Linkspam, 9/20/13 Edition

In sixty million years aliens will know humans only by a fuzzy clip of a woman in an Axe commercial.

XKCD: Bee Orchid

And then there was a lot more discussion about the author/reviewer issue. If you’re suffering kerfuffle-fatigue, I recommend distracting yourself with these outtakes from Serenity. Or some restorative pork jelly. This list is by no means complete; I ran out of steam around Wednesday.

Authors are not an oppressed class. And neither are reviewers. This is a worthwhile and good discussion to have and one that must be had.

Which leads to this 5,000 word essay from Hal Duncan.

Here’s a quick list of some of what I thought was interesting and what I thought was problematic – because I don’t have the energy to pick this apart piece-by-piece. So: Not Definitive.

  • Interesting: the inversion of Renay’s thesis around the fourth wall; Duncan posits that it’s not so much that industry has been encroaching but that previously closed fan communities are opening up.
  • Interesting: the call for critics to be open to criticism of their interpretations–a call for mutuality. Which raises the question of how much overlap there is between criticism and reviewing–and what the audiences for each are.
  • Interesting: the idea that fan fiction in and of itself is a form of criticism and interpretation and that authors have a moral obligation to object to fetishistic or problematic uses of their characters and worlds in fan work. I’d also argue that the fan community has a moral obligation on this front as well.
  • Problematic: eliding all fan fic writers into a heterogeneous mass of white straight cis women.
  • Problematic: playing oppression olympics with dead gay kids.
  • Problematic: Duncan only cited white male SF critics. What about Brit Mandelo and Foz Meadows?
  • Interesting and problematic: Duncan’s two categories of blogs (personal vs. public) and the obligations of each to allow or not allow certain types of discourse while presuming that there are decisions around this which can de-legitimize the conversation on the part of the latter category. Not all book blogs are created equal–some are more personal spaces than others.

As noted, Duncan makes interesting points but they’re hard to get at due to his signature style and casual misogyny. This is not good writing if you’re trying to persuade people to your point of view; I think this subject called for a sparer and less hyperbolic approach. There’s also some structural issues–there are two main arguments (the inversion of Renay’s thesis and the fan fiction as crit/interpretation) that I think would have made for a stronger piece if they’d been reversed. Also the extended dog metaphor really, really, really did not work for me.

I still don’t think authors should enter into discussions of their work without a lot of thought beforehand or an explicit invitation. Before coming into any space as a newcomer, it’s important to get the lay of the land.

Reading Habits and the Status Quo

Mimi and Eunice, Status Quo

Mimi and Eunice, Status Quo

Earlier this month, Jane Litte had a post at Dear Author about reading habits and what publishers and writers can do to change them that sort of stuck with me and not for particularly good reasons. I’ve been thinking about it a lot because while she doesn’t necessarily say anything that’s objectionable on the surface, the subtext is saying some things that really bother me, especially in light of some of the other conversations I’ve been involved in over the past few months.

In this post, Litte basically summarizes the arguments made by Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit around Top 40 radio and then applies them to genre publishing. I am not entirely sure this is an apt comparison, as these are two different industries with different business models and distribution networks.

On the surface, Top 40 radio and Harlequin category titles may share a certain…extruded quality, but I note that collecting data about radio listening patterns and book reading patterns are not the same thing. Someone listening to the radio is listening right then; someone who buys a book may never actually read it. With ebooks we are getting ever closer to being able to collect that kind of data on reading habits, but we aren’t there yet.

According to the summary in Litte’s post, the idea behind Top 40 radio is that songs intended to be hits are promoted in such a way that they are placed between songs that people are already familiar with–and that with repetition that has been coordinated between the major labels and radio stations, these songs will become familiar and popular in their own right. They’re introduced into the pattern and since humans are pattern-matching and habit-forming creatures, once they’re in the pattern we like it.

I would suggest that this works because radio is different from the way they read and additionally: like most broadcast media in the US, the content exists primarily as a vehicle for advertisements. In other words: Radio stations are beholden to their advertisers–this is why contacting advertisers is an effective strategy for protest against offensive or problematic content on radio (or television). Publishers are beholden to two different groups: writers and readers.

This is the thesis on which Litte rests her fairly shaky argument: that there’s very little to be done to shape the tastes of the reading public except in incremental ways–except, you know, publishers really don’t know what the next big thing is going to be and that’s one of the reasons we actually end up with a glut of books that are all the same. It has nothing to do with readers and pretty much everything to do with publishers–and writers–trying to mine that vein for more gold (and usually coming up empty). Publishing chases trends, it doesn’t make them.

I wouldn’t claim, as Litte does, that readers are “happy” to read the same kind of book over and over again:

Even when those other books never quite live up to the original, we readers keep going back to the same well because it’s easier and familiar. “Listeners are happy to sit through a song they might say they dislike, as long as it seems like something they’ve heard before.” This isn’t a function of just romance readers. We are just the most prolific of readers but there are readers who love Westerns, cozy mysteries, thrillers, a science fiction books. To the regular science fiction reader, SFF stories are the familiar and Jane Austen is the unfamiliar.

There’s a lot to unpack in this paragraph. I’m going to work my way backwards through it because the first thing that jumps out at me is that Litte doesn’t seem to know much about readers outside of romance–speculative fiction and mystery readers are often just as voracious as romance readers and they are often very well-versed in genres outside their favorite (with the possible exception of romance–although I am doing my very best to change that; I talked about romance in all my panels at Readercon!).

As for the opening of that paragraph, that “we readers keep going back to the same well because it’s easier and familiar”? Essentially that is a rationalization for upholding the status quo.

There is a group of readers–myself included–who want more diversity in our romance–and other genre–novels. We want to see characters that represent the full range of human diversity in our fiction.

To claim that we’re not getting books with that diversity because most readers would rather not be challenged is insulting. When I talk to my fellow romance readers, I get the sense that this is absolutely not the case. Obviously, sometimes one wants to read something comforting and familiar, but for me, that’s usually when I reread books or read the latest novel by a favorite author. When I am not reading for comfort, I am looking to be challenged.

And I don’t mean that I consider the presence of characters whose backgrounds and life experiences are different from to be a challenge–not at all. Humanity is diverse by nature and to not have that fully represented in our art is a failure of imagination.

Support for the familiar and the status quo leads to all sorts of nastiness if left unchecked. Western readers come from a culture that has institutionalized all kinds of oppressions. Do we really want to be supporting institutionalized oppression in our literature?

I don’t think so. Because I have seen what happens when that is openly supported by major voices in another genre–and I don’t think anyone would disagree with me that Dear Author is a major voice in the romance community.

A few days ago, Jim C. Hines posted a picture from Flickr to his Twitter account:

One of the public responses to Hines’s tweet was this one:

There were other responses made in private, which Hines summarizes in this post from earlier this week.  I think this part is extremely pertinent to the romance community:

If you’re not the one being made to feel unwelcome, you may not realize it’s happening at all. But if you only recognize two states of existence, Blatant Racism/Sexism vs. Everything’s Just Fine And Dandy, with nothing in between, then you’re not listening to the voices of a lot of people you’re claiming are welcome in our community. And your refusal to listen is perpetuating the problem.

Let me be extremely clear: by claiming that readers are only interested in familiar and easy reads, prominent romance bloggers are using their platforms to advocate for the continued marginalization and silencing of diverse voices in the romance community because rising to the challenge is uncomfortable and potentially damaging to the close relationships they have with their advertisers. Instead of advocating for stories that open the genre to more voices and experiences, they have chosen to throw in with civility and the status quo.

Jonathan McCalmont of Ruthless Culture talks about this in significantly more detail in his post from yesterday, The Price of Institutional Racism, where he breaks down exactly the ways the systemic racism (and sexism) in science fiction fandom has hurt the genre by ensuring that persons of color and women are not only feel uncomfortable in fannish spaces but know that they are not welcome as well.

I don’t want to have this same discussion about romance that we’ve been having about science fiction because we decided that we would rather be comfortable than challenged.

(Many thanks to Liz McCausland for reading an incredibly rough draft and helping me to find my focus.)

Update on the Recent Unpleasantness


I’ve been tweeting a lot of these links but it seems like it would be a good idea to collect them all into a post that way I can find them all again. I love Twitter but it certainly has its limitations–and one of those is finding anything after a while.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt has basically turned himself  (screencap) into a parody (screencap). I have never seen someone so intent on getting the last word while refusing to actually engage with anyone who doesn’t agree with him. It is not possible for anyone who disagrees with him to be polite or civil enough.

He doesn’t believe we have responded “appropriately” to his call for civility:

It’s funny how a few people keep reacting to my posts as if I have not responded appropriately. I suppose they expect an apology. But why apologize? I should apologize to them that THEY misconstrued and misinterpreted my words? I should apologize to them that they spread lies, half-truths and rumors about me to publishers and others? That they passive aggressively tweeted insults or snide remarks to me all week? That they set about insulting my character and more–all behavior which, I might note, is the very thing I point out it not the appropriate response to disagreement in my post calling for civil attempts at serious dialogue on discrimination and related issues.

I believe this is called the “you’re interrogating the text from the wrong perspective” defense. I am not the only one who sees the whopping irony here, right? That he’s criticizing those of use speaking out about racism and sexism in our community as being inappropriate while holding himself above all criticisms? Who the hell died and made you King of Discourse, Bryan Thomas Schmidt? Or was there a vote and I missed it? And incidentally–those who are disagreeing with you have names. Maybe you should try using them. That is: if you actually are interested in dialogue.

In addition, he’s clearly not read #sffcivility. Because if he had, he would realize that it’s not about making nice. Not at all. And taking credit for Kate Elliott’s work in getting the hashtag going while never acknowledging her is, honestly, disgusting. And pretty typical if you take a look at some of his other posts (specifically the one about harassment at conventions).

And really, that’s all I have to say because Bryan Thomas Schmidt isn’t worth any more of my time. I have books to read and essays to write.

In other news, Andrew Fox compares  people speaking out about sexism and racism to a mob and a bunch of bullies and Bill Quick decides that SFWA stands for something other than Science Fiction Writers of America and then there’s this nasty little bit of dismissiveness. Trigger warnings on all these links–both for the posts and the comments.

Mike Resnick apparently emailed Theodore Beale and digs in (screencap, also trigger warnings because Theodore Beale)and I think it says a lot about Resnick that he thinks Beale’s cesspool of a site is the best place to make a public statement on this. I’ll note that commenters over at James Nicoll’s LiveJournal seem to believe that Resnick was likely not making a public statement–which, if true, is naive as all get out on his part. I certainly would not expect Theodore Beale to keep such an email in confidence. Not when it can be used as a weapon. Edit: The text quoted above appeared in the comments of a previous post (link found here). So it was a public statement.

Speaking of public statements, I am not sure if the people posting to sff.people.sanders are unaware that it’s a public newsgroup or not because there’s been some very interesting things said over there. First Brad Torgerson reveals that Resnick and Malzberg were aware that their column in issue 202 of the SFWA Bulletin would be the equivalent of blowing up a munitions dump  (screencap) and then Jean Rabe claims that they were cleared by John Scalzi to do so (screencap). Incidentally, William Sanders has essentially shut down the topic (screencap) and stated that he’s going to start deleting posts (screencap).

And on the side of incivility, Jim Hines has two thoughts, but they’re important ones.

Amal El-Mohtar talks a bit about her decision to call for the expulsion of Theodore Beale publicly.

Cora Buhlert has also been doing a wonderful job with keeping up with various bits of the conversation–her most recent post in her Girl Cooties series highlights a number of pieces that I missed, including one from Rafael R. Piñero which I found very heartening to read.

Racism 101 draws a crucial distinction between free speech, control, and consequences:

People that say things like, “So much for freedom of speech” or “I have freedom of speech, I can say anything I want” in reaction to someone else’s use of the same freedom are not talking about freedom, rights or even liberty. Although, they always try to couch it as such.

No, what these people are talking about is control. They are usually people who’ve never been told that their voice wasn’t important, valued or wanted. Therefore, when they say something bigoted and someone speaks out against it, they are enraged not by what they claim as “Loss of freedom” but instead that they (and like minded people) are not the only persons allowed to have said freedoms.

And finally, Alex Dally MacFarlane talks about making bigots unwelcome in SFWA:

I’m sick of an organisation in which bigots feel welcome. I’m sick of forums in which bigots feel welcome, while anyone else is warned right from the start to steer clear. I’m sick of the fact that Beale’s language was not universally condemned, that reaching a unanimous decision to kick him out of SFWA is not proving to be easy. I’m sick of bigots having no consequences for their actions, while people speaking up in support of the people they hurt are harassed, upset and afraid. I’m sick of soft-footing in bigots’ favour.

I want an organisation in which bigotry is unwelcome. Otherwise it’s worthless.

I see no purpose in demanding less.

I would like to expand upon MacFarlane’s statement and say that I would like the SFF community as a whole to be a place where bigotry is unwelcome–and make no mistake, what we have been so very uncivil about is bigotry. We’re not talking about differences in opinion over what kind of technobabble is best to use in your space opera or if aliens really would come with both exoskeletons and tentacles: we’re talking about whether or not POC and women are equal and valued members of the SFF community or not.

To say that they are not–as many people have done, both directly and indirectly–is bigotry.

And it should not be tolerated.

Why Literature Matters In 2013

Image from Grammarly at Facebook

Image from Grammarly at Facebook

I was recently reading an interview with actor Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) in which he was asked about New Year’s resolutions, and I found his reply interesting:

“I’ve had the same resolutions for about 20 years, which is to read The Complete Works of Charles Dickens, and I’m only on about book No. 3.  I’m a terrible reader, which is a great shame because literature is the lifeblood of everything, really, in terms of inspiration and nourishment of the soul.”

I have to admit I’ve had a similar resolution over the years—not to read Dickens, who is not my favorite author by a long shot—but to read my way through Dante.  I’ve never made it, even though I have good translations.  They sit on a shelf and mock me annually.  Someday.

But more to the point of this post, what struck me about that quote was Bonneville’s assertion that literature “is the lifeblood of everything, really, in terms of inspiration and nourishment of the soul.”

I have the dreaded B.A. in English.  And even 30 years ago, people asked “But what will you do with it?”  The answer back then was “anything I want.”  And I have done a lot of interesting things: I’ve taught, I’ve worked as a technical writer, I’ve done a little (very little) ad writing and copy editing.  I’ve written countless resumes for people, published poems, written two unpublished novels (just to see if I could, you know) and been paid to give my opinions on books.  And that’s just me. I know plenty of people with the same degree who do a variety of fascinating jobs—several of them own very successful businesses, for example, many are active in politics, and one develops and writes video games.  My co-conspirator here wrangles spreadsheets for her day job.  Another friend has an executive position in a bank.  A young woman I know is now teaching English at a Chinese school, and now that her Mandarin has improved significantly, she and her husband also run a small translating business on the side.  Really, the possibilities are endless.

So when people want to know if there’s really any value to studying literature these days, my kneejerk response is “of course.”  You learn things as an English major that may not be quite the same as, say, what you’d learn in an engineering class, but you come out with quite a useful little toolkit.  Studying literature teaches you about people, for one thing—you learn how to analyze motivations and fears and hopes.  You also learn to think critically, to connect-the-dots, to figure things out.  You learn how to research, to argue, to defend your thoughts, to read between the lines, to synthesize information. You also write a lot of papers when you study literature—a LOT of papers—so you also learn how to write effectively and coherently, which is a most useful skill.  Altogether, you come out knowing a lot about Dickens and Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf’s writing, sure, but you know way more than that.

You have a fundamental grasp of the human experience through the ages.  Literature spans so many other disciplines–the social sciences, history, philosophy, theology, etc.—that you come out prepared for anything life throws at you.  And that includes learning any special skill that you might need in a job, which is important because people will insist on putting some sort of valuation on a degree.  So let’s do that.  Literature–and I’d argue, the humanities in general–is a valuable field of study that does provide you with a skill set that translates into earning a living.  Because you don’t just learn about books, you learn how to research, to synthesize, to present an effective argument, to think.  And if you know how to think, you are a few steps from being able to do almost anything (I feel compelled to qualify that statement with “almost” because truthfully, you probably won’t know how to build a race car or a nuclear reactor, although you’d have the skills to try and figure it out if you were so inclined).

We live in a world now that is vastly different from the one I was launched into 30 years ago when I graduated with my BA in English.  Back then, personal computers were vastly expensive and rarely owned by the average person, CDs were a year or two away from being common, and digital media was completely unheard of–TVs were still analog, and people still wrote actual handwritten letters instead of logging into Facebook or streaming their favorite programs on Netflix.  Research was not a mouse click away, but required hours spent in libraries with books and microfilm.  But we have all this lovely technology today precisely because people still need to think creatively.  And it will continue to evolve for precisely that reason.

There’s a reason colleges and universities require general education courses across a wide variety of disciplines.  Being exposed to other areas of study outside one’s own declared field of interests enhances learning.  When I taught, I had engineering students who actually resented being forced to take a course in technical writing by their departments.  They seemed to think they’d have no use for such a thing.  I had science majors who didn’t understand why they were asked to take a basic literature course—what does MacBeth or Animal Farm have to do Chemistry or Biology, they’d argue?

I probably don’t need to point out that my answer to that question was “everything.”  But I always made them figure it out.  That was pretty much the whole point, after all.

I know I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but I think that studying literature is even more valuable today than ever.  We live in a world where people change jobs all the time, where versatility is required.  We also live in a world where advances in technology and science happen so rapidly that processing those developments requires a nimble mind capable of understanding such things.  And not to get all political on you, but we also live in a society where, I would argue, the ability to think and reason for oneself is vital—otherwise, our personal philosophies become parroted talking points, not strongly held convictions.

And finally, it was my personal pleasure to introduce works of fiction to people who’d seldom read a book prior to taking my literature class.  Many of them went on to investigate other works by an author who’d struck a chord with them, and I had more than one 18 year old say, “I never realized that books had all these ideas in them!”  Indeed they do—from Shakespeare to Stephen King to romance novels and mystery fiction, they do indeed have ideas in them that make the reader think, to consider, to discard or to keep.  Turning someone into a lifelong reader was one of the greatest pleasures I ever got when teaching, because I knew I was also turning them into a lifelong thinker.  And honestly, as long as we have people who can think, we’ll be okay.

Wherein Donna Is Dragged Into The 21st Century.

So here’s the thing: I happily confess that I am a technological Luddite.  I don’t like change. I don’t have a smartphone—well, I do, kind of (it’s sort of an average intelligence phone, really) but aside from texting now and then and using it for what a phone was actually invented for—talking to other people—it mostly sits silently somewhere near me.  I never use it to access the internet, although it’s capable of that if I want to pay for it, but I don’t.  I have a computer for that.  I don’t own an iPod (to be fair, I’d likely break that).  I am also perfectly content to function well behind the times–no streaming Netflix for me, or downloading apps.  I’m telling you all of this to offer some sort of explanation for why it’s taken me this long to acquire an e-reader.

I should also explain up front that I still wouldn’t have one if my co-blogger here hadn’t offered to sell me her old Kindle for a reasonable price.  I am also, I admit, thrifty.  What some people view as necessities I view as luxuries.  I really can’t help it, and I’m sure there’s some pathological reason for it.  But mostly it’s that for years now I couldn’t bring myself to spend that much money on something I wasn’t sure I’d even like.  And that I was, honestly, kind of afraid of because things like that are so alien to me, really.  Plus there’s the idea of spending a lot of money on something I realistically might not be able to figure out how to use (laugh if you will, but to me, technology is like magic.  I have no idea how my computer works, for example.  I push a button every morning and confidently expect it to turn on.  If it doesn’t, I panic.  I also have no idea how electricity works, and I suspect I’m happier not knowing these things). I am also a bit of a klutz, so there was the distinct possiblity that I’d break something I paid a lot of money for and be unhappy in several different ways.  Natalie has assured me for years, however, that I would be able to cope with a Kindle and encouraged me.  So I finally relented.

Yes.  I have lost my Kindle Virginity.

When it arrived, I took it out of the packaging and eyeballed it like a rattlesnake.  I figured out how to wake it up fairly quickly, and paged through the user’s guide, mainly to figure out what all the buttons were for and how to set it up with my Amazon account.  Then I put it to sleep, put it in its case, and picked up the paperback I was rereading.  I’d dipped my toe into the lake, but I wasn’t up to wading into it just yet.

Later, my husband convinced me to buy a book.  “Go ahead, just one,” he encouraged.  So I figured out how to do that and pre-ordered the new Peter Robinson mystery (review forthcoming!).  The next morning, it was magically there.  Natalie gifted me with the Courtney Milan trilogy she’s been raving about here, and I clicked the link and watched them magically appear.

And I have to admit that it was cool.  And easy.  I can see it being a problem, though.  Because it was too easy to just buy a book and watch it appear magically on my Kindle.  I know me.  “Oh, I want to read this” and Poof!  Magic. And a ginormous credit card bill.  Books are like crack to me, and my willpower when I have access to them and to a credit card is going to take a pretty severe beating, I suspect.  It’s one of the reasons why I’m glad the nearest bookstore to me is half an hour away.  Amazon, on the other hand, is not–and it has a lot to answer for in terms of my monthly bills.

Anyway.  For three days I kept looking at it now and then.  I’d wake it up, look at the Robinson book sitting there, begging to be read, and put it back to sleep in its case.  Yes.  I was afraid of it–and afraid that I’d hate it and I spent money on this thing and this book and I’m going to hate it so much and I’ll have to go buy another copy of the book and I wasted all this money and OMG I am SO frigging neurotic.  In my mind, if I never used it, I’d never know I hated it, if I did hate it.  And so forth.  My husband kept saying “have you started yet?” and I’d just sadly shake my head, but I knew eventually I was going to have deal with my stupid nuttiness, so late last week I finally got over myself, woke up the Kindle, and started to actually read on it.

And miraculously, I did not hate it.  I actually knew I probably wouldn’t hate it, but my mind works in ways I can’t explain and, like electricity, I really think I’m better off not understanding how it works.  Ignorance is bliss and all that. So I did like it.  I found navigating things easier than I expected.  I figured out how to make collections on it.  How to bookmark, highlight, all that stuff–really, it was made for a techno-idiot like me.  I have no idea what the hell I was so afraid of.  I feel stupid.

For me, there are plusses and minuses.  On the plus side, I can adjust the font to a size that suits me.  My eyesight is not good and is getting worse as time goes on.  Between the ability to adjust the font and the good quality of the contrast on the screen, I found actually reading from the screen to be much easier than from a book, and I appreciated for the first time just how much I was struggling with the smaller print in paperbacks.  I  managed to finish a 400+ page book much faster than I have been able to recently, which I attribute to being able to read it more easily.  Another plus is that I will no longer have to wait until a.) I can get to a bookstore, b.) I can get to the library (and hope they have it), and c.) for Amazon to mail it.  Magic.  Plus, my library does have an e-book borrowing program that I intend to investigate just as soon as I have some free time and which I fully intend to take advantage of.

I have mixed feelings about other things, though.  For one thing, the book I read did not come with page numbers, and I was surprised at how disconcerting I found that.  And I’m a little OCD about things, and so my brain kept looking at that bar that graphs the percentage of the book you’ve read and trying to do the math to turn it into a page number.  Tragically, math is not one of my strengths.  I can barely add and subtract.  I suppose I could look at this as an opportunity to improve my calculating skills, but honestly I’d rather have the page numbers.  Because not only do I have to figure out that if I’m 25% of the way through a 412 page book that that equals 103 pages, I then have to subtract 103 from 412 to figure out how many more pages I have left to enjoy, approximately.  I say approximately because I am unlikely to actually get that number right because–bad at math.  I can live with a ballpark figure, but frankly, that’s more math than I really want to be doing in my head.  It takes time away from actually reading the book.  Seriously, I am told that not all books lack page numbers in the Kindle editions, and it’s hardly a deal breaker, but for me, it was annoying.  I’m also accepting of the fact that not everyone is as neurotic about these things as I am and is therefore not likely to be so bothered by something like that.

I also found it a little awkward to hold, initially.  I suppose it really depends on one’s Usual Book Grasp for reading.  My personal grasp involves resting the book against the back of my hand with my thumb across the center along the bottom of the pages to hold them open.  My Kindle has a keyboard, and I kept accidentally sticking my thumb on the “home” button or the space bar.  It took me a while to find a comfortable Kindle Hold (I’d tell you how long it took in page numbers, but I’d have to do more math, sorry), and even then I kept shifting it around.  Somewhere around 80% in (83 pages left to enjoy!) I finally stopped fidgeting with it.  But I was always aware that while I was reading a book, I was not actually holding a book, but a book delivery system.  Which is fine.  I’m not that neurotic.  Maybe.

I’d also tell you what I think of putting an electronic device to sleep (I felt like I should tuck it up with a warm blankey and a soft toy) and waking it up (“Kindle, Kiiiiindle, wake up Kindle…”) but again, you really don’t need to know just how neurotic I am.  I’ve already given you a good idea of that.

I will say this: I’m probably always going to prefer physical books to the Kindle.  There is an irreplaceable tactile experience involved with a well-worn and well-loved paperback, and to me, there is little more exciting than the smell of a brand new book. I know it’s just me, really.  And I will use this, a lot, honestly.  It’s convenient, easy to operate, and easy to read. But as an exclusive method for reading, for me, it’s just not going to work, because it’s really not the same experience for me.

That’s not to say it’s a bad one.  It’s just a different experience.  And likely it will be good for me too.  I mean, I can’t stay la-la-ing away in 1985 forever, no matter how much I’d like to.