Book lovers’ 7 deadly sins … or not?

Anne Fadiman quote

For some book lovers, a list of major no-nos would go something like this:

  • Do not dog-ear a book’s pages.
  • Do not dribble coffee/tea/wine on your book.
  • Ditto foodstuffs.
  • Do not break a book’s spine.
  • Do not allow the dust jacket to be torn or otherwise defiled.
  • Do not deface the margins by scrawling your (likely inferior) thoughts.
  • Ditto underlining and highlighting.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: If you’re borrowing a book your generous friend (or library) has lent you, doing any of the above is rude. Yes, sometimes it’s fun to eat potato chips while reading, but not while reading someone else’s book.

Outside the context of a borrowed book, though, are these really so bad? I’m discomfited by the suggestion, for several reasons. Continue reading “Book lovers’ 7 deadly sins … or not?”

Do spoilers really spoil a reading experience?

Do spoilers ruin a reading experience or just change it? Does knowing what’s coming in a story put one off reading it?

Thinking about these questions reminds me of something one of my favorite professors once said. It was during a Jane Austen seminar, and we were discussing Austen’s endings. “Reading a Jane Austen novel is like listening to a Mozart sonata,” he said. “You know where it’s going. The fun is in getting there.” His obvious point was that knowing the outcome doesn’t spoil the experience of reading her.

On that note, let’s begin with… Continue reading “Do spoilers really spoil a reading experience?”

Hallelujah! I finally discovered audiobooks I love!

A God in Ruins

If I seem unduly excited about audiobooks, it’s been a long road: I’ve been trying to get into them for three years. This is because reading is my favorite pastime, but I also need to exercise. Or so they tell me.

Ergo: Listen to audiobooks while exercising. A match made in heaven! Except …

I like to go at my own pace. I hear something I want to pause and think on, but the narrator keeps yammering on. Plot points are missed. Confusion abounds. Crankiness ensues.

But I was determined! Because cardiovascular health. Continue reading “Hallelujah! I finally discovered audiobooks I love!”

Why are people lying about the books they’ve read?

Classic novels

Years ago at a party, one of my cousins introduced me to a schoolmate of his with the description, “She’s studying English Literature.”

“Really?” the friend asked (slyly, I thought). “Have you heard of the book Gobbledy Gook“?

I told him (haughtily, I hoped) that no, in fact, I’d never heard of Gobbledy Gook. That’s when he laid some truth on me: the book didn’t exist. He’d made up the title, apparently to test whether I was legit. At the time, I thought it was kind of a douche move, but maybe he had a point.

Lying about books is apparently a thing. Continue reading “Why are people lying about the books they’ve read?”

3 ways reading Edith Wharton is like a dementor attack

demon hounds

If you’ve spent time reading Edith Wharton, amiright?


Full disclosure: I haven’t read Wharton’s most well known novels, The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth. I think I was assigned the former, at some point, and the latter, well, I’m guessing there’s little actual mirth involved.

My experience of Wharton is limited to Ethan Frome, Tales of Men and Ghosts, and the short story “Roman Fever.” Each is so shudder inducing in its own way that I’m a bit wary of tackling one of her longer works. Though her writing is so beautiful. I don’t know. I’m torn. Continue reading “3 ways reading Edith Wharton is like a dementor attack”

Does reading great books ruin you for reading good books?

When I finish reading a Charles Dickens novel, a sort of malaise comes over me. I fret that no other novelists writing in or translated into English could possibly engage my imaginative faculties such that I will enjoy and benefit from reading their novels as much as I do from reading Dickens’s.

*sighs dramatically whilst draping back of hand against forehead* Continue reading “Does reading great books ruin you for reading good books?”

0 out of 5 Stars for the 5-Star System of Rating Books

My grand conclusion after a month of using Goodreads: As a reader, I am vexed to the point of melodrama at the idea of assigning books 1 – 5 stars.

It’s basically grading, right? I’m painfully familiar with grading. As a college professor, it’s my least favorite part of teaching. BUT at least assessment criteria are clearly articulated. No one can pretend there’s not a subjective element when we’re talking about writing, speaking and constructing arguments. BUT at least we spell out for students exactly what we value and is expected of them – in achingly specific detail. Seriously, you should see the rubrics. Continue reading “0 out of 5 Stars for the 5-Star System of Rating Books”

When the choice is between e-reading and not reading, I choose my Nook GlowLight Plus

Nook GlowLight Plus

My favorite place to read as a child was under the covers with a flashlight. While the pleasure of being subversive and sticking it to The Man (who, in this case, happened to be a woman: my mom) no doubt played a role, more compelling was that I appreciated the sensory deprivation that facilitated disappearing into the world of a book.

My bedroom, with its white furniture and riot of stuffed animals, vanished from view, and I could submerge myself into the alternate reality of wherever I was traveling to—the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Claudia from From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, London with Sarah Crewe from A Little Princess or Paddington from A Bear Called Paddington, turn-of-the-century Manhattan with the five sisters from All-of-a-Kind Family.

This memory had slipped into my subconscious until I happened to mention to a friend, as a jokey aside, that what I most appreciate about my Nook GlowLight is how it facilitates reading in the dark. (And the “Plus” version is waterproof, should I wish to read in the bathtub by candlelight!)

Continue reading “When the choice is between e-reading and not reading, I choose my Nook GlowLight Plus”