Sunday, May 5, 2013

Overdrive, baby!


I just wanted you to know that I haven't entirely fallen off the reading wagon. In fact, I'm making pretty good progress with The Making of the Atomic Bomb, but since it's 800 pages...well. That's taking a while. I'm at about page 500, so I'm thinking I will get through it in the next few weeks.

I know we're both big readers, and I'm wondering if you have a library card? I don't use the Chicago Public Library much, which is an embarrassing thing to admit. However, I use my school library all the time. After all, they know me personally, they'll buy books for the library if I request them, I have unlimited borrowing privileges, and I don't have due dates. It's basically the best thing ever! Last week, they had a workshop about how to use Overdrive, a platform for their electronic library.

Kelly, I shit you not, it is the most amazing thing ever. You can CHECK KINDLE BOOKS OUT FROM THE LIBRARY.  Basically, you select them from the library homepage, and then it takes you straight to Amazon to download the books to your Kindle.

This week, I read Richard Ford's novel Canada. On my Kindle. For free! /fans self.

This is a dangerous and awesome new development in my life. Get thee to your local library and set yourself up!



  1. [Part 1 of 2 -- I wrote too much!]
    Aw, crap! I finished April's book *weeks* ago and then just completely forgot to write about it. Okay... I'll try to do that tonight (on the patio because it is *gorgeous* outside right now!)

    Re: Overdrive. My experience has not been nearly as magical as yours.

    But first... the library: Yes, I am a card-carrying member of my local library and the library itself is pretty great. In fact, we should go next time you visit -- it's really nice! There's a fireplace, which I think is just so quaint. Also, there is a *huge* selection of used books for sale ($1 hardbound, 50c for paperback) in the front lobby -- more than any other library I've ever been to (and they're books you'd want to read!) It's clear that this is a big library-using community, which tends to make for a good library.

    In fact, I'm currently reading a library copy of Catcher in the Rye (I do not hate it as much as the first time I read it, but I think I have far lower expectations this time -- I am not the appropriate gender or age [and, possibly, era? Do today's teenage boys like this book?] to really "get" this book and I think I appreciate that more this time through... if that makes sense.) I like to go at lunchtime and now that the weather is nice, I could even walk -- it's about half a mile from my house (just can't check out too many books!)

    Sooo... I first went investigating at my local library because I have a bit of an aBook addiction and aBooks aren't cheap. At 2 credits a month, it's about $12/book. That's not insane, but I do listen to a lot of aBooks, and have been limited by my "2 credits" restriction before, so I thought I would check it out (no pun intended). At the library, there are shelves and shelves of CDs. Um, no. I mean, that's great and all, but it's just not how I'm spending my time. Also, there were zero *current* titles there on CD, so I thought I was out of luck, but then I saw signs for Overdrive: "Download Audiobooks right to your device!" Perfect!

    I went home and investigated Overdrive and, just for fun, I searched for the few most recent aBooks I had listened to -- I mean, if those are available, I could basically boot Audible, right? I guess they are, *technically*, but the wait list for *all* of the books I had recently listened to ranged from about 100-300 patrons. Seriously! So I just looked for "currently available" aBooks and it's all random stuff that I would not really be interested (like digging at the bottom of the bargain basement bin -- really bad.) At that point, I gave up on Overdrive. I guess I could get on those waitlists and, in a year or two, be happy to have saved the money, but... well. No.

    Now, I must admit... I did not realize there was an eBook component to this thing until reading your post. The aBook thing was a bust, but hey! The eBook situation might be great! I actually had my hand on Canada in the airport a few weeks ago (how was it?) so this is great -- eBook for free?! So I just logged in and looked it up. I'm 6th on the list. Not as bad as the aBook situation but still, not the Instant Gratification that is part of why eBooks are so great. (There is one copy of the pBook currently available, so I could go to the library today and just *get* it). I'll let you know how long it takes for my number to come up -- there are 2 copies and each patron has 3 days to check it out once their number comes up.

  2. [Part 2 of 2 -- Can't stop me!]

    I then looked up about a dozen more books that I have either recently read or have my eye on reading. Of those, about half were on Overdrive and, of those, zero were currently available. The range was 12th in line to about 26th.

    I also just looked up Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn because I happened to see a few copies of the pBook at the library when I was there last week (just checked online and they are still there). There are currently 344 people in line for that one. Just for shits and giggles, I looked at an older book of hers -- Sharp Objects -- and there are 73 waiting for that (again, there is a pBook copy available at the library).

    SO... I guess that Overdrive is really only a viable option for people who are members of big city libraries? My library seems to be part of a group of libraries called "Midwest Collaborative for Library Services" -- just looked it up and that's Michigan and Indiana, which might not be the best pool to be in for resources. :/ Although my library also claims to be part of some "Advantage" program which, according to the Overdrive Help, means they buy additional copies of books "just for our our patrons" meaning "less wait times". Hrm.

    Have you checked out any other books? How are you finding the availability? When you went for Canada, was it available to you right away? How many "copies" of that book does your library have? (Just out of curiosity).

  3. Yeah, I was actually hoping that the smaller city library would be better. I think part of the reason it works so well for me is that it's the school library, which has a pretty small number of borrowers (students and faculty only) compared to the monstrous numbers in a big city library system. Ultimately, I think this is a system that is still imperfect but that could have good potential once they figure out how to manage the wait numbers. It seems more like a good place to pick up a random book that sounds good rather than a specific title you've been looking for---which is sort of how libraries are to me anyways.

    I guess the trick would be to put yourselves on all those lists and then slowly, over time, you'd get a constant stream of emails that informed you of books you could check out when they became available.

    I definitely picked Canada because the library at school had it. Honestly, I didn't know much about it except that I've heard a lot of good things about the author. We've had that conversation before about going into a book without prior knowledge, and that's what I did with this one. I liked it, totally worth the read, and pretty quick, too.

    As to your other question: Kids don't like Catcher in the Rye anymore. At all. It's actually a pretty interesting conversation we could have once you're finished with the book!

  4. I keep thinking about this Overdrive thing... if MI and IN can combine resources, it just seems like... why can't *all* of the libraries just get together and get into one huge pool going? Somehow, the resource to borrower ratio needs to be figured out.

    I still have my old library card... I should log on from over there and check out the situation. Nothing nefarious -- just wondering if a huge state w/ a giant population would make a difference.

    Is it *just* your school library that you are borrowing from? (Vs. my situation, where I seem to be sharing with everyone in MI and IN?)

    You know, I find the interface a little hard to use, so the "just browsing for the sake of it" seems much harder online than in the actual library. And with the advent of searching catalogs online, I actually *do* go to the library with intended books that I have put on hold. Basically, my current New Read Hunts go like this these days: read/hear about an interesting book. First, check the library catalog online. Do they have it in? Great -- put it on hold and go pick it up. Is it checked out? Okay... how many people ahead of me? One or two? Put it on my list. If they don't have it, check the usual book-buying routes. While I'm *at* the library, of course I also browse the New Releases section and see what they've got (my library actually has a *lot* -- during the ToB, they had about half of the ToB candidates in stock in New Releases!)

    I did reserve a few on Overdrive today... we'll see how long that takes. There aren't any that I am *dying* to read, so when they show up, I'll probably be happy enough to see 'em. ;)

    I finished Catcher today. I had the same thought that I had the first time I read it: When it first came out, the "conversational" tone of the prose must have been so novel (no pun intended -- I'm full of them today). But since *so* many books have done this since and continue to do this today, it just ends up seeming weird and dated. Judy actually read it when it first came out and she said that everyone was just "shocked" by the writing style at the time and that it was really controversial. Also cause he talks about sex a little, I guess. But mostly the writing style was what she remembers.

  5. Yes, I am just borrowing from my school library, although you can borrow from multiple libraries using Overdrive. I think that's why it's so great for me: the number of borrowers for adult books has to be tiny, maybe 200 or so faculty and staff---high school students, of course, but they are too busy to read--- and I'm sure there are a lot of people who aren't big readers in that number. So not a lot of competition for those scarce resources.

    I am still deciding if I should buy an eBook or pBook of the new Sookie Stackhouse. Sigh. find Holden Caufield to mostly be a mess, and they in no way sympathize with him or find him interesting. Kids these days actually like their parents and find him supportive. The whole idea of "phoniness" is completely foreign to them. It's just not that compelling to them personally anymore. Definitely seems weird and dated to them.

  6. That should say: that kids find them (their parents) supportive. Holden's frustration with his folks and his conviction that they could not know or understand him is just not how kids feel about their parents these days.

  7. Come on! Really? Teenagers today never think "parents just don't understand?" Really?! WOW. I really am completely out of touch. (I also have that Will Smith song in my head now...)

    Buuut... do you think it's *all* kids or specifically the kids you know (acknowledging, of course, that the kids you know generally *do* have supportive parents... at least financially and *probably* also emotionally/intellectually ... I mean. They're investing in them enough to send them to a *very* good school, right?)

    Of course, Holden came from a privileged family, so if anyone should relate, it would be other privileged kids, so that blows that theory. I wonder if kids who get shipped off to boarding schools still relate.

    Although... when this book came out, it wasn't just the boarding school/privileged boys who related (as far as I can tell). Seems like Holden spoke for many teenaged boys. But I wonder if it was his "voice" (in a written style not seen at the time) that they related to ("He sounds like me!") and, of course, that is just not standing up to the test of time at *all* -- his jargon is really hard to cut through now.

    Random floating thoughts there... didn't really make a point. Just wanted to talk about Catcher a little. Is it still *read* in schools at all?

    (Also... This: "Ok. Here's the situation/My parents went away on a week's vacation..." HAHAHAHA.)

  8. I think it's just not holding up well over time, and that's everywhere and noticed by all teachers. You may be right that it's "voice" that just seems dated. I would say that sure, kids, feel like their parents might not understand them, but the kind of epic feelings of dissonance that Holden feels from his folks has just changed.

    Here's an interesting article about how kids react to Holden these's a pretty interesting take on why kids just don't "get" him in the same way:

  9. What once seemed like courageous truth-telling now strikes many of them as “weird,” “whiny” and “immature.”

    A-MEN! :)

    Good article... definitely supports the dated language theory, as well as the fact that kids today just don't think the same way. I love the mention of the skating date on one page vs. prostitute visit on the next -- that really bugged me. Was that *ever* "relatable?"

  10. Not to me, it wasn't! Personally, I do remember being very won over by Holden's concern for his younger sister, Phoebe. His wish to prevent her from growing up seemed to mournful and true at the age when I read it and was very aware of being on that cusp between childhood and adulthood.