reading

To Live And Write In L.A.: A Day In The Life

By Hassel Velasco

Currently Working On: Untitled Beatles Project
Currently Listening to: The Beatles, “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band”
Currently Reading: The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962-1970, Mark Lewisohn

A Day In The Life

Recently, I was asked what my favorite Beatles song was. I didn't have an answer. I couldn't even narrow it down. Moments later, I was asked what my favorite Beatles album was and I had an even bigger issue picking just one. I did what any sane person would do. I created a Beatles playlist that ended up being about 118 tracks long. I had to find out which song out of the 200-plus songs The Beatles ever recorded was my favorite. I had to pick an album. It was no longer acceptable to answer these questions with an "I don't know" or ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

So I took the long weekend to drive to some of my favorite Los Angeles spots and try to figure out this conundrum like any of the other Silver Lake/Los Feliz-inhabiting hipster hopefuls.

I started on Sunday because Saturday was taken up by work (bleh). I began with what I consider my least favorite Beatles album, “Yellow Submarine,” on my way to Iliad bookshop in North Hollywood. It's ironic that it’s my least favorite considering I have a yellow submarine tattooed on my right forearm, but hidden in this album is one of my favorite songs. See the list below.

Next, I took the short drive over to Republic Of Pie, a pie/coffee shop in North Hollywood. Here I sat and listened to some of the earlier Beatles albums (“Please Please Me,” “With The Beatles,” “A Hard Day's Night,” “Beatles for Sale,” “Rubber Soul,” “Help”) while enjoying the most bomb-ass slice of banana cream pie. The covers recorded by The Beatles in their earlier records, like the banana cream pie, are also bomb-ass. The songs are great time capsules for the music that influenced the quartet. Full disclosure, I listened to as much of these albums as I could because I couldn't stay at a pie place for long without consuming massive amounts of pie, which would lead to potential heart failure. Moving on.

The drive to The Last Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles, like any drive in the city, featured long and time-consuming traffic measuring more than 10 miles. It’s worth it because the bookstore is one of my favorite places in Los Angeles. I can easily spend an entire day lost in its maze of books. Although parking is limited to whatever you can find in the area, it’s by far the best book destination in the city. (Pro tip: use the restroom before you get here. There is no restroom in the store, and public restrooms in Downtown Los Angeles are pretty much non-existent.)

I listened to the entirety of “The White Album” while book browsing. It's unfair to compare the earlier Beatles records with the band's later work. As revolutionary as The Beatles early records were, the foursome become a completely different monster once they halted all touring. “The White Album” is a testament to The Beatles extensible, but different, musical talents, and thus the beginning of the end.

I finished Sunday night with a drink at a bar called The Griffin in Los Feliz. A mythical venue, The Griffin was one of the first bars I visited when I moved out here. You can frequently see it as the exterior shot of the bar the characters of “New Girl” frequent. It's on the way to this bar that I came to the realization that “Let It Be” may possibly be my least favorite album. I drove home that night listening to “Revolver,” which is, in my opinion, the turning point in the band’s recording process.

On Monday, I decided to frequent my usual spots. After some errands in the Northridge area of the Valley, I drove to The Americana, a shopping center with my favorite Barnes and Noble. I began listening to “Abbey Road” on my way there and continued once I was nestled into a corner of the third-floor patio. I think “Abbey Road” is to The Beatles what Quentin Tarantino believes “Inglorious Basterds” to be...a masterpiece. How George Martin managed to keep John and Paul from killing each other is beyond me, but the result is an album that I can listen to from beginning to end without skipping a single song.

Finally, I ended my Monday night by having my traditional dinner of two Guinness pints at a bar in Van Nuys called Ireland 32's. It’s an Irish dive bar with live music almost every night. After finishing “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band” it was time to narrow things down. Working on this Beatles project has me focused on the pre-“Revolver” Beatles, so I haven't ventured out passed that album in quite some time. After listening to and evaluating the music as well as certain go-to spots around Los Angeles, I find myself associating these albums to these particular spots. I also painfully managed to narrow down that playlist to 20 songs.

Where You Once Belonged

Iliad Bookshop = “Yellow Submarine”

  • Underrated, filled with a couple of good surprises.

Republic Of Pie = Pre-“Revolver” Albums

  • Very good, can't have enough, but too much can potentially lead to a heart condition.

The Last Book Store = “The White Album”

  • A maze of talent and individuality you can get lost in. Can't take a bathroom break in-between.

The Griffin = “Revolver”

  • A turning point; a familiar, yet refreshing, take.

The Americana = “Abbey Road”

  • Lots of flashing lights, so much going on, but you can't help but get lost in its melody and charm.

Ireland's 32 = “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band”

  • I get by with a little help from my friends. (Guinness, Jameson, etc)

Top 20 Favorite Beatles Songs

  • “I Saw Her Standing There”
  • “Tomorrow Never Knows”
  • “Hey Bulldog”
  • “Here Comes The Sun”
  • “Don't Pass Me By”
  • “The Ballad Of John And Yoko”
  • “Happiness Is A Warm Gun”
  • “I Want You (She's So Heavy)”
  • “Something”
  • “I've Just Seen A Face”
  • “Because”
  • “Within You, Without You”
  • “Paperback Writer”
  • “Rollover Beethoven”
  • “Dizzy Miss Lizzy”
  • “I Should Have Known Better”
  • “Helter Skelter”
  • “Dear Prudence”
  • “Strawberry Fields Forever”
  • “Blackbird”

Top 3 Albums

  • “Abbey Road”
  • “The White Album”
  • “Revolver”

Essays Archive

5 Tips For Conquering Your Summer Reading List

A few books on Writer's Bone's summer reading list.

A few books on Writer's Bone's summer reading list.

By Rob Hilferty

Summer is right around the corner and that means most people have a lot more time on their hands. School is out, the days get longer. Most people use the summer as an excuse to travel, go outside, or work on some long forgotten projects. You know, like that book you've been meaning to get around to since Christmas. Or that stack of books you bought last year that you've totally been meaning to get around to once things finally settled down at the new apartment.

Yeah, assuming that you're not just skimming the bolded text like with all numbered lists, you know you're here because you probably need help with the whole reading list thing. I mean, really, what else are you going to for the summer, go outside? Do you know how fucking hot is it out there?

1. Break Your List Into Chunks to Make it Seem Less Daunting

First things first. You want to sit down and actually compile a list of all the things you want to read. Now this may seem fairly straightforward, but you can't just go balls deep on the first thrust. You've got to find and develop a rhythm that's sustainable for at least three months. Look at the list of books you have already. Even with all that Vitamin D from the summer sun, do you really think you're going to be able to read Infinite JestGravity's Rainbow,  and Finnegan's Wake all in a row without wanting to slit your wrists?

Be realistic and spread your books out. Toss in some light fantasy or pulp novels in between the heavier literature to keep you reading consistently. Depending on how ambitious your stack is, separating it into four to six book chunks with good mix of light and heavy reading will drastically reduce your chances of burning out within the first few weeks. And speaking of burn out...

2. Don't Be Afraid to Put a Book Down

Sometimes you really think you're going to like a book only to discover it sucks. Maybe the author pulled a bait and switch on you when you picked up a book about salt only to discover it's actually about cod, maybe reading Mysterious Skin when you're going through a personal crisis wasn't the best idea, or maybe you just really hate this fucking book you're reading right now for no reason.

Hey, it's cool. Put the book down and try something else. You can always go back and revisit that book but for the time being that book, for whatever reason just wasn't the book for you. Put the book down, walk away, and move on.

Cormac McCarthy.     This guy.    This fucking guy.

Cormac McCarthy. 

This guy.

This fucking guy.

What you don't want to do is grit your teeth and push through a shitty book just because it's on your list. Now that's not to say that you shouldn't push through a challenging book that you like, but sometimes those types of books can kill your reading habit. It took me three tries to get through Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian before I finally cracked it. Was it an excellent read? Absolutely. Was it worth my time and intellectual pursuit? Hell yes. Would I recommend it to everyone? Fuck no. The first two times I tried reading Blood Meridian were so demoralizing I actually stopped reading for a month or two afterwards because I felt so guilty about not finishing a book I was really interested in. Admittedly, the book is designed to be arduous for a reason, but not having anything to follow up with just killed my spirit. Had I just dropped the book and come back later I probably would've been able to read it a lot sooner than I ended up doing. However, the guilt was too strong to let me enjoy anything else. If we all followed Kenny Roger's sage advice about knowing when to fold ‘em, it would truly be a better world.

3. Read a Book You Wouldn't Normally Read

Now you're probably questioning this one because you're skeptical about finishing books you're actually interested in but seriously this one works. If you're really into a story driven fantasy novels, maybe try a historically accurate biography. Reading the same types of books can start to feel stale after a while, even when you really like them.

Part of the magic of reading is in discovering something wondrous about something you'd never thought to care about before. Books should inspire and educate people about how the world is, was, and can be. Good books should get you interested in something through compelling story telling and prose. Anyone whose ever read an Erik Larson book knows that he's a storyteller just as much as he's an historian. The point is, go read something different. Go learn something highly technical or read something bafflingly fantastic. Worse comes to worst you can always drop it and go back to your safety zone.

4. Find Someone You Can Talk to About Books

Whether it's a book club, a good friend, or an online forum, finding someone to talk about the totally awesome book you just read is exciting. When you're able to discuss books, especially particularly difficult and layered books, everything just feels better. Maybe you missed some big key piece in the novel that's been making you hate it, or perhaps you can just share in the thrill of talking about something brilliant.

Didn't have a book buddy.

Didn't have a book buddy.

Writing is an art, and despite what some people would say, it's an extremely social activity. I can't tell you how many times I've been gushing about a book when someone else completely unexpected joins in and we get to share a moment. Books are shared experiences, on a personal and societal level. It is our shared language and experiences that truly connects us as a people and books are merely an extension of that connection. Find someone who shares the same enthusiasm or loathing for a particular book and you'll not only want to read more but you may end up hating the human race a little less too.

5. Fucking Relax, They're Just Books

Let's be real here guys. I love books and reading. I mean enough that I'd like to involve them into a future career, but in all honesty some people take this shit way too seriously. Now I know I just spent a couple paragraphs waxing rhapsodic about universal connectivity of a good book, but not every book is like that. Sometimes a book is just a book. Sometimes a good story doesn't go beyond the boundaries of the page, but that doesn't mean they're worthless for not attempting to achieve more.

Just don't tell this guy.

Just don't tell this guy.

Certainly books have near infinite potential for how they can evoke, and invoke emotions but that's not the goal of every author. Sometimes books educate and illuminate, often times they merely entertain and that's more than okay. Don't be afraid or intimidated of something you're reading. Go at your own pace and forget about the number of books read and instead focus on the quality of the experience. If you rush through your list just to do it then you're missing out on a major part of the reading experience.

Overall, reading should be an enjoyable experience (or uncomfortable depending on what you're reading) and if you're not enjoying yourself then maybe it's time to take a long hard look at yourself and figure out why. Maybe try reading in the sun or some shit? I don't know.

Rob Hilferty's Summer Reading List 
Group A: 
  • This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
  • The Redemption Engine by James Sutter
  • The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek
  • King of Chaos by Dave Gross 
Group B: 
  • An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
  • The Gunslinger by Stephen King
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell 
Group C: 
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • How the Irish Became White by Noel Ignatiev
  • No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai
  • American Pastoral by Phillip Roth 

For more essays, check out our full archive

From Europe With Love: 12 Snapshots of Spain to Spark Your Creativity

Franco-Españolas Winery in Logroño (a favorite of    Ernest Hemingway   )

Franco-Españolas Winery in Logroño (a favorite of Ernest Hemingway)

By Stephanie Schaefer

Writers often feel restless and for justifiable reasons: deadlines, writer’s block, and a lack of creativity stemming from their day-to-day routine. Solving these problems typically requires a change of scenery—moving to a different room in your home, going outside, or, if you’re lucky, flying to a distant continent.

Writing isn’t known for being the highest paid industry, but they say that “traveling is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” That’s as good excuse as any to book a ticket abroad, right?

Here are 11 more snapshots from my recent trip to Spain to save for a rainy day or creativity drought:

1. Overlooking the vineyards in Laguardia (not to be confused with the New York airport of the same name)

2. Colorful alley in Laguardia

3. Picturesque ocean view of the Basque Country coast (San Sebastian)

4. San Sebastian at sunset

5. Those who live in Crystal Palaces should not throw stones, they should just admire the view (Palacio de Cristal in Madrid)

6. Snapshot of a Flamenco dancer in Madrid

7. There’s no raining on this Madrid parade—just plenty of sunshine and bright attire!

8. The Buen Retiro Park (translation: "Park of the Pleasant Retreat") on a beautiful spring day

9. How could I not take a picture of the vast literature on the streets of Madrid for Writer’s Bone?

10. How many novels does a writer have to sell in order to live in this castle-like abode overlooking the park?

11. Corner of the Plaza Mayor filled with cafés and culture

For more essays, check out our full archive

How My Older Brother Made Me A Lifelong Reader

Readers with wheels.     My older brother Tom and I following the Hartford Half Marathon in 2010.

Readers with wheels. My older brother Tom and I following the Hartford Half Marathon in 2010.

By Daniel Ford

My older brother Tom is the smartest person I know.

(Okay, his wife is probably even smarter, but I’ve known Tom the longest, so he wins).

I loved the fact that he was smart when I was growing up. It made me want to be smart. It made me want to read a book at the breakfast table like he did every morning. His example made me want to do my homework right when I got home and strive to do the best I could do in school.

I remember walking into his room as a kid—always when he was out of the house because I was too afraid to ask him to hang out—and marvel at all the cool stuff he had. His Don Mattingly and Wade Boggs baseball figurines, NFL gridiron comforter, his original Nintendo. It was a nerd nirvana!

More importantly, Tom always had a ton of books arranged beautifully on his bookshelf. I didn’t steal them back then because I was still reading illustrated versions of Robin Hood and Treasure IslandThe Boxcar Children, and any "Star Wars" novel I could get my hands on. I loved knowing his weightier books were there and he had either read them or was planning on reading them. I would go back to my own room and rearrange my less impressive array of titles on my bookshelf so that each shelf started with the tallest book and ended with the shortest, just like my older brother did.

Thanks to my older brother, this is what my life looks like.

Thanks to my older brother, this is what my life looks like.

I read everything back then, but I hadn’t had the moment. You know the moment I’m talking about. It's the moment when someone puts a book in your hands and it hits your mind like a thunderbolt and completely changes the direction of your life.

Tom put several books in my hands one Christmas and I’ve haven’t been the same since. He wordlessly handed me a superbly wrapped present. The box was heavy. Since I was only reading thin paperbacks at that point, I didn’t know that meant it could only contain one thing. Books. Heavy, beautiful books.

Inside the box were three books that transformed me from a reader to a readerTo Kill a Mockingbird1984, and John Irving’s The World According to Garp.

I devoured the first two in short order. My young mind was blown that those two masterpieces came out of someone’s pen. People actually wrote like this? You mean there was more to literature than just pulpy fiction and sci-fi adventures?

Even if I had been a stronger reader at that point, nothing would have prepared me for the opening line to Irving’s classic novel:

“Garp’s mother, Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston in 1942 for wounding a man in a movie theater.”

Whoa. 

Heavy stuff for a kid who was just trying to survive middle school!

When Tom went to college, I spent a lot of time raiding his bookshelf (and his music collection). He had already made the jump to American history tomes that were way over my head at the time, but which I attempted to plow through all the same. I’m pretty sure I still have his copy of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States that I stole back in high school (and finally finished as a college sophomore). He moved out after graduating and took all his books with him, but the bookshelf stayed behind. I relentlessly set out to fill it after immediately moving into his old room.

Me holding said copy of A People's History of the United States   on a trip to Yankee Stadium.

Me holding said copy of A People's History of the United States on a trip to Yankee Stadium.

I had some help thanks to my high school English teacher Pamela Hayward, who consistently handed me books like Crazy in AlabamaSnow Falling on Cedars, and As I Lay Dying, in addition to the required reading for AP English. But the constant was my older brother. Every Christmas, there would be more books. Or gift cards with recommendations attached. Or a loan from his precious collection.

Now, our bookcases are essentially lending libraries between the two of us. He has books on his shelf that I’ve loaned him without having read them, and vice versa. He likes to kid and say that a book has to be on his shelf for 10 years before he reads it (except for Eric Foner’s Reconstruction, which he will never read). If I can’t find a book in my collection, odds are he has it. Some of the best moments of our bonding weekends are spent talking about all the books we have yet to read in front of one of his bookcases (I usually end up taking one or two home with me every time).

His early example also inspires me to buy books for his three kids—as well as all my other nieces and nephews—for birthdays and Christmas. Toys are fleeting and end up as yard sale fodder. Books are a gateway to creativity, curiosity, and fun! I’ll be getting them books even when they think I’m the lame uncle who gives books (including my own someday…don’t judge me) as gifts, because that’s what I learned from my older brother. It has the added bonus of allowing me to rediscover titles from my youth and keep current with today’s children’s literature.

My nephew Jack (top photo)   and my niece Katie giving me hope for future readers.

My nephew Jack (top photo) and my niece Katie giving me hope for future readers.

Tom is now a principal at an elementary school in Connecticut, where he’s inspiring a new generation of young minds.

I follow his Twitter account and couldn’t be prouder when I see something like:

Dr. Veronesi read to both kindergarten classes this morning for Read Across America Day! @KathyVeronesi#rsd13ctpic.twitter.com/ehKB3lFLSI
— Thomas D. Ford (@TFord_LymanCT) February 28, 2014

I sleep well knowing the next generation of readers is in good hands.

For more essays, check out our full archive

Picking Up the Pen: Overcoming Your Fear and Becoming a Writer

By Robert Hilferty

About a month ago, my handsome buddy Sean Tuohy asked me if I’d be interested in contributing to Writer’s Bone. I told him I’d be delighted, as I’d had some ideas kicking around. And hey, why not?

I wrote my first piece titled “H.P. Lovecraft: Horror’s Racist Grandpa”. I wrote it and then told Sean I needed a week to look at it with fresh eyes to which he, being the kind gentleman that he is, obliged. I was proud that I was contributing to a website (on writing no less) and decided to tell a friend of mine about it. That’s when she tells me she’s read that blog post before. I’m not saying that I plagiarized the article (which you can read here), but rather, the idea had been done before and I found myself paralyzed. It’s not that I need to be a special snowflake or anything, but the fact that the core concept for my article down to the title was done and I felt as though it invalidated my whole piece.

H.P. Lovecraft: Master of Terror...and Racism

H.P. Lovecraft: Master of Terror...and Racism

Now at this point you’re probably thinking to yourself, “I don’t really care about your pity party. Suck it up and move on.” However, I think my situation, much like my article idea, isn’t so unique. There are plenty of creative people who can’t get over their own fear to pick up a pen, or sit down at a keyboard, and write. I’m one of those people. Now before I get going, this isn’t going to spiral into some kind of self-help pitch, nor am I here to give you any solid tips on how to directly get over your own fear, rather I’m here to tell you my own story in hopes that it might help someone. I seriously doubt it, but fuck it.

Let’s do this thing.

I’ve always struggled with calling myself a writer and what being a writer really means to me. It’s something I’ve dealt with my whole life. I’ve talked to a lot of people on the subject and the opinions range from “We’re all writers” to “You’re not a writer until you’re a best-seller.” In many ways both of those extremes are right and in just as many ways they’re both assholes. Even though I’ve written my entire life—poetry, journals, short stories, tabletop RPGs, you name it—I’ve never called myself a writer. I always say that I’d like to be a writer and, despite a lifetime’s worth of writing, I don’t consider myself a “writer.” It’s just never been something I can comfortably self-identify with. It’s like some major title with powers and responsibility.

Fear is a mind killer and it can really consume you if you let it. I sat there staring at my article and felt like it didn’t mean a damn, terrified that I’d be called a hack or a sham for writing something so similar to what someone else wrote. The entire process stressed me out and it took a month to realize something monumental.

Who the fuck cares?

I’m the only one who actually gives a damn about this piece of shit article I’m writing and I’d rather I have something to point to and say, “I wrote this! Here it is on the Internet!” than have it sit on my computer.

Part of my problem that I’m a perfectionist and I feel as though everything I write must be gold. I’m overcoming that delusion slowly coming to terms with the fact that not everything I write is going to be special or perfect. This might be obvious to most, but it has taken me a long time to have it sink in. I’ve been writing my whole life so why not let other people see what it is I’ve been writing? There’s an excellent quote from Steve Johnson in “Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation” that helps me put things in perspective:

This quote has helped me pull through a lot of hesitation in my writing and helps me feel okay when I fail spectacularly. I’m going to fail as inevitably as the next marketing push for Xbox Kinect, and now, unlike Microsoft, I get to learn from it all.

Seriously, how did they think this would be a good idea?

Seriously, how did they think this would be a good idea?

So what’s the takeaway from all this? Is it to simply suck it up and get over it? Was this whole article just a big apology letter for taking so bloody long to contribute to the Bone? Well sure, but it’s a bit more nuanced than that.

Writing is hard. At least for me it is. I put my heart on the page and blood in the metaphorical ink. Writing is who I am. I still may not consider myself a writer, but it’s what I do and it means too much to me to quit now.

Just try and stop me.

Essays Archive

Say No to E-Books: Matt’s Rebuttal

A debate has been raging at Writer’s Bone HQ for most of the day. Before you read about Matt tearing Dave a new one, check out his original post, as well as Dave’s original response and his rebuttal, and today’s installment of The Boneyard

Throughout the history of mankind, there has been an evolution in the world of writing and reading. In ancient Egypt, people used hieroglyphs. When people decided that it took absolutely forever to draw those intricate shapes and caricatures on the walls, they started writing things down on papyrus. Then, the printing press was born, and so on and so forth.

As time and technology moves forward, so does the way of the written word. But why? For simplicity’s sake. If not, we would all still be chiseling shit on walls and driving television producers for HGTV nuts (Can you imagine “Love It or List It?” viewers fighting among themselves as to which interior design was better based on the stories written on the walls?).

Does simple mean the best method to do something? Absolutely not. Look at Twitter. Twitter is a news editor’s dream come true. But when used mainly for personal use (Basically anyone under the age of 18 or a celebrity), it’s the most obnoxious form of media available. It’s mainly 140 characters that no one will ever, ever need in their lifetimes.

E-books make reading more readily available for those who want it, simply. Gone are the days of waiting three to five business days because the book that you were trying to buy at Borders (RIP) is sold out or no longer in stock. A click of the button allows you to have that book almost immediately, without any hassle.

Amazon saw an opportunity to adapt to a changing medium with a proper business model that would ultimately lead to success. Nowhere does Amazon dictate how much a writer should be paid based on their writing. If anything, getting rid of production costs and focusing your book to be online only can only help your profit margin, don’t you think? Besides, the difference between paid content and free content is a completely different animal. It’s like comparing lions and caterpillars. Or, some other weird set of animals that have nothing else in common.

And the idea that reading a paperback book at a library or book store makes you a better person is wrong in more ways than not. Reading a paperback book isn’t going to make you talk to the cute girl that sits next to you on the bus. If anything, you’re going to be ignored no matter what you’re holding because she’s a bit busy looking on her iPhone anyways.

Some books need to be in print. The classics clearly cannot be fully enjoyed on a tablet, and that’s not even negotiable. But to think that there is no place for e-readers at all because they make us seem like a self-absorbed douche is asinine.

Be sure to check out:

Say Yes to E-Books: Dave’s Rebuttal

A debate has been raging at Writer’s Bone HQ for most of the day. Before you read Dave’s evisceration of Matt, check out his original post, as well as Matt’s original response, and today’s installment of The Boneyard. Be sure to also read Matt’s rebuttal

The advent of the Internet has changed a great many things. Many people no longer go to busy and infuriating malls and retails stores. You can watch almost any movie or television shows right on your tiny little handheld screen. You don't have to get the messy ink of a newspaper on your fingers, and the newspaper refreshes every hour bring you new, pertinent, and factual updates.

Right? Maybe. Or maybe the Internet has just made things easier, not better. Maybe digital content is just simpler, not more progressive. Change doesn't mean progress, it never has. The Internet is here to stay, clearly. But it doesn't mean we need to switch everything over to digital; in fact, that's probably the most damaging thing we can do. In my upcoming post, I'll break down one of the very many reasons why converting our whole lives to the digital world is killing some aspects of our culture: vinyl. Don't roll your eyes, because vinyl is coming back and coming back huge. Why? More on that to come.

Most people spend a large amount of time on the Internet, reading and watching. What are they reading and watching? If you commute to work, the next time you board your bus or train or subway, look at how many people are "plugged" in. Examine them for a second. Examine the guy on his 20th (!) session of “Temple Run.” Eavesdrop on how many people one person is texting and emailing and "communicating" with at one time. Reading teaches you how to be alone, but at least you know you're alone, you're not tricking yourself into thinking your not just looking at a phone.

E-books didn’t kill print, greed killed print. Do you honestly think Amazon gives two shits about the spread of human written word? Or did they just dump all their money into something new and cheap? And the Kindle was born. How does all this bode for writers?!

Not well. Like everything else on the Internet, it's all quantity over quality. Let's pump out eight stories in five hours with partial information rather than waiting five hours to get the facts right and publish something coherent. What's talent when you have 100 amateurs who are willing to be paid nothing to do the job one professional writer could do? Don't be sold something you don't need. Don't acquiesce because it's easier. Convenience has never been the right answer, for anything. Ever. Seriously, look it up on Wikipedia...

Maybe dragging yourself to the mall is a good thing. Maybe it teaches you how to tolerate people who don't share your beliefs or manners. Maybe that's how you spend time with a friend or parent. Maybe the girl sitting next to you sees the book cover of your book and, dare I say, a conversations starts. What if that downtime you spend on your phone or tablet lets you think more about the outside world, about the women with a cane who could use a seat more than you, and about the girl crying on the phone in the seat behind you would might have a much better day if you just offered her the tissue in your backpack instead of continuing to "deny" pictures of girls on Tinder. Literature has always been about holding a mirror to the world. But it's hard to be critical when you convince yourself the reflection looks so damn good.

The "if you can't beat them, join them," mentality has always been a defeatist one, and always will be.

Be sure to check out:

Say Yes to E-Books: Don’t Hate the Screen, Hate the Publishers!

Earlier, Dave Pezza expressed his impassioned beliefs on why e-books are lame. Here’s Matt DiVenere’s response. Also check out today's installment of The Boneyard for more debate.  

Let me preface this entire rant by saying I was a print journalist. I actually went to school for print journalism despite the entire world telling me that I was an idiot to get into a field that was going to be extinct before I turned 30. Therefore, what I’m going to say may upset and confuse you.

The whole idea of “hating technology” is the reason that the print industry is in such a shit world at this point. Instead of embracing it, print lovers tried to give technology a big middle finger and hoped that it didn’t come back to bite them. Well, it has.

Let’s take e-books, for example. It’s no shock that people are starting to trend away from reading hard copies of books and instead going right to the electronic form of this media.

In fact, last year was the first year ever that the average adult spent more time online than watching television during a normal day. According to a poll taken by eMarketer.com, adults over the age of 18 years old spent over five hours a day. That’s compared to the four and a half hours spent watching television, as well as the hour and a half spent listening to the radio.

Want to know how much time is spent reading print? Thirty-two minutes.

The amount of time the average adult spends reading print media (newspapers, magazines) has been dropping by six minutes each year since 2010, while time spent in the digital world has increased over two hours in that same time frame.

Still not convinced? Well, eMarketer broke down what it means to be a digital viewer. Smartphone use currently sits at one hour and seven minutes while the use of a tablet averages one hour and three minutes. That’s still nearly double the print viewership.

One can argue that the only reason that people are online more is to play Fruit Ninja, or check out their Instagram accounts. Whatever the case may be, it is very clear that we are in a digital age and anyone who believes otherwise probably waits to hear breaking news stories from little kids holding up newspapers, screaming “Extra, Extra!” on street corners (And if you do, I have so many questions).

There are those who shoot down the idea of e-books just because of what they represent: progress. No more paper cuts, no more old-book smell, and no more weekend visits to the library.

I get it. Reading a paperback book is an experience in itself. However, a good book should be able to transport you into a different world no matter what you read it on. If your book isn’t doing that for you, maybe you need to rethink what you’re reading.

Be sure to check out: 

Say No to E-Books: For God’s Sake, Think of the Bookmarks!

Dave Pezza ignited a Writer’s Bone debate with this rant against the e-book. Be sure to read Matt DiVenere’s argument in favor of e-books after this! 

Okay, I've been putting this off for too long.

E-books. It's time to fuck e-books right up.

Let's first address the elephant in the room: Amazon. Amazon has cornered the e-book business, buying up rights to classics. What worries me about this is a Nazi-era hording of texts by one company. Who knows what can happen to those rights now. Obviously, Amazon isn't burning books—in fact its publishing books in what it would have us believe is a medium more conducive to widespread readership. However, it still makes me shutter like the scene in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” where Indy dies inside as Germans torch books at a Hitler rally.

I suppose my more logical problem with e-readers and e-books is based in an American cultural plague of convenience. E-books don't add to the reading experience. Digital text on a screen adds no more to the experience that having a physical book in your hand. In fact, it diminishes it. You are unable to annotated or underline text without becoming aggravated with the tiny or nonexistent keyboard.

Bookmarks would be non-existent! If you are a true reader, bookmarks mean the world to you. They do for me. My current bookmark is thin piece of wood that has been smoothed and polished from the Monticello gift shop. "I cannot live without books" has been engraved into the wood! It's not like film, where visual effects have become better and the physical limits of film tape can be corrected by digital means. An e-reader simply simulates a book for the asinine convenience of being able to have a hundred books at your fingertips, which defeats the purpose of reading, in my opinion.

Read Jonathan Franzen's essay "Reader in Exile" from his essay collection How to Be Alone (an interesting book he wrote around the turn of the century that ended up forecasting everything that would occur culturally in the U.S. in the following 10 years). Franzen's thesis is that reading teaches how you how to be alone. It forces you to be comfortable with yourself alone in a room with just a book. I can't see how that is possibly with an e-book, especially with Wi-Fi, hundreds of applications, and all that poppy-cock (so glad I got to use that word).

And the carbon footprint argument is bullshit. Granted, print books should be more readily recycled, and cotton paper needs to drum up a better following, but what is the carbon footprint for making a Kindle? All that plastic, metal, and whatnot? The Kindle is manufactured in China in a factory I'm sure that pumps more pollution into the Chinese air.

I can hear it now: "Yeah, but you only buy one, and that's it." What about the Kindle Fire or whatever those marketing sell-outs call the second, third, and fourth generation Kindle models? What about Apple constantly upgrading its software, causing old models to be unable to operate with all the updated bells and whistles? Is all this worth the extreme convenience of being able to carry 100 books instead of one? All I know is that I can only read one word, in one sentence, in one paragraph, in one chapter, in one book at a time.

But maybe I'm just old fashion.

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