Butterflies in the sky…
Today’s assignment for the Blogging 101 workshop is to respond to a writing prompt, which happens to be about books and reading:
When reading for fun, do you usually choose fiction or non-fiction? Do you have an idea why you prefer one over the other?
I love reading, I always have. I stay up late reading. I read all day when I can get away with it. My favorite weekend or vacation thing to do is stay in bed reading after I wake up. In fact, life as an expat is ideal for fueling my reading addiction. Already completed your work for the day? Great! Take your book to the pool or the park. Want to relax for a few minutes before/after the day’s excursion? Time to read! Because I set my own schedule, I make a lot of time to read.
Another thing that has helped feed my reading addiction is my Kindle. The advent of the Kindle is fantastic for people who like to read, who are secretly a little lazy, and who like to spend less money on books. I download library books all the time. I can get a library book any time of the day or night and there are no late fees when I inevitably forget to return it on time! There are plenty of books online that you can get right now for less than you would buy the paperback version. I can have a new book any time I want. My Kindle has not 100% replaced actual books in my life, but it’s hard to argue with the easy access to any book you want any time you want. (One big downside is that relying on your Kindle makes it difficult to support local bookstores. Supporting local bookstores is really important, and I do that too whenever I can.)
The Blogging 101 daily assignments are posted around 8am my time. I usually read them after breakfast with my second cup of coffee, ponder for a while, and then write (or do whatever the assignment asks) in the afternoon when I’m done with my day’s tasks. As it so happens, this morning, before I even looked at the assignment and writing prompt, I downloaded four new books to my Kindle. The stars could not have aligned better for me today.
Before I tell you about my new books, I’m going to tell you about a book I recently read: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. I first heard of Orphan Train on my library’s ebook page. Just like Amazon, my old library had a “suggestions for you” section based on your history. I thought it looked mildly interesting and put it on my wish list without reserving it. When I was browsing books on Amazon when we first got to KL, it came up again. I put it on my wish list again without buying it. (This is what I do. I find books that look interesting and put them on my wish list. Eventually I get around to reading them. It’s comforting to have a list of books ready for me when I’m ready for a new book. It’s like a security blanket.) Last week I decided I was ready to read it…it also may or may not have been on Amazon’s daily special. I have a fondness for books at a discount: “But it’s only $2! Even if it’s terrible, I only spent a couple of bucks on it. And maybe I’ll like it.”
Orphan Train is fiction based on an actual event in American History: orphans from New York were put on a train to the Midwest and an aid society tried to place them with families. Sometimes it was a family who wanted to legitimately adopt a child, sometimes it was a family who wanted extra labor. I’ll skip a long summary of the book; if you’re interested, you can find one here. In the notes at the end, the author makes several recommendations for further reading which I bookmarked for the next time I needed a book.
Back to today. I was ready for a non-fiction book, so I looked for one of those recommended books and chose Orphan Train Rider: One Boy’s True Story. Then something made me remember a book I had seen on the Daily Show a while back, so I looked for it: The Girls of Atomic City. If I remember correctly, it’s about a town that was involved in building atomic bombs in WW2, but no one working there knew that’s what they were doing. Then I browsed the Daily Deals and found that Don Quixote was available for $1.99 (USD) today, so I picked that one up. Again, any time I can get a book for two bucks, I’ll do it. Especially if it’s a great work like this. I also picked up a book that I’ve heard a lot of good things about, Americanah. To be honest, I have no idea what it’s about. But people I know and respect have liked it, so I’m in.
To loop back to the original prompt, I think I am pretty balanced between fiction and non-fiction in general. The books I chose today demonstrate that- two of each. The fiction books I picked up were mostly “on a whim” decisions. I don’t think I have a complex methodology for choosing fiction books in general. I’ve been reading a lot of historical fiction lately, but I really read anything. If it looks good, I’ll give it a shot. I really like non-fiction books, too, because I love learning things. There are so many things to know about the world, and there are so many great books about those things. It’s fun to learn about something you don’t know anything about. Reading a great non-fiction book is a fantastic way to learn something or gain a new perspective! If a book makes me consider the world in a new or different way, I’m really happy. Non-fiction books I have recently enjoyed: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, about a specific woman who made medical history and the ethical considerations around it, and The Warmth of Other Suns, about several people who left the Jim Crow South for better opportunities. Both are really excellent books that tell great stories.
Audience participation time: What books have you read and loved? What should I put on my security blanket wish list?