Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Luddites, Old Cranks, and the 21st Century – Open Thread

Time for an open thread. I’m going to start it off by talking about reading.

To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations – such is a pleasure beyond compare. ~Kenko Yoshida

My love affair with books started before I could read. Both of my parents were avid readers. They began to read to me as soon as I was old enough to sit still long enough to hear a story. I was reading on my own before I began kindergarten. By the time I was in the 3rd or 4th grade, I had moved up to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. From that point on there was no stopping me. Reading became my favorite pastime.

You may have tangible wealth untold;

Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.

Richer than I you can never be –

I had a mother who read to me.

~Strickland Gillilan (Thanks, Laurel)

One thing I discovered quite early is that knowledge is a never-ending quest. No matter how many books I devoured, there were more yet to be discovered. No one can possibly read every book written, and yet I tried. In high school, I would skip class to go sit in the school library and read. Every spare moment found me with a book in my hands. When I entered the work force, I sought out jobs that allowed me the most reading time. When I came home from work, I would spend hours more each night reading. There were years, decades, where I read at least 8 hours per day. That’s probably a conservative estimate. This reading obsession continued for most of my life.

A house without books is like a room without windows.  ~Heinrich Mann

Books were wondrous objects filled with exotic places and strange people unlike any I would meet in real life. The more I read the more I realized how little I really knew. Each discovery of a new author would open up a new front in a war on my own ignorance. I couldn’t rest until I had read everything that author had ever written. Even the most prolific authors would eventually fall to my relentless onslaught. Dumas came and went as did Burroughs and L’amour.

It didn’t matter what I read, only that I was reading. Spillane was as enjoyable as Faulkner. You might find me reading Leo Tolstoy or James Joyce one day and Agatha Christie or Dashiell Hammett the next. It reached the point where I was on a first name basis with librarians and used book store proprietors. I gave up on bookshelves and piled books everywhere. I didn’t so much have stacks of books as stacks of boxes full of books in every room of the house. Moving would have become impossible if I hadn’t thinned the herd each time I moved.

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.  ~Francis Bacon

Sadly, from my point of view, things began to change a few years ago. I still read for hours each day, but instead of books, magazines and newspapers I now read online. While the rise of the Internet has opened up access to information unlike ever before, it has also taken away some of the pleasure of reading. Gone are the days of sitting in a recliner with a good book in my hands. I am now chained to a glaring computer monitor and an office chair. I can’t shove a paperback into a back pocket to be pulled out whenever I had a few free moments as I did for so much of my life. Reading has become less of a joy and more of a chore. My world has changed and, in my opinion, not for the better.

Now we come to today. I haven’t really lost my love of reading. It is no less today than it was when I was a child. All I have to do to prove that to myself is to pick up a book and begin reading, as I did recently. I don’t want to give up the Internet. It is wonderful, illuminating, educational. . . What I want is to spend some time each day losing myself in an author’s world. I want that break from the humdrum everyday world.

The world of books is still there. I could go back to the wonderful world of libraries and bookstores. But, this is the 21st Century. I think it’s time to take the next step. I want to get an e-reader.

When the Kindle first appeared on the scene, I had serious qualms about using one. They were too expensive, especially for a skinflint like me. They are plastic and metal. Books are paper and leather. Books have character. E-readers are cold and passionless. Used books smell of musty bookstores. Old hardcovers smell of leather, paper and ink. E-readers, if they smell at all, smell of plastic and hot circuits. E-books break our link to the purveyors of information, like Gutenberg and Franklin.

The other problem I have with e-readers is the cost of digital books. I find it outrageous that digital books cost as much as paperbacks. The infrastructure required to distribute e-books is a fraction of that for printed books and the cost of production is many orders of magnitude less. I find the pricing an insult to my intelligence.

But, as I said, this is the 21st Century. It is time I put aside my, in this case, surprising Luddite attitude towards e-readers. I have always been an early adopter of technological advances. This is the only instance I can think of where I have been reluctant to be on the cutting edge. This is not like my enthusiastic embrace of computers, networking, cellular phones and all of the other advances of the last few decades. It is grudging, resentful acceptance of a changing world. I guess I’m finally showing my age.

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,

And all the sweet serenity of books.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


192 comments

  1. jsfox

    love em, paperbacks, hard bound, History books, biographies, sci fi and fantasy not to mention spy and humor. And i am with you I love to hold a book, but . . .

    I also tend be an early adapter and would have gone the e reader/iPad route if i could afford it.

    Now my father-in-law who is suffering from macular degeneration has been saved by the Kindle because he can adjust the type he is still able to read the NYTimes. Most of his books are now audio.

  2. sricki

    Perhaps the best “open thread” I have ever read.

    This is funny to me:

    It is time I put aside my, in this case, surprising Luddite attitude towards e-readers. I have always been an early adopter of technological advances. This is the only instance I can think of where I have been reluctant to be on the cutting edge. This is not like my enthusiastic embrace of computers, networking, cellular phones and all of the other advances of the last few decades. It is grudging, resentful acceptance of a changing world. I guess I’m finally showing my age.

    …because I refuse to get an e-reader. In my mind, they will — eventually — replace books. That makes me feel a bit bitter and leaves a bad taste in my mouth, so until there is no other option whereby I can get new books… I refuse to purchase one.

    I have never owned anywhere near as many books as you have. I am a bit jealous. No… very jealous. Jealous also of your decades of reading before the internet. The web has, admittedly, stolen much of my attention from book reading. I have not read daily (other than blogs/news online) since… well, it’s been several years.

    I had set my goal for the weekend to read two books, though partially that’s because I am loaning one of them to my supervisor Monday. Now I am half wishing to curl up with books and do nothing else all weekend. But that will be hindered a bit by company in town.

    Thoroughly enjoyed this diary, John.  

  3. jsfox

    and we are talking about technology. I throw this into the mix.

    DeathRateEnergy

    For every person killed by nuclear power generation, 4,000 die due to coal, adjusted for the same amount of power produced… You might very well have excellent reasons to argue for one form over another. Not the point of this post. The question is: did you know about this chart? How does it resonate with you?

    Vivid is not the same as true. It’s far easier to amplify sudden and horrible outcomes than it is to talk about the slow, grinding reality of day to day strife. That’s just human nature. Not included in this chart are deaths due to global political instability involving oil fields, deaths from coastal flooding and deaths due to environmental impacts yet unmeasured, all of which skew it even more if you think about it.

    This chart unsettles a lot of people, because there must be something wrong with it. Further proof of how easy it is to fear the unknown and accept what we’ve got.

    via: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/s

  4. Kysen

    I feel ya…man, oh man, do I feel ya.

    I am a voracious reader and always have been. Where my ‘formal education’ may be lacking, my self-administered education via reading reading reading is likely of greater breadth and depth than those with years more schooling than I.

    Annnnd…I’m a luddite as well…flatly refused to even LOOK at a Kindle. Had never held one….never touched one…until this past X-mas when my best friend gifted one to me.

    Even then, I was skeptical…and, admittedly, a bit put out because she knew of my aversion to such gadgetry. But, I swore I would test drive it…swore I would give it a fair shake.

    I am sold.

    There is ZERO glare…no eyestrain…and you can curl up anywhere you would with a book of binding and pages. I have a leather cover for mine that allows me to set it on a table at a slant to read, or flip the cover back to hold as a book…I adjusted remarkably quickly to it and it now follows me from room to room (even the smallest of rooms in our home where my laptop does not go…./snicker).

    As far as the cost of the books…I have only purchased ONE book thus far…because the selection of FREE Kindle books is sooooo extensive.

    So, to wrap…I highly recommend it.

    And, with the Kindle, don’t bother paying extra for the 3G one unless you plan on NEEDING TO DL A BOOK NOWWWWWWWWW whilst away from home. Otherwise, the wi-fi version works great with a home wi-fi network (like, near ‘blink of an eye’ great).

    This is the Kindle I have:

    Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, Graphite, 6″ Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology

    Here is the cover I have:

    Acase Vintage Acme Brown Genuine Leather Case with LED light for Amazon Kindle 3

    Here are the Free Kindle Books lists:

    Kindle Classics

    Kindle Limited Time Offers

    Open Library

    Project Gutenberg

    ManyBooks

    Tutorial on finding Free E-books:

    Free Books For Kindle

    While my Kindle will NEVER replace bound books in our home…it is a now welcome addition to the family. Sorta like how a microwave will NEVER really replace a stove top…but has become a part of most kitchens and has its uses. 😉

    That about wraps up my take on the subject…the last thing I will say is that I am not positive, but, I think that the Kindle is the only one of them that uses the eye-friendly ink technology (think Etch-a-Sketch) and it is the complete lack of eye fatigue/strain that I enjoy most about my Kindle (that and, admittedly, being able to use it in the ‘small room’../grin).

    Good Luck!

    (oh yeah…another thing I like…the charge lasts for an incredibly long time)

    😉

  5. Shaun Appleby

    This is what eclectic Mooses have in common:

    erudite

    From Latin eruditus, participle of erudio (“educate, train”), from e- (“out of”) + rudis (“rude, unskilled”).

    (comparative more erudite, superlative most erudite)

      1. Learned, scholarly, with emphasis on knowledge gained from books.

    Figures.  The unrude.  Anyone else on Goodreads?  I get hooked into it once in a while but it is a great place for crowd-sourced and generally meaningful reviews.

  6. proudmama

    I love to read – mostly trashy chick-lit… it’s my escape from the world. I am also a very impatient reader. Once I get to the last third of a book, I am having panic attacks of what book I am going to read next – and if I have the book at hand. Here’s the deal, I love books. I love to dog-ear the pages, love the feeling of paper beneath my fingers – the whole experience and I absolutely love to re-read books. Then I ran out of shelf space and began stacking books. Then I ran out of stacking space. Then I had a hard time finding a book I wanted to re-read. Then my lovely husband bought me a Nook.

    I thought about an e-reader for a long time, but didn’t want to shell out the dough for one. The more I thought about it I realized it would solve some of my issues: No shelf space and out of stacking space – no worries, the Nook can hold thousands of books and you can even add a micro-sd card to extend the memory. The panic of not being able to find a book – solved! (John hates that I re-read books…now he doesn’t know if I am reading a new book or an old book) All the books are in order of my choosing (author, download date, title, rating) Panic attacks about the next book I am going to read – again solved! I have books on my wish-list, I can go in and download and read instantly. The ability to search for every book written by one author – amazing :) And my favorite feature – being able to add book marks, notes and highlight on my digital books.

    I was worried that it would be awkward to hold – but it’s not, feels like holding a large paperback (feels about the same weight as well). The white-screen is awesome to read off of – no glare at all. Being able to adjust the font size is a double plus – you know, when you just have to finish the chapter, but you are getting tired and the words are starting to look like ants – I just enlarge the font and keep reading. Oh, and when sleep has won and you think you are still reading – the book goes to sleep too – and you don’t have to figure out which page you were on… dangerous scenario with a traditional book!

    I thought I would miss turning pages – I don’t at all. I can turn the page by swiping the touch screen at the bottom or when holding the book, by pressing the button (on either side). I have a leather case for my Nook and I bend the front cover back, just like I would do if it was a paperback.

    Free e-books from the library – a bonus. E-textbooks, no problem. Document from work that is in pdf format, yup, just plug in your Nook add it to your library and read away, make notes as you go.

    This is the best gift I have received and because I love it so much, John and I got a Nook for Cameron (birthday) and Jason (Christmas). Cameron and Jason were both avid readers pre-Nook, but post-Nook their reading has increased noticeably. They finish a book and then ask if they can download another. They share books between Nooks and I can go into Cameron and Jason’s library and lend books by my library. If you have other friends with a Nook, you can also lend most books to them – after 2 weeks, they pop back into your library.

    The Nook Color came out after I received my Nook. I took a peek at it, but it would be just like reading from the computer because of the screen. I guess it would be great if you wanted to read magazines and search the internet in color – that just isn’t that important to me.

    Looong story short – I love my Nook. Here is my last favorite thing:

    Nobody else knows what you are reading :) Get your trashy read on, when people ask, tell them you’re reading The Grapes of Wrath!

  7. spacemanspiff

    Setting people up! BAM!

    Look at this thread go! lol!

    Damn my favorite books are NOTHING like what you guys read. I don’t even want to share anymore. Crapped on the Bard and everything. lol!

    Shallow Spiff.

    This has the makings of a 200 comment (or more) diary.

    Go team gooooooooo!!!!

  8. Shaun Appleby

    Pah.  Outside of the Greek tragedians I haven’t read a work of fiction in twenty years.  Well…  Excluding Faulkner and Hemingway but I was just catching up.

    Fiction seems so banal to me these days I just can’t read it any more.  History has fiction totally beat for plot and drama, I reckon.  And historical fiction is the Devil’s work.  Mind polluting.  Non-fiction is bad enough as it is for revisionism and misrepresentation.

  9. HappyinVT

    I’m either an old crank or just old fashioned because I have no intention of getting an e-reader.  I like books ~ I like the feel of the pages and the smell of a well-used book.  I like their various sizes and shapes and covers.  I like flipping ahead and then backtracking.  Sometimes, shhhh, I even read the end and then read the rest.

  10. and bought a reconditioned Nook 3G on ebay direct from Barnes & Noble. It comes with a one year warranty and 90 days phone support. Total cost was $133 with a 10% ebay coupon. It would have cost me $211 for a new one through the Barnes & Noble web site. Now to decide what to read first.

  11. My son called to wish me a happy b-day about an hour after I made that purchase. He was a little disappointed when I told him I had bought a Nook. He told me he was on his way to Best Buy to get me a Kindle for my b-day. I guess I screwed up. :(

  12. Jjc2008

    Happy Birthday John

    Been in FL visiting the grand nieces, now three and one.  These are the only grandchildren of my deceased sister.  I try to stay close to them to hopefully give them a sense of their paternal grandmother.  Here in FL they are close to their maternal grandparents.   Also visiting is my sister’s husband.

    The girls are adorable albeit “busy and exhausting.”  Weather has been fabulous. Unfortunately all kinds of “virus” issues have run rampant.  I had mine and it came and left in the normal amount.  B-i-l still sick so I have been quite busy.

    When I get back to CO off to substituting for three days.

    As for reading, like most educators, I believe the literacy is the tool to keep freedom and the right to self determination alive.  Ignorance is the enemy.  Free access to books is critical.  Free, public education, free libraries….without these we all lose.

    Kindle is just another tool to access reading material. I got one for Christmas.  I just started “The Women” by T C Boyle. Fictionalized account of Frank Lloyd Wrights affairs.  I wanted something juicy and fun and vacation reading.  But due to being sick and/or with busy toddlers just barely started.  Also have Griftopia downloaded and waiting.  

  13. spacemanspiff

    We should all will our books to a Moose Library. It would be a pretty epic collection I’ll bet.

  14. Kysen

    Hope you both find your next year spinnin’ round on this silly planet filled with love and laughter.

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