Nicole Reads A Lot

so many books, so little time

Pretty awesome news for libraries

There’s a lot to be afraid of these days in the world of libraries, and cuts are happening all over. That’s why I was happy to some good library-related new for a change.

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First impressions: Barnes and Noble Nook

I read all the time, even when I should be doing other things. I take a ton of books with me on vacation, and as any student/or big-time reader can tell you, lugging around a lot of books gets really old, really quick. I’d been toying around with the idea of getting an e-book reader for a while, and even went so far as to compare the Amazon Kindle, which seems to be the industry standard, to e-readers from Sony and other companies. Nothing really screamed “buy me,” so I put that search on the back burner. I was surprised then, by how fascinated I became when Barnes and Noble announced their Nook. For some reason, it seemed like a better fit for me than a Kindle, which I’ve only briefly seen in action. Why? Now, I really can’t remember, but maybe it was the newness of it. It seemed to me that something newer, which reasonably stood to benefit from the examples of Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s e-book readers, would present the end user with a better product. Is this the case? I don’t know.

The wait

After an agonizing day of going over the pros and cons in my minds, and looking at comparison charts, I decided to buy the Nook the day after it was announced. I waited with baited breath until November 30 (the original estimated ship date), and got really angry when, at 4:30 that day, B&N sent out an email stating that the Nook wouldn’t be delivered until December 10. That was a week and a half away!!! I would have felt better if they’d been upfront about this earlier, as they had to have known that they wouldn’t make their initial market date.

They did try to placate those of us who’d expected a Nook on November 30 with a $10 credit to their online store, which was also an instance of epic failure since, at the time, the B&N online store didn’t allow credits to be used to buy e-books. Barnes and Noble’s real books are usually pricey without their $25/year membership, and I’m not a member; 99% of what I want is cheaper at Amazon, so why in the world would I want to buy a physical book from B&N?? Luckily, B&N finally realized how stupid it was not to allow e-reader owners to buy e-books with the “my bad” credit they’d received, and changed to policy to allow store credits to purchase e-books.

The reality

When I first got my Nook, I was in heaven. I was so happy it had arrived that I tore into the packaging as soon as I got home and saw it on my bed. Unfortunately, the people who made the Nook must have thought that a genius would be opening the package only after it was attacked by a band of feral animals, because the opening process was so difficult that it included instructions. And I still found it hard! Once I got over my worries that my troubles in opening the Nook meant I was too stupid to use it, I let it get fully charged and then started to play around with it.

The things I like about the Nook are manifold:

  • It’s insanely portable; I ordered  a case that was back-ordered and hasn’t arrived yet, but it fits perfectly into a quart-sized ziplock bag, so that’s how I’ve been moving it to and fro.
  • Changing from the default font to Helvetica Neue made a ton of difference for me, and now the text is perfect for extended periods of reading.
  • I like being able to browse B&N and Google Book collections on my Nook, and download items directly to it. Also, anything I buy on Barnes and Noble’s web site is automatically sent to my Nook.

The thing I don’t like about the Nook:

  • If I’d posted this yesterday, I would have started with the fact that turning pages on the Nook was noticeably slow. I didn’t want to complain about this, but three seconds to get from one page of a book to the next is certainly something that grows tiresome over the course of 800+ pages. Awesomely, the software on the Nook updated today to version 1.1, and now turning pages is much much faster.
  • Turning pages by swiping the touchscreen. I have to say that, for the first week or so that I had my Nook, I found this function almost completely useless. When I tried to change the page using the touchscreen, I would be successfully only about 25% of the time. The Nook guide was pretty useless in figuring out the specific movement that would work every time, as it just said to swipe your finger across the touchscreen (um, thanks). And the instructions didn’t mention that I had to swipe toward the left to turn to the next page. Maybe if most English-language books went from right to left, this would make sense, or even if the Nook’s directional buttons functioned in this way, but they don’t, so it doesn’t. Through trial and error, I finally figured out how to swipe in a way that almost always works, but this was no thanks to B&N.
  • Although I’m pleased with the now speedier page-turning process, it feels like Nook symbol has become less responsive with this software update. I wonder if that’s possible, but it seems like I have to press the symbol and the touchscreen harder now in order to awaken them after they’ve fallen asleep. This annoys me.

The verdict

I like my Nook a lot, I just don’t love every part about it. I agree with this Engadget review, that says it’s hard to use and lacks any sort of intuitive interface. I think that David Pogue’s review was overly negative, but that it brought up some valid points. I feel that there was a bit of a learning curve, and I’m now familiar enough with this gadget that I understand and like it for what it is. I don’t know if everybody would feel this way, but I’m glad that I bought my Nook.

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Books, books, books

I find Top 100 (or 10, 50, etc) of anything lists fascinating to read but generally meaningless. Tastes are so subjective, and even when I’m familiar with the subject being evaulated, I don’t always agree with the items that are chosen for inclusion. Still, I’ve found out about good books, movies, music, and web sites this way, so I’d be crazy to discount Top whatever lists. Today, while reading Newsweek’s Top 100 Books, I thought it might be interesting to work my way through the list and read everything on it, even books that I’d already read before. I used to hate classic literature, but now  I realize that I just hated the way that a lot of it was taught in schools, with all the joy removed and too much focus on minute, boring analyses. Then I read books like Anna Karenina and Pride and Prejudice on my own, and realized that a book doesn’t have to be terrible just because it’s considered classic literature.

At first I was going to give myself a time frame in which to do this, but there are few things in life that I enjoy as much as completely ignoring deadlines, so I’m not even going to bother to assign an end date for this. I’m in the middle of a fun, lighthearted Jennifer Cruisie novel right now, and I have a few other things lined up for the rest of the week, but I’ll get started on this at least by the end of the month. I’ll keep track of my progress.

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Where I’ve been

I disappeared for a bit, mostly due to the fact that I wanted to finish up the pair of socks I was knitting (for me!). I realized that I’ve really been knitting a lot in September. I’ve only read four books this whole month, and usually I read that many books in a week. So yeah, I’ve been knitting a lot, which means that I’ve also been watching a lot of tv on dvd. I still can’t believe how much I’d forgotten about Veronica Mars and Grey’s Anatomy. I’m not just talking about specific events in individual episodes. I’d forgotten love interests, major plot points, and really important instances of character development. If you’d given me a pop quiz on Veronica Mars two weeks ago, I would have failed miserably. Troy? Forgot him. Piz? How could I have forgotten Piz? Plus, I’d actually forgotten who had planted the bomb on the bus, although I did remember that that character was a bad guy.

So far, I’m not finding that I forgot the same amount of stuff in relation to Grey’s Anatomy. I wonder why this is. Perhaps it’s because Grey’s is much more present in general pop culture, so I had a better chance of being reminded of things that might otherwise be forgotten. I started with season two, since that’s what I had, and am now going back through season one. I liked Meredith better when she had some bite, and I think that the return of her spark is what made me enjoy the second half of season four as much as I did.

I went to the Andiamo Motorcycle Run this past Sunday, September 14, and I will be posting pictures of that tomorrow.

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