Making the List

k0091272Although I faithfully note new books I want to read,  I can never be number one on the library wait list.  It doesn’t help that the book is not yet listed when I log in, anxious to find it.  It doesn’t help that the library “wish list” can only include books in cataloguing.  Mostly, it doesn’t help that I forget about the book until I see another ad or review – usually weeks later.  By then, other more diligent readers have already ordered the book, and I am number 198 for the new Jeffrey Archer, or 20 for Donna Leon’s new mystery, and still holding at 14 for The Luminaries.   Is it any wonder that my electronic book bill has soared?  Sometimes, I just can’t wait.

A friend recently sent me an article from the Washington Post about the slow-reading movement and the effects of digital reading on the brain – Serious Reading Takes A Hit from Online Scanning and Skimming.  It struck me as I “skimmed” the article that library users may be promoters of this movement, sometimes forcing me to revert to digital text that may be eroding what is left of my brain.  Michael Rosenwald writes in the Post:

Before the Internet, the brain read mostly in linear ways — one page led to the next page, and so on… Reading in print even gave us a remarkable ability to remember where key information was in a book simply by the layout…We’d know a protagonist died on the page with the two long paragraphs after the page with all that dialogue.

The Internet is different. With so much information, hyperlinked text, videos alongside words and interactivity everywhere, our brains form shortcuts to deal with it all — scanning, searching for key words, scrolling up and down quickly. This is nonlinear reading…

Will we become Twitter brains?”

I worry that books will disappear – like bookstores.  I happily still prefer holding the pages and flipping back to remember who died – harder to do on an e-book, even with those red bookmarks.  But when the wait is long, and the price is right, those electronic books fill my need every time.   How about you?

 

 

 

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Defending Jacob

What if an assistant district attorney had to defend his fourteen year old son in a murder case? Sound like a television Father’s Day drama? That’s just what William Landay delivers in his courtroom crime story – Defending Jacob. Although the characters follow a formulaic stereotype and some of the dialogue is reminiscent of Mickey Spillane, the plot is fast-paced, easy reading, with enough change-ups to keep you reading.

Jacob’s middle schooler life is a mystery to his parents until one of his classmates is found stabbed in the park adjacent to the school. Suddenly, the bullying, the hidden knife, a fingerprint, and Jake’s loner personality implicate him as the murderer. Landay effectively uses two catalysts in the mix: the internet – citing Facebook, Twitter, and iPads as adding to public suspicion; and the “murder gene” – a genetic tendency to violence.

I’ve had this book on my shelf and decided to give it away to make room, but, first had to read it. A quick read – less gruesome than other crime novels – Defending Jacob has some father/son relationship angst and family-in-crisis warts, but, for the most part – just another good legal thriller – scheduled to come out in a movie theater soon with talk of Michael Shannon playing the father.

The ending came as a surprise; don’t stop reading after court adjourns.

Happy Birthday Judy Blume

A good friend reminded me of Judy Blume’s birthday.  Since Judy Blume is still around and it’s not polite to tell a woman’s age, let’s just say she is a lot younger than Charles Dickens and older than Freddy, the fourth grader in her first book – The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo, published when she was 31.

Many stories followed – all with that Blume trademark of humor and honesty, and often specializing in pre-adolescent angst.  As many have been banned as have been loved.

What is Blume doing today? If you remember – Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret – you will understand Blume’s Twitter tag – “Are you there, Twitter?  It’s me, Judy.”  Blume is a prolific tweeter, and has almost 50,000 followers.  And, to keep her classic stories relevant, Blume updates new editions of her old favorites; she changed the electronics in the Fudge books – from mimeograph machines to computers, and the belts and pins in Are You There, God?  It’s Me Margaret to modern adhesive.  Movie adaptations of her books are also being planned, and more writing.

I’ve laughed through Blume’s Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great and cried through Summer Sisters, but one Blume line that I’ll never forget is Margaret’s determined mantra…

“We must, we must, we must increase our bust.”

Have you read any Judy Blume books?

Would Jane Austen Tweet?

Aside from singer Roseanne Cash’s creation of the Twitter hashtag #JaneAustenAtTheSuperBowl, it’s unlikely that Jane herself would become addicted to the social media – but then, we’ll never know.  After enumerating the literary feuds famous writers verbally carry on, Jennifer Schuessler in her article for the New York Times, “In Book Circles, a Taming of the Feud,” dissects the Twitter campaigns that novelists wield against each other.

Can you be a fan of Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult, if you know they have been carrying on a Twitter campaign against Jonathan Franzen under the hashtag #Franzenfreude?  Even when you know Franzen is the better writer, Weiner and Picoult books offer a different emotional release that readers need now and then – don’t they know this?  On the other hand, Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize winner, seems a little catty criticizing the chicklit genre in her tweets.   Even a healthy eater needs chocolate now and then.

Eleanor Lipman sent me an email asking me to follow her twitter feed, as she posts a poem a day:

Starting today, I’m tweeting one poem per day (140 characters, natch) of a (partisan) political nature, from now until the 2012 election. They will be rhyming couplets, and, I hope, entertaining.

I discovered I could google “Elinor Lipman twitter” and get to her tweets without joining the ubiquitous network.

Why tweet?  Is it the electronic version of the haiku that can have as many letters as you can fit into 26 words?  Could anyone compete with an Ogden Nash limerick?  In her article, Schuessler says today’s tweeters require that “you don’t think about what you’re saying.”

I have not yet succumbed to the power of the tweet.  For the most part, it’s too hard to limit my idea to 140 characters – does that include commas?  If I did, I might tweet:

 If U want 2 know whatever pops into my head – what I think about anything – and U want my  insights/suggestions, even if I don’t know what I’m talking about -here is my advice

Oops – no more characters left.   Do you tweet?

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Today is World Poetry Day

UNESCO’s World Poetry Day is a day for reading, writing, and reciting poems.

Favorites on my bookshelf:

  • Selected Poems of Robert Frost
  • W.B. Yeats – Romantic Visionary
  • Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child’s Book of Poems

Read a poem today or write one.

The newest trend is tweeting a poem, according to Randy Kennedy for the New York Times How Do I Love Thee? Count 140 Characters …But, try to resist…