Sunday, March 16, 2008

Books and magazines

If you don't know Lolcats (and you should!), I found a site that applies the concept to Vogue magazine. The best versions, I think, are tard moddles, c'est French lolvogue and Good help is hard to find. Priceless. Then of course we have our tard prez, which is funny only in the blackest-humor sense as in "If I didn't laugh I would have to weep but I'm already gnashing my teeth too much to do that."

Since having kids we've fallen out of the habit of eating in restaurants or seeing movies or other entertainment at night, mostly because babysitters are so damn expensive, but one thing we do is read a lot. To be fair I guess I should say "I" rather than "we" because Ben likes to watch TV more than I do; apparently my attention span has become microscopic for anything other than an absorbing book. Ironically, the internets make reading paper-and-ink books even more fun because I can keep track of books I want to read on my GoodReads list rather than jot down tiotles on scraps of paper and hope I can find them when I later show up in a bookstore or library. Then I put in a search for books (also CDs I can burn onto my Mac) with the Minuteman Library Network, they get delivered to my hometown library within a few days, and I get an e-mail notifying me to pick them up at the desk (and also a few days before they're due). I almost never randomly browse the stacks any more, and I don't have to keep a scrap of paper listing books I intend to read for when I find myself in a library, bookstore or (God forbid -- if I bought every book that sounded interesting rather than got it out of the library we'd be totally broke). When I'm done reading a book, I log it on GoodReads with a few sentences under "my review," though I usually wouldn't call it that; mostly it's just a hedge against my advancing senility because I sometimes forget what a book was about or even whether I've read it at all. The one place I do browse is the kids' room at the library. I grab a bunch of books almost at random, just scanning them for age-appropriate quantity of words, and dump them in a bag every week.

But I do love libraries. That nerd who hung out in the junior-high library after school? That was me. I was also the high school kid who was obsessed with Gregory Peck to the point where I got myself to the Boston Public Library on a number of Saturdays to photocopy articles about him in back issues of LIFE and Redbook by learning how to use the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature -- dozens of worn green volumes at the reference desk. Lots of dimes to photocopy the articles. It all came in handy in my later career as a journalist, though of course now it's all gone the way of the quill pen. Being a journalist today must be so much easier, at least in terms of finding background info about any given topic, though of course the human-contact element will always be essential. Like those three-hour Planning and Zoning Meetings... those were the days. Not.

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