I was in Salem, Massachusetts the other day and although I typically skip the shops selling witch hats and offering tarot card readings, one store caught my attention. Wynott’s Wands – a purveyor of wands – is not the kind of store you see every day. And since I haven’t been able to go to Harry Potter World in Florida, visiting Wynott’s was the closest thing to Diagon Alley that I could find. The magically-attired sales person told me that many of the wands are exact replicas of those used in the Harry Potter novels. Still – no sale. She did, however, let me take a few pictures:
About a week ago, while eating breakfast and reading the real paper version of the New York Times, I told my husband that I’ve been wondering why I avoid reading on my Nook. It makes me feel like I’m reading an e-mail. I find myself racing along. reading a novel in the same way I would skim to learn what time a meeting begins. The Nook feels like an extension of my work day – one more document on the screen. Then…..a few days later, reading The New Yorker, I read this passage in an article by James Surowiecki about Barnes and Noble:
“A study this year found that people reading on a screen tended to skip around more and read less intensively, and plenty of research confirms that people tend to comprehend less of what they read on a screen. The differences are small, but they may explain the persistent appeal of paper.”
As one of the character in the 1987 movie Broadcast News said, “I say it here, it comes out there.” Reading The New Yorker article was reassuring. I had been trying to diagnose my Nook-aversion, and its implicit permission to “skip around” is exactly what’s going on.
If forced to choose four books for the proverbial “desert island game,” I would take The Great Gatbsy, Charlotte’s Web, The Giver and The Book Thief . That explains my hesitation about the movie version of The Book Thief which is being released on November 15. Look what happened to The Great Gatsby….even the preview scared me away! I’m curious about seeing Emily Watson as Rosa Hubermann, but I’m keeping my enthusiasm in check.
A few pages left to read of Curtis Sittenfeld’s Sisterland. For the first fifty pages, I was unsure. It took me a while to get into it. Now, four hundred pages later, I’m stalling and don’t want the book to end. There is a dramatic event that takes place in the final 100 pages that was totally (at least for me) unexpected and which made the novel far more complex. Now I want to find someone else who has read it so we can debate!