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In Praise of Bound Books

 

Book ShelfRight now I’m reading The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. It is a memoir of his mother’s life after her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer that has spread. This is a terminal diagnosis. There are lots of thoughts to ponder in this book. This one tickles me and is a good definition:

“One of the many things I love about bound books is their sheer physicality. Electronic books are out of sight and out of mind. But printed books have body, presence. Sure, sometimes they’ll elude you by hiding in improbably places: in a box full of old picture frames, say, or in the laundry basket, wrapped in a sweatshirt. But at other times they’ll confront you, and you’ll literally stumble over some tomes you hadn’t thought about in weeks or years. I often seek electronic books, but they never come after me. They may make me feel, but I can’t feel them. They are all soul with no flesh, no texture, and no weight. They can get in your head but can’t whack you upside it.”

Book I often talk about the feel of holding a print book. An electronic book just isn’t the same. But that electronic book weighs less in the suitcase than five to ten print books. Plus I can get an electronic book any time I’m ready to start it, even if I purchase it or borrow it from the library at midnight. That print book, though, sits in that pile waiting for me, shows off its cover when I’m reaching for a different one in Mt. Bookpile, or has Nora Roberts’ or Jim Butcher’s or Connie Willis’  signature in it, or sits on the shelf showing off a complete series waiting for me to read it again (Are Amelia Peabody or James Herriot calling my name? When I have time…).

Schwalbe captured the feelings quite well.

John Scalzi, LeVar Burton, Marlo Thomas, Deborah Harkness, and Many, Many More

 

What do these people have in common? They’re all authors who will be at the L.A. Times Festival of Books at University of Southern California. It’s going on today and tomorrow and is free to attend. Parking is $10 a day. All the panels are free, but tickets are required for all the indoor events. Tickets are available online the week before (with a $1 each handling fee) and the big panels sell out. Then all you can do is go to the stand by line and hope someone doesn’t show up.

The stand by line doesn’t always work, but there are times… Last year we were able to see Margaret Atwood even though the tickets had sold out before I got to order online. If you haven’t heard Ms. Atwood speak, do so if you get the chance.

redshirtsMy older daughter and I are going again this year. It’s her chance to escape from my adorable granddaughters for a couple days. As a work at home mom, she needs these breaks. It’s fun for us, too. We have tickets to see John Scalzi in a one on one conversation, and to see Deborah Harkness and Marissa Meyer in different panels. There are others we may drop in on, including a visit or two to the Children’s Stage. We often end up in a place we don’t expect and learn something totally different and new for us.

We spend our weekend immersed in a crowd of bibliophiles. I wonder what gems we’ll pick up this year?

Generations of Readers

 

My daughter’s birthday was yesterday. One of my presents to her was to keep my granddaughters overnight while she and her husband went out. The girls are now 7 and 5, old enough to be people but not near teen aged angst yet.

They know that Grandma’s house has books. They both love to read. There were a few times over night that the older girls read to her sister. I also read to her sister. Their dad (who is not a reader, but a loving dad) read to both of them. When they went to bed last night? Both girls were excited because I allowed them to take a book to bed with them. The younger one can’t read all the words, but she made up a close story to go with the pictures, then fell asleep quickly. The older one fell asleep. She read hers when she woke up.


My parents and in-laws are/were readers. They taught their children to enjoy reading. Those children passed it on to their (our) children. Now that generation (my children and cousins) are passing it on again. There’s satisfaction in knowing they have to tools to read all sorts of books and points of view and will be able to form their own opinions. Plus, I love to see them getting involved in a good story.

Wedding Fun

 

If you have followed me much, you know I’m not just a reader, but a READER. I’m sure I have mentioned that I have passed that trait on to my daughters. My older daughter is busy with her family, so can’t read as much – perhaps a book a week. My younger daughter, though, reads more than I do. She reads faster than I do. And most of what she reads is current, easy fiction. (OK, they’re not exactly easy, but they’re mostly contemporary American which is easier than, say, Virginia Woolf’s The Years or Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. Still, most of her novels have at least 300 pages in them, often more.)

She got married a couple weeks ago. She lives in Portland, Oregon, the home of Powell’ Bookstore, a huge independent bookstore that is well known by many American book lovers even if they haven’t been there. She helps support the store. When anyone visits, that is one of our “tourist” stops. I can’t visit her without a trip to Powell’s.

So when they set the date and we were discussing photo shoots for the wedding, one kept coming to mind. Fortunately our photographer agreed it was a good idea. Powell’s didn’t have an objection, either. So we have a series of shots of her sitting on the Purple Room stairs “reading” and holding a cup of coffee. Her bridesmaids are trying to convince her it’s time to leave because she has to get married now. But she has to “finish this chapter” before she can do anything else. Without the back story, the pictures don’t make sense. But they’re rich for her memories. We also took some shots and a cute video in the middle of the literature stacks.

Here are the sisters – fighting over a book…

Reading Lists and Websites

 

I love the “best of” or “my favorite” reading lists. I’ve connected to others in this blog, like the NPR lists, or lists from the Library Journal, or specific sites that people have created. I know I can’t read everything on those lists because I read so much that’s not on those lists as well. Even so, I can’t resist them.

Today I followed a tweet to David Brin’s blog. He has a number of “best of” lists. David Brin’s List of “Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy Tales” blog entry covers numerous sub sections of the science fiction and fantasy world. Of course I read it through. Yes, there are many I’ve read, many on Mt. Bookpile, and a good number I hadn’t heard of, let alone read.

Then I followed another link that is on Brin’s blog. I’m sunk now. The site is Best SF Books. Yep, lists of author’s favorites, award winners, and more list types that I haven’t discovered yet. Of their top ten choices for last year, I’ve read one (William Gibson’s Zero History) and have one or two on Mt. Bookpile.

My new mantra should be “Stay out of this site. Stay out of this site. You’ll never read the books if you’re buried in the site. Stay out of this site. Stay out of this site.”

As to my website conversion… Obviously 6 months was way too optimistic. I’m working on it, and over 3/4 of the pages are now converted from the current format to the new one. Once they’re converted, I’ll still need to work with the designer to get the site to work the way I want. There are times when we all take on huge projects, then wonder why. This is one of those…

Book Addiction

 

This is from Tempest-Tost by Robertson Davies:

“…that lust for books which rages in the breast like a demon, and which cannot be stilled save by the frequent and plentiful acquisition of books…Book lovers are thought by unbookish people to be gentle and unworldly, and perhaps a few of them are so. But there are others who will lie and scheme and steal to get books…as the dope-taker in pursuit of his drug. They may not want the books to read immediately, or at all; they want them to possess, to range on their shelves, to have at command. They want books as a Turk is thought to want concubines – not to be hastily deflowered, but to be kept at their master’s call, and enjoyed more often in thought than in reality.”

Hmm, Davies described me before I was born.

L.A. Times Festival of Books

 

It’s that time again. The Festival of Books is this weekend. This year it has moved to the campus of University of Southern California. I hope that campus isn’t as sprawling as UCLA.


My daughter, Mrs. Undomestic, is getting away w/o her husband or daughters this weekend. It’ll be the two of us surrounded by books, authors, and more books. We had a great time last year. I expect the same this year.

I’ll be on the lookout for Diane Mott Davidson…

Library Book Sales

 

My local library has 2 or 3 book sales a year. Because of their excellent used bookstore, they get more books donated that can be sold through the store. The overflow is sold in a large sale to benefit the Friends of the Library. That means ultimately it benefits the library.

Today was the spring sale of the year. I volunteered to work opening this morning. Of course the first thing I did was look over the huge selection. With all hardbacks and trade paperbacks only 50 cents and mass market paperbacks a quarter, it’s hard to resist. I walked out with 11 books. Only one was for my daughter although I was looking for other titles for her. I’ve read one of the other books I bought. So that means 9 more for Mt. Bookpile. (I only took 2 off this week.)

Friends of the Library book sales – dangerous. No wonder my Mt. Bookpile shelves are overflowing.

Quote

 

Zero History by William GibsonCurrently I am reading William Gibson‘s Zero History. One of the major characters is a recovered drug addict. This character is getting ready to travel from London to Paris, wishing he had a book to read.

“He’d look for a book in Paris. Reading, his therapist had suggested, had likely been his first drug.”

I certainly know how he feels.

Addicted

 

My web site slogan is “So many books, So little time”. To that end, I really should quit talking about books to people, reading friend’s blogs, staying away from my online reading group at The Reader’s Place (since this post the site has closed down), avoiding my real life book club, and even my coworkers.

In my home Mt. Bookpile keeps growing. (I volunteer weekly at a used bookstore – one more place I should avoid.) I keep putting books on hold at the library. Favorite writers release another book (you Connie Willis, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Jim Butcher each have one coming out in the next few weeks and Sherri Tepper‘s came out a few weeks ago).

This morning I was talking with my fellow librarian about our fiction reading (never mind we’re medical librarians). I walked away from that conversation with more books to read. Recently at The Reader’s Place someone mentioned getting ready to read a book that sounded good so I put it on hold at the library. Then there was the review on NPR yesterday – another book put on hold. There were four more added to my mental list this morning (three are a trilogy). No question – I’m a bookaholic.

No wonder Mt. Bookpile doesn’t shrink.

Single Too Long?

 

First the background:

Will Unwound wrote a blog entry about needing to try some good mysteries. He got a lot of responses (including mine) and suggestions. Then he took the lists of authors and asked for specific titles. The second time around he received titles lists, as well as some additional authors.

Now to refer to this posting title…

Yesterday I spend a few minutes looking at the second list. I read one title I had forgotten and said “Ooooh, yeah!” My tone must have been…sultry? Did I also add “That’s good” in the same tone? One of my co-workers walked into the library just then and started laughing. She asked if she she leave again and shut the door behind her.

Oh, dear…

(I was excited about seeing someone add Joanna Harris’ Gentlemen and Players to the list.)

Quote for Readers

 

Imperium by Robert HarrisMy sister and I have often said we didn’t want to live a “book” life. Robert Harris’ Imperium is full of great quotes. This one underlines my thoughts on a “book” life:

“…for if you were to ask me: ‘Tiro, why do you choose to skip such a long period in Cicero’s life?’ I should be obliged to reply: ‘Because, my friend, those were happy years, and few subjects make more tedious reading than happiness.'”

I choose that tedious reading life of happiness.