Posts Tagged ‘reading’

I worked in a library for two years, in college, and so I always find the discussions about secure information and privacy very interesting. Personally, the only reason I wouldn’t want someone to have my reading/book buying history is because I’d have to be embarrassed about how many romance and kids books I read. But I understand, and support, the principle – there is no way, without strong evidence of CRIMINAL activity, that anyone has a right to anyone else’s reading records.

That’s why I was glad to see that Amazon is not lightly handing over purchasing histories to North Carolina(in this article). I can understand wanting Amazon’s financial data for tax reasons, but knowing the individual books for each person? There’s no reason for that. And while the library’s policy about not giving out any patron information is a little more comprehensible, as they are a public institution, Amazon seems to understand their duty to their customers too.

Amazon is suing North Carolina to insure that North Carolina cannot get those purchasing histories of individuals. While Amazon is a large company, that does not mean that the same principles of privacy shouldn’t occur at some level. In fact, I would argue, it’s even more important – those histories show the books that people found important enough to buy, not just borrow. I borrow books from the library all the time that I only read a few pages of, but I BUY books I usually already know I like (books that mean something more to me than a causal read). I expect that a lot of other people do the same.

Usually, the scope and expanse of the Amazon realm scares me (they have so much power over book buying!), but in this case, I’m supporting Amazon. Go AMAZON!


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I recently decided that I’m a coward when it comes to reading. I’m not adventurous, or brave, or intrepid in any way at all. Instead, I often stick to the same genres, same authors, same series, etc. I am one of those people who read the same book over and over and over, but (to quote from You’ve Got Mail) do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave?

In my book marketing class the other day, we were discussing the efficacy of book blurbs on the back cover…do we buy books based on the description? I answered yes, of course, but the truth is that I buy books based on whether I’ve heard of the author, read another book by that author or in that series, and whether I like the genre of that book.

I honestly don’t often venture into the Fiction section of the bookstore or the library. I stick to the areas I know: fantasy and science fiction, YA, cooking, mystery, etc. I like these sections, but I think it’s more because I am overwhelmed by the number of books and authors I don’t know in the fiction section. I’ve been reading the other books for so long that I’m familiar with many of them, and I feel comfortable there.

I don’t know why I’m so reluctant to venture forth from my tidy little hobbit hole of reading habits. One of my favorite things about the library is that I can bring a book home, read five pages, and then return the book if I dislike it. Part of it, I think, is that I started reading very young and read several books that I shouldn’t have read until I was older. I read The Color Purple, for example, when I was in fifth grade – way too young to be reading about the subjects covered in that book – and so now I have this fear of somehow reading something that will traumatize me.

Which is just silly for a grown woman. I read a fantasy book recently where the main character has a very vivid nightmare about being raped, and I stopped reading. Apparently I’m one of those people who cannot handle the harsh realities of literature. Fiction is too “real” for me.

But I’m going to try harder to venture out of my comfort zone, to try and read books by authors unknown on subjects as yet unexplored. I owe it to myself, and to the authors, and to the art of writing – books aren’t always meant to be cozy and happy. Sometimes we all need to read something unfamiliar and uncomfortable, and it’s those kinds of books that help us most to grow. I don’t remember a lot of the books I read in childhood, unless the plot disturbed me in some way, and I think I remember those books because they taught me something or made me think. Which isn’t a bad thing at all…so why have I been avoiding it?

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Growing up, I read in bed every night. This wouldn’t have been a problem except that I always fell asleep mid-read. Meaning: my glasses didn’t come off, but would hang lopsided from my face, my light wouldn’t turn off, but would continue to shine above my head, and my dad couldn’t just go to sleep, but had to get up and turn off my light and put my glasses on the bedside table. Thanks Daddy.

Now, I still do the same thing. On nights my boyfriend goes out, I often read on the couch of oursmall apartment, coffee in one hand and blanket secured around my legs. Luckily, I seem to drift off after I’ve finished the coffee. Then, my boyfriend comes home and gently picks my book off the floor from where’s it’s fallen out of my hands, and, like my dad, turns out the lights so I can continue to sleep the sleep of the well-read.

This is just an introduction to the actual purpose of this blog posting: I just found a site called Flashlight Worthy. As a huge advocate for reading until falling asleep, whether under the covers with a flashlight or not, I think this is a great site. It’s actually a very appropriate find because I just posted a couple reading lists myself yesterday. And that’s the main purpose of Flashlight Worthy: to give readers lists of similar books.

Here’s three intriguing lists I found that I now plan to incorporate into my almost daily HOLDS ritual on the Multnomah County Library website:

1) A Practical Fiction List for Surviving After the Apocalypse
2) Creepy Houses That Must Be Explored
) The Most Romantic Young Adult Books of All Time

Anyway, GREAT site, great lists – and I’ll probably post more lists as I discover them. If you’ve read any of the books on these lists, be sure to let me know. 🙂

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Last year, my friend Kyle and I gave each other lists of 10 books to read over the summer. Here was his list for me:

1. Cry, the Beloved country-Alan Paton
2. Battle Royale-Koshuea Takami
3. Starship troopers-Robert A. Heinlein.
4. Kafka on the shore-Haruki Murakami
5. The city of dreaming books-Walter Moers
6. The painted Veil-W. Somerset Maugham
7. The Forsyte Saga-John Galsworthy (Just the first one. totally stand alone.)
8. I capture the castle-Dodie Smith
9. Open Secrets-Alice Munro
10. Portnoy’s Complaint-Philip Roth
11. Underworld-Don Delillo
12. To say nothing of the dog-Connie Willis

And here was mine for him:

1) Notes from Underground by Dostoevsky (Fic)/
2) A History of Love by Krauss (Fic)
3) A Wizard of Earthsea by Le Guin (Sci-fi) (first in a series, but a great stand alone)
4) Paradise Lost by Milton (Epic Poem)
5) Tell Me by Addonizio (Poetry)
6) Whale Talk by Crutcher (YA)
7) Lolita by Nabokov (Fic)
8 ) She Who Is by Johnson (Non-fic)
9) Tangerine by Bloor (YA)
10) The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley (Sci-Fi)

I think reading lists are great – you can learn a lot about someone and their literary taste from the reading list they might provide. Plus, then you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to talk about when you next see your friend, because you can talk about the books! Go forth and make your own lists!

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