Print vs Digital: One Book Snob’s Opinion

Pretty sure I'm wishing I had a book.

Pretty sure I’m wishing I had a book.

My dad talks all the time about how I was reading before my 4th birthday, and that I would drive him crazy with what we now call Random Acts of Roadside Literacy.  I read everything.  EVERYTHING.  Signs, billboards, labels, tags on pillows, anything and everything that had letters printed on it.

When I went to school, I’d get in trouble for trying to stay inside to read during recess.  My school librarian was my best friend and when I got in trouble with my dad, he took my books away.  Any other punishment had no effect on me, so he knew I’d pay attention if I had a few days without my “friends.”

Through junior high and high school, I spent all of my vacations, time on the bus before and after school, walking through the hallways between classes…all of my free time was spent reading and re-reading my favourite books, spending my entire allowance at used book stores to feed my habit.

The library was great, but when I lived in Montana, our library was only open a few days a week (and I volunteered there so that I had another excuse to spend all of my time with my nose in a book) and the closest DECENT library was over an hour away in another state.

For our first few years together, my husband knew that birthdays, Christmas and Just Because I Love You presents should be books.  I didn’t want jewelry, flowers or chocolates, I wanted books.

Then I developed arthritis in my hands, and the eczema that had been mostly contained on my limbs spread to the backs of my hands and my fingers.

Suddenly, reading was no longer the escape it had been my entire life.  Reading was uncomfortable and painful.  It was difficult to hold a book open, I’d have to break the spine (!) to prop it open in front of me, and hope that I didn’t ruin the pages with my cracked fingers.

I kind of…I didn’t give up on reading, but I enjoyed it a lot less – and therefore didn’t read as much as I always had – for several years.

Then my dad got me an eReader as a gift.  I kind of shrugged it off and in public was very grateful, but in my head made snobby comments about how nothing could replace real books.  I read a book on it, then let the battery fully discharge  and didn’t touch it for about six months.

Until my hands got particularly bad and I knew there was just no way I could force myself to even pick up a book, let alone turn the pages.

sj_nookSo I charged it, and checked out a bunch of books from my local library (without even leaving my house!).  No longer did I have to worry about breaking the spine, or making my hands worse with paper cuts, all I needed was a free finger to tap and turn the page!

I still have that eReader (it’s hopelessly dated now, without wifi or anything else fancy – really, it’s just for reading) but my dad got me a new one THIS Christmas, so I passed that one on to my 13 year old.  He loves it as much as I did, and it makes me smile to walk into his room and see him curled up reading.  He announces when he finishes something, then starts his next book without even having to get up.  13 year old me is VERY jealous.

In answer to this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge, which asks if we prefer eBooks or Paperbacks, I have to say – I used to be a dead tree book snob, but even if I were to miraculously no longer have issues with my hands, I’d stick with digital.  I realized that I love reading more than I love the books themselves, it’s the words that have the power for me, not the pages.

Please allow me a few moments to doubt myself.

Like that time he asked for a blueberry cake with red frosting.

I realized this morning the real reason I have continually put off participating in NaNoWriMo, and it’s not just because I have this massive fear of failure.

Tomorrow is my youngest son’s birthday.  He’ll be 6.  In all the rush to get Hallowe’en costumes ready, and stressing over what the hell I’m going to write about starting today, his birthday was kind of put on the backburner.  It wasn’t until he got up today and ran over to the calendar tacked onto the fridge and shouted “TOMORROW IS MY BIRTHDAY!” that I realized how little I’m prepared for it.  There are still gifts to buy and…I don’t know – something to plan.  Maybe a cake to bake.  He never really eats cake, though, even when I make it exactly like he wants.

…and then, next week is husband’s birthday.  And while we as adults never really celebrate our birthdays, I still want to do something.  Luckily, his birthday always falls near the release of a new Call of Duty game (seriously, the last several years, that’s been his gift – talk about ease of shopping), but I’d like to do SOMETHING for him.

Oh, and the week after that is middlest son’s birthday.  So.  Of our family of 6, half of them have birthdays in November.

Plus, there’s Thanksgiving, and that takes 2 days of preparation (I do all the baking, shut up – it takes forever), plus the actual stupid holiday, plus all of the clean up.

Add onto all of the birthday stuff trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days, when almost a week of possible writing days are already taken by other previous things, and…well, that’s why I’ve never attempted it before.

I’ve managed to write close to 800 words so far today (not including however many this post ends up being).  I hate most of them.  I also am no longer so in love with this idea I had that I was ZOMG SO EXCITED about.  I actually think it’s kind of stupid and don’t even know that I want to write it anymore, but I feel like I did all of this outlining and reading in preparation that I SHOULD write about it.

Honestly, I know all of this is just me being down on myself.  I truly am afraid of failing.  I wish I were one of those people who signed up for NaNo under a name no one knows so that if I won, I could be all “SURPRISE, LOOK WHAT I DID!” but if I failed, I wouldn’t have to admit to anyone that I’d even tried.

[sigh]

I’mma just go curl up in a ball on the couch and try not to hyperventilate for a bit.  The kids are all running around screaming right now, anyway, and I can’t even muster up enough the enthusiasm to yell.

Hello, Darkness – Come on in. Let me light a candle.

“Inspired by colour,” they said.

Colour constantly inspires me, and in this instance, it inspired me to create a musical rainbow for myself you guys.

“Oooooh, sj – what’s a musical rainbow?” I’m sure you’re all asking.

Only a ROY G BIV playlist that I spent the last few hours working on.

AND making sure that the majority of you can listen by creating it on both Spotify AND YouTube.  I know, I’m the best.  Save all of your accolades for another time when I’m feeling particularly down.

I had to re-work it a bit because not everything in my iTunes library is available on the internet (I know, the horror, right?), but I’m pretty satisfied with the 20 songs I’ve managed to include.

Since I tried to keep it to the colours in the rainbow, (substituting purple for violet because I didn’t like many of the violet songs) you’ll notice a marked absence of black and white.

Don’t worry, I’m prepared for that!

Start with this one:

Then move on to this (or play it on YouTube here):

And end with this:

Oh, and a bonus track, which doesn’t have a colour in the title, but which makes me giggle everytime I hear “Pantone 292.”

I hope you all enjoy this musical rainbow!  What songs would you have included?

I can’t even believe I’m telling you guys this.

Last week, I had an interesting conversation with Blake on goodreads (you don’t really have to click the link, he never updates [HINT HINT]) that has kind of had me thinking.

Without boring you with all the details, it went like this:

[...] but, I’m curious, are you a writer? Have you ever considered writing a novel?

Me:

I have not written anything other than what you’ve seen on my blog. I started it last year to get out of doing NaNoWriMo. Don’t think I haven’t considered it, because I know I have some ideas, I just don’t know that I’d ever be able to get them down. I get all panicky just thinking about writing fiction.

Blake:

Don’t worry about the writing, I was just curious, because, you see, I’d heard of these people who loved reading but didn’t really write, but I’d never actually met one.  Most people’s stories are just angst-ridden hypotheticals and perfect worlds. Like ‘Twilight’. Not to say that if you were a writer that I think your work would be terrible. (On the contrary…)

Me:

“You know, I guess I think I’ve always been a professional critic… you know, or some sort of professional appreciator or something.”

Blake:

Isn’t that Nick Hornby or something?

(It totally was.)

Me:

Exactly. I’m the BEST at appreciating but horrible at DOING.

So then, yesterday, Heather announces that she’s doing NaNo again this year.

Let me tell you.  NO ONE puts the pressure on like Mrs Becoming Cliche.  I had it in the comments on her blog, via email AND on twitter.  THREE PLACES AT ONCE!  It was unbearable.

But I was ready to prevail.  I held strong.

For about an hour and a half.

I did it.  I signed up.  I’m doing NaNoWriMo.

[hangs head in shame]

Because I couldn’t take the pressure.  She enlisted OTHER PEOPLE to ADD TO IT!  How am I supposed to say no to that?

[sigh]

I was really tempted to just quietly sign up under an assumed name and pretend that I’d not agreed to do anything at all.  That’s generally how I roll.  Hell, the majority of my friends don’t even know I blog.

But that’s it.  I’m going to try to write a novel during November.

Try.

The best worst scariest part?

I kind of know what I want to write about already.  I went into this saying “BUT I HAVE NO IDEAS!” and then as I was trying to take a nap earlier, I was replaying a conversation I’d had with Nicole earlier today and a “Well, what if it was [this] instead…?” popped into my head.

And it’s something that I’d want to read if it were written by someone else.  That’s a good sign, right?

Anyway, I’m super nervous and almost certain I’ll fail, but I’m going to try anyway.

This will be my first time writing fiction in close to 20 years.  I had a teacher in high school tell me that he enjoyed my short stories then, but a huge part of me worries that he was just saying that, and it’s kind of why I gave it up in the first place.

I think I might be sick.

Dear Coffee, You make me sad

Inline image 1

Dear Falsely Labeled Coffee,

My husband purchased you a little over a week ago. We generally prefer light roasts (dark roasts are too bitter and we subscribe to the Alton Brown school of thought that lighter roasts equal more caffeine [no, we don't really care if it's wrong, we just prefer to think that]), but husband got off work after the grocery store was closed and we were out. of. coffee. This is an unacceptable situation for us to be in, so he stopped at one of the little drug stores that also has a grocery section to make sure we could get our fix the following morning.

Sadly, all that was available (other than the French Roasts, which I’ve already explained we think are gross) was a medium blend. You were that medium blend. Husband thought, medium is better than dark, right? And since he knew we’d be ready to kill each other (and probably our children) in the morning if he didn’t bring something home, he bought you.

He arrived home. I hugged and kissed him hello, then asked “You got coffee, right?”

“Yes, of course – don’t look at me like that, of COURSE I remembered,” he replied.

I put the few other things he’d purchased away and proceeded to pour the coffee from its bag into the airtight container we keep in the refrigerator.

“Huh. That’s pretty dark for a medium roast,” my love observed.

“Yes. Yes it is. Hopefully it will taste okay,” I said.

And then thought nothing else of it.

The following morning I woke up with Baby Girl, just like every other morning.

I prepared the French Press and winced a bit at your strong odour as I spooned you into the carafe.

“Ugh,” I thought. “I really hope this tastes better than the smell would lead me to believe.”

You didn’t.

I’m not ashamed to admit that due to my extreme klutziness, I’m familiar with the flavour of dirt. I’ve faceplanted more times than I can count, and my first cup of you brought to mind that one time in high school when I was running back to the gym and tripped over an uneven section of pavement. That time where I went flying through the air, arms pinwheeling and ended up scraping up my entire frontside? As well as passing out and waking up to find myself with the taste of dirty concrete on my tongue? That’s what you remind me of.

Dirty concrete.

“Surely some more creamer will make this palatable!”

I could not have been more wrong, because guess what I had then? CREAMY DIRTY CONCRETE!

Mmmmmmm.

Or not.

Definitely “or not.”

“Maybe it’s just because I’m sick right now?” I said to myself. “Perhaps husband will think it tastes just fine?”

No. He confirmed that you were gross.

“I WILL WRITE A LETTER OF COMPLAINT!”*

Oh, but we threw the bag away, so I can’t even provide the required information when writing.

“Well, maybe I’ll blog about it?”

So I was mulling this post over in my head this morning and saw that this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge involved using the post by email feature and asked us to write a letter of some sort.

“HOW SERENDIPITOUS! I may not be able to write a letter to the company that mislabeled their coffee, but THE COFFEE ITSELF CAN HAVE A PIECE OF MY MIND!”

Because we’re cheap, we mostly slogged through you, but last night husband brought home some GOOD COFFEE. Better coffee. Coffee that isn’t you. Coffee that I can enjoy with my book for 10 minutes in the morning before I get my kids up. Coffee that doesn’t make me hate the fact that I have working tastebuds. Coffee that tastes like glorious alertness. Like coffee should.

As for what’s left of you? You’re going in the trash.

- sj

tl;dr

Dear Coffee,

Sometimes I love you, but this week I hated you.

 

*  I do this all the time.  I email companies with all of the pertinent information from the package and express my deep disappointment in how they’ve failed me.  The best was the time I complained to the pistachio company about the huge number of EMPTY SHELLS in my bag of pistachios and they FEDEXED ME 10 BAGS OF PISTACHIOS!  There was also the time I complained to a company that their medium salsa was NOT medium, but hot, and they sent me coupons for a bunch of free salsa.  Sometimes companies ignore you, but sometimes they send you free stuff.  The free stuff is nice.  The ignoring isn’t.