Start a Personal Book Buying Ban

I have more books than I can read. I may have more books than I can read in my lifetime. I’ve done the math: amount of pages I can read in a day divided by the approximate amount of pages I have on my bookshelves. At the time I assumed 100 pages a day. I was 20-something and my life was different then. Now, depending on the book I’m reading and how obligated I feel to finish it or how much I actually like reading it… I may read 20 pages a day.

I’ve been better at limiting the fiction books. I finish them and take them to the secondhand bookstore. There, I can trade several books for one new (unread by me) book. This works well as long as I keep taking books in and don’t buy too many new fiction books at the big, shiny bookstores. Of course, the fresh, unread by anyone, books from the bookstores are tempting. Not only are they newly published but I can give myself the excuse of reading with a latte at the bookstore.

Non-fiction books are another story. I buy more than I need. Always thinking I will read and study them and use what I have learned. Good intentions. But, I end up with a lot of books I’d like to read sitting on my bookshelves. I have to work at not buying more non-fiction.

One thing I have learned is to know what I already have. Including which edition. I really get annoyed with myself when I find I have bought the same book twice.

4. The TBR is your friend. Treat your TBR like a pop up bookstore. Don’t agonize, just pick one. But here’s the trick: if you don’t like it, move on quickly to the next book until you find one that scratches your new book itch. The problem with the TBR is that it can feel like a chore, whereas a new book is thrilling. So don’t force yourself to stick with something if it isn’t working. Keep plowing through until you hit on one that you can’t put down.

3. Review your shelves and donate books you no longer need. This sounds counterintuitive, but it reduces the TBR and provides a visceral reminder of how much privilege is implied by the idea of having to work hard not to buy something that many people consider a luxury, in comparison to medicine, food, or rent.

2. Reorganize your book shelves. Maybe according to date, or color, or some other funky scheme. Or at least dust them. I guarantee you’ll have a new appreciation for what you already own. And it might pique your interest in a forgotten, unread purchase, or send you down several miles of memory lanes with old favorites.

Source: 10 Painless Ways to Stick to Your Book Buying Ban

Time to End Picture Book Blogging?

I think its time to stop posting images with every post for the sake of having an image with every post. Unless your site is showcasing your art, illustrations and photography, most of the images posted are just decoration. How many stock images do you really need to see in a day?

We are adults, we read books without pictures on every page. Usually the only pictures are on the book cover. Magazines and newspapers run images with articles but not random, meaningless images. Isn’t it time to put away the pretty pictures in our sites too?

Unless an image is required to illustrate a point or give directions, why are they needed? I know people think the images help with SEO, but do they really?

Want your site to load faster, dump the picture book images.

Often the image is something barely relevant to the topic. It does nothing but add colour. We are not children. We don’t need colourful picture books.

Treat your readers like the adults they are and put away your picture book blogs.

The Sadness of the Fixing Things Obsession

I don’t know what the psychological meltdown would be called… that never stopped me.

I have a problem with trying to fix things, restore old and forgotten things. I like history, that’s true. But, it goes beyond that. I like helping the lonely things.

I do know there is a word for people who give personalities to inanimate objects. I don’t keep a lot of stuffed animals. I do have books by the hundreds. Mostly everything else I feel I must fix I find in little online niches these days. (I had to stop buying things to save from the thrift stores but it wasn’t easy and they haunt me when I go in there to look around). Instead of buying these little treasures I post images to Pinterest, or Scoop.it. But, I’ve found myself back at the dmoz directory again and that gives me another outlet for my obsessions with all these little things.

Why do we feel responsible for things?

I know I do. I’m somehow obligated to fix these lonely, forgotten, sad things. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know.

It’s a burden. I take on more than I can possibly achieve and then I feel I haven’t done enough!

Enough is a good word. Don’t ask what is enough. When is enough is the real question.

You really need to set limits on your obsessions, whatever they may be. I have learned to not buy the little knickknacks at thrift stores. I can take them home but I can not save them. I can not read all the books I have (but I’m not willing to part with them). Just like ideas. I can get thousands of ideas but I can not work on them all.

So I’m fixing myself. It has up days and down days. Often it’s sad. It’s hard to let go of things, especially ideas!

But you can save your ideas. You can save a lot digitally these days rather than keeping a physical (hard copy) of every knickknack and photograph and book. Ideas can be saved too. Write them down and maybe you will even come back to them someday. A lot of them are worth saving but not all of them are practical enough to get your full attention long enough to complete them.

Be satisfied with enough. Learn to love what you do accomplish rather than feeling sad for all you couldn’t do. In the future they’ll have robots to do the work of a hundred people. I can give them a list of things to do right now!

Find a way to make your obsessions sustain you instead of undoing yourself trying to sustain them.

Are We Losing the Art of Storytelling?

Are we too impatient to write and too impatient to read?

In our culture we want things quick, short and to the point. That doesn’t work well for fiction writers. Fiction readers may still want a book with depth, character development, rich descriptions, fully developed thoughts and a storyline. However, that takes time to write. Time to craft, plot and rewrite.

A writer gets an idea for a story. It can be written out in a few sentences, just enough for them to come back to later and flesh it out. Or, those few sentences can be shared as they are, instant gratification. The reader will have the idea, but not the story. Would they have taken the time to read it anyway?

I’ve been reading older books, written in the 1800’s. I can see a different writing style in them. Different cultures, different readers and different writers give a book the flavour of the time period it was created in. The story telling is influenced by the culture of the times.

This can work against the story, the book. Some of them are a lot of reading with old fashioned words I have to look up in the dictionary, or just ignore and assume I have the general idea. Descriptions can be endlessly long, at least they seem that way to me, reading them now. The story may wind far off track and give a lot of information which seems unimportant to me, as a modern reader of the old tale.

How will our books seem to future cultures? Even now, in our own time, how much of the richness and depth of the story are we losing?

Don’t think it’s just readers who expect a short story. How often as a writer have you cut things shorter? How often have you not had the patience to let an idea grow and evolve before posting or publishing it? We get an idea and push it out there. We rush our stories. We cut our stories down to size, not just because readers are less likely to read them, but we ourselves are less likely to write them. Move on to the next quick post, the next idea, the next project rather than let the current one take up too much time.

This was a short post. Did you read it all, or skim most of the way looking for bolded text to sum it all up?

The Canadian Book Challenge

9th Canadian Book Challenge Logo flag

The Canadian Book Challenge is an annual online reading challenge in which participants from Canada and around the world aim to read and review 13 or more Canadian books in a one year span: Canada Day to Canada Day. Reviews must be posted online and participants are asked to share links to their reviews with other participants. More on reviews below.(It’s also a lot of fun and collectively we’ve read and reviewed thousands of Canadian titles! Actually, the whole books, not just the titles.)

Source: The Book Mine Set: The 9th Canadian Book Challenge

For those who aren’t Canadian, do you read books by regional authors? When did you last try someone local?

You Might Change your Mind

“No matter what happens: Go buy books. Share the love of those books. Talk about them. Give them to others. Get on social media and crow about them. Don’t be afraid of ideas and politics and people who aren’t like you. Embrace it. Come into the pool. The water’s warm. The drinks are cold. The stories are amazing. Read on.” —Chuck Wendig

I like to read things I don’t agree with, in case I change my mind.

Little Free Library

What if you could have a tiny library on your own front lawn? Share your books and (hopefully) get new books to read from neighbours and passersby? Would you build it and hope they come along?

Little Free Library enthusiasts are encouraged to build their own designs, or they can easily follow instructions for the classic Little Free Library kit on the group’s website. The website also…

Source: Little Free Library: Tiny House-Shaped Boxes Let You Take a Book or Leave One | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Little Free Library – Go to the source for more ideas.

Writer from Another Planet

What would you write to a writer from another planet? Assume they can translate our language; they still won’t know our culture.
typebugI’d write to them about typewriters. The history of how typewriters were invented, how they were used (for business, letter writing and typewriter art too). I’d show how typewriters evolved into word processing with computers. I’d write about the old vintage typewriters becoming obsolete and forgotten.

I’d like writers from another planet to know about the technology of writing and how it changes our style of writing.

The way we were able to publish, improved from the days when books were hand written and drawn. Also, the loss of illustrations and other old fashioned techniques from the days of hand written books created with older techniques of bookbinding.

I think it would be important for writers from another planet to see our history of how we write and how it changed. I’d want them to see the value in our printed words, beyond the words themselves.

Art source: Toonpool

Settling for Less in Print

Words are beautiful but they need rulesThis is about typos and publishing. How many typos did you find in the last print book you read? What about the newspaper? Compare that to web publications, blogs included? Do you see a trend?

I can remember when finding a typo in a published book was rare. I wish they were still rare. These days I usually find at least one in each book I read. Often they are obvious typos not just something spell check software could catch but something a human proofreader would have (or should have) noticed and fixed.

On the web there have always been typos, outright spelling and grammar mistakes. On the web we are writers without editors, proofreaders or back up staff. Most of us still write our own sites. We publish, maintain and do our own public relations and marketing too. We are our own tech support and once we leave the keyboard the whole operation leaves with us. So, there are uncaught typos, at the very least.

But the standards overall are slipping. Ignorance is part of it. You don’t need to be hired or pass a test to start publishing on the web. I think this has begun to infect the print publishers too. Why be so careful, so particular if you can get away with a casual typo or a relaxed style of punctuation, spelling and grammar? Why spend all that money hiring proofreaders to maintain a standard which seems to be disappearing?

I don’t like settling for less.

As a reader of print books the errors in print have begun to make me feel cheated. Once I felt I could rely on print publications to learn correct forms of writing. Now, I feel annoyed to pay full price for a book when publishers seem to have abandoned that diligence.

Words are beautiful but they need rules to work well with others.

Writing in Spite of it All

Since the dawn of the ebook I have bought several of them, had a lot given to me for free but I’ve yet to actually read any one of them all the way through. My brother got me an ereader for Christmas (2013) but even with that I have not gotten into an ebook.

Maybe I’m just old fashioned, or just old. I like a book I can take with me everywhere, one that doesn’t need a battery to be read and can take being bashed around in my purse, under the groceries I’m carrying home in the shopping bag and so on. I think technology is going to have another big shift soon. People are going to realize they are paying for a cell phone they don’t need because texting is really just a more expensive way to send an email. This will change publishing again. I’m not sure how but I don’t think books and writing will ever be lost to us, in whatever format.

As far as having to promote and sell your own books. I don’t think this is all bad. As a web publisher I’m DIY, other than using WordPress and paying a web host, those standard things, I don’t have help. I often wish I did. But, I don’t make enough to pay anyone a living wage.

Publishing is like a doughnut. There is all the icing and cake stuff around the edges – everyone makes it seem so simple and even glamorous. But when you get into it you are alone in the doughnut hole. It’s not easy being DIY. I’ve proved that to myself endlessly. I’m not successful and I won’t be making any trips to Paris (unless I write it for myself).I got burned out two years ago and I’m on the upside of self recovery.

I can’t not write and I can’t stop feeling I have a persistent need to teach the world. So, I keep on publishing, the web is good for that. I can almost afford to keep writing while paying the bills with a real job.

Everyone has their own unhappiness, I’ve picked mine. Not everyone can say that.

via Love and Noir in the Time of Ebooks « ASCII by Jason Scott.