Tag Archives: Shopping

Too Many Books On The Bookshelf

Books in the Douglasville, Georgia Borders store.

Image via Wikipedia

Careful, I’m about to be blunt.

There are too many books out there.

But I’m not going to get into some big thing over publishers and too many books to make choices and other things that I’ve read in School Library Journal and Newsweek. Instead I’m going to talk about living with too many books to read.

On the surface this sounds like a good thing but I’m sure we’ve all experienced the crippling, catatonic-rendering feeling that comes from standing in a book store and realizing that there are more books that you want to read than there are days left in your life. The immediate option is dropping out of school/quitting work and killing off those who depend on you (children, pets, elderly parents, etc.). Of course after a while you’ll realize that this is irresponsible and illegal (though you will probably get plenty of reading time behind bars so…) so I’m going to propose a new plan.

New Plan!

Instead of dropping off the world and murder let’s look at smart planning (yes, I was listening to Marketplace Money today, why?) To cope with that overwhelming catatonic feeling I was talking about earlier I’ve developed my Book Budget, better known to my whiteboard as The List.

The concept is simple. On my list are seven books. These are the seven books that I must read before moving on to something else. That means that when someone recommends a book to me or I read a great review I can’t just drop everything and go find a copy of this new book. Basically this is just me trying to exercise some self-control.

But say! What if I want to read  Enterprise: The First Adventure but it’s not on my list? Simple, I carefully look over the list to see if there are any books on there that I want to read less than Enterprise, if there aren’t on the list then I put Enterprise on my Shelfari to read list and ignore it until a spot opens. (As it turns out I was able to switch it for A Wizard of Earthsea– it just wasn’t working out for me.)

Basically this stops me from trying to read fifty books at once (I have been caught trying to balance nearly ten books at once and just never finished any of them.)

If you want to look at my short list click here or on the “My Short List” link up top. What books are on your short list?

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How Much Is That Book Worth?

A Picture of a eBook

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve subscribed to Nathan Bransfords’ blog mostly for his Friday special, “This Week in Books”. Last week’s post alerted me to two new and wonderful things. The first is this Great Gatsby classic (online!) Nintendo game which woke up both my inner nerds: Nintendo and books. Hooray!

The second alert makes up the meat and potatoes of this post. In his post Nathan Bransford contained a link to a survey regarding how much you would want to pay for an e-book. I’d recommend you go take the survey and then report back here to finish reading this post. (If you’d like to skip me rambling on about how much I’d be willing to pay and why, just go the survey and spend the rest of the day playing The Great Gatsby.)

After careful consideration I decided that the very most I’d be willing to pay for an e-book would be $11.99.  The thing is that in 2007 the average price for an adult hardcover fiction book was $27.47 (all my average prices will be coming from SLJ) and the average price for a fiction trade paperback was $15.64. If we use the $11.99 cost we have a savings of $15.48 and $3.65, respectively. Those are pretty nice savings, I’m sure we all can agree.

But I’m not saying that $11.99 is the uniform price for all books, whether they’re Steig Larssons’ or General Tacticus’, but that it’s the most I would be willing to pay. If I controlled the world (or at least the world of books, I could settle for that) I would introduce a model of scaled costs. Just as new releases are printed first in the more expensive hardcovers before being released as the cheaper trade paperbacks I would have new books available for $11.99 and after a year or so they would then be moved down to $9.99 (this is a fairly arbitrarily picked price and one that I would be willing to negotiate on). As for books in the public domain, like Chaucer and whatnot, I would encourage e-book distributors to make these books available for free but would not mind paying a few bucks for them (kind of like the Dover Thrift Editions.)

And thus, with great reluctance to not go into the ethics of electronic commerce (*ehum* music piraters *ehum*) and also with an interest to hear what you are willing to pay, I end this post.

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“The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet” [Review]

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

Image via Wikipedia

Once again I’m setting a book aside without finishing it and once again I have no regrets. On Wednesday the 26th I finally decided that The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet really wasn’t for me. Which I found sad since it came so highly recommended (“Oh! You should read this! The main character is like you! You’ll Love it!” Bullshit) but I just could NOT get into this little novel.

My trouble revolved around my dislike for Mr. Temcumsah Sparrow Spivet himself, or at least the author’s portrayal of him. One thing that authors seem to struggle with is remembering childhood. More precisely, they struggle with placing an appropriate age for the maturity of their character. T.S. Spivet was one of those characters. While I could accept that he was a twelve year old prodigy with maps or whatever he simply didn’t sound or feel like a twelve year old. I’m fine with characters being younger then me and being smarter then me but the level at which T.S. Spivet was expressing himself was simply too mature for someone his age. I simply could not suspend my disbelief.

The other matter that turned me off was the writing style. Reif Larson seems like a nice writer but he also seems incapable of making up his mind. I found that he seemed to want to use every metaphor and writing trick that came to mind and then would even jump around between those from time to time. Honestly it felt like the book could have used some major editing for style. The best I can say for it was that it was quirky.

2/5 stars out of 5.

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Top 10 Books of 2010

Portrait of Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

My favorite read this year. --Image via Wikipedia

I’m jumping on the bandwagon and am publishing a list of my favorite books I read this year. (Hyperlinks are to blog posts that I wrote about the book.)

  1. To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf
  2. The Art of Eating MFK Fisher
  3. I’m a Stranger Here Myself Bill Bryson
  4. Mrs. Bridge Evan S. Connell
  5. The World From Beginnings to 4000 BCE Ian Tattersall
  6. The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne Brian Moore
  7. Tess of the D’Ubervilles Thomas Hardy
  8. Beowulf Seamus Hinley’s translation (bonus points for beautiful printing)
  9. S. John Updike
  10. The Serpent and the Rainbow Wade Davis

I was originally just going to publish the list but the compiling of it was such a bizarre experience that I feel compelled to write about it.

As I watched books that I loved getting bumped off the list (particularly The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart) I realized that the books that were remaining were not the books that I had most loved reading. While most of them were such fun to read the books that remained were the ones that had the greatest emotional response from me as I looked across my Shelfari account. Some of them reminded me of the burst of excited intellectual energy that I got as I read them (The World from Beginning…, The Serpent and…) while others brought back the painful stories that carried a sorrow that was still as fresh (The Lonely Passion…, Mrs. Bridge, Tess…). Of course there were the stories that I still think of daily (To the Lighthouse, The Art of…, I’m a Stranger, Mrs. Bridge.)

As I was compiling this years list I was struck by one thought: Damn, this was one good year for books.

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Nice Sweater

Trousers

These trousers fit, they are not my trousers. Image via Wikipedia

If my grandfather taught me one thing- ok, there’s also the lesson he taught me about working hard, the joys of gardening, the importance of frugality and many other nuggets of life lessons- it’s to always dress your best while travelling. I have distinct memories of my grandfather’s pressed pants and jacket and polished shoes as we stood in airport security for our trip to Italy six or so years ago, he was the best dressed non-European on the flight. Honestly my grandfather never sat me down to tell me: Grandchild, if there’s one thing I’m going to teach you it’s to dress your best while travelling. It’s just one of those things that I absorbed from being with him- I also absorbed that Rumsfeld was a jackass and that cutting pot roast with an electric blade is scary.

The question is why is it so important to dress snappily while driving, boating, planeing or training around the globe? I can think of a few reasons.

The first is the image that you are trying to convey. When you dress sharp you convey to those around you that you are a serious traveler and not some putz who is going to complain that the steward won’t make him a ninth martini. You should (depending on your idea of dressing nicely) convey a certain calmness that is much needed in these current travel times. Now I’m not saying that you’re going to get through customs easier or that you’ll get a free drink at the Amtrack cafe car but you just might get a cute security guard to give you a friendly fondle instead of a painful prod.

My other reason for dressing up is simply the fact that we don’t have enough time to dress up. Maybe it’s simply northern Vermont speaking but shouldn’t we take advantage of every opportunity to break out the pearls and green polyester pants? (Everyone has their own ideas of dressing nicely, alright?)

Which begs the question as to why I was wearing a slightly torn sweater and far too short tweed pants on the southbound Amtrak today.

Yesterday in class I was planning my outfit. Brown slip on shoes. Socks (rather dressy for me). Tweed pants. Belt to keep said pants up. Tight yellow Shakespeare shirt. Purple cardigan. Owl necklace from Belize. Kinda-tartan-or-maybe-plaid scarf. As I started packing last night the first fatal flaw reared its ugly head: Where the Hell was my purple cardigan? I searched high and low, bathroom to sleeping room, it was no where to be found. And while this did remind me that piling my clothes around the room based off of when they were last washed is not the most efficient method of storing clothes I never found that damn cardigan. With a sigh I consigned myself to the soft green knit sweater and no necklace (the colors would be all weird with the green).

This morning the second fatal flaw struck. My tweed pants come down to an inch or two above my ankles. They may be lovely pants but they look like I’m wearing short pants and I feel ridiculous wearing them. What does that leave me with?

Brown suede shoes, kinda matching brownish socks, too short tweed pants, Ben and Jerry’s vintage tee, fuzzy green sweater with faux crest on it,  kinda-not-really-tartan scarf worn loose,  and my adorable face. All in all not my worst outfit. Unless I stand up. If I stand up I look like Urkel.

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Maybe They Don’t All Need To Die

Yesterday I tweeted a 139 character tweet that ran along the lines of:  Dear men and women’s cardigan shawl collars, please die. I can’t remember my exact wording and since I was up past midnight (thanks NaNoWriMo, by the way you can also go die) I’m to lazy to go and check.

It is now my unpleasant duty to recant my tweet, or at least part of it.

"I just love my shawl collared sweaters!"-Senator Palpatine, Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Senate and general ne'er do well.

See the truth of the matter is that I don’t want all shawl collars to go and die I just want the ugly ones to go die in a ditch. The collars that I despise with most fibers in my being are those massive bulky ones that look like the ceremonial garb of some Star Wars representative to the Galactic Senate.  These collars are the ones that start narrow around the collar bones but as the move towards the back they grow larger and larger until there’s a massive knit grub laying on your neck. Like a teacher in my school, she has this white sweater with the largest grub you’ve ever seen hanging around her neck.

As you’ve gotten by now I am not a fan of these massive shawl collars. They are bulky and seem completely unnecessary to me. Sure they may protect your neck but a scarf is meant to do the exact same thing and doesn’t leave the front all open and exposed. Some might tell me that fashion doesn’t need to practical and then point to my long scarfs that only get hooked on things and are completely not practical as I wear them loose. To those I have this to say: At least my (few) impracticalities don’t make me look like I’ve got a grub drapped around my neck.

Why would I bother to devote a blog post to this trivial issue? Because in my world it’s not trivial. I’ve spent many an hour fuming and crying as image after image of dastardly collar passes before me on my Svpply account. The real question is if you think this issue is so trivial why are you still reading this?

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Things I Liked In September That You’ll Like In October

”]Family watching television, c. 1958

Drawn from all my September posts here are my recommendations (fun fact: clicking on each item will take you to the post I referenced it in):

Books:

  1. “The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks”
  2. “To the Lighthouse”

Television:

  1. “Bones”
  2. “The French Chef”

Blogs:

  1. After I Quit My Day Job

Food:

  1. Annie’s Mac and Cheese
  2. Seitan
  3. Quorn Chik’n Nuggets

Margaret Warner:

  1. Margaret Warner

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