What I have been reading*.

* where “reading” is used in the sense of “absorbing the contents of a book by whatever means available”.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago I got myself a Nook before we went to the North Shore for ten days in August. I chose that particular ereader device for two three reasons: 1, it was compatible with the ebooks available through the library (= free books); B, it was one of the cheaper ones; and iii, I saw it at the local Wally World and could get it immediately.

Immediate gratification = a good thing as long as the other factors are favorable.

(We shall not speak of the despicable store from which I chose to purchase it. See immediate gratification, above.)

I have been using it on and off for six weeks and have reached the conclusion that it is a nice alternative to packing printed books when traveling but that will never replace them in my life.

As I re-read that sentence, I think, Duh

The same is true of audiobooks. I prefer to inject certain types of written material through my ears rather than my eyes. I can listen happily to nonfiction that might be slightly too dry to keep my attention in an analog book — biographies are one example. Other genres are better in a printed book; in a mystery or suspense novel it is sometimes useful to be able to flip back through the pages to check on some detail mentioned in passing on page 98 but which turns out at page 213 to be a key plot point — easy in the printed version, difficult in an ebook, virually impossible in an audiobook.

[digression] Epubs and audio and printing are all just different ways to offer information. To the reader it means more choices, which is generally a good thing. To a library, it means making the decision as to which medium (or media) to purchase for the collection. Sadly, this often means additional expense. [/digression]

* * * * *

One of the best things I have read recently was Passage by Connie Willis, a novel that deals with near-death experiences, both from a clinical perspective and a New Age one. I’m not giving anything away to say that the New Age view comes out a very poor second in the book. It is an older book (© 2002) and not in Willis’s usual British and historical or time-travel mode, but I loved the way her doctor/clinical researchers dealt with the physical realities of near-death experiences. As you might guess I am not a New Ager — crystals and auras and The Secret are 1% truth and 99% fuzzy-wuzzy commercial crappe, imnsho, although I have friends that swear by them. Give me a peer-reviewed, double-blind study or go home, I say.

::descends from soapbox, muttering to self::

Willis is a highly acclaimed and prize-winning author for good reason. She writes damned good stuff — insightful, fast-moving, often science-focused. Before Passage, Bellwether was my favorite of her books, maybe because it had sheep, but also because it was light-hearted and touched on chaos theory. Doomsday Book was excellent. I think I need to re-read To Say Nothing of the Dog; it was a long time ago when I read it.

So far on the Nook I have read two John Sandford mysteries (Bad Blood, a Virgil Flowers novel, and Phantom Prey, a Lucas Davenport book; the first was very good, the second was weak) and a Nelson DeMille thriller (Cathedral), all from the library; most of a couple of free nonfiction books from the University of Chicago Press (somehow I got on their email list for a free monthly ebook); and free samples of several other books in various genres from Barnes & Noble, none of which interested me enough to want to read the entire book. Next month my book group is reading my choice, American Gods by Neil Gaiman (I <3 Neil Gaiman), and I bought the ebook version. I ponder whether that might have been a mistake — it is difficult to put Post Its in an ebook to mark significant passages, although I need to explore the features of the Nook a bit more to see if it offers an electronic version of Post Its.

* * * * *

Like nearly every other electronic handheld device, the Nook needed a case to protect its screen from scratches and to cushion it a bit when I drop* it. I could have bought one, but where is the fun in that?

Yarn and a crocket hook to the rescue!


If I had had more time I might have knitted and felted a case, but we were leaving on vacation. Hand-felting in a campground, while possible, did not appeal to me, so I went with the crochet version instead to get a fabric thick enough to be protective.

I intended to add a button and chained button loop and left a long enough yarn tail at the end to do that once I got home to my button collection, but the case seems to fit snugly enough that it needs no closure to stay on.

If you are a hooker crocheter, you will recognize single crochet (SC). I chained a bunch, then SC into each chain, SC three times into the last chain, SC into the other side of each chain, and SC twice into the last chain (where I started). Continued SC round and round until it was deep enough. It took a couple tries to get the initial chain the right length, but I still made the entire thing in an afternoon.

* Dropping a handheld device is inevitable. This happened on Friday; as I was pulling my jeans back up in the bathroom, the iPod fell out of my pocket onto the hard tile floor. I have dropped this and previous iPod any number of times, but this time it landed just right wrong.




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0 Responses to What I have been reading*.

  1. Kym says:

    (I ❤ Neil Gaiman, too!) My iBooks (iPad eBook reader) has highlighting and notes features that almost replicate the beauty of the post-it note. I know the Nook has that ability (Erin has one, and as an English grad student, can't live without the ability to annotate). I use my various reading "tools" depending on what I'm reading — nothing beats audio for non-fiction and some of the more lengthy "classics!"
    So sorry about your iPod. . .

  2. Michelle says:

    Yeah, within a week of me getting my nook I dropped it and somehow dented the plastic- I’m not quite sure how that happened. And I definitely agree with you about what a nook is good for. I always load it up before I go on vacation, and my library does have some books for loan as ebooks (instant gratification!), but when I’m at school I can usually walk to the library or bookstore, which is almost as instant! Happy reading!

  3. mary lou says:

    I am considering dipping a toe into the kindle/nook world. I am looking for opinions, so this is helpful. The library now has ebooks for kindle and nook so that problem is gone. Sorry about the ipod. I got a rubbery case to put around mine, mostly because it keeps it from falling out of my pocket, which was a problem.
    Must check out Willis.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Ouch for the POd. Mine is the teeny tiny Nano so I just clip it to my pocket – so far, so good. I’m on the fence about reading on a Kindle or Nook or IPad. Does the Nook screen adjust for sunlight like the Kindle?

  5. cursingmama says:

    The nook will let you mark & highlight & what not. Although I admit that I still need to purchase a few books in their physical form because I MUST OWN, I’m almost 100% ebook now. I’m loving the ability to carry 10 – 15 books in my purse without hurting my shoulder 😀

  6. Guinifer says:

    I just received two iPod Touches back in the mail from this place: http://www.milliamp.com/
    They replaced a battery in one and a screen in the other (the 4G – which is evidently difficult to replace), for what I thought was a reasonable amount – since they were both out of warranty.

  7. Guinifer says:

    Also – Trek posted about an online ebook lending library today. I haven’t used it, but she seems to like it:

  8. Erika says:

    I love my Kindle more each day than I did the day before! I’m not sure about the Nook, but the Kindle makes it super easy to either highlight passages (which all turn up in your Clippings file on the main menu) or take a note.
    I’m a big note-taker when I read, and the Kindle makes it way easier. No more fumbling for post-its, or realizing that the pen is JUST out of reach but I’m too comfortabuls to get up and get it.
    And now the Kindle is library-compatible! I checked out my first book last week. From home! SO GREAT!

  9. Sheepish Annie says:

    I wanted a Nook, but the budget was tight so I ended up with something different. I’m sticking with it, but I do still sometimes look at my first choice with longing and whatnot.
    I’m still waiting for the cracked screen to appear on my ipod. It’s really only a matter of time for me. I drop most things pretty regularly. This is why I can never have children…

  10. Cookie says:

    Oh no! Poor iPod.

  11. Joan In Reno says:

    I love my Kindle. Reading in bed is so much easier now. And portability in purse and knitting bag is better than a book.

  12. lisa says:

    DH and DS have those rubbery cases (because I don’t have an ipod).
    Have you read the Deanna Raybourn Lady Julia Gray mysteries? The first one has the best opener EVER (ok, maybe not ever, but it’s memorable).
    Several of us have been talking about ereaders, one has one, the rest of us don’t. What I don’t know is if we don’t have one because we wouldn’t like it if we did, or just because we don’t want to make that step. We noticed some differences in a couple of other things, and I’ve been wondering for some time now about them in general, and in relation to how much a person might like an ereader.
    Do you prefer a digital or analog clock? Do you prefer to orient yourself in the world/find your way via maps (paper or digital) or by gps?
    The three of us who think of time spatially convert (in our mind) digital time to how the hands look on a clock to understand it. We also prefer maps over gps. And think of books as a spatial thing, remembering our place by how far through the book we were (about 1/3), top right, that sort of thing.
    It’s just an overwhelming curiosity for me (the time/space/map thing), and I wonder if it translates to reading…

  13. k says:

    I actually like the Nook. Seems like the generic type makes the words more important. It can’t possibly be that I’m older, and paying more attention.
    You wanna head for NY? Madison, maybe? I figure I can add some weight, if not gravitas. still on the fence about abandoning responsibilities for a while.

  14. Carrie#K says:

    Oh no! I live in fear I’ll drop my iPhone.
    Really? Passages? I love Connie Willis but I was heartily sick of the Titanic by the end of that book.
    I tend to listen to audiobooks, and if they really grab me? Buy the print book.

  15. Chris says:

    I used to think that… now I much prefer ebooks to paper! 🙂
    I need to reread To Say Nothing of the Dog, too – I was just thinking that earlier this week!
    I have Blackout in audio from the library to listen to on my road trip next week. That’s the only time I do audio books.

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