Tag: Jane Austen

15 Things About Me and Books

The venerable Steve Lawson and Warmaiden got me thinking about this…

1. I learned to read at four and was almost instantly a voracious reader. Sending me to my room was rarely an effective punishment because I’d go and read.

2. The only books I ever remember my mother telling me no about were the Fabio-covered bodice rippers when I was thirteen or fourteen. Running into parents who are a lot more restrictive always throws me, though I try not to judge.

3. The Incredibly-Patient-Mother’s rule about how many library books was that I had to be able to carry them, by myself, out to the car. I learned a young age how to stack up books quite highly, set my chin on the top to balance, and carefully teeter out to the car. I’m sure it was quite a sight.

4. One high school English teacher told me, at age 15, that I was “too young to appreciate Jane Austen.” As a result, I didn’t read them until after college. Austen is one of my favorite authors. I’ve never fully forgiven her for that.

5. Over the past year or two I’ve finally started getting rid of my college texts. Admitting that perhaps I no longer am interested in the Norton anthologies was incredibly painful. Now if I could just admit to myself some things about the beginning library science books….

6. I started listening to audiobooks in junior high or high school, long before the current trendiness. Primarily I listened to Lilian Jackson Braun’s Cat Who series and Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October (Recorded Books/Frank Muller version). I listened to these at bedtime, which meant a fair amount of rewinding in the morning to figure out where I’d fallen asleep. George Guidall’s voice still makes me sleepy.

7. Out of desperation one semester, I slogged through Jane Eyre over a couple of weeks because it was the only thing I had in my dorm room that wasn’t course related. I was surprised how much I enjoyed grabbing a chapter here and there.

8. I read historical and paranormal romance novels. I send regular shipments of Regency Romances (150-200 pages, no sex) to an opera singer in Chicago. It gives her new reading material and justifies me in my buying of them.

9. I really enjoy medieval and renaissance history: Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Gregory of Tours’ History of the Franks, and the Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini. I just put in an ILL for an audio version of Canterbury Tales that I started in high school but never finished.

10. There are certain books I’d just rather own in paperback, mostly series mystery books: Cat Who (Braun), Meg Lanslow-Birds (Andrews), Mrs. Jeffries (Brightwell).

11. I spent several months and a ridiculous amount of money on ebay collecting a complete set of the M.A.S.H books by Richard Hooker/William Butterworth.

12. Used book stores and library book sales are a little piece of heaven for me.

13. I committed what I’m now told is a library cardinal sin. I went into library science because I like books. Moreso because I like information and organization of information, but also books.

14. I have had no formal training in children’s literature.

15. It came as a great shock to me to find out that I apparently read very fast, or perhaps just a lot. Reading over 100 books a year is easily par–and that doesn’t include picture books, though I will include longer children’s chapter books on the spreadsheet I keep.

Pride and Prejudice via Tag Cloud

I’m shamelessly stealing Griffey’s meme on books we enjoy as tag clouds. As he’s already done one favorite of mine (where did you find full text of Cryptonomicon online?), I’ll choose another. The text went into Wordle and here is what we find.

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Full text available here.


Can you guess who the heroine and hero are?

I’d like to do some analysis of my blog/delicious account over the last few months but that may not happen for a few days. Have other stuff on my plate.

If you’d like to participate, please consider yourself tagged.

Authors for Posterity

I’m listening yet again to Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen/Nadia May) and I’m reminded that Austen’s works have held up admirably over a number of generations and are, to many, still as engaging as they were when first published.

And this calls to mind my conversation with My-Friend-the-Lawyer last night. He’s the one who dragged me into reading my first Neal Stephenson. I used to own a beautiful hardcover copy of Cryptonomicon which someone absconded while I was in graduate school. But Stephenson, I discovered through serendipitous Amazoning, has a new book out in September and I think we’re both planning to pre-order it. (At the very least, it’s on my wish list, feel free to order me a copy for a Hedgehog Libra Birthday.)

I have a healthy respect for the literary abilities of Mr. Stephenson which began when I waded through that first book. Sibling-the-Elder has been reading him for longer than I have, but I think I might beat her through the Baroque Cycle if I sit down and put my mind to it. He’s earned me street credibility with all kinds of people (“You read Stephenson? Okay, you’re allowed to sit with the cool kids.”), evoked numerous interesting conversations and–at the very least–he was able to picture the way our video games and technology was going a lot further in advance than I ever could. My first trip into Second Life oozed Snow Crash and the games of the future (360 degrees-full immersion/hologram deck/virtual reality type of things) only bring me more awe about him and his ability to see where we were/are headed.

Stephenson is an author who could be an interesting literary study on the collegiate level. I don’t think anyone is teaching his works just yet as an elective but, as MFTL and I were agreeing last night, I’d love to see them taught! And, perhaps more importantly, I think Stephenson’s works will stand up to the test of time.

My conviction of his durability as an author actually led to a presentation during college: looking at modern literature that we think will survive the ages. With all of the publishing and the thousands of books readily available to us, there are many books that will become irrelevant next week–let alone five or fifty years from now. So what are our Pride and Prejudices? Who do we have that will stand the test of time against Austen and Dickens? At the time I pointed to Crichton. Another attendee, a good friend at the time, considered bringing a then still rather new Rowling to the table. Whether or not she’ll be an author handed down to our grandchildren remains to be seen, but certainly we may see her as a study in literary phenomenon (the excessively long and must be a multi-book series type).

So I now ask you: Who do you think will be held up to our great-great grandchildren as “authors of the late 20th, early 21st century”? Who will they say were the authors worth preserving? Who will still be in print? (This, of course, making the assuming that “print” still means something in that day and age.)

P.S. If you haven’t read Snow Crash yet, RUN to your nearest library and grab a copy.

Overdrive Making Updates

If you listen to audiobooks, there have been some happenings of note at Overdrive. This is a company which has arisen as one of the primary providers of audiobooks to libraries in the past few years–working with Boston, New York, Chicago and many other systems. I started using it as a patron when I was working in an office where I could wear headphones all day.(1) It was a lovely opportunity to zone out and work with a classical book filtering past my ears. New York Public Library has the widest catalog available of any that I’ve seen thus far and material availability was pretty good too. Lending period is three weeks, which is the most generous time allotment I’ve seen.

A couple of things have come up in the past couple of weeks that are going to be something to keep an eye on–both as the consumer and as a librarian. First, Overdrive recently announced a partnership with Borders. This is an interesting change, because before this I think we’ve mostly seen Overdrive working with libraries. It changes their model. Of course, Borders isn’t in very good shape at the moment but

I forwarded that little announcement to a friend who is an avid audiobook listener, but who uses Audible primarily. He likes patronizing Borders as well so I knew it would be a good fit but for one caveat: Overdrive uses WMA-Compatible DRM: Digital Rights Management protection software that only works with Windows. Said friend is also a heavy Apple user (2) and the DRM isn’t Apple compatible. So here was a chance for one of his favorite stores to be selling an item he buys all the time–and he wouldn’t be able to use it.

Then last week, the morning I had to give a training presentation on Overdrive usage, this press release came out: Overdrive to Distribute MP3 Audiobooks to Booksellers and Libraries. This is important because mp3 will be compatible to Apple. Now more titles will become available to a whole new group of listeners who were previously excluded because of the DRM. The press release isn’t particularly clear about how much of their back catalog will be available (in May) for purchase without DRM. I did find this statement rather speaking about availability to libraries though: “Following the Borders.com retail launch in May, a limited selection of OverDrive MP3 Audiobooks will be added to OverDrive’s extensive library network.” So I don’t think that DRM catalog is going anywhere anytime soon and libraries are going to have the joys of trying to explain why some of the materials can be downloaded to a patrons Ipod and other’s cannot.

Removal of DRM is a growing trend, which I think it a good thing for audiobooks. We’re an increasingly wired and plugged in society and it’s a pretty decent model for libraries and shoppers. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my ears are going back to Persuasion.

Sidenotes
1. My boss got very adept at getting my attention when I had those headphones in: she threw small soft things acquired from conference exhibits at me. A foam heart bounced off me about once a week.
2. Waited in line to get an Iphone

Trying to Make Sense out of the "Kindle"-ing

I’d have had to completely abandon my computer for 48 hours to miss the chaotic conversations swarming around Kindle. What incredible w-o-m advertising!

While there was incredible hype leading up to the release of the I-phone and queuing up to obtain the phones–this seems to have exploded onto the shelves out of nowhere. Last week I’d never heard of a Kindle and couldn’t care less– today I’m wading in stories about it up to my cats-eye glasses.

Brief side note: Thank heavens for the Search function in Google Reader. I was trying to remember which all of the bloggers I read had commented on it and was getting a wee overwhelmed.

I see a lot of pros and cons to this tool and since 26 (what’s in my blog list) just can’t possibly be enough– here is my opinion (supplemented with many other people’s opinions).

Pros
1) Large print usage. I see a lot of potential if the print is big enough and many more titles (especially best sellers) being available to older readers. With the aging of our eyes, what a great advantage to have.

2) Smaller than packing Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon for all of those wonderful spontaneous vacations where I can only pack one bag (and that bag must include evening wear).

3) Useful for a constant traveler– the Brunette worked as a flight steward and now is in a job where he travels a TON. He also doesn’t collect books the way I do. I could see this on his Christmas list.

4) Saves trees!

5) Built in dictionary and wikipedia.

6) I don’t need a computer—as I would with Ebooks. (Unless I want to upload stuff to it—like Audible’s audiobooks)

7) “Library” on Amazon.com in case I buy more than 200 books.

8) Could be very useful for textbooks. I’d much rather carry this to school every day rather than the heavy texts—and it would mean I wouldn’t be looking at someone’s scribbles and highlights.

9) Battery life of up to 30 hours. Lots longer than my laptop!

Cons

1) I have a reasonably healthy fear that I’ll break it. I don’t do things with touch screens (e.g. large Ipod, Iphone) for the plain and simple reason that I’m very hard on my toys. I have a Sansa that I do enjoy using on occasion but I’ve already scratched up the screen. And my cell phone has had to stand trials of being dropped in puddles, being accidentally sent skittering across parking lots (and subway platforms) when it falls out of my pocket, being intentionally sent flying across the room when I get royally irritated and launch it at the bed. Both of those items are compact and have stood up to the test of being chucked under my laptop and three hardcover books in my carry-on bag. Could the Kindle do that?

2) Cost prohibitive. We’re working towards a $100 web-enabled laptop (currently available at $400–where you get one and you send one to a child in a developing company)–explain to me the reasoning behind a $400 reader. Also– $10 per book. I don’t know about you– but I’m a BIG shopper at used book stores. I can get a lot more for $10 bucks than one bestseller.

3) Forced RSS Feeds– what do you mean they get to pick my feeds? Do you think I’m going to survive without my daily dose of Yarn Harlot?

4) I’m a tactile person… I love old books.

5) Needs recharging. My pocket sized copy of Pride and Prejudice never needs to reload.

6) I can’t share with a friend. I’m a healthy consumer of Regency Romances–I get them from used book stores, charge through them and then (currently) toss them in an envelope and send them to the Opera Singer (not to be confused with the Blonde). I was taking them to her about once every two weeks in a small shopping bag but since the move–we’ve had to make some changes. Too—I borrow and loan books to family and friends all the time.

7) Charging to send files you own to your Kindle unless you connect to a computer and issues with copying various formats. Now doesn’t that sound like a sneaky way to charge you more money. What if I send something to you to read–and I send it to your Kindle. Now you’re paying for everything that I send you? I see potential for spam that costs me money.

8) Can you download from a plane? Or would wireless transfer be useless when you’re in air?

10) “No monthly wireless bills, service plans, or commitments” –just the content bill every time you download something.

11) Not available outside the US and currently only works with a US credit cardHmmmm. Taking a cue from Apple, much?

12) Slightly big brotherish in that they hold on to information about everything you’ve read and bookmarked… yeah the circ desk is chuckling because I put every Regency romance in the consortium on hold but at least once I return the books no one is keeping a record of what I’ve read (except me…) What if a government asks for the reading records?

13) It’s just not sexy. Why did they make it white? One does NOT carry white accessories after Labor Day people!!

14) No backlight. Which renders it useless for reading in the car on long night rides, reading in bed, reading it anywhere that there isn’t enough light. Mp3 Player screens light up for a reason…

15) They say that they have their own wireless delivery system. And that covers where exactly? Even cell phones have “out of range.” I should know—I’m currently hanging out on the Verizon Extended Network.

A nice comparison of book vs. Kindle is here.

Eventually, I could see this as a useful tool. I think that in the future, if price comes down, DRM opens up, they make it black, and other improvements are made—this might be very nice. But I don’t see myself getting one for at least a couple of years (long enough to work on the backlog of physical books on my shelves that I need to read).

Interestingly, it does show that we are still reading—or at least the hipsters with money are. And I will get a chance to play with one– my director put in a purchase order.