Thoroughly Modern Us

June 6, 2021

A friend here in México posted on Facebook that she was excited to receive a book – a hard copy – of Francisco Goldman’s new book Monkey Boy. I’ve read his books before and have been planning on reading this one, too. But that’s not why I bring it up. It’s that she bought a book – a hardback book – and made a bit of an anti- ebook comment.

I do miss books once in a while but I am mostly on the ebook team these days. I love the immediacy of them. I love changing the type size, and bookmarking, and sharing snippets just by copy and paste.

I have always been a big reader and most years read around 75-100 books. I can’t imagine anything better than an afternoon in a hammock reading while the dogs chill nearby. I used to buy a lot of books but also made good use of our local library. I still do use the library a lot but it’s all ebooks for me now.

I do remember fondly the feeling of contentment that a big stack of books on the bedside table gave me. But I feel the same way looking at my library on my ipad, truly. See my first screen of books, below? Really, it feels the same.

I remember how great it was in the past to peruse a new friend’s bookshelves and finding out that we loved many of the same books – or find unknown and interesting ones to lead me in new directions. It was a fast track to friendship for me.

It was the same with music, remember? Paul and I got to know each other so much better by exploring each other’s book and music shelves. How do young people do it now? These days I make do with “friends” on Goodreads and the Goodreads algorithms suggest new reads I might like. (And of course my real friends suggest books too!)

Back in 2007

Before we moved to México I ripped all our hundreds of cd’s to my computer and I am glad I still have them. But most of the time I listen to Spotify on our Sonos speakers, which I love. I can play the music in the garden, in our sala fresca, on our tv bars, anywhere. I can hear new music easily, and Spotify has gotten to know us and makes music mixes that are really fabulous. But our lazy Sunday mornings of the past with one of us playing DJ and our breakfast of waffles and the New York Times are long gone. The news is online and the music is too. Thank goodness the waffle is still the same.

Even the picture is blurry.

A few months ago I decided that we needed a few more real books on our shelves. I had an Amazon gift certificate burning a hole in my (electronic) wallet, so I started shopping. I had never read The Brothers Karamazov and I thought that would be a great choice because I knew I would want to flip back and forth to refer to the character list. I bought a larger sized paperback but UGH! I can’t even read it. The type is way too small and the paper is dull and beige, not white. I like a bit larger type and a bright page. I also like pressing on a word to look it up. What a failure that purchase was! (see above) The rest of my choices didn’t work out any better.

The picture at the top is our main bookshelves these days. We do have a different shelf for oversized books (yes, Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art!) and another upstairs for our Spanish schoolbooks. But basically everything is electronic for us these day.

Where do you fall on the electronic or paper debate? Some like both but I fall hard on the electronic side.


I hope you are having a lovely Sunday. It’s time for me to mix up some waffle batter, put on some tunes and get back to my book!

Share and Enjoy !

More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

13 Comments
    1. I somehow found, and began reading your blog when you and Paul were preparing your house in WA for sale, and for your move to MX and have been reading it ever since. It was years before I was able to retire and move (I arrived in late 2016) but I well remember you talking in your blog about ripping all those CDs, so it’s fun to see the photo today. Part of the fascination was I, too, lived in WA (Gig Harbor), and knew what a mammoth job it would be to prepare to head to MX.

      I disposed of 33 cartons of books before moving (donated to the Book Drive at the office to raise money for charity), and countless CDs and DVDs. I was told I could only move a few digital items but as it turned out I could’ve easily brought them all. Oh well. As you say there’s a whole new world and way of listening these days. As for the books, I felt as if I was adopting out my children, and still miss many of them. I am now a Kindle reader, though I do miss holding the real thing. Imagine to find, as you did, when a friend gave me a copy of the book he’s written, I couldn’t read it. Yes, the font too small, paragraphs not clearly marked (or it went on too long between them), and I just finally gave up.

      Just yesterday ordered my new Kindle after the old one gave up the ghost. Having a stash of over 600 books on it feels like a prize in itself. I’m fine anywhere as long as I have a book with me, and it’s so easy to stick the Kindle in my purse and read what the mood strikes me. I had it for years before really using it – I had my “real” books after all. Now, since it’s not all that easy to find books in English and expensive to order them from the U.S., I find it difficult to get a long without my Kindle.

      As for the waffles – I don’t have a waffle iron, but do enjoy pancakes on Sundays, along with the NYT on my laptop. : )

      1. Barbara, Thanks so much for commenting, I had no idea I had someone reading from Gig Harbor! I think we have very similar tastes! Want to be my friend on Goodreads? Take care

        1. Yes, but I’m not familiar with Goodreads. Tell me what to do and how to find it/you! : )

    1. I don’t go to concerts, I don’t go to the theater, and my idea of entertainment is a brand-new book, one which I can touch. I take in the cover, consider the binding and paper quality, read the copyright page, taking note of the printer’s key.

      My books cover more walls of my house than I should share on social media. Not only do still have some of the very first books I ever owned, but I also have my mother’s copies of Shakespeare and Dickens, in a red binding, which she had long before Pearl Harbor. I have some of my grandfather’s textbooks, which predate World War I.

      I have books that will never make it to an electronic version. I have books that I can freely lend out, sell, hypothecate, and donate, which you can’t do very well with what’s on your Kindle. I’ll still be able to read those dead-tree books when your Kindle has been relegated to the junk pile of Betamax and 8-track.

      When I buy used books, which isn’t all that often, I’m fascinated by what I find within those covers: a photo of some gap-toothed red-haired kid, a grocery receipt, a bookmark from a bookstore off in Antigua. Hard copy means sharing, and that’s more than transferring a book from one set of hands to another. Get on an airplane back in those pre-Kindle days, and you’d see half the plane reading the latest FAA-approved Grisham. Go to a brick-and-mortar book store, and take in the lavish displays of the latest in literature. You don’t get that with electronic books. There’s something selfish about electronic books.

      Now, I’m not so antediluvian that I’m totally against Kindles. I have the app on my phone and iPads. Electronic has its place, but when you read and work electronically, it’s a refreshing break to sit back and read what’s on paper.

      1. I bet you have better eyesight than I do… but I used to have lots of books at home and had a collection of first edition WB Yeats and Willa Cather that I sold when we moved. And yes, I still miss them! I love browsing in bookstores and used to always go home with a pile of them. So we do share a love of books and reading, only bad thing is if you came to my house you couldn’t browse the shelves and learn more about me. 🙁

    1. I too remember all your prep work stories for the big move to Mexico. We were traveling full time in our RV, which meant we had disposed of so many books already. Then our move to Mexico and the few real books took on a musty smell. The kindle or other electronic device was primary. We began sharing a family account so my parents and my brothers and I read lots of the same books. Then we could have great discussions whenever we got together just like we did around the dinner table growing up. I loved those memories.
      Recently I have started using the Libby version of audiobooks and what a pleasure that has been. It’s like someone reads to me at bedtime!
      Enjoy your reading but let me encourage your writing and sharing also. Happy Summer!

      1. Thanks so much, Barbara! So many of us have followed the same path! I am trying to get back into more regular posting… hope you and yours are well and happy reading!

    1. As always, I love your blog and your writing. I look forward to spending some time together very soon in our little town.

    1. I’ve thought about this a bit in the context of my former life. From 2003 – 2008 I flew back and forth 3 or 4 times each year while I lived primarily in Mazatlán, packing loads of books each trip. I think the Kindle appeared on the scene around the end of that time. I remember thinking how much more convenient that would be, though I couldn’t afford one. They were originally expensive, I think. Today I use a cheap one, mainly for reference, work-related material that’s more easily searchable electronically. I’ve borrowed many ebooks from the library during the pandemic, though if I like it I’ll buy a hard copy. In the absence of streaming during my Mazatlán years I also packed hard drives full of media. I left much of that and the books at our place there, where I’m sure the salt air and humidity have done them no good. When I have the chance to travel again I’ll check on them and probably take advantage of the conveniences that didn’t really exist back in my wayfaring days. Still, I’m against business models where I don’t really own what I pay for, even when I ‘buy’ it, or when it’s subject to someone else’s control in the form of digital locks. As for algorithmic recommendations, I liked the old days better when good DJs put together set lists and even surprised us with new music. Times change and those days are long gone. So I make due, but its not the same. Since I’m likely to be fairly stationary in the US for the next 10 or 15 years, I’ll stick with physical artifacts whenever I can; Seattle still has a few good DJs on jazz and classical stations, though I think the end is in sight. Then hopefully I can pack it all in one big haul to Mazatlán when I retire!

      ~Best
      SrVidaBuena

      1. Thanks so much for commenting, Brian! So many of us are of a similar mind! Good luck to you!

    1. Gosh look at that 2007 shot of you!!! All that hair! Thanks for the post, reading is one of the enormous joys of life, isn’t it? At the moment my shoulders aren’t yet repaired from all the falling over I did during my Covid and Long Covid (Toppled over last week, result was a scab on the face as though I was a 7 year old who had come off her trike on the tarmac). So even when I’m not sleeping off the fatigue, I’m often flat on my back (so not even the arm weight pulls against my bursa and tendons), propping up a kindle. Could be so much worse!!!!

    1. please be sure to read A LIFE WITHOUT WATWER. REALLY GOOD.

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