Thursday, September 1, 2011

Books Change--Or Do They? by Joan Reeves, Guest Blogger

Joan Reeves writes funny, sexy, romance novels with great covers to attract your attention. When Joan turned to ebooks instead of print as a way to get her stories to her readers quickly and efficiently, she made a great decision. Her most recent release, Romeo and Judy Anne, was ranked #486 last week on in the Kindle Store at $2.99.

Like most of us, regardless of the genre in which she writes, Joan likes to read a variety of authors in a wide range of genres. Some of those books turn out to be keepers.


Books Change--Or Do They? by Joan Reeves, Guest Blogger

A lot of people think that ebooks are a flash in the pan. That they're not "real" books. Does that make them fake books? Real books get respect. They get treasured. They get saved and sometimes find a permanent spot on a reader's shelf. They have become a "keeper" that's to be held and eventually re-read.

Do you have keeper books? Perhaps a keeper shelf? Chances are, if you read a lot, you do. I know I have, not just a shelf, but entire bookcases of keeper books. Many don't understand this compulsion to read books that we've already read. How best to explain the desire to revisit a book after a year, or two, or ten?

I read a wonderful quotation about this very subject that was attributed to the late William Robertson Davies, one of Canada’s most popular authors. Mr. Davies wrote novels and plays as well as dramatic criticism. He was also a journalist and a professor. Mr. Davies explained the allure of books on our keeper shelves this way: "The great sin is to assume that something that has been read once has been read forever."

Ah, we keepers of books can attest to that. We have our favorites that we turn to again and again, and each time we discover something different in those well-read words. For my daughter, the book she reads every year is Dune. For me, it varies.

Will ebooks make keeper books a thing of the past? I think not. One of the many things I love about my Kindle is that it makes my keeper shelf virtually limitless. I can store a thousand books and access them within minutes.

As someone who has moved frequently in her life, and has had to cull the library each time, I love knowing that I never have to get rid of a book again. No more do I worry about the weight of boxes or the imminent collapse of an overfilled bookcase. I carry my library with me now in my purse. I even have the books arranged in collections by genre.

My keeper shelves in the study contain The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, Watchers and Lightning by Dean Koontz, A Rose In Winter by Kathleen Woodiwiss, The Ninja by Eric Von Lustbader, Shotgun Saturday Night by Bill Crider, Panzer Spirit by Tom Townsend, O. Henry Short Stories, my 12th grade English Lit book, the Jane Austen books, and so many more. I'm finding those same books as ebooks and loading them to my Kindle too.

Recently, I was flattered to receive an email from a woman who described herself as a "confirmed fan" of mine. She'd bought all my ebook romantic comedies and said they were keepers that she planned to re-read when she felt she needed a lift. You better believe that put a smile on my face. My ebooks are keepers to her. I know I mark some ebooks as keepers. I think we can justifiably conclude that the concept of keeper books will not slide down the digital divide and disappear.

Mr. Davies used the example of Thackeray’s Vanity Fair in his discourse on re-reading. The book is usually required reading in college, but the book you read at 18 is different, you’ll discover, from the one you read 20 years later. The older you get, the more your vision of that book changes. The words have not changed, but the experience you’ve incurred with every year changes you so what you get from the book will be different each time.

I once thought that reading a book again was like meeting an old friend after a long absence. In life, when this happens, we see the changes in our friends. In re-reading a favorite book, meeting that old friend again, as it were, we note that the book has a different resonance. It affects us differently. Same number of pages. Same words. The book has not changed. We have.


Thanks, Joan, for this excellent reminder to revisit our "keepers." I have quite a few that I'd love to read again and see how "they" have changed.

Joan Reeves is the Kindle Bestseller Author of 5 romantic comedies and Written Wisdom, Quotation-Inspired Essays for Writers and Readers. Learn more about Joan and her books at her website and her blog, Sling Words.


Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Thanks for hosting Joan.

Joan - Ah, yes, "keeper books..." I've definitely got my share of them as I think most people do. And if a Kindle allows one to have a whole host of "keepers" without taking up extra room, why not? Still I admit - for me, there's nothing like the feel of a real book in my hands...

Dean K Miller said...

"the book has not changed...we have" is an incredibly accurate phrase. That is what makes writing, reading, and living such a great journey. We return to "the same place" each year, or week, and it's never the same.

Always changing, always perfect. Such is the life of a "Keeper".

SlingWords aka Joan Reeves said...

Pat, thank you so much for hosting me today. You're the best!


SlingWords aka Joan Reeves said...

Margot Kinberg ... Yes, Margot, we all have our keepers. For those of us who grew up with print, we'll never fall out of love with the feel of the paper or that new book smell of ink and paper when you walk into a bookstore. Ebook readers are just another--sometimes more convenient--way to feed out reading habit.

Dean K Miller ... Exactly!

Best wishes,
Joan Reeves

Patricia Stoltey said...

This is a a wonderful post, Joan. Thanks so much.

One of my favorite "keepers" is Madeline l'Engle's "A Circle of Quiet" -- I pick up something new from it every time I read it.

Margot, as you know, I have a thing for real books too. Even so, I love having my Kindle loaded up with books I can easily take along to a conference or vacation.

Dean, I used to think it disturbing to visit an old favorite town and find so much changed. Nowadays I consider it an adventure and go exploring.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't reread a lot of books, but since most of my physical books are hardback, I'm definitely not letting them go.
I also dig my iPad. Now I have room for more books!

Kathryn Elliott said...

Hands down my keepers are The Shell Seekers and Coming Home, both by Rosamunde Pilcher. I’m a sucker for a good family saga.

SlingWords aka Joan Reeves said...

I have to mention another one of my keepers. It may surprise you, but it's a children's book. I guess I woke thinking about it this morning because of the guest blog post I wrote for Pat.

It's LOVE YOU FOREVER by Robert Munsch. The first time I ever read that I cried. I found the book in my Mom's bookcase after she died. I sat down and read it and wept. It was so fitting to how I was feeling so bereft at her passing.

I keep it in my bookcase now. I can't even touch it without crying, but I'll never get rid of it no matter how tattered and old.


Patricia Stoltey said...

I think that's why we get so attached to some books, Joan. Like certain songs, we identify them with important events in our lives, and the memories get all mixed up together.

Dorte H said...

Really good point.

And as I am definitely a collector, meaning that I am terribly at parting with my books, the Kindle is certainly a good invention. I wouldn´t dream of NOT keeping an ebook I enjoyed.

Kimberly Savage said...

Pat - you are as thoughtful as ever. The books don't change, but readers do. (BTW, you're on my keepers shelf!)

Joan - "Keepers" is such a universal, yet personal, concept. Some of mine - Allende, Austen, Evanovich, and Rowling. Now that I've committed to a Kindle, I will need to add you to my purchase list!

Marlena Cassidy said...

So, so very true, on both rereading old favorites and ebooks. I'm still not entirely sold on the Kindle, but there's something nice about not wrecking my back or shoulders having to lug around books to read everywhere. And I love rereading old favorites. There's always something I didn't notice the first time around that just speaks volumes to me the second or third go at it.

SlingWords aka Joan Reeves said...

I don't think any reader ever wants to part with books, but we moved so often that I had to. The first time I insisted to my husband that we HAD to move about 4,000 books, he looked at me as if I were insane.

After that, *sigh*, I donated books to the library each time I had to move.

I still have 8 bookcases scattered through the house, but I buy a lot less print copies now. I've had my Kindle for 18 months and I have a few hundred books on it. I take it with me everywhere I go, and I always have something entertaining to read.

Also, it's so much easier to read in bed at night without the rustling of turning pages keeping my husband awake. *G*

Patricia Stoltey said...

Joan, thanks again for your excellent post and for popping in to respond to comments. We hope you'll come back to visit us soon.

SlingWords aka Joan Reeves said...

Thank you, Pat, for hosting me. It's been a pleasure. I'll stay up to date with your blog because I'm signed up as a follower.

Best wishes,
Joan Reeves