How do you read these days? –Orange County Register

How do you like to read?

For some, it’s physical books only. I have one friend who says he only reads hardcovers while another sticks to softcovers for the size and price. Others have completely gone digital on a Kindle, Nook, or iPad; apps like Libby, hoopla and cloudLibrary transformed pandemic-closed libraries into 24/7 branches. (Speaking of libraries, check out who we have for our Q&A this week…)

And audiobooks – are you tuned in or turned off? Not only have smartphones shattered the nerdy books-on-tape stigma these used to have, but audiobooks are also the fastest growing segment of the book business.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (Courtesy of Bloomsbury)

Years ago, I was won over to audiobooks by Susanna Clarke’s astounding nearly 33-hour “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell,” narrated by Simon Prebble, which I would listen to on the way home while working a late-night shift. (Yes, it was CD way back then.) But I was pretty sure I’d never make time for Clarke’s nearly 800-page historical fantasy unless some nice person read it to me. So that’s now my main rationale for listening: If I suspect I’ll never get around to reading a book I’m interested in, I’ll listen while I do chores or walk the dog.

Plus, as some listeners will privately admit, the adjustable speed possibilities of audiobooks are a welcome way to get through slow parts that otherwise might have stopped you and a helpful way to speed up a more deliberately paced reader.

I mean, that’s what I hear. I wouldn’t do it. (Cough.)

Another way to get your book fix? Reading and being read to, which remains one of the best ways to share a story, whether it’s to a child or to your partner. Is this a lost art – or just one we don’t talk about that much? Email me.

You probably won’t be surprised that I am fully in favor of all of the above, and I use just about all of those methods. There are plenty of ways to read, and – spoiler alert – there isn’t a wrong way to do it.

I’d actually planned to write about something completely different this week, but all this came to mind when a colleague shared her experience reading a physical book for the first time in a few years.

You may remember a few weeks ago, I wrote about picking up a Blind Date Book at The Ripped Bodice for my colleague Vanessa Franko, and she’s since read it.

Here’s what she had to say about the book, and about the experience:

All I Want for Christmas Is a Cowboy by Jessica Clare. (Courtesy of Penguin Random House)

Vanessa Franko, digital director of entertainment, writes:

I had a big surprise when I opened my blind date book, which turned out to be “All I Want for Christmas Is a Cowboy.” The plot was exactly as the blurb described — that wasn’t the surprise.

Here’s what was unexpected: This was the first physical book I had read after two years of reading exclusively on my phone and iPad, and now I understand the viral videos of toddlers who get very confused when you put a physical magazine in front of them.

• I have a whole new appreciation for digital bookmarks. I know I have physical bookmarks at home. Could I find them? Nope. Did I put the book down and promptly lose my place? Yep.

• Falling asleep with a book can lead to injury if you drop it on your face (thankfully this was a paperback) and then you lose your place again. (See above.)

• However, curling up on the couch on a sunny afternoon with a physical book is still one of the great simple pleasures in life. And a physical book is far superior because you never have to worry about the glare.

Thank you, Vanessa! What are your thoughts on the best way to read? Email me at epedersen@scng.com and share some of the comments in a future newsletter.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

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John F. Szabo is the City Librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library. (Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library)

LA City Librarian John F. Szabo reveals the author who made him star-stuck

John F. Szabo is the City Librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library. As he shares in his official biography of him, he oversees the Central Library and 72 branch libraries, which serve 4 million people – the largest and most diverse urban population of any library in the nation – and its more than $200 million dollar budget. Here, he reveals a book that made an impact, reading recommendations and the author who made him star-struck. Find out more about the Library at lapl.org.

Q. Is there a person who made an impact on your reading life a teacher, a parent, a librarian or someone else?

Absolutely. Anne Searcy, my high school English teacher, had an annual classroom tradition where she would read Truman Capote’s novella “A Christmas Memory” to one of her classes from her. With a few pages to go, she broke down crying something easy to do if you know the story, and I gather this happened to her at every reading. She asked me to finish it and I did. Now, I try to read it during the holidays…sometimes alone, once or twice at a library program, and once to a wonderful group of nursing home residents in Vandalia, Illinois.

I just love it and yes, I always choke up at the end. (I’m kind of tearing up right now just thinking about it.)

Q. How do you choose what to read next?

It’s almost always based on a recommendation from someone. As City Librarian, I receive recommendations daily on great books. While I mostly read nonfiction, I like giving debut novels a try. A recent great read was “Cape May” by Chip Cheek.

Q. Is there a genre or type of book you read the most and what would like to read more of?

I love architectural books and history titles on various art movements. And I’m aiming to explore graphic novels more. LAPL has a Graphic Novel Reading Challenge happening right now!

Q. Can you recall a book you read and thought it must have been written just for you?

André Aciman’s “Call Me By Your Name” really touched me. A beautiful romantic novel in which I felt completely immersed. A year after reading it, I met the author at a book festival and was completely star-struck…and I met lots of authors.

Q. What are you reading now?

I’m reading Ken Bernstein’s “Preserving Los Angeles: How Historic Places Can Transform America’s Cities.” LA is a place of endless discovery and this book shines a light on so many must-know-about places in our city.

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Reader Recommendations

“Hello, Transcriber” by Hannah Morrissey

The novel has a police transcript as its detective. She works for the police department but is not a police officer. Her knowledge of the crimes involved comes from typing everybody’s reports, from traffic stops to custodial interviews. Most of them relate to the Candy Man, a drug dealer in a small town with a lot of crime. Hannah works closely with the main investigator and has a material role in solving the related crimes. She shows bravery and creativity. Ella loved it for her unique occupation de ella and for her believable interactions with the other characters.

–Eileen Ferries

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Novelist Reyna Grande is the author of “A Ballad of Love and Glory.” (Photo by Imran Chaudhry / Courtesy of Simon & Schuster)

In love and war

Reyna Grande talks about Mexican-American War novel “A Ballad of Love and Glory.” READ MORE

Roddy Doyle’s latest book of short stories is “Life Without Children.” (Photo by Anthony Woods/Courtesy of Vikings)

‘Life’ stories

Irish writer Roddy Doyle talks about his new collection of pandemic fiction. READ MORE

Booker Prize-winning author Ben Okri’s new book is “Every Leaf a Hallelujah,” an environmental tale for children and others. (Photo by Mat Bray/Courtesy of Other Press)

Life of trees

Ben Okri talks about his new environmentally-conscious children’s book. READ MORE

“The Paris Apartment” by Lucy Foley is the top-selling fiction release at Southern California’s independent bookstores. (Courtesy of William Morrow)

The week’s best sellers

The top-selling books at your local independent bookstores. READ MORE

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What’s next on ‘Bookish’

The next free Bookish event will be the April 15 event with Steve Almond, Maggie Shipstead and David Baldacci.

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