Old and Busted vs. the New Hotness

I’m a librarian. I read a lot. And I have now had my Nook for a little more than three months, and since people keep asking me about ebooks vs. “real books”, I thought it would be worthwhile to write a bit about how I feel about the whole situation.

I never wanted an ereader. I have been a book lover as long as I can remember. And then the Borders year happened, and I was briefly a book snob, too. (I still haven’t read the Da Vinci Code, and I won’t. Period.) I go through phases with reading, but for the last two years, it has been a very heavy “reading a lot” time for me. And I love it. And ever since the Kindle first became big, I was pretty adamantly against it, and ebooks, too. Books were made to be displayed on shelves. (Rainbow order, optional, of course.) They were meant to have texture and a smell and a pretty cover. Who needs portability? Books are portable, too. I don’t need to carry around my entire library with me. Perhaps it was the preventative cost, but I wasn’t interested.

"real"

I read a lot of articles about ebooks, and I couldn’t argue how much easier traveling would be with an ereader. (Every single time I go away, even for a weekend, I pack a significantly larger number of books than I could ever read. Because the idea of running out of things to read? Is unimaginable.) And they did look kind of cool. But I didn’t want one.

Things changed a little this past fall, when we hosted an ereader expo at the library, and I spent an evening explaining the different models to the library customers, seeing them in person, reading a few pages, imagining what it would be like to have one. And realizing that reading on a screen wasn’t anywhere near as jarring or unnatural as I had always thought. And I guess I started talking about them a LOT, because although I gave Dan a few different ideas for a Christmas present, he knew he wanted to get me a Nook because I wouldn’t stop talking about it.

new hotness

And, well, I never expected to like it this much. The e-ink display feels as natural as reading on paper, and although there is a subtle flash as you turn the page, I stopped noticing that very quickly. I have the black and white (classic) Nook, and although I suppose a color display like the Nook Color or the iPad is where technology is headed, I didn’t want that. I find that even my smartphone’s vivid display hurts my eyes after a while, and I mean, I read real books with the light on, so needing to have the light on while reading my Nook is not exactly a hardship. Plus, I just like the black and white e-ink. (It was a close race between the Kindle and the classic Nook; the tipping point was the ability to download free ebooks from the library – which do not work on the Kindle at all. And since I’m, you know, a librarian, I felt like I should be able to use our services.)

I have read both “real books” and ebooks since owning the Nook, and there’s a big difference. Perhaps it’s because most of my reading is on my lunch hour or in bed, but holding and turning Nook pages while eating or curled up is a lot easier than doing so with a hardcover book. (Those 900 page monstrosities I’ve been reading are not so cuddly, let’s be honest. I have dropped them on my face before.) And what I noticed this week is that having the time displayed on the screen while I’m reading the Nook is kind of convenient, as it means I never get so lost in the story that I’m late going back to work. (First world problems, I’m sure.)

I really do love it.

The issue I don’t know that I’ll ever get past is needing to buy (almost all of) the books I read. I’m inside a library every day. Where the books are free. All of them. Yes, I can get some free ebooks through ListenNJ. (Why do you think I’ve been reading so many Nora Roberts books lately? They have a big selection! And no one can see the cover. Except everyone on the internet. Ahem.) And I can download free classics from Project Gutenberg. But at the rate I go through books, it would get really expensive to have to buy every one. Yes, it’s convenient. Yes, it’s fast. Yes, I still have gift cards from Christmas, and will ask for more at every holiday from now until forever. But. I haven’t ever been and won’t become the type to pay for every book I read.

Nor will I ever stop buying books. I cannot imagine living in a house without a LOT of books inside it.

I guess what I realized (and what changed my mind) was that I can read ebooks, but that doesn’t mean I have to stop being a “real book” lover, either. I can love the technology and still be a book purist. And I love that.

PS. The post’s title is, of course, tongue in cheek. But it is alarming how we have to retrofit our vocabulary to apply to things that have been around for hundreds of years. “Paper” books. “Real” books. As opposed to ebooks. They’re still just books.

Books: 2010

  1. A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
  2. A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
  3. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  4. Key of Light by Nora Roberts
  5. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
  6. Key of Knowledge by Nora Roberts
  7. Key of Valor by Nora Roberts
  8. The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery
  9. The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan
  10. Sea Swept by Nora Roberts
  11. Rising Tides by Nora Roberts
  12. Inner Harbor by Nora Roberts
  13. The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
  14. Chesapeake Blue by Nora Roberts
  15. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  16. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  17. The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
  18. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  19. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  20. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
  21. Bite Me: A Love Story by Christopher Moore
  22. Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts
  23. Tears of the Moon by Nora Roberts
  24. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
  25. Heart of the Sea by Nora Roberts
  26. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
  27. The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg
  28. A Trip to the Stars by Nicholas Christopher
  29. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  30. The Umpire Strikes Back by Ron Luciano
  31. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  32. The Passage by Justin Cronin
  33. Fire by Kristin Cashore
  34. This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  35. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
  36. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest Stieg Larsson
  37. Insatiable by Meg Cabot
  38. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  39. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  40. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
  41. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  42. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  43. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  44. Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore
  45. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  46. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
  47. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  48. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
  49. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  50. Night World Book 1 (Secret Vampire, Daughters of Darkness, Enchantress) by L.J. Smith
  51. The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory
  52. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
  53. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling
  54. Matched by Ally Condie
  55. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
  56. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
  57. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

Last year, I resolved to read more than 40 books, and I think it’s safe to say that I definitely managed to do that. 2010 was a year of reading like a maniac, the likes of which I haven’t seen in a while. (In fact, the last year I read more than 50 books was the 2007, the year I took that YA lit class in library school, which had me reading 33 books over one semester.) I seem to normally hover around 40 books in a good-reading year, 25 in a bad-reading year, so this year feels really good.

The highs in books this year were of course the last two books in the Martin series, the Percy Jackson series, Maggie Stiefvater’s two YA novels, the Passage, the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (seriously, read it), the Millennium trilogy, and of course the Hunger Games series, which totally rocked my socks. I also read a whole lot of books I’m not exactly embarrassed to have on my list, but… it’s not like I’m going to brag about exactly how many Nora Roberts books I read this year. (Although I will stand behind my assertion that there’s a time and a place for a purely predictable story with an absurdly happy ending. I have never been one who thinks that everything one reads needs to be literary, smart, or educational.)

And considering the fact that I’m currently re-reading the Harry Potter series from the beginning (spurred by the first half of the Deathly Hallows movie, naturally), it’s interesting that I haven’t actually read books 1-4 since before I started keeping track of my reading (so, 2004 or earlier). I read books 5 and 6 in 2005, 6 and 7 in 2007, and in 2009, I read book 6 once and book 7 twice. Not that anyone cares about that other than me, but it explains why it has been so enjoyable to re-read the series from the beginning.

Anyway! So what will by book resolution for 2011 be? I want to stick with the read-like-a-maniac thing, so my goal will be to read 52 books in 2011, and to read at least two classics that I haven’t read before. So I’ll leave this post with a question: what’s your favorite classic book? Mine is Jane Eyre; I collect copies and re-read it every few years and just love it. (Interesting too, since I haven’t yet been able to get through a Jane Austen novel.)

In Previous Years…
Books Read in 2009
Books Read in 2008
Books Read in 2007
Books Read in 2006
Books Read in 2005

GOventure day two: Invisible

The inspiration for day two of GOventure week is invisible, and I had a lot of ideas, most of them for photos. And then I was at work today, and the perfect thing hit me. See, being a librarian is pretty awesome, most of the time. My job is helping people find what they’re looking for, helping them figure out HOW to do what they need to do, and I love the scavenger hunt aspect of it. Most of the time.

Except some days I almost wish I WAS invisible. That I could hide (really hide) in the stacks of books and just quietly make sure they’re in order. And read a few inside flaps while I’m there. And that people couldn’t, you know, see me in order to find me and ask me questions. The best I could manage was hiding in the bathroom for a few extra moments. It helped. It doesn’t happen all the time, true. But the stereotype of a quiet librarian stamping, shelving, and shhh-ing isn’t really very accurate AT ALL.

invisible

Books Read in 2009

Books Read in 2009:

  1. Paper Towns by John Green
  2. The Stupidest Angel: A Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore
  3. Double Whammy by Carl Hiaasen
  4. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
  5. Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
  6. Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty
  7. Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty
  8. Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty
  9. What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
  10. Wake by Lisa McCann
  11. Fool by Christopher Moore
  12. The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton
  13. The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke
  14. Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty
  15. Fade by Lisa McCann
  16. Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  17. The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  18. It Sucked and Then I Cried by Heather B. Armstrong
  19. The Ticking by Renee French
  20. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson
  21. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
  22. Deadline by Chris Crutcher
  23. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  24. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  25. Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
  26. The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  27. The Frog Princess by E. D. Baker
  28. Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
  29. Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
  30. The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
  31. The Shadow in the North by Philip Pullman
  32. Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris
  33. Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
  34. Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
  35. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (again)
  36. All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
  37. From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
  38. Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
  39. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  40. A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

So apparently, last year, I resolved to read 52 books this year. I might have come closer if I didn’t read so many giant, hulking books (see: the Martin series, and Harry Potter #7). But I suppose that’s not much of an excuse. Looking back, it seems I powered through (or re-powered through) several entire series. There were some books in there that I enjoyed in spite of them (Charlaine Harris’s books), some that took effort to get through (Octavian Nothing, the Amulet of Samarkand, and the Angel’s Game), and a few stunners I’d recommend in a heartbeat (the Martin series, and Life As We Knew It). Honestly, this list doesn’t look like much to me now that I’m looking back at it. Maybe my resolution for 2010 should be to read more than 40 books, and to read some of those books that everyone recommends but that I haven’t gotten to yet. But really? Just to keep reading. Always just that.

In Previous Years…
Books Read in 2008
Books Read in 2007
Books Read in 2006
Books Read in 2005

Books: 2008

Books Read in 2008:
1. Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressman Taylor
2. Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman
3. The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea Buchanan
4. Book of Salt by Monique Truong
5. PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
6. The Uncommon Reader: A Novella by Alan Bennett
7. Grammar is a Sweet, Gentle Song by Erik Orsenna
8. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
9. The Ultimate Tea Diet by Mark Ukra
10. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
11. There’s No Place But Here by Cecelia Ahern
12. You Suck: A Love Story by Christopher Moore
13. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
14. The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau
15. Goodbye, Chunky Rice by Craig Thompson
16. Schuyler’s Monster: A Father’s Journey with his Wordless Daughter by Robert Rummel-Hudson
17. Apartment Therapy: The Eight Step Home Cure by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan
18. Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst
19. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
20. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
21. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
22. Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
23. Specials by Scott Westerfeld
24. The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty
25. Tithe by Holly Black
26. Kampung Boy by Lat
27. Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk
28. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
29. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
30. Shooting War by Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman
31. V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
32. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
33. Host by Stephenie Meyer
34. Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk
35. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
36. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
37. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
38. Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
39. What It Is by Lynda Barry
40. Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins
41. Y: The Last Man volumes 1-10 by Brian Vaughn
42. Things Not Seen By Andrew Clements
43. Tourist Season by Carl Hiaasen
44. Native Tongue by Carl Hiaasen

In my first year in a while (2004 being the only other one) in which my reading was not at all affected by being in school, I’m sad to report that I didn’t exactly destroy the book resolution I made last year. (Which was to read 52 books in 2008.) I came close, though, so I am okay with that. (Then again, I counted Y: The Last Man as one book, when in reality it was ten volumes of graphic novels, so it’s arguable.) But as reading goes, I read a lot and that makes me happy. I read a LOT of graphic novels this year, and while perhaps that was initially fueled by a desire to keep up with what’s garnering buzz in the library world, it’s now just because I like them very much. I loved Y: The Last Man and Watchmen, and would HIGHLY recommend both, especially if you dig science fiction, fantasy, and snarky humor (although not as much with Watchmen on the snarky front). I had a bit of a teen scifi/fantasy phase, which I grew tired of after a while, but I find that happening when I read too much of any genre.

As for goals for 2009 reading? I’m not sure. Ideally, I’d like to hit the 52 books mark for real, so I think I’m sticking with that.

In previous years…
Books read in 2007
Books read in 2006
Books read in 2005

Books: 2007

Books Read in 2007:
1. The Illustrated Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (Illustrated by Dame Darcy)
2. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
3. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
4. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
5. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
6. Skellig by David Almond
7. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
8. A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer
9. Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye
10. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
11. My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr
12. Heart’s Delight by Per Nilsson
13. Doing It by Melvin Burgess
14. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
15. How Angel Peterson Got His Name by Gary Paulsen
16. Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson
17. Sorcery and Cecelia OR The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
18. Zel by Donna Jo Napoli
19. Scarlet Moon by Debbie Viguie
20. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
21. With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote by Ann Bausum
22. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
23. Carver: A Life in Poems by Marilyn Carter
24. God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant
25. Shakespeare: His Work and His World by Michael Rosen
26. Whirligig by Paul Fleischman
27. Looking for Alaska by John Green
28. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
29. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki
30. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang and Gene Yang
31. Feed by M.T. Anderson
32. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
33. Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block
34. how i live now by Meg Rosoff
35. The Adventures of Blue Avenger by Norma Howe
36. Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi
37. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
38. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff,Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
39. Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore
40. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
41. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
42. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
43. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (audio)
44. Just in Case by Meg Rosoff
45. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (audio)
46. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (audio)
47. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
48. Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
49. No One Belongs Here More Than You: Stories by Miranda July
50. The Professor’s Daughter by Joanna Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert
51. Early Bird: A Memoir of Premature Retirement by Rodney Rothman

I am especially happy to report that I completely destroyed my 2007 Book Resolution, which was simply to read more than 24 books. I’m actually kind of impressed that I came so close to the 52 books a year/one book a week magic number. Granted, 3o or so of the books I read in 2007 were for my young adult literature class, but I managed to keep up the pace relatively well for the rest of the year, all things considered. So what will my 2008 Book Resolution be? To read 52 books! (But just as a cover-my-own-ass measure, I’d be completely happy if I read 35 books, too.)

In previous years…
Books read in 2006
Books read in 2005

Books: 2006

1. All Rivers Flow to the Sea by Alison McGhee
2. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (audio)
3. So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson
4. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
5. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman (audio)
6. Grave Secrets by Kathy Reichs
7. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
8. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (audio)
9. Babyville by Jane Green (audio)
10. The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason (audio)
11. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (audio)
12. Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
13. Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty
14. The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove by Christopher Moore
15. Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty
16. Size Twelve is Not Fat by Meg Cabot
17. Diary by Chuck Palahniuk (audio)
18. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
19. Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs (audio)
20. A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
21. Fluke. Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings by Christopher Moore
22. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
23. Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore
24. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

So that’s the list. At the beginning of the year I made some pretty lofty Book Resolutions instead of New Year’s Resolutions. I didn’t read any classics, and I didn’t make it to my goal of 25 books. The only small victory was that I read exactly one more book in 2006 than I did in 2005. Which is good, I suppose. In any case, for 2007, I am going to keep my Book Resolutions simple:

  • Read more than 24 books.

Wish me luck.

books: 2005

1. flowers for algernon by daniel keyes
2. the sisterhood of the traveling pants by ann brashares (audio)
3. the second summer of the sisterhood by ann brashares (audio)
4. stargirl by jerry spinelli
5. the notebook by nicholas sparks
6. the year of secret assignments by jaclyn moriarty
7. feeling sorry for celia by jaclyn moriarty
8. harry potter and the order of the phoenix by j.k. rowling (audio)
9. wurst case scenario by catherine clark
10. the tao of pooh by benjamin hoff
11. my sister’s keeper by jodi picoult
12. girls in pants by ann brashares (audio)
13. guenevere, queen of the summer country by rosalind miles
14. the daughters of freya
15. the lovely bones by alice sebold
16. harry potter and the half-blood prince by j.k. rowling
17. atonement by ian mcewan (audio)
18. the water mirror by kai meyer (advance reader’s copy from book expo)
19. jamie by lori foster (advance reader’s copy from book expo)
20. teach me by r.a. nelson (advance reader’s copy from book expo)
21. the birth of venus by sarah dunant (audio)
22. jennifer government by max barry ((audio)
23. chicks with sticks (it’s a purl thing) by elizabeth lenhard