Tag Archives: public library

Why I Love Books…

My mother knows all the words to the Cat and the Hat. Why? She used to read it to my older brother and I at least twice a week before bedtime. I’m in my mid twenties.My brother is thirty and I don’t think my mother had read that story aloud in fifteen years but if I ask her she can still recite the entire thing.

The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.”
Bedtime stories were a ritual in the Pope house when it was just my big brother and I. We used to share a room and every night my mother would come in, pick a book off our jam-packed shelf and read to us. My father never did but he would sneak in and sit by the door, listening to my mother as she read. Sometimes he would grab the video camera and record us, focusing on our fascinated reactions as she told a story. Recently, when my father began the process of putting all those tapes on DVD we stumbled upon my mother’s retelling on the Cat in the Hat. At first I had to laugh at my mother’s very eighties Jheri curl and marvel that the woman on the screen had the same exact face as I do. But When she started reading and I who couldn’t have been more than two years old at the time started clapping my chubby little hands. The grown up me and kid me merged in that moment and I was transported back to 1987 when we still lived in that two bedroom apartment in the Bronx, when my mother used to take us to the zoo on Wednesdays and my father used to go to work dressed in his dark blue police officer’s uniform.

My mother used to take us to the library often back then and let us sit  in the children’s section for hours and take out as many books as they would allow. I remember that place vividly with the elephant statues out front and the slightly moldly smelling basement that housed the kids books. Later when we moved upstate the first place our mother took us was the local library. It was much smaller than the one in the city and resembled one of those stone cottages one might see in England. They were having a sale the first time we went and it was the first and only time I have ever heard my mother say buy anything you want. (I still have most of those books from that day).

When I hit middle school and became more preoccupied with boys than books my mother handed me a beat up copy of Chances by Jackie Collins. “I remembered liking this when I was a teenager,” she said as she handed me a book with more sex and violence than a thirteen year old should read.

When I was in high school. My mother bought  The Mulberry Tree by Jude Deveraux and Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Cruise and left them lying around the house. Which I read ,devoured and looked for more of those things called romance novels.

My father would always buy me books and once waited in line to get me the third Harry Potter the day it came out. Another time he drove to three books stores to get me a book that all my friends were reading. Thinking back I realize what good parents I have and about how they never forced reading upon me. Books were just a natural part of our lives, always around the house, always available if we should want one. At this point I have read thousands and each book brings up a memory of a certain time in my life.

What about you? Why do you love books? Did you read to your kids? Did your parents read to you? Have any fond memories of your local library? Does a certain book bring up a memory?

Nook-ie Here! Have i(Pad) Kindled Your Interest?

Happy Thursday, all.  Suze here.

At the beginning of this year, I finally jumped on the e-reader bandwagon and bought a Barnes and Noble Nook.

Since I’m kinda cheap (yeah, yeah, I hear you snickering out there — okay, frugal) and not a person who needs the latest, most trendy models of anything, I purchased a refurbished wireless/3G version through Barnes and Noble’s eBay store for a bargain price (here’s a link if you’re interested.).  I didn’t buy the color version since I didn’t plan to read magazines or children’s books.  (The money I saved allowed me to buy a lot more e-books.)

While an e-reader will never completely replace physical books for me, I lurve, lurve, lurve my Nook!  It’s simple to use — just search for the book you want, press a couple of virtual buttons, and your next read is there momentarily — and it takes up almost no space.

Why did I choose the Nook over the Kindle? Easy.  I wanted to be able to use my public library’s downloadable books system, which does not support Amazon/Kindle’s proprietary format.

Are there disadvantages?  Sure.  The Amazon store is unavailable to me.  So, for example, I was unable to purchase a Nook version of brand and marketing maven Jennifer Fusco’s debut book, Market Or Die: Sensible Brand Building Advice for Writers, since that is only available through Amazon.  (Sneak preview: Jennifer will be guest blogging here at the Scribes on September 28!  The second volume of her Market Or Die series will be available on September 27.)  No worries though.  I got around this problem by downloading the Kindle for PC app, buying the e-book, and reading it on my computer.   I also could have read it on my Android phone.

Another disadvantage:  Who knows where Barnes and Noble will be as a company in a few years?  Look what’s happened to Borders — Gone, Baby, Gone!  Anybody who’s been inside a B&N lately can see that something’s afoot.  My local shop has a hugely reduced number of physical books on the shelves, and seems to have morphed into a toy store.   But I figure that since technological gadgets such as e-readers become obsolete so quickly, I’m just not going to worry about it.  Something new will come along to replace it, and somebody will figure out a way to make the books in my virtual library accessible to me.

Eventually, I’ll probably go to a tablet computer such as the iPad, which can serve as an e-reader but can also, with the addition of an adorable little wireless keyboard, take the place of a laptop.  For now, though, I’m happy.

What about you?  Do you have an e-reader?  What kind?  What percentage of your reading time is spent on physical books versus the e-reader?

Read, Rinse, Repeat

Hello, Scribe Groupies, Susannah here.     

I love to read.  Every writer I know loves to read.  I don’t know about you, but I just can’t read everything I want to.   

I look through the Book Page every month and make a list of the books that look new and interesting — authors I haven’t read before, or unfamiliar stories that intrigue me.  Some I buy, some I put on reserve at my town’s amazing public library.   I usually only get through a couple of those a month, sometimes more if I can get the audio version and listen while I drive or go about my household duties.  

More of my reading time is taken up with single title authors I enjoy and with series.  Since I’m in the middle of a lot of them, there’s usually a new one coming out at any particular time.  I’m fiercely loyal.  Even if the series has lost its steam (usually by around Book 5 or 6) I’ll read the series through to the finale.  I always have hope that maybe, just maybe, the story will turn around, and I just have to know how it ends.   (Not that all series deteriorate — Tess Gerritsen is a prime example.  Her Rizzoli and Isles novels have gotten better and better now that the characters are so complex)

The thing about these books is: I most likely will never read them again. Now that I’m a writer, I have to spend more of my time, well, writing, rather than reading.  Sometimes I have to put myself on a reading diet in order to get my writing done.  With my limited reading time, and new stuff coming out demanding my attention, once through most books is enough.

But there are some books I come back to.   I read Jane Austen’s novels every couple of years.  Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte).  Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier).  Far From the Madding Crowd (Thomas Hardy — a relation?  Possibly way back!).  The Turn of the Screw (Henry James — I just can’t figure out if the ghost is real or if the heroine is imagining it.  Every time I read it I come to a different conclusion).  There are some more modern books too:  anything by Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels (they’re the same person).  Stephen King’s short stories are so readable, so well done, I love them far more than the full length novels.  These are the stories that have stuck with me, that I turn to when I need to ground myself.  These are the works that made me want to be a writer in the first place, and inspire me to be a better writer now.  

Chime in and tell us about the books you love enough to read over and over, and how they’ve influenced you and your writing.   See you next week!