Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Discovering Someone New

When I worked in bookstores (not the Borders headquarters, but actual bookstores) back in the 90s, I loved discovering new authors. My absolute favorite thing about discovering new authors was when I found someone I loved … who had already written a bunch of other books. There was nothing like binge reading fun authors like James Patterson (back when he only – and actually – only wrote about one character), Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton, John Kellerman, Faye Kellerman, etc.

And since our bookstore allowed employees to borrow hardcover books (to help us keep up on the latest without having to buy them – we didn’t get paid much), I didn’t have to wait to get them from the library. I could read them right in a row. Bliss.

TNBT_pblgWhat’s amazing is that now, even after being an adult reader for 20+ years, this still happens. I still manage to find an established author that I haven’t read before. It’s kind of surprising that it still happens, actually.

My latest “discovery” is Jennifer Weiner. I think I read one of her books a couple years ago, and then earlier this year I read Then Came You. But it wasn’t until I read The Next Best Thing last week (in two days, no less – quite a feat when one has three young kids and works full time!) that I realized I love this author! I can’t wait to get to the library and pick up something else by her. (I thought about buying one for my Kindle – instant gratification! – but that’s a habit I really cannot afford. So I’ll either find something in the library or get in virtual line behind numerous others in the library’s electronic book site.)

What’s YOUR favorite “binge reading” experience?

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I’ve Joined the Dark Side

I never wanted an e-reader.

During my 10+ year career at Borders, we tried to move into the e-reader market, unsuccessfully for the most part. Amazon, of course, cornered the market, with Barnes & Noble another big player. In fact, the rise of e-readers sold elsewhere was a big contributor to me losing my job and Borders – to whom I always remained loyal – eventually closing for good last year.

I never wanted an e-reader.

To get one would have been contributing to Borders’ downfall, and besides, I really didn’t want one – I love physical books so much, and couldn’t imagine liking an e-reader. And besides, you can’t really read one when you’re taking a nice long bubble bath, can you?

I never wanted an e-reader.

But I got one.

Tim got me a Kindle Touch for Christmas. Adam knew he had gotten it, and one day at lunch, Adam said to me, “Mom, would you ever want a Kindle?” I replied, “I NEVER want an e-reader of any kind!.” Oops – I could tell by the look on Adam’s face that Tim had gotten me just that for Christmas.

The day we before we were planning to exchange Christmas presents, Tim confirmed that he had gotten me a Kindle and said that if I didn’t want it, he’d take it back and not even give it to me.

I thought about it and said, “What the heck. I’ll give it a whirl!”

And guess what? By the end of the day, I loved it! I’ve been reading more since I got the Kindle than I have in ages. And Adam loves it, too – he borrows it most nights at bedtime and falls asleep reading it. (I predict a Kindle of his own at some point in the future, depending on how his grades go.)

Thank goodness our library participates in an e-book service. It’s waaaay to easy to purchase a book while sitting on the couch and literally be able to read it instantly! Way too tempting.

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WWW Wednesday

A nice, quick little thing I stole from The Gal.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? Port Mortuary, by Patricia Cornwell. (I’ll steal this comment from Gal as well:  Patricia Cornwell and I have a love/hate relationship. I’m so fond of Kay Scarpetta that I keep returning to the series, even though I’m invariably disappointed by her later efforts.)

• What did you recently finish reading? The Secret Lives of Hoarders by Matt Paxton (“extreme cleaning specialist” from the TV show Hoarders). Actually very interesting and enlightening. And I’ve been on a bit of a cleaning tear since reading it, of course.

• What do you think you’ll read next? Mystery: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman. I first discovered the Alex Delaware books when I was working at Schuler Books 18 (gulp!) years ago. I’m catching up on the latest one (as well as the latest Patricia Cornwell/Kay Scarpetta books) now that I’ve got my Kindle. Looking forward to reading this one.

I liberated this from Kwizgiver via The Gal. But if you want to play along yourself, you should click here.

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The Book Thief, Markus Zusak, PaperbackToday’s happiness is all about reading. I’ve been an avid reader for most of my life, but I confess that I don’t read as much anymore – not since Adam was born 10 years ago, and certainly not since I got my first laptop four years ago (which meant we had two computers in the family and I didn’t have to share with Tim any longer). But when I do read – especially when I read something I really like – I wonder why I don’t read more.

I had that feeling this week when I read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak for book group. I started it Sunday, with the intention of reading 100+ pages (it’s a long book!) a night until I finished, hopefully in time for tomorrow night’s book group meeting. I finished it today at lunchtime – I couldn’t put it down! It was one of those books that I can’t wait to get back to, and at the same time, I don’t want to finish – because then I’ll be done with it. You bookworms know what I mean.

I’ve got another book waiting up by my bed (a Jodi Picoult book my mom lent me a while back) and I’m going to get started on it tonight.

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I said goodbye to an old friend last night. We’ve had a long and sometimes rocky relationship and even broke it off a couple of years ago, but I’ve remained loyal to the end. Sadly, this dear friend is meeting its demise, and the kids and I said our goodbyes last night.

I’m referring to Borders, of course. After about five years of struggling sales, etc. the company has gone bankrupt and will be closing all stores within weeks. Liquidation sales – complete with garish signs – started at all stores this moring.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while (I know at least a couple of you have), you know that I worked for Borders for a long time. More than 11 years, in fact – one year at a store and more than 10 years at the home office in Ann Arbor. (And in the years between Borders store and home office, I worked at a Borders “customer store” – Schuler Books – for four years, just for good measure.)

You may also remember that I was laid off from Borders two years ago. So why the loyalty, you may ask? Simple: the people. Oh sure, you always hear, “It’s the people that make working at X company so special.”

But Borders was the real deal. From my very first day as a 23-year-old bookseller to my very last day as a seasoned corporate communicator, I was surrounded by smart, witty, often sarcastic (in a good way), dedicated people who made it easy to go to work every day. From the lowest-paid booksellers and customer service staff at the home office all the way up to the execs, we worked hard and had fun. In fact, Borders employees feel such a connection to each other that more than 4,000 have joined a Facebook that was created TWO DAYS ago for former and soon-to-be former employees. (And there are 2,225 posts already.)

And then there are the actual stores. Adam and I used to go on “dates” to Borders. We’d share a slice of lemon pound cake and a triple-chocolate hot chocolate in the cafe, then we’d browse to our heart’s content. I usually ended up buying him more books than I had planned, but it’s hard to say no when your kid’s begging you for the latest in a favorite book series or some unexpected book that he just has to have. Allie joined us once she got a little bigger (and easier to corral while in the store). I’ve read her many a story while sitting on the chairs in the children’s section. Jenny has been too, but she won’t remember.

If you’ve ever had “your” Borders store, you know how special they were. There’s a reason that whenever I told someone that I worked at Borders, I always heard replies like, “Oh, I just LOVE Borders!” or “My mom has me take her there every time she’s in town.” etc. It was just that kind of a place.

The big kids and I went to our favorite Borders for one last shopping trip last night. (The stores will be open for at least a few weeks more, but I can’t bear to be in them once the “going out of business” signs are posted everywhere.) We had a snack in the cafe – had to make do with a snickerdoodle and juice – stayed longer than we meant to, browsed to our hearts’ content, bought more than we intended, and had a nice but bittersweet time. Adam even found books three and four of a series that he’s been searching for. I found myself reluctant to leave, and was a weepy mess before we got back out to the car, but it was a perfect last visit.

We’ll move on. I’ve got another job (working for my Borders boss, I’m happy to say), we’ll find somewhere else to buy books. But Borders will always have a special place in our hearts.

One last snack (they were out of lemon pound cake, sadly).

Please can I get this one, Mom?

Allie admiring the American girl books. She’ll take one of each, please.

Ah, there’s our Book Boy in true form.

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Just What I Needed

The HelpI don’t get out much.

Oh, I leave the house. I do work full-time outside the home, have lots of errands to run, shop regularly (read: grocery shop and shop for things for the house and the kids), and participate in car seat check events every month or so in the summer. But I don’t often go anywhere just for me.

About six weeks ago, I got an email from an acquaintance from my old job at Borders’ HQ (she’s also a “friend” on Facebook). She invited me to join her already-established book group. I debated for a few days (anyone who knows me in person knows that I’m shy and insecure) but finally decided to join. Tim and the kids were all for it.

We read The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which is an excellent book. I actually read it a couple of months before joining the book group, so there was no pressure to read it in a short time span. It lends itself really well to discussion, too.

My first meeting with the group was last night. It was terrific. There were three people I knew at least slightly from my old job (plus one more who couldn’t make it), so right off the bat I felt at home and knew there would be some good discussion. We stayed on topic for a bit, strayed far off topic, back and forth. It was a lively discussion, and I can’t wait until next month’s meeting.

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Today’s happiness involves reading to one of my kids. Not a surprising activity in and of itself, but who I was reading to was a little surprising.

Book Boy was bored, and started grumbling that I never do anything with just him. I called him over and asked him what he wanted to do with just me. Did he want to go with me the next time I go grocery shopping (both big kids like this)? Did he want me to play a game with just him after dinner? Etc. etc.

After a bit of hemming and hawing, he finally said just one word: “Read!”

I told him to go get a book, and he came back with one of the Foxtrot anthologies he’d co-opted from my bookshelves months ago and read many times since. He sat down next to me, opened the book to a random page, and handed it to me. I was only able to read to him for about 10 minutes before we were interrupted (both girls were up, after all) but it was nice. I’ll have to remember that Book Girl isn’t the only one who might like a bedtime story.

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See full size imageIt’s obvious to all that Book Boy is a little geek. He loves Harry Potter, Star Wars, graphic novels, super heroes. His latest interest is Greek mythology, spurred by the Greek mythology included in the Percy Jackson series that he recently read.

But Little Sister – age 4-1/2 – is clearly following in his footsteps. She enjoys “reading” over BB’s shoulder when he reads a graphic novel – I swear the first book she learns to read will be a graphic novel, plays “Ultimate Alliance” (super hero game) with him in the back yard, etc.

This evening, she and I were looking at the pictures in a biography of Stan Lee (Spider-Man creator – BB is doing a report on him). She named all the super heroes we saw – Spider-Man, Hulk, Silver Surfer, Fantastic Four, and Wolverine – but made me stop when we saw Superman.

“What’s he doing in this book?!” she said.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“He’s not Marvel, he’s DC!” she informed me. (For the uninformed, DC Comics include Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and other Justice League heroes. The heroes I mentioned previously are Marvel Comics. The two never mingle.)

I actually knew what she meant, thanks to BB’s quizzes – he finds great humor on quizzing me on whether a hero is DC or Marvel and laughing when I don’t know. I know all the major heroes now, but don’t do quite as well when he gets to the minor heroes.

Can’t wait to see what the future holds for my little geeks.

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Like Mother, Like Son

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series #1) by Rick Riordan: Book CoverI did it. My father did it. My mom probably even did it, though I don’t specifically remember doing it.

And last night, Book Boy did it for the first time.

I’m referring to reading, of course – staying-up-until-you-can’t-keep-your-eyes-open reading.

He was reading The Lightning Thief (the first in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series). He started it Monday night when I brought it home from the library, but read the vast majority of the book last night after dinner. We already knew that school was canceled today due to weather, so as usually we told him he could stay up reading as late as he wanted. Usually that means 9:30 or 10.

But last night, he was determined to finish the book – all 300 or so pages that he had left to read. He didn’t make it all the way through, but did read until 11:30 when he practically collapsed on the couch.

Now, that’s not completely surprising, considering that there’s a family history of staying up late reading. I can remember my dad reading until 4 a.m. or later just to finish a book, and I used to stay up until 1 a.m. reading even though I had to get up for work at 5:15.

But … today, BB got UP at 6:00 to finish his book! I never did that.

Now we just have to wait for book #2 to come in at the library. (Poor kid is #8 on the waiting list.)

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That’s My Boy!

Book Boy stayed home sick from school yesterday. It was nothing major – just a cold – but he was miserable with sneezing and coughing. He spent a good part of the day curled up in bed, reading. He was reading a book called Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go, which I had brought home from work in the old days, when I used to work for Borders. I enjoyed the book when I read it last year, and was glad to see that he had finally picked it up.

Imagine my surprise and pleasure when, in late afternoon, he told me that he had read the entire 304-page book that day! “That’s my boy,” I thought.

But wait, there’s more! He told me how excited he was that there was already another book written in the series, and asked me to reserve it from the library right then. He’s discovering early the joys of “old faithful” authors.

(We also reserved the first book in the Percy Jackson series, which he asked about after seeing the trailer for the movie. I’m hoping he likes it, because I know there are already several written in that series as well.)

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