Book Nerd

“Hey, Leigh, you like books.  Do you want to take care of the library?”

The club VP who asked me that must have been joking, because when I answered, “Sure” his response was surprised.  It didn’t really take me much thought, though.  I’ve taken care of book collections before, at a previous employer as well as my own, and this collection is relatively small.  Plus, really, all it takes is a spreadsheet and a little bit of my trunk space (for storage).

I enjoy books and I like spreadsheets (yes, I’m weird) so giving me a pile of books to manage is not really a hard task for me.  In fact, tonight I had fun going through the collection and making sure the old database was up to date.  I also added categories and sorted the books accordingly, to make it easier for people to find one they are interested in reading.  Now I’m trying to figure out a good storage container; I’d like to be able to simply haul in the bin and set it up on end for people to peruse, rather than unpacking and repacking it every meeting.

Yes, these are non-fiction books related to the general concept of the club, but they’re still books.  Several of them piqued my interest, and I may be borrowing them in the future.  That is the danger of being the librarian, I guess!

 

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Pondering Robert Jordan

You have to respect a man who does what he says he’s going to do.

I have been re-reading the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, now that the whole thing is complete.  Most of the library copies I’ve picked up were published after Jordan passed away, so they had the posthumous “About the Author” in them.  This one (Crown of Swords, in case you were curious) has the earlier author description, which got me thinking.

The last line of the bio is “He has been writing since 1977 and intends to continue until they nail shut his coffin.”  Which he did, in a way.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, the Wheel of Time series was incomplete when Jordan passed away in 2007.  (I recall a very dismayed lunch conversation with several colleagues at the time, all of us wondering what would become of the characters we had come to know.)  However, he knew he was ill and prepared for it, writing as much as he could and telling his wife how he intended the epic to end.  Another author was recruited by Jordan’s publisher, with input from his widow, and that author completed the final three books of the series.

If that’s not writing “until they nail shut [the] coffin,” I don’t know what is.  As an author, it’s both amazing to think about someone working that hard for both his characters and his readers, and also totally understandable.  We all get invested in our characters, even for just one novel, so after eleven books I’m sure Jordan was just as eager as his readers to have everything play out and come to a resolution.

Priorities

I realized today that I’ve been reading the wrong book.

Perhaps wrong is too strong of a term – the book itself is quite interesting, in fact, which is why I’ve been reading it.

Here’s the problem: I currently have a (fiction) library book with a firm due date, a borrowed (non-fiction) book with a relaxed due date, and a non-fiction e-book that I purchased.  Guess which one I’ve been reading for the past few days?  That’s right, the one I own and can read any time.

Somewhat reluctantly, I set aside my Nook and picked up the library book.  Once the Wheel of Time pulls me back in, I won’t be glancing longingly at my Nook, but for right now my brain wants to know what happens next in TR’s presidency.   (Honestly, I can look up the facts, but the way the book is written I find myself enthralled.)

I just have to keep reminding myself that I own that book, and can read it any time I want.  Except right now, apparently. 🙂

Decision Time

When I moved, I drastically reduced my book collection.  Since then, I’ve made sure that I only purchase books that I know I will read again.  Otherwise, I get them from the library or borrow them from friends.  The idea is to keep my shelves under control; if I didn’t put a limit on it, I’d have to buy bookshelves all the time.

I’ve loosened on that rule a bit with my new e-reader, but now I find myself facing a dilemma.  There is a book that I’ve read before, which I borrowed from a friend.  I want to re-read it, and I know that it is one I want to add to my collection.  I could get it for the Nook, pay a few dollars less, and have it right now.  Or I could work on acquiring it in paper form.  This might mean ordering it online, buying it at the nearby book store, or hoping that the used book store eventually has a copy. 

This really comes down to a question of why I want to own the book.  If the only point of getting the book is to be able to read it whenever I want, then the Nook version should be sufficient.  If the reason I want it is not only to have it readily accessible, but to also have it displayed on my shelf and available to loan to friends, then I need the paper version. 

Childlike Reading Habits

When I was a kid, I never read one book at a time.  I might have one book I was reading at school, another in the living room, a third by my bed, a fourth…  Well, you get the picture.  My usual number was three, the most I remember at once was six.  On top of that, I never used a bookmark, or marked my place in any way.  I just picked up the book, flipped to where I had stopped, and kept reading.

Of course, once I switched from young reader and young adult books to adult fiction, I had to start using a bookmark.  And I tried to stick to one book at a time.  (Occasional National Geographic breaks don’t count.)

I find myself falling back into the habits of my youth with the Nook.  It remembers where I am in a book, so I don’t need to use a bookmark.  I can flip back and forth between different books without a problem.  I’ve recently been alternating between Theodore Rex and Pride and Prejudice, with occasional forays into book samples when I feel like shopping.

It feels like a return to my childhood.

As if the bookstore wasn’t bad enough…

I love my new Nook.  It’s a very fun way to read, and once I have my cover I’m sure I’ll be carting it around with me everywhere.  I also love the “sample” feature that lets me read part of the book before I commit.

But if living a few blocks away from a bookstore wasn’t bad enough, now I have one in my living room.  So far, the particular books I’ve searched for are pricey enough that I haven’t been willing to buy them, but today I finally gave in today and paid for one.

Hopefully the combination of library e-books and real books will help me stay smart about my book purchases!

Relationships

There are very few movies, television shows, or books out there where one person is totally alone and interacts with no one.  I’m not saying they don’t exist (I can think of a few examples just off the top of my head), but they are by far not the norm.

Because of this, there are lots of places to turn to see both the good and the bad of how to develop a relationship between characters.  I’m not just thinking of romantic relationships, although many male/female pairings that don’t start out with that intent end up with at least sexual tension if not an outright relationship.

In this case I’m thinking more about friendships, partnerships, co-worker relationships and family bonds (or lack thereof).  Our main characters may be solo actors (although often they are not) but they still interact with the people around them.  While these secondary, tertiary, and peripheral characters may not be as developed as the main character, the interactions still need to feel genuine and human.

I don’t necessarily use fictional relationships as my base to develop those between my characters.  More often I pull from my personal experience; most of us have some type of interaction in our lives that can be used, even loosely, to create the dynamic between characters.  Even so, it is still interesting to think about books or movies you enjoy and the examples they provide, especially if the relationships feel forced or awkward.

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