The Book Thief Stole My Time

I am not going to say the recent film adaptation of The Book Thief was a bad movie.  I’m just saying that in my expectations that it would be as good as the book, I walked out feeling like my time had been vampire’d because I could have waited to let it come out on video and been just as well off.

First off, I do recommend The Book Thief as a book.  I had originally shied away from it because coming of age stories in Nazi Germany with the obligatory hidden Jew element are, frankly, almost a cliché.  Been there, read that.  When I finally picked up the book and read it, I ate a bit of crow because while this may have some of the necessary ingredients for the same old same old, it is put together in a way that made it a fabulous read.

What I should have realized before I saw the film was that what I love about the book are the little details, and the awesome narrator.  If anything is sacrificed in a film, it is the details, and narrators are usually under-utilized.  So, clearly, I was doomed.

Of course, being doomed in this way won’t stop me from complaining.  For the narrator, I will only say that the narrator of the book was one of my favorite narrators in any book I’ve ever read.  Full of insight and dark humor.  I can more or less forgive the drastically reduced role the narrator plays as I know that it can be tricky handling narration on film without the whole thing sucking.  I’ll grudgingly give the film a pass on this.

I’m not giving on the details, though.  Not completely.  There are some that, okay, fine, so the house didn’t fit the description completely.  And the random German words were minimized.  I can live with that.

But I  maintain that other details do matter.  When an author specifically calls out the main character’s eye color, and does so in terms connected to the time and setting (the author specified that Liesel had “dangerous” brown eyes.  Kinda mattered in Germany at the time), maybe the filmmakers ought not to go dead opposite (we’re talking full on Elijah-Wood-hobbit-ass big baby blues).  Really, there’s a detail that’s not too much to ask, in my opinion.  Also, if you are going to insert a death scene in the film that was not shown in the book?  Do not give it to a person who, while all right enough on screen otherwise, cannot actually act a decent death scene (if you watch, you will know this one when you see it.  It screams out for a whole new award category for Most Terrible Death Scene That Should Not Even Be In The Film). But the real kicker was a seemingly tiny change that I am sure the film makers thought nothing of, but which changes a fundamental element.  In the book, Liesel has an innate gift with words.  She struggles with reading and writing, but actually forming sentences and choosing how to describe something she does without any help or assistance, and does remarkably well.  She does not necessarily realize it is a gift until it is pointed out to her by another character, but it already exists in her.  In the film, rather than having her produce the description on her own, they chose to have that other character coach her to better describe something.  Totally killed a fundamental for me.  There is a difference between doing something naturally and having someone coach you to do it.

I hated that moment.

All that said, the costumes were great, and I appreciated that they did retain a modest amount of the little German words and phrases thrown throughout the book (which I totally ate up).  And there were some fantastic performances from the cast (bad, unnecessary death scene notwithstanding).  It’s the first time that I’ve watched a movie with Geoffrey Rush where he didn’t creep  me out (not saying he’s been bad in other things, just that I’ve found him creepy–on that list of people I don’t want to meet in a dark alley, like Christopher Lee).

Since it was in such a limited theater release in my area before the holidays, I assume that by now, I probably don’t need to warn anyone not to pop for theater prices, but if you see it screening, go see something like The Hobbit instead and wait for this one to come out on Netflix.

Or, just read the book.

My Latest Reason for Not Sleeping

I haven’t been sleeping much lately. Mostly this is from stress. I decided I need to do something to de-stress. My usual go-tos of alcohol and exercise weren’t helping, so I decided to try a strategy recently recommended to me by a colleague. I decided to try reading fiction. And since the piece of crap book I’m trying to slog my way through wasn’t helping either, I decided to pick up some new fiction.

I was at Target to buy a new flashdrive, and I had to walk by the books to get to electronics. I saw The Hunger Games on a display, and since the same colleague had also recommended this book, I decided to pick it up.

When I couldn’t sleep again Friday night I decided to start reading it.

Bad mistake.

At 4am I finally got to sleep.

The good news is I read it in two nights (I skipped Saturday). The bad news is that’s because I stayed up till 5:45am on Monday to finish the damn thing. Keep in mind I’m a sleep deprived narcoleptic who tends to fall asleep after five pages.

The question is: why?

Admittedly, the writing style has some minor issues. Most notably a tendency to break the “show me, don’t tell me” rule. And yet, I’m totally addicted. And unlike with Twilight I’m not even ashamed of being addicted. I’d blame this on social pressure, but you all know how eagerly I admitted my soap opera addiction, so that seems doubtful.

I could give you the answers everyone else seems to give regarding this book: the social commentary inherent in the dark future and the strong female character. Those are both true. I like that Katniss is not just a strong female character, she’s a well rounded one. Let’s face it—emotionally the girl’s a train wreck.  Understandably so.

But I think the truth is that the book actually does a remarkable job of blending plot and character. A lot of popular fiction these days is all about plot. Which bores me. A lot of other writers (myself included) get so distracted by character they forget they need a story. This book balances both forces perfectly. Enough that it can break my heart and keep my heart pounding for five hours.

Needless to say I can’t wait to read the other two books. But I’m not letting myself stop them till Spring Break. When not sleeping won’t be such a problem.

Emily of WTF Is This?

Being an L.M Montgomery fan, I had heard about the Emily of New Moon TV series years ago, but only recently have I had the opportunity to finally see the show (it’s been off the air for years now).  I wasn’t expecting something completely accurate to the trilogy of books that I grew up reading, but I really wasn’t prepared for the level of “WTF?” I’ve encountered.

Now, at least in my mind, Emily has always been the oddest and most fanciful of the major L.M. Montgomery heroines (those with more than one book).  There was always more of a supernatural/second site element to Emily than there was to Anne or Pat or Sara.  But that element of the odd, eerily-other-worldly does not account for the acid trip I’ve been on in my marathon viewing of the first three season of this show.  If you are expecting the kind of look and feel of the many Kevin Sullivan interpretations of other LM Montgomery tales*, you are not going to get it.  It’s got a darker, closer, eerier feel, from the music to to the many tree-enclosed scenes.

If you know the books,  forget them or just don’t watch.  The first season bears a passing resemblance to the source material.  You get most of the characters (Emily, Aunt Laura, Aunt Elizabeth, Jimmy, Perry, Ilse Burnley, Dr. Burnley, Rhoda Stewart…) all of whom seem to fit, at least generally, into their proper places.  Some of the sites and incidents are alike (the death of Mr. Starr, Emily’s letter writing in the garret, and there is a Disappointed House…) but larger plots and themes that unwound over a long period of time in the books are truncated to nothingness (the extended period before Emily is allowed into and eventually given the room that belonged to Juliet, for example).  The scads of smaller incidents that make up the episodes of the book (the soured friendship with Rhoda Stewart, various adventures in exploration with Ilse, day to day battles with Aunt Elizabeth, friendship with Dean Priest) are absent, replaced with incidents that are decidedly NOT in the original books (or any other part of the large body of LM Montgomery literature–like the whole Maida Flynn illegitimate baby thing.  WTF? And Ian Bowles and the whole doll mess?).  And that’s just season 1.

By season 2, names of characters are about all you have left.  Aunt Elizabeth, a featured character throughout the books?  Drowns at sea at the beginning of season 2.  And it’s all downhill from there.  Aunt Laura spirals into a laudanum addiction and the Murray’s of New Moon are less the upstanding family of Blair Water than a train wreck of epic proportions.  And while the Stewarts in the books passed as a little tacky, they don’t hold a candle to the white trash version we get on the TV show.  Random new cousins from Scotland bring some kind of interest, but only derail this thing further from the trilogy.  (Yes, I’m spoiling it, but if it prevents suffering to an Emily fan, I think I’m justified.)

In the mean time, Emily’s hallucinations and visions are increased in frequency–sure she has a few episodes in the book, but those are just a few very key and critical moments.  In the show it’s almost old hat and probably  sign the kid needs meds.  And in trying to blend Emily’s imaginings with the real-world plot, such as it was, things wind up feeling odd and disjointed.  More than once I thought maybe I’d been drinking while I was watching.  Especially with the final ep of the season which does a total sci-fi number on me with what basically amounts to a multi-verse version of one particularly relevant day at New Moon.  I give that props (me and multi-verse story lines are tight, yo), but it was HIGHLY unusual for a period costume drama and I was thrown for a loop at first.

The feeling that I must be drunk only increased with season three.  Jimmy does a Flowers for Algernon thing, we get more infidelity and unwed pregnancy than you could shake a stick at (Maud would have been SHOCKED).  Cousin Isabel and Uncle Malcolm from Scotland have a dynamic that may have been interesting if it weren’t so incredibly manic-depressive.  Aunt Laura, having finally kicked the laudanum problem, has moved on to Stockholm Syndrome.  The one thing I always read into the novels that never really got addressed (Aunt Laura + Dr. Burnley) is given a star-crossed lover’s treatment of painful proportions.  Random plagues of smallpox along with an adorable black boy with a painfully Scottish name (Robbie Burns) are actually the most coherent parts of the series, but certainly don’t resemble the books.  Emily is seeing everything from the embodiment of death to God (and having conversations/arguments with both).  Honestly, if you would have landed the Millenium Falcon in the middle of a Blair Water potato field it really couldn’t have made this season feel any less weird.

There’s still a 4th season that I’ll have to get ahold of to finish out the madness.

As a fan of the books, I’m horrified.  And as a general fan of a good yarn, particularly in TV form, I’m just confused.  Despite the (needless) divergence from the material available in the books, the kind of drama and character relationships introduced had some potential–it just wasn’t executed quite right.  For one thing, the character relationships were all running hot and cold.  While there is some value to be had in focusing on the conflicting feelings of a character and how that impacts events around them, we never got that focus.  Instead you are kind of left feeling like the interactions of the characters are dependent on what was needed for the episode (or even the scene), not out of any true, inner source.  For example, just about everyone’s relationship with Cousin Isabel ran hot and cold.  It could have made for a great running theme, but there seemed to be no reasoning behind the moments when they decided they were OK with her (the moments when they despised her were usually supported in the moment).  Aunt Laura’s weak spirit might have explained her inability to commit to her Stockholm Syndrome or rebel against it, but nothing in the show gave the proper focus to her internal struggle with indecision and we were again left with that feeling that whether or not Aunt Laura hated her husband was more a factor of what was needed to move a scene forward than out of her feelings.

And would it kill these writers to make one person happy?  Tragedy is good in small doses, but I didn’t see a single happy romance in this whole tangle.  The closest thing to happy is the friendships of Perry, Ilse, Emily and Jimmy, and they are continually being beat down from the outside.  Without at least one example of success and happiness, nothing in this series gave you much hope.  The town of Blair Water is gossipy, small minded and unwelcoming, and the New Moon family is the heart of dysfunction.

The acting is actually fine.  I love that all the kids looked like realistic kids instead of show pieces.  I totally loved that they let the kids scuffle and yell the kind of insults only kids can yell (Ilse’s are the best).  The adult cast is impressive (I really loved Susan Clark as Aunt Elizabeth–so it totally sucked when they killed off the character).  If the storylines had been more coherent, they honestly would have knocked this outta the park.

But the entire experience has left me feeling disjointed.  I can’t say I’m regretting having watched, but I’m not going to run out and suggest this to anyone else.  In fact, I think I mostly feel like I just want to take the good stuff and shake it into place.  The pieces are there if they just put them together a little different.

Or, maybe I’ll just go drink a beer and lie down.

*Note: Understand that this is NOT a Sullivan production.

Coffee On the Prairie

Would we have coffee with… Laura Ingalls Wilder?

Cammy: Heck yeah.  I’ve got questions for this woman that have been accumulating since I first found out that Little House on the Prairie was at least partly based on reality and that there were entire books behind pioneer TV series.  How large a roll did Laura’s daughter Rose play in writing the books?  What’s her opinion of the TV series (with its completely divergent-from-the-books storylines)?  And let’s talk about the million-and-one-prequel-follow-up-spin-off novels marketed to kids now (I remember when you had the 9 books in the series, plus On the Way Home and West of Home–I am ol’ skool).  Having just ploughed through a collection of Laura’s letters and notes from her later travels, and some excerpts of her work on the Missouri Ruralist, I’m actually interested in talking to her about farming.  Yes.  Farming.  She seems to have been a keen observer on the look-out for new and better ways to farm, and after she and her husband suffered the failure of a single-focused-crop farm, they embraced farm diversification (multiple crops and livestock types).  The concept is one I support, but it flies in the face of the corporate farm entities and it would be interesting to get her take on it.  And I wondered if she realized how many girls (this one included), took solace in Laura’s battles with Nellie Oleson in dealing with their own childhood nemesis?  Even if I don’t get to quiz her, I owe her at least a cup of coffee for being behind the first chapter book I ever received and a set of books that loom large in the pantheon of literature-of-my-formative-years.Kristy: Most definitely! These were also the first chapter books I received. Tattered copies which had definitely been my sister’s and may have been my mother’s.  And I absolutely loved them. I didn’t even know there was a television series until much later, but yes, I would be interested to hear what she thinks of it. I’d love to hear her just talk about life in the various places she lived. There are plenty of totally impertinent questions I’d like to ask (but probably wouldn’t) like: her younger siblings, if I recall, were conceived when the family was living in a one room house. Um… did she and Mary know what was going on?  I’d just like to hear what she thinks of life in America in general now; I have to think modern suburbia would have been Pa Ingalls’s worst nightmare (he moved out of he Big Woods because his nearest neighbor was only a mile away or some such). And like Cammy, I owe her a cup for fostering my love of reading and my love of cultural history.

Reading Quota

The library in my hometown consisted primarily of Harlequins, 1970s issues of National Geographic and an assortment of post war books about crop rotation, so my Mom was awesome enough to drive my brother and I the 20 miles to the downtown library in the county seat multiple times during the summers so we could partake of the wider selection AND so we could join in on the summer reading program.  You signed up, they gave you this cardboard booklet to record the books you read and at the end of the summer you turned in your card and got a whole envelope of prizes (mostly coupons for free ice-cream, book marks, stickers…).

I’m pretty sure it was for my word-loathing brother that Mom was so gung ho to get us involved in the activity.  Lord knows, I didn’t need bribery to get me to read.  All the same, I accepted the challenge.  While my brother slogged to his quota, I was adding extra lines to my card and writing really small to get in every single book I devoured.  It was never about the coupons or the certificate.

I’ve kind of miss that.

So imagine my total delight when I logged on to peruse the library catalog this week and found out that I can once again embrace the challenge of absorbing large amounts of text for fun (and potential profit).  And I don’t have to try and pass myself off as being 13 and under.  It’s being billed as “6 in 12” (6 books in 12 months).  To be honest, that exceeds the number of books I’ve read per year in the past few years, thanks to jobs, exams, etc. After a few too many years of not inhaling books at my childhood rate, it’s time to get my game back.

Time to add lines to my virtual, grown-up read-a-thon card.

Coffee On A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Would we have coffee with Madeleine L’Engle?

Cammy:  In honor of her birthday tomorrow* I would be delighted to buy this woman a cup of coffee.  I cannot fathom that she would be anything less than interesting to talk to.  Her books have touched on such a wide variety of topics from science to religion to moral failings in one’s parents to just getting along with those pesky younger siblings.  And those are just the ones marketed at children/young adults.  Her best known book, A Wrinkle In Time, actually employed legitimate science, for which I will be eternally grateful (there are plenty of great fantasy books suited to the younger set, but far fewer actual sci-fi–even more rare to have sci-fi and a female lead).  She produced books that were connected, and yet very different from one another, which always strikes me as awesome.  I’d love the chance to talk to her about the way the different “universes” of her books run next to one another, occasionally glancing off tangentially.  Why did she choose to do it that way?  Why not keep the Austin’s totally separate from the Murrys, or fully integrate them?  How did she really feel about the right-wingers who were down on the subject matter of her books?  Beyond that, I just want to chat with the woman.  After all, she managed to start a work with “It was a dark and stormy night…” and turn it into something fabulous and thought provoking, imagine what she could do to having coffee.
Kristy: This is another one of those moments where I confess to a minor heresy: I’ve never read anything by Madeleine L’Engle.  I think in elementary school one of our readers had a chapter from one of her books or something, but that’s it.  It wasn’t a deliberate choice, I just never got around to it.  I was obsessed with history and dance as a child and there were enough books for kids focused on those topics that I never had time for fantasy.  Something I kind of regret as an adult, though I have yet to find the time or inclination to go back and read the things I missed.  So clearly I have some homework to do prior to coffee, but yes, I would have coffee with her.  I imagine we could still have plenty of things to talk about.  I’m interested in how late in life she began her professional writing career–did she ever imagine writing was something she’d do professionally?  Why does she think it took her that long to find her first novel idea?  I’d also love to hear any insights she had into the publishing industry in general.  Heck, I’d love just a list of suggested books for my nieces and nephews.  I’m sure she’d be a very interesting lady with whom to share a cup of coffee.
Cammy:  ZOMG.  I feel like I’ve failed as a roommate for never having made sure you were indoctrinated.  I am going to retire to a corner and cry tears of shame.

*Side Note:  Apparently November 29 is a great day to be born if you want to write a successful youth novel.  C.S. Lewis and Lousia May Alcott share the day with L’Engle.

Bookstore Junk

With my parents back in town, it’s brought back the wild and crazy family activity of choice:

Hanging out at the bookstore.

Oh yeah.  We are hell raisers.

So, with Borders out of the picture, our options are now limited to the local Barnes & Noble.  Not my favorite, but it’s better than a finger in the eye.  I hadn’t been in the store for a while (having slaked my thirst for new reading material via Borders’ misfortune), and I was shocked to find that, the book-to-non-book ratio of merchandise is teetering on the absurd.  There is an entire new toy section to the damn place.  Not just the odd stuffed animal or game, we’re talking multiple aisles where the only reading material is the packaging.

And it’s not just the kids’ area.

The game section aimed at the older set is now much larger as well.  And the amount of knick-knack crap (coffee cups, herb garden sets, pencil pouches, calendars, desk accouterments, clocks, wall-decor, writing implements….) is baffling.  And midst all this clutter, there seem to be fewer and fewer books.  The science fiction section is smaller (and has lost shelf space to a huge manga section, much to my dismay), and the shelf upon shelf of fiction literature that used to sit proudly to the front of the store has been severely trimmed and shoved further to the back of the store.  Behind the even more truncated non-fiction shelves.  And of course, the “Nook” propaganda is front and center, surrounded by a creeping infestation of Nook-related paraphenalia.

I’d noticed when Borders was clearing out, there was an awful lot of similarly non-book-related crap to be sold off.  At the time I figured it was little wonder the chain suffered financial collapse if they were wasting so much money on stocking up random shit rather than their core business.

You’d think B&N might consider that one.

If you’re going to sell books, sell books.  If I want housewares or handbags, I’m not going to B&N to get them.

For the Love of Books

I love books. Always have. Always will. I freely admit to inspecting the shelves of friends and strangers just to see what treasures they’re hoarding and figure out how their brains work. Call me petty, but I believe that a well-stocked shelf indicates a rich mind and a curious nature. Beyond that, I love the weight of a book in my hand, the feel of the pages, the physical act of turning the page to continue the action, the cover art. I love it all.

Enter the Kindle and her competitive tramp of a sister, the Nook. Don’t get me wrong, they both promote reading though portability and ease of use. If it gets people interested in the words and works of the English (French, Spanish, German, etc.) languages, I’m all for it. I love that you can tote all of your vacation reading around in one slim device. But I can’t help feeling a bit of a pang when I see bookstores closing their doors due to lack of sales and publishing companies moving away from a paper format.

The evolution of the book into an electronic format is progress but I feel as though the magic of reading changes our relationship to the written word and to each other. To wit, the following:

1) Screen time: More of it. I can and will compute, but at a certain point my eyeballs feel like they’re going to roll out of my head after staring at screens for an entire day. The last thing I want to do with my leisure activity is look at another screen.  This said, I prefer the ink format of the Kindle to the Nook’s slutty full-color ways.

2) Progress through the pages. When I was plowing my way through The Count of Monte Cristo, the most satisfying thing was seeing how far my Captain Picard bookmark had moved. There is a real sense of accomplishment in moving through the pages and recording your progress by inches.

3) Society (aka, Mary the Spy). When I’m slumming on the metro or standing in line, I love to look around and see what people are reading. It helps me make up stories about them and pass the time. I’ve started and participated in several conversations prompted by books while stuck on public transport or in an airport, which segues into…

4) Cover art. I like pictures that tell a story about the story. Beholding a Nook-er or a Kindle-ist, I can do no more than judge them by their reading machine protection devices. Brown plastic: boring. Levenger tooled leather: classy. Pink and purple sparkles: uber fabulous.

5) Distraction. Every so often I feel the urge to tidy my living space and, more importantly, my bookshelves. This is code for whiling away the time by flipping through several volumes for favorite passages. You can sit in front of your shelves flipping through pages for a couple of hours and still feel like you’ve been productive even though nothing else has been touched. You just don’t have that excuse with a device that neatly compresses data into tiny machine.

I don’t mean to diss the Kindles and Nooks of the world, or their junkies, out of turn. I’ll probably break down and get a cheap Kindle when I have a buck to spare just in case I need to travel really light. Myhope is that we don’t lose our connection with the printed word and the physical book. I am heartened by J.K. Rowling’s stance on books and how she wants people, children in particular, to experience her writing. Harry Potter’s creator will not license the books in an electronic format in order to preserve the sacred and solitary act of literary enjoyment. Brava, J.K.

Sell-By Dates for Spoilers?

While we’re discussing important social issues on this blog, here’s another one which has been on my mind for a while:  Do spoilers have an expiration date?

Yesterday on that great voyeurism enabler Twitter I noticed a certain actor being scolded by the internet for dropping a spoiler for a television show he’s on.  For an episode that had already aired.  Now (I don’t watch this particular show) my understanding is the episode had just aired the night before and hadn’t aired in Canada yet.  And if it had been me, and I had been thinking about it, I wouldn’t’ have dropped said spoiler.  But I don’t think he did it deliberately and the show had already aired in the country in which it’s made, so I feel like the internet overreacted a little (shocking, I know).

It brought to mind a time several years ago when I was yelled at for spoiling the end of Farscape.  More than a year after the show ended.  I didn’t do it on purpose—I was unaware that there were two people in the room (who I wasn’t even talking to) who were in the process of working their way through the show.  If I had been, I wouldn’t have said it.  But it seems like, watching a show that long after it’s been broadcast, you should expect the possibility of being spoiled.

Maybe I just don’t understand because I’ve never been a purist in that regard.  I’m not someone who insists on watching television shows in order.  I don’t seek out spoilers, but I don’t get upset if they find me.  I used to have a policy of wanting to know if any characters died so I could emotionally prepare myself.  Battlestar Galactica cured me of that by letting me know there was no way to be emotionally prepared for what they were going to throw at me.  Sometimes I like to not be spoiled.  I started reading the Harry Potter books when the fifth book came out because I knew it was only a matter of time before one of my friends unintentionally spoiled the death in that book and I didn’t want it to happen.  (My plan had been to read them once they were all out so I didn’t have to wait for them anxiously like the rest of you suckers.)

But, for example, I’m currently working my way through Buffy the Vampire Slayer with some friends.  All of said friends have seen the show before, but not me.  But I know most of the major stuff that happens.  I know who dies, who gets involved, who breaks up, who loses/gains a soul.  Because I’ve had a lot of BTVS fans as friends and people say things.  Sometimes now when we’re watching someone will reference an upcoming episode then look at me guiltily, but I always assure them I don’t care.  This stuff is about a decade old, I think the spoilers are past their expiration date.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we should ever deliberately spoil shows (or books) for people who don’t want them spoiled.  But I do think there’s a point at which you lose your right to get mad at someone who accidentally says something.  Let’s say a week after an episode has been broadcast?

And those who don’t want to be spoiled can also take reasonable precautions of their own.  For example, if I haven’t watched So You Think You Can Dance live (which I haven’t for several years) I’m careful on Twitter on Wednesday and Thursday nights.  It’s just practical.  If someone is to see the results and have a spontaneous reaction, I can’t blame them for doing so.  If I didn’t want to know, I shouldn’t be reading.

And don’t deliberately spoil things for people. That’s just douchey.

Borders Brought Down?

As you may have heard, it’s looking more and more like the remainder of the Borders Bookstore franchise is going to go the way of the Dodo.  After filing for Chapter 11 and closing multiple stores earlier this spring, creditors are clamoring for their piece of the pie which may force a total liquidation by Friday.

This sucks.

I like that there was some competition for the Barnes and Nobles around here, because Lord knows, out here in the American burbs there’s no such thing as a real, independent bookstore (unless it’s a used bookstore–which is cool, but their selection is always hit or miss unless your bent is paperback mysteries and Harlequins).  I have nothing against B&N as a whole, I’ve been to some that are great stores, but  I like a little competition in the marketplace and if the little guy can’t compete, at least multiple big guys can duke it out for my dollar.

Also, I liked Borders generally.  I liked that our Borders had lighter wood, lower shelves and a more open feel, as opposed to the dark wood, high shelved claustrophobic feel of the local B&N.  I liked that Borders Rewards didn’t require a fee (I’ve been bitter about B&N’s fee since I was still a kid and my allowance didn’t allow for that fee AND still being able to buy books…I know that’s more about my thrifty parents, but I’m still bitter at B&N and have never joined their rewards thing because of it).  I liked that I could get coffee at Borders that was NOT Starbucks.  Our Borders had more space devoted to regular ol’ books and less to all the, well, junk and games and toys our B&N keeps around.  And Borders ALWAYS had the latest edition of Piecework magazine (B&N it was  hit or miss).

And, very particular to the locations here in my area, I liked the service and people at my Borders better than B&N.  The Borders hosted community events including spaces in the cafe for community college students to gather for study groups and space for a local writer’s group (which I kept telling myself I should join) to get together.  And the staff was nice and would engage in the “Oh!  You’re going to love this, have you ever read so-and-so???” kind of conversation that you can only get with people who read voraciously and love to share.  Meanwhile (and again, I stress, this is ONE B&N location only–not about the whole chain), the staff at the B&N were rude.  Some of that is, no doubt, due to their being right next to the AMC and getting a lot of obnoxious pre-and-post movie goers loitering around, but that’s no excuse for subjecting me to the stink-eye and a lecture on the money-grubbing uselessness of college educations when true intellectuals only needed to read in order to learn (apparently, this chick at the register really had it in for my W&M shirt).

So if the rumors are true and the bankruptcy court goes the way the creditors apparently want and forces a liquidation, I’m really, really going to miss my Borders.