How important are physical books?

by winemama

Our (Bare) Shelves, Our Selves



151 thoughts on “How important are physical books?

  1. Hi there! I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed reading your post! To say it is great (not just this post, all of yours!) is an understatement. You are really talented (:
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  2. The author’s argument ignores the Pandora or Spotify effect. I’ve learned to love, and I’ve learned a lot more about country music that was popular decades before I was born than I ever would have stumbled upon in the dusty record collections of my Northeastern parents.

  3. Another counterpoint to the article is that, since my Dad usually has an audiobook in his car, there were many times when he and I would be driving somewhere and he’d say “Just listen to this chapter, you might find it very interesting.”

  4. Well, I see both sides. I did wind up flipping through some of my dad’s old civil engineering textbooks (Sewerage and Sewage Disposal was a page-turner) and a wide variety of other random books on the shelf just because I was bored sometimes. Nowadays of course kids aren’t allowed time to be bored. But if I had had access to my parents’ (hypothetical) Kindle account I might have done the same. Hard to know. We have shelves and shelves full of real books (some of them from my parents’ house) and my stepson did flip through them sometimes.

  5. “but points out to still keep some “physical” books and music around”

    Her reasons for doing so are weak.

  6. This has been said more eloquently in other places, but I am sad to see a decrease in the ability to connect with others over books. My patients are often reading on kindles when I walk in the room – I can’t make small talk about the book. I have had many great conversations stemming from an obscure book on someone’s shelf that I had read. When media is electronic, it is no longer displayed, which has its downside as well as its upside.

    Do y’all know about the children’s pandora stations? There are stations that are inspired by specific artists, but are a mix of the adult songs, as appropriate for little ears, and similar sounding kid music. Like REM (children’s) or Indigo Girls (children’s). It makes a great and highly tolerable mix.

  7. My musical explorations came from checking LPs out the Palo Alto Public Library and also buying LPs for a quarter apiece at Quality Mart, a long-gone thrift store. I think probably Spotify or Pandora would work better, really.

  8. I think that the author of the article has a point, but it is more about the loss of physical artifacts, rather than about the intrinsic value of vinyl records or paper books or packets of letters between friends. I agree with Milo that expanded and easy access to all sorts of recorded music from every era and every genre has enriched my musical universe in a way a large collection of albums or even cds could not.

    The process of discovery is entirely different when you have to sit down and listen to an entire vinyl album, or browse through a bookstore, library or home shelf rather than an electronic list (even if the end result is a physical book in your hand and not on a tablet), or read through years of letters rather than search an email account, or take a train or ship to get from point a to point b or even wait for the sunday paper to catch up on culture and in depth analysis.

    I have no romantic attachment to newsprint at all, and I have know too many rabid audiophiles (akin to oenophiles) to enjoy the experience of listening in complete silence to a mint LP on the perfect sound system. I am old enough that e readers are a boon to my eyes (and avoid the sneezing from old paper). I did just order a hardcover used copy of Eco’s book on Lists – thanks for that reference and I am grateful for the ability to do so from my desk chair – But going down to the now defunct used book store to seek it out and perhaps come home with a better choice is an experience that I do miss.

    As for little kids, physical books are a must IMHO so that they can use them without adult assistance and enjoy the art – static illustrations are a different experience from slides and video. My grandkids also have small speakers so that they can listen to audiobooks – a boon to the parents I am sure but not my preference – I would rather read chapter books to them. I am not sure about school aged kids – do they all have their own e readers now?

  9. We have plenty of physical books, but the kids don’t browse through them. We are heavy users of the local library and often have 10 books checked out at any one time. I prefer the library, as I don’t have to store the books when I’m done reading them. I can simply return them and let someone else enjoy them.

    Nobody in the family is a fan of Kindle/digital books.

  10. It depends on the book. For books that are all text, which I might have read in a paperback form 5 years ago, my Kindle Paperwhite is a better experience. Paperbacks are kind of all the same, physically, whether on Kindle or on paper. But books that have photos or artwork need to be on paper. Tablets, even the fanciest ones, are not as good. For one thing, it is a very uniform experience – the same rectangle, the same glare, the same framed viewer, no matter the book. But books that have artwork and drawings come in all sizes and shapes, with different paper textures – and those are planned and important to the experience of the book. I have books with panoramas that are very wide and short, and atlases with huge detailed pages, and small books with rough paper holding line drawings of city scenes. You can’t get that variation on a tablet.

  11. My kids are huge library fans, and react with horror when school administrators float the idea of having a media room rather than a library. They will spend hours on the floor of our local library, browsing books. My oldest has still never fully accepted the Kindle as a reading device because he blames it for the demise of Borders, one of his favorite places whe he was small

  12. Diminishing returns kick in at about 500 books, which is the equivalent of about 2.2 extra years of education.


    I agree with MM that it depends on the type of book. We have plenty of ebooks and plenty of real books, but I must note that my older son’s discovery of all our old SF and fantasy has been very physically hard on those old paperbacks — they’re mostly without covers now thanks to his attentions — whereas the ebooks survive his affection just fine.

    I do still enjoy just browsing through the shelves of old books. But I also enjoy not having to find homes for the chokety-zillion new books that are now in our ebook collection. And we enjoy the lower barrier to entry for writers — there’s a lot of decent space opera and age-of-sail books and other genre fiction out now in ebook only form, that wasn’t likely to get published when that meant a significant investment up front by either a publisher or the author.

  13. I don’t like Kindles because you can’t give/lend books if you own them on a device. I do like them for travel, though. I also like the proliferation of little $0.99 and $1.99 Kindle-only books you can read in an hour on various specific issues. I’ve read a few on productivity and just bought one on hip flexor stretching. I don’t think that sort of thing would exist (or be so widely available, anyway) w/o the Kindle marketplace.

    I have fond memories of the filled bookshelves in my childhood home, and my kids have already mentioned they feel the same about the ones in our house. I’m not sure I read very many from the shelves way back when, and the kids don’t read through ours (other than the sections with their own books). So for actual reading, I’m not sure there is a big benefit, but I do think literacy is aided by a child’s being surrounded by books, so I have no plans to clear out all the bookshelves any time soon.

    We have all the kids’ books from preschool/elementary in our Someday We’ll Have Grandkids Corner up north (next to the Legos and American Girls) – can’t wait to get those out in a decade or so and read them to little people!

  14. We still have overflowing shelves!! The kids do too.

    And I love looking at the overflowing bookshelves when I visit friends. It is just so interesting to see which books other people choose to keep around.

  15. I don’t like Kindles because you can’t give/lend books if you own them on a device.

    To loan a Kindle book:

    1. Go to the Kindle Store from your computer, and then locate the title you’d like to loan.
    2. On the product detail page, click Loan this book. You will be sent to the Loan this book page.
    3. Enter the recipient’s email address and an optional message.

    Note: Be sure to send the Kindle book loan notification to the recipient’s personal email address and not their Send to Kindle email address.

    Click Send now.

  16. Thanks Rhett – I had no idea that was an option.

    Mostly, my issue is w/ not being able to give them away. I have been giving away books every month for the past few years and want to keep doing that. I give them to a women’s shelter with a constantly-rotating clientele, who often take books with them when they leave, so GIVING them is a must and loaning won’t work.

    It’s actually kept me up to date (sort of) on my TBR stack. I take the top 5 or 10 from the stack to the shelter each month, whether I’ve gotten around to reading them or not. The pressure of knowing they’re about to disappear makes me better at picking them up and getting through them.

    I am woefully behind in reading, and must resort to this sort of trickery to make myself get better.

  17. Wine – I have no excuse. I say 100 times/month that I need to make more time to read, and then I don’t do it. I know all kinds of authors who read all the time. I’m not one of them.

    I’m totally caught up on Master Chef Junior though, so I’ve got that going for me.

  18. I read 75 books so fat this year, about 1/3 are books I own, but many of these were either gifts, bought from indiana authors, or I received ARCs from goodreads

  19. Question for Milo – you listen to a lot of books, I recall. Do you find this less mentally taxing than reading them? One of my many excuses for not reading as much as I should is that at the end of a day of lawyering or writing, my brain is fried, and reading more words is the last thing I want to do. Maybe I should listen to more words instead — is that more soothing to a fried brain?

    Of course, that won’t resolve my problem of giving the away to the shelter, but I could do this for a few books/month as a means of actually getting through them, and then give away the others.

  20. My reading fell off a lot when I had kids, but once I acquired that Kindle e-reader, it went back up. I keep the little device in my purse, and when I am stuck in line, or waiting on photocopies (in academia, you spend a lot of time photocopying exams), i read a few pages

  21. Wine – I’m horrible about updating GoodReads. I certainly read more than 7 books in 2015! Not close to your 75 though. Holy cats!

  22. I can’t do audio books for the same reason I don’t like lectures – I don’t absorb words well by listening. I am a much better reader than listener because I like rereading little bits as I go. I am also a fast reader, so spoken words seem so slow

  23. I love keeping track on goodreads! I love list making, before if I had a favorite author, I would keep a paper list of which ones I’ve read :)

    I’ve found so many good books the last few years from social media

  24. Risley, I read 1-2 books most weeks. I had a couple months with studying so it would have been even higher, I wanted to make it to 100 books this year, personal goal to do that at least one year of my life

  25. I am also a fast reader, so spoken words seem so slow

    If the book is on your phone/tablet you can adjust how fast they talk.

  26. yeah, but then the narration sounds like those YouTube video series that all the kids watch. Ever notice how the trendy teen YouTube seriies, which usually feature a couple of dudes sitting on a sofa, wearing zany wigs and making weird snarky jokes, always have a slight sped up soundtrack? It gives them a characteristic sound.

  27. I can see both sides of the debate – it is great to be able to have a bunch of books waiting to be read on my iPhone for anytime I have to wait in line, etc., and at night if the lights in the bedroom are already turned off. But, I love physical books and actually feel anxious if I don’t have one at hand to read.

    I spent many days at the library going through the shelves and the little carousels containing paperbacks – those were the books I discovered by myself, without anyone’s recommendation. I love to hear from friends about wonderful new books, but I also like to stumble upon them on my own.

    An ebook with illustrations doesn’t work well for me. I read a book about Cleopatra and didn’t realize there were maps and illustrations at the end – it would have been nice to look at them while I was reading!

    I am cleaning out my books and donating books I don’t think I’ll read again or those that I didn’t enjoy.

  28. We have so many kid books we are actually running out of room for them all. My 8 year old is a bookworm and she absolutely prefers physical books over the Kindle. I purchased the whole Anne of Green Gables series on the Kindle and we’ve been reading the books together but she’ll never pick up the Kindle to reread them herself, which she does do for those books in the series that we have physical copies of.

    I love reading on the Kindle and I can’t remember the last time I bought a hard copy of a book. My goal was to read one book per month this year and I think I read around 20. I’ve been stuck on the 6th Outlander book for a few months now. I love the series but this particular one is really slow.

  29. I have no idea how many books I’ve read this year. And I’m always reading several at a time, which doesn’t help.

    Cookbooks are another one where the physical form is better. I have nonetheless been getting a bunch as ebooks, mainly because I borrow them from Kindle Unlimited or from the library so it costs me nothing, but when I actually want to cook from them (like the very popular pesto turkey burgers from that sheet pan dinner book) it’s kind of a pain.

    I like audiobooks for long drives. And the kids like to listen to them, especially at bedtime. But my preference is always to read rather than sit and listen.

  30. We have so many kid books we are actually running out of room for them all.

    Yeah, that’s always been a problem for us too.

  31. “very physically hard on those old paperbacks — they’re mostly without covers now thanks to his attentions — whereas the ebooks survive his affection just fine.”

    That’s what happened when my kids discovered my Calvin and Hobbes collection.

  32. What I find interesting is that with less people having books, less people actively read to their small children. Now, I could be wrong about that assessment, but from talking with my pediatrician, early intervention, social workers, etc, it seems to be the case. That or people just aren’t reading to kids. Also, some fine motor skills develop during reading – like flipping through books, and how to grab paper. If parents don’t read to their kids because everything is digital (or don’t read to their kids at all), the kids don’t learn those skills.

    We always read – me, mostly for work – but DH always has a book out. DS has 4 books in his play area that I rotate so he works with finer pages or different material, and different content. Now that he’s mobile, he found our bookcase and started grabbing at the books on the lower shelves. We organized things so that as he grows, the books get more challenging with each advancing shelf. Right now he can reach books by Dr. Seuss, Charles Schultz, and other legends of the Sunday Comics.

    I’ve been debating a kindle, or the kindle app on our ipad to up my for pleasure reading. I”m not sure that it would help though. Right now, the library’s due dates are a good motivator.

    As this year’s anti-winemama, I’m still reading the SAME book I was reading in the NICU with DS: Ready Player One. I can say that I’ve read every People magazine, the Sword of Summer, and that’s it.

  33. “We have so many kid books we are actually running out of room for them all.

    Yeah, that’s always been a problem for us too.”

    If they outgrow any of them, there’s Book Off.

  34. I don’t like reading on an e-reader, we are all print books here. Also the kids and I will reread our favorites over and over again, so our bookshelves are pretty full. That said, I am definitely good about weeding out books. I donate a ton of books to our school library – not the ones I want to keep, but ones I’d be glad to never see again and that don’t lend themselves to rereading by the kids (I’m talking to you, Magic Treehouse).

    I hate checking out library books. Oh the stress of finding them and returning them on time! I can’t deal. Also it is easier to buy drugs than it is to find a good book at our local library, so there’s that.

  35. Also, I think it may be a bit of a myth that reading real books has dropped off. Was listening to Motley Fool podcast the other day on sales reports for print books, and apparently they’ve held steady while e-books and e-book readers have dropped off.

  36. Finn, we donate the outgrown books to the appropriate-level school.

    Risley, maybe what you need to do is read shit lit in the evening instead of Literature.

  37. I’m currently reading In the Garden of Beasts. It is fascinating. I find some parts of it to be a bit similar to Trump. I’m reading the hard copy, which I assume gives people a double take when I’m reading in public, as there are swastikas on the cover.

  38. I’m reading the 5th wave, it has been on my TBR for a while. I saw the trailer for the January movie at the Mockingjay showing. I’ve been reading lots of YA, which are usually quick reads.

  39. I read a lot of history. I just finished The Warmth of Other Suns, which is a good example of how immersive and really transformative a good nonfiction book can be.

    I also will admit to a taste for trashy techno-military-thrillers. I read Ghost Fleet recently and was quite entertained. I don’t like murder mysteries because I always feel too badly for the person who got murdered, and dystopian stuff leaves me feeling too bleak. I also avoid any book that has verbiage on the back of this sort “the daughters must learn the truths about their family, confronting those they hold dearest”. Ick. I don’t want to know about deep inner family secrets, thank you very much. I also don’t want to read about middle aged guys who deal with their angst by having affairs, or career girls looking for Mr Right.

  40. I don’t think there is any evidence that less people have books, or that less people are reading to their children. Perhaps buying less books, but still there are more copies of Fox in Sox than necessary in the world.

    Child #3 is the one who loves being read to the most, and he wasn’t really read to until he was 2. I think reading to infants is correlated with success the same way that being named Sophia in 2007 is – it’s all about who your parents are. We do a lot of reading out loud at our house – I think the kids need some bigger words and ideas than what they can get at school and in age appropriate books. We just finished a Christmas Carol and it was spooky and delightful for small children.

  41. I am a book addict.

    We have well over 1,000 kids’ books. I know there are over 400 in DD’s room because she counted, and there are shelves in the boys’ rooms and two in the playroom and crates on the floor for the overflow.

    It’s gotten to the point that I actively discourage DD from taking anything out of the school library, because I swear once it ends up among the other books it finds new friends and hides out for months, accruing fines.

    I’ve cleared out most of my own collection because we couldn’t store it all. Except for the 600 more kids’ books stored in my parents’ attic, which DD will be ready to start on next year.

    DH doesn’t know about those yet….

    On the bright side, books can be used to increase the insulation value of your exterior walls! I think they add R-6. So far I’m sure I’ve saved at least $1.37 on heating oil.

  42. Lark – I hated those Magic Treehouse books! For some reason they just rubbed me the wrong way. They were probably the first to be donated from that age range.

    I just finished Circling the Sun about Beryl Markham and enjoyed it a lot. Also loved Mindy Kaling’s new book, Why Not Me?

  43. Sky every time we go to visit my parents DD comes back with musty kids books from the attic. I only let her take ten at a time.

  44. We have a bookshelf in the living room, with all but the top shelf stuffed full of kids books. I was a book horder as a child and it has been fun to read some of my old novels to 8 yo ds1. It is disheartening to watch them get torn up under his care though.

    I had several books from Arthur Ransom’s “Swallow and Amazon” series. Premise: a family of 1930’s British kids on summer break in the lake country sail, camp, fish, cook with fire, etc all with minimal to no parental supervision. It was hilarious to watch his little totebaggey mind get blown when he realized the youngest kid in the family was his age and they were doing these things. by.themselves.

    As much as I’ve always enjoyed having paper books around, all current purchases are on the kindle and all three llittle twerps are getting kindle fires for Christmas.

  45. We have a lot of books but I have let go of a lot after Marie Kondo-ing the collection. I still keep everything I reread (mainly chick lit, LM Montgomery, and Harry Potter) but I got rid of all my college history books and everything else I was never going to read again. We still have way more than 500 though, so I think we’re covered. ;)

    Mooshi, I will have to look up your recommendations for comics because those seem to FINALLY be getting #1 child into reading.

  46. “On the bright side, books can be used to increase the insulation value of your exterior walls!”


    I recently finished Grisham’s “The Litigators.” He always makes me laugh, with just enough sarcasm, fantasy, and suspense. In this one, his quintessential brilliant young talent abruptly quits his BigLaw job and ends up, drunk, at the door of a scrappy office of two ambulance chasers in a rough neighborhood. They get in way over their heads trying to ride the coat tails of a mass class action tort against a pharmaceutical company.

    It’s not making me any smarter, but those are the kinds of novels waiting in my car that make the 5:15 alarm much more tolerable.

  47. This will get me kicked off of Totebag Island but I can’t wait until all of my kids can read. I hate reading to them. I love reading. I love talking. But I hate reading to them. Omg. It is torture. I have been reading a series to my older ones before bed and I dread it every night. I can’t wait until we are done.

  48. Cat – I felt the same way. Couldn’t stand reading out loud. I also couldn’t stand having them read aloud to me. 75% of them were terrible at it–completely monotone and just not at all pleasant to listen to. Save room for me in the rowboat leaving Totebag Island …

  49. I like reading to my kids, especially books that are at their interest level but above their reading level, like 101 Dalmatians. I look forward to reading to Baby WCE, since the boys are mostly reading to themselves now. Baby WCE first heard about Sir Cumference at 4 days of age, but it wasn’t ’cause she picked it or that I spend time reading to infants.

    For those who hate dealing with library books, we have always had a dedicated library book shelf in our home where the library books go. It means we can mostly find them when it’s time to return them. I’m also fortunate that for a small donation of ~$5-$10/year, our library lets me keep misplaced books in my home until we can find them. My kids are finally old enough to mostly keep track of them and to keep looking until they find them when their daily TV show depends on it.

  50. Cat I’m with you. I started reading chapter books in kindergarten to my oldest and we’ve been through the Ramona Series, Anne of GG, Magic Treehouse, etc. and she’s now 8, reading well, and still wants me to read to her every night. DH is not allowed to read to her because it’s “our thing”. It’s very sweet, but sometimes I just do not want to read every night. I now make my husband read to the younger two at least once or twice a week so I don’t end up being the designated reader for all three kids. Bedtime takes way too much time as it is!

  51. “I love reading on the Kindle and I can’t remember the last time I bought a hard copy of a book.”

    Me too. But some books are, amazingly enough, NOT available on Kindle. And I do like reading “real” books, because you can flip back a few pages much more easily, and I love the smell and feel of a new book. The Kindle cannot match that experience

    There was a long period after my surgeries in which I could not hold a regular book, especially a heavy hardcover. But the Kindle is easy to manage even if one hand is not free. I could really have used a Kindle when I was nursing, instead of reading back issues of the La Leche League publication.

    I agreed with part of this article, but what about the kids whose parents didn’t have much of a record collection, or whose reading was confined to chick lit and detective stories? Those kids didn’t get much benefit from browsing through the basement or bookshelves. My kids have extremely eclectic music on their devices because literally everything is accessible to them, not just the stuff their parents happen to like. They do all prefer “real books,” but then they are in the acquisition stage of life, not the purging one.

  52. There are some books I love reading to my girls – Jonny Duddle books are one example. I especially love his new chapter books. I get disappointed when my oldest doesn’t want to finish the book and moves on to another story. I want to know how it ends! I refuse to read any Dr. Seuss books or comic books.

  53. For those who hate dealing with library books, we have always had a dedicated library book shelf in our home where the library books go.

    mmm hmmm. We also have a designated basket for dirty clothes, garage shelves for sports equipment, trash cans for trash, and toilets for pee. Doesn’t mean any of it gets put where it belongs.

  54. Reading to young kids was not done in the home country. Instead once kids could read they were encouraged to read newspapers and news magazines. Readers’ Digest was popular, so were magazines like Time, Newsweek when these were available. I didn’t read to my kid’s at bedtime but did do the school mandated reading with older kid. Younger kid learned to read using a Tag Reader.Lest, my Totebag credentials be revoked we always had books growing up and we have a number of books at hand now. However, I do donate or give away books that the kids have outgrown, so at any given time we have a manageable number on hand. The kids use paper books but they also read on their iPods and older kid uses the audio book feature when reading some books.

  55. Wine – my 3 yo has memorized verbatim and loves “Don’t Push the Button” despite, or perhaps because of, it’s incredibly simple plot line.

  56. One of the best things about little children is that they can’t buy their own books. They are stuck with whatever you choose to read to them. IMO, most entry-level chapter books are not meant to be read aloud by the parent but by the child. If it’s your turn to read, you get to pick the book, and as WCE noted there are lots of titles, even picture books like the hilarious Church Mice series, that little kids are too young to read but love to have read to them.

  57. Scarlett, I can’t remember if I recommended this book to you, but I liked Keeping House: A Litany of Everyday Life by Margaret Kim Peterson, a theologian and fellow midwesterner.

  58. wine, I like the Humphrey series for that age group because it is appropriate for many different ages. It is a chapter book so you may have to stay involved with the younger kids.

    We have still have a lot of books. We are fortunate to have close family that was involved int he publishing industry for over 30 years, and he still gives us new books all of the time. I have a kindle, and we just bought a kindle for DD. She will use that Kindle for games and movies, but she prefers to read actual books. She doesn’t like to read the books on the Kindle. DH is the opposite because he reads books on his iPad now. He loves the Kindle app because he borrows from our library and can read on his phone or iPad.

    I love to read, but I know that TV is taking me away from books. I’ve been very caught up with Homeland, the Affair, old seasons of Downton, and on and on. I really want to catch up with a few books during the school break, and the timing is perfect with the last episodes of the Affair and Homeland.

  59. I’ve been meaning to share this article.

    “Jingle Hell – The Debasement of Christmas Music.”

    It’s a little bit get-off-my-lawn cantankerous, but I have to agree with much of what he says, and there’s some nice historical perspective mixed in.

    I don’t necessarily dislike secular Christmas music, it’s just that so much of it is pure crap, and that seems to get the most air time. The most notable exception, imo, is “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” the history of which I never learned until seeing Ken Burns’ WWII documentary. Now the song makes me want to cry when I hear it.

  60. Lark – I did laugh out loud at your 2:16 comment.

    Is there a totebag page for book recommendations? I try to jot them down when I see them but would lovery to have a list to refer to. Same with movies and TV shows. We are going to watch something on Netflix or Amazon tonight but it takes forever to find something. DH hates TV shows, unless it is Britisg. I should probably figure something out now.

  61. Regarding tv shows, I’m currently obsessed with Manhattan. I don’t know if you can get season 1 on Netflix (I dvr’d them all when there was a marathon). Between that show and my book recommendation, I guess I’m really into WWII.

  62. discourage DD from taking anything out of the school library, because I swear once it ends up among the other books it finds new friends and hides out for months

    I KNOW right?

    I started doing poetry reading when kids would want me to read something at bedtime, primarily because it can be a lot faster than reading a chapter or two. With three kids’ bedtime routines, reading 20 minutes to each one would carve an hour out of a not-that-long evening.

  63. Cat, I didn’t like listening to the little ones read either. Made me want to poke my eyes out!

    Don’t read books as much as I would like. Seems like such a luxury to sit down and just read and in the evening i”m too tired. My mind wanders on audio books – plus there are so many amazing podcasts I’m having a hard time keeping up with those.

    Current reading: Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow, just read “Girl Walks into a Bar” Rachel Dratch, “Yes Please” Amy Poehler, “Furiously Happy” the Blogess. Sense a theme? Boy has to read the Odyssey next semester so I think I’ll probably end up knee deep in that since reading isn’t his strong suit. Gonna read the Cliffs Notes over the break so I can walk him through it. If nothing else, I think he and I will both know what an Odyssey feels like after reading it, literally.

  64. Milo, that article is more than just “a little bit get-off-my-lawn-cantankerous.”


    perhaps the only Christmas song written in the last 40 years to show the staying power of a standard

    Has he missed all those covers of Last Christmas?

  65. I enjoy some good cantankerousness from time to time. Reminds me of my grandmother in her younger years.

  66. WCE,
    Thanks for the book suggestion. I have gotten some great titles from this group. Also TV shows.

    We watched The West Wing on Netflix and it really tanked after Sorkin left the show. I persuaded DH to try Homeland, and I’m hooked though he sits there and claims that everything is predictable. Because we are so far behind, I’ve had to avert my eyes when I run across reviews of the current season. Fortunately, none of the people IRL are fans, so no spoilers in casual conversation.

    I ruined The Godfather Part II for DS #3 when I mentioned how Michael ultimately dealt with Fredo. I forgot that he hadn’t yet seen it. Oops.

    I just put 150+ songs in a Christmas playlist on Spotify, so the only time I have to endure bad Christmas music is in stores.

  67. Complete Hijack —

    Merry Christmas to all if you celebrate! If you are traveling, please travel safely and come back prepared to tell of your adventures.

    Probably won’t be hanging with the cool kids much till at least New Years Eve!

  68. I don’t know if RMS is here today, but I have to thank her for her comment earlier this week about the sympathy card from the water aerobics class. I have been swimming laps for years at the same time as the water aerobics class, and they are a very tight groups. One of the women is out with knee surgery, and RMS’s comment inspired me to get a card for her and have the aerobics folks sign it.
    And WCE inspired me to buy some Washington state pears today.

  69. I don’t think anyone else has mentioned this (sorry if I missed it)–you can only lend certain books on Kindle. Many of the books I own are not eligible for lending. So even though the functionality exists, you can’t always use it.

    I love having Kindle books for travel, but I have started to gravitate towards buying hard copy books again if I think it may be one I want to share or lend.

  70. June, you might, uh, try Calibre or EPub for that.

    MM, you should try her on PS238! And maybe Nimona and Lumberjanes. And in a couple of years, Bad Machinery. Also consider the Mouse Guard series. And maybe the Salt Water Taffy series too. And Kid Beowulf.

    Oh, and Bone, obviously, if she hasn’t already read it.

  71. Milo, that article missed “Santa Baby,” a catchy tune but one that turns out to be very hard to explain to the children.

    “But I don’t understand: is she Mrs. Claus? Why would Santa buy her an apartment?”

  72. Am I mistaken in thinking that just about all of the sings we think of as Christmas carols are from the 19th century? And if that’s true, why is that?

  73. OT: I think someone here told me about Kiva lending – is it a good gift for someone who has everything? I have looked at the website but haven’t tried it myself yet.

  74. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing is from 1739. Adeste Fidelis is from the late 1600s. I think some of them are older than you expect, especially if you really start tracing them back to their folk origins.

  75. Sky, Santa Baby is over 60 years old so that’s probably why the author didn’t mention it as a within-last-40-years song:

  76. I believe “I Saw Three Ships” has medieval origins. The line about “our saviour Christ and his lady” always cracks me up — because OBVIOUSLY any important figure in a story has his lady, it goes with the position, just like your hawk and your hounds and your horse!

  77. “I am old enough that e readers are a boon to my eyes”

    This is what led me to finally pull the trigger on the Kindle. While it’s not without shortcomings, I love being able to set the font size and brightness.

  78. ” that don’t lend themselves to rereading by the kids (I’m talking to you, Magic Treehouse).”

    DS loved those books and reread them all multiple times. Back before he discovered that by saving his allowance he could get things he really wanted, he used his allowance to buy the entire series, and the new books as they came out.

    BTW, that was about the point at which I stopped reading to the kids. Up through the Magic School Bus series, I’d read to them, but after that, we ran into the same issue Mooshi does– they could read to themselves faster than I could read aloud, and would get impatient. So I read to them up till about kindergarten.

  79. Drfit back to previous discussion– Milo, I still suggest you talk to your pediatrician before the trip to know what to do if someone experiences a severe case of altitude sickness. In the absence of that, my understanding is that the immediate action is to descend as quickly as possible.

  80. Utterly random PSA: If you have a Hulu subscription, they have a TON of The Criterion Collection films available to stream. Now, many of those films seem to me to be the kind of thing you would watch right before you finally throw yourself in front of a truck, but damn, they are ever so artistic. And some of them don’t require that you boost your Prozac intake for weeks afterwards.

  81. Finn – We’re good. I have a pediatrician I can text or call on a moment’s notice. I don’t think our pediatrician here in Virginia is going to have any special insights into altitude sickness. She’s going to say “Keep an eye out for it. Drink lots of water. Take it easy.”

    We’ll also be traveling with an NP in training. And I’ve got WebMD:

  82. On reading to kids: When he was young, about 2 to 4, whenever we had a visitor, DS was likely to grab a book, hand it to the visitor, then turn his back to the visitor and look over his shoulder as he waited for the visitor to sit, so he could sit on his/her lap.

  83. Milo, sorry if I went overboard about altitude sickness, but my concern is colored not only by personal experience, but also that another member of our group got an edema and had to be medevaced to Denver.

    That said, have fun!

  84. DS was likely to grab a book, hand it to the visitor, then turn his back to the visitor and look over his shoulder as he waited for the visitor to sit, so he could sit on his/her lap.

    That is terminally darling. I would have read to him for hours.

  85. I appreciate the concern, and I’ll definitely be mindful of it. I’m not trying to be dismissive, it’s just that I don’t think there’s anything she can say or do about it ahead of time that we don’t already know.

    This attitude is formed, in part, by the many conversations I’ve had with my family-member pediatrician about fevers and falls and the like, and the straightforward bluntness he reveals in our conversations relaying how they typically have no insider information.

  86. We enjoyed the Christmas song article. Sums up our feelings precisely. Also the local stations play the same songs over and over again. Ugh.

    The only exceptions I have to modern music are Jimmy Buffett (Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rhum is a fantastic song) and TSO. But they use old standards and classical music so I guess the get a pass??

    RMS- I love that version. I cry every damn time.

    Have fun Fred.

    Tomorrow starts Xmas celebration 1 of 3. So I think I should go to bed now…

  87. June, I knew about them from having changed some purchased epubs into mobi to put them on a Kindle, but then when I converted a PDF-only library book to mobi so I could read it on a Kindle . . . and realized that it never returned itself and disappeared like they normally do . . . the true possibilities became clear to me.

  88. Hey! When *I* pointed that out years ago on The Other Site I got a sharp dressing-down.

    It’s true anyway.

  89. When DH and I were DINKs, many of our travels included exploring used books stores. I have fond memories of great book stores or neighborhoods in San Diego, Durham and London. Sometimes we bought so many that we had to ship the books home. Last year we drove along Adams Avenue in San Diego, which used to be the home of 10+ used bookstores, and I think we saw 1. I do miss the treasure hunt, but now I prefer to buy books for my kindle app so that I don’t have to store physical books.

    We have a great independent bookstore, and they really support the local schools. They have a great children’s book section with knowledgeable staff. They sell scrip to the schools with the schools making 20%, and they do book fairs for which the schools make 25% of all sales that go through the registers during a 2 hour window. Our school’s proceeds for their book fair hit a high in 2012/2013 and dropped 23% in 2013/2014 and another 8% in 2014/2015. At the same time attendance at this event has roughly been the same for elementary school families and dropped for middle school families.

    In our own family the adults and teenager are gravitating toward ebooks for our personal reading, compared to the physical books that we bought when DS was younger. My suggestion to the book fair committee is that they should pick out books that can be bought for the school, so that families can support the school without having to take home physical books. We’ll see what happens this next Spring.

  90. I looked into shows to watch. The Affair and Homeland were both highly rated and they should but somehow don’t interest me. Anyway, I started looking some more and found Broadchurch on Netflix and liked it. Gracie and Frankie on Netflix is highly rated, I will try that.

  91. “OT: I think someone here told me about Kiva lending – is it a good gift for someone who has everything?”
    I think it was me who was raving about Kiva. Our kids were given $25 Kiva gifts about 8 or so years ago and have been lending and re-lending the same money every since. They really enjoy the process and I do think it is a great gift for those late elementary through high school kids who have everything. And after the first lend/payback, they can choose to take the $25 in cash if they don’t want to re-lend. One of my kids always lends to taxi drivers and one always lends to farmers. Not sure why.

  92. Reading aloud to children is one of my very very favorite things to do. I was sad when they got old enough to read the Redwall series themselves, because I loved reading them aloud and voicing all the animal dialects. I would gladly borrow kids to read to them. I need grandchildren.

  93. HfN, sometimes the local women’s shelters have opportunities to read to the kids. And check to see if the local public library has any outreach programs that involve reading to kids.

    I really enjoyed both being read to by my parents and reading to my stepson, BUT I freely admit that I didn’t have to do it every damn night. And when he was about 22 months old I did kind of wonder about the obsession with Ask Mr. Bear. I hope I’m over my exhaustion with that book by the time the grandkids come along.

  94. “My suggestion to the book fair committee is that they should pick out books that can be bought for the school, so that families can support the school without having to take home physical books. ”

    Our school does this. Each teacher selects books for their “wish list” as does the school library. We might buy one small book for DS, but a significant amount for the classroom or library.

    Another idea is to partner with a school with fewer resources, so parents can buy for *that* library?

  95. Honolulu – THANK YOU SO MUCH for the Odyssey info. Sounds great. Ordered it immediately. Amazon should give you a cut!

    Louise – if you like Broadchurch (i hope you watched the British version) you might like Happy Valley, The Killing and or The Girl at the Top of the Lake! So good! Also delightful – Homefires and Indian Summers which were on Masterpiece Classic but you might be able to find online too!

  96. Thanks Moxie – I will check those out.

    RMS – It can be. But then I like most British detective dramas/series. I think they are well made. Their detectives are flawed people. I binged watched several episodes of Poirot until I had seen all of the episodes there were on Netflix.

  97. RMS – Broadchurch is very, very sad. A murdered child. I’m not giving anything away with that tidbit. But very well made and compelling!

  98. I like the Lewis series (spinoff of Inspector Morse), although some of them are pretty depressing – I wouldn’t watch them without DH – but the guy playing Hathaway is nice eye candy. :)

    RMS and HM, I think I saw three ships, coventry carol, holly and the ivy, boar’s head, there is no rose all have medieval origins. Assuming we aren’t going back to Veni redemptor gentium or anything like that. ;) Also all of the chant-based or folk-melody based hymns (of the father’s love begotten/divinum mysterium, etc.).

  99. RMS, thanks. I saw this too. I still go, but I cut back because it was hard to schedule during reno. I am able to run outside since it has been so warm here except for this weekend!

    I was very interested in the information about the brand. I am a cheapo, so I don’t wear any of the clothing or other items. Most of my friends are decked out in head to toe SC stuff when they go to soul. It is a waste of money, but they people that work there are amazing. I didn’t realize that they provide them with these types of benefits, but it makes sense. It reminds me of Trader Joes. The people that do the hiring for Soul Cycle and TJs must be remarkable because I am picky (very) about customer service. I find that both of these brands have friendly, smart staff in every location that I visit.

  100. I’m sorry I missed this topic. My mom fell Thursday, has a broken bone in her back and is now in rehab. I spent the last few days with her 10-12 hours a day.

    OT – I was an avid hard copy reader until I had child #2. At that point the amount of reading I did at work, plus the amount of outloud reading to them left little time for reading for me. I switched to audiobooks and consume at least 2 per month. I do not absorb as well either, but am working on it because it is HIGHLY likely I will have the same eye issues as my mom and not be able to read print in any meaningful way in time.

    DD#1 – loved books from day 1, I would read outloud and she loved it even as an infant. By 18 months, we had to take away her night light because she would lay in bed and look at books with it rather than go to sleep. At age 3.5, she would take anything book-like and turn the pages. She was at my mom’s house and picked up the novel my mom was reading. She proudly walks in and says “Grandma! Clifford is in this book!”. My mom was surprised – she didn’t know about Clifford the Big Red Dog – that DD#1 knew about this novel. When my mom told me, I asked DD#1 to tell us about Clifford and she says, the big red dog. But, she recognized the word.

    DD#2 – liked books some, but not very patient with being read to, until about Kindergarten. Never thought she’d get the hang of reading on her own…it came super slow. But in the past few years, I have even found myself telling her to put down a book.

  101. Home today from our cruise. I had put my name on the list for All the Light You Cannot See months ago, and the week before we were to leave, I got an email that it was in. Work was crazy trying to get ready to be out for a week, so I didn’t get by to pick it up during the week, but was really looking forward to reading it on vacation. On Friday, I went online to check their Saturday hours, and discovered they closed for remodeling as of 4:30 Friday afternoon. So I did not love the library as book source last week. I finished the 2 books I brought, so spent the last day wishing I had picked it up.

    I love Kiva – my employer provided funds for us to donate through a promotion, and I got a $100 gift there last Christmas. I really enjoy selecting the loans, and got weirdly attached to Ahmed, the Palestinian barber. He stopped paying during a lot of the turmoil there, and I was ridiculously happy when I got an email saying he had made a payment. I was really glad he was okay. For my kids this year, part of their gift money went to one of a list of charitable options I talked to them about. They picked Heifer Int’l. Maybe next year I’ll do Kiva so they can do their own research and pick their loan.

  102. Austinmom,
    I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. We are living parallel lives; my mom also fell and broke her hip last week and we have settled her into rehab. Not at all what we had hoped for the holidays. I hope your mom does well.

  103. Hour – Sorry to hear about your mom. Agreed, not the relaxing holiday I thought we’d have! Wishing your mom a full and speedy recovery.

  104. I’ve been away for ages (trying to be productive) but I started reading a few of the last topics now that I’ve got some time to hang around with kids and enjoy the rain!

    Austinmom & Hour from Nowhere– Here’s hoping for a good recovery for both your moms.

    I love print books, and we have tons of them. My oldest dd was on a kick with those Rainbow Fairy Magic books. I read exactly one out loud to her and refused to read another one, but she has since read 50+ from our library. We go weekly to the library now, and we have a designated totebag (ha!) of library books each week that goes back and forth. When threatened with having to pay the replacement cost for the book or the fines, my dd can generally find them. I do a lot of kindle lending from the library for myself. As others have said, the lighting is better, I can adjust the fonts as needed, I can hold the kindle with one hand, stash it in a purse, etc. I became a real convert trying to read while nursing babies, or waiting in the doorway for bickering siblings to get to sleep. When mom is sitting nearby ignoring you as she stares at her book in the dark, she is less fun to pester apparently. I have also found weirdly that unlike pages that shift with a breeze, I can read the kindle on an elliptical or on a bike at the gym. Yes, I know it’s not as intense as super-focused exercise, but I can do something good and keep moving on a good book, which I call a win.

    I forget who asked about audiobooks. I can’t sit and listen to them, but I like to listen to audiobooks like podcasts– long drives, out on walks, or while cleaning/cooking when I’m on my own. They don’t replace books for me, but they are great to engage with when I’m physically doing something else.

  105. I must be the opposite of several here. I sort of dreaded reading to the kids as preschoolers when they got into jags of reading the same book eleven million times, but I love reading to my 5 and 7 year old. I choose books they wouldn’t choose on their own, and while I’ve read some Ramona for nostalgia, we’ve also skipped around. Trumpet of the Swan was a hit. We’re now at Bunnicula. The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. There’s another set of books that are vaguely art related about a bug, but I can’t remember at this point. We probably read together 4-5 nights a week because other things come up, but I love that time, and I’ll read to them as long as they let me!

    I wanted to throw out there also to the anon who knows a family that is re-homing their adopted child– I’m not sure how much you’ll find on it. Generally families don’t want to involve the foster care process because placing their child through child welfare involves the court making findings that they are unable to meet the needs of their child. (Which can have consequences if they have any other children, or ex-spouses with custody issues, etc.) In most states, any parent may allow their child to reside somewhere else as long as their child’s needs are met, but it’s a big, ugly grey area. It makes sense that you could let your kid go live with an aunt and uncle if you were active duty military or physically injured or something, right? The same idea that parental judgment gets wide leeway gets taken to some weird places in these cases. I pretty much agree with the advice so far about what to say to your kid, but I just wanted to toss out there that if you haven’t found much law, it’s because there really isn’t any under most circumstances. (Unless new legislation gets passed.)

  106. Tulip– DS was about 7 when he discovered Harry Potter. While I know a dad who read those books to his kids, the pace of that would’ve been far too slow for DS.

  107. About reading to kids…we also used audio books. That way they could be in their room, lights off, listening to the book. They both enjoyed that. We read an “easy” book first and then the audio bok was higher Dr. Doolittle for my 5 year old.

  108. How do you do Audio books for kids? Do they stream them via a smartphone/tablet? I think my olders would like to do that, but I am not sure of the least expensive set-up/mechanics.

  109. Ada– Would a cheap kindle fire do it? They’re down to $49 (or less with sales) last I checked. My kids have a set of speakers with a basic USB connection. I haven’t done it, but may try with my kids. We don’t do long audiobooks that way, but my kids like the sparklestories podcast for longer rides in the car. They are *very* totebaggy and super earnest, but my kids love the stories, they are calming and relaxing, and so far they’re a good fit for little ones.

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