Tag Archives: Books

There’s Nothing Worse Than Getting What You Want

Life lesson time…

(Because I don’t have kids to instil this valuable knowledge into…and my dog doesn’t really seem interested.)

Noting my credentials as your friendly local Blogger, I would seriously ask you to reconsider making a living (or a small fraction of one in my case) off of what you like doing most. Your hobbies, your favourite things to escape into. Don’t, I repeat, DO NOT aspire to make it your day job.

Some arbitrary examples that in no way refer to things I’ve done in the past:

Say you’re around twenty one years old, and you really REALLY love books. Like…not just reading them, but searching them out, smelling them, particularly the old yellowing pages of volumes once loved by someone else for years. Your heart flutters at the feel of fraying bindings, and the rough texture of a hardcover that’s lived an exciting life. You think, “Gosh, I’d be infinitely happy if only I could be surrounded by these ageing bodies of wisdom and knowledge all day every day…My dream job would be to work in that there local used bookstore.”


Bookshelf

All sounds fine and dandy as you dream about blowing the dust off of boxes of linguistic treasure, finding a new home for these magical collections of life stories, scientific texts and fiction that challenges the literary genius of Nabokov or Tolstoy. Then one day, you are made aware of an opening at said local used bookstore for part time work. This news makes your day. The friend of yours who worked there was moving on, which left a vacancy that you are tickled pink to have the chance to fill. She puts in a good word for you. Because why wouldn’t they want to hire you, you are vastly overqualified in both formal education and general knowledge of worldly things. And of course…you “Absolutely adore books” which is said at least twice during the interview that you are over the moon to receive. Regardless of the terrible hours and lack of government approved pay rate, you are happy to start your life as a clever purveyor of books, and  feel also like you are preforming an important social service, helping those in need find the words they are looking for that will change their life.

You start by shelving the ‘new intakes’, and a quick look at the box reveals that they are all absolute fluff. One hundred percent old lady porn. Romance novels all bent along the spine where the dirty bits are. You quickly learn that this particular shop specializes in a lending library sort of system where old books are bought and sold back to the store by old ladies who get their kicks reading about unrealistic love affairs between knights and princesses, long haired Fabio types and fragile female characters who can’t think for themselves. Hundreds come in and out every day. The other half of business is divided up between mystery novels, Sci-Fi, Grisham and Patterson type Fiction and whatever new releases you manage to get in. Which is approximately ten. Because no one sells their brand new books right away. There is a respite in the depressing Non-Fiction section in the back, but it unfortunately looks like a bomb went off and the dust only just settled. Stacks of DIY and irrelevant biographies lay everywhere and you better have a winning lottery ticket in your pocket if you’re looking for a specific book back there.

You learn your boss lives in the back room with his cat, and is not exactly the friendly, eccentric old bookstore owner that you imagined. But an angry easily perturbed man in the crisis point of his life, who takes groups fishing for too much money when the weather is nice. After being in charge of the store when a customer accidentally broke a lamp, and to then have a strip torn off you by the boss for it, you feel like maybe this five dollar an hour business isn’t exactly worth it.

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Say you’re around twenty four years old, after months of applying for jobs in this new city you moved to nearly a year ago, and after a terrible bout working as a cashier at a grocery superstore which made you want to choke people with different kinds of produce, you get a chance to work at the Holy Grail of National book companies. The holder of the literary monopoly from Sea to shining Sea, the keeper of all that is new and exciting in the world of the precious book! Of course you’re going to say yes to a position at the helm of this (arguably, sinking) industry! Or at least you figure close to the helm, as who interviews you seems like they’re in charge (Spoiler: You are wrong). You agree to a minimum wage start, because it sounds like there is lots of opportunity for raise and promotion.

new bookstore

What they don’t tell you, is, you will get all of the worst shifts, be called in last minute nearly weekly and be criticized and humiliated if ‘heaven forbid’ you have plans on your day off. The person in charge is a megalomaniac from the BIG city who apparently only knows Business 101 Buzzwords like ” Our Process” and “Streamline” or “Zeitgeist”, “Paradigm Shift”, “Bundling”, “Synergy” and “Efficiency” which translate to “We will work you like a mule for hardly any pay,  until your soul pours out your nostrils and we can keep it in a jar in the office until you don’t recall you ever had one”.

They “forget” your six month review and hold off your first precious ten cent raise for months, they neglect to define your role so they can make anything “your job” on a whim and criticize you for not doing it. You get reamed out daily for not “Collecting (Re: Begging) enough cash Donations” which the company uses to a) look like a charitable organization and b) bestow as gift certificates that sell product at the regular horrifyingly marked up price. You eventually stop trying to get as many unsuspecting customers as possible to sign up for the loyalty program that tracks their purchases and encourages more thoughtless buying through annoying daily emails.

You stop believing that this was once a good place, where people could enjoy life and find a book to escape into, and you only see it as a place where someone can come up to beg you for a discount on a softcover you saw them deliberately rip the cover off of, they throw a fit and get the deal from a manager anyway, who made you look like a fool in front of them for talking a stand. You start to dread the day they might eventually ask you to sneak up behind unsuspecting customers and steal their wallets or car keys. You decide you need out. You need freed from the corporate mentality where you are just a number, a peon, 100% replaceable, which you are. Once your enthusiasm for useless products is gone, once you’ve been thoroughly disillusioned and realize it’s not a bookstore anymore and just a sanctuary for brightly coloured, cheap, useless crap, they the pick a fresh crop of smiling faces, ready and eager to have their soul extracted in the name of “A love for books”. They didn’t care if you knew a thing about books, as long as you could sell them. No measly 30% discount is worth that kind of mental torture. And you’re not even mentioning the Special HELL that is Christmas at the Mall.

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Say you’re around twenty five years old, and after the spirit crushing experience with corporate Canada, you are offered a part time gig at a local independent cafe’ downtown. Hallelujah! You say! Finally the quaint and cozy job serving people hot cups of caffienated love day in and out. Happy people who are glad you drew a face in their latte’, couldn’t be happier you added an extra carrot on their sandwich plate, working for a person who’s face you see on a daily basis. That’s the life! And by god! Tips! You’ll make extra money! What a concept… It all looks like it will work out just fine!

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You are trained on a gruelling schedule requiring memorizing more than you needed to in your four year University Science program. The assistant manager is an anal French perfectionist who is surprisingly terrible with customers, harbouring a strangely successful hate-hate relationship with them. You only see the Owner when you’re getting reprimanded for putting the napkins in upside-down and opening your mouth and talking to someone who wasn’t a customer, or when getting paid in cash which feels more like a drug deal then an exchange of services for fair wages. The latter event seems to happen less and less often, getting pushed weeks behind because he neglects to show up while you’re working. Your hours are cut back to less than the legal shift length, or cancelled all together an hour or two before you’re supposed to start. You’re not paid for the last half hour of your night shift because you only get paid half an hour after close, but there is still more work that needs done and it better be done the next morning or there will be a big scary French Cafe’-Nazi on your ass.

You exhaust yourself daily trying to find things to do to look busy when it’s slow or they will send you home and you won’t make enough to justify the travel costs to work. Free coffee doesn’t pay the rent, and the latte’ you get per shift is starting to lose it’s lustre’.  Getting to work with espresso eventually doesn’t make up for all of the foul smelling tuna and egg salad sandwiches you have to make for the daily regulars who somehow manage to have less of a social life than you. Regulars that are not happy about the extra carrot on their plate, and violently complain when it is no longer there. You go home smelling like pickles, coffee and sweat and the tips you made didn’t pay for the bus ride home, which you waited 45 minutes for in minus thirty degree weather, on a dodgy city street at midnight. You stepped over a puddle of human blood to get here…is this what you really want?

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The fantastical idea of all of these different positions is in theory wonderful. All are appealing and have a way of attracting themselves to you by including something you love already, old books, new books, coffee. But now and forever these aspects of life will tainted by the experience of doing it for a living. Going for a hot drink at a local cafe’ will always come with a cringe and feeling of empathy towards the poor barista getting scolded for too much foam on a latte. A trip to the bookstore will be a horror or horrors, completely unenjoyable, watching mindless moneybags shop like toddlers throwing tantrums for things they really don’t need. And the used bookstore becomes a pit of old books no one wants anymore. A hole where the unwanted fall and rot for years collecting dust, and anything worth buying is lost on a shelf behind thousands of other volumes by no-name authors from the eighties.

I’m not saying you should stay away from being employed at these types of places, because everyone extracts what they want and need from each kind of situation. What I’m saying is try to avoid taking a job that has little merit other than it being something you enjoy doing in your free time. The niceties and pleasure you get from that activity will be changed forever, and if that job has no other merits, such as pay or pleasant people to work with, you may be in for a bumpy and uncomfortable ride.

Thanks for stopping by!

-Hailey Jane


A Painting and Words: My own Van Gogh and upcoming reads.

 

Hello friends!

Happy Tuesday…..Wednesday…it’s Wednesday…I’m special.  I’ve had some extra free time this week because my job doesn’t take me seriously whatsoever, so I felt the need to pretend I was useful. In all honesty I may have just ended up sitting at my desk thinking about doing something; basking in the glory of untapped potential, but the apartment maintenance man came in to fix the door, and I am alarmingly motivated when being watched.  I felt an extreme and deep need to show this random stranger that I was actually a productive member of human society.

You rarely would see me move so swiftly or gracefully. I glided over to where I kept my art supplies and before I had even really decided that I was going to paint something, I had the paint and canvas out, pencils and blotting paper collected, bowl of water ready to be dipped into and away I went.

The subject of this potential artwork came to me even more easily which is annoying because otherwise I would have sat and mulled over it until I eventually convinced myself not to do anything at all. For some reason earlier this week I decided I wanted a Van Gogh Sunflowers phone case for my new walking-talking device, and I had been trying to find one online (Which I did, but I didn’t feel like shelling out 20 bux plus shipping for it just now) But, the idea of having my very own Van Gogh seemed even more appealing! Unfortunately I didn’t have any trips to the National Gallery in London planned, and my thievery and espionage skills leave something to be desired. The easiest way really, was to paint one myself.

IMG_5133Ta Da!

IMG_5150Makes me happy, it does.

I also partook in some used book thrifting last Saturday, and found something I swear I’ve had in my Amazon basket for a year and a half now!  Bonus: It was only $3.95! Hells yeah! Here’s the stack:

IMG_5153All purchased at the Goodwill Bookstore, Lauzon Rd. Windsor ON.

In The Garden with Van Gogh – Merberg/Bober – A children’s board book, in the event I have a baby I want this to be their first book. There’s not chance I’m ever gifting this one ( .95 cents)

Animal Farm – George Orwell – A classic that for some horrifying reason I’ve not read yet. ($1.95)

London – Edward Rutherfurd – An epic about the ENTIRE history of the city….literally from when the earth formed the little island. It’s gonna be good! Might take me my whole life to read, but darn it I’m gonna do it! ($3.95)

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul – Deborah Rodriguez – I’m not 100% sold on this one, I’m not exactly a fan of reading about war-torn countries, but I like the culture surrounding a coffee shop, so I think it might be inspiring. ($3.95)

Haunted – Chuck Palahniuk – This is the one I’ve been toying with paying full price for. I read a few of the stories while I was in High School and I know it’s strange and downright fucked up sometimes, but I really really love it. It’s life changing stuff right there. At least when you’re a confused 16 year old. We’ll see if it works the same nearly a decade later. ($3.95)

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari – Robin S. Sharma – At first glance Chris saw this and proclaimed “Well that looks like it’s stupid!”, and I knew that was going to happen, as he is a narrow minded consumerist particularly obsessed with automobiles, but I think I will love it. It’s already a very successful book, so I imagine there’s got to be something good in there.  My only worry is, I’m not a fan of how ‘self-help-ie’ it has been laid out like. I would prefer more of a narrative, where you take what you want from the story, as opposed to having life lessons shoved down your throat. I’ll let you know when I finish. ($3.95)

Under the Tuscan Sun – Francis Mayes – I’ve also almost bought this book at least 4 times and I finally and broke down and handed over my 4 dollars.  Now it’s mine. I’ve seen the film at least 15 times, and I love everything about it. Sticking to the idea that the book is always better, I’m looking forward to enjoying this even more. Gotta love a good old fashioned mid-life-crisis induced life change! ($3.95)

Thanks for spending some time with me and my library!

Lots of love! xx

Hailey Jane

 


Book Review! ‘Bridget Jones, Mad About the Boy’ by Helen Fielding

Hello there ladies and gents! It’s that time of the week again! A Vlog post just for you!

This time I’m attempting to review (not at all objectively) the newest instalment in the life of Bridget Jones.  I also have another really cute mug that you should really go and see, because that alone is worth a click.  Like..seriously…it’s pretty freakin’ awesome and you have no idea the kind of brilliance you are missing.

And because it’s almost Valentines Day, here are some bonus V-Day cards! They are awesome in a sort of megalomaniacal way.

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xx

Miss Hailey Jane


A Handful of Quick Book Reviews

Hi everyone! Nice to see you all again, sorry it’s been a little bit since my last post, I’m getting settled into a new job and things are kinda crazy. Here’s a bunch of quick reviews of books I’ve been into lately. Have a look if it suits your fancy.

Beware! There are some spoilers hidden in here as well…just so you know.

Rush Home Road, Lori Lansens

This is exactly the sort of book I would never have picked up and read on my own accord. This is a good example of how enjoyable it can be to step out of your comfort zone, particularly with reading. It was selected for my book club, which explains how it ended up in my life, and I finished the five hundred and something pages in less than three days. I don’t know what it is about books that jump back and forth between two time periods that make it impossible to put down, but closing this book for the night took serious will power. Sarah’s Key was much the same. It wasn’t a pretty story and at times it made me very sad. Based in the lower class area of rural Southern Ontario, close to the city where I currently live, it painted a very different picture of the area than I have become familiar with. Even though it was fiction,  it was quite spooky reading about places I know well, visit and pass through frequently. I also love how it wraps itself up into a beautiful bow at the end. I felt satisfied with the way it ended, yet still wished for more, which I think is the mark of a good story. And yes…I cried, which made my face hurt while I was trying to read the last few pages. Kudos to ‘the Mumsie’ for her great book choice!  Four Stars

 

 

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

After realizing I had never been force fed any Steinbeck in High School, I picked this one up to get a bit of a taste. It was a very quick and easy read, yet it certainly had feeling.  The emotional conflict within the characters in the story was so powerful it nearly seeps out of the pages. Few feelings are spoken in the dialogue, but you by all means know that they are there in the actions taken by several individuals. No tears materialized in myself while reading this book, but I think because if it’s length I was unable to really connect or relate to either of the main characters. But that’s my bad. It’s been said that this was a story about special needs, before special needs was a pressing social issue, and I agree wholeheartedly with that.  Lennie and George are quite the pair, and their strong and solid relationship is a kind I don’t often come across outside of family in life or in fiction. It paints a vivid picture of life in America during the depression, and illustrates the hopes and dreams of the people living and fighting their way through it. Sacrifices for the good of the many is a strong theme it presents, as well as hard work, compliance and conformity in lesser notes.  A classic, and rightfully so. Three Stars

 

 

The Giver, Lois Lowry

Another book that I regret not picking up when I was young. It was suggested to me for an assignment by my teacher when I was in seventh grade and I turned it down to read what everyone else was reading, and I can’t help but feel the irony in that. After reading it now, I described it to someone as 1984, but for children. It’s about a seemingly utopian (or rather dystopian) isolated culture, with no fear, choices, pain, happiness or sunshine. My mind was absolutely blown when I learned it was colour Jonas was beginning to see when he started to ‘see-beyond’. The setting, and structure of the society was brilliantly laid out in the first half of the book, and I feel it could have been greatly expanded on, and that it ended far too soon. There are other books in the series, and with any luck they will expand on the already established foundation that The Giver had created. I just wished I knew more about what happened to all of the other characters after Jonas left. It left me thinking it was unfinished. I agree with the messages it presents to children, and an opportunity to begin to question their own world. What is right? People can lie? What choices will I have to make? And It very delicately addresses puberty or ‘The Stirrings’, but then abandons it without further reference, which I thought was odd. Overall, a book I could have used at 11. Three and a half Stars

 

I Heart London, Lindsey Kelk

This book was not exactly what I expected. I picked it up because of my obvious love of London, and not knowing it was the fifth book in the series (or something ridiculous like that) I was a little lost in the beginning. But it turns out it was readable as a stand alone book, I just didn’t get the references to all of the events that happened previously. It’s a girly book, about a wedding, and boyfriends, and ex boyfriends, and completely unrealistic in every way. Oh look, she’s a writer from London living in New York with a great job and too much money, dating..no…engaged to a musician from a relatively famous musical group, with more rich friends than she knows what to do with. Her problems in general are petty, they include rivalries at work with evil co-workers cousins, while trying to start a shallow magazine that might not fly (because it’s about beauty and fashion and does the world really need another overpriced photoshopped wonder to make women feel worse about themselves?), an ex-boyfriend that cheated on her once so she up and LEFT THE COUNTRY without even an explanation, and now a wedding that her unrealistic perfectly British parents and psycho best friend are planning in less than a week. I was sad there wasn’t more about actual London in this book, but what could I expect. There’s pink on the cover.  From Notting Hill With Love was much better and I would recommend that if you’re looking for something fluffy and London-ie and actually enjoyable. Two Stars

Miss Hailey Jane

And really…”Kissing Ron Howard” will be coming along soon, I swear!

 


The Great Gatsby: Round Two

Going back, after however many years, and reading a book over again can yield a tremendously different overall experience.

What I am getting at here, is that I recently found myself going back (in time?) and re-reading ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald. When I read it for the first time I was oh…fourteen years old, maybe fifteen, and I very much didn’t get the gist of the thing at all. I was a good student in general and got mostly A’s for my work, but this one book didn’t do anything at all for me at the time. Maybe high school English classes have  bad habit of killing great books anyway, but I think this may have been a special case.

I was recently moved to go back to this classic, rather shamefully, because a new film by one of my favourite directors is being released this Christmas, bearing the same title. Baz Luhrmann is magically putting together another adaptation of the story, and I wanted to be a bit more up on it beforehand.

When I pressed my brain to try to remember the story line, recalling that I had read it in my ‘youth’, I was more or less at a loss. I distinctly remember sitting down in my basement with the Penguin edition of the book and reading it, but I couldn’t remember any of the plot.  None of it at all. I knew there was a yellow car, a girl called Daisy and a fancy house. That was it. I could almost feel the shame and disappointment careening towards me from my old English teacher.  I was one of those students.  The one’s they talk about in the staff room, as being hopeless and generally uninterested. The, “They’re just not going to get it no matter how you teach it” sort of conversations. But deep down I knew I wasn’t really like this, and I felt sad. So as to make some sort of otherworldly amends towards said teacher, I got myself another copy of the book, and sat down and had at it again.

The result of this thought experiment turns out to have been a general success. The book itself did not seem as long and daunting as  remember it being, and it’s setting seemed much more attractive now having known a bit more about that era in general (Thanks to a hearty helping of Jeeves and Wooster as of late).  The character of Nick Carraway though, I was still not comfortable with. I think we know too little about his personality and mannerisms to get a good grip of him, particularly as he is the one delivering the story. But that might just be my humble opinion.

The idea of Gatsby enchanted me this second time around, being a complex character with many levels of mystery and attractiveness that change as time passes,  but initially I was just confused and left to wonder how it all made sense.

In hindsight I could have used the lesson in this story at the time, being everyone and no one, all at once. It would have done a great deal to help me through high school, but alas, that concept was never touched on. It all makes me wonder how many other great books I have shunned because of my fabricated hatred for them due to the tradition of force feeding literature.

Maybe that little purple book about racism and Boo Radley wasn’t so terrible after all,  maybe Macbeth wasn’t just about someone’s crazy mother who could have used a Valium,  and just maybe Frankenstein was in fact as exciting as the movie. If only I would let my imagination go back to these times and see with a more refined and educated perception, what all of those teachers are endlessly trying to teach.

And maybe after all that, I will no longer be one of those students.

-Miss Hailey Jane


Book Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife

For my Book Club this month, we decided to tackle “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger. (I hope none of you book club people read this, because our meeting is Sunday night). First off, I just want to say, this novel was leaps and bounds better than I had originally thought it was going to be.

I completed its’ 500 or so pages in less than 10 days, which is higher than average for me, and I found it’s structure very accommodating and pleasing.  The three parts, several chapters, different perspectives, years and ages I thought were going to lead to a convoluted novel that was hard to follow, but I find it flowed very nicely, and was not in any way difficult to keep track of.  Mind you, that being said I didn’t do the math in my head of how old Henry should be in that particular year, but as long as you had a general idea based on other surrounding events it made complete sense, and I’ll just take Audrey’s word for how old he was supposed to be and when.

I would also like to point out, that unlike with Atonement, I had not seen the film prior to reading the book. In fact, I have not even seen the film at all yet. I even made a point of not looking at which actors were playing the characters, so as to not colour my mental image of them in the book as described by Audrey.  Which is ideal I think.

The main characters were very well developed, and had to be, because this story incorporates the majority of their entire lives. The secondary characters were more or less just touched on, other than Henry’s family including Kimy. I felt Clare’s mother wasn’t used enough as influence, and her condition wasn’t explained as clearly as it could have been. She is, after all, Clare’s mother and whether or not her and Clare had an excellent or terrible relationship, she would have had more of a significant influence on her life and choices. At least, that’s what I think.

The story itself was very unique, and I can honestly say it was not predictable at all. I had a few guesses as to how it was going to end, but I was very wrong. The way the author explains the nature of Henry’s time travel makes it come across as completely normal and by the fifth or so page, you really are OK with it, and wish everyone else would just understand as well as you so Henry wouldn’t have to fight his whole life.  The nakedness is an irritating touch as well; Poor guy.   But as I said, this book is fantastic and I would hightly recommend it to anyone who wants a new kind of love story.  It’s great too because it’s not all mushy, and typical upper-middle-class suburban living like I had anticipated.  It’s very real, in a city-living way, with a unique artistic cultured background, with throwbacks to retro music and style.

What I would like to know, is how Henry managed to get a Masters in Library Science with his condition. Popping in and out of exams wouldn’t go over well I’d imagine. And I’m not exactly impressed with the author leaving out his entire Post-Secondary educational experience. I guess we just have to understand that he did manage to do it, and get a great job in an awesome city library that I would kill for (no personal bias there whatsoever ;)… I promise)

I felt a lot of different emotions while reading this book, as I’m sure I was supposed to. I felt anger at Clare’s mother as well as Henry’s father. I was suspicious of  Gomez from the second we met him, and felt sorry for Ingrid. I was also very involved with their attempt to have a child, and when Clare went into labour with the fear of Henry not being there, I will admit I was slightly in tears, and all snivley.

I have read that some reviewers find the book melodramatic and trite, but I personally think that was because of the nature of their relationship. It was a dramatic relationship, and had been rather punctuated throughout their entire lives. There was never an extended period of perfect calm, and change could happen at any moment. Drama defined them.  I would not call this novel trite either, but have not personally read a lot of time travel novels, so I cannot say I expected any of the events to unfurl as they did. It also may not be relevant to today’s society or make a big political statement or anything, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good novel.

Reading about the entirety of two characters lives in under ten days can leave you feeling different, fuller perhaps. Henry’s youth seems so long ago to me, but I was only experiencing it a few days ago. And what a strange youth it was. I was a little taken aback by Henry’s experiences with himself as a teenager, I found that a little strange but then I asked myself what I would have done in that same situation, and really could come up with an appropriate answer. I also asked my boyfriend, if he were in that scenario, what would he do?….but all I received was a REALLY funny look of concern and judgement, so I moved on… I was also a little shaken about what happened to Clare in High School with that guy from the football team she dated.  The idea of an older Henry coming back and helping her like that seemed sensible, but I think they took it a little bit too far. I dunno, I would appreciate other people’s thoughts on this one I think..

On the whole, The Time Traveler’s Wife was a superb read, a welcomed break from reality into a slightly different world. I can certainly understand why it’s so popular in today’s fiction, because it really is more than just another romance novel. It has a life of it’s own, and a real story to tell.

Good job Audrey, and thanks for writing this great novel.From: http://www.thekitchn.com

-Miss Hailey Jane


To eRead or Not to eRead?…That is the Question!

Whether or not to eRead is more than the simple question it seems. It’s actually a deep and involved moral dilemma akin to whether or not to get your brother-in law a Christmas present, but with greater global implications of course.

Public opinion is rather divided on the utility of the myriad of devices available for ‘on the go’ reading. It travels well? Yes. Does it feel like a book? No. And there is also the debate on which one is best to use, which has roots in the PC/Mac debate. And I can’t say without severe bias which side to stick to. I can only tell you the facts.

As for a bit of history on the topic, some people claim that the first E-Book was created as early as the 1940’s, but this was no more than a large electronic index. The next most plausible date for the birth of the E-Book is hidden somewhere in the 1960’s. When it comes to remote devices for viewing them, the Rocket E-Book was the first developed to do so. It was manufactured by NuvoMedia and sold by Barnes and Nobel from 1998 up until the year 2000.  After that things get kind of out of hand with Amazon’s Kindle, the Sony Nook and eventually the iPad; being the most mainstream of the lot. There are also many others including the Onyx International, the Kobo, the JinKe, the Pocketbook and other Sony models among MANY others. If you are interested in a more detailed history, have a look here -> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_e-book_readers

I myself caved a year or so ago and with my Christmas pseudo moolah got myself a Kobo from Chapters.

The Kobo, from Chapters/Indigo!

At first, I was hesitant, because like many others, absolutely love the feeling of a thick hard book in my hand, to flip the pages and feel their texture. To experience the rich smell of an old library book, or the creaking of an old spine that hasn’t been cracked in years. (It’s almost starting to sound like I have a thing for old men…I don’t I swear…just books). So anyway, for a few months I didn’t really touch my Kobo. I still compulsively bought books at new and used bookstores,  and left them half read and strewn around my house just the way I like them. And really, what could compete? Can you imagine a life without bookshelves? Without buying thousands of dollars worth of textbooks at the University Bookstore in one go and leaving with a heavy burden and lighter wallet…not spending hours in the library getting permanent lines on your wrists from leaning on the book for too long or falling asleep on it. Or not going for long trips across the country or world with an extra twenty pounds between your carry-on and suitcase because of the hardcovers you just had to bring with you……wait a minute….that last one doesn’t seem quite right. At last a niche for the homeless eReader!

A common female problem...

Over the last year (ironically and completely coincidentally since I got the eReader) I have made several trips across various ponds to visit friends and vacation with my family. Trip number one was just before I got it, and just about had to pay for the extra twenty pounds of books I insisted on bringing to England in case I got bored…(Which I definitely didn’t..I don’t even think I managed to read a page of one of them while I was away).  Trip Number two was testing the waters, back to England I went three months later, and brought about ten pounds of books as well as the fully loaded eReader. Again, nothing got read due to my inability to read on trains without vomiting, as well as general business. I did manage to buy two more books in the plane station and read one on the plane home but that’s besides the point, and does not help make my case for eReaders in the slightest.

Impulse buying at its best!

Two weeks after I get home from that excursion I head for Cuba with my family and bring two books and the eReader, the numbers are looking better! Unfortunately I don’t trust my tipsy handling of a not-so waterproof device next to a pool or the ocean or my nine year old sister.  So it didn’t get used much there.

The next trip was five months later, back to England again and I was smarter and only brought the eReader. It was slightly used this time, but I still bought three more books while away. Also worth noting is, when the twenty pounds of books aren’t there, filling that space with clothing is much easier than I predicted.

Finally the true test of the eReader came two weeks after I returned. I was called to work up North, in Canada’s Thunder Bay for a few months doing Archaeological field work, living in a wood framed canvas tent in the middle of the wilderness. I also had to fly there, and fit two months worth of things into one suitcase including a sleeping bag, sheets, pillow, toiletries and work clothes. Living out of one suitcase proved to be easier than the initial terror made me think. And the eReader did it’s job fantastically! Not only did it save extremely valuable space, it was a great form of entertainment on cold lonely nights and with the wi-fi I could get whatever book I wanted whenever I felt like it. Plus One for the eReader!

Since then I have found the eReader useful when I want to read a book to see what it’s like but don’t want to pay full price for it, or when I want to read embarrassing things. It’s great, no one can see what you’re reading! Muahaha! The 100 or so free classics it comes with are also wonderfully handy, but I don’t ever expect to read all of them.

Alright, so lets recap. After having my eReader for one year, it’s most useful aspect is for travelling. But more specifically, reading fluff. And by fluff I mean fiction and books that you don’t need to keep constantly flipping back to re-read passages and paragraphs. Any non-fiction is kind of a pain in the butt to read on an eReader unless it’s a memoir/biography or something. I purchased a copy of ‘The Selfish Gene’ by Richard Dawkins for my eReader. It was the first thing I bought and I was so excited about getting a copy of this book that I’ve been waiting for forever, and for half the cover price to boot!  BUT, the large downside was, I was missing all the footnotes, all of the visuals and I couldn’t flip back and forth between chapters to keep up. Which is like missing half the book. So I don’t recommend at least the Kobo for non-fiction enthusiasts. On the other hand it’s absolutely perfect for trashy ‘take in the bath’ novels…  but again, I’m not entirely comfortable with this thing around water.

Some people have compared and contrasted various eReaders on things like storage, battery life, screen size and read-ability.  But when you get to far down into the nitty-gritty like that then the whole premise behind utility of the eReader breaks down completely. For example:

Humour...

So eReaders are great for travel, for reading ‘take in the bath’ fluff but not actually in the bath, for keeping shelf numbers down and for reading the free classics they give you. I know I am a book junkie, and it never hits me worse than when I go to move again. I’ve moved three or four times in the last few years, because that’s what people my age do apparently…and each time I kick myself for having so many books. They’re SO HEAVY!! And there really is no good way to pack them to make it easier. One big box will be impossible to lift, and a bunch of small boxes is also a big pain in the butt. I’ve actually resorted to using the reusable grocery bags to move my books because they work best due to the handles, and also store easily afterwards, ready and waiting for the next move.

There have been considerably more additions since then as well...

Other than those few and rather specific beneficial qualities, the eReader is turning out to be a serious parasite on modern society. That’s right…here’s where the giant moral dilemma pops up. One of my most favourite things to do in the whole world is go out into the bustle of every-day people, get a delicious fancy coffee and spend my afternoon perusing a local bookshop. Whether it be a new and used book store, or a big chain store, either works for me. So long as there are books. The cheery on top of a day like that is visiting a speciality book store, one that has more than the usual popular fiction and reference books. One with specific collections of old books, rare books and famous books. ALL bookshops are in danger with the rising favour of the eReader, but these speciality shops are what are most in peril by their popularity.  The economy just can’t handle both right now, and people encouraged to download books from their home instead of going out and looking for what’s out there, are missing the opportunity completely.

I was out in Windsor last week and I talked with the owner of a small shop called ‘Books for Less’. He specialized in buying overstock from larger distribution companies and then selling them for ‘Less’ than cover price.  These type of stores are suffering significantly from the current economic situation, and who knows if they will ever recover.

It has long been my dream to work in a unique bookshop like that, and that was what brought me out to that end of town. It also wasn’t the first time in this town that I was told that a bookshop was manned solely by the owner and they would love the help but could not afford more staff.  What’s keeping them alive right now are all the baby-boomers out there still looking for their romance novels and thrilling mystery’s.

What IS eventually going to happen is the Mom and Pop shops will disappear, then the smaller chain stores and eventually one day not too far into the future of our generation, any store that sells bound paper reading material will be transformed into a new and unrecognisable business adapted to the more technologically savvy youth of the future. Most likely based primarily online, these companies will distribute files and the technology to view them,  and there will be no trace of what we once considered the ‘bookstore experience’. The face of authorship will changed forever.

Newspapers, a once proud and successful industry has flatlined and had to adapt to an online free-information society, and magazines are also on their way out. When we are old, we will grumble at our grandkinds through our dentures that when we were young, we had to turn pages with words on them to read about things, and worse, had to go outside and buy these ‘books’ from a store!

So-long Chapter’s Day! 😦 You will be greatly missed.

I suggest we do what we can to support the written word and bound literature. Buy your books with a smile where you can, and lug your boxes of books when you move with pride and a strong back. Keep in mind you are holding onto our culture with every box! The definition of History begins with the origin of the written word, and I would hate to see it end with the death of it. Let’s leave tangible evidence for future generations, hundreds and thousands of years into the future, so future archaeologists will at least have some idea what we were up to.

So with any luck I have explained the current cultural desire for eReading technology, while highlighting some of the cultural dangers of loosing books altogether. I still have my Kobo, and I will still occasionally read from it, but it is not going to interfere with my personal love of books, and the satisfying cultural experience that surrounds them.

-Miss Hailey Jane

14.02.2012


What’s Worth Reading Now-a-days?

One thing I get asked a lot, is ‘What are you reading?’  Maybe this is just because most people can’t be bothered  think of anything else interesting to ask me in an awkward social situation, but it’s a question that has it’s merits if the asker is willing to actually consider the reply.

So here’s my list of books that have the ability to, and just might change your life…if you let them…according to me. (In no particular order)

1. The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink, 1995. (There is a movie, yes…but I read it first and the books is excellent. I’m all for questioning social convention and bending the laws of attraction and love)

2. 1984, by George Orwell, 1949. (Clever guy…that George)

3. MANIC, a Memoir by Terri Cheney, 2009. (If you’re a person who lives in your head, the idea of it being compromised is scary. This is what happens, and is explained in the kind of detail only someone who has gone through years of mental illness can depict)

4. The Celestine Prophecy, by James Redfield, 1993. (But you can’t take it too seriously…cuz that’s just weird)

5. The Greatest Show On Earth, by Richard Dawkins, 2009. (Anything by him is worth a read and have a mind that likes science)

6. The Vampire Chronicles, by Anne Rice, 1976-1988. (Ideally the first three, they will turn you into a romantic, at least they did for me)

7. Running With Scissors, by Augusten Burroughs, 2002. (So funny, and not exactly your typical childhood but it makes the drudgery of life a little more fun)

8.  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson, 1972. (The American Dream in action…not for everyone)

9. Life on the Air, by Sir David Attenborough, 2009. (It’s a trip around the world from the comfort of your living room)

10. The Story of O, by Pauline Reage (Real name, Anne Desclos)1954. OR Justine, by the Marquis de Sade, 1791. (Both are classic French erotic novels that bend the limits of good society. I can’t stress this one enough, NOT FOR EVERYONE, or at least anyone younger than 18.)

I guess by ‘now-a-days’ I clearly didn’t mean recently published. But these are a few good ones to get started with. But reading, as with anything, enjoyment relies on personal taste. If public school English has taught me anything, it’s that being forced to read something you are not interested in, is nearly equivalent to Chinese water torture. So find yourself a trend, and just go with it. If society doesn’t agree, hide it behind something considerably less interesting like “Smart Couples Finish Rich” or “The Bible” if you’re going for quiet irony. Also, nothing says “Don’t talk to me” like a big hard cover Bible in your hand!  Oh, and ebooks are also excellent concealers of inappropriate literature.

So that’s my entire compilation… my mixed tape of literature just for you. Happy Valentines Day, sorry there aren’t any flowers.

-Miss Hailey Jane

13.02.2012

Books are Beautiful