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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Book Clubs

I have never belonged to a book club, but I am thinking it may be time to try one.   I am a veracious reader.   I have a small stash of hardcover books that I likely will never get rid of and another small sash of books in case we have a holocaust and my paperwhite is rendered useless.   I read a little of everything because it challenges me and how I look at things.   I also read a diverse selection of books because  I hate it when folks condemn a book based on what they have heard or someone has told them.   I don’t want to be one of them, a person who is swayed without information.   I read books from the library, freebies from Amazon, borrow from others on the ebook site lendle and  buy a few as well.   So the idea of reading a book that someone suggests and getting together to discuss it has some appeal.

On the other hand I am a little leery as I am one of those people who goes a little bonkers when people say things in the book represent something.   The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway, according to everyone is full of symbolism.   Unless Earnest himself told us that, how do we know?   Aren’t we putting things in his mouth and telling others what it suppose to be?    If you say when you read this it gives you this impression, or you see a parallelism, to me that is ok because  it is your point of view.    But for everyone to say that this is what Earnest meant, well that gets me going.

The local library has a book club that meets once a month.   Next month’s book is A Woman’s Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot.   I was introduced to Alice Paul when I watched Iron Jawed Angels and have since read other books about Alice Paul.   I think it would be interesting to read another book about her and then discuss it with others. This sounds like a safe intro to a book club.  I guess I  have made up my mind to give this a go.   Time to buy a new book and set aside some time a month from now to go the library to meet some new folks and see what this book club concept is all about.      I will let you know how it goes.

Keep It Close to Home

Recently a friend wrote about charitable giving .   It is something that thousands of us do each day, all the while hoping that our gift makes the kind of difference we hope for.   There are so many places to give how do we pick?

Working for a nonprofit I could rattle on about things to look for and how to pick your charity.   I will save that for another day and another writing.    Instead I suggest that you think about the charities that have touched you, your family,  friends and co-workers.   It won’t take long and you will soon have a long list that has made a difference for you.   When you have your list, always look at the lowest local level to give.   Odds are the local chapter was the one that made a difference to those you know.    Here are some of my favorite charities and why.

Beaverhead County Search and Rescue   They were there the night I suffered from hypothermia.   Volunteers took time off of their regular day jobs and came out and brought me back out to civilization after a night out in the winter elements.    We make a donation to them each February as a reminder of how many folks give of themselves but we never know about them until we need them.  There is likely a volunteer group in your area who is unsung and needs your financial help.

Heart of the Valley Shelter   We give in June when shelters always seem to be exploding at the seams with puppies and kittens.   We always give to the last shelter we adopted a pet from.  It means we have given to different shelters over the years.     Local shelters are on the ground and their funds are desperately needed.   When you adopt now days your pet has already been treated for health and spay or neutered.    Giving to a local shelter can make a difference in local pet overpopulation.

Local Food Bank  I know people who are living on the food edge.   My local county statistics report that nearly a quarter of the children are food insecure, aka hungry, locally.   The food you give to a national organization may never get close to your community.    I sign up for monthly giving equally the cost of two coffee drinks.   I don’t miss it and I am sure that they can do more with the cash than I could have ever done with it.   Hunger is a hidden problem, you don’t know what is friends cupboards at home.

Southwest Montana Mammography Program  This is a new one for me. I had always given to various breast cancer causes, but never felt very connected.   I felt compelled as a woman that every October I should write a check to some pink ribbon charity.   This year I had a friend who had a breast biopsy, who was under-insured.  When she got the bill this charity she was flabbergasted at the expense, and questioned the costs and how she would pay this.    This charity stepped up and took care of her bill, and encouraged her to get the second suggested biopsy.   Susan Koman has given grants to the local charity in the past.    Now I will be giving in the future, this charity is quietly make a difference to women in my community.  I never thought about local women who were skipping mammograms because of expenses.   I am sure there are thousands of them.

Memorial Rifle Squad at Fort Snelling National Cemetery  This was a local volunteer group who for the last 34 years has provided veterans with a military honors ceremonial burial with a  rile shots, flag folding and taps.    They have done this free of charge, never missing a funeral no matter the weather.   We first knew of it why my father-in-law was buried.   Coming from a military family we know how important this is to military families.   Now with more vets than ever this organization can use help to cover all the expenses they incur.

Local Library With the changing world it seems like your local library may be a dinosaur.   Libraries now days are more than just books.   The provide computers for use to people who have none, books both with pages and electronic for your e-reader, hot spots for free internet access and classes.    Today people have to apply for jobs online and without the library they are left out.   Kids who have not computer at home depend on it for school work, applying to college and getting ready to be productive adults.  They host free tax seminars, book clubs and so much more.   Libraries provide so much to our communities.

Local Hospice Hospice has been there for our family in our hometowns as our parents entered their last days.    They were there providing us with support  we did not know we needed.    We have since moved away, and now give to the local hospice who has been there for our friends and someday may be there for us as well.

I hope that this list has made you think about how you can make a difference with your giving.   I really think that giving at the local level can make a bigger difference because more of your dollar ends up making a difference.   Odds are your gift will probably impact a someone you know.

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.

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?

The Library Never Closes

The holiday weekend here is providing terrible weather.   We started with snow on Friday and it is still coming down.   Not like winter snow, but it is damp, overcast and cold.    It makes me want to curl up with a cup of tea and a good book.

I have a collection of books on my Kindle, but tonight I want a quick easy read.   Nothing seems to be what I want.    I am looking for one of those pulp fiction novels you buy at rummage sales or Goodwill.   The freebies on Amazon are not fitting the bill for my mood.    Of course it is Sunday night and our local library is closed, it is late and many businesses are closed for the holiday weekend.

Enter my library’s electronic option.   Even in Montana many of our libraries have an electronic collection.  Tonight I signed in to library browsed the ebook collection.   I found something that met my wish for reading material tonight.  Two minutes later it is on my Kindle and the hot water is boiling.

I hope that everyone who reads this blog takes a look at their library’s electronic collection.   If you have a reader, you may be able to check out ebooks.   If you like audio books, your library will  have a great collection available to you.   I am guessing your system is likely as sophisticated as the one that many the rural libraries in Montana share.   It supports all sorts of formats in ebooks, not just the Kindle and Nook, but many other generic readers.   Audio books can be downloaded to iPods, MP3 players, your computer media players and more.     I can check out books anytime, the library does not have to open.   Libraries are not dead, and full of dusty old books, they are changing to meet our reading habits.  Check it out.