Posted by: mgalewine | July 8, 2010

E-books or Print Books?

Reading has always been a favorite pastime for all our family. My mom was my reading role model as I grew up and later was my reading companion as we shared books, recommended books, and laughed and cried over the stories we were reading. My mother-in-law was also an avid reader. Her genre preferences were far afield from my mother’s but they meshed with my preferences very well.

My husband is always reading at least two books at any given time—one for leisure reading and one professional book. Of our three daughters, two have always been readers, devouring books and needing to be reminded that we don’t read at the dinner table. The third daughter reads as well but it’s usually pictures in magazines unless it’s something that really interests her. My grandchildren are also readers, thanks to the positive influence of their mothers and me, their grandmother. As for me, I’m constantly moving back and forth between professional books and books/magazines for leisure reading.

We were all quite content with our printed books until Rebecca broke the mold and purchased a Kindle several years ago. She was excited; I was curious; her dad was totally not interested. The more she talked about her Kindle the more I thought having an e-reader might be a good investment, especially for ease of carrying reading material when I was traveling. My husband was still totally disinterested but he did consent to give me a Nook for Christmas but he made it clear he still wasn’t interested in an e-reader.

Traveling to Washington, D.C., last week for the ALA Conference proved the value of having an e-reader since I was able to take my leisure reading books with me with relative ease. Hardest part was taking the Nook out of its case when going through security at the airport and having to explain to security personnel what a Nook is. Reading on the plane was quite enjoyable; this was the first time I’ve traveled by plane since receiving my Nook. While at ALA I was able to finish the latest book, Sizzling Sixteen, from one of my favorite authors, Janet Evanovich.

My husband also likes these number books by Evanovich and he was anxious to read this latest one so he acquiesced to read it on my Nook. In fact, he went on to read other e-books that I had purchased. His one complaint was he couldn’t turn the pages fast enough on the Nook but he did concede that using an e-reader was not all bad. He’s learned to send text messages on his cell phone; he’s now reading newspapers online via his computer; he uses an iPod when he goes to the gym. He even told me the other day that he needed to create a Facebook page! Yes, he’s slowing moving into the 21st Century with his technology use. Is he going to add an e-reader to his technology toolkit? Probably not any time soon. His comment when he’d finished the books on my Nook was, “The books were good and I enjoyed them but I still prefer a print copy. I miss the smell and feel of a book when using that Nook.”

Print books will be around for a while longer while e-books will continue to evolve. As for me, I’m enjoying having the best of both worlds. There’s nothing better than wandering through a bookstore or library and through serendipity finding a real gem. It’s not quite the same when scrolling through the list of books on the Barnes and Noble site for e-books but with the summary information available, gems are just waiting to be discovered. My girls and I will continue to enjoy our Kindles and Nooks while my husband continues to keep one foot in the print world and one foot in the digital world. Let’s face it reading is enjoyable regardless of the format.

Posted by: mgalewine | July 4, 2010

What July 4th Means to Me

I’ve seen many articles recently about what July 4th means to each of us individually. July 4 holiday always brings out the patriotism in us and we rally ‘round the flag, praise the brave men and women who fight for us and serve to protect us, eat barbecue, and watch fireworks demonstrations. Being now the matriarch of my family, I’ve been a little more pensive this July 4th thinking back to what it was like growing up and hoping my children will have similarly fond memories one of these days.

As a child, this holiday always meant my dad was on vacation and we would typically spend the week at Myrtle Beach. Daddy didn’t really like the beach, preferring the mountains instead. But he acquiesced and we went to the beach because my mom was a sun worshipper and enjoyed spending all day every day on the beach in the sun. She never went into the water. I can still see her sitting there in her black swimsuit and her wonderful golden tan. I always thought she was the most beautiful person and I wished I could tan like her. I turned lobster red, would peel, and then be the lily-white I was before the sunburn. Absolutely no fun in that!

Daddy was the one who played with my brother and me as we would jump the waves while Mama watched from her beach towel. Daddy would take turns helping us jump the waves or swinging us in the water. We would fly kites and build sand castles. This was one of the few times during the year that we would have Daddy’s undivided attention. Thankfully it was in the days before cell phones and email so when he was away from work, he was really away from work!

These summer vacations continued through my high school and college years. After I married, Mama and Daddy continued their summer vacations but now it was the grandchildren who got the benefit of traveling with them. Daddy always let the grandchildren decide where they wanted to go for their vacation week. The word, No, just didn’t seem to be in Grandmama and Granddaddy’s vocabulary. Guess they wore it out on my brother and me!

As their health begin to fail, my folks had to stop their summer trips and spend their time at home. So we would take our girls and go to visit them in Greenville for July 4th and enjoy my mom’s good Southern cooking. One of my dad’s favorite desserts was blackberry cobbler and Mama’s was the best. When my husband and I moved away, she gave me the recipe but for some reason mine never really tasted quite like hers.

Last week my husband brought home a bag of fresh blackberries that a member of our church had given him. He put them in the refrigerator saying, “I want a cobbler like your mom used to make.” Now that was a tall order and one I wasn’t quite sure I could live up to. How I wished Mama was still around to help me make that cobbler for him. Since she died in March, I was totally on my own. Didn’t seem to matter that I’ve been cooking for 40 years; I felt as nervous as the first time I cooked for my folks when they came to visit us shortly after we married.

“OK, take a deep breath, you can do this.” Melt a half-cup of butter in a baking dish in a preheated 350O oven. Mix together 2 cups sugar, 2 cups self-rising flour, and 2 cups milk. When the butter is melted, pour the batter over the butter and add the fruit. Do not stir or mix. Return to the oven and bake for 1 hour, or until the crust is brown and pulls away from the side of the pan. Not so hard, I thought.

photo of homemade blackberry cobbler

Guess Mama was with me after all because the cobbler turned out to be the best one I’ve ever made and for the first time really tasted like ones she would make.

So if someone ever asks me what July 4th means to me, I’ll have to begin with thanks for the men and women in the armed forces and for the men and women who are civilian emergency workers, and for our freedom of religion and speech. Lastly, I’ll have to say that July 4th means family to me and remembering the good times with my mom and dad and wishing they were still here to share family time with my husband and me, our children, and grandchildren. But I’d give Mom a break and I’d do all the cooking, even dessert!

Posted by: mgalewine | April 25, 2010

Reading in many formats

I recently went to the ophthalmologist for my annual eye exam. Knowing that I would have to wait during this visit, I took my newest book purchase (The Help) with me. My husband had an appointment at the same time and he, too, had a book to read.

Sitting in the waiting room enjoying my book and sharing bits of it with my husband, I became aware of surreptitious glances from others waiting for their appointment with the doctor. We were all waiting and reading – some with paperback books, some with hardback books, and some with magazines. The difference was that I had an e-reader (my Nook) and not a traditional book. How ironic, I thought, that the librarian in the room had an e-reader and not a traditional book.

My Nook generated a lot of attention but no one said, “Wow, I’d like to have one of those!” I do have to admit that when my daughter purchased her Kindle I wasn’t all that interested; however, the idea of having many books on one device was really enticing. So enticing that I asked for a Nook for Christmas. Being able to take my books with me in my briefcase or purse is very convenient. However, I still prefer my professional books as hardbacks but my Nook is  great for my recreational reading.

I just purchased and downloaded the latest Mary Higgins Clark book which I’m enjoying immensely. But I’m also reading, in print format, a book I bought at the South Carolina Association of School Librarians (SCASL) conference, No School Library Left Behind: Leadership, School Improvement, and the Media Specialist.

Guess I’m enjoying the best of both worlds. My question and concern is how both worlds fit within today’s libraries, in particular school libraries.

Posted by: mgalewine | October 13, 2009

More SC Authors

We are currently working on author interviews for the 3rd season of A Literary Tour of South Carolina. This week we traveled to Lexington, SC, to interview Fran Rizer. Fran is a former classroom teacher. Prior to her retirement she was teaching creating writing in a Midlands high school. Fran now writes the Callie Parrish Mystery Series with such fun titles as A Tisket, A Tasket, A Fancy Stolen Basket and Casket Case.

On Friday, we went to Charleston to interview Jonathan Miller, creator of the Sammy the Wonder Dachshund series. Jonathan illustrates his own books creating the illustrations with construction paper. No they are not just simple flat pictures but intricate designs using as many as 70 pieces of paper and taking 30-40 hours to complete. Jonathan is available for school visits. You can contact him through his web site.

More interviews to come for our third season.

Posted by: mgalewine | November 3, 2008

Information/Media Literacy and Political Campaigns

I expect that I am not alone in anxiously awaiting the results of the voting on Tuesday, although probably for very different reasons. It will be a welcome relief not to be bombarded with TV ads, political discussions and commentaries at every turn, billboards, mailers, and unsolicited (and I might add, unwanted) telephone calls.

The current extended presidential campaign should have focused a spotlight on the necessity of teaching information and media literacy in every classroom from Kindergarten through twelfth grade. Helping our students understand and recognize bias and propaganda in the media is, and should be, a primary focus of all classroom teachers and library media specialists. But what do we do about the general population that has not had, and will not likely get, information/media literacy instruction? In our “flat” society we must depend on the media (newspapers, television news, news magazines, etc.) to be vigilent in maintaining impartiality and to report the news with objectivity and fairness. Unfortunately, that is not always the case which again points to the importance of helping our students learn the critical skills to become information/media literate.

Professionaly I will continue to work to facilitate infusion of information/media literacy into the curriculum. I hope that when blatant bias is discovered in the media that all informed citizens will lodge their complaints publicly as well as directly to the news outlet. Being information/media literate is critical in our “flat” society. If you are a teacher or library media specialist, what’s happening in your classroom/library media center to help your students become information/media literate? If you are a parent, what’s happening in your child’s classroom or library media center, to help him or her learn the skills to be information/media literate?

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