Bookish things

Some of the blogs I read have been participating in a “show us your bookcases” meme. Grumpy rumblings, Mutant Supermodel, and Wandering Scientist have given a peek at their bookcases. I’m lifting the veil and showing our bookcases, too.

Knitting books

My knitting reference books

B's bookshelf #1

These are the first of two shelves of B’s books in the living room.

The shelves above appropriately “book end” the sofa. I have my knitting reference books sitting next to me whenever I’m sitting in my usual spot in the living room. Not shown is the side table where I can sit a beverage and stray stitch markers, knitting bags full of projects, and the Ott Lite that helps me see my stitches at night. B’s shelves are next to his side of the couch.

B's bookcase #2 in the living room

Another bookcase full of B’s books in the living room.

B mostly has books about Chicago history, architecture, and music. He’s recently thinned his collection, so there is plenty of room on the shelves here. He has another bookcase upstairs in his music studio/office that I didn’t photograph.

My cookbooks

These are my (printed) cookbooks.

These books are in my dining room. The stack of books about meat are on loan to me from a friend so I can research how to process the odd pig parts I got when I bought a butchered pig from a local farmer.

Messy bookcase in my office

Messy bookcase in my office

This is the messy bookcase in my office. At one time I started placing books there that had some meaning to me and that I wanted to keep, but that degenerated into a place to stack stuff in general. There’s a box at left center, for example, that has seed packets in it, and the little ceramic bowl at bottom right is used to store extra keys. (I made that bowl on a wheel when I took a pottery throwing class a few years ago.)

I have roughly the same amount of books in boxes that are stacked in the basement. One of these days I’ll get around to figuring out what to do with them…after I’ve finally gotten my home office organized and cleaned up.

Books have been a lot on my mind lately as I’ve been making more time to read. I’ve been known as a heavy reader since I was a kid, but in the past few years I’ve filled my time with many other things instead of books. Most of my reading had been relegated to scanning a few pages in bed before falling asleep.

Just after Christmas two years ago, I switched over to using an eReader almost exclusively. After trying out B’s iPad a bit, I found that I really liked the fact that I could read in bed at night without a light on (thanks to the backlit screen) and that I could even do so without my glasses since I could adjust the size of the font.

I didn’t want to splurge on an iPad, though, so I bought a Nook Color and “rooted” it so that it functioned like an Android tablet. I used that rooted Nook Color as my eReader for over a year, and then I took the plunge and bought an iPad. What I love about the iPad is that I have many choices for getting ebooks. Besides the built-in iBook app and bookstore, I have the Kindle app, the Nook app, the Google Reader, and the Overdrive Media app, which gives me lots of choices for how to consume books.

The Overdrive app can be set up to sync directly with your local public library, making it easy to borrow ebooks…if they have the books you want in e-book format and available, that is. The Chicago Public Library system has to serve nearly 3 million people — many of whom cannot afford to buy an eReader of any kind — so I don’t want to bash it for not having more ebooks available. But I do think there’s one thing that they should really improve, which is the Hold/Reserve function.

A patron is allowed to check out a maximum of six ebooks; on the other hand, a patron is only allowed to place a hold on a maximum of three. That seems backwards to me. Consider the following:

  • ebooks default to being checked out for 21 days
  • each patron is given five days to respond to the email that the e-book is available for check out

Therefore, each book could potentially be tied up for 26 days per patron. It’s possible an e-book is tied up for less time if the patron checks it out right away, and then returns it early. But when I find that a book I want to read is not available and I have to place a Hold, I always assume that means waiting about a month per Hold. The Overdrive interface indicates how many people have the item on Hold and how many copies the library licenses, so it gives you some idea of how long a wait there is for a book.

I also find it annoying that the Overdrive app never remembers my library login details, despite the checked “Remember my login information on this device.” My library card number isn’t easily memorized, so I’m always pulling it out whenever I want to look up the availability of a book or check the status of my Holds.

One thing about the e-book lending process that I absolutely love: there’s no possibility that I will have to pay an overdue fine. A few days before the  lending period ends, an email is sent as an alert. At the end of the lending period, the book is no longer accessible. It’s a simple process and one that does not require a forgetful and busy person like me to make a trek back to the library. 🙂