Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Extinction of Printed Books

There’s nothing quite like setting foot in a library. Especially as a book-lover. Whenever I walk in and see all of the books, I also see all of the stories and possibilities. There are so many books out there I have not read and so many libraries I would like to visit. But I was shocked when I once discovered an article about a bookless library.

How could anybody build such a thing? What would be the purpose? As it turns out: e-books. The entire library was constructed solely to carry e-books. Today, people here many such stories that the digital world is slowly overtaking the long-held, beloved traditions. Handwriting is replaced with typing and print books are replaced with e-books.
Or are they?

Then, one day, it happened—I received an e-reader as a gift.
As it turns out, they’re not too terrible. Books are cheaper on it, and I could carry as many books as I want while travelling. Believe it or not, I actually enjoyed having an e-reader. But wait? Aren’t they taking eradicating print books entirely? My answer is no. Not really. 

Using my e-reader as a mouse pad.

Print books still and will continue to have their place in the world. There are many reasons why print books will not completely disappear. Here are just a few:

1) Print books are easier to read.

Okay, maybe you happen to know of those e-readers without glare or aren’t hard on the eyes, but many of them are. Sure, there are some people who can hang in there with watery eyes or maybe there is no glare, but one thing is inevitable. There will always come that dreaded notification: “Your device is at 15%. Please plug in or it may shut off.” This may not seem terribly inconvenient, but it is disastrous on a road trip when there is no way to charge the e-reader and the fate of a fictional character hangs in the balance. Print books, however, do not turn off.

2) Printed books are aesthetically pleasing.

My overflowing bookshelf.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Who doesn’t enjoy the feel of an actual book in hand? Or that new/old book smell? Or a well-designed cover? Or the accomplished feeling after finishing a 600+ page novel? Or an impressive shelf overflowing with books? That’s what bookends are for, by the way. Not to keep books from falling into the empty space on a shelf but for putting books on desks, tables, et cetera when the bookshelf has run out of space.

3) People still purchase print books.

There are numerous complaints that e-books will decimate the long held tradition of print books. I’d like to disagree. E-books may be on the rise, but I will continue to buy paperbacks and hardcovers. Sometimes I will read an e-book and want to buy it in print because I enjoyed it so much. Even if publishers ceased production of printed books, the books on my shelves would remain. Print books will not go extinct as long as at least one person continues to own them.

There are many more reasons to enjoy printed books, but I think it would be a disservice to disregard the benefits of e-readers. They both have their pros and cons, but both provide something all readers like: books.

Do you have a favorite quality about printed books or e-books? Does the format of a book affect your reading experience?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Book Review: "Mockingbird" by Kathryn Erskine

This year, as a part of my New Year's resolution, I plan to post more often. These posts may include but will not be limited to book reviews, fictional characters, authors, and writing. What I will do: write posts that (hopefully) spark interest and/or conversation. What I won't do: focus on classics or bestsellers, although I may include some characters from such stories from time to time; summarize books or give spoilers (without warning).

Book: Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
Genre: Young adult, realistic fiction
Awards: National Book Award for Young People's Literature (2010)
My rating: 5/5 stars

Mockingbird was required reading for my young adult literature class, and I would gladly read it again. First of all, this book gave me perspective: that of an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger’s dealing with life and grief.

This book really spoke to me, and I could relate to some of the characters, especially since my brother has high-functioning autism. I realize that autism and Asperger’s are not the same, although they have many similarities, but both are often misunderstood in society, especially around people who have not had experience with them before. Mockingbird presents Caitlin not just as a girl with Asperger’s but a person who is human, even though she may appear different.

Not only does the book contain touchy elements not often addressed, but it contains several elements of literary worth. As is implied by the title, there are several allusions to Harpers Lee’s How to Kill a Mockingbird. Although Mockingbird is not as complex in writing style or plot, there are many great lines that made me think, elements that had twofold meaning, and three-dimensional characters.

I gave this book a 5/5 for being incredibly human. Readers get a glimpse of the good and the bad, the sorrow and the joy. I may be biased towards this book because Caitlin has Asperger’s, but it adds to the worth of the book. I would recommend this book to anybody 10+, but would not limit this book to children or young adults. Because there is mention of school shootings, I would caution parents to use discretion, but there are no violent scenes. I appreciate how Erskine handled the difficult topics she approached.