Is there a difference, asks the true reader? Well, yes and no.
No, there is not much difference in the actual textual content you are reading, whether it is an electronic page or a printed page. The content is the same for the vast majority of books.
But, yes, there is a difference in what is delivered up as non-textual content in the e-format. The extra stuff -- photos, illustrations, embedded video or audio (rarely) - is often poorly rendered or simply absent. And, the e-reader can certainly give the reader a hard time or an easy time. This is obvious when you try to read magazines. Spare us the flipping pages, where you have to tediously resize each page! So 20th century! It's a truly awful experience that I keep subjecting myself to when my library enticingly offers a new issue of a desired magazine. I know of no magazine reader that does this well. Please send me a note if there is one. Freeport Press ran a survey last year that found most readers of magazines don't like digital magazines and much prefer print.
The true reader is format agnostic. As long as the text is available, the reader will read. But if images are present, nothing works as well as the printed page. Will we find a solution for these image-heavy books in the electronic world? I hope so.
The real innovation in the ebook space will continue to be adding content that isn't available in print -- videos, primarily, but also new corrections, additions, revisions, annotations by the author, etc. Haven't seen this happen much, but it's there, waiting for the innovative author to use.
Historical fiction, when well done, can give insights and information that are easily understood and truly educational in the most engaging manner. Imagine your high school history teacher actually being fascinating, and your history lessons not just centered on memorizing events and people but finding out about the people from history.
For women and minorities, historical fiction has been a way to tell their stories, those stories that have mostly been ignored in the history textbooks. At the very least, it fleshes out the history that we learn in school. I particularly enjoy mysteries, so historical mysteries are a special interest of mine. I don't enjoy mysteries that don't teach me something, so placing a mystery in a time period is a perfect mode of teaching.
There is a wonderful website called Women in World History which has a special section on Historical Mysteries with Women Sleuths. This is a fabulous find, as it lists books by geographic region as well as historical time period.
History becomes real when you read fictional stories that are well researched and authentic in their details. And we know that racism and xenophobia can be lessened and even eliminated when one becomes acquainted with the stranger. That is best done in person or through media, but it can also be done through reading. Over the last few decades, teachers have encouraged students to read literature from other countries and books that give perspectives of different cultures and ethnicities. This helps tremendously with empathy and understanding of persons and cultures different from one's own.
Everyone should read a book about something quite different from their own experiences. Sometimes, I have to push myself to read outside my comfort zone. I've always been rewarded, though. One of my all time favorite books is now Chimamanda Nzogi Adichie's stunning Americanah. I had never read or even thought much about the many Nigerians who are part of the US. This book explored many issues of immigrants and the clash of living in two worlds and cultures. It is truly an unforgettable story.
I do read quite a bit of nonfiction, and it is invaluable for learning about history. There is no substitute, in fact. Historical fiction, however, is a perfect addition. It's entertaining in a way that nonfiction can rarely be, and it provides a much deeper look at the day to day lives and issues for a particular place, person, or event. So, supplement your history with one of the excellent historical fiction books available. For learning about another culture or ethnicity, or the hidden or obscured histories of women or marginalized peoples, historical fiction is a treasure.
The Women's National Book Association has awarded its centennial award, the Second Century Prize, to Little Free Library. This prize is a $5,000 grant to an organization that supports the power of reading, past, present, and into the future.
How suitable that Little Free Library has received this award -- it has certainly been an innovative project That promotes reading for all ages, but especially children, by building free book exchanges. It was founded in Hudson, Wisconsin, by Todd Bol to honor his mother, a school teacher. In just eight years the organization has become an international movement of mini-libraries sharing the message of “give one, take one.” LFL has over 50,000 libraries in 70+ countries with millions of books exchanged annually.
Not to rest on its original concept, Little Free Library is always innovating. Its Kids, Community, and Cops program helps police departments set up book exchanges in their precincts), and its Action Book ClubTM encourages social engagement through shared reading.
Congratulations, Little Free Library!
WNBA Award winners have been announced. This year, the centennial year of the organization, two women recipients were chosen. The WNBA has selected the current librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden; and novelist, poet, and bookstore owner Louise Erdrich.
The WNBA Award is presented every other year to “a living American woman who derives part or all of her income from books and allied arts, and who has done meritorious work in the world of books beyond the duties or responsibilities of her profession or occupation.” The award has been presented continuously since 1940, originally every year and since the mid-1970s, biennially.
This year, in commemoration of the WBNA’s Centennial, the organization is honoring two women who represent the wide spectrum of women in the book world—one woman involved in the business or dissemination of books and one in the creation of them.
Hayden was selected due to her commitment to making libraries relevant to the world, responsive to the trends of their times, and vital parts of the communities they serve. Erdrich was selected due to her dedication to adding to the complex narrative of American culture, to giving voice to indigenous peoples, and to supporting the importance of independent bookstores, through her own store, Birchbark.
The history and recipients of the WNBA Award will be celebrated and recognized at the WNBA’s Centennial Celebration to take place on Saturday, October 28th in New York City at Pen + Brush.
Press Release Announcing 2017 Winners
I'm a devourer of books, a fast reader who just can't stop reading. The speed can be good and bad. I developed into a speed reader as a child, eating up the Nancy Drew mysteries, Trixie Belden, and similar books. My speed helped me tremendously in college and in getting through countless books. But it does have a negative side -- sometimes I go too quickly to really savor excellent writing. I'll never forget the first book that made me slow down -- Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain. I was whizzing through it, as usual, when all of a sudden it hit me -- this was gorgeous writing. I slowed down. I enjoyed every sentence. It took me a long time (for me) to finish that rather slim book, but it was a great experience. It has made me slow down for fine writing -- unfortunately, often a rarity.
I have to read. I must read. I cannot stop reading. While I prefer a really good novel or enlightening nonfiction book, I'll read just about anything -- from People magazine (not enough words!) to cereal boxes.
Friends of mine fall into this category and also into the frequent but not fanatical reader, and the infrequent reader category. I can only speak of what I know -- the all-consuming reader.
We are the ones who are always reading in waiting rooms, on planes and buses. We are the ones who look at you rather blankly when asked what is your favorite book. There are so many! And, when asked what you are reading right now, the fanatical reader pauses. So many books flash through one's head. Usually, there is more than one book being read. It may be worthy, but it may not be. It may be bubblegum reading or serious reading. For those of uswho read all the time, these questions are very hard to answer!
What kind of reader are you? Do you find it easy to answer questions about your reading?
Spring brings so many new titles to read! Many new entries by my favorite authors and some discoveries make me eager for this season each year.
Do you keep up with the releases of your favorite authors? There are several ways to do this - here are a few:
Next time, I'll take you through some great video review sites.
There are many sources of free e-books, the grandmother of which is Project Gutenburg. And don't forget your own public library! You won't 'own' these ebooks, but you can borrow them. Who knows if we really 'own' any of our bought ebooks, in any case?
If you want to be informed of the latest free books, there are several services available that will send you daily or frequent emails about the latest free or inexpensive ebooks available. I've found a few gems in the emails sent to me from these services. And please note that they usually include other books which are not free, but are a modest price - typically under $3. Here are a few that I use (let me know if you have additional sourceds):
Kobo makes it easy to find their free ebooks, with a page dedicated to these. It helpfully divides the books into categories, too.
Barnes and Noble booksellers also have a listing of their Nook free ebooks, also divided into categories.
The biggie Amazon has a free or low-cost ebook page, but there are other ways to search out free ebooks (though not easy). To start, just browse their collection page. You can also sign up for the Kindle Daily Deal, which often introduces the reader to excellent writers. I have to give Amazon some praise here for turning me onto a favorite and high quality series by a free ebook, the first of James Benn's Billy Boyle series. What a great writer and a beautifully rendered series on a Boston cop turned soldier during WWII.
Not a bookseller (although owned by Amazon), GoodReads has a listing of downloadable ebooks right from their site. I expect these change rapidly, though.
Even university presses have gotten into the promotion business. The venerable University of Chicago Press will send you a free epub book each month. While some of these are undisputably academic, the selectors do tend to pick those with quirky titles and topics - not bad! Get on their email list. These are quality books.
Warning: many of these free ebook deals are only available for one day, so act immediately if something looks worthwhile!
The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) meets every two years - this year the conference was held in lovely, weird Portland, Oregon. The weather was wonderfully warm for the end of March. As this was my first trip to Portland, I really enjoyed the weather, the food, downtown, and the light rail system.
The exhibits hall scene was focused on academic libraries and their needs and issues. The poster sessions were extremely well attended, and the topics were primarily centered around information literacy, not surprisingly. This subject is the most pressing for most academic libraries -- students simply don't know how to find information, or, at least, the right kind of authoritative information. Internet searching won't do for rigorous research.
Following up on that endless quest to get students to understand and use authoritative resources and information sources, I attended a fascinating, deeply troubling session on bias in Google Search. UCLA's Dr. Safiyah Noble reported on her research into the bias in search engine results for women and girls. The message - we cannot trust Google or other commercial search engines to give unbiased results for academic or even casual searches. There is an agenda and it is money-making. Dr. Noble's examples were thorough and highly disturbing. I recommended taking a deep look at Dr. Noble's research before you search Google again.
The ALA annual conference was held in hot Las Vegas this year. I enjoyed it because I was able to visit with my dear daughter. We had a great time! We were able to snag quite a few advanced reading copies - I limited myself greatly, but still came away with these great ones. Looking forward to reading through these in the coming months.
The ProQuest luncheon featured the fascinating Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive. He spoke on the changing landscape of classified information, post-Snowden. ProQuest will be adding a new collection to the Digital National Security Archive, based on the most recent declassifications coming through. Watch for it! The NSA provides a curated collection of the most important documents released since 1945. Find out more at: http://www.proquest.com/products-services/dnsa.html
What was a highlight of your visit to ALA this year?
July already, and I'm finding so many new books to read! But the garden and beautiful outdoors are very tempting, as well.
Here in the Nashville area, things are heating up to the point where deck reading is no longer an option.
I'm still getting through the Great Group Reads selections -- wait until you see the 2014 list of recommendations for book discussion groups! This list will be full of great choices!
Also sprinkled around my house are some winners and some just plain good reads in various genres.
First up - another entry from the only animal-perspective series I like: Spencer Quinn's Bernie and Chet series. The newest is Paw and Order by Spencer Quinn. Could anything be more charming that the rough but likable Bernie and his furry companion and hotshot Chet? Quinn has defined his Arizona landscape very well and branched out with his last book to the bayous of Louisiana. This time, Bernie and Chet head to DC - and this new environment adds considerable depth and excitement to their adventures. One of the best! Highly recommended.