If you want to help…

A very easy — and extremely enjoyable — way to help Puerto Rico as it struggles in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria is to buy Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “It’s Almost Like Praying”, which is available wherever you buy your music. (I got mine from Amazon here but that’s only one place you can find it.)  Read this article at Forbes to learn more about it and to watch a youtube video.


eBooks vs. paper

I read an article on the Guardian today that has me thinking. The title is “How eBooks lost their shine: ‘Kindles now look clunky and unhip’. Unfortunately, I am not sure what I think about it.

The author talks about the resurgence of physical books, stating

figures published today by the Publishing Association show that sales of consumer ebooks have dropped by 17%, while sales of physical books are up 8%.

Overall sales of books in Britain have risen, she goes on to state, which is the good news in all of this as far as I am concerned. The format of the books isn’t as important as the reading of books.

What irritated me was this:

Once upon a time, people bought books because they liked reading. Now they buy books because they like books. “All these people are really thinking about how the books are – not just what’s in them, but what they’re like as objects,” says Jennifer Cownie, who runs the beautiful Bookifer website and the Cownifer Instagram, which match books to decorative papers, and who bought a Kindle but hated it.

In general, this seems like a throwback to the days of people having libraries or bookshelves filled with books that were there to impress, not to be read. That doesn’t seem like progress to me. Books are for reading, not as a kind of art. It shouldn’t matter what the cover looks like; the story is what matters.

And I have to wonder why she didn’t like her Kindle. Was it because it was unhip or because reading on it was not pleasurable? Did she give the Kindle a chance or just abandon it right away?

Buried way down in the article was a very important statement:

The figures from the Publishing Association should be treated with some caution. They exclude self-published books, a sizable market for ebooks. And, according to Dan Franklin, a digital publishing specialist, more than 50% of genre sales are on ebook. Digital book sales overall are up 6%.

Most of the authors I read are self-published. Part of that is because there are some awesome self-published authors out there, and part is because traditional publishers often price their ebooks at or higher than the paperback editions.

There is another side to this discussion, too, and that is privacy. My husband sent me a link to a First Monday article by Clifford Lynch on reader privacy in the age of reader analytics. I will admit to not having read the whole article, but his closing thoughts include these:

At some point it’s worth asking what readers of various kinds will actually tolerate before the creepiness factor becomes overwhelming and repulsive. Suppose, as a thought experiment, that Amazon said it would share every purchaser’s e-mail address with the author of books they purchased? (Pick your own opt-in or opt-out boundary conditions). How about sharing this information with the book’s publisher? Would a discount on the purchase price or some other reward make most readers more comfortable? What conditions (enforceable or not) might be imposed on the author or the publisher regarding reuse of this purchaser information, and would this make any difference to readers’ comfort levels? What choices would customers make in such situations?

I probably don’t worry as much about privacy as I should. Do I need to worry about Amazon or Kobo selling my data? Would I be better off switching to paper books? Amazon could still sell my data if I buy my books from them.  I don’t see much way around it: we have very limited privacy anymore.

My husband loves to buy and read physical books. He only reads used books that he buys or gets from lending libraries without any paper trail. He is very concerned about privacy and, although he has had two ereaders, never got into ebooks. His approach is a fine one, I think. But it doesn’t work for me.

I love my ereaders. I love my ebooks. I buy mostly genre fiction by independent authors, so ebooks are right for me. What about you?


OK, I’m sad again!

On January 18 I received an email from Kobo stating that my replacement ereader would be shipped. So today, when I still hadn’t heard anything more, I called to inquire. I got through to someone and, after a lot of back and forth, she was able to get me a UPS tracking number. Apparently it was shipped on 1/20. That was way to long for me not to have received it. When I tried tracking the package on UPS, their site tells me that a shipping label was created on 1/19 and when it arrives at their facility they will update the tracking information. So I started a text chat with Kobo. The woman was very nice and referred my problem to the “device replacement department.” So within 24-48 business hours I should hear something back from them. Maybe.

I still prefer Kobo ereaders to Kindle, but their customer service is bad. The people I have dealt with have been nice, but they haven’t been able to solve my problem in over 3 weeks! It’s crazy.

It just occurred to me…

Every year I when I list me reading by genre, I start with non-fiction, but I seldom read more than one non-fiction book a month. So why does that come first on the list? The only reason I can come up with is a kind of vanity. As an intelligent, educated woman, I think I am “supposed” to read non-fiction. So I put it first and hope people will see that and think I am a serious reader. Truth is, it is all the other books that demonstrate how serious I am about reading. I guess I am more vain than I like to think!


I had really expected it to be hard. For so long I have worked so hard, with almost no time off, and I thought I wouldn’t be able to fill my time if I didn’t go to work anymore. (I was always more than a little driven!) Turns out I was wrong! I am quite happy not going to work. I manage to keep busy – even if mostly it is with reading. But I am cooking more and writing more and feeling a lot more relaxed.

It was definitely time, I guess!

Big changes ahead

Well, I did it. Yesterday I received an offer to teach part time this fall and I turned it down. I have been thinking since May that I was ready to retire, but I wasn’t convinced I would have the guts to really do it. But I seem to have done it. 

    I am afraid I will miss teaching a lot, but I know it was creating a lot of stress that I really don’t need. Most of the stress was self imposed, but that’s who I am. The only way to avoid the stress that I could see was to quit. And right now, at least, I am really relieved. 

    I did leave myself a little bit of an out, though. I told them I might be available in the spring. I hope by then I am so happy being retired that is don’t want to think about it. But just in case I’m not…

    I’m still around… somewhere!

    My posting this month has been even worse than usual.  I am not sure why.  I feel really stressed by my classes that started in March.  I know that is at least part of it.  Just when I think I get one class on the right track, the other one is totally not where I think it should be to do what I have planned.  I get that one straightened out, and then the first one gives me problems again.  This is week 4 of an 8-week course, so this roller coaster won’t continue too much longer.  I don’t really see it ever getting easy, though.  The students are at too many different levels.  What is appropriate for my non-reading students doesn’t work well for my students who read but are afraid to speak.  It’s a challenge balancing everything out.  And most of the time I feel pretty good about what we are doing. But it takes a lot of thought and planning.

    I also teach an online class that just started last week. I had to finish getting it ready and then deal with all the inevitable first week questions and uncertainties. I have been teaching this class for a long time, and it isn’t terribly time-consuming, but it is just one more thing to think about.  For some reason right now, anything that requires thought seems to keep me occupied far more than it should.

    And my husband has been out of town for most of the last 6 weeks, working on a house we own but hope to sell some day.  That means he isn’t here to do all the tasks he usually does.  He is great about making my life super easy on the days I teach — when he is here.  I have really noticed his absence!  I think, too, that not having him here to counterbalance my work stress has been a big part of it. He isn’t here to remind me that I don’t need to worry about things as much as I have been.

    There have been a lot of other extra activities this month, too.  Nothing bad, but just adding to my feeling of being over-extended.  I just can’t seem to focus on any subject long enough to feel like I have anything to say that is worth posting.

    It all sounds pretty lame when I read it here.  Guess I need to stop making excuses and get back to writing!

    Update on the writing

    It’s been a long time since I was brave enough to talk about my writing. Too long. But here I am to say that I think the first book is done and ready to go. We have to do one more read through, but it is all formatted and just waiting for the green light.

    I am so happy about this. It has been too long.

    Now, I just need to get the second book finished! It’s sitting at over 31,000 words, about a third done. Let’s see how it goes over the next few weeks.

    I got lost

    Well, I didn’t really get lost, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at my posts here.  I have a million excuses, but I will only burden you with a few of them.

    First of all, I didn’t settle into my new classes as quickly as I thought I might.  The first week went OK, and I thought the second week would go even better.  Instead, I had real sporadic attendance — 11 one night and 3 the next.  I planned to give some of the lowest level students some of the basics they said they needed, and they were absent.  It just made it hard to plan, and I had to do a lot of last-minute adjustments. This week isn’t starting off any better, really, but maybe it will improve.  We’ll have to wait and see.

    Then, last weekend I flew to Illinois for a belated celebration of my mother’s 89th birthday. Preparing for that took a lot of my energy and kept me distracted from posting.  Then I was gone for 4 days and didn’t go online any more than I absolutely had to.

    The final distraction, really, was losing all the October books I had posted to my reading list.  It was my fault, but that didn’t keep me from freaking out about it.  I didn’t want to have to try to recreate it all.  Eventually I was able to find out how to access revisions (It isn’t easy to do anymore!  Or at least it wasn’t for me!), but I spent two days working on it.

    So anyway, here I am, back among the living.  I hope to get back into posting.  Maybe tomorrow I will get to my October reading list.  It was another good month for reading, so it will take some time to get the post done.  But I will try to do it tomorrow.  You’ll know soon whether I do or not!

    Nothing to Celebrate

    I have carefully not read or listened to any of the hype about the 10th anniversary of Katrina.  Today I made an exception.  I read a post called KATRINAVERSARY BLUES: OF RESILIENCE TOURS, CARPETBLOGGERS & DISASTER TOURISTS.  And I am glad I did.  The author, Adrastros, starts the post with:

    The hype behind the 10th anniversary of Katrina and the subsequent flood reminds me of a flock of turkey buzzards circling the city in search of carrion.

    It’s another photo op.  It has nothing to do, really, with the disaster that was, and in some ways, still is Katrina.

    I did not live in New Orleans during Katrina.  I lived on the North Shore, where all we had to deal with was the hurricane itself.  We stayed during the storm and felt the 100 foot tall pine trees fall all around our house.  We lost power and had no water.  But we did not suffer anything like they did in parts of the city.

    We had it easy. We had lived without water and electricity before, and we could get water from the college where I worked.  My husband went back to work as soon as the roads were clear enough for him to get there, and I got paid while the college was closed. We did not lose our home. The only damage we suffered was a broken rear window on one of our cars.  But the experience of Katrina changed us forever.

    My thoughts and prayers are with those who lived through Katrina and with those who did not make it.  We need to honor the people, not use their suffering and death for some personal or political advantage.