This Uncovered Wagon

It started yesterday when I drove 3 towns over to one of the last remaining Barnes and Noble stores with every intention of finally, finally, breaking down and getting an e-reader.

The e-readers are the first display you see when you walk in the door.  Not books.  No, not books in a bookstore, but 2 giant display tables of Nooks and Nook holders and flashing, changing screens and employees with big smiles showing customers how they work.  I touched one screen and it flashed.  One flash.  That was all it took for me to walk right past, back to the books I could pick up and page through and smell and think about, right here in the real world.  Instead of an e-reader, I left B&N with these:




And not that it’s one bit related, but the first thing I did when I got home was to deactivate my Facebook account.  There must be a full Facebook moon this week, as it’s been written about brilliantly both here and here, and now I’m on that uncovered wagon, too.  Facebook, I’ve realized, has become one of those things I worry about.

**  I post a photo of the new dog only to hear that tsk-tsk from family members, “I hope you know what you’re getting into.”  Which, of course, taps into my very real fear that I don’t know what I’m getting into, but I’m already in it.

**  Before I can make a real live rational decision, I send my estranged brother a happy birthday message.  It’s his birthday, after all, and the reminder, as if I need one, is right there on the tool bar.  Hours later he responds with a kind of non-response, but his wife posts a photo of him as a baby, and guess who’s in the photo with him?  Do I feel better?  Of course not.

**  I feel compelled to “like” photos and comments that I would never bother to respond to, or probably even know about, in real life.  I feel guilty when I don’t “like,” I feel ridiculous and phony when I do.

**  [note to self:  use of the phrase “in real life” is troubling]

**  I receive comments, and thus feel the need to respond, from people whom I’ve mistakenly “friended” but have never been friends.  Some are barely even acquaintances.  And yet there’s never enough time to catch up with the people really care about.

So, the e-reader:  not for me, not yet, not today anyway.

And Facebook:  it’s only been 24 hours but I don’t miss you one bit.  I feel relieved.

Instead, and maybe not so ironically, I’m off to read a real paper book about madness.

If only I could release my addiction to WORDS WITH FRIENDS ….


What kind of screen time would you love to give up?


51 thoughts on “This Uncovered Wagon

  1. Averil Dean

    Aw! They almost had you.

    I’m on the opposite side of the e-reader thing, though every writer-gene is screaming that I’m wrong. I still love the look and feel of “real” books and I’ll never give them up completely. But reading on a thin, lightweight device is such a comfortable experience. No juggling, no cumbersome gutter or shifting around to try to get enough light on the page. I get much more lost in the story with my e-reader. I really miss it when I read a paper book.

    Can we still be friends?

    1. Teri Post author

      And right here you list all of the reasons I want to get an e-reader! I just can’t pull the handle yet. I want to, but I can’t. The idea of looking at yet ANOTHER screen makes me bonkers.

    1. Jennine G.

      I am quite attached to my iPhone too. Word games, goodreads app, the calendar, and all my contacts right there…plus a note section! It’s so convenient.

  2. Jennine G.

    Teri, I am with you on the e-reader…big grin spread across my face when you described walking in and then walking by them! I have the Kindle app on my iPad just because a writer I wanted to read only had his book in ebook form and it was free. So I have free, strictly informational, books on my app, but I cannot bring myself to e-read anything beyond that. (And I have lunch duty at school, so reading off the iPad at least makes it look like I’m working at the same time as watching lunch!)

    And as for FB, I am thinking of really, really cutting it back. I cannot get rid of it completely because my kids are at the age they are getting on there and I have to be able to stalk them. But also, much of our family lives far away and I have a reading group of sorts that talks books with me. But FB also fills me with all those ambivalent feelings and puts me in a bad mood in general. So I think I’ll be weaning away slowly but surely.

    Maybe I’ll write a post on it…seems to be a theme around here lately.

    1. Teri Post author

      With younger kids, you absolutely need to be on there with them. My kids are 26 and 32 now —- and they post nothing on their FB pages. As in zero. They’ve moved on to Reddit, whatever THAT is! I’m so so far behind.

      1. Jennine G.

        By the way, I got on FB a little after this post and deleted at least 60 people. Anyone I never hear from or anyone who I wasn’t really friends with before or anyone who usually just posts things to fight…deleted. I’m going to keep slimming the list down so it’s less to deal with. Talk books, blog, and stalk my kids!

  3. Pamela

    I have a kindle, an ipad mini and an iphone. Someone asked how I was liking the mini and I said, “I love it so much I want to consummate my relationship with it.” What is better than going on a trip and knowing that I won’t run out of books, that I won’t have to make room in my suitcase for 8 heavy paper-books? A thousand books at my fingertips, more room for shoes. That’s all it took to convert me from my paper-only stance.

    1. Teri Post author

      More shoes? I’m going back to get that Nook. One of these days…. 😉

      I used to have an iPad and I downloaded a few books on there, but I absolutely hated reading on the thing. I even gave the iPad to my son.

      I do look forward to the day when I get over this thing, like it’s a bad flu, and get on board with the e-reader thing. How cool would it be to take my entire library on the road with me. Keep traveling light, Pamela! I swear I’ll join you one of these days.

  4. anna

    I don’t have a nook or a cellphone but give up screen time? Now you talking crazy talk, lady. (I wish I didn’t need to go shopping. I’ve limited myself to thrift stores but I swear, if I don’t hear the chink, chink of metal hangars sliding down a pole, if I don’t get to feel those fabrics once a week, I think I might die.)

  5. Downith

    I have a Kindle which I love for holidays, planes and instant downloads. But, I get lost in a physical book much more easily and retain the content better than I do with an e-book.

    I’m not on FB. Meh.

    1. Teri Post author

      I feel like, when I do finally cave, I’ll end up buying books I’ve already read. I can’t imagine not being able to flip back in a book for something I missed or want to confirm. I mean, I know I could do it on an e-reader, but WHERE is the page?!?!

      Facebook = Meh. Agreed. I wonder if Mark Zuckerburg can hear us now.

    2. Erika Marks

      Downith, I love the MEH. That to me sums it all up, my dear.

      Teri, I will miss seeing your updates of your sweet fur babies but I know I can always find plenty here. I too am so weary of FB’s world–though I do like keeping an author page up to communicate–but the way FB sets it up, you have to have a personal page to get an author page, so I’m locked in.

  6. independentclause

    Of course he can hear you now.

    I’m, um, thinking of giving up or cutting back WWF. It’s taking up too much of my attention (I mean, not this week, but previously; I have a good excuse, two actually).

    1. Teri Post author

      Quitting (or taking a break from) WWF? You and me, both. We don’t even need an excuse…. I’m in (or, rather, out) if you are.

  7. Teri Post author

    P.S. I went to church today for Ash Wednesday. That makes 2 times to church in the last decade. The service was all about forgiveness: forgive others so you can, in turn, be forgiven. And when I went out to my car later, these were the first words I heard when the radio came on, from U2: “And I still haven’t found what I’m lookin’ for.”


    It’s almost 5:30. I think I’ll have a glass of wine, make some dinner, and ponder.

  8. jpon

    Books in a bookstore? Well, you have get past the e-readers and greeting cards and music CDs and the coffee shop first, and then there’s the muzak so even if you try to read a few pages from a book you’re interested in buying, you won’t be able to concentrate on it. Congrats on pulling the plug on fb. Wish I had the nerve.

    1. Teri Post author

      I understand that FB (twitter, etc…) are probably necessary tools for promoting a book. But do I have a book? No. No, I do not. All I’m doing with FB is being distracted —– from writing my book!

  9. JustAnotherEmpress

    I know what you mean about the altar of technology now highlighted in every bookstore. It is sad. Last night I went to Powell’s and a similar scenario caught my eye. But, also, there was a reading going on by Ally Carter (any relation?) a popular YA writer, and she had a line of folks out the door with her hard cover in hand ready for her to sign.

    For writers, it’s a “do it all” situation these days. If you want to be published you have to embrace the fact that electronic viewing of your words is only going to get more prevalent. Damn it!

    The last two books I read cover to cover were of the 3-dimensional variety, but I’ve purchased a variety of ebooks since then, and I rarely read them all the way through. It drives me crazy that I somehow must trivialize work that comes to me via the screen. And yet, I just took the plunge and put together my OWN ebook. It’s all such a fucking conundrum, isn’t it?

    I lean toward doing it all, but taking breaks. I think a weekly Sabbath is in order (tried it once for a month, and like a failed diet, but the screens right back on and then some!)

    Congrats on the Facebook unplugging, Teri. Brave!

    1. Teri Post author

      And see, that’s what I mean. You have something to promote! I’ve got no reason to be on FB. It’s one of those habits that creeps into life where you wake up one day and say, what’s the point of this again??

      Works for many. Not for me. And I’ve never never in my life been that non-private, so it’s been a constant stressor.

  10. Lyra

    Yay you!
    I have a kindle courtesy of my dear friend, Oprah, and read a few books on it, but the typos that carry over drive me batty. That and I’m a chronic flipper which will make you insane if you’re like me with a poor memory but an OCD need for what exactly was said. I can’t even get into the bizarre percentage read bar at the bottom and the lack of page numbers that correlate with a book. It’s a scary place for me.
    I did have a friend send me their MS to my kindle which was a great use for it. I could read her book, and make comments, but the only downside was after many hours making those comments I couldn’t then send her the document. I had to mail the whole kindle to her for her to transcribe my notes onto her document. It must have driven her batty, but it did give me a good way to read her work on my commute.

    1. Teri Post author

      You know I’ll get an e-reader eventually. Or I’m guessing I will. I still remember when I thought having a cell phone was ridiculous, that I’d never need one. Now that phone is practically glued to my hand.

      1. Pamela

        I remember getting a free cell phone in a focus group over 20 years ago. The facilitator of the group stood up and said, “One day everyone will have a personal cell phone and many people will cancel their landlines.” I thought to myself, “What a kook. That’ll never happen!” –Shows what I know.

      2. Teri Post author

        When my grown daughter told me she didn’t need a land line, that her cell phone was more than enough, I remember feeling all-knowing and superior, that she would eventually come around. Hahahaha.

  11. Josey

    i’m so biased against ereaders that i secretly judge people who talk about how many books they have downloaded to their reading machines. (to me there is no difference between having 1 or 2,427. show me your fucking bookcases.)

    so today at ash wednesday mass (it’s been three years since my last church visit), i had a total freak-out moment when i realized i did not know the correct response after receiving the ashes. i couldn’t hear what the person in front of me said to save my life, so i mumbled, “hallelujah, father” (i said it low, almost a whisper and only pronounced the consonants).

    i will say that the visit was exactly what i wanted it to be. and the rest of the day i walked around with a sense of pride about my ashes.

    1. Teri Post author

      That’s the tactile part of me, too. I need to SEE those books. The same with being in the bookstore —- how do I know if I want to look inside the book, or buy the book, if I can’t even SEE the book?? Browsing books relaxes me. Put a cup of coffee in my hand while I’m doing that browsing and I’m in heaven.

      The priest in the church I went to yesterday had a very strong accent. And since I’m so out of practice, I had a hard time following him. It was interesting, though, that the church was very full and there were hardly any young people there. And by “young” I mean under 50.

  12. LauraMaylene

    Even as a new Nook owner, the Nook section of B&N freaks me out too. Largely because — and this is really negative and depressing — I see it as the last gasp of hope for a company that eventually, like all the others, is going to go under. I hate thinking that and please please please prove me wrong, B&N.

    1. Teri Post author

      You hit it exactly where the heart is. We all know the B&N time on this earth is short. I will say there was a line of people at the register, and we were ALL buying hard cover books…. our little bandaid.

      1. Jennine G.

        I wonder if this is due to their prices? I love B&N, but often I’ll go in to browse – actually see the book, but take my iPad and compare prices with Amazon and my book swapping site. Often Amazon is cheaper, although mostly in the used section…the books are still in great shape and worth it over new books sometimes. I wonder how Kindle is fairing?

      2. Teri Post author

        We are a country of instant gratification and this certainly feeds that animal. I ran into an acquaintance the other day and she said, “recommend some books!” She got out her phone and ordered the e-version of every single book we talked about. Will she read them all? It’s an interesting time.

  13. Catherine

    I’ve given up reading my junky UK newspaper and I’m quite proud of that, though it did give me some (kinky/kooky) ideas sometimes.

    I’m with real books and will never tire of them. Those two look like a great read. I’m still delighted when my secondhand Amazon selections are put on top of the the gatepost by my postman. Hey wait a minute!

    1. Teri Post author

      “and will never tire of them.” Hallelujah that, Cat. Thankfully my husband is as (more even??) obsessed with books than I am. We will never live in a home without a thousand books. Take it to the Swiss Bank.

  14. sherrystanfastanley

    I have both a Nook and a Kindle Fire, with dozens of books loaded on each. I hardly ever touch them. Other than when I’m traveling or having a sudden and urgent desire to read something RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE, I’m still all about the printed page.

    But I do spend an inordinate amount of time on FB. That screen time I can’t seem to give up. (And I will miss you there!)

    1. Teri Post author

      And this is exactly how I imagine myself with an e-reader. Download more books (instant gratification!) than I can count, and take it on trips —- but otherwise, I fear it would collect dust.

      I don’t miss FB just yet, Sherry, but I do miss seeing you there. Of course there are other people there that I’m glad I can’t “see” anymore, and I’m therefore so relieved.

  15. Paul Lamb

    I often feel as though I’ve forgotten something about the internet. It seems that at one time it was an interesting place or that there was an interesting site that I haven’t visited and lost the link to. So I lament my time aimlessly searching for something, anything interesting. I surf and surf and surf, looking for . . . what? I don’t know, but it is as though I used to know what it was and now I don’t. (If you — and a few others I could name — made posts more frequently my problem would, of course, go away.) That’s the kind of screen time I would love to give up.

    Alas, I do have a Facebook account, but it’s mostly for staying in touch with my far-flung kids and a few friends. My son and DIL (both doctors) have severely restricted their Facebook posts because their patients “research” them in this way and then comment on their personal lives. And don’t get me started about the grotesque presumption of employers feeling they have the right to snoop about potential employee’s Facebook lives.

    I recently read a novel on the Kindle my daughter and SIL gave me several years ago. It works. The black letters appear on the white field, and they pass through my eyes and into my brain where they make sense, and I reach the end of the story. But it doesn’t have the same “feel” as reading a paper book. It is not the same experience for me, and I suspect that I will never fully accept it as a means to read. Maybe it’s the collector in me, wanting to have the book on a shelf beside me. Maybe it’s just a generational thing.

    1. Teri Post author

      The biggest benefit I see is that I could read without a light, and without my glasses. This, in itself, should be more than enough. I read a couple of essay collections and a novella on my iPad (before I gave the iPad to my son) and while they were great quick reads, I hated that I couldn’t flip back and forth the way I wanted to. I never knew I was a flipper!

      We don’t do xmas gifts anymore, but I always give my kids a book. This year I gave them paper books, but then I noticed they were reading books on their phones (on their PHONES!). I can’t even begin to imagine doing this…..

      1. Jennine G.

        I didn’t have enough Huck Finn books for my students, so I found two apps that would give it for free and asked students who had iPads and such if they could download it. I had at least 10 kids do so, and 6 of them were reading it off of iPhones! I don’t know how they were doing it. I do all of my FB time and lots of typing on my iPhone, but to read a book?!

      2. Teri Post author

        Agreed, Paul. Anything that gets people to read is a step forward. Would my kids read as much if they had to lug books everywhere? I doubt it.

        That said, when I’m on a plane and I see people reading for hours on their phones or watching movies on their phones, I get a little pang in my heart. Like the world is shrinking.

    2. Jennine G.

      I’m 33 Paul, different generation, and you’ve covered my sentiments on the ereader perfectly. As a collector I want that book on my shelf…I don’t even use the library.

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