Book Stack

I’m enjoying Shawn’s company during our days of social distancing. We have not run out of projects to complete or things we’ve always wanted to do but never had the time. The garden is well-weeded and the summer crops are trickling in. Last night we enjoyed a German Johnson tomato, summer squash and garlic all harvested from our very own plot. Somehow that stuff just tastes better when we had a hand in growing it.

Our domestic tranquility has demanded some give and take and on occasions social distancing has preserved our state of matrimony. One afternoon I puttered in the shop while she occupied a front porch rocker with both of us playing keep away from the other. And then there was the evening she rocked while I swung. (Note the rockers and swing are on opposite ends of the porch.) I won’t lie and say we’ve had no disagreements.

And a big one surfaced this week.

We’ve been missing our weekly trips to the library to secure reading material. Given the uncertainty with public library openings and the new rules about maybe someday borrowing books we’re wondering what will happen. After three months the library system finally sent an email asking that Shawn return the two books she’s had since March. The county’s closure due to COVID-19 shut the libraries and all patrons were asked to hold their books rather than attempt to return them.

Returned books will now go into 72-hour quarantine before their next circulation. Book returns have to be made at a certain library location (Wake County has twenty-two) during a certain window of time. I drove, Shawn hopped out to stuff the books into the bin, and I swooped in to retrieve her. It felt as though we were on a covert mission.

“Transport, package is delivered. Ready for exfil!”

“Roger. Inbound. ETA 30 seconds.”

I decided last week to cancel all my book requests and resubmit them as e-books using the library’s Overdrive system. Ebooks work for me, and with Amazon’s incredible Kindle app for IOS I can read a book on my phone, highlight key parts, and email quotes to myself with a couple of finger movements. Sweet options for a writer. I can also read books on my ancient Kindle and the IOS app keeps track of my progress and offers to sync to the last page read if I switch platforms.

Shawn and I like some of the same authors (Cussler, Grisham, Baldacci, Connelly, and Child for example). When I score a favorite after watching the countdown for weeks (you are #437 out of #1003 on the wait list) I will work through a book in a day or two, then pass it to her. We easily finish before the two week loan ends.

The latest hardcover books for which I’ve waited months have now begun rolling in as ebooks.

I feel certain that the library’s ebook collection will be expanding, possibly dwarfing hardcover acquisitions over time. Germ swapping is 100% preventable when a book is shared electronically. Any writer or publisher is wise to release new work in both print and electronic formats today. In fact for those books I publish through Kindle Direct Publishing the reader who purchases a hard copy can also download the ebook. Can that licensing system be exploited by passing the electronic file to others? Possibly, but I want to make things easy for my readers.

I loaned Shawn my Kindle so she could read the hard-to-get latest issue books as I finished them on my iPhone. Sharing is necessary in a healthy relationship. The plan was that she could read Books A and B while I tackled Books C and D without colliding with each other. The sharing worked until I opened a book only to discover that Shawn was deep in to it. She had bypassed my finished selections and opted for the new unread-by-John book. Wait a minute! I have been violated here! Flag on the play! Tweet!

Battle of Wits

The twinkle in her eye reconfirmed my awareness that I am in a battle of wits far above my pay grade. Her strategy was flawless. I mean, why wait when the book is right there on the homepage? Grab it and go.

I offered to walk her through the use of the Overdrive catalog and the process for borrowing electronic books. She might then read them on her choice of platforms: Shawn’s Kindle, Shawn’s iPhone 11 or Shawn’s iPad.

The twinkle twinkled. “Why?”

I am waiting patiently for her to finish the book I harvested. In the meantime I’ve downloaded a few more.

Find a way and never stop reading.