5 Reasons I Don’t Like Hardbacks (And One Reason I Do)

IMG_9156When I used to work in mobile crisis, we periodically had downtime. One day, when my partner was out for the day, I worked with an older guy. When he asked if I wanted to go to a bookstore, I couldn’t say “yes!” loud enough.

We ended up in this dim, narrow bookstore which mostly had hardback books. It smelled the way old bookstores should: book glue, dust, and leather. This guy explained that he liked this store because they had so many hardbacks, and he could get them “wrapped.” As in, wrapped in some kind of plastic to preserve the cover.

I was perplexed. This might be a naive thing to say, but I didn’t think people voluntarily bought hard backed books. I thought people only bought hardbacks when they couldn’t wait for the paperback. And in the Kindle age, even that’s not necessary.

Another friend of mine prefers hardbacks because she likes to keep things neat and new-looking, and hardbacks are easier to do that with. I suppose I should be a good supporter of other authors and buy the hardbacks, but I’m just not into them. Even if I find a cheap copy of something I want at Goodwill, if it’s in hardback, I’ll probably pass.

  1. They take up too much room on my bookshelf. I only have a limited amount of space, and I want to maximize the number of books they can house.
  2. They’re too big/ bulky/ heavy. Hardbacks are heavy! I have to hold them two-handed, which is annoying, since I like to read when I eat, am in the bathtub, sometimes when I’m outside playing with the dogs. Plus, hardbacks weigh down my purse and make it feel like I’m carrying bricks.
  3. The paper cover! Do I leave it on and let it get raggedy? (I’m really hard on books) Or do I take it off, likely put it in a safe place (so safe I can’t find it) and then lose it?
  4. I have to wait. Or buy it twice. I wanted to buy Our Dark Duet when it was released back in July, but I have This Savage Song (the first in the series) in paperback. Since I prefer series to match, when possible, I knew that no matter how I bought it, I was going to have to re-buy it in paperback. The library wouldn’t get it quickly enough to suit me. So… I went with Kindle. It doesn’t take up any room on my shelves, and I won’t have to get rid of it when I buy it in paperback.
  5. They’re not recyclable. This isn’t a huge issue for me because the idea is that I’ll keep my books. But I know, from reading bookstore blogs, that sometimes they throw out books because there are just too many of them. The DaVinci Code and Twilight come to mind. (I’m not hating on either of these books; I just remember the article identified these two as ones they get too many of.)

A caveat:

Hardbacks are more durable. They’re normally made from better paper, and the binding is put together better. So, if I owned my collection in hardback, I wouldn’t have tape holding together my copies of Watership Down and Lightning (by Dean Koontz). I actually own Harry Potter and most Dean Koontz books in both hardback and paperback for that reason.

Are you Team Hardback or Team Paperback?

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B is for Bigwig

IMG_8307.JPGHello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z! Thanks for stopping by.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

I love the book Watership Down, by Richard Adams, about a group of rabbits who travels from their home when one rabbit prophecies a disaster.

One of the characters I’ve always been most interested in is Bigwig. Of all the characters, he has what I believe is the biggest character arc.

He goes along with the main characters, Hazel and Fiver, partly because he believes in the prophecy, but partly to escape what he believes is unfairness and favoritism. At first, he’s kind of a bully at times, short-tempered and sharp-tongued. For him, life is black and white.

As the story progresses, he’s shown to be brave and kind. He might bully someone who annoys him, but he also protects the weaker. He complains at times, but he does the job. He’s honest, acknowledging when someone helps him, but his honesty also means that he says things that are hurtful at time.

There’s a scene early on in the book where he’s hurt and almost dies. I cringe every time this scene happens (and I’ve read this book many times), and wonder how different the book would have been without him. I can’t even imagine it.

That’s a good character.

Who’s your favorite character in Watership Down? And if you haven’t read it, what are you waiting for?

To Buy or Not to Buy… That is the Question…

img_6614Actually, even though the title of the post is to buy or not, that’s not really the question.  The question is whether to keep them once bought.

I’m a little bit of a hoarder.  I know people who change out their wardrobes seasonally, and have no trouble getting rid of old clothes, but I figure that if I buy it, I should keep it.

That’s why I have thousands of books.  Literally, thousands.

I try not to buy books.  I really try.  I use my local library for both ebooks and paper books.  But when I buy a book, I prefer to have the physical copy.

When I was attempting to shelve my huge collection, I started giving a lot of thought to clutter, and how much I hate it.  I started to really think about why I own so many books.  I haven’t read all of them.  Some of them were given to me by people who know I like books.  Some of them are well-loved books I’ve read a million times or might read again.  So, how do I decide which stay and which ones go?  I’ve made up a few rules.

If it has sentimental value.  My grandfather didn’t read many books, but he read and loved Marley and Me.  I enjoyed that book too, but even if I didn’t, I’d still own a copy.  It always makes me think of him.  And fairy tales make me think of my grandma.

If I’m going to re-read it.  I’ve read Watership Down more times than I can count.  So much so that I recently had to buy a new copy, as my old one was falling apart.  I love books that bear those kinds of marks of how well-loved they are.  My copy of Pride and Prejudice has post-it flags stuck in my favorite parts, so if I’m having a bad day, I can visit my favorite parts of the story and get a quick mood boost.

If it’s a classic.  I’m working my way through many of the classics, and even the ones I didn’t like, I’m keeping on my shelf.  I figure that it it’s stood up that much over the years, I may want to revisit it at a different point in my life.  I tried reading 1984 for the first time a few years ago, and though I recognized that it was a good book and I should like it, I just couldn’t stay interested.  Two years later, I picked it up and sped through it.  What’s going on in my life absolutely affects what I read and how I perceive it.

If it’s a “reference” book.  This is kind of a tricky one.  I write speculative fiction, so having books full of ghost stories, myths and legends, on my shelves is good practice.  I never know where I might find inspiration.

I haven’t read it yet, but I plan to.  I’m a sucker for used bookstores.  Sometimes I just have to pick something up because it looks good, but then I don’t get to it for awhile.  I’m okay with that.  But there are some books that I’ll probably never get to, and I need to learn to let them go.

These rules are flexible and subject to change.  But I’ve already taken two boxes of books to my local Half-Price books, and it feels good to know I’m reducing some of the clutter.

Do you buy books or get them from the library?  How do you decide which to keep and which to get rid of?

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Here's a cat picture, for absolutely no reason. Photo credit: Doree Weller

Here’s a cat picture, for absolutely no reason.
Photo credit: Doree Weller

Once I read one book by an author, if I don’t like it, I’m unwilling to try another book by that author.

I know that’s unfair.  Dean Koontz is my all time favorite author, yet there are some of his books I don’t like at all.  Same goes for Stephen King.  Though I loved Watership Down, I’ve never read another Richard Adams book.

So, I know authors can be hit or miss.  Not every book that a good author writes will appeal to me.  But my gut reaction to reading other books by the same author is “ugh, no.”  On the flip side of that, I’m more likely to stick with an author I know I like, even if the book isn’t filling me with joy.  Remember I mentioned Dean Koontz?  I read all his books, whether I love them or not.  I’m loyal like that.

Because of my book club and various book challenges I’m participating in, I’ve actually been reading more different things, and it’s a good thing.  I’ve found some new books I’ve loved, and some I most emphatically have not.  But it’s always good to try new flavors and textures to expand my palate.  Plus, there’s something invaluable about being able to discuss books with other people.  I’m not surrounded by very many readers, and discussing a book as if it were real, critically analyzing character development and the events that surround them, is stimulating and allows me to see the book from other perspectives.  That alone will push me to finish a book I otherwise may not have.

How about you?  Are you willing to give an author another try?  Or are you like me, telling an author, “I’m just not that into you”?

S is for Stories

So many books!  They're everywhere.

So many books! They’re everywhere.

For me, it’s all about the story.

I don’t care what you’re talking about: books, movies, people.  I love a good story.

I’m more liberal than most people about what makes a good story.  I don’t really care if there are plot holes or if the story has been done before.  I just care about how well the story is told.  Ordinary can be interesting in the same way that extraordinary can be boring.

A lot of people complained that Avatar was a cliched story, but I loved it.  Even if it’s a story I’ve heard before, I liked the way it was told, and it had enough new and interesting elements to keep it fresh.  People complained that Twilight had poor writing, but if it did, I didn’t notice when I read it.  I was too drawn in my the story to worry about the fact that Bella and Edward have an unhealthy relationship dynamic.  The story was interesting and fun.

I like literature.  I like reading about psychological theories.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy things at the other end of the spectrum, and everything in between.  As long as there’s an interesting story, I don’t mind if it’s cliche.  I enjoy stories I’ve read before, and I enjoy reading them in different forms, from different perspectives.  But then, I’m also the person who can read the same book over and over again and still have emotional reactions to it as if I were reading it for the first time.  (Where the Red Fern Grows makes me sob every. single. time.)

Stories connect me to the past.  Growing up, I loved Cinderella and Snow White, and remembering those stories gives me warm memories of my parents and grandparents.  I love sharing stories (discussing books and movie plots) with other people.  We all see the same story in different ways, and it’s interesting to hear other people’s perspectives on a story.

I know people who love sitcoms and comedy memoirs, but it can be hard for me to get into those things because I feel like too often, they focus on the punchline rather than the story.  There are always exceptions, of course, but my favorite stories are the ones that make me feel deeply, that make me cry or touch my heart.  I love characters who feel so real to me that they become part of my life even after I’ve closed the book.  Harry Potter, The Fault In Our Stars, Watership Down, Me Before You, and Watchers are just a few of the books that made me feel this way.

What’s your favorite type of story?  Do you have a book whose characters feel like part of your life?

Watership Down- A Review

For Throwback Thursday, I review older books that are awesome.  ‘Cause if you can post a picture of you with that awful hair from the 80’s, I can certainly talk about a book that’s been around for awhile.

th-1Is there anyone who hasn’t read Watership Down by Richard Adams?

This is a book I can re-read over and over, and it just gets better every time.  This book is like spending time with an old friend.  I love all the characters, and I love following the adventures of Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig, and their band of misfits.

I first read this book when I was in 6th grade.  All the kids were on the waitlist to read this other book that was popular (I don’t even remember what it was).  When I added my name to the waitlist, the librarian handed me this book and told me to check it out.

No one believes Fiver when he predicts the destruction of his warren, and he and his brother, Hazel, decide to leave.  They invite anyone who wants to come along to flee with them, and a small band of misfits starts a journey into the unknown.  Along their adventure, they experience hardship and deception.  They make friends with creatures who aren’t like them, and find true bravery in themselves.  They learn to trust one another, and learn not to trust something just because it looks good on the surface.

Although the book’s main characters are rabbits, it’s not a children’s book.  This is a book that every adult should read.

Have you read Watership Down?  What are your thoughts?

Books That Influenced Me

SsScMUrJDZI-n72NIHYBrwE-mediumI’ve always loved reading, and loved the power of a good story.  My grandmother used to tell me stories to my heart’s content.  She used to tell me the story of “Snow White and Rose Red,” which was different from the Grimm’s Fairy Tale version.  My parents read Cinderella to me more times than they care to remember.  There are some stories and some books that stick with you forever, and here are mine.

1.  Orange Oliver, The Kitten Who Wore Glasses, by Robert Lasson- I remember this book appealed to me because Orange Oliver couldn’t see anything, and others made fun of him just for that.  I always championed the underdog… cat… 🙂

2.  The One in The Middle is the Green Kangaroo, by Judy Blume- I only remember this one because it was the last “kid’s” book I read.  I was home sick from school, and my mom brought it home for me.  When I got through it in pretty much no time at all, my mom told me that she wasn’t buying me any more kid’s books.  It was adult books from there on out.  Which brings me to…

3.  Watchers, by Dean Koontz-  My favorite Koontz book and ironically the first one I ever read.  I picked it because it had a picture of a dog on the front, but I was hooked.  This book is probably the reason I fell in love so much with horror and suspense.  After Koontz, I started reading Stephen King and John Saul.

4.  Watership Down by Richard Adams- I was on the waiting list for a book in 6th grade, and I really don’t remember what the book was about.  The librarian handed me this book instead and thought I might like it, even though she thought it might be a little big for me.  It wasn’t.

5.  Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K Hamilton-  A friend of mine bought me this book, and then I never read it.  Years later, I picked it up at a flea market (not realizing I already owned it) and loved it.  This is the book that introduced me to the alternate universe idea, because in her universe, vampires and shapeshifters are just part of every day life.  No explanation.  It’s just business as usual.  At the time I read this, it was a revolutionary idea for me.

I’m sure there are more I’m not thinking about, but these were the 5 off the top of my head.  What books most influenced you?