on the joy of reading books

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – Neil Gaiman in Coraline

 

 

I’ve been a member of goodreads.com for almost five years even before amazon acquired them and I’ve been participating in their annual reading challenge almost as long.  I’ve started setting my book reading goal to 52 books a year and I must say that the word challenge should surely be emphasized.  LOL.  I missed last year’s goal by one or two books all because I picked some long books at the end of the year when I was on a roll.  I could have easily met the goal but got distracted at the last minute.  Oh well, that’s the way it goes but this year I’m just simply behind so I’m working diligently on catching up.  I’ve finished four books this weekend alone.

I totally get the whole concept of ideas encouraging people to read more as I started myself when I had just learned to read as a child.  It was an elementary school fundraiser where I had to go around the neighborhood and ask for donations for each additional book I agreed to read.  I took the whole thing serious even as a kid and I fulfilled my obligation though it was very difficult and time consuming.  I learned another important skill at that young age and that was being careful with estimates and what you commit to.  I spent many, many hours, days, and weeks reading and it set a book reading record during that young time of my life.  But amazingly, at the end of my reading marathon back then just as the beginning, I still loved reading books.

I’ve never lost that love of reading but now I read more and more eBooks.   And recently most of my reading is done in the form of listening to unabridged audio books during my many hours of drive-time to and from work.  I also use cheap wireless (bluetooth) headphones to listen while I clean house, wash dishes, exercise, and work outside in the yard although it takes some practice multitasking while listening to audiobooks and being able to comprehend and recall what’s going on in the story.  Of course I make sure I continue to read visually with ebooks and old-fashioned print books just to get the different experience each media offers.  I own many, many hundreds of printed books some in boxes and some on large book shelves a few of which are pictured in this blog post that I call book shrines.

It took me a while to accept ebooks and stop being an e-book snob but I’m finally warming to the idea.  They are just too convenient, economical, and don’t take up much space or weigh as much to not utilize to their full extent.  Occasionally, I even pull a book up on my iPod or other small device while waiting in a doctor’s office and start reading.

Here are a few pictures of my books and ebook shrines.  LOL.

IMG_0127

 

 

 

I have a few really old books assuming they aren’t fakes.  I don’t think they are worth much money either way but it’s just the idea of holding a very old book in your hands and thinking of all the many places it’s been and the people it’s met.  Each used physical book in my mind has it’s own life story in addition to the content and story inside the book itself.  I do the same thing with native American arrow heads I’ve found over the years – hold them and ponder who else held it and when and what was their life like and their surroundings.

Here is another one of my book shrines.  Most of my printed books are in boxes but I hope one day to have a library or somewhere to hold them all.  The windows 95 book for dummies belonged to my dad before he passed away.  It still has some of his notes in it and it makes me think of all the times he asked me questions about how to do something on the computer.  He was always a master checkers player and when he got a computer with dial-up one of the first things he did was played checkers against others over the Internet.  He immediately got a very high ranking.  I figured he enjoyed finally finding good competition even if he had to go digitally half way around the world since his family wasn’t any challenge for him at checkers.

I have books on just about any topic including gardening, poultry, electronics, mathematics, comics, and many more.

I used to have a hoya plant under the grow light in this room and other ornamentals.  It weaved itself almost half way around the room.  It was a tri-color similiar to this one in the picture below except it had very long vines. I don’t know if it really filters the air that much but just having such a large living plant inside seemed neat.

image 0

And last but not least and really doesn’t include all my book shrines.  I have this one in my shop.  I almost never get rid of my books except for technical books sometimes.  Although the giant turbo pascal box in the picture is one that brings back nice memories of when I was much younger.

IMG_0157

Well the weekend is almost over and I still have many chores to finish up before I can stop to rest.  We’ve had a bit of weather here with severe thunderstorms with high winds and rain so I didn’t get to chip away at all the tree debris still left over outside as a gift from hurricane Michael several months back.  So I stayed inside spring cleaning as much and as fast as I could and writing this blog post and taking pictures of course. No rest for the weary… but who needs it anyway as staying busy is it’s own reward…

 

On Writing or rather On Trying to Write

While I’m not referring to one of the few non-fiction books by Stephen King although I’ve read it more than five times, I am referring to one of my many hobby projects which is trying to get published in a Sci-Fi magazine named Analog Science Fiction.  I’ve almost finished my second story which I plan to submit to the magazine.  I’m constantly surprised at how the story evolves and takes a new direction that I couldn’t have predicted.  I don’t know that this will be the one I get published and mostly I’m not worried whether it is accepted or rejected so long as the story turns out well.  The format is short story so I can collect ideas quickly and submit them without having as much time invested as say a novel.

I’ve developed a lot of tricks during my writing journey and I thought some may have been original.  However, I’m finishing a 20 hour audio book named How Star Wars Conquered the Universe which talks a lot about how Lucas developed Star Wars ideas  and I realized my simple tricks are most likely obvious methods that many writers probably rediscover on their own.  Even so, I still enjoy reading how other people write and develop ideas and all their nifty little tricks and in my own simple ways coming up with ideas to try to pluck those pesky elusive ideas out of thin air.  One such example which is not really anything special now that I think about it is just keeping a list of interesting character names and character profiles.  I also keep other lists such as plot twists and potential settings or scenes for stories just to name a few.

I’ve also experimented with various pen and paper media (including fountain pens and ink bottles) and I have found that having many areas to sit and take in the scenery and sounds even seems to make a difference.  For electronic word processing, I’ve settled on using Ubuntu MATE Linux and LibreOffice Writer.  I have it installed on a flash drive so I can boot Linux and my writing tools on several different PCs including hybrid/convertible laptops without having to overwrite Windows that came installed on them.  Then much like with various pen and paper combinations I can pick whichever device is most convenient for a writing area such as my back yard wooden swing or a smaller metal frame swing in the front yard or a desk I have in my shop.  The flash drive not only has the tools I use on it but also saves my work.  I make routine backups of it so I don’t lose anything.  Since I don’t have wireless coverage in all these areas especially my metal walled shop, I don’t have to worry about having network access.    And while my work likely isn’t worth stealing, I don’t have to worry as much about someone getting their greedy little hands on my work before I release it since the flash drives are mostly isolated and I don’t usually have Linux connecting to the Internet.

Finally, I’ll end with an image that I found on unsplash.com that gave me the idea for this blog entry.  I included the photographer’s badge below the picture in case you want to check out more of her photos.  I’m going to keep trying to get back into a routine writing blog posts so maybe my next one will be right around the corner.  🙂


Mia Moessinger