I got a Kindle. :O
To be more specific, my mom gave me her old Kindle, because she accidentally got two warranties or something. That’s actually not a new update. She gave it to me a monthish ago. But last night, I offered to help one of my coworkers with a project, and she asked if she could send me an ebook. So my boyfriend had to come over and figure this all out for me while I took a bath. It seemed like hard work, but I’m not really sure, because I was up to my eyeballs in bubbles. Anyway-
When I finally emerged, there it was- an ebook on my ereader. Suspicious.
Look at it. So smug.
I’ve read 21 chapters of a book on it thus far, and here are my thoughts:
1) It smells weird. At first I thought it was odorless (which was also weird because I love the smell of ink on pages) but I realized it smells faintly of batteries. Like a kids’ toy. Or a school computer lab.
2) It’s relatively tasteless. I had to check.
3) I am reading faster, but I think, absorbing less. There are a bunch of studies on this, I know, so I’m not the first to notice it. But I do find myself skimming, partly because hitting that button on the side is kind of fun.
4) It’s super lightweight. Anyone who exists in the human universe knows this, but I’d never given it much thought. I can carry this in my purse. I can carry hundreds of books in my purse at one time. And totally not break my arm in the process. This is pretty big for me. Or, I guess, small.
5) My local library has a TON of stuff for me to borrow digitally. The Philadelphia Free Library just rocks in general, though. So they’re good at everything. This is just another thing to add to the list.
I am sort of excited, and scared, but people always ask me if I’ve used an ereader, and the answer has always been no. So now that it’s changed, I thought you might want to know. Kindle is scary, but it might be a scary friend, like a gorilla.
Gorillas will always be frightening, no matter how domesticated they could become.
Ereaders and gorillas have some things in common.
Even as infrequently as I blog, I just can’t seem to resist alliteration in my blog titles. Blargh. I am a 66-year-old never-gonna-retire English teacher trapped in the body of a 24-year-old author. By the way, less than 2 months until the Scripps National Spelling Bee now!
Anyway, I just want to set the record straight that this is not a post directed at people who simply do not like The Hunger Games. Despite sales, I’d definitely say this is not a book for everyone. Even my totally bookish best friend couldn’t get into it. That’s fine. I’ve never seen Star Wars and I tried both ketchup and chocolate milk (not together) for the first time in the past year (ketchup is fine cold, chocolate milk is gross no matter what). Different strokes for different folks.
My issue is with the teachers, librarians, and principals who are going out of their way to ban this book in schools. Now I’ll freely admit I’m against banning books however you slice it. But I think The Hunger Games is especially unique.
Parents are one thing- they know their kids and they know what their kids can handle. But to ban books from a whole school is pretty extreme.
(it just makes them sexier, doesn’t it?)
The Hunger Games is violent- yes, absolutely, but it also prevents death as something not to be taken lightly (mild spoilers ahead). Katniss puts off killing as long as she can, and even befriends two of her fellow tributes, defending their lives. The sound of the cannon booming, indicating the death of another teen or child, is not a sound of victory for her. It is the chilling sound of senseless, hopeless death.
Perhaps even more importantly, those who do kill are haunted by the memory of it. Haymitch is driven to drink over what he’s done, and many of the other victors introduced in the second book are similarly disturbed. They did only what they had to do to survive, and yet the memories are extremely painful. Death is painful. Suzanne Collins leaves no guessing about that.
I see this book not as a problem but as a solution. I work with kids very often and I’ve noticed the casual threats exchanged by friends are really shocking. No longer to teenage boys say, “I’m gonna kill you, dude!” They say things like, “I’m gonna stick an AK47 up to your temple and make you beg for mercy!” A comment like this is often followed by laughter from both parties. Wait, what?
This was the only picture I could find where guns were remotely funny. And as you might notice, there’s no gun.
Somehow- through a combination of music, video games, tv and music, I should suspect- many kids (especially teenage boys) have become totally desensitized to killing and death. Guns are funny. Weapons are hilarious. So what if someone dies? The actor lives. The gamer gets a second life. So it’s okay to make jokes about putting improvised explosive devices under your friend’s bed. Because deaths- violent deaths- aren’t real.
The Hunger Games won’t let you think for a second that death is funny. No one- not even the most zealous, come-uppance-deserving tributes die funny deaths. They are horrible, gruesome, and miserable. I know that’s why people ban these books. But that’s why I love them. They force kids to take death seriously.
Many believe war is inevitable, in some situations. But if it is, we don’t need to take pride in killing. We don’t need to wave our weapons high and laugh about what we’ve done. I think most people who’ve killed in combat would agree. You’re all just fighting for what you believe in- and had you been born in that country, you’d probably be fighting on that side too.
Katniss does what she has to do, and lives in the wake of her actions. They haunt her as they haunt the others who have come before her. The death she saw in the arena scars her, and most likely leaves the readers a little worse for wear as well.
Katniss’s biggest weakness in the games is empathy. And that’s a role model I can respect.
I can feel the subtle hints from the people who work hard to make my book matter. “Alice, where should I direct people if they want to learn more about you? Should I send them… to your blog?”
Oh, that old thing?
Let me make one thing clear: I do like blogs. I’ll read someone else’s blog and get thoroughly engrossed. Vlogs, podcasts- all that stuff too. Some people have such interesting things to say. It’s amazing.
But I, I have found, am not one of those people. Or at least, I’m not one of those people on the internet. When I sit down to blog, I get cranky. My head hurts. At first I tell myself that I am dehydrated, but six glasses of water later, I still don’t have much of anything to say. I tried switching blog formats, but it’s really no use- it’s not the place so much as the act. I am not a fan of sharing my thoughts with the world on a regular basis. I’m not private. I’m boring.
(The above is from a web comic I loved in high school, and people have actually said this to me, for reference.)
I have a job (with Scholastic Book Fairs) that I truly love. I spend most of my time working on that. On the weekends, I take classes and travel to my various speaking events. Sometimes I eat, or pay bills, or interact with my roommates. Then I sleep. That’s not to say I’m totally busy - it’s just that the things I do don’t really lend themselves to sharing. Before writing this, I was looking up the entire cast of the movie The Secret Garden to see what had become of them. Dame Maggie Smith is the only one who really did anything after. See? You really can’t tell me you want to hear more of that.
If you want to know more about me, search Alice Ozma on Facebook. I put all sorts of cool updates there because I can actually make myself sound interesting if I keep it to 50 words or less a week. When I have more to say, I will put it here. I’m just telling you in advance, it won’t be often. It’s not that I don’t love you. It’s that I don’t love the computer. Come to Philly and we’ll get green tea from my favorite tea shop, where they are rude to me no matter how often I go. Then, if you really want, I can tell you all the things I think about. Currently that list includes:
Vegetarian sushi. How do I get the wick back out of my candle? Our dishwasher isn’t very good. There are seven dogs outside. I really need a new phone. Why does my dad have so many flashlights?
Until I have more to say, though, I’ll leave the blogging to the interesting people.
Asked by ellysa
Very cool! 03/08/88.
Are kids more present than we give them credit for?
This weekend, I had the pleasure of being a judge for the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards. Writing was my category, as you might have guessed. Though the art is insanely cool and amazing.
Yeah, a high schooler made that. The writing is equally surprising.
The biggest surprise of the weekend, however, didn’t hit me until I was on my way home. My boyfriend and I were on the bus, I was listening to a podcast (he picks some out for me in advance of trips- it’s disgustingly thoughtful), and they were discussing cellphones. I thought to myself, “I should have kept track of what the Writing Awards entries had to say about cellphones- I bet it would be interesting.” Once I started thinking about it, I realized just how interesting it was. Because out of the over 100 entries I read, only one mentioned cellphones. And even that wasn’t “my friend texted me” it was “a person who is lost uses his cellphone to get help in an emergency”- you know, the reason most parents say they give their kids phones.
None mentioned computers. None mentioned mp3 players, Nooks, Kindles, or iPads. Not even headphones. For all the griping we do that anyone under 25 (which, yes, includes me) spends all day every day plugged in, there was none of that here.
Now you’re probably saying to yourself, “Sure, they use those things all the time- they just didn’t think it would be appealing in an essay being judged by adults.” But here’s another interesting thing- there didn’t appear to be any other censoring. Some cursing, some underage drinking, some dangerous habits, it was all there. Even the more mundane- they were fine with being materialistic. Detailed descriptions of shopping trips seemed alright. But in the thousands and thousands of words I read, there was nary a keystroke mentioned- a bit ironic really, considering these were submitted electronically.
I’ve got two theories on this.
1. Maybe students have stopped seeing phones and computers as objects and merely process the content they provide. Maybe drooling over the newest device is a trait learned from adults. To a high school student, the phone may just be the fork- it’s how you get the stuff you want, but it’s what’s on it that matters. When students in essays say, “My best friend had told me he was trouble,” could they really mean, “My best friend sent me a text last week saying he was trouble”? Has it just become understood that a certain percentage of their conversation will come to them on a screen? Would it be like me saying “I spoke the words with my mouth”?
2. This is the one I prefer to believe. Maybe when they’ve got their fingers twitching non-stop across the phone and they say, “no, really, I’m paying attention” they aren’t lying. Maybe their phones have become windows- they can see right through them. In these memories they share, from senior prom or a camping trip or a dance recital, was there a phone in the writer’s hand at some point? Probably. And their memories might be just as clear as if there wasn’t.
My boyfriend sent me this link. Isn’t that nice? Always lookin’ out.
It’s a rainy day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a novel…
Hello. Let’s get cozy.
It’s raining lightly in Philadelphia this morning and it’s just plain gorgeous. Two of the streets surrounding my apartment are cobblestone, and the cars make the most soothing sound on earth as they roll lazily around the corner, slowing to an almost stop to avoid slipping and sliding. In the distance, I can hear horse-drawn carts- the preferred mode of transportation for tourists in this historical section of the city and a calming little treat for residents.
Maybe it’s a sky like we have today that makes gray my favorite color. It smells like February when I stand by the window, and there’s just a hint of spring in the air, but this is one of those days when it’s perfectly acceptable to hibernate. Or, in my case, read.
I don’t know who this Celia Ahern is, but she certainly has the right idea.
Reading on a rainy day is one of the ultimate sensory treats. The sounds, the smells, the general feeling of rain just outside your window- and you, cozily snuggled under the warmest blanket in your house, waiting until the absolute last minute to get out and get started on your day, or maybe even calling in sick. Cough, cough, sneeze.
Oh, how I wish it would rain for just an hour everyday, like tea time, and we’d all be sent inside to enjoy our books and hot beverages. But until then, I’ll just savor this moment:
And this song of mine, in this rainy time, wishes you and yours the same thing too…