being a reader, again and still

There’s a story my parents used to tell of me as a child and how much I loved to read. Reading was what my family did in the evenings; we sat in the room we referred to as the study and read. One evening I was so deeply engrossed in my book that I had no idea they were talking to me; this was entertaining enough that they were both watching me to see how long it would be before I responded. It was long enough that it became a tale they told, part of how they understood who I was.

I have always identified as a reader—a bookworm who understood the world by reading novels. It’s because I loved reading so much that I wanted to be an English professor (yes, if someone hadn’t intervened, I would’ve written one of those applications for grad school that gushed about how I loved to read). § continue reading

infinite reading

As those of you who follow me on twitter might recall, I’ve been reading David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest for some time now (since the beginning of last August, to be precise).

For all of my nervousness that I might not finish it, I’ve made good steady progress and—much more importantly—I’ve really enjoyed the book. I love DFW’s writing and the characters and the loopy plot. I find that I think about them all when I’m not reading the book; they live in the back of my head and I carry them around with me as I go about my life. § continue reading

more thoughts on reading e-books

As I’ve spent more time reading on my iPad, I’ve come to more realizations about how I read. The most surprising thing is how much I miss sharing books. This is more complicated than it sounds. I knew, of course, that you can’t really share e-books, but I have never really been someone who likes to share books. I’m happy to borrow books, but I get nervous loaning mine out. They come back beat up, or they don’t come back at all and then I resent the person who has my book, or I can’t remember who I loaned it to and it’s gone forever. So I’m not a big book sharer. And since my family shares a single Kindle account, my spouse and my son and I can all share books across our devices–even better, we can read that book simultaneously on our separate devices. But what I failed to account for is the fact that I do actually loan out my books. § continue reading

false endings

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the experience of reading. Part of this is about the technologies of reading, but part of this is about the nature of reading and processing words.

Some context is helpful here: this spring we sold our house and moved into a new house. As part of this process, we overhauled the old house, cleaning it out and making it look fabulously inviting (those of you who watch a lot of HGTV or live in housing-market-obsessed areas will recognize this as “staging”, a term that deserves its own post on an entirely different blog). We bowed to the wisdom of our realtor, who went through our house and identified the furniture and clutter that ought to be cleared out. Right up at the top of the list were all of our bookshelves and, obviously, books. This is the point when my bookish friends yelp in horror–“Why are books unattractive?!”–but as someone who has been shopping for houses, I have to agree with the realtor on this point. § continue reading

to e-book or not to e-book

There’s been a slew of stories over the last few months about electronic books, primarily of the Kindle variety, but some of them touch on general issues pertaining to the availability, use, and desirability of e-books. I’ve been trying to compose a post in response to them, but I keep getting overwhelmed. What to say in response toa prep school that replaces its library with a cappuccino machine and 18 e-readers? *head-desk* (The School Library Journal has a more articulate response.) What about the summer’s too-perfect-to-be-true news that Amazon deleted copies of Orwell’s works from the Kindles without informing owners? Make that another big #amazonfail moment after their first, horrendous mistake last spring when changes in their ranking system made thousands of gay and lesbian titles disappear from searches. Ooops. In further e-stories, there’s the non-release as e-books of two of the Fall’s big titles: Teddy Kennedy’s posthumous True Compass and Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue. § continue reading