It’s All In How You Word It – Scattered Thoughts Sunday Ramblings

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So there I was reading The Washington Post a little over a week ago (yes the paper version) where the article by Michael Dirda bemoaning the new words allowed into the Oxford Online Dictionary stopped me cold.  Most of the new words approved had their origin in the succinct and abbreviated word stylings of the text message (or msg to be correct). Most of us will recognize them as the spellings prevalent among the younger generation, meaning not mine.  I have to admit my first inclination was to agree with Mr. Dirda.  I was definitely channeling my inner Andy Rooney (I fear a google coming) when I thought of “lol”, “srsly”, “squee” or “twerk” or “vom” as the new norm when communicating with others.  Oh, to squee when first I hear the sounds of spring!  Not quite the same is it?

And twerk brings up the image of Miley Cyrus that invaded my media for an interminable amount of time.  Really?  That made me feel so old.  There’s jorts and selfie (something I have not done as yet, perhaps I should put it on my bucket list).  Space tourism, street food, and blondie, well I thought those were already present in the dictionary. There is FOMO and MOOC, but as I live in the DC Metro area, acronyms are a way of life. Think DOD, FBI, NSA, CIA, well I think you are getting the picture, right? What are two more? Plus I love SNAFU, an oldie but goodie.  Am I wrong here? And the new word omnishambles is positively brilliant.  I will have to find ways to use that one in the future.  And it’s that word’s inclusion that started to bring me out of my “snarkfest”.

You see, I love words.  I love them separately, I love them strung together in passages so lyrical that you weep or so audaciously humorous that your sides hurt for hours.  I love their beauty in poems with ring with passion or flow with a quiet serenity that leaves you gasping in awe.  I love them in songs that won’t get out of my head and in stories that keep me awake and away from my bed. So many wonderful words that it takes volumes to make note of them all.

Take a moment and think of some of your favorite words.  Serendipity or even better serendipitous is one of mine.  Just say it.  Doesn’t it sound whimsical?  There is lush, and shimmering, salubrious and evanescent. And loquacious, another beloved of mine.  How could any of those be replaced? Then there is snark, crabby, and malignant, to say nothing of drab.  Drab. Even vocalizing it is, well, drab!  And kind of sad.   And if there are so many beautiful words that sing to us, there are also those ugliest by definition and sound.  What comes to mind and mouth when saying phlegm or pus?  Or scab, discharge or moist?  Can fetid, curdle, or vomits be far behind?  Does vom even come close to replacing those?  I think not.   Even the ever present LOL falls far short of the emotional texture of “laughing uncontrollably”, “gales of laughter” or “giggling until you puke”.

But just when I am at my most irascible, three words pop into my head. “The frumious Bandersnatch”.  Ah, here is Lewis Carroll coming to save me from further  cantankerous musings.  All I have to do is recite The Jabberwocky, that amazing and magical piece of nonsense that never fails to make me grin.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

That’s the opening stanza of The Jabberwocky.  I am sure there are those of you out there now saying “Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!”  It makes me want to grab up a branch and march about a tree  or through the woods, chanting as I go.  Or if Lewis Carroll isn’t your thing, perhaps it is Dr. Suess and his rhymes?  Could we have slithy toves if we don’t allow new words?  Shouldn’t a language be allowed to change with its people and times?

For me the answer is yes, as along as we don’t leave the old behind.  New words to light the way and the old ones to pave the way to our past.  Both are necessary to who we are and how we think.  I would no more give up my “vorpal blade” or “tulgey wood” than I would the new shiny omnishambles. Just a small plea.  When we are texting, slicing away letters for the sake of brevity, spare a thought or maybe two for those words we cannot live or should not live without.  For myself, the world would be a far smaller place without tatterdemalion.  I love that word.  If it is a new one for you, please go past the Wikipedia for a definition for it has its origin in the 1600’s. A most useful word to go along with dandy.

I have included several links below, including that of The Washington Post article that started it all.  I now close my first Sunday Ramblings, my coffee and paper still call.  What words can you not live without?  Scattered Words wants to know.

100 Most Beautiful Words in the English Language

The Ugliest Words in English | ALTA Language Services

The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

Oxford Dictionaries adds ‘twerk,’ ‘FOMO,’ ‘selfie,’ and other words that make me vom” by Michael Dirda of The Washington Post

Thoughts on Dust Jackets, E readers, and Women Reading Erotica

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I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about books (all right, all right, I am always thinking of books, jeesh). And I mean almost every aspect of books. Book covers, book formats, hardbacks, paperbacks, eReaders and of course, dust jackets.  My thoughts may be scattered but they are revolving around books!

My muse got rolling with Michael Dirda of The Washington Post.  He reviewed Book-Jackets: Their History, Forms, and Use by G. Thomas Tanselle (2/5/12).  Talk about a fascinating book and a must read for all book lovers.  Prior to this book, I will confess that I had not given much thought to book jackets, other than what an annoyance they were at times, and what an inadequate book marker they made.

I came to these conclusions from past experience.  I have always been tough on my books, whether it was Make Way For Ducklings or Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  As soon as I could toddle, I always had a book in hand, or under my arm, or stuffed in a bag.  Books were and still are a constant companion.  And books that had dust jackets?  Well, let’s just say the dust jackets did not hold up under such cavalier treatment.  They were always torn, edges curled under and even folded.  I used them to mark my place when my real book markers had fallen out (another blog) or I had already dog eared too many other pages in that book.  This application didn’t work too well because  I would end up dropping the book I was reading, then the dust jacket would fall off and I would lose my place once again.  Sigh.  I was a librarians nightmare!

Later on in high school and early college years, I stopped buying hardback books with their dust jackets for the most part.  To feed my addiction for fantasy and science fiction, I started buying paperbacks because I could afford those in mass quantity (think Star Trek series) and book jackets became a thing of the past for me.  Oh, there were still certain books where I bought the “expensive” version but during this time paperbacks reigned supreme.

I still have almost every book I ever bought,  except those my daughter has absconded with (and they are many)! Everything from mysteries to fantasy to science fiction to romance.  All with marvelous covers and no book jackets.  And all the worse for wear because nothing had protected them from my abuse.  OK, that’s not completely true because I just came across a lovely handmade book cover a friend had sewn for me about 15 years ago.

Enter women reading erotica.  Some of the books my friends and I were reading had covers we were too embarrassed to be seen with.  Lurid covers or lurid subject matter. For some, it was those fabulous bodice rippers that featured Fabio or others like myself, it was The Story of O ,  Anais Nin’s Delta of Venus or others of that genre.  Whatever.  So a friend sewed these wonderful book slipcovers made of leftover fabric scraps she had around the house. Voila!  Freedom to carry the books we wanted to read where ever we went.  Freedom to read whatever we wanted outside the house.  We loved it and always asked her for more as gifts and for our own use.  Later, I saw them in a local bookstore.  Others obviously had the same idea and the same need.  Much later I used these same slipcovers when I started reading m/m fiction and didn’t want to have to explain the covers.  Then came eReaders and my Kindle.

I started with eReaders because as my eyesight worsened, I needed to be able to adjust the font size. Also, if I wanted to read my m/m fiction I needed to acquire eBooks as not all were available in print.  I started reading eBooks on my computer but as it is a desktop, reading in bed just isn’t the same or even possible.  So I finger skipped my way over to Amazon, bought my Kindle, and started a love affair that continues to this day. We have our ups (oodles of m/m books) and downs (the removal of some GLBT books from their inventory, since restored) but love it I do. Thanks, Yoda.

Soooooooooo imagine my surprise when recently I was watching my local Channel 4 (WRC) news and they did a segment on publishers of romance/erotica and the affect eReaders have on their sales.  The big news?  That more women are buying and reading erotica because of their eReaders.  That the sales of erotica have skyrocketed due to eBooks and eReaders.  Why?  The same reason I once had covers for my paperbacks. Freedom.  Freedom from embarrassment, freedom from questions, and freedom from others disapproval. This includes the freedom from comments such as “I think it’s disgusting that women are reading porn.”  That reaction came from a man stopped on the streets as a part of the segment.  Yikes.  But I will bet my favorite Adam Levine picture that same man has a Playboy or porn somewhere at his house. *shakes head*

Are eReaders the new cover jackets?  In a way.  The older dust jackets protected the covers and bindings of the books, kept them from growing faded or soiled.  The front cover of the dust jacket also helped advertise the story within, promoted the author and advertised the publisher. A printed book without its dust jacket loses its value, not so the eBook.

A eReader stores books electronically.  A eBook won’t fade, it’s bindings won’t break, and its pages will never tear. A eReader also functions in just the same manner as plain dust jacket or my later cloth versions did, it helps hide the book from sight and the judgement or derision of others.  Ereaders, whether it be Kindle, Nook or other device are here to stay and so are eBooks to the chagrin of some and absolute joy of others, including myself.

Have I given up my books in print?  No and I never will.  I love the feel of a book in my hands.  I love a afternoon or day spent in a used book store trolling for treasures.  I love my bookshelves filled with old friends and adventures.  I love the way books smell.  Books are a true cornucopia for the soul, overflowing with feelings, textures, memories, and emotions.  My eReader doesn’t replace that, it just adds to it.  I no longer need my book jackets, fabric covers, or the anonymity that the eREaders offer.  But others do, if only to save them from derision and judgements like the guy quoted on the news.

So here’s to eBooks, eReaders, and all the authors (published or self published), and publishers.    For all the wonderful stories, all the great adventures, all the memorable characters in every genre under the sun and beyond. My thanks and a tip of the old wine glass to you.  I wouldn’t make it through the day without you. (And yes, I am thinking fondly of those book jackets.  I may have to go and dust a few off).

Book available from Oak Knoll Press http://www.oakknoll.com/bookimag/107173.jpg