Friday, November 11, 2011

Part 6 - lets pretend nothing interrupted the businnes of books . . .

This is us - pretending there is nothing to see here - except that My BackPack is Pink has come to Poppetropolis.

I had mentioned that exciting things were happening - well they were - and they are happening so there's that. And now that means we need a recap:

In Part 2 I tour the Books that Became Decor and was startled to find that many of them were decor because I didn't really like them much

In Part 3 I tour the Stack of Books Under the Window - which are primarily hardcovers and discuss the system by which books were supposed to enter and leave the bedroom

In Part 4 I tour the Books in the Hidden Bookshelf and the history of bookshelves in my former bedrooms and the place of books in my house and my emotional landscape. I even surprised me.

Part 5 is this one - it's not terribly long. it's the books by the side of the bookshelf.

Now it's time for the e-books because I'm a little bit obsessive and refuse to write about anything else until I've finished what I've started.

Section 1. Most of the E-books I owm are consumed in various ways

I belong to a profession that requires technical and managerial. I have gotten those books through Books 24X7 for several years.
The cosmic poppet is showing off a book about instructional design.

I didn't really think much about Kindle because I didn't like e-ink screens as much as some other people ( I once again state for the record that this is a personal preference and I think Kindles are awesome technology and bought my own mother a Kindle which she loves and even sent her a birthday present of a Kindle book instead of an e-card which was great! Liking one thing better than another equally good thing does not make the thing I like slightly less "bad")

I wasn't really sure I would like e-books because as a multimedia designer and project manager I was well aware of things like "eye slide" on screens and retention rates vs paper for visual learners. The brain processes things read with light slightly differently than thing read when reflecting light ( solid objects like ink and paper). But then I went to the World Fantasy convention to meet Lisa and I had three plane transfers which meant that carrying a whole bunch of books plus our actual mixed media art was going to be cumbersome. I was starting to really enjoy as well and figured well if I was doing professional and pleasure research reading on my computer maybe I could try some light airplane reading on my phone.

I tried the iPhone Kindle App and everything I didn't like about the physical form factor of the Kindle itself was gone and the Kindle app was great - easy to read, loved the physical act of sliding my finger to turn the page, was able adjust color, size and pretty much everything I would want to adjust. Kindle and IPhone! Two great tastes that taste great together! Not everything is Highlander.

Section 2 - Here are the Books

I was hooked. Just like any good dealer the first one was free: His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novick

Quickly followed by Throne of Jade and I now have the Black Powder War which I started but did not finish.

Other books I liked but didn't necessarily want to pay trade size price for that I considered my "light" or "solo" reading made it onto the iphone kindle.

Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire

Oldies I liked
The Trials and Tribulations of Myron Blumberg, Dragon by Mike Resnick which apparently isn't there any more

The new I wanted to check out but didn't think I would want to keep forever

The books I kept lending out and needing to buy new copies of
A History of God by Karen Armstrong

Books I really, really wanted but I knew no one else in The House would

Reference and religious reading that only matters to me:
The Case for God - actually recommended reading by my Early American History Prof as a way to discuss delicate subjects clearly and non-offensively - Karen Armstrong again

And I found that sometimes I was downloading books so I had a quick copy when I needed it for school or an audition:
The Attack by Yasmina Khandra
Buried Child by Sam Shepard

But the thing that convinced me I wanted an e-reader was this

It was 2am, I could not sleep. My Perfectly Normal Husband was sound asleep. In single days I would have popped on a light and read until I fell asleep again. In pre-Iphone days I had a choice of waking him up by getting up to go downstairs or trying to think about wrestling with a book light that might have woken him up. Iphone let me not just read under the covers providing a self lighting book, but it let me go and buy a new book at 2 am with one click. I had done this before mostly with my Women of the Underworld popcorn reading leading to the e-book collection of :

Living with the Dead ( Women of the Otherworld Book 9)
Men of the OtherWorld all by Kelly Armstrong

and my copy of The Jeeves Collection by P.G. Wodehouse

but Bryson's book, which I no longer remember why I thought would be a good idea, was a different kind of 2am impulse purchase. I am fascinated by the history of things and how people used them and why people used them and how little people know about what brought about what they're using. This book was exactly like someone who thought about things the same way I did but they had waaay more source material and research time than I did. It was a pleasant but not "light" read. And I read it on my phone. And I wanted to read it on a slightly bigger screen but I loved having it right wherever I was at all times because all my Kindle apps shared the same library ( the cloud isn't really new). But I wasn't going to buy a unitasker. If I was buying tech it needed to do more than one thing. The iPad already existed but I was going to wait. And besides, if I'm working towards that master's degree in interactive instructional tech then I might want something besides an apple item. I did try to buy a Xoom, but for the things I wanted from a tablet it just wasn't there yet. I waited until about 4 months after it's release to get the iPad2 since I knew I was going to be asked to develop in iOS for school anyway.

So here's an interesting problem - it seems like I should be able to link you to the IBookstore since that's where I got the books from but it doesn't have an online presence that I could find. Thus cutting down on potential sales. This is the only time I have ever truly run into a "walled garden" issue with an Apple product because it looks like IBooks only exists as an app. Hmmn I'll link the one current book release to Amazon. Oh irony . . . .

My IBooks Store has:
A Doll's House by Ibsen
Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll
The Balticon Pocket Program
Winne the Pooh
The Velveteen Rabbit ( so I can read to bored children that aren't mine)
H.G. Wells by John Davys Beresford
My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding because it had Esther Friesner in it
Waking the Witch - a sample of a Kelly Armstrong YA

and the IBook store also keeps the pdfs I download form the Internet

However I find that I end up using Kindle on iPad even though I have no intention of ever buying a physical Kindle. Part of that is I'm an Amazon Prime member, but most of it is that right now I like the software better especially with notes I write and footnotes. The readability is even I would switch out one for the other if there were issues of exclusivity I also run a Stanza ereader on the Ipad and now I can access both Books 24X7 and from the Ipad so a single devices is now used for almost all my e-reading.

So since I got the Ipad

Hobson's Choice by Harold Brighouse
The Magician King: A Novel by Lev Grossman ( the sequel to The Magicians, although I have to admit I wasn't expecting one. )
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Book of Five Rings Musashi Miyamoto
Design guide "MON" Momoyo Miyamoto
The Fall of the Roman Republic by Plutarch ( which I got because of the Cleopatra book)
Cleopatra: A Biography by Duane W. Roller- I couldn't find a source that just used historically verifiable context when writing about her instead of finding a supporting quote for a throwaway paper I ended up reading this whole book because I was able to research it on the fly. It's a good book but it's straight up history no fluff or speculation. I loved it - it's why I asked for the Schiff book for the Holidays.
Aesop's Fables - because it had been a while since I read the originals.

Section 3 - What do eBooks and eReaders do to me as a reader?

Well the 2 am impulse buy insomnia read is a completely e-reader dependent phenomena. The ability to no longer "lose" books I loan out ( I can get an e-copy and lend the physical copy with no worries) I am waiting patiently for an ebook version of Silverlock by John Myers Myers.

But really the thing that seems to have come back to me is the ability to read a pleasure book all night in one sitting if I want to. The iPad is very, very comfortable for me, moreso than the physical forms of many of the books I tend to read these days. So I read for pleasure more. I'm also more willing to take chances on recommendations because the costs are slightly lower and I don't have to deal with the physical versions of the books taking up space before or after. But mostly I buy more books because I can find what I want and I don't have to worry about whether or not there are enough "physical" copies at the bricks and mortar store. I love a good old curated bookstore but when I go to a big box chain the reason I'm there is I need the physical book right that second. If they have to order it in I can do that too from their own website.

I try to balance this buy supporting Amazon sellers with Brick and Mortar stores attached to them when I need out of print stuff or Magic the Gathering cards.

I still love my physical books but nowadays if they're going to be here in the Meatworld there will have to be a reason. We'll see those books in the coming up next. And then we'll discuss what that means to authors, promotion, and publishing.

The final part is coming - the Books in the Bedroom Waiting for Me to Read Them.

If it's any consolation that list hasn't changed since I started the series this summer. It's like everything hit stasis.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Part 5 - The Nature of Books and Business - A Tour of the Books in My Bedroom

Exciting things are happening in the world outside the Dreamtime, and as is custom the more time you spend with Meatworld things the less time you have in the Dreamtime.

Everything has a balance, everything has a cost. The loss of momentum with the tour echoes the loss of momentum for solving the issues that led to the book collecting in their home in the first place and now it is time to return to the Books in the Bedroom - specifically the Stack of Books Next to the Hidden Bookshelf.

A quick recap is in order -

In Part 2 I tour the Books that Became Decor and was startled to find that many of them were decor because I didn't really like them much

In Part 3 I tour the Stack of Books Under the Window - which are primarily hardcovers and discuss the system by which books were supposed to enter and leave the bedroom

In Part 4 I tour the Books in the Hidden Bookshelf and the history of bookshelves in my former bedrooms and the place of books in my house and my emotional landscape. I even surprised me.

Part 5 is this one - it's not terribly long.

Section 1 - The Poetry of What Remains

Stacked exactly as they are, the books create a poem of their own. A scarily accurate one:

The line between
the Receiving
Wandering Stars making money
Selling the Invisible a Mind at a time

Words on Fire: One woman's journey into the Sacred
The Queen's Bastard
"XXXholic" The Unicorn Sonata

Of course the actual titles by themselves are less connected:

The Queens Bastard - by C.E. Murphy ( this was not my kind of book at all, I think it came into the house by way of The Girl)
XxxHolic Volume 12 by Clamp (The three X's are a mathematic variable not the the standard English Usage of the triple x in media)

Section 2 - How did they get there?

The Peter S. Beagle books were books I purchased directly from him at the event where I met the Poppets, which, on reflection was 2008 not 2009 as I previously estimated. I had his books from that event in the pile of "to be read" on my night table. They are non-standard sized beautifully illustrated books.

Words on Fire and The Receiving were books I was reading to put a historical context on the role I was trying to create spiritually in my organized religion. They were a way of understanding the barriers that I was experiencing as a Meatworld woman trying to fuse what the religion actually meant with the way it was practiced. Words On Fire is how I feel about studying Torah and Talumd. The words of Torah and Talmud are the real Ner Tamid ( eternal light) represented by the continuos light infront of the Aron Khodesh (the fancy box we keep the torah scrolls in at synagoge). Words alone can burn you up. Practice and application in the Meatworld makes you confront the reality of those words.

In my religion, as in many others, that struggle is usually written and recorded by men, and they declare women as "more spiritual" or "closer to God" and "excuse" them from the extra work of learning and studying because they "don't need it". In reality, to be able to study and be transported by those fiery words, or see them as anything other than fairy stories or literal instruction ( both of which are huge mistakes in Judaism) you need someone taking care of the kids, the businesses, and the laundry. All of the work to create the ritual meals, ritual spaces and transportive theater has to be done by someone whose eyes aren't burning with spirit but whose hands are busy polishing the silver and cooking the festive meal before the deadline so those holy, holy men can come in and be transported.

To no one's surprise those busy hands belong to the "more spiritual" women so the "weak" men can go learn and feel and do.

There has always been a deep spirituality to the women's work because of the way Judiaism is constructed, and literacy is required of all Jews including women's Torah Study. but it has frequently been denied or denigrated by the men who write the "serious" religious works. It's changing, but not from the outside, not by adding to it, but from the inside from uncovering things. There is in Catholicism something called a "sin of omission" and Jewish theology and educational traditions are rife with it. It's not that learned women didn't exist, it's just that periodically their history, commentary and contributions just got edited out as irrelevant or ignored as unbelievable. Judaic authorities don't really get rid of anything though and as society needed less back breaking labor just to get through a day of meal preparation women started asking questions and found documentation and we're still trying to sort it out. I'm in that sorting it out place.

Judaism works best for me with a lot of spirituality and intent, and a moderate amount of organized religion, but I found the more I actually cared about the spiritual part the less the organized part was working for me. In synagogue people who were more spiritual than I was were also more set in their patterns of thinking, but people who practiced the way that I did weren't really looking at the words with their little crowns in the Torah and seeing the fire.

Dealing with The Girl's illness was making me less social and more confused. It was unpleasant for me to go to shul. Those books came into the House for me to hear other women's voices. The words were burning me, the people were scarring me, these books helped cool things down for my fevered brain.

The book A Mind at A Time is about dealing with non-standard brains, completely Meatworld, given to me by another parent of another child with a different cause but similar presentation. It's painful for me to read it. I've read chapters, I skip around. It's still in the bedroom because it's a good, important book but unfinished. Words and The Reciving are still in the bedroom because I am unfinished. A Mind at A Time in in the bedroom because I'm still in denial about the darker years of The Girl's illness.

Selling the Invisible is a book about advertising but I've found it really useful as a project manager and someone who champions process solutions. It also helps make some sense of the constant barrage of overt and subliminal marketing we are exposed to constantly, not in a cynical anti-consumerist manner but in understanding the place of services and ideas in a capitalistic market place and how to position them and yourself in relation to them. It keeps coming back into the bedroom because I keep referencing it in other things. Somwhere in it I keep thinking there is a synergy between needs/desires and usability. That sweet spot between design, process, and end user. It's not in an obvious place but I keep glimpsing it obliquely, and I keep going back to it for that reason.

Section 3 - The Business and Nature Part

None of these books would have been obtained as e-books, they all have stories behind them and some were gifted or recommended. Some were purchased specifically to support the author. Some were because I would only find what I was looking for from people who had already tried to answer some of the same questions. The Beagle books were new, the rest were purchased used.

Undeniably, they are a snapshot to the six months they represent - I was struggling with the after effects of being the parent of a seriously ill child, my place in my religion and my ability to present transformative suggestions to my workplace. Intermixed with shadows of the world I used to walk in comfortably, the Pratchett and the Beagle work being things I fell into. It was important to remember humor and fantasy and at the time I was working through all the other books, I possibly lost track of the lightness of both.

The next entry will be The Books I'm Getting Ready to Read, and they will include the e-books that have been purchased between the start of this series and Part 6. Then we can talk about what it means to support your author between e-books and physical books

Monday, July 4, 2011

Part 4 - The Nature of Books and Business - A Tour of the Books In My Bedroom -

The Books on the Hidden Bookshelf

Recap: I am currently blogging in an experimental fashion about the books in my bedroom and their relationship to the larger issue of electronic books versus physical books. The experimental part is that instead of approaching each entry in a formal essay, I am allowing the associations that happen with the books to become a kind of stream of consciousness reflection on whether the physical books or the electronic books would make a difference or have the same impact. This has led to some unexpected things.

In this part I list all of the books and explain why they became permanent residents, and the system by which books are supposed to come in and leave the bedroom. I do offer reviews of the content of the books.

In this part I explain how the system started breaking down, why the books in the stack are there and the emotional meanings of books in general and bedrooms gone by. I list the books and talk a bit about bedrooms gone by and some really personal things. All because of books. Who knew?

And this is Part 4 the tour of the Books in the Hidden Bookshelf.

Section 1 - How Did That Bookshelf Get There?

The first thing about the bookshelf is that it shouldn't be there. In Part 3, I explained that I never intended for there to be a bookshelf in the bedroom. As much as I love my books (and love them I do) I really wanted my bedroom to be a cozy, light, but uncluttered place. I dream about old school, mahogany shelved, multistory formal libraries, but did not want my bedroom to be that space. And I know from experience that bookshelves bring clutter in a bedroom. Extensions of the shelving just become another flat surface to put things down in a hurry.

But the movement of books down to the family-room basement wasn't happening quickly and the tendency to re-read an entire series when a new book was added to it meant that we were bringing up books and needed someplace to hold them. It was possible that we just ran out of room to add shelves downstairs and needed to add shelves to our room as well.

The problem is shelving that didn't look cheap, actually wasn't cheap. I started looking for low impact cheap solutions that might take some of the pressure off. At no point did it occur to us to get rid of books. We go back to them.

What I really wanted to do was redo the basement and get some order into the overwhelmed book collection. The Perfectly Normal Husband's bookshelves were 36 inches wide and 13 inches deep. For the reference and serious books that was great, because the shelves supported non-standard sizing and he has some very large books. But the upper shelves were filled with paperbacks which he has three deep vertically and then two more layers horizontally. The shelves have bowed. This is bad.

I don't know what's on the shelves to find anything - this is non-functional. There are also shelves within the closets under the stairs - that's where most of the family room books went when the Perfectly Normal Husband moved in, there's still room there. On the other side are two smaller bookshelves that display hardcovers and collectible dolls. The family room is where our personal knick-knacks go. I would like to replace all of the shelving with something that is less deep but has more shelves, and instead of stacking the books between shelves actually have shelves between book layers to distribute the weight. So I planned after a great deal of research to use the Ikea Billy system. We'll lose some depth but not too much and it's cheap enough to keep adding to. But the Perfectly Normal Husband had two additional shelves he had never set up before, and so we used our much vaunted common sense and tried that first, because they were already paid for.

In truth, one single bookshelf will fix the overflow and back up that has led to extra books in the bedroom. However, it ended up that there was no "good" place to put that bookshelf once it was built, creating a completely different set of problems with the basement/family room space.

Since the majority of the books that were causing organizational issues were paperback, I had an epiphany - there was all sorts of DVD shelving now. Were paperbacks really different from CD in terms of depth? Because if they weren't I could acquire less massive, less expensive DVD shelving and still have it be decorative and useful, also keeping the footprint light. The bookshelf behind the door in the bedroom is an experiment with the Ikea Benno. It's only 6.5 is inches deep and I was right; paperbacks sit on it beautifully.

So I bought one to try it and placed it behind the door so that I could see if it really was as unobtrusive as I thought it might be. I was considering two thin shelves under the windows so that they would normally be covered by the drapes. When I sorted the bedroom overflow books into paperbacks and hard covers I put all of the paperbacks on this shelf. Which is how I discovered the reality of books coming back upstairs when we re-read series. It worked well but the idea is supposed to be that this shelf would be transitional, to hold books that were coming up or going down. It's been there for a year, because no action has been taken on fixing the family room issue and it's currently engaged in the process of proving my flat surface shelving = clutter theory.

Section 2 - The Top of the Shelf: With the Clockwork Dragon . . .

. . .has the packaging for two ornaments I am changing into food carts for the Poppet Circus. I should throw these out. In reality I am going to alter them so that their collectible value will be nill and I have customized storage for them when they are done. There's no point in saving their original packaging. Now that I've typed this I'm irritated with myself. The actual peices are already in the Poppet Circus tent. Grrr. Hold on.

Ok. They're in the trash. How stupid of me. I really had to type that to get rid of them? What was I waiting for?

Now on top of the shelf there is a Collector's DVD of Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra, a Pussycat Dolls exercise DVD, a copy of The Grass Dancer by Susan Power, the DVD of Bye Bye Birdie from the local theater production where I worked on costumes to support them but did not audition. A custom leather small sized note/sketch book and a copy of Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart.

There is also a ziplock baggie of costume jewelry that has to be returned to Holly the Costume Mistress from the last show we did. Chances are fairly high that it will be there until the start of the next show we do which will have the costumer's meeting in August. And there is one specialized lens cleaning cloth to be used on glasses and iPads.

Cleo is there because of a school requirement where I had to write an essay on the historical veracity of the film vs. actual history, it was both more and less accurate than I expected. The Pussycat Dolls are there because I need to exercise and I like dancing more than I like anything else. Plus their music is good for working out, I miss when they did covers of standards - but at the moment both spaces where I could work out with this DVD are not workout friendly so on top shelf it sits. The Grass Dancer belongs to The Boy, it was required reading and in my room because I was helping him with an essay. Wicked Plants was picked up at Longwood Gardens to while away some time while waiting for an outdoor performance.

Section 3 - The Top Row shown by the Cosmic Poppet

This shelf has a bit of archaeological information associated with it. The Jousting Dragons trilogy by Lackey was purchased in one fell swoop, most likely in the same trip that the Harold Coyles were purchased. I read semi-compulsively and therefore try not to buy trilogies or series until they are completed. My most recent mistake is thinking that people write trilogies anymore. The other thing is that you will see a number of Neil Gaiman books. This shows that the year these books were up in the bedroom was 2009.

In May of 2009 I attended Balticon and met Poppets, through Poppets I met Lisa, through Lisa's blog I met the broader range of Gaiman's work.

It's not that I had never been exposed to his work before. He was responsible for two of the comics that I collect, Books of Magic and Tim Hunter, but he had moved on from both of these titles by the time I was serious about them, so I knew him mostly through back issues. I have a long and complicated history with Good Omens so about every other year people who were serious fans of Gaiman would give me a copy of the book. That is another story, the story of how Neil Gaiman is haunting me. I had American Gods because I like the work of Charles deLint, and I had read Anansi Boys because I like the work of Charles de Lint. I loved Anansi Boys and thought American Gods was interesting. But meeting many of the people in and around Gaiman's world that May of 2009, made me more interested in his other work. I was trying to understand the level of loyalty, inspiration and intelligent but still fannish behavior. So I started with the things I already had. Then when the friend whom I was helping at Balticon found out I was finally interested he insisted I read Sandman. I can honestly say I would have been frustrated with it in it's monthly comic book format however I adored it in the collected trade editions where I could read it like a graphic novel. I hunted them down in their complete set from Vertigo using bricks and mortar comic shops, actual bookstores and the internet. I made sure that all of the forms of commerce got my money.

Sandman is brilliant. I inadvertantly had read something featuring his Death a while before. So during 2009, when given the opportunity, I bought Neil Gaiman's work because even when it wasn't phenomenal it was always interesting.

Section 4 - The Books on the Second Shelf Down
This shelf has the only "normal sized" Gregory Maguire paperback I own. I enjoyed it. I appreciate his use of words and the way he plays with ideas. This is not a fairy tale, although it is a something that involves fairies. On this shelf are three books that would not be taking up literal space if I had an e-reader at the time. The Kelley Armstrongs and the Lackey. The Women of the Otherworld series I buy the way my mother used to buy romance novels. I like her characters and her magic structure and her pulp-light mentality. I am curious as to what happens next but after six of them I don't need them physically. They work great on an e-reader even when it was just my iPhone.

The Snow Queen is part of The Five Hundred Kingdoms one of the absolute lightest frothiest fun worlds Lackey has written. It's on the Luna imprint which is supposed to be some sort of romance/fantasy hybrid label ( most of those suck - Luna is trying to make it not suck). While the intro pieces were interesting Lackey's is the only one I kept buying the follow ups for - but once again it's light and fun and I bought The Sleeping Beauty and Dragon in Distress on Kindle which worked out kind of perfect. I won't be purchasing a physical version of Five Hundred Kingdoms until the series looks to be finished and then I might want the full set for the shelf.

Section 5 - On the third shelf down from the top

It was the covers that attracted me to the John Zakour/Lawerence Ganem books and my desperate wish for anything new and not pretentious in SF. I was getting a wee bit overwhelmed with urban fantasy, was losing my patience with epic fantasy and wanted my escapism to actually be escapsist. I like my epic fantasy and my SF to be political and have fantastic encounters grounded in real motives. I like exploring the economic and social impact of fantasy resources on standard forms of government and sociological constructs. I also like intersting characters. It's best when they have both. So this is an interesting shelf in terms of the experiment.

I bought Myth Gotten Gains from childhood loyalty. I've been with Skeeve since the beginning. I believe that I would have picked that book up in physical form under any circumstances. Broken was one of the early Kelley Armstrong purchases ( I keep using her full name because Karen Armstrong is also in my personal collection and has much more impact and meaning ) so I probably would have bought that physically as well. But Wizard of Karres I purchased on a business trip because I needed something to read and Flint, Freer and Lackey wrote a piece of serious Fantasy called "The Shadow of the Lion" that I really, really liked a lot. I most likely would have bought this on Kindle if it were available, and there's a book that preceedes it that I don't have that is still not available on Kindle or iBooks. So I'll wait until it is. It was good but not as good as the books in their "Heirs of Alexandria" series. I don't need to have it physically. Druid's Sword is part of the "Troy Game Series" I will most likely Kindle it's continuation and buy a used copy to finish the series on the shelf. That is more along the lines of the non-fluffy fantasy I enjoy.

And then there is the Paul Parks- A Princess of Romania and it's associated books. If I had read them as an adolescent I have no idea how I would have reacted. The series never explored the areas I really wanted to see but was still good. The work made me think, made me want to know more, the writing had depth, the character had flaws not quirks. When I read it it made me want to write, because I thought the ideas that weren't explored were interesting enough for me to explore them on a story of my own. I am still not ready to write fiction though, even for myself. I will read Paul Parks now on his name alone, not because he was brilliant (although he was very, very good) but because I followed along with him even when I didn't agree with where he was going. There is something compelling in his work. I don't know if I would read him electronically though, I am glad I have these books physically, the fourth one was in the Stack by the Window. Which leads to my problem with series. I have 3 paperback and 1 hardcover because I couldn't stand to wait a year to find out how it resolved. And I had both a discount and a coupon. How will I shelve the complete series?

Immortal Poems I've had since I was a member of the National Forensic League in High School. I still reference it often. Poems still feel like they should be on paper, perhaps because they are such ephemeral snippets in the the first place I like them solid.

Section 5.5 - the tiny shelf -

Remember that this bookshelf is really a DVD media shelf where I rearranged the heights to accomodate books. When I finished I had a narrow shelf left and rather than declare it "extra" I laid a few books across it horizontally. If I use this solution for larger scale book storage I will do the same thing. Of course I did happen to notice that it's perfectly sized for poppets to hang about.

What if : The World's Foremost Historians Imagine What Might Have Been - Audio Books

Fragile Things is one of the first post-poppet Gaiman books purchased after getting about halfway through Sandman. If I remember correctly it's because he has one of his stories inspired by Lisa's work in it.

Section 6 - The Bottom Shelf

The first two, Fortune's Fool and Demon's Are Forever would certainly have been e-book purchases. MegaTokyo and Venus vs Virus are manga. Tamison I bought directly from Connor, Peter S. Beagle's manager. Probably all of the books on this shelf other than those two would still be here. Audition is a reference book. The Ordination of Women is the actual arguments and Responsa which are formal legal religious rulings used in the Conservative and Orthodox movements, which is why it's edited instead of" written by". The documents that led to the ordination of women are in this book. Blu Greenberg is a feminist Modern Orthodox woman who is definately one of the people I use as a role model in much of life, not just religion. I wouldn't have looked at manga on the Kindle but I think I might like it on the iPad, however there is a kind of aesthetic to having an entire series of manga lined up on a shelf. Like the way encyclopedias used to give definition to a bookshelf. I wonder how strong the lure of print is for me and manga?

Section 7 - The Number of Books in the Bedroom

56 books were comfortablly stored on the DVD Shelves plus the 30 that are in the Stack by the Window and the 16 Books that Became Decor. So far the tour of my bedroom has delivered up 102 physical books not counting what's on my iPad Kindle. And we're not done yet there's still The Stack at the Side of the Hidden Bookshelf and The Books I Still Have To Read waiting for their moments in the sun.

I'm thinking of doing a count of the books and magazines by The Perfectly Normal Husband's Nightable. Just to get the count. Knowing that we stopped buying physical books for space and economic reasons a while ago. How many books do we really have waiting because we're stalled?

Next up will be The Stack of Books at the Side of the Hidden Bookshelf.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Part 3 The Nature of Books and Business - A Tour of the Books In My Bedroom -

Preface: This one took a while both because it is long and I couldn't find a way to make it shorter, and because it is possibly the most personal set of things I have ever put on the internet and I struggled with that.

Ostensibly, this experiment is to use the books in my bedroom to explore the meaning and relationships of books, reading and content through the experience of one person and the differences that occur when electronically based reading becomes not just present, but actually usable to a reader.

I should not be surprised that describing the books in my personal setting honestly, requires the examination of things that were truly personal. Books have meaning, the content of the books has meaning, the room that is one's bedroom has meaning, so of course if you are describing those things, if they are meaningful at all there is no surprise that the writing (if honest) will expose those things. Yet, I am still surprised.

Many people are gloriously open on their blogs with many personal details and I admire those people and their writing greatly, I tend to cover my trail a bit with metaphor and allegory. But here with the books this will be different, because otherwise it's not really an experiment at all.
Names, as always, are obfuscated to protect the un-innocent, but there is no way to talk about the books in my bedroom without talking about bedrooms gone by, so with apologies I will steal from a far, far better writer and label the contents as follows: Warning; Contains Me.

Plus it's long - I've broken it up into sections again.

Today's Tour of The Books in my bedroom will focus on The Stack of Books in Front of the Window.

This stack of books is on the Stage Right Side of the Armoire shown in Part 2.

Section 1 - Recap for those just joining the tour:

I am writing about books and my changing relationship to them both in terms of physical space and emotional resonance. I have a lot of books but my use of ebooks, while all "early adapter" was present for the last year or so the addition of a tablet based e-reader has changed my physical relationship to books. Books are ridiculously important to me so the change has meaning.

I explain the background and outline the experiement here in Part 1.

I begin the tour that actually starts with The Books That Became Decor here in Part 2.

This entry will focus more on the emotional attachment and meaning of the books and my personal history with them in relation to my bedroom.

This is Part 3, which should really be titled: when Good Systems Go Bad. Or if this were a horror movie the title would be "OVERFLOW"

Section 2 - The way it was supposed to work . . .

In a perfect world, in my mostly clean bedroom there would be no television, the clothes would be in the hamper and the closet would have shoes in slight disarray kicked into them as soon as I got home. The paper in the room would be a small stack of mail being reviewed before being tossed/acted upon/and filed. There would only be a small stack of books at each night table. 3 or 4 at most, consisting of the "current read" and the "to be read next" books. There would be a stack of catalogues because there is always a stack of catalogues, however it would not involve more than say . . . . 20 of them.

That's the perfect world. Of course part of that is because I didn't list the comics. I'll get to the comics later.

Section 3 - Computers and Books and Bulletin Boards . . . oh my?

The truth is that there is a television in the bedroom. It's behind the doors of the armoire, it doesn't actually get a TV signal, nor is it connected to cable. Our friends who do have televisions in all the pertinent rooms in their houses tell me that it's not like having a TV at all. It is connected to a PS2 because a PS2 also plays dvds. When The Children who aren't really childish anymore were actually children, they were different genders and 5.5 years apart. I had a very strict no-TVs-in-bedrooms-or-living-room policies. There was one TV in the Family Room. The problem with this arrangement was disagreements and one child or another being frozen out of the room if their sibling had friends over. It is unfair to make five year olds tolerate 11 year olds and vice versa as the odd person out. It become more unfair to force 8 year old boys and 14 year old girls to always have to interact with each other in the only public space. Thus, the compromise was to put a TV and the extra PS2 that came with marrying The Perfectly Normal Husband into the bedroom, so the PS2 in my room was the escape hatch for the sibling surrounded by the other sibling's social circle.

A TV in the bedroom means you don't have to leave the room much. The last time there was a TV in my bedroom I was recovering from a back injury that laid me up for 3 months. Never again. But I could rationalize that this didn't count and it was enclosed in furniture so I didn't see it, and the Children could co-exist peacefully. Most of the time the three of them played multi-player together anyway.

Now with the ages in late teens and early twenties their social circles interact and overlap. The Armoir is almost never opened except to vacuum out dust - and that doesn't happen nearly as often as it should.

I'm not holier than thou about electronics, it's just our focus is different. Each child had a computer, a handheld game and a large bookshelf in their rooms. They got their own computers around the age of 8. Much to the dismay of my peergroup of Luddite Suburban parents.

They shouldn't have wasted their time clucking at me. I have more spyware on our network than a data-entry sweatshop, so the Children know that I know every keystroke they type. They had been sharing my computer with supervision for years prior to their independent access, they also had limited access due to parental controls and me blocking access at the network level based on their passwords. All of that was basically training wheels.

I believe as a city kid that you don't protect your children from dangers, you take them out with you and teach them how to protect themselves and be aware of, and assess dangers. The internet looks just like riding the buses or crossing the street to me. Teach them the dangers of the forests, arm them, let them make short trips until they are ready. Then at around 11 years old after three years of close supervision the deal is I keep the spyware up but loosen up the parental controls. Don't type or visit anything you don't want your mother to know.

It probably sucks to have a mom who uses the tech before you do. Or maybe not. I kept waiting for one of the kids to hack the system. When The Boy finally did it was to fix a problem with his school computer to reclaim their admin password that they had forgotten which locked up his school based computer. I was so proud, but a little concerned, it's a little weird for kids not to rebel against control. The Boy explained he never really did anything that he wouldn't admit to anyway. There was very little point. The House exists under a very laid back liberal environment with strict authoritarian control.

He primarily used his computer to go to Japanese websites to read Manga, most of which didn't make it over here or took months to get to. The computer has always been an extension of reading, even though The Boy has difficulty reading in general if the words are in mixed media, the difficulty disappears. Words along flick across his long term memory like ninjas on rooftops, Memory knows they are there, but cannot catch and keep them. However with sounds or words Memory can catch them.

The Boy has books, and many of them have pictures. The Girl's computer is there primarily to make pictures, view and share pictures, and connect with her friends. The world of Harry Potter led to tiny pre-teen fanfic and shared BBS worlds of unofficial roleplaying games. She learned more tech setting up websites and making art banners and character sketches than she did in anything that tried to orient her that way in school. Words in books sink into The Girl's Memories like a laser carving the Rosetta Stone into the moon, everything stays. Forever.

When The Girl loves a book or a book series it is best for me to re-read it. Her memory is insanely detailed and occasionally her love for something where I am ambivalent at best becomes akin to having a pop quiz during most conversations. Thus, her deep, deep love of Lord of the Rings meant that I actually had to finish the series. Yes, that's right - I don't automatically adore all things Tolkien. Mea Culpa.

I loved the Hobbit. The Hobbit and Narnia started my reading of Fantasy which led to books I did love with the same passion that many save for Tolkien. I liked Fellowship but I never got past The Two Towers for years and years and years. Until I had a Rings-Mad child. Then I forced myself through it. A different story, for a different subject.

This is about computers, bedrooms and books and business.

So the computers and books were connected for the children from the very beginning. When they were done with their books they would frequently be next to their computers as they looked things up. Finished books went on their shelves but frequently came down.Where my friends and I would create worlds and new stories based on what we read in Brian Saunder's backyard ( he had the only one big enough to play in ), my children found online communities and played let's-pretend with kids all over the world. It was the same, but different.

Which all leads back to the reason there was no tech in my bedroom.

Section 4 - When the Computers Took Over

Before The House there had been a computer in my bedroom for a good portion of my adult life because my bedroom usually functioned as the non-shared space I wrote in.

When I ran the magazine, initially I lived in a place where I had a separate office and there was simply one baby. Bedrooms were for sleeping and collapsing in. One reads for pleasure, or reads in comfort in the bedroom. Work was in the office. But video games started sneaking in on the single TV. So if the house had a family room, the TV was there, if the house only had a living room then the TV was in the living room instead. Generally if there was no office the computer lived where the TV was.

That arrangement lasted until the second baby arrived and the grownups stopped sharing a computer - trust me, it's generally better that way. I can share sinks, closets, drawers, books but sharing a computer leads to all sorts of dynamics I'd rather avoid. When that step happened the "second computer" ended up in the master bedroom and the main computer eventually migrated there too when it's space needed to be used for a play area. This led to people in the bedroom being up all night with the computer in the early internet era. The future of the Children and words, and books didn't exist yet. Computers and books were separate things. The computer was work, entertainment and games. And if one partner is up all night in a room with a glowing screen and the other isn't, I can promise it leads to a disconnect if there are already underlying fissures.

Section 5 - The Way We Were

But when the underlying fissures became the faultlines complete with earthquakes and landmasses sinking into the ocean, I still had a computer in my bedroom. Unfortunately, now it was mine. I was getting a degree in Multimedia. I was working, going to school being the single mom with the help of my very good friends and then finishing all those MM projects so now I was the on with the screen glowing all night.

It was stressful, the computer was a big reminder of my workload, I had two giant metal laboratory bookshelves filled with my books. My books being nearby had always given me comfort, they were there, they looked good and full and brought my worlds with me whereever I happened to land. But in the giant gray metal shelves on either side of the computer desk from staples with a mattress and box spring on the floor and a second computer desk and computer where perhaps a dresser should have been, I was no longer comforted by the books alone. I was depressed and stressed at how little my life and my space reflected anything like my taste, or my desire for peace, or even just being a grown up.

Also I found other people in the room playing Everquest was really, really, irritating while I was working. I had a new partner. His relationship to the computer superseded all other forms of interaction. He was very visual and interactive. He had books and loved them, but his first love was video games closely followed by television. With his arrival, cable TV also came into the house. None of us were used to that level of media consumption in that manner. Books at that point were a refuge from screens, and quite honestly a way not to see what my room had become.

When my dresser had to be replaced, I realized I had never bought furniture for myself as an adult person. The dresser was actually my nursery furniture which had been my Travelin' Grandma's furniture. Everything in my room was donated by family members or a found object. As a parent, as a wife and now as a student/girlfriend/mom, I always took care of designing the bedroom - MY bedroom last. I was in my early 30's and had never owned a brand new piece of furniture in the place that was supposed to be my personal space. It was nice, but it was all arranged from happenstance rather than taste, the only thing in my bedroom that was mine alone were my books. It was shocking. I'd never really thought of myself as the self erasing type, but when the veneers came off all of the relationships around me I realized that I was pretty damn close. But not in the disappearing way, in the "Don't worry about me - I can take care of myself" way. And I could. I just did it last. Which means I never got around to doing it.

Well, that sucked. It covered up a bunch of other stuff too. No matter what the house, the children, the marriage looked like, no matter how strong, or balanced or personality based things seemed to be, the reality was in that bedroom. I never got around to doing it well because I was the lowest priority, and I pretended it was OK because I did that on purpose. However I did it on purpose for close to a decade. At that point, you have to admit that you are not your own priority.

So I bought a dresser, real nightstands and a bedframe.

And eventually I bought a house - the one that we now refer to as the House. I had moved every year and half in my first marriage and had never lived anywhere for more than 4 years growing up- pretty impressive for someone who isn't an army brat. I never moved because I wanted to, it was always in reaction to something or someone else.

I'm not moving again. Maybe if I get rich I'll buy additional houses but not leave this one ever, ever again. I'll be the grumpy old guy in UP. I have friends that are physicists and engineers, we'll get it to fly if we have to.

The computers were killing the relationship between that partner and I. Truth is computers played a supporting role in the destruction that came with the marriage that preceeded it.

On reflection perhaps I should be more ambivalent about computers. Or at least more cautious about the men who love them.

When I bought The House, I did not know for sure that this person would be moving with us. He said he couldn't live with us. I agreed that he'd be happier living on his own. He was a little confused when I asked if that meant he wanted to break up. I guess he thought it was a given once he said that. What was important wasn't location but our relationships to things and environments were very, very different. He did not buy The House with me - but when I was looking at houses I was looking for a place to make sure that there was a place for computers to be out of the bedroom and away from other people in the house.

The partner did indeed move with me after all but then earned his nickname "The Bridge Troll". He was a very nice troll, he was only cranky sometimes, but one of the things discovered when the computers moved into spaces of their own was that The Bridge Troll moved to where the computer was and the rest of the household never really saw him again unless we pushed very, very hard to ask him to come with us.

In the world outside the office, I had bought myself real and grown up furniture (and a headboard!) and was planning on finishing the set in my new space. My bedroom here in the House is smaller than the master bedroom suite in the rental I was in before, but the Children's rooms are larger and the office is slightly down the hall and away. Bookshelves went into every room in the house. Every room except my bedroom.

The Children didn't realize we shared a bedroom, the Bridge Troll and I, because he was never in it when I was. Perhaps they thought we took turns. Perhaps because we did. The virtual world was where he wanted to be, and the portal to it was in the office. And therefore so was he.

When we helped him move out - we made sure that the place where his computer was had lots of natural light and helped him decorate so that when he left his virtual bridge he didn't become overwhelmed with the haphazard collection of things that had depressed me so completely before The House. It didn't work out between the Bridge Troll and I because I'm a little too interested in being here in the world and he was barely intersted in that at all. But when you love someone, just because they stop being good for you and you stop being good for them, doesn't mean that you have to let go of caring about them. So we cared about where he lived when he came visit the world we were in, and helped make it pleasant, but elsewhere.
Not in the House.

Now finally grownup in every way and self-supporting, I got to have my books displayed in places where they served a purpose, looked good and were still mine. I didn't need them in my bedroom like protective insulation of the self. They could simply be read, enjoyed and then become part of the House, another tiny bit of treasure or a feather in the nest.

But until writing this series it never occured to me that the reason I kept the bookshelves out of this room might be because I had to keep the bookshelves in my room before. Like I might lose me altogether if I didn't see my books, and I was finally able to just be in my room. Just a few books were enough to make sure the room was still true, but after moving every year or so I was finally home, I wouldn't have to move, the books all had a place of their own because the place was mine.

The Children had their books and computers integrated by this point, but I finally had myself, my books and my living space integrated. I still interacted with books like I always had, but the Internet cut down on my need for magazines so there were no new subscriptions.

Computers quietly had already supplanted some of my casual reading materials for news, gossip and journalism. I was willing to pay for subscriptions just not paper ones.

Section 6 - So here in the imperfect world . . .

Well now what have we got? We have the history of books in Drinne's Bedroom. Before the Perfectly Normal Husband joined the House, my bedroom here worked really, really close to the Perfect World scenario because I had a ton of book storage space in the basement. Also, while almost every other roommate and sig other left their books, when they left, the Bridge Troll took most of his books with him. It wasn't all that many books, just about two or three boxes - one decent bookshelf's worth.

But one of the things that made the Perfectly Normal Husband attractive enough for me to even think about risking the idea of marriage again was his lovely, lovely collection of books. And he even came with his own quality-grade bookshelves! He had the perfect mix of enough familiar books that we shared reading tastes and enough different books that he had practically a whole new library for me to read!

The Basement-Family Room easily absorbed his books and bookshelves and our books are now quite the collection of his/hers/ours because we have been together for some time now. Just at the point where we were starting to worry about storage (Remember when I explained how we shopped for book as a family?) we discussed the idea of giving away or selling off duplicates.

This was a big step. When the Bridge Troll wanted to get rid of duplicates - he wanted to keep his copies and get rid of mine. This included gaming books. I said "no" flat out to the gaming books. Several people reference game rules at the same time. I'd been running since I was 12. The only way you can have too many rules reference books is if you have more copies than people in your group. We did not.

I did actually ask him what would happen if we broke up. His lack of a clear answer led to me keeping all of my books. Even if his answer was - "if you get rid of the extra books to make space and we break up, I'll buy new ones or will buy new ones for you"- I would have gone along with it, but there was nothing except a denial we would ever break up ( this is not a convincing line to a person who has already survived a divorce) and a lack of empathy or reassurance. More than clothes, jewlery, pictures, my books are what shows a reflection of me, my family, things we've done, vacations, life events . . . my bookshelves are a scrapbook of our lives. I don't have many pictures on the walls. I do think my books serve the same purpose that photo albums and all those incessant videos of life events serve for non-reading people.

The Bridge Troll was asking me to take the chance that he would leave with copies of books that he had not been around for. And he was not offering to replace them. I don't need the original physical object, the story by itself was sufficient, but I didn't want the expense of replacing things I already owned simply to satisfy his need for minimalism. Certainly not without him at least understanding what he was really asking.

Now in the light of hindsight, I realize he knew exactly what he was asking. He was asking me for permanence, he knew if I took his copies and got rid of mine I would be saying that we were truly together for all time. That I expected us to make it. But he was asking me too soon, and he didn't know or understand enough to offer me a saftey net in return. Now in this light my reaction looks kind of cruel, and perhaps it was, but you shouldn't corner wounded animals and I certainly qualified.

So six years later I am discussing getting rid of duplicates with the Perfectly Normal Husband. There is not a care in the world, we'll simply take the one that is in better condition and get rid of the other (or others). It was like walking through an shift in time. I suddenly saw clearly how little trust I'd had in other relationships. Not that they'd all asked me to get rid of duplicate books, the reality was most of the books were mine so it was almost never that specific issue until the Bridge Troll. But except for that first time, I had never expected anyone to stay. Ever.

Not family, not friends, only the one husband, that first time and when that proved so incredibly untrue, I figured that category of partner permanence was also not something that happened in real life. You are supposed to leave your parents, your children are supposed to leave you. Life may keep your friends around you virtually, but not physically. Everything changes, everyone can go. Except the books, they stay, you can't take them away from me.

It's OK. but it's one of those moments, planning this winnowing of duplicates that I realized how much I'd healed. I still don't trust anything to stay, except him. Not even him really, life happens, I'm difficult. Healthcare is not subsidized and I've seen people have to divorce or move away because of needing healthcare. He can have my books, because even if anything happens and we can't be together, he knows what they mean. Even if he takes them with him he'll know what they mean, so it would be OK as long as he's the one that has them.

Even if he gives them away it will be OK because he's the one giving them.

That's how much I love him.

And besides, we needed room for new books.

But just at this epic point in personal development a wrench was thrown into the works - The Girl discovered reading for pleasure in a really big way. And what she was reading was all the stuff we had read. But the girl loves her books like the Velveteen Rabbit got loved, and she sometimes misplaces them. Whereas the Perfectly Normal Husband and I barely break the spine, The Girl gives the meaning to the phrase "Dog Eared". She carries her books like pets. They get into scrapes just like pets.

New Plan. We keep duplicates and give the disposable copies to The Girl, which saved us replacement money. But the backlog then began.

Section 7 - Perhaps we could build an Aztek Pyramid out of them?

The Perfectly Normal Husband reads and subscribes to magazines and comics, in his field of history and, well just comics. He also gets Amazing and Analog and a few other magazines. There are three 2ft stacks around his night-table. He packs them up and puts them in archival boxes in the attic every now and then, but he switched jobs and hasn't had nearly as much time.

We receive books for the holidays and they land in the bedroom first. The become the "to be read pile" There is usually a difficulty because these are beautiful books that we like to look at, that should have a place of pride on a shelf, so they don't go down to the basement because they would be stuffed in willy-nilly. There is a 1.5 ft stack of books on one side of his lamp and a very impressive jenga like structure of books measuring about 17 inches long by 30 inches high on the other side.

Poor Perfectly Normal Husband no longer knows how much of that pile is read vs. unread. I will not take pictures - I don't want to embarrass him, it's not really his fault, it's because we have more books than shelves and any attempts to fix it without suddenly pitching the house into looking like a dorm room are insuffecient without really addressing the basement - which became the new "Do it last" room when working on home improvement.

The area around his night table are his personal books. The area around mine suffers from catalogues - but I have the option of throwing them out, and I do frequently. I used to have books around mine but when I got a laptop I found that I used it more like a magazine and not so much like a work item. When the laptop was in the bedroom, I wrote letters(email) to friends and family and read magazines in their online format. The computer once it was not attached to the desk started just being a magic book I could read anything at any time. I hate reading long things on my desktop but I was fine reading long form on the laptop because I could lay in bed be comfy and all of a sudden it was more like reading for pleasure.

Instead of a pile of books I had my laptop tucked into a charger at the side of my bed. The first change in my attitude towards electronic reading was the ability to change the environment of where I was reading. That made me the one who brought the computer back into the bedroom. But I was using it like a Victorian Ladies Writing Desk and an infinite magazine. I did not do any kind of actual work on the laptop.

And there were still books. Shortly after the laptop started changing my habits, I became irritated and exhausted by the basement and the stacks of books in the bedroom. We gathered all the "extra" books finished and unfinished and separated them into hardcovers and paperbacks so we could see how much more shelving we would need and look into some sort of discreete transitional shelving that wouldn't overpower the room.

The hardcover books from that exercise are what is in the pile that is neatly infront of the window.

In this stack are the following:

  1. A Guide to Jewish Religous Practice by Issaac Klein
  2. 1635 : The Dreeson Incident Eric Fling and Virginia De Marce
  3. Spinoza A Life - Nadler
  4. American Shaolin - Matthew Polly
  5. Team of Rivals - The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln( We had it years before Obama's administration made it a household name)
  6. Watchman - Alan Moore
  7. Jewish Wisdom - Rabbi Joseph Telushikin (This is an awesome book - it's historical while illustrating things that became part of spiritual practice - so it's not all "do this" it more like "think about this and this is where it came from" proving that people did most of the religion making not God but that doesn't mean it's not spiritual)
  8. The Book of Ballads - Charles Vess with - lots and lots of cool people
  9. Reserved for the Cat - Mercedes Lackey
  10. The Everyday Guide to Wine Course Guidebook - Jennifer Simonetti Bryan
  11. Modern Philosophy of Language - edited by Maria Baghramian
  12. The Jewish Book of Why - Alfred J. Kolatch
  13. 1634: The Ram Rebellion - Eric Flint with Virginia DeMarche
  14. Mirror Mirror - Gregory Maguire (The cover I have is better I never would have picked the book up with the new cover)
  15. 1634: The Baltic War - David Weber & Eric Flint
  16. The Grantville Gazettte IV Eric Flint
  17. 1634: The Barvarian Crisis - Eric Flint and Virginia DeMarce
  18. Liberty Medows Cold, Cold Heart - Frank Cho
  19. Girl Genius - Volumes 6 & more - Phil and Kaja Foglio
  20. Buffy Omnibus 2
  21. The Yiddish Policeman's Union - Michale Chabon
  22. Consuming Habits: Drugs in History and Anthropology - edited by Jordon Goodman et al.
  23. JPS Hebrew -English Tanakah ( this is the Jewish Bible, direct translation with original hebrew next to it - no rabbinic commentary)
  24. Venus vs. Virus
  25. French Women don't get Fat - Mirelle Guilani
  26. The Salmon of Doubt - Douglas Adams
  27. The Hidden World - Paul Park
  28. Buffy the Vampire Slayer the Roleplaying game

Hmmn that's a lot of books.

They're stacked neatly on another item of imminent home improvement - the custom glass tile that needs to go into the backsplash in the kitchen. We needed to hire a tile specialist and ran out of time then had time but ran out of money. If it ever gets finished ( it will I swear Fantastic Artist Who Made the Tiles!) I will blog about it then, but right now the box is in safe and plain view and protected by the books in this stack.

Section 8 - Would E-Books Have Made Any Difference to this Stack?

The 1634 Books are books that get re-read when the newest one in the series comes out that's why there are several. For a long time we couldn't wait for the year delay until the paperback came out so we bought the hardcover, right up until the Dreeson Incident. 1634 is a shared writing environment and I really cared about the characters but when they shared it out to so many writers they put down a fiat - write about the everyday people, not the main characters of the original story. Which is all well and good for a bit but then there were way too many characters and I wanted to get back to the main characters of the original story and thus found my enthusiasm waning. The Dreeson Incident was bought on release, but I couldn't quite muster the desire to open it up, the world was drowning in details, all side dishes and no main course anymore.

I haven't actually bought a new Ring of Fire book since. They were early adapters of electronic formats though and I subscribed to the Grantville Gazette. Once again short stories worked well on the computer, but not full books. If I could have purchased The Dreeson Incident on my iPad and not have it reside accusingly next to my armoire I probably would have bought the subsequent books figuring I could get to them with fresh eyes at some future point. Interestingly when I realized how long I had but haven't read the book, I went to look for it on kindle. It isn't available.

Sorry guys, I love everyone good and bad in Grantville, but unless I get an actual book with Mike and Rebecca as the main characters again I'm just not invested in keeping up anymore.

You lost me with Spinoza.

The other books in the pile are art, non-fiction, and religious books and what I would call deep pleasure reading. The would probably all still be physical books - only the Ring of Fire books would change to electronic format, and even then it would be on a trial basis. When I do like them they are good reading and I tend to read them on trains and vacations. I almost feel like the fault is mine for being put off of them. Like I'm guilty of betraying them.

The upshot is that about 25 of those books would still be in the House regardless of the availability of electronic books. Because of them being gifts or containing high quality art content.

And of course the comics. I'm still not sure what to do about those.

The yellow bag is full of them. They are mostly mine. What they are is irrelevant. I enjoy them immensely and love the art and don't want to see them on a computer but wish to the heavens above that they were on my tablet instead. Waiting for them to be graphic novels worked well but I would pay for them to be virtual instead of physical - I have no sentimental attachment to the physical object of a comic at all, even though comics have been part of my life as long as books have. Webcomics like Looking for Group and Girl Genius show that full page comics work well as a computer format, if I could just have an e-version of the physical comics I'd be perfectly happy.

So the conclusion is that if I could get my hardcopy comics electronically on my tablet ( but not on my computer) I would. I don't know what would happen to get Ring of Fire books on my tablet instead of my floor - but it's possible that one of the turn offs was the amount of physical space they were taking up.

But now knowing just what physical books meant to me and how they kept peices of me intact through scary times, knowing that asking me for my books has such emotional impact let's look at what that would have meant during the crisis points in past bedrooms.

If the Bridge Troll wanted to get rid of physical duplicates and I had electronic copies would I have said no?

I would have gotten rid of the duplicates, I would never have reacted to the underlying signals that he couldn't read my needs or that he was passive aggressively trying to push me into defining our relationship on terms I wasn't willing to accept. There wouldn't have been any tension, but there wouldn't have been any insight either.

On the other hand, if I was the one who was lying in bed with a small portable computer and the sig others who brought the computers into the bedroom started using computers in relationship damaging ways, would I have ever brought it up?

No, I lose a sort of moral high ground, I brought the computer in, I'm laying in bed looking at a tiny computer, I would never have been able to say "please stop sitting at the desk playing Everquest" because the legitimate answer would have been, "Well you're using a screen too!" and I would have conceded the point.

Once the Perfectly Normal Husband received an Ipod Touch from Anti Claus and All of Us, he stopped playing so many "sit in front of the large screen" games and we have a tendency to sit in the living room together, or lay in bed next to each other and read, it's just on screen, but the behavior is book-like even when we are actually playing games. The form factor changed the interaction. We can hand the other person the amusing thing or the picture we are looking at. We share interesting quotes or sentences, just like when we are reading.

The house looks almost the same as when there were nothing but books, but where even laptops took a lot of space and form limitations still dictated locations, tablets and smart phones made us revert to our natural physical behavior with books. So if you took a picture of us in our quiet everyday downtime say 18 years ago and took the same picture now, it would only look like what we were reading on changed, but if you took a picture anytime between those two pictures the snapshot would show us at desks, in rooms isolated from other people or gathered together around a screen watching the same thing.

What happens moving forward as more books go on my tablet? Ironically too many books in my bedroom makes me feel like something is broken now instead of making me feel whole, but the idea of no more physical books feel like staring into a vortex.

It took all that time for technology to behave like a book behaves in your life.

But what would I have had in all of the bygone bedrooms when the books were the only thing I had that really belonged to me?

If it were just the stories, and not the books, would they really belong to me at all?