Where Do Books Fit In Today?

I can never remember a time I did not read nor a time I did not have a book.   Before I could read, I was read to.   Books were part of my life then and they continue to be. I wonder today in the age of electronics, are we growing a new generation of readers or is the next generation self-entertaining only with games?

I remember my grandparents reading to me from the same books they had read to my uncle and my father. When I started school  the book fair came to our town once a year.   It was then that my mom would take me to the school gym set up with books galore and I got to pick out and purchase one new book.  Many of those books I had for years.   They were a prized possession when I was young and a collection of memories when I grew up.   I had those books  until I finally gave them to my nieces and nephews many years later.

I have embraced the e-reader.   It isn’t the same a print book.   Just like a quality hard cover is not like a poorly mass-produced  hard cover, nor are either like a paperback book.   I have read several books that after reading on the reader, that I have purchased a second tie in print to add to my permanent collection of print books, but for the most part electronic works for me.  I have a small collection of print books in my permanent collection. If you are some one who has moved numerous times, you know that the cost of moving is determined by two things cube (how much space you take) and weight.   Having moved back and forth across the country three times in seven years my permanent collection was pared down to those books that had a special place in my heart.

If you read in the bathtub, you know the value of a paperback that if dropped is not a catastrophe. Many a book has a bit of a warped page and the smell of bubble bath in my past.

I support authors and the literary arts by reading the same way I have always done it.  I check books out of the library .  I buy books.   I continue to  borrow and lend books.  The difference is today I do most of it electronically.

To me the e-reader has opened up the possibilities for new writers to get published without being policed by the major publishing houses.   It is not to say that they don’t have a place, because I believe they do.   I also would say that the large publishing houses  have in some cases have prevented things being published as well,  so they have been a double edged sword.  Today  the author who is turned down by one of the big publishing houses   had limited to no options in the past, can now self-publish and see what happens.   Kind of an wild west, throw your hat into the wind and see what happens kind of environment out there right now.

The thing I wonder most about is do the e-readers help to cultivate and grow a new generation of book readers?  Is a new generation of readers being developed or being hindered with the electronic format?   I can’t imagine a picture book being the same electronically.  Maybe it is and I just don’t get it.  I love the places that books take me…the past…the future…places I will never get to travel to…people I will never get to talk to.  It was the written word and my imagination making it all happen for me.   Books have been a constant companion of mine.  Books have taught me much, expanded my horizons and shaped my view of the world.   I am thankful to everyone who encouraged my love of books.

Are you a reader?   Have your reading habits been impacted by the electronic format? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

 

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Read the Old-Fashioned Way

I am a die hard reader.   I read daily at least an hour, sometimes more if I can fit it in.     In the days before the e-reader I had piles of books beside my bed, beside my chair and they filled a whole bookcase  in the family room.    Since I made the conversion to the e-reader my pile though invisible to RangerSir is larger than ever.   I still keep one shelf of books in the case of a power failure.    It is full of those lifetime keepers, but also a few books that are  pulp fiction, because if was an apocalyptic event we would need some levity.   My paper collection of books  is more discriminating than the collection on my e-reader because I am limited to one shelf since I seldom read hard copy any more.   This week for the first time in a long time I am utilizing my safety net of real books.

how_to_read_a_pile_of_books

I am rediscovering the paper book right now because I am without an e-reader for the first time in many years.   My current reader after years of daily use for at least an hour was starting to need to be charged more than once a week.  It wasn’t at the end of its lifespan, but for the first time I was becoming aware that there will be an end in the future. As a result I was toying with upgrading, but nothing had gotten me off the dime to do so.    E-readers are not like computers or phones, they are simple one use devices.  There are few changes and most of they don’t make a big difference so we tend not to upgrade as often as manufactures would like us to do so.   This week Amazon gave me the push I need they were offering to buy my device and give me an additional $20 e-reader credit.   For me that was $55, more than half of the price of a new one.   The sucky part was that they did not give you all this wonderful credit until they first had the old one in there hands.   This was major stupid.   I sent my old one back last week and now I wait for it to arrive at Amazon, credit to appear on my account and then I can get my new one.   I suspect I will be without an e-reader for a little over a week.   I realized the inconvenience already when I was in a waiting room and realized  my reader wasn’t in my purse and I had not brought my book along because it would not fit in my purse.  Last night I put a paperback in the Goodwill box because the font was just too small. The book had potential but event with cheaters reading was a struggle.  I did not realize until I was holding a book again that the Kindle really was much easier to manage than an 800 plus page book.

I am hoping today my UPS tracking tag tells me that Amazon has received my old e-reader and I soon get a new one.   I knew how much I liked my e-reader, but never as much as now.

Can’t Put It Down

Anyone who enjoys reading, knows the feeling of reading a book they can not put down.   After waiting months to get “Gone Girl” from the library, my number finally came up, and I checked out the long awaited book.

I just finished the book this morning.   For me it was a bit of a slow start when I first picked it up, then that all changed.     I can say  it twisted and turned more than I ever imagined, even as I turned each page.  When I thought I had imagined the worst and what could come next, I was thrown a curve ball.   Soon I was reading it in the morning before I got out of bed and it was the last thing I read at night.   I forgot my Kindle at home when I went to get my hair done, and found myself downloading it to an app on my phone.   There I sat reading it on my phone while I sat under the drier.   That was a new first for me.     I was reading it on the treadmill.    I was sneaking it in whenever I found a chance.      Now that I finished it,  all I can say is whoa they are nuts.

I am now ready to watch the movie.   Not that I expect it to be the same, movies always change things some to make it work and flow for a movie, but  I will know what is really going in the character’s crazy minds.   I will fill in any blanks the movie doesn’t.   I am thinking that this movie is this generations “Fatal Attraction.”

Now I am on to a lighter, mindless, fun, easy read.   Possibly off to edit and work on National Novel Writing Month, unfinished novel.   It is time to look at finishing or at least moving that along in the process.

Half full or half empty

If our glass is half full or half empty is all in how we look at it.    It is exactly the same, just our point of view.  I try to take the half full point of view.  I have enough problems in life either real or created. Half full makes it a little easier.

One of my new year’s rituals is always re-read a book each January.   These books are supposed to remind me of what an empty glass might and hopefully provide some inspiration for the upcoming year. The book I re-read is what I call a keeper book.   Keeper books are books that you are willing to pack and pay to have toted around the US as you move, knowing you pay for every pound in that moving van.    Keeper books are books you have lent and they were never returned and you bought again, again and finally again in kindle edition so you never have to buy it again.   Keeper books are books that change your life each time you read them; you are reminded of how harsh life can be and how amazing the human spirit is.

I am mulling over which book will be my choice this year.  While I am mulling, I though I’d share my two front runner choices for this year.

Miles to Go Before I Sleep by Jackie Pflug   I have purchased this book now a total of four times.   That should tell you how many times I have read it.   I first found out about this book when I received it as a gift from my husband for Christmas when it was first published.   It is the story of a woman who was on a plane that was hijacked.   She was shot in the head and thrown out the door onto the tarmac by the hijackers who were demanding fuel.    She laid on the pile of people who were shot before her for five hours afraid if a hijacker saw her move they would finish the job.    The book takes you from the time on the plane through her recovery.    It has taught me so much about perseverance, forgiveness, moving forward, coping with adversity, making the most of what I have and spirituality.    It was topped off when I was able to hear her speak once.   She said something that has stuck with me forever:   At some point or another along the way, we all get hijacked. It is different for each of us cancer, death, job; you will know it when it jumps up and hits you and sucks the life out of you.    The trick is taking the most difficult choices and becoming the most capable person that you are.

Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng  T  I confess I have only read this book twice.  I go back to it because the Chinese cultural revolution has since been repeated through out the world.   Governments imprison people because they fear  smart people.   When I say smart people I am not talking necessarily intellectually, schooled or high IQ.   I consider smart people to be people who don’t take what “they” say without seeking to understand; people who don’t act like sheep or lemmings.    I find inspiration in Nien because she was imprisoned to be re-educated.   She spent years in prison under terrible conditions.   She was offered her freedom many times  if she would sign a statement confessing to things that were lies.   Many others confessed to the lies for their freedom, but she did not.    She lost her health in the re-education camp.   Her daughter died during the time she was imprisoned.   She eventually was released and escaped to the US.   Her book inspires in me the value of having principles and core values.   It also has made me a skeptic and a person who is always seeking to know if what “they say” is based on a fact I accept.   I never want to be a lemming.    I knew so little about Mao and the cultural revolution before I read this book.    It has made it important for me to understand what is going on in the world.   Nien did not believe that could happen to her  or in her county and yet it did.   The book made me aware that things can happen.

I still am unsure which one I will read.   May be I will read one and make a resolution to read a second re-read on the first day of summer to keep me going all year long.

Do you have a re-read book?   If so please share it in the comment area.

Childhood Goals-To be a Writer

One of my earliest dreams was to be a writer.   My first memory of wanting to be a writer harks back to the second grade shortly after I learned to read.   Learning to read opened my eyes and minds to amazing things.   I wanted to create that same perfect experience for some one else that a book created for me.

It is easy to want to be something, but to follow through and actually do it is hard.

I was raised during a time when wanting something for yourself always seemed a bit selfish.

First there is the follow through to the end.  So often our dreams seem lofty and out of our reach.   We tend to start toward them, but we don’t have the confidence or refuse to make the time to achieve our dreams.

One of my earliest dreams of what adulthood looked like, I would be a primary school teacher teaching children to read, and in the summer I would spend my days on the beach writing books and painting.

Yep. I can string words together to make a sentence, and then string a few sentences together into a paragraph.   That makes me a writer.  A writer of books well that I am still working on that.

All Books are Not the Same

 “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” ― Jorge Luis Borges

With the advent of the E-reader life has changed for want-to-be writers.   It has become easy to by pass the gatekeepers of what gets published and what doesn’t,  the editors of all the publishing houses, and self-publish.

In some ways this era of self-publishing  is good, because the big publishing houses have not always done a great job of recognizing a new author or genre.   The famous 50 shades series began as self-published after being turned down by big print publishing houses.   It was only after she self-published did she hit the NYT best seller list.    I think part of it is because because this major publishers want to find that next piece of great literature, or Pulitzer prize winning title.

Most people read for relaxation, and what they read is a guilty pleasure.  Most of what ends up on best seller lists never makes any literary milestones other than selling a ton of books.     Mr. Ranger Sir reads classic sci-fi, though that genre is becoming so much more segmented and specialized I am not sure what sci-fi means any more.  A friend reads everything Nora Roberts publishes.  Another family member devours biographies everything from celebrities to historic people who changed the world.   A cousin enjoys Christian historical fiction.  My mom and her group of friends swap pulp romances that they read by the hundreds.     I enjoy the “who done it?” with an imperfect middle aged female protagonist.

If you are a veracious reader it also an expensive habit.   Prior to the E-reader you depended on friends sharing books,  used book stores, rummage sales and your local library to make your addiction affordable.   With the E-reader it takes a little more effort to keep your reading habit from sending you to the poor farm. E-books are often not lendable, or if so only once!   Libraries are as a good of a deal as they were before you had an E-reader, you just need to get signed up and start checking books out.   There are lending sites for eBooks out there, though not widely use I have found success with one (lendle.me) and will continue to put my purchased books out there, lending and borrowing titles.  I also watch the daily Amazon top 100 free books.   I have picked up titles that big names are a giving away for an hour or two.    I have also taken out many unknowns.   Some have prompted me to buy others by the same author.   Others were worth just what I paid for them nothing.    After a chapter and it is clearly not worth the read, I go to the end, give it one star and delete it.   Without taking a minute to rate the book, you are doing other readers and the author a disservice.   We all need feedback.   If you want to write a review go for it, but just giving it a rating helps to let folks know if free is good or not.   If you are the only one star it won’t make a difference, if you are part of a crowd who was disappointed the rating will help tell the story.

In the meantime summer is a great time for reading and relaxing may you find a great guilty pleasure.

New Discovery for my Kindle

I read daily and love my Kindle.  I take it with me everywhere I go, and as a result the amount I read has gone up over prior reading habits when I only read print books.   I have found new authors and tried books in genres that I don’t normally choose.

I was a person who spend hours and lots of money at the used book store.    I now needed to find similar ways to prevent spending hundreds of dollars a year in books for my reader.   I get free books from Amazon, and check out books the local public library.   One of the mysteries with a Kindle is how to leverage the loan option when I am not sure who would want to borrow a book or how I find a book I want to borrow.

Enter two websites who match make for loaning ebooks possible.

lendle.me

booklending.com

Neither one has a huge database, but I have signed up for both.   I am not sure it is the right thing to do because ebooks can only  be lent once.   How do you manage lending if you have the same book registered on two sites.    Many publishers and authors don’t allow any lending at all.   It is a new area and they are feeling their way around the ereader concept.  No  books being recycled like at the used book store over and over.

So far here are my impressions of the two lending sites.  At this point I am leaning toward using only lendle, but the are both in their infancy so will likely hang out with both for awhile longer.

lendle.me  I have lent 4 books, and borrowed 3.

Pro

    • Love the information showing how many books are available, or if there is a waiting list. 
    • love that I know where I am in a waiting list after I requested the book
    • Borrowing was easy, and I loved that I got to thank the lender.
    • the number books on the database is displayed and you can see that it is growing.

Con

    • Website feels cluttered/layout not as clean or as intuitive
    • keeping track of your lends isn’t as easy as booklending

booklending.com I have lent 2 books, and have not been able to borrow any books.

Pro

    • Cleaner, easier to navigate site. 
    • single step loan and tracking

Con

    • You have no idea if there is an abundance of books when you ask to borrow or if you could wait an eternity. 
    • I don’t seem to be making any matches for my benefit, only as a lender

If you are the owner of a reader, let me know your thoughts.   Have you found something else out there to help fulfill your reading needs without breaking the bank?