Share Stuff Saturday: They Banned the Dictionary

(And I thought California was the "liberal" state.  This Share Stuff Saturday is in part thanks to Five Star Friday!  Title links to a meaningful blog post by Great Big Nerd, which was featured in this week's edition.)

Twilight: The Graphic Novel

This article on my Google Reader was jumping up and down to get my attention this afternoon:

"Yen Press to Release 'Twilight: The Graphic Novel' in March"

The first printing will yield 350,000 copies, and will be available on March 16 of this year.  The graphic novel, being graphic, will include only selected prose from the first book of Stephenie Meyer's series.  The illustrations are done by Young Kim.

The article says the book will be released in two volumes (the release date for the second is TBA).

I've only finished 3 out of 4 of the books in the Twilight saga (I was late to the party, so to keep myself in suspense, I have a rule that I will only read the paperback versions), but I think I am going to have to add this graphic novel to my ever-growing list of Books to Purchase.  It will be interesting to see images put to Meyer's writing.  Yes, there are the movies, but I think we can all agree that film is an entirely different art form.  In addition, it seems Ms. Meyer has inserted herself very closely into the review process for the graphic novel.  This leads me to believe that the end product will feel very organic.

Share Stuff Saturday: National Book Critics Circle Finalists Announced

(Title links to the New York Times article listing the 2009 nominees for the book awards)

Book Guilt

"I love paperback too, except when I borrow it from a friend. Seems it always comes to me in pristine condition, especially from one fastidious friend, and I just KNOW it's going to be looking dogeared and disheveled when I give it back! Book guilt. Perhaps the best kind."
Does anyone else suffer from the seemingly incurable Book Guilt?  The above quote is actually a comment from not undecided, left on my very first blog post here at the 1kDEP.  I've been meaning to write about this for some time, because I feel it is a fairly universal experience.

I've mentioned before my history of book sabotage.  Stains, wrinkles, tears, even corners nibbled away by my guinea pig.  A book that falls into my lap is doomed from the beginning.  No matter how careful I am, a book I read will never remain in the same condition in which it starts. (This applies even to hardcovers.  I don't know how many book jackets I've lost.)

My college roommate, who is self-diagnosed with the same condition, softens the reality of the situation by saying she "makes love" to her books.  I am less subtle.  If she makes love to them, then I fuck them hardcore.  She got me this journal for Christmas a few years back, attractively titled Wreck This Journal.  I think it was meant for readers like me to take all their rage out on this one book, and quit bullying the others in their collection.  Great idea -- that book is a mess.  But I still can't stop ruining everything else I read.

Now, my own books I have no problem screwing up.  I carry them everywhere because I love them.  They become like my security blanket.  They are mine, I bought them, I adore them, and if I ever read them again, I can look at those stains or those pig nibbles and remember how great it was to read the book the first time through.  The wounds to the pages are like badges of honor.

However.  As a consequence of my habitual display of affection, I become that much more terrified to even touch the books belonging to other people.  It really is like being in a relationship.  A sick sick relationship.  Imagine I'd dated the B/F for so long, it gave me a weird feeling to even shake the hand of some other guy.  That's how I am with books.  I know how to treat my own, I know what they can take, and what their limits are.  But other people's books are so foreign.  I don't know how to handle them, so I avoid handling them at all.  Plus what if I came across some of their book stains?  It's like walking in on them.  It's weird.  And so whenever someone asks me if I'd like to borrow their copy of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, or Ariel, or Beaches, I immediately shy away, waving my hand, saying, "Oh, no, that's ok.  I'll just ruin it."  What makes it worse is that they never believe me.  People who own books love to let other people borrow them.  But they have no idea what I'm capable of.

Thus, Book Guilt.  Months ago, I finally built up some courage and borrowed a book from not undecided, which she'd recommended to me via Shelfari -- The Secret Life of Bees.  Turns out she'd actually borrowed it from her sister.  Double whammy.  The book was already pretty well worn, but I handled it with my kiddiest of kid gloves anyway, and made sure to worry the entire time I was reading it.  Don't forget this isn't yours.  You have to give this back to somebody.  This has to look good.  I don't think I ever put my whole palm on that book the entire time I was reading it.  Fingertips only.  But you know what?  I got it back to her sister in relatively the same condition in which it'd been lent to me.  That was the first time that ever happened to me.

So maybe you can overcome the book guilt after all.  I smell a New Year's resolution.


My mind has been on Twitter a lot lately.  One hundred and forty characters (INCLUDING SPACES!!!).  Retweeting.  SMS.  Hashtags.  Trending topics.  Followers.  For all the simplicity of Twitter, it's sometimes exhausting to think about.  I don't 'tweet' as often as some.  I don't always like being bombarded with status updates, and I don't like bombarding other people.  If I want to receive a constant stream of information, I will call someone, or make plans to meet in person.  I like to think I'm old-fashioned.

This is not to say I don't appreciate Twitter.  I love hearing what my SIL is up to all the way down in Dayton at 3 pm on a Tuesday, and I love the @FakeAPStylebook guidelines my good friend from college retweets on occasion.  I even enjoy following (haha) the latest headlines -- that's when I really appreciate the 140-character limit.

More and more, I am understanding the doors Twitter has opened for the lines of communication, and the standards it is setting for the future.  Major companies all over the U. S. (if not the world) are using Twitter for networking purposes.  Friends and family are using it to keep in touch.  Remember when email got big?  We were all overwhelmed by the idea of a delivery system that was so fast-paced and impersonal.  But here is why I believe that Twitter is so revolutionary: not only is it breaking new ground in the way we communicate, it's keeping us comfortable at the same time.

Unlike some other social media sites, Twitter's technology is simple -- each user gets a profile and their own page to fill up with tweets.  On this page you can also see tweets from those you want to stay in touch with, or follow.  You can choose your own level of involvement: you can send and receive tweets on your cell phone, BlackBerry, or just stick to the web if that's what makes you happy.  And Twitter is faster than even sending an email; businesses, and regular people like me, value that.  I may be old-fashioned, but I'm not ashamed to admit that I'd prefer writing a 2-sentence update every day, rather than wracking my memory to churn out an extensive letter every month.  The best part is, Twitter has that personal feel to it.  The people you follow are familiar to you -- from your closest relatives to your coworkers. Or they are companies or organizations of major interest to you.  And because the beauty of Twitter updates is in their brevity, it's easy to want to stay connected.  There's no doubt about it, I do feel a special bond with all of my other Tweeters.  It's like we're in our own little club, even though I know millions of people all have members only jackets just like mine.  But I'll admit it.  I do love Twitter.

But then I worry.

Have you seen this book called Twitterature?  Written by two college students, Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin, the premise of this book is "The World's Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets or Less."  When I first heard this concept, I thought it was genius.  The approach sounds hilarious, in that "Oh, man, I've got to see what this is about" sort of way.  I mean, that is some love of literature, to have learned it so well that you could condense it that much...And then I see the Editorial Reviews on Amazon:

"Do you hear that? It's the sound of Shakespeare, rolling over in his grave."
--The Wall Street Journal

"Twitterature makes me want to punch someone, preferably the 'authors'. They're in Chicago. I'm gonna take a road trip..."
--@damig, Twitter

"JUst f*#%&ng shoot me now..."
--Mike C,

Yeah.  And after seeing a fellow Shelfari user point out that "unfortunately the writers have chosen to poke fun at the novels they're condensing, in addition to...well, condensing them. Most of the jokes fall embarrassingly flat..."  I guess I'm not so convinced anymore that the explosion of inspiration I imagined Twitter providing will actually transfer seamlessly to a physical paper page.

I find it curious how people need to take a communication tool and inject it into every other related mechanism that's been out there previously.  Twitter is a useful tool, but I don't believe it can be molded to the expectations we have set for books.  That's not what it was intended for.  I can argue that Twitter is an expansion of literature, which I thought was where Aciman and Rensin were heading with Twitterature.  Literature was formed, I assume, for communication -- to present ideas.  I just think we should be careful when thinking about using new technology to enhance the tried and true.  I must admit, it was fun to imagine the marriage of Twitter and a book.  But now that I've had a chance to ponder, I realize it's like incest.  You can't marry the son to the mother anymore.  You end up with a child who can't even read, and then I won't have anything to blog about.  Do people push books and Twitter together because deep down they fear the change?  Or are they trying too hard to make the new technology even more accessible?  It's a whole new world out there, and that is scary.  But you know what's nice about it?  It's the only one where we'll still able to stand in two places at once.

REVIEW: 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte

Well, hello!  It really has been too long.  I apologize to everyone out there who may have been waiting for a blog post.  I should have mentioned in my welcome statement that I have a horrible tendency to take lengthy recesses with no apparent warning or reason.

But now that I'm back (for now), I can finally discuss my relationship with Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  This book took me a month or so to finish.  This does not mean I did not enjoy it.

I will say it was hard to read Jane Eyre properly without the environment of a classroom.  I always get more from classics like this where there can be a group discussion after every few chapters or so.  I considered checking SparkNotes, but somehow that felt like cheating.  Halfway through, I decided to skip the literary aspect of it entirely and began reading for enjoyment only.

I say I had a relationship with Jane Eyre because this book drew me so closely into Jane's mind I felt we were in fact friends, or at the very least acquaintances.  I found Jane's narrative engaging, and Bronte's writing style attractive.  My problem with literary classics has always been that I would get lost in backstory -- I felt an author would take too much time explaining something (a gesture, a bit of dialogue, the scenery), when it was just as easy to skip a few sentences and get on with the narration.  Not so with Jane Eyre.  There were only a few instances where I would put the book down and wonder when I was ever going to finish it.  My biggest issue this time around was picking the book back up after I had put it down for the night.  It's not a book that you can use to take a few minutes out of your busy day, read a few lines and put it back down until the next time you have a free moment.  The writing is not pithy by any means, so I would have to make time out of my day to fully absorb myself, if I was going to pick up the book at all.  Once I read a few paragraphs, though, it was hard to stop.

I wouldn't say love stories are normally at the top of my list when I'm deciding on a book to read (although now that I think about it, most of my favorite books do involve some sort of love story), but this one felt near perfect.  And I think I feel that way because I could see Jane's strength of character, and I knew she wasn't in love with Mr. Rochester because he wanted her, or because it would be beneficial for her financially, or even because it was her first real crush.  The love was authentic because Jane is authentic.  I felt Jane's love for Mr. Rochester as deeply and as truly as if it were my own.  This is sort of embarrassing to admit, because who wants to marry a guy who kept his first wife in a closet?  But all the talk of being fit for each other, and complementing each other so perfectly...well, it made me feel all wishy-washy.  And I loved it.

I think I will read Wide Sargasso Sea again so I can fully appreciate the other side, and maybe gain some more insight into Jane Eyre as well.

But UP NEXT: No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women, by Estelle B. Freedman (finally, I am in the mood for it!)