Blog posts about the Rabbi Aviva Cohen Mysteries and their author Rabbi Ilene Schneider

Archive for January, 2012

BOOKS VS. READING

I have noticed the monthly circulation figures for my local library have been declining for the past eighteen months or so. I bought a Kindle around eighteen months ago. Coincidence? Hmm . . .

A lot of people tell me they won’t buy an e-reader. They love books – the feel of them, the heft of them, the smell of them, the whole gestalt of them. I love books, too, as the eleven floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in our study, one in each boy’s bedroom, two in the second floor hallway, three in our bedroom, and one in the family room, plus the books piled on the floor on the study, on the bed-side tables in the bedroom, under the boys’ beds, on (and under) the family room table, and in all three bathrooms will attest. But I recently realized something important: it’s not books I love. It’s reading.

I bought the Kindle a few weeks before we left on a two-week trip to LA and Wisconsin (you can read about it further down on this site). I have a pathological fear of being stuck in an airport, or, worse, on a plane, with nothing to read. Needing to pack for what we had expected to be two entirely different weather conditions, our suitcases were just under the weight limit. Even one book would have tipped it over. And putting the dozen or so books I’d have needed for a two-week trip into my carry-on was just not practical, unless I had started pumping iron six months earlier. The Kindle was the answer to a reader’s prayers. Light weight. Easy to put in my purse. Holds the virtual equivalent of tons of books.

My biggest problem with the Kindle is its ease of use. Or, rather, its ease of downloading books. I have to remind myself not to buy a book unless I would buy it in hard copy; if it’s a book I would normally borrow from the library, I should still borrow it from the library. I haven’t listened to myself.

I’ve always loved to read. Anything. Anywhere. Any time. I remember being thoroughly bored on some car trip or other with my parents when I was quite young. I had nothing to read. So I picked up the telephone book (remember those?) on the floor of the back seat of the car (I’ve no idea why it was there) and read it.

I never minded being sent to my room. To me, it wasn’t punishment, because it meant I could read. It’s not that I couldn’t have gone to my room and read without misbehaving first, but chances are I would have been watching TV or talking to my friends on the phone instead. I wonder sometimes if the need to read overcame my common sense when it came to doing things like talking back. I never told my mother the punishments didn’t work.

What is it about reading that I love so much? I could go into a whole psychoanalytic mode and talk about being a lonely only child and finding companionship in books, except I always seemed to understand that being alone did not equal being lonely.

There’s something about a book that transports me, not just into a world of imagination (cue song from “Willy Wonka” – the Gene Wilder version), but into other people’s lives. Call it curiosity, call it escapism, call it laziness. I call it heaven.

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3 Comments

  1. jennymilch said,

    January 18, 2012 at 6:59 pm  · Edit

    I agree that it’s about reading, it’s about story–but I have to say, I really love the smell, look, weight, and feel of a book :)  I also love the whole bookstore experience. For me they are a part of that heaven you describe. I’m glad for the many readers who find their joy with e readers as well, though. The more people reading, the better, right?

  2. Mary Ellen Jankosky Hill said,

    January 20, 2012 at 4:15 pm  · Edit

    Ilene, do you ever re-read the books you have at home?

    • Rabbi Ilene Schneider said,

      January 20, 2012 at 9:09 pm  · Edit

      Not too often, which is why I really should clear out some of the bookcases before the next “gently read” book sale at the library.

2012 NON-RESOLUTION RESOLUTIONS

The ubiquitous they always say we should not make resolutions, as it just sets us up for failure. I generally don’t follow most popular advice, but I do in this case. I don’t make resolutions.

Weight loss? Forty years of futility have taught me that it if I want to have a better BMI, it would be easier for me to grow taller. Exercise more? I suppose it’s possible, as there’s no way I could exercise less. De-clutter and reorganize the house? Only if I win the lottery and hire someone to do it, and the chances of my winning the lottery are the same as the chances I’ll become a professional singer.

But, for some unfathomable reason, I decided this year to come up with a list of 12 probably attainable resolutions. I’m sure there are a lot of others I could list, but you’ll note that “stop being so lazy” is not included. Neither is “stop procrastinating,” so I’ll add more at another time. If I feel like it.

  1. Update this blog weekly. Okay, monthly. Well, more often than every six months. I’m already off to a good start, as today’s Jan. 1.
  2. Work regularly on the third Rabbi Aviva Cohen mystery, Yom Killer. Then, when Unleavened Dead is published (from my mouth to God’s ears; kenahora;tu-tu-tu), the next book will be ready to go into production.
  3. Go birding more often. I’m already off to a good start on this resolution, too, as I spent the day at the Forsythe NWR (aka Brig). And I plan to take a detour to Corkscrew Swamp and Ding Darling NWR on Sanibel Island when I drive from my parents’ house in Boynton Beach to Orlando for Sleuthfest in February.
  4. Don’t buy any more books about birding until I read the ones I’ve already bought.
  5. Don’t buy any more Kindle books until I read all the ones on my to-be-read list.
  6. Don’t buy any more DVDs until I watch all the ones that are still shrink-wrapped.
  7. Don’t TiVo any shows or movies unless I am really going to watch them within the next six months.
  8. Place resolutions 4, 5, 6, and 7 into the unrealistic category.
  9. Watch season 2 of “Homeland” and “Game of Thrones.”  (Try and stop me!)
  10. Read Game of Thrones. All 5 volumes. Or 6 or 7 or how many are published by the time I get through the ones already in print.
  11. Get to Israel this year. It’s been too long. And try to go during the height of the bird migration.  I’ve already started googling “birding tours in Israel.”
  12. Stop obsessing about my ranking on Amazon. It’s meaningless. Except when it’s a high ranking.

Writing, birding, reading, traveling. Yup. I can do all of those.

Happy 2012. May all your resolutions be easy ones to fulfill.

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  1. sunnyfrazier said,

    January 4, 2012 at 1:07 pm  · Edit

    I loved #8. Good to know when goals are unrealistic. But, isn’t life all about breaking our resolutions to get to the fun stuff? And, there’s always a chance you’ll catch up on reading, watching DVD’s and clearing your TiVo. A remote chance, but who knows?