My book ran out of batteries

Is this really something that we are going to have to be faced with in the future?

I was sitting at the library the other day working on an assignment for class, and I was talking to a librarian about ebooks. Naturally, I told her about the Kindle that I have. At that particular library, they circulate Sony eReaders to their patrons for their ebooks — which is fantastic! — but she wanted to see the Kindle in action to tell the difference. So, being the eager-beaver-teacher-pleaser that I am, I was all gung-ho about flourishing my kindle around! I pulled it out of my bag and opened the cover. Virginia Woolf’s face was delicately displayed on the screen. (“Oh how nice!” the librarian exclaimed.) When I slid the power switch over to ‘wake it up’……. and nothing. I tried sliding it over and holding it, which helps reset the device, and still… nothing. Virginia Woolf just did not leave that screen.

So now I’m not only embarrassed, but I’m also annoyed that my fabulous Kindle has decided it doesn’t have enough power to turn on. Fantastic. And before any of you readers wag your finger and say “Oooh, well, you know you should plug it in all the time… it is ELECTRONIC after all!” — I know. I know. Shh. Let’s be honest here: the concept of charging up a book is a bit absurd. Having a battery in a book adds this temporal limitation on it that is very frustrating, not to mention, I well… in my opinion, just wrong.

Did you know, that when you lend out a book from your Kindle to another Kindle, the lendee will only be able to read it for two weeks, and at that time, the lender will be unable to read/access the same title?  Sure, it sort of makes sense in the real world… when you lend out a book obviously you won’t be able to read it at the same time… but we’re talking about a digital file here, people. Only lending it out for two weeks? That puts some immense pressure on the lendee to read quickly! And the book cannot be lended to the same person again — ever! Non-renewable! AND not all books are lendable!! Before I go all crazy-eyed over this, I will say that this has certainly made me ponder over a few different things. Perhaps you should too!

1. Going ‘green’ — if we have to plug in our ‘books,’ aren’t we still consuming vast amounts of energy?
2. Electronic device — this means I have to wait until a safe cruising altitude to read on an airplane now.
3. Paper — yeah, real books don’t need batteries. I think I’ll continue to take real books on my travels.

Border Control

For those of you that may be a little out of the loop when it comes to the book world, I wanted to share some sad news: Borders Book Stores are all closed.

(Photo credit to reddit user Jessers25, taken at an empty Borders location)

In an article posted by GalleyCat, Borders employees vented some frustrations that I wanted to share, because several sound as though they came out the mouths of librarians.

Some of my books still have Borders stickers covering the ISBNs on the back (why, I still don’t quite understand… the prices were always the same as the MSRP) and I normally love peeling those stickers off. Now, I think I’ll leave them on. I wonder if I still have a Borders bookmark around here somewhere.

Sadly, I know that now when I visit one of my best friends down in Rhode Island and we go to the Providence Place Mall… we won’t be able to browse around Borders and gossip about the books for hours. No more “Oooh, have you read this one yet?” or “Oh, yeah… that one… Don’t waste your money” and “Seriously? THAT’S a NY Times Bestseller?!”

I must mention: I do support ebooks. They are inevitably the future for a lot of published content like newspapers. I understand their convenience and availability, but consumers need to understand that they are simply buying a licence to view the content — a license that can be revoked at any time. Translation: We do not OWN ebooks! (Likewise with any music downloaded from sites like iTunes, and that is a scary thought.) I will always stand by my printed pages. I love the book as an object just as much as I love the stories bound between their covers. I appreciate their scent, the creases in their spines, the yellowing edges of their pages, their size and weight… However, my shelves will never look like this:

Someone asked me once why I buy so many books that I haven’t read yet – why do I let them take up room on my shelves – why don’t I just buy ebooks? And I told them that it’s because I’d like people to see how full my shelves are.

Now, yes, some may say that is a bit shallow; however, I love seeing them up there because they give me a sense of purpose. Some gravity, maybe. (Gravitas, certainly!)I know that this is MY collection, my own special library. I know that one day my children will root through my bookshelves just as I rooted through those of my parents. I want them to discover their own favorite stories. I will read to my children, and when they’re old enough, they’ll read to me. With the help of a librarian (and maybe a professor ❤ ), my family will be rich with imagination, knowledge, and understanding.

There has been a resurgence in Book Arts programs across the world. Another one of my best friends has her own printing press (please check it out!) in the Bahamas — and I fully support her endeavor. Does anyone remember reading Steven King’s The Dark Tower series, or any other post apocalyptic literature for that matter? Paper is precious. Paper is rare. Paper is worth more than gold. Once I have the time, I’d love to learn how to make my own paper. Hey, if Gordon Ramsay can print his menus on paper made from sheep poop, I can certainly learn a thing or two about tree pulp.

~

P.S.
This entry is chock-full of links, so be sure to click around on the bold print to see where it takes you!

“In the Name of the Moon…I shall punish you!”

Forgive me, Reader,

For this may be a sin. I have to share an indulgence that I have previously left unmentioned. Not only do I love books, but I love comic books, graphic novels and manga. Now, at the moment, my book count is about 210, however that doesn’t include my graphic novels. You can easily add another 200 to those numbers. With many of them on my bookshelf at home in The Bahamas, I wouldn’t be able to account for them without either going on vacation (which isn’t a bad idea), or recruiting the help of my mother for the time being. (Don’t worry, Mom, I wouldn’t put you through all of that…unless you want to take on a new project!)

Long before this blog, I dedicated myself to only purchase remaining volumes in series that I have already started. That holds true to this day, with the exception of works by CLAMP — a group of four women that write and illustrate many different manga series — I will always buy their new works ❤ And, of course, the re-release of my favorite manga series.

So, since that endeavor of comic-cataloging is a bit unrealistic at the moment, I’ve decided to share some excitement about a recent republishing of a series that got me hooked on drawing, art, Japanese animation, my first serious relationship… really, without this series, I don’t know what kind of person I would have grown up to be.

That series is Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi.

Usagi Tsukino is a 14-year-old girl who is destined to become Sailor Moon, fighting evil forces that are incessantly trying to conquer the world. Joining her fight are Sailors representing each of the other planets: Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Venus. Later in the series, we discover additional Sailor Scouts including same-sex lovers and transsexuals, both of which obviously caused much controversy and were subsequently squashed in American adaptations.

Honestly, most of the series follows a very formulaic pattern: Kids having fun, something goes awry as evil tries to take over the world, girls transform and vanquish evil, everything goes back to normal.  Though the pattern can be very, very repetitive… its success is indisputable. We see this same pattern in other shows like Power Rangers and Powerpuff Girls. (Two more of my favorite childhood shows.) The heroes always strike iconic poses and give a speech (during which, enemies will NEVER try to attack) and throw out some corny one-liners to give off some false confidence until they nearly lose the battle, but then some deus ex machina stuff happens and somehow our hero(es) emerge victorious (or thwarted until they ‘power up’ and THEN defeat the enemy). Why is this so appealing??

~

In closing: since I bypassed the first publishing of the Sailor Moon series (mostly because they weren’t available in the Bahamas) I am breaking down and purchasing them. This is a series I know and love, and one that I know I will reread and pass along to friends. One of these days, I will have a blog page of my list of graphic novels and manga, but until my next romp in the sun, I’ll just include them in entries as they come up.

If you’re interested in some similar magical girl series, you may enjoy:

  • Magic Knight Rayearth
  • Cardcaptor Sakura
  • Saint Tail
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena

Hungry Hungry Humans: Filling the Void & Feeling Exposed

Did The Hunger Games leave you starving for more? Did it leave you with a stomach ache? Either way, Suzanne Collins seems to satiate everyone that partakes of her three-course meal.  (Alright, I think I’ll snuff out my food puns now!)

 

hunger games catching fire mockingjay

So far, everyone I have recommended The Hunger Games trilogy to has finished the entire series in about two weeks or less — including people who claim to not enjoy fiction. Needless to say, I enjoy them. Would I read them again? Perhaps! Which, considering my stance on rereading books, is saying something. And no, I did NOT reread it for book club, even though it was selected.

The Hunger Games is set in post-apocalyptic North America (Panem) some time in the future. What remains of the continent (after rising sea levels – I presume from the melting of the polar ice caps) has been divided into districts, each responsible for the production of different resources. District 1 produces luxury items, District 2 masonry, District 3 fishing….(the list goes on) All of the districts are ruled by a Capitol District. Our story follows Katniss, one of several strong female protagonists I’ll cover over the course of this blog, as she struggles to sustain her family in the poorest of places: District 12 (coal mining). Katniss is probably top three of my favorite protagonists out of the trilogies that I’ll be examining. She usually has her wits about her, and (almost always) knows exactly what needs to be done. She exhibits certain character traits that I believe readers can look up to and aspire to be. (That is NOT to say that kids should aspire to be a killers!) Her strength, faith and selflessness really stand out in contrast to some of the other characters within the series.

Each year, to prevent another uprising (which apparently caused society to collapse during the apocalypse) the Capitol District requires that every district select one male and one female between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games, essentially, is a fight to the death between the children (called Tributes) and the last one standing returns home to their district as a Victor to live the rest of their life in… well, better conditions than before.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s all televised?

Yes, reality TV totally consumes our lives in the future and turns us into shallow, bloodthirsty fools. Tributes become celebrities in a similar fashion to the contestants we see on American Idol. (Maybe that’s the bit that hooks in all the readers.)

So conceptually, I love the idea. The story was one I had not encountered before, so of course, I found it interesting I thought the writing style was worth noting — being in the present tense — and it was one of the first things about the book I really enjoyed. A few of the characters are developed, but many are introduced with glances into their interesting back-stories, and never developed from there, which leads me to say this: I love its potential.

Catching Fire, the second book, was absolutely my favorite. I felt like it had enough of a twist to keep the book interesting, and the ending was suspenseful enough to pick up and read the third book immediately. Mockingjay felt a bit boring to me. I felt like much of the book could have been edited down and the focus could have been shifted a bit to make it more stimulating. Coming off of the thrill of Catching Fire – like driving 80mph on the highway – reading Mockingjay was like reaching the tollbooth plaza and realizing you don’t have an EZPass and have to sit in an hour of traffic to get through to what you think is more open road until you realize you get off at the next exit. Again: I love its potential.

Sometimes when I read a book or series, once I understand the world, I find myself really falling in love with what this new ‘universe’ has to offer. Sometimes I feel like I’m more in love with the potential the book/series has rather than what is written on the page, which I think can skew my perspective a bit. Perhaps that’s what I get for reading The Dark Tower series by Stephen King.

~

So when you examine this new genre and ask yourself “Why is this so popular? Why is everyone going cuckoo-pants crazy over this?” I would probably say something along the lines of “It gives people confidence.”

What does that mean? Well, kids today have a lot coming at them. Pressures from school, issues with their families, inner struggles… Funny how quickly we as adults tend to forget what it really is like to be a kid again. I’m not talking about remembering what it’s like to not have to pay bills or drive or have responsibilities. I’m talking about hating going in to that one classroom because you think the teacher is a creeper. Or lunch when you are faced with the almost insurmountable task of figuring out who to sit with, or if anyone will sit with you. Or walking the school yard and flinching when someone throws a football because you think it’s being aimed at your face.

In school, everyone is in constant competition: grades, hair, clothes, friends, gadgets. So when a young adult picks up one of these books and realizes that it’s about this desperate struggle, they immediately feel like they can relate to the characters and the story. They’re comfortable because it feels like they can confide in the book. They project themselves into the story (and we all do this to some degree). They give it to their friends to read, who (usually) feel the same, and the pop-craze begins to spread.

Think about the Harry Potter craze. Harry was essentially a reject that was finally accepted into this wonderful and exclusive society – and he was special. Please point out a rejected or marginalized kid that doesn’t wish they could fit in and be special. Can you? Think about the hoards of people who read that series — that still read that series — and tell me that not a single one of them has felt rejection in their life. You can’t because everyone experiences rejection, whether it’s because they were dumped by a boyfriend/girlfriend or got a bad report card or, hey, what about when you ask your parents “Can I have some candy?” and they say “No”: rejection.

Have you ever said to someone “Oh So-and-so, you HAVE to read this book! It’s wonderful!”? Then they read it and they don’t like it. How do we react? We usually defend it, pointing out the reasons why we liked the book. I believe we do this because the book exposes and makes us aware of our insecurities, which in turn makes us vulnerable.  It’s only natural to protect yourself when you feel vulnerable.

As adults I feel like there’s always going to be a part of us that wishes we were young again, and I think that reading young adult literature is one of the few ways we feel like we can remember what it was like to feel that vulnerability again. I think part of the reason we reread books is because we feel like we want to reconnect with that part of our self that was unearthed by reading that book and the emotions we felt. We feel connected because we feel like we’ve been exposed. I think that is a beautiful and very human thing.

That’s a bit of insight into why I’ve only reread one book — but more on that in the future.

P.S.
I’m Team Peeta.
I think Katniss was feeling pressure from both Peeta and Gale to choose one or the other, but if Katniss had never felt those feelings for Gale in the first place, I don’t think there’s much room for them to fit in now. I think Gale fulfilled a patriarchal void that Katniss was feeling from losing her father and he ended up being more of a big-brother/care-taker figure than a clandestine love interest. As far as I’m concerned, that was where a of her struggle with her feelings for Gale stemmed from.

Order Out of Chaos

Before I get started with writing book reviews, I found it important to get everything organized and in its place. So last night I spent the better part of five hours pulling down all of the books from my shelves, writing down the names and authors, and sorting them back on the shelves in alphabetical order by the authors’ last names.  No more are there books piled sideways in front of other books, or on top of books in that space between the book and the top of the shelf!

       

That being said, the Book List page has been updated successfully to reflect the changes. However, I find it necessary to point out a few things that the List does not include:

  1. Cookbooks
  2. Comic books
  3. “Coffee table” books
  4. Graphic novels
  5. Books that are back home in The Bahamas
  6. Textbooks
  7. Magazines
  8. Video game guide books
  9. Appliance manuals
  10. Books that are not mine

That being said, the List totals 210 items, including ebooks. I have to say, it was kind of nice to sit there in the middle of all of those books… familiarizing myself with all of the authors and the books again made me feel a lot more connected to this little library that I have created. Perhaps that’s just my way of legitimizing all the purchases I’ve made over the years, but either way: everything now has its own place. NOW I can get down to reviewing!

Every Fangirl’s Fantasy

As I begin to scale these towers of books, I can’t help but point out a recent trend that I have unknowingly subscribed to. This category I speak of is one that I feel I may have passed over or not even noticed in years past. Yet somehow, this particular microcosm of fiction has wriggled its way into popular young adult literature (not to mention my bookshelves) and is swiftly spreading… almost like weeds.

Thanks to the success of other fantasy series such as Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling and The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer, fangirls (and boys) are coming out of hiding by riding on the coattails of their predecessors. Pouring out of parents’ cars to swarm midnight releases nationwide, teens arrive decked out in what I can only call “Pedestrian Comic-Con Chic.” This seems to be happening more and more. Now book launch parties have become more commonplace for the everyday “flavor-of-the-week” tweener pop craze rather than a spectacular event reserved only for the crème de la crème of juvenile literature. But I digress…

Strong female characters in post-apocolyptic dystopian fantasy fiction trilogies.

Gosh, that sure is a mouthful. And I thought Barnes & Noble was crazy for naming a whole section “Paranormal Teen Romance.”

Now, before I go further, I should probably mention that this topic may very well be a springboard into several of my first book reviews. Honestly, it’s because I have read quite a few already, so please bear with me as I trudge through this mini-genre of books over the next few blog entries. (I’ll try to break things up here and there so I don’t scare away too many potential readers.)

1. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
2. The Matched Trilogy by Ally Condi
3. The Mortal Instruments Trilogy by Cassandra Clare
4. The Dustlands Trilogy by Moira Young
5. The Forest of Hands and Teeth Trilogy by Carrie Ryan
6. The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth

The six trilogies mentioned above contain books that I have either already read or ones that I own. I will also mention…

7. The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano

and a special mention to…

8. The Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner

The Chemical Garden Trilogy is a series that I can absolutely see myself buying that will fit right alongside the others in this little collection I already have going on. While The Maze Runner Trilogy on the other hand, offers the same general world setting as the others, but with a male as the central character — though, not exactly a departure from the traditions of what seems to be going on in this genre, a different perspective can shed light on many new things. These last two trilogies I mentioned are ones I do not own, and for the purpose of this blog, I will refrain from purchasing for the time being.

So far, three of the six trilogies are complete, while the remaining three are missing their second and/or third companions. With that in mind, I will start reviewing the completed series first, allowing more time for the remaining series to round themselves out.

~

Will Suzanne Collins will become the next J.K. Rowling?
Is a trilogy ever too long, or not long enough?
Team Peeta or Team Gale?

Tune in next time for my review and insight into The Hunger Games Trilogy.

The Sickness

BookSick
adjective

1. to be more concerned with collecting and owning books than reading
2. to derive pleasure in the acquisition of books

ex: I just got back from my friend’s apartment, and I’m worried he may be BookSick.

Symptoms:
I love reading, and I never go anywhere without a book. I buy books noticeably faster than I finish reading the ones I already have. I justify buying more books by buying clearance and used titles. I have strong urges to collect all the books written by the same authors. I multiple books at the same time. I spend hours in bookstores. With the exception of one book, I have never read a book more than once.

Treatment:
Now that I own… a lot of books, it’s time to buckle down and read. Part book review part self-therapeutic diary — this blog will help me document my journey as I work through my rather substantial personal library. I will finish the books I start reading. I will read one book at a time.

I cannot begin this process however, without recognizing certain obstacles.

First, I work a full-time job in retail. This means I work at least 40 hours every week. During the upcoming holiday season, those hours will increase. My job does not exactly facilitate reading during downtime, but reading ebooks on my phone is entirely feasible.

Second, I am an active member of a book club that meets once a month. Let’s face it, many of the books chosen will not be coming out of my own library. I will do my best to borrow rather than buy these titles.

Third, and most notably, in the fall of 2011 I will be joining the ranks of students aspiring to graduate with a Master’s Degree in Library Science and Information Studies. This part-time program will most likely consume one of my two days off every week.

Knowing my limitations, I will set a low goal for the time being, and I reserve the right to adjust the goal depending on the circumstances of my three limitations. That being said, I hope to read at least two books every month. One being a book club selection and another from my library.

Wish me luck!

And I’ll do my best not to buy more books.