Re-post from Ebook Friendly: 5 Bestselling Kindle Singles So Far

A while ago I wrote a post about the increasing market for short stories one could read on the go in a busy world. I figured this is good news for writers, and here to help make my case, is an article from the website Ebook Friendly. I came across  this site because I follow a Polish blogger named  Piotr Kowalczyk, self-publisher, author of short stories for geeks and a declared enthusiast of electronic books. And, by the way, a writer of impeccable English. Joseph Conrad could have taken lessons… He has a blog, Password incorrect, about mobile e-books, self-publishing and digital storytelling, and a website called Ebook Friendly.  You can find him on Twitter at @ebookfriendly  or @namenick. He’s more than happy to answer questions about self-publishing in a mobile world or about Ebook Friendly.

Here’s his report on the winning singles so far (and you can buy them via Ebook Friendly);

Good news travels fast. Over 2 million Kindle Singles were sold since they launched in January 2011. There are only 161 titles so far, you can browse all of them in Kindle Store. For your convenience we list below 5 most popular titles.

This list is based on a chart published by paidContent, where you can also check the approximate number of units sold, the date of publication, and the publisher.

Two titles, Second Son by Lee Child (#1 on a paidContent list), and No Time Left by David Baldacci (#3) were removed by their publishers from Kindle Singles section, probably in order to increase the price. They are not included in the list.

Mile 81 (Kindle Single)

Stephen King

With the heart of Stand By Me and the genius horror of Christine, Mile 81 is Stephen King unleashing his imagination as he drives past one of those road signs…

At Mile 81 on the Maine Turnpike is a boarded up rest stop on a highway in Maine. It’s a place where high school kids drink and get into the kind of trouble high school kids have always gotten into. It’s the place where Pete Simmons goes when his older brother, who’s supposed to be looking out for him, heads off to the gravel pit to play “paratroopers over the side.” Pete, armed only with the magnifying glass he got for his tenth birthday, finds a discarded bottle of vodka in the boarded up burger shack and drinks enough to pass out.

Not much later, a mud-covered station wagon (which is strange because there hadn’t been any rain in New England for over a week) veers into the Mile 81 rest area, ignoring the sign that says “closed, no services.” The driver’s door opens but nobody gets out.

Doug Clayton, an insurance man from Bangor, is driving his Prius to a conference in Portland. On the backseat are his briefcase and suitcase and in the passenger bucket is a King James Bible, what Doug calls “the ultimate insurance manual,” but it isn’t going to save Doug when he decides to be the Good Samaritan and help the guy in the broken down wagon. He pulls up behind it, puts on his four-ways, and then notices that the wagon has no plates.

Ten minutes later, Julianne Vernon, pulling a horse trailer, spots the Prius and the wagon, and pulls over. Julianne finds Doug Clayton’s cracked cell phone near the wagon door — and gets too close herself. By the time Pete Simmons wakes up from his vodka nap, there are a half a dozen cars at the Mile 81 rest stop. Two kids — Rachel and Blake Lussier — and one horse named Deedee are the only living left. Unless you maybe count the wagon. List Price: $ 3.99

The Moonlit Mind: A Tale of Suspense (Kindle Single)

Dean Koontz

In this chilling original stand-alone novella, available exclusively as an eBook, #1 New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz offers a taste of what’s to come in his new novel, 77 Shadow Street, with a mesmerizing tale of a homeless boy at large in a city fraught with threats . . . both human and otherwise.

Twelve-year-old Crispin has lived on the streets since he was nine—with only his wits and his daring to sustain him, and only his silent dog, Harley, to call his friend. He is always on the move, never lingering in any one place long enough to risk being discovered. Still, there are certain places he returns to. In the midst of the tumultuous city, they are havens of solitude: like the hushed environs of St. Mary Salome Cemetery, a place where Crispin can feel at peace—safe, at least for a while, from the fearsome memories that plague him . . . and seep into his darkest nightmares. But not only his dreams are haunted. The city he roams with Harley has secrets and mysteries, things unexplainable and maybe unimaginable. Crispin has seen ghosts in the dead of night, and sensed dimensions beyond reason in broad daylight. Hints of things disturbing and strange nibble at the edges of his existence, even as dangers wholly natural and earthbound cast their shadows across his path. Alone, drifting, and scavenging to survive is no life for a boy. But the life Crispin has left behind, and is still running scared from, is an unspeakable alternative . . . that may yet catch up with him. List Price: $ 2.9

Thorn in My Side (Kindle Single)

Karin Slaughter

It could have been just any night, and they could have just been any two brothers–but it wasn’t, and they weren’t. The scene is an Atlanta bar. The music is loud and the dance floor is packed. The good-looking brother picks up a girl. But when dark deeds ensue out in the parking lot, what happens next can only be described in two words: vintage Slaughter. From the opening scene to the last line, Thorn in My Side is as wicked as it is entertaining–an unforgettable piece of writing from one of the most beloved storytellers working today. List Price: $ 0.99

Leaving Home: Short Pieces (Kindle Single)

Jodi Picoult

Leaving Home brings together three, previously published short pieces, each dealing with a variation on the theme of leaving home. The first, “Weights and Measures,” deals with the tragic loss of a child; the second is a non-fiction letter Picoult wrote to her eldest son as he left for college; and, “Ritz” tells the story of a mother who takes the vacation all mothers need sometime. List Price: $ 2.99

Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way (Kindle Single)

Jon Krakauer

Greg Mortenson has built a global reputation as a selfless humanitarian and children’s crusader, and he’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is also not what he appears to be. As acclaimed author Jon Krakauer discovered, Mortenson has not only fabricated substantial parts of his bestselling books Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools, but has also misused millions of dollars donated by unsuspecting admirers like Krakauer himself.

This is the tragic tale of good intentions gone very wrong.

100% of Jon Krakauer’s proceeds from the sale of Three Cups of Deceit will be donated to the “Stop Girl Trafficking” project at the American Himalayan Foundation (www.himalayanfoundation.org/live/project/stopgirltrafficking). List Price: $ 2.99

Rosie’s First Poetry Reading

Emily Heist Moss writes a thought-provoking blog, called Rosie Says,about media, gender/sex, politics – anything that reflects her interest in the world around her, and her place in it. Last week, she went to her first poetry reading and was pleasantly surprised. A New Englander by birth, a Chicagoan by choice. she works at a tech start-up, and still has time to write for The Good Men Project, Jezebel, Huffpost and others. Here’s her take on poetry:.

Last week, I went to my first poetry reading. Okay, that’s not quite true. I think in college an English professor or two compelled me to attend a few, but those were stuffy affairs in attic classrooms filled with cheese cubes and dusty podiums.
I love to hear authors read, and over the last ten years, I’ve seen Zadie Smith, Sherman Alexie, Isabel Allende, Eric Larson, Geraldine Brooks, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers, and the like. I never go to concerts, so novelists are my rock stars.
 With the exception of one Mary Karr poem, poetry rarely, if ever, sticks with past the 80 seconds it takes to read, and that’s my own fault. There are a number of diagnosable reading styles, and mine involves sending my eyes vertically down a page and only darting briefly to the edges. I read very fast, but the nuance of punctuation and structure that makes poetry so complex is often lost on me. As is, one would imagine, much of the most eloquent and lovely prose….
Point is, I’ve never gone out of my way to see a poet read aloud. But last week, The Rumpus (one of my favorite literary blogs and the home of the Dear Sugar advice column) visited Chicago and hosted a reading. Sugar brought me to the room, but poets Sommer Browning and Brian Spears actually made me laugh. Browning narrated single frame comic strips to hilarious effect, and Spears recited Twitter-based poetry composed from tweets hashtagged #MiddleAgeWeRollHard. This looks ridiculous as I type it, but it never occurred to me that poetry could be funny.

 

Guest Post from Mike Sicking – Software Tools you Can Use

Mike Sicking is an American writer who writes for an English blog called Limebird Writers. He’s one of several people writing for them, and his moniker there is LimebirdKaiser (don’t ask me why…). In the last year, he decided to get serious about his writing,so he warns people not to treat him like a guru. But this post of his was useful to me, since it gave me a quick rundown of some of the more useful software available to help writers get to where they’re going.
You can read all his current works-in-progress on his own WordPress blog, here.

Tools For Writers

We live in a wonderful world with full of ones and zeroes buzzing around the old internet. Are you taking full advantage of the tools available to you?

You might think: This sounds boring and dreary. I’m an artist, not an egghead! This kind of stuff isn’t for me!
Not for you? Read about the day that LimebirdKate lost her work in progress to see why this is for you.
And if saving your hard-earned words from being eaten by the void isn’t enough for you, maybe a few free tools for planning and organizing your work will get you interested.

DropBox

If you take only one thing away from this article, make it this: DOWNLOAD AND USE DROPBOX TO BACK UP YOUR WORK.

Dropbox runs in that “Cloud” you might have heard about lately. Install it on your desktop and write a few great pages. Then head to the coffee shop and pick up where you left off on your laptop without batting an eye. Forgot your laptop? Guess what: use your smartphone.

There’s a web interface too, so you don’t have to install any programs if you don’t want to. This also means that anything you save to your Dropbox is available on any computer with an internet connection. Download your opus to your great aunt’s PC and get to work while the rest of your family sleeps.

Dropbox syncs your files between all your computers in addition to the Dropbox servers. So, if Dropbox disappeared tomorrow, all your files would still be stored on all your local machines.

Dropbox has a “Public” folder which can generate URLs for each file inside it for easy sharing with, well, the public.

Non-Public folders can be shared with other Dropbox users on a per-user basis. So if you want to share your “Family Vacation Pics” folder with just your mom and sister you can. Or you can share your “Rough Drafts” folder with all the friends you meet on Limebird for easy peer feedback.

Dropbox also keeps a history of versions as you change the files in it. So if, in a fit of trusting, you share your folder with an unsavory character who Replace-Alls “the” with “boobsLOL”, you can restore your files pretty easily. This may or may not have happened to me or someone I know.

As far as security goes:

There’s always a risk when storing your files online. But, as we’ve seen, there’s a risk to storing your files only locally as well.

Dropbox isn’t a no-name start-up company run by amateurs with the threat of going out of business overnight. It’s a fairly large and respected site. I think you can trust it as much as you would any other site on the internet.

It’s available for Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, Android, plus a browser-based interface. There’s no excuse not to be using this.

It’s free for 2 Gigabytes of storage, which is more than enough for any text files you want to store. Pictures and videos will eat up your space a lot faster. You can get more space by referring friends to Dropbox or you can just pay for it. You almost certainly won’t have to worry about that, though. Personally, I’ve been Dropboxing pretty liberally for over a year now and I’m using a little under 6% of my available space.

Simplenote

Go grab a Simplenote account here. Think “Dropbox Light”. It stores and syncs text files only. Simple text only, so no italics or bold allowed, sorry. But no frills means no distractions. Plain white space; you just fill it up with words.
I write just about everything in Simplenote to start with, including the rough drafts for NaNoWriMo, This year and last year.
Simplenote allows you to tag each note with multiple categories for easy organization. Make a tag for “Future Story Ideas” and never again forget a moment of inspiration. Tag your chapters with names to see a snapshot of your story by characters.

Simplenote.com is available anywhere you have an internet connection and a modern browser.
For fancy off-line solutions, you can download a number of front ends.
There’s something for whatever operating system you’re working on.
I can personally vouch for the official Simplenote iOS app and the Windows-only Resoph Notes.

The web app is free and most of the front ends are as well. The official iOS app and Resoph Notes are free for sure.

yWriter/Scrivener

Grab yWriter here and Scrivener here.

Where Simplenote’s beauty is in its simplicity, yWriter and Scrivener take the opposite approach: they do it all. Both programs allow you to organize your stories into chapters and scenes. Then reorder them easily. Then take notes, create an outline, get daily word counts and set goals. Tons of great features. Remember to save your working files in your Dropbox account so you can access them from anywhere.

yWriter is available for  Windows and Scrivener works on Mac and Windows although the Mac version is more robustly developed at the moment. yWriter is free although you can register your copy if you like the program.
Scrivener: free…for 30 days. Then $40 US.

WriteOrDie

Check it out here. WriteOrDie’s tagline claims that it’s “Putting the ‘Prod’ in Productivity”. Write as fast as you can. Pause for too long and your existing words are slowly deleted. While I can’t vouch for the quality of the work it will produce, it will help you achieve your daily word count. This is another web app, available wherever your internet is. There are downloadable versions for Windows, Mac and Linux, plus apps for iOS.

The online version is free, so why would you pay for the desktop versions or the iOS app? Both are about 10 bucks US, though, if you’re interested.

How about you? Any helpful tools or tips that you’d like to share with us? Leave ’em in the comments!

Guest Post from Susan Schoenberger: Books for your Valentine

Susan Schoenberger is a fellow blogger of mine at the Patch, a chain of online newspapers. Recently she published this blog about Valentine’s gifts for book-lovers, and since I know that in addition to writing you all read (you do, don’t you?) I thought I’d re-post it here. Susan has worked as a reporter, editor and copy editor at The Day in New London, The News and Observer in Raleigh, N.C., The Baltimore Sun and The Hartford Courant. And she still has time to read…and write. Her first novel, A Watershed Year was published by Guideposts Books in March 2011.

A Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for Book Lovers

Does your significant other love to read? A thoughtfully chosen book can be far more intimate than flowers, candy or jewelry, and it can change the recipient’s perspective on life in ways that those more traditional gifts can’t.

With Valentine’s Day just a week away, it’s time to start thinking about how to impress the ones you love with a gift that shows just how well you know them.

Here are a few suggestions for the special person in your life:

The Novel Reader: “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern, a tale of two magicians who must compete in a life-or-death contest even as they fall desperately in love with each other.

The Non-Fiction Enthusiast: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” by Laura Hillenbrand. “Unbroken” is the harrowing account of a bombardier who survives a plane crash during the war and tests the limits of endurance on the open ocean.

The Sports Fan: “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” by Michael Lewis. Get even more details about the inside workings of the underdog 2002 Oakland A’s than in the Oscar-nominated movie starring Brad Pitt.

The Historian: “Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman,” by Robert K. Massie, described by its publisher as “the extraordinary story of an obscure young German princess who traveled to Russia at 14 and rose to become one of the most remarkable, powerful, and captivating women in history.”

The Kid at Heart: “The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne Collins. The movie is due out soon, so give the gift of the gripping tale of a stark future world and the resilient Katniss Everdeen before it hits the big screen.

The Aspiring Writer:”On Writing”: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King. The master of the horror genre — one of the bestselling authors ever — offers his personal insights on the craft and the profession.

The Book Clubber: “The Sense of an Ending” by Julian Barnes, a short but powerful novel that describes how an Englishman’s life is upended in old age by repercussions from a long-ago relationship.

The Poetry Lover: “The 100 Best Love Poems of All Time” edited by Leslie Pockell. Shakespeare, Burns, Byron, Yeats and Dickinson, among the many greats.

The Self Helper: “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts,” by Gary D. Chapman, described by the publisher as a guide for “couples in identifying, understanding, and speaking their spouse’s primary love language — quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch.”

Guest Post from Jessica Jonas: 33 Ways to stay creative

Jessica Jonas
Jessica Jonas

Jessica Jonas was born in a cicada year, crossed an ocean for the first time at 2 months old, and, according to her parents, loved to turn pages of books long before she learned to read. She started writing at what she considers a late age (19!) and is working towards an MFA in Creative Writing & the Publishing Arts in 2013. She has an interesting blog of her own and you can check it out here: http://jessicamjonas.com/. Here’s her post about how to stay creative… Most of the ideas are simple, but I can see how they might move your mind into another groove.

I borrow tonight’s list of creativity tips from The World’s Best Ever, a fun and bizarre assortment of inspirations and oddities. A skim down the home page gave me photography, a clock, Lindsay Lohan, hot sauce, striped Oxford shirts, Guns ‘n’ Roses, and cartoon spheres arguing about culture. Quite the grab bag, and while I doubt any one person will enjoy everything, it’s neat to see the sheer breadth of what creativity can offer. Right now, on breath-catching breaks between assignments, I’m reading over:

I’m working on numbers 6 and 33 in particular tonight, trying to remember to 32, and hoping some 9 is in my future.


Guest Post from Writers’ Relief

Writer’s Relief is a highly recommended author’s submission service. They help creative writers submit their work to the right literary agents and literary journals. And they get results.  They have a great newsletter that gives tips for submitting your work, and hot publishing leads. If you’re fed up with submitting and getting no results, or if you “just can’t get round to” submitting at all, check them out here:  www.writersrelief.com

This is what they sent out earlier today – a great seasonal post.

Which Reindeer Are You?

reindeerIt’s that time of year…

So take a break from the holiday stresses (writing, making merry, and wrapping presents all at the same time).

Find out which reindeer you are in Santa’s herd!

Dasher:
Favorite genre: Blogging. The seat-of-the-pants writer. Loves to break the news. Pushes “publish,” asks questions later.

Dancer:
Favorite genre: Poetry. Gets carried away by the music of words. Gushes and revels. Adores rhyme. Regularly seen wearing lavender and smelling of patchouli.

Prancer:
Favorite genre: Literary fiction. Straitlaced and scholarly, believes in hiding technique. Loves ascots and tweed. Doesn’t want to be confused with the likes of Dancer.

Vixen:
Favorite genre: Anything with vampires. Not averse to lengthy love scenes and cover art with shadowy, long-haired men.

Comet:
Favorite genre: Flash fiction. Burns fast and bright, but a little distant and elusive. A regular at open mike night.

Cupid:
Favorite genre: Old-school Mills and Boon romances. Loves billionaire playboy sheiks who are reformed by virginal nurses. Stories for all time.

Donner:
Favorite genre: Horror. The plagiarist. Cannibalizes other writers’ works. Owns trench coats in three different shades of black.

Blitzen:
Favorite genre: Thrillers. A jaded chain-smoker. Pounds on plot points with shock-and-awe relentlessness, but secretly pines for “the one who got away.”

Rudolph:
Favorite genre: Inspirational biography. The underdog who never gives up despite the odds, then goes on to get rhinoplasty and date a supermodel after he makes his millions.

Writer QuestionsQUESTION: Which reindeer are you? (I suspect I might be a mix of Dasher and Prancer…)

 

Killing Your Darlings: a Guest Post from Sue Healy

Sue Healy

Sue Healy is an Irish whirlwind. You’ve only got to check her bio on her blog (http://suehealy.org/) to see that.  She’s an award-winning writer, tutor, poet and journalist. She’s lived in Budapest and the UK (where she got her MFA) and teaches creative writing in English prisons. She’s also a Creative Writing tutor with the Open University (a British online University that started on TV in the 1970’s – very advanced thinking for us staid Brits!)  teaches for an independent online service, and in her spare time and leisure moments runs creative writing workshops in Ireland, France and Hungary.

Oh, did I mention that she’s  reworking a draft of her novel and putting together a collection of short stories? Don’t be intimidated – she’s friendly and has some great free advice for you. Here it is:

The Importance of Editing

‘Murder’ or ‘Kill your darlings’ is an adage attributed to the literary critic Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, advising writers to cut the words / phrases to which they are most attached, in order to strengthen the work. It is good advice when editing, as often we writers shoehorn in a delicious description which doesn’t do an enormous amount for the piece as a whole. It is simply a bauble. Time to get the gun out.

Editing makes the job of writer a rather schizophrenic affair where one has to don two very different caps. The first cap is that of the creative -who is focused on the big picture and is not too worried about the details. This is the person who comes up with the story, the theme, the basic structure, the person who invents characters and decides on the tone. This artist-writer will draw up the first draft of the story, writing only to please themselves. Finishing a draft wearing this cap is only some of the journey, however…

Next comes the cap of editor-writer. This is when the writer combs through the text, ruthlessly chopping, restructuring and cutting unnecessary/ unsuitable words, characters, scenes, phrases etc… or ‘murdering your darlings’. This is the writer preparing the text for other people. It is a good idea to leave a few weeks between your artist and editor incarnations.

Editing can be painful, and time-consuming. You’ve quite likely become attached to some characters, scenes, words and phrases and are loath to see them go. Don’t worry, you can store them in your “writer’s bag” for use at a future time in a more suitable context. In the meantime, get pruning…

Chopping advice:

Cut all surplus adjectives and adverbs.

Examine the phrases you’ve shoehorned in just because you liked the sound of them – do they really fit that scene? Be honest. If not, bin them.

Take out all vague words such as “seem/seemingly” and try to do without your “justs”.

Look at all sentences that run for two or three lines. Do they really need to be that long? Can you reduce them or break them up? If you can, do so.

Active forms are better than passive forms, where possible (i.e. “John cleaned the flat” rather than, “the flat was cleaned by John”).

Finally, every writer on Earth needs a reader or two – fresh eyeballs to run over your work and give you honest feedback. I suggest using three friends whom you trust will be frank with you. You don’t have to take everything they say on board. Do consider what they say, however, and if all three come back and say a character is not working. The character is not working. Rewrite.

Your Novel Sucks…

Stephanie Lehmann has a cure for your novel – so long as you realize you’ve got a problem. She’s written a book: Your Novel Sucks…Now What? and it’s only $2.99 from Amazon and other sources. Best value ever, especially if you find yourself with 50,000 words at the end of NaNoWriMo.

She knows what she’s talking about, since she’s published four novels already: Thoughts While Having Sex, Are You in the Mood? You Could do Better and The Art of Undressing. (I’m not saying there’s a theme here.) Her fifth novel will be finished one of these days. Here’s an excerpt from Your Novel Sucks, to give you a taste of the kind of help you can expect, and to make you laugh while you’re being helped.

You can always find people who will tell you what’s wrong with your writing. They’re dying to tell you, as a matter of fact – can’t wait to flip over that last page and start formulating constructive criticism to explain how to improve that book. They may have the best of intentions — even as their comments make you crumble before their very eyes.
Didn’t they know you just wanted to hear them say they loved it? Didn’t they know all anyone wants is to be loved? And published?
The internet has made it so that getting published might only involve the technical challenges of turning a Word file into HTML, formatting it for the various ebook outlets, designing a cover, choosing a price and downloading. The stigma of self-publishing is fading. But wariness over the oncoming glut of reading material that will be available online is mounting. Getting that love will continue to be a challenge. So what’s a writer to do?
My Best Advice
You have to learn to love yourself.
This might involve years of therapy, some ugly arguments with your parents, perhaps a divorce and a trip to an ashram in India. In any case, you must do everything in your power to keep honing your
craft and realize it’s the process of writing, not the finished product, that’s important.
My fingers thought I was supposed to write that, but my best piece of advice is actually something else.
My Actual Best Advice
You have to be your own worst critic.
Why? Because nothing will improve your novel more than harnessing that need to be loved into your efforts to rewrite that book. It’s like getting married in Vegas while you’re still drunk. If you love your prose too soon, you won’t be able to see what’s wrong with it. So yes, I’m telling you to get to know your novel better before committing to the publication process. Shack up together for awhile and learn its foibles so you can make intelligent decisions.
Develop a critical eye so you can tell yourself why that chapter is so crappy. No matter what anyone else says, this is your show to run and you’ve got the final say.
Wait until you’re absolutely sure you’ve gotten that manuscript as good as it can possibly be. Then go ahead and show it to other people Then crumble before their eyes as they tell you everything that’s still wrong with it. As you return to your manuscript filled with angst, disappointment and rage, be sure to comfort your wounded ego: at least they didn’t see the last draft. (Unless your recent draft just made it crappier, of course.)

Note from Gabi: You’ll  have to buy it to read the rest. And you should.

Highbrow Books in a Lowbrow World

This blog was written by my internet friend Emily Heist Moss, and published on her blog: Rosie Says (http://rosiesays.com/) Shee calls her blog Rosie says because of a longstanding admiration for that icon of American womanhood, Rosie the Riveter. She’s a New Englander by birth, a totally committed Chicagoan by choice.

She’s interested (and writes about) almost anything that relates to a person’s place in the world: gender, sex, politics, media, Hollywood, pornography, prostitution, books, television, celebrity, body image, beauty, feminism, food… it’s a long list. She’s also a weekly contributor at The Good Men Project,(http://goodmenproject.com/author/emilymoss/) although I have no idea how she finds the time, since she has a day job too. Here’s her take on the importance (or not) of reading “proper” books.

My first response to this picture from the Random House Facebook account was a giggle.

It’s kind of fun to personify books and imagine what they would think of the neglect and ridicule they often suffer at our hands. Remember that date of mine who thought I was joking when I told him that I’d be the girl at the bar with a beer and book? For people who don’t read, reading is a punchline. Books take all that abuse, and they just sit there contentedly on the shelf being awesome, waiting for us to get around to cracking them open. For people who do read, Jersey Shore is a punchline.

On second thought, what I don’t like about this ad (is it even an ad?), is the insinuation that being a reader and being a consumer of lowbrow pop culture are mutually exclusive.

I’m not a Jersey Shore fan; I watched one episose, wide-eyed, mouth agape in horror, unable to get past the violence, pettiness, and steroid-fueled entitlement complexes. I couldn’t enjoy it. That being said, we all have our trashy loves, be they romance novels, celebrity magazines, America’s Next Top Model, Real Housewives, WWE wrestling, or college football mania. These are all things that don’t matter. They are not raising our collective intellect or opening our eyes to the world in meaningful ways, but we still do them, and enjoy them, and use them later as cultural touchpoints to bond with strangers.

We can like the garbage and still read Virginia Woolf, as that seems to be the leader of the suicide brigade. We can read Perez Hilton and also The New Yorker, watch The Wire and also Project Runway. At least, I know I do.