’re a savant, which I am not.

Dumas himself was 1/4 black which makes his characters’ comments on black people most interesting.

I sort of identify with Alexandre Dumas in a funny way. Apparently, he had a woman collaborator outline the main plot and a somewhat regular guy do a lot of the basic writing. Dumas, however, added his own characteristic flash and dash which makes the book a timeless classic and not just another boring historical novel.

Myself, I never saw myself as a nuts and bolts man. With movie reviews, for example, I usually skirt retelling the plot as much as possible and instead offer indirect impressions.¹ Same thing with much of what I write at earthpages.org. Details can bore me while the interpretation and implication of those raw details – which anyone can look up at Wikipedia – often inspire me to say something.

But to return to Dumas, he writes fictional stories around solid historical characters, which makes for a fascinating glimpse into a long-gone era.

Dumas, as Tolstoy said, was a ‘novelising historian’ rather than a historical novelist.²

I see Dumas as a descriptive historian, not a factual one per se. I’m not sure if this is what Tolstoy alludes to but when you read, for instance, Dumas’ description of a public execution in 19th century Rome and all that precedes and accompanies it, the grim reality sinks into your soul. For me, this is far more upsetting than say, the gratuitous blood and gore found in TV shows like Game of Thrones.

When it comes to fiction I’m a pretty slow reader and this book is fairly heavy reading. I’m only about a third of the way through but I plan to finish The Count.

It’s just too absorbing to put down!

¹ For example, here.

² https://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/may/18/classics.fiction

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