Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What's on Your Bookshelf?

Despite having books to read for classes, our interns still like to enjoy a book or two on their own. So we asked one intern, Molly Spain, what she has on her recreational reading list while at school.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Ever since the movie was released, all of my friends and family members have talked nonstop about this book. I finally caved to see what the hype was all about and am now about half way through the book. I’m enjoying it so far because I always like a good mystery every once in a while.  Flynn has created such complex, yet realistic characters that capture the inner thoughts and feelings that a lot of us have but are afraid to voice.

Alive and Well in Pakistan by Ethan Casey
I was given this book for free during my business journalism class. Ethan Casey spoke to our class about his experiences as a journalist, and his passion drove me to read his nonfiction book about his travels. The book offers an insight into a world that most of us do not know much about other than what we read and hear in the news. Casey writes about the generous, kind and caring people of Pakistan, clearing any bad reputation of that country that might have been instilled in Americans by media.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I never go anywhere without a copy of Austen’s classic on my bookshelf. I keep a copy at my parents’ house and in my apartment because who knows when I’ll want to reread this one for the thousandth time? This may be a cliché favorite book to have, but I learn something new each time I read it. If you have not yet read this much talked about, romanticized novel, I would suggest giving it a try. It’s not just a “chick flick,” it is a novel of impeccable writing and fascinating characters with a complex plot. 

H.L. Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H.L. Mencken
I received this book as a gift, and while it is dense and not normally my favorite genre to read, Mencken’s nonfiction essays provide some interesting commentary on a variety of topics. I have only managed to get through a quarter of the collection thus far, but it is one project I intend to see through the end, even if it takes me years. I will finish it eventually.

Isn’t it Pretty to Think So? by Nick Miller
This is Nick Miller’s debut novel. I heard about his book via Miller’s Tumblr blog where he would post selective writings from his novel. His writing style grasped me from the get-go. He has a concise, yet poetic way of writing with internal focalization. Though I have virtually nothing in common with Miller’s male main character, Miller’s writing makes the reader feel as if you really are the main character and are embarking on the same journey. I finished the book in two days, and have read it once more since then. I keep it on my shelf just in case.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Netflix of Books

Online streaming services for movies and TV shows have become a cultural phenomenon. How many people do you know with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, or HBO Go accounts? I use my family’s Netflix account, pay for Amazon Prime, and occasionally borrow my friend’s HBO Go login. Instant streaming has become the number one tool for procrastination, or better yet, laziness.

When I watch an episode of Friends or Breaking Bad on Netflix, I go through a series of emotions. First, it’s the relief: Now I can finally relax. Then, it’s the doubt: Should I really be watching TV right now? Finally, the guilt: I really should be doing homework, or finishing that project, or reading, or exercising.  Five episodes later, it’s too late. I’m hooked. There’s no going back.

But not all streaming has to be a guilty idle activity.

This is where Oyster Books comes in. For $9.95 a month (roughly the same cost of Netflix), Oyster allows unlimited streaming of its digital book collection anytime, anywhere. As if that’s not enough, Oyster just added the complete Harry Potter series to its collection.

I’m not championing digital e-book reading over print by any means. I actually do not own a Kindle, Tablet, Nook, or any other e-book device. I’m one of those people who has hundreds of books because I have to have the print copy. I still buy and read tangible, print copies of books. I prefer it. However, Oyster gives me the chance to decide if the print copy is worth it. I reread good books all the time, so Oyster gives me the opportunity to save a little money on the books I don’t like.

I don’t believe Oyster is the downfall of print books. I think Oyster can drive book sales. Opponents believe that $10 is too much for unlimited books every month because who can read that much to make up for that cost? My record is eight books in one month. My average is about two, and when I spend time watching Netflix, I finish about one book each month.

Since Oyster, my average number of books per month has increased. My guilt has decreased. And my intelligence has skyrocketed. Now, when I log onto my computer, I type Oyster into my web address bar instead of Netflix for the same sense of relaxation, minus the guilt of laziness.

Don’t hesitate or wait to get on board with Oyster.  Avoid the guilt of Netflix. As the Oyster website claims, it’s “beautifully digital reading for everyone.”

~Molly Spain, intern