Alien Landing (1938) Results in Nationwide Panic

Will There Be a 21st Century Version?

Alien Invasion Canva

The invasion wasn’t real.  The panic was. It occurred on Halloween Eve, when a radio adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel “The War of the Worlds” was narrated by Orson Welles over the Columbia Broadcasting System. It was on a Sunday evening, so some people were arriving home from church and turned on their radios, or perhaps were just doing their version of “channel surfing”.

Many of those who didn’t hear the introduction thought the alien invasion was real. I learned about it at my aunt’s 100 birthday celebration.

She told us about my grandparents’ ever-present faith and assurance that God would be with them even at the end of the world, coupled with the desire to have all of their family together when it happened.  They got into the car to drive the few miles to meet the rest of the family. As they took notice of their neighbors standing out by the road, pointing to the sky, looking for the signs of the aliens they had heard described on the radio.

This happened across the country. It was a true panic, caused by a misunderstanding of the “truth”.

But that was almost 80 years ago, wasn’t it?  Things were different and people didn’t have access to much in the way of news and information.

Fast forward 25 years to 1963. A few weeks after Halloween and we were watching, almost as it happened, the assassination of our president and the days following. No mistake, no misunderstanding, and we had direct access to the context of a tragic historic event. Our despair at what was happening kept us from any feelings of elation at how far communication had brought us, but we were truly able to celebrate when, just a few years later, we watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.

But it was just beginning, wasn’t it?

Fast forward another 25 years. We were learning new concepts and new words such as the “World Wide Web” and the “Internet”.  People were interested in what we could do and the information we could find on our computers. We rushed to buy the newest versions, marveling at “windows” that introduced visual depictions, printers that would give us hard copies and scanners that would let us add our own documents and pictures to the mix. We could “upload” and “download” and compare “servers” and “search providers.”

Fast forward another 25 years (more or less) to today.

We have phones that seem to be “smarter” than we are, and millions of apps to help us solve any problem. We can talk to and with each other and share as much of our lives as we please with a stranger across the country or around the world. We have access to science, math, literature, history – enough to fill uncountable libraries – with just a flick or a click or a scroll.

But have we really learned anything in the past 80 years? Can we discern what is real and what isn’t, what is important and what isn’t, what is urgent and what isn’t?  Do we scroll through tweets for our news and commentary, risking today’s equivalent of reading about an “alien invasion” and mistaking it for the pressing realities that face us? Do we expect a sound bite or a short video or post to give us the context we need to understand what is going on? Are we too busy to care? Are we that easily mislead?

It’s almost Halloween. How many of us will be pointing to the sky in the coming weeks and months? How many of the rest of us will be demanding the tools we need from our leaders (truth, accuracy, veracity, consistency, empathy, context, statesmanship) so that we can focus, at last, on our best hopes for the coming years?

We don’t want to see a headline like this in our future:

National Crisis Results in Nationwide Panic

20 Reasons to Consider Reading Ebooks

My most recent post was about my love of the traditional, bound book format. Many of my friends are also in a never-ending love affair with traditional books, but some of us are “cheaters” in that we also adore and depend upon ebooks to supplement our reading habits. Maybe you will recognize yourself in these descriptions.  If you do, an ebook and reader (or smart phone or other device) will probably be in your future.

 

  1. You sometimes ask the waitress if you can keep the menu if there’s nothing else handy to read.

 

  1. You find yourself reading the newspaper over a stranger’s shoulder or six-month-old magazines in the doctor’s office if you’ve forgotten your own book.

 

  1. You absolutely need several books with you when you travel. One or two won’t be enough, because you never know what you’ll be in the mood for. Besides, you may finish what you’re reading and need a backup, or five or six.

 

  1. Speaking of travelling, you often take an extra bag to hold the books you’ll be bringing home because you just couldn’t resist purchasing them, then and there.

 

  1. You often read more than one book at a time, sometimes alternating between fiction and nonfiction or between genres.

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  1. You never know when you’ll get stuck in traffic, or in an elevator, or on a stalled roller coaster.

 

  1. You’ve been known to take a book to read during a football game, or a boring lecture, or a family reunion.

 

  1. You wish you could adjust the page and font to your own visual needs.

 

  1. You would like to highlight what you’ve read, make notes and see other readers’ highlights and notes.

 

  1. You’re doing research and would like all the books you’ve read on your topic easily accessible.

 

  1. You would like to build a library of titles on a particular topic or by a particular author.

 

  1. You would enjoy the convenience of choosing a new title in the middle of the night and having it available almost immediately.

 

  1. You are moving to a smaller home, apartment, dorm room, retirement home or assisted living center and must downsize your library.

 

You absolutely need several books with you when you travel. One or two will not be enough, because you never know what you’ll be in the mood for. Besides, you might finish what you’re reading and need a backup, or five or six. 

 

  1. You enjoy reading lengthy books, but sometimes wish they weren’t so darn heavy.

 

  1. You sometimes lend, give away, or donate a book and then wish you hadn’t.

 

  1. You have access to a library that lends ebooks, so that you don’t have to purchase them.

 

  1. You like to keep your books organized, but don’t particularly enjoy moving them from place to place on the shelves.

 

  1. You like to have your books cataloged, but don’t enjoy the cataloging.

 

  1. You like to have the particular book you want at your fingertips, not in one of many stacks or on one of many shelves in your home.

 

  1. You’re a person who likes to adjust your life choices to your particular needs, and not get too tied down to old preferences, habits and traditions.

Other reasons you enjoy your reading device and ebooks?  Share here!

 

Book Format: A Matter of Preference, not Perfection

Fall Decor -- Living Room

Who is the “favorite child” in your family? The answer might vary among your siblings, if you have any. (We will presume that it will always be yourself if you are an only child.) Of course, one child might be considered “Mom’s favorite” and another “Dad’s favorite”, depending upon whose opinion is being offered. And then there are those who might respond, “Not me”, as I would. Not that I felt slighted by my parents, but more that I could think of several reasons that one of my four siblings would be so designated and none for myself.

As for who among my own children could be called the favorite, my response would be that I don’t have one. My children would dispute that, of course. But I believe that most of us parents really try hard to not play favorites.  But sometimes there are situations when we must choose among children, and we weigh our choices the best we can.

What does this have to do with books?

I hang around with a lot of readers, writers, and other types of “bookish” people.  Most are very congenial and I love to talk books more than just about anything.  But sometimes I hear someone say something like, “I don’t own a reader” or “I won’t read e-books” or “I won’t listen to audiobooks” and then go on to explain that they only read traditional books, sometimes in a tone that suggests that anyone who doesn’t do the same has faulty judgement, or taste, or intelligence.

My response is always (a mental) “huh?” when I hear this.  It’s like they think they have to choose between their children, for Pete’s sake. But, inevitably, someone will nod their head and the rest of the group will give it up, not wishing to get into an argument.

That’s when I would like to tell them that I agree with them about how wonderful traditional books are for so many reasons, including the following:

Traditional books are enduring.

They have been around for hundreds of years in the form we recognize today and, I believe, will continue to be so. They are like bowls, blankets, and baskets – items that are loved and appreciated for their form and their function. Their value comes not just from their beauty as objects, but for what they can contain and provide for us.

Traditional books are familiar and comforting.

What booklover doesn’t have a favorite reading spot?  Most photos and illustrations that I have seen don’t focus on a luxurious setting, but usually a comfortable chair, some pillows, something nearby to eat or drink, perhaps a favorite reading companion (dog, cat, or human), and a book. We are drawn to that place where we can escape and pamper ourselves a bit and that book is the anchor we seek.

Traditional books stimulate our senses.

Most of us appreciate the crisp fragrance of a new book and the pleasure of being the first to turn pristine pages.  We can also confess a love for older books, with their musty, not unpleasant, scent and yellowed pages. We can also get tactile pleasure from different materials used in binding, and visual pleasure from lovely illustrations, photographs, and typography.

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Traditional books are personal (or can be made so).

They can be inscribed, scribbled, written or doodled in. They can be saved or collected according to our personal preferences.  They can be reminders of people we have known and loved, places we have visited, and days of our lives. They can reflect us as individuals and collectively, through our interests, our passions, our hopes and our dreams.

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Traditional books are user-friendly.

Give a board book to a baby or a picture book to a young child and they will catch on quickly. The baby may give it a quick chew first, but it won’t take long for tiny hands to learn to explore the wonder of turning pages to find something new. The young child will soon understand that what is on one page leads to something related on the next. We master the basics quickly and don’t need to depend upon technology for charging, connecting, downloading, or upgrading.

Traditional books can add beauty to our lives.

Women'sLit

I always feel a bit strange when I enter a home without books.  Even if wasn’t a “ravenous reader”, I would miss their presence – One open here or there to a photograph of the current season, or (in the kitchen) a cookbook open to the illustration of a recipe I might never prepare; a “mini-collection” related titles piled next to my chair; or my shelf of favorite decorating books in the office. Walls of books can be beautiful for the color and texture they add to our rooms, and a home library will always be at the top of my “house hunters” fantasy list, ahead of a home theater, room-sized closet, or outdoor kitchen.

Traditional books can be the perfect gift, legacy, or donation.

Most of us who love books come to a place where we simply have too many.  Some of my most treasured are in line to be given to friends who I know will appreciate them, family members who will understand their personal value, or to organizations, such as our Friends of the Library, that will make sure that they have second lives in readers’ hearts and hands.

For those of you who are still wondering if traditional, bound books are my “favorite” format for reading, I will refer you to the beginning of this post. I have listed the reasons and occasions when they are my preference note, but I would stop at saying they are my favorites, just as I would with my children. I am grateful that I don’t have to choose!

In my next two posts, I will write about ebooks and audiobooks, and why they are sometimes what I would prefer, but not my “favorite” format. That has yet to be invented and I doubt that it ever will be.

Question:  What book format do you usually favor?  Under what circumstances do you depart from it?