Books vs. Ereaders

I love to buy books, organize books, look at books, plan my next home library upgrade, scavenge through used book stores, screw around on Goodreads (add me!), everything. So it was only natural that my dad, who prefers to buy technological gadgets as gifts, got me a Kobo Touch for Christmas three years ago. At first, I really didn’t want one. I did love them, I loved the idea of them being compact and portable and environmentally friendly, all of that. But how could I give up REAL books? Well obviously I didn’t have to. I made a weird little compromise with myself, and as long as I’m still buying the real thing, I really do enjoy reading them on my Kobo. I get a book to flip through and display on the shelf, with an epub file for easy portability. It’s the best of both worlds.

Good stuff about ereaders:

-You can adjust the font and font size. A lot of books have very tiny print, but now it’s not an issue.

-I’ll never run out of anything to read. Even if for whatever reason I had to stop buying real books, I’ve downloaded hundreds, so I won’t run out for many years, making this one thing I would definitely want with me on a desert island. In the past this has been an issue about once or twice a year, making me resort to whatever odds and ends I could find on my shelf. This is the reason I can say I’ve read A Practical Guide to Racism, and Why Do Men Have Nipples?. Those were dark times, indeed.

-If I want to read in the bath, I can put it in a ziploc bag and not worry about it getting damaged. Last time I tried this with a paper book, it got all soggy. Some obsessive readers have taken it into the shower. At least I can say I’m not THAT bad. If you are, well, you have my respect, Weirdo.

-Ebooks are pirate-able. I freely admit that as I always purchase a hard copy of everything I read, I don’t feel obligated to pay again for the epub file, and don’t expect that I ever will. If I can’t download it, a paper copy alone it shall be.

-If I’m leaving the house and know I will finish a book before I get home, it no longer means I have to cram two into my bag.

-Customizing with decals and cases is fun.

-Reading life, the Kobo page that gives you your reading stats, is mildly neat.

-I can freely give away infinite copies of my epub files to friends who also have ereaders.

The Bad, and why I still buy paper:

Finishing a book on the Kobo and then starting another one is really anti-climactic. It doesn’t feel like you really DID anything. You just turn the page, touch the screen, and there’s another book. I love being able to close a paper book, go add it to the shelf, and pick up another one. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but to me it kind of is. Kobo books just don’t feel that “real” to me. The compact-ness also has that downside. It’s just not as satisfying to stare at your screen of downloads as it is to gaze lovingly at your big beautiful library shelves. There’s something lame, artificial, and wimpy about it in comparison. And you can’t play with categorizing the books on the Kobo either. They’re just alphabetical. And it’s pretty stupid to will your kobo to a needy school when you die. Yes, I have big plans for my library. Important ones. Hopefully libraries as we know them won’t by then be a hilariously outdated relic of the past.

So this is why I enjoy both. I’m downloading to the Kobo and reading whatever I find available for free on there. Whatever I read on it, I go ahead and buy a used copy of the real thing to flip through and all that good stuff. When I finish it, I still get to put the real thing on the real shelf. Whatever I can’t download, I just stick with the real thing. I’m enjoying this system.

So whether you love ereaders or hate them, I can see your point. If you like both, go ahead and have both 🙂

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Carny Folk

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The golden years of the side show are over. Freak shows still exist, but they typically focus more exclusively on the “self-made” types of freaks, the ones who have an unusual talent and/or aren’t afraid of pain. I think these are awesome and I’d love to go to one one day. But there’s a certain mystery about the old shows that still holds our fascination. I bet you’d kind of love to go to one, wouldn’t you? Well this book just might be about the closest you’re going to get.

Here is an all-star group of bios of famous freaks, from the earliest days of the side show to the most contemporary. And it’s very eye-opening. Contrary to what many people must imagine as a horrid and undignified existence of abuse, most of the freaks were adored celebrities in their day, earned very large salaries and were not ashamed of what they did. In fact the majority of them absolutely loved to entertain and be part of such a fun and amazing community of people. Working as a freak show exhibit could even be empowering as it allowed them to support their families and themselves, and challenge popular opinions about their deformities.Tattooed ladies and gentlemen showed off their beautiful works of body art, armless entertainers lit and smoked cigars, and the fat ladies felt not one bit ashamed. When you think about it, there really is something almost idealistic about the whole thing, and it makes you love the whole institution even more. There’s no reason to feel pity for them or guilty for being entertained by them.

Even after outrage towards sideshows became mainstream, many fought for the right to continue performing. Protesters who thought they were helping them in effect were trying to take away their only opportunity to earn a living, as well as something they deeply loved. These attempts are surely what has lead to the decline of the classic side show as well as the revamped versions of it we see today.

The few entries about freaks who did not enjoy side show living, who did it only out of necessity for a short period of time, are also treated here with a tremendous amount of respect. It always gets stressed that they didn’t want to be known for their participation in it, and focus is placed rather on what was really important to them and their families.

All of the entries show these people for who they really are, detailing their personalities, talents, and interests. They’re all laid out in full three dimensional detail, just as they should be. It would be unfair to describe only the reason they were on display, because there was so often much more to what they did than people might assume. We’re lucky here, because things things may not always have been so obvious to those who saw the shows in person.

As much truth as can be found here, this is not presented in a sensational way. It’s simply honest and dignified. The truth is after all always more interesting than fiction, contrary to what banners often displayed. Also included in this book are profiles of impresarios from P.T. Barnum to Jim Rose. On the other hand, missing is a history of side shows themselves, and you feel its absence, however that’s not really the point. It’s a matter for another book, and one that would be at least as good as this one. Any suggestions from all you Strangers is appreciated!

Other recommended reads: You tell me!