You’d be surprised who reads steamy novels

It’s not the Nook’s fault.  At my house, we’re creatures of habit; enjoyment of print books is a long-standing practice.  Offered a chance to play with the trendy new e-book reader that I have on loan, we’ve thus far responded with a hearty “isn’t that nice!”, after which we peer at the opening screen, venture into a few menu options, then gingerly put the device aside in favor of our printed volume-in-progress.

So I was determined to generate a more enthusiastic buy-in from our mothers during their Thanksgiving visit.  After lunch, I downloaded three tempting new fiction titles: one drama, one frothy and humorous title, and Edward Rutherfurd’s latest historical tome.  The tryout began well: my mother-in-law gamely experimented with the navigation screen and chose Rutherfurd’s New York: The Novel.

But, as it turns out, print is not the Nook’s toughest competition.  My daughter’s appearance with her spinning wheel supplanted 21st-century gadgetry with traditional charm.  Once she’d demonstrated how to transform a clump of wool into a sleek run of yarn, suddenly that was the cooler technology to try.   Hundreds of pages downloaded and available within seconds are no match for a flywheel, a treadle, and (shades of Sleeping Beauty) the spindle.   So, exactly half of the intended audience sampled the e-reader experience.  My mother-in-law did claim to have enjoyed the session and sounded even more sold on New York.

I’ve certainly acquired new appreciation for the subject of spinning.  I select fiction, so fiber arts books aren’t in my territory, but I checked the catalog to see what the library offers.   Choose the “advanced” menu search and look up “spinning” as “any word in subject”: you’ll get a nice list including Respect the Spindle, Spin Control…, The Intentional Spinner, and Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning, among others.   

An epiphany that’s very much fiction-oriented also occurred.  The fascinating juxtaposition of historic sensibilities and modern/future technology–isn’t that what steampunk is all about?  That science fiction/fantasy genre is one I don’t often read (though I love definitions such as Caitlin Kittredge’s assertion on that “It’s sort of Victorian-industrial, but with more whimsy and fewer orphans.”)  Now the relevance of steampunk is becoming clearer.  For a starter list, you could try a suggestion from Hennepin County Library.   

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