You Tawkin’ to Me?

A strange occurrence. As I mentioned before, my husband and I have been watching old episodes of NCIS via Netflix DVDs. The other day, McGee said this:

Oh, wow! You’re reading Moonstone! Hey, you know Dorothy Sayers thought that was the best detective story ever written. And T.S. Eliot called it the first true English Detective novel.

This is significant because at that very moment, I was reading (and am reading) Moonstone. Well, not at that very moment because I was, at that very moment, watching TV and doing Pilates. But you get the point.

Also, I came across this from Jonathan Franzen about writing a novel:

The more you pursue distractions, the less effective any particular distraction is, and so I’d had to up various dosages, until, before I knew it, I was checking my e-mail every ten minutes . . . and I’d achieved such deep mastery of computer solitaire that my goal was no longer to win a game but to win two or more games in a row–a kind of meta-solitaire whose fascination consisted not in playing the cards but in surfing the streaks of wins and losses. My longest winning streak so far was eight.

Ah-ha! I knew it! Even the greats cannot resist the evils of the Internet and Solitaire. I bet he’s a Words with Friends user, too.

Reading is a LOST Cause

It’s all the rage these days to lament the state of reading in our nation. I don’t buy it. I know too many readers to believe that all is lost.

All may not be lost, but LOST is a good place to start. (Cheesy rimshot, please.)

The end of an era may be gone with the final episode of LOST, but its legacy carries on. It may no longer be a Twitter trend, but I’d like to pay one last homage to it here. This one’s for you, dear readers.

It’s no secret that the writers and producers of LOST are readers. They spiced up dialogue and shots with the books of their lives, and reader-watchers picked up on it. It even spawned LOST book clubs.

Dear fellow readers, it’s our time down here.

Today, for anyone who would like to join me, let’s talk about the books of LOST–our favorites books quotes on LOST and those it inspires us to read.

Here are four of my favorites that I glimpsed on LOST (and proceeded to do the dance of joy in said glimpse):

1. The Chosen by Chaim Potock: Chaim Potock is one of my favorite authors. In Israel, I met a man named Asher–not a rare occurence as it’s one of the twelve sons of Jacob. When he introduced himself, I said, "My name is Asher Lev!" He looked at me strangely (Asher is a boy’s name). "Nice to meet you." "No," I said. "The book? By Chaim Potock?"

2. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle: This is one of those books that revved up my imagination as a girl. And as an adult. Who doesn’t love Meg?

3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: A world where books become meaningless. I group this with 1984, and Brave New World, partly because that’s how my English teacher grouped them, but because all 3 represent societies where books are lost. (My favorite is Brave New World, but I don’t think that one was referenced by the LOST writers and producers.) I applaud the readers of the world who find meaning in the novels, poems, essays, and other books they read to fight this idea.

4. Gilgamesh: Okay, this isn’t one of my favorite books, but I’m putting it on the list because (1) I think it influenced LOST more than just an answer on a crossword puzzle–there seems to be quite a bit of this myth in the story, and (2) studying this story helped me understand how story and myth worked in ancient times, and this affects how I understand how the writers of the Bible told God’s story.

There are so many other books I’d like to list here, but I’ll stop.

I will add a few books LOST inspired me to read. (Note: they mentioned several books on my reading list, but these books I added to my reading list specifically because of LOST.)

1. Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie: In high school, I devoured every Agatha Christie book in our house. (I have yet to discover the perpetrator who snuck all those books onto our bookshelves. They were ancient copies that probably belonged to either my grandparents or my parents when they were in high school.) I missed this one. Seeing Sawyer read it made me miss my Agatha Christie days.

2. Island by Aldous Huxley: As I mentioned, I loved Brave New World, and I’d like to read more Huxley. From some things I’ve read, this book influences the Others on LOST.

3. Watership Down by Richard Adams: Shocking that I’ve never read this classic, I know. Even more shocking that I’ve never had the desire to. (Who wants to read a story about bunnies? They plague my garden.) But if Sawyer read it, I can, too.

There you have it, folks. The inspired books of LOST. If you’d like to join me in this final homage, leave a comment with the link to your post, and I’ll link to it in this post.

Lifting a glass . . . to inspect for fingermarks

Nancy Drew is 80 years old this week.

Which makes the fact that she’s still driving around in a convertible with blonde (or strawberry blonde, depending on which books you read) hair and wheedling her dad to get involved with cases just weird.

But I love Nancy. She’s one of the women who taught me to stay up all hours of the night reading. And she taught me to break the rules. For example, there’s a lot of looming in Nancy Drew books. That’s a big no-no in today’s writing world.

One of my biggest disappointments in life was discovering that Carolyn Keene was not a woman but a collection of writers, some of whom were men. I suppose that’s what you get when you have a last name like Keene.

But I still reread my books. They were handed down to me from my mom (who still claims she lent them to me).

So here’s to Nancy. May you live another 80 years to inspire little girls in new adventures.

Why Kindle Is Great in Bed

I could have said, "Why Niles* Is Great in Bed," but I do have scruples.

My husband, because he loves me and because he realized we could write it off (but mostly because he loves me), gave me a Kindle as my Christmas/birthday gift. I fell in love. And the other night, I discovered why a Kindle makes for great bedtime reading.

Since the Sony Reader, the Kindle, and other ebook readers, publishers and readers have discussed the plausibility of paper books disappearing (for example, Monica raised the discussion yesterday).

Yes, I love paper books. I love the smell. I love the sound of the binding giving way for the first time. I love walking into a bookstore, dizzy with opportunities for new friends. But more than that, I love stories and characters. I love whatever brings these stories and characters into my life.

Still, I don’t think the paper book will die. At least, not for a long time.

Here are some reasons why I love my Kindle:

  1. When reading in bed, instead of trying to hold a heavy book open with one hand while hiding the other arm under the covers to keep it warm, I can hold the light Kindle one-handed easily. Also, there’s no awkward adjusting when I turn a page (this happens when I’m laying on my side).
  2. You can get almost any classic book free on Kindle. Who doesn’t think free books are a plus? If you’re a classics lover, this is a dream come true.
  3. Books are cheaper. (No, I haven’t done the math to see how long it would take to pay back the cost of the Kindle.)
  4. Currently, if a bookstore overbuys a title, they can return these books to the publisher. They do so by ripping off the cover. These books cannot be reused. Not only that, but if they don’t sell, that’s a lot of wasted paper and money. With ebook technology, perhaps publishers can save some money and take more risks.
  5. Though it costs a small fee to upload Word docs on a Kindle, I can. I have yet to do it (since my Kindle is still new), but this feature allows me to make editing notes in the doc. This gives my eyes a much-needed break from the computer screen.
  6. Speaking of that break, I can read blogs on my Kindle.
  7. All of my Kindle books and notes are backed up in my online Amazon account. (Yes, Amazon is taking over the world along with Apple.) This means if something ever does happen to my Kindle (God forbid), I don’t lose my work or my books. (You can’t say this if a fire ripped through your house.)
  8. The Kindle has a built-in dictionary. If I need to know the meaning of a word, I scroll the cursor in front of that word, and voila! The dictionary’s definition appears in the footnotes. I could have used this feature while reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog.
  9. Buying books (or downloading them for free) is easy-peasy. Literally one-touch. My husband would put this particular feature in the below list (things that I don’t love). But I’m the one writing this, so it stays here.

And here are the things that I don’t love about my Kindle:

  1. I can’t borrow a book through Kindle. In this economy, I borrow most books from the library or from friends. Perhaps Kindle could work on some technology (like the technology that allows me to "borrow" audio books from my library) so that after a two- or three-week period, the book automatically deletes from your Kindle, or something like that.
  2. I’m more nervous reading my Kindle while eating or cooking. Sauces splashes on a book are one thing, but I worry about corrupting an electronic device.
  3. I enjoy the bookstore experience. I love flipping through books to decide which one I’ll buy next. Of course, I lose this whenever I shop at Amazon period. Their "Look Inside!" feature will never come close to a real bookstore experience.

Since I don’t own the new Nook (Barnes and Noble’s competitive ebook reader), I can’t do a fair comparison. My husband researched some of the differences here. If I remember correctly, he decided on the Kindle because the Nook does not offer Word doc support while the Kindle does. As a writer and editor, this is a key feature for me. It does seem that the Nook as some sort of technology for lending books, though I cannot confirm this, and I don’t know what this means exactly.

When I asked my husband if he researched the Sony reader, he replied, "Oh, Sony’s are out." He’s the gadget expert in the family.

*Niles is the name of my Kindle.


Reading the Bible Good for the Mind

I came across this article today in Publishers Weekly about a man who read the Bible cover-to-cover for the first time. The result: Good Book: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and
Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible.

Two things stuck out: his grasp of the richness and humor of the Bible (my favorite line from the interview: "To appreciate the richness, vitality and comedy that is in the Bible is to make it feel alive, joyful and exuberant.") and his advocacy that the Bible should be read in schools to understand how the Bible has affected our culture.

Black and Read

Don your black mourning. Our country’s literacy is in the red. I saw this article today in the Dallas Morning News that covers a poll done which shows that 1 in 4 adults read no books last year. 27% of our population read no books last year. I’m still trying to let it sink, hopefully before the entire book industry does.
Some of the findings were standard: more women read than men, and of those women the majority were over 50 (although it didn’t say by how much of a majority); of the books men did read, there were more nonfiction than fiction; the majority of readers (again, no numbers given) had at least a college degree.
Here’s a surprising (tongue-in-cheek) quote: "’Fiction just doesn’t interest me,’ said Bob Ryan, 41, who works for a construction company in Guntersville, Ala. ‘If I’m going to get a story, I’ll get a movie.’"
But there were also new-to-me facts. For example, "those who said they never attend religious services read nearly twice as many as those who attend frequently." On the one hand, this makes sense with the time factor. On the other hand, shouldn’t these people at least be reading their religious book? And Democrats read slightly more than Republicans. And here’s one that blew me over (no offense to those I’m about to offend): those in the Midwest read more than any other region. Huh. But then again, what else is there to do on a cold night? (Okay, now I’m hated my the entire area. Love you guys. My hubby grew up there, and he’s a good man. The best.)
After all this black news, there are two findings keeping the industry out of the red: those who read, read avidly. Like 70 books a year avidly. And the number of sales are up 3% this year. Of course, never know what that’ll mean for next year.
So keep reading, folks! (And not just blogs.)

Reading Quiz

I loved this quiz! Anything that has to do with reading catches me like a fly fisher.

What Kind of Reader Are You?

Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

Literate Good Citizen

Book Snob

Fad Reader

Non-Reader

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

The Joy of Reading

I’m adopting the previous rule of not using the Bible as any answer. You need to appreciate my adherence to the “one book” rule. At least a baker’s dozen titles popped into my mind for all 9 questions, all clamoring for attention (picture 6 yr olds when the magician asks for volunteers, all pretending to remain in their seats with at least one butt cheek raised, one hand raised while the other helps stretch the raised arm, “pick me” squealing from all mouths). And I did indeed pick one book for each category.
1. One book that changed your life:
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
Oy vey. Just one? How about the complete works of Mark Twain? Bound in one edition, of course. Since my M.T. is bound in two editions, I’ll be fair and pick the edition that has Huck Finn.

Side note: I think I’m taking this too seriously, as if this list defines my life. I’m stressin’ out here! Too many choices! What if I pick the wrong one? My blood pressure’s rising. Ach!

4. One book that made you laugh:
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller

5. One book that made you cry:
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

6. One book that you wish had been written:
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Oops. Thought the question said “you wish you had written.” Okay, real answer: (fingers drumming…Got it!) How to Make Your House Clean Itself

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
Joel Osteen, Your Best Life Now. (This was the answer from the previous blogger, but I feel it apt and so will leave it.)

8. One book you’re currently reading:
Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 by Steve Stockman

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (I’ve actually finished The Brothers Karamazov. One question: did Dostoevsky not have an editor? Did I have to know the life story of every village member [he-he, that made me giggle] to understand the plot? But, still loved and learned from the book. On to my next Russian tragedy.)

10. Now tag five people: Tran, Kathy, and Sandi…sorry, I’m only tagging three.