No Snarking Nostalgic this week….

Due to circumstances beyond my control–a leaking pipe and the drama surrounding getting it fixed when you don’t own the apartment you live in–there is no Snarking Nostalgic this week.  Sorry guys–I really really hate Sweet Valley High #4 Power Play and can’t wait to finish ripping it to shreds so I can move past it to BSC 3-which should be called The BSC is the mafia of Stoneybrook, Connecticut.


This week in the world of reading

Every so often, I’m going to want to highlight various news articles I find about various literacy related interests from who’s banning what book to where I bought a cute book-themed t-shirt for the girls.

Things making me very happy this week

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(US) Harper Lee has given her approval to e-publish “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which is one of my all time favorite books.  Expected publication is July 2014.  Read more here.

(International) The extended trailer for “The Fault in Our Stars” is out.  The movie is being released, and in the face of all the disappointing movie adaptations that have come before it, I am STILL very excited to see this.

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(USA) Free comic book day is May 3d!  Don’t forget to take your kids to the comic book store and help them get hooked.  Dear parents who get their underwear in a twist over comic books–your kid is reading.  Full stop.  Read more here.

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(FRANCE) Mo Willems is writing in Paris.  Or at least sketching the passersby of the cafe in which he’s writing.  He is one of the household’s favorite author.  If not for the article–watch the video (or BOTH).  He wants you to know that being a child sucks.  Here


Things infuriating me this week

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(USA) Parents successfully banned “The absolutely true diary of a part time Indian” (one of the most banned books in the US currently–and on my reading list) in a school district in Idaho for, among other things “unChristian content.”  Students at the school organized a petition fighting the ban.  People in Washington raised money and donated 350 copies of the book to a local bookstore to hand out to teens who wanted to read it.  A parent called the cops to arrest (?) the people handing out the free books.  Read more about it here.


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(CANADA) Someone (a “patron” or “a father’s rights group” depending on your source) attempted to have Hop on Pop banned in Toronto libraries because it advocates violence against fathers.  It was unsuccessful.  Read more here


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(UK) There are both international and local efforts forming to ask the British government to reconsider its ban on sending prisoners books.  Read more here and here.


Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 9.47.53 PM(CHINA) China has started arresting male/male slash fanfic writers.  Most of them are young women. (slash–homosexual pairings in fan fiction like Kirk & Spock)  Read more here.


We missed doing a kid review of a book last week–I was busy putting Elanor’s new bookcase together.  The old one fell apart, and the stacks of books on the floor weren’t exactly the decorating statement I wanted to make.   After putting together the bookcase, I lovingly arranged the bookcase, sorting books to keep all the Mo Willems together, all the fairy tales, and so forth.

We all know how this story ends, so I decided to record that one brief shining moment that Elanor’s bedroom bookcase was well organized for posterity.


Four days later, that brief shining moment has ended.  As we all knew it would.

When is a spoiler a spoiler?

I suppose I should say here that because I’m talking about spoilers, I may unintentionally spoil something for you? (Book/movie spoilers revealed/discussed–Game of Thrones Book/Season 3, Walking Dead, The Sixth Sense, Harry Potter 6, Downton Abbey Season 3)

About a week ago the internet lost its collective mind over a Game of Thrones episode that ended with King Joffrey’s death.  People who saw it immediately started talking, blogging, and creating memes.  People who hadn’t seen the episode were furious about posted spoilers. 

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 9.43.22 PMStephen King’s spoiler tweet and reaction to those upset with him

Is it really a spoiler if there’s a book?  Is there a statute of limitations on spoilers?  Is it even possible to avoid spoilers, given social media?  How do we follow Wheaton’s Law (“Don’t be a dick”) regarding potential spoilers?  I began to think about these questions and asked on Facebook and Twitter to get other’s opinions.

Is it really a spoiler if there’s a book?

I’m of two minds about this.  I’m generally a firm “read the book first” type of person, although I’ve broken that rule.  I didn’t read the Walking Dead comics before I saw the show and became interested in doing so; I’m not a comic kind of person anymore.  I didn’t read World War Z until after I saw the movie and my friends all started screaming about how the movie was a travesty and I had to read the book.  On the other hand, my husband and I are both avoiding Game of Thrones because we haven’t read the books and we feel like we shouldn’t watch it until we do.

My friend Rosemary pointed out that “You should cut people a break on book vs. tv/movies.  I’m never going to read the GoT books, so the show is new to me, even though the books have been out for a while, so don’t spoil it for me.”  I think she makes a valid point. Is the attitude of “you should’ve just read the damn books” just plain rude? I’m not going to be a jerk about it.  I feel bad if I spoil a twist someone didn’t know about because they didn’t read the book.

Stephanie has a more gentle take on this book v show war.  “If watching the show is your first introduction to the books, nothing is a spoiler. It’s just catching up to everybody else.

Of course the tv show/movie isn’t ever going to be 100% faithful, so in spoiling, you may be spoiling something that isn’t in the books.  The Daryl character on Walking Dead, isn’t in the comics and the show has departed and often toned down the comic’s storylines (the Governor is nowhere near as sadistic in the tv show–he doesn’t rape Michonne for one).  So there is often a divide–essentially creating two works with the same name which may or may not reflect one another.

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 9.56.41 PMfound in a google search, credited to icanhazcheesburger in the photo

Is there a statute of limitation on a spoiler?

There was consensus that there’s definitely a statue of limitations on a spoiler and that some people take it way too far.

Jennie said “I went to a class at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival last summer and we were seeing Cymbeline, a very complicated play… But the instructor wouldn’t tell us any of the plot points because she didn’t want to “spoil” anything. Certainly Shakespeare has exceeded the statute of limitations on spoiler alerts…”  But there’s a difference between just over 400 years ago and a book that’s only been out a few years.

 Vinitha says “I rarely read books the year they are released – would prefer a *spoiler alert* warning if you plan to spill the beans.”

We also agreed that at this point The Sixth Sense (1999) has been out long enough not to consider the twist ending that Bruce Willis’ character has been dead all this time a spoiler.  Or that Dumbledore’s death (book 2005, movie 2009) shouldn’t need a spoiler alert.  However, no one was brave enough to name a number as to how many years a twist needs a spoiler alert.  Joffrey’s death is in book 3 of the Game of Thrones series, published in 2000 but the scene everyone is so upset about wasn’t shown until April 2014 on the show, so the 14 year difference doesn’t seem to apply.  Maybe both the book and media have to have been out for X years?

There’s also the unintentional spoiler.  Certain tv shows come out earlier in some countries than others–the UK gets something like a six month head start on Downtown Abbey, for one.  So when my UK friends started freaking on twitter about about Sybil and Matthew’s deaths in Season 3, I found out long before the season had even begun in the US.  Finding it out in advance didn’t really lessen the emotional impact of those death scenes for me, as an invested viewer.  But I would rather not have found out–so I think it’s still a spoiler when other major markets haven’t had the chance to see/read it yet.

While I don’t worry about the Sixth Sense or HP spoilers with someone my age, I’m also going to be careful about what I reveal to Elanor and Rhi.  I know that she hasn’t had the exposure to either, and at some point in the future I want them to see/read them respectively and have the full impact of the shock.  So there may be reason to justify a double standard based on the age of who you’re talking to.  Goodreads has a box you can tick off if there are spoilers in your review, no matter how old the book is depending on how you feel about the statute of limitations.

Of course, then there’s the Romeo and Juliet clause.  My friend Amy points out “Hell, Shakespeare himself “spoiled” Romeo and Juliet in the 6th line of the prologue.”  You can’t get mad at someone for spoiling a book that gives away its spoiler first.

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Is it possible to avoid spoilers, given social media?

Consensus is no, not realistically.

People should get over it or stay away from people and the internet until they see/read whatever it is,” says my friend April. 

“The whole book/movie spoiler debate is silly.  I have a hard enough time avoiding spoilers for Miami Dolphins (American Football–ed.) games for 24 hours,” muttered my husband when asked.  He does a complete facebook/twitter/google +/news site blackout so that the games aren’t ruined for him.  I did a complete media blackout when waiting for the How I Met Your Mother series finale, and threatened the friendship of anyone who ruined it for me, only to have it disappoint me in many ways (not Neil Patrick Harris….NEVER Neil Patrick Harris).

“Keeping ANYthing under wraps in the social media age is an accomplishment all by itself!” Stephanie has a point. Paula notes that “News sites post within minutes of the episode airing.”  It’s not just books or television.  I often get news from twitter first and then have it validated by traditional media later.

“I feel the need to talk about my various shows, but always do it in the comments of a post clearly labeled as a spoiler.”  Rosemary notes. I appreciate
these fb posts of hers, which say something to the effect of “let’s talk about the most recent episode of show x in the comments.”  It’s a good way to talk about potential spoilers without putting said spoilers out into the world.  You can’t control what other people do, but you can choose how you handle spoilers on the internet.

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 10.34.11 PMOf course, not every spoiler on the internet is true… (source)

What do you guys think?  What are your opinions on spoilers?  Do you follow Wheaton’s Law or are you the person going around ruining it for everyone else?

In defense of the E-Reader

I’ve always been the kind of person who starts to panic without a book or three on their person at all times.  The problem with the volume and speed with which I read is that my bedrooms/apartments have been in danger of the books staging a take over since I was a kid.  I used the library more when I was young, but as an adult I fell into bad return habits, at which point it was often cheaper just to buy the book.  The advent of Amazon was VERY bad for my budget because I was no longer restricted to the books available in nearby brick and mortar stores.

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One of the bookcases in my house.

While I am often an early adopter of technology, I was a bit skeptical of e-readers and the Kindle app.  But two events happened that were key in my conversion from skeptic to devotee.

The first was purchasing a smart phone; the second was the birth of my elder daughter.  While it is easy to do a lot of things while holding a book in one hand, I began to discover that baby care wasn’t necessarily one of them.  Holding a phone, though, was much more manageable.  I began to read the occasional book on my phone.

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In 2010 our family moved from the US to Singapore (read my expat blog here).  The issue with an international move is that there is only so much space to pack your belongings, and there’s always the fear that a move away from your new home may have to happen on your own dime–which would mean abandoning the majority of your possessions.  When it came to furniture, we opted to buy Ikea-no great loss if abandoned.  When it came to books, we brought far too many, but we also brought Kindles.  At that point, neither of us used the kindles very much–it was another electronic you had to carry around with you–and a fairly fragile one at that.  The 2o10 Kindle was huge-it didn’t fit easily into my purse.  Having to take it out of my bag, unzip the giant case, turn it on and find the book was time consuming when compared with pulling a book out of my bag.

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While the physical kindle was a waste of money, I did start using the app on my phone.  I switched from iPhone to Android during the summer when apple and amazon were fighting, and it was up for grabs if ios would even support the kindle app in the future (I want to say 2011).  I even upgraded the size of my phone to get a compromise between a larger screen and something I could still hold in my hand.   At the time of this post, I use a Samsung Galaxy S4, although I’m planning to upgrade my phone soon, once the S5 is out.

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So why use an e-reader?

  • Space in your house.  Space is at a premium in our household.  Something had to give, and the adult’s books were the easy choice.  We have several hundred kid’s books, so room had to be made.  We can also only fit so many bookcases into our house, before it became out of hand.
  • Price.  E books have hit a point where they are as or more cheap than their physical counterparts in the US.  Living abroad, they are significantly cheaper.
  • Capacity.  Just sitting on my phone, I have over 100 books, which means if my current to read (or reads–I usually have several going) isn’t working, I can go reread an old friend.  For someone who devours books at the pace I do (I logged 100 books on goodreads last year, but it was probably just north of that as I sometimes forget to log books there-so I average roughly two books a week), having a large number of books on standby is reassuring.  For example, the entire Harry Potter series take up over 4,000 pages–hard to fit in your bag.
  • Ease of reading.  I generally have my phone in my hand or next to me.  This means I can sneak in a few pages of reading while waiting for an elevator, waiting for my elder daughter to get released from school, waiting in line at the grocery store and so forth.  I wouldn’t get through as many books without that.

Sure I love the feel of a physical book, and I do have those books I’m unwilling to part with.  I have books that just aren’t available on kindle or other e-reader formats.  I have autographed books, which you can pry from my cold, dead fingers (I waited hours to get Maya Angelou’s signature in college).  Then there are those that I’m keeping for sentimental reasons.

The transition can be rough–but once you get used to it, it’s surprising how much you may like it.


Hello fellow bookworms.

There is nothing better than a good book.  I learned this at a young age, and a full blown addiction was born–one I’ve never recovered from.  Now that I’m a mom of two, I’m excited to be passing along the obsession to the next generation.

Be Quiet! Mommy’s Reading will be a mixture of book reviews (anything I like, regardless of genre), reading commentary (I hope to snark some kid’s books like early Baby-Sitter’s Club books), book v movie comparisons (warning-I almost always like the book better) and really anything that I think will be fun or interesting and relates to reading.

You’re welcome to add me if you’re also on Goodreads.