books, geekery

…Be A Bookdragon

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There’s this advertisement on my Facebook feed, for a line of merchandise bearing the tagline, “In a world of bookworms, be a bookdragon.”

Apparently Facebook has spied on me enough to know that I like dragons, and that I would, in fact, refer to myself as a bookdragon. Putting aside the momentary concerns I have about privacy, I have to admit: I want something from this line of merch.

I like the statement. I feel it’s accurate.

And I do believe there are important distinction between the terms.

So, just what are they?

HUMOROUS DISCUSSION TIME!

Bookworms love to read. Bookdragons find reading a way of lifeWe don’t just read books we find interesting; we keep detailed, organized lists of what books we should read, and why. We track announced new releases from our favorite authors (yes, to the point of camping out in bookstore entrances at ungodly hours). We don’t just read the books; we then write glowing reviews and post them on multiple social media platforms and share them with hundreds of human beings who don’t even know our real names, but will drop everything to read said post.

We also need to have all the merch based on these precious tomes, and follow the authors on Twitter, and once every spring build a garden statue out of clay that is meant to resemble our newest precious character.

Bookworms learn what foreshadowing and plot holes are. Bookdragons can nail down the flaws in even the most perfect novels, and headcanon our own ways of correcting them. We don’t simply finish a read we’d give 3.5 stars and say, “This was what I liked, and this is what I wasn’t so fond of.” We say, “It absolutely had me up until page 106, the second paragraph down, when the narrator revealed her father actually died in an accident, not from drinking too much lemonade, and that she felt responsible for causing the accident. The reason I couldn’t get on board with this point of view was because her mother had concretely referenced an accident and how it wasn’t her fault back on page 59. She really needs to listen to her mother, and the fact the rest of the story didn’t ever resolve their conflict feels like the writer and editor dropped the ball. Otherwise there would’ve been this amazing scene between the two characters by about page 257, where they aired all their grievances, yelled at each other, and then broke down in tears and hugged it out, and the ending wouldn’t have felt so hollow and bereft of forgiveness and redemption.”

Ahem. What? You know it’s true.

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Bookworms won’t always share their unpopular opinions. Bookdragons don’t hesitate. Let’s be totally honest, though — this is where we get in trouble. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having an opinion (especially since all art is subjective), and there’s also nothing at all wrong with not liking a book 88% of your friends did. However, being nasty about it definitely has its downsides. It is possible to write a very humorous negative review, and people laugh and laugh, and agree with what you’ve said, and you haven’t actually included phrases like, “This author should burn in hell for throwing in a love triangle.”

Seriously. Knock off the more inhumane reactions to books or authors who disappoint or even anger you. Sorry-not-sorry, folks.

Okay, that’s my one lecture in this post.

Bookworms are often also writers, but they may feel more content sticking to non-published formats. Bookdragons are often also indie or trad authors, or reviewers/bloggers that get paid. Now, before anybody gets up on their high horse, I’m going to say this point blank: If you write, YOU ARE A WRITER. Whether you’re a blogger, on Wattpad, you jot down poems in a journal, or can Google yourself and novel titles pop up, it is all you’re a writer. The difference comes in the amount of determination and perseverance. And many bloggers or journalers admit, they aren’t sure about diving into official publishing. And that doesn’t disqualify them, either. Because publishing does take a thick skin (or scaly hide), and it isn’t for everyone who loves to see the written word appear from their own pen or keyboard.

Bookdragons may be more successful in this endeavor because we breathe fire and tend to eat our problems.

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Bookworms collect books they adore. Bookdragons hoard hardcover and paperbacks and special editions of the same exact title, gather all the merch, and scour crafts store sales for the most realistic-looking fake flowers for our Instagram photos. Personally, I don’t do Instagram, but so many of us do, and it is a labor of love. We do share pictures that look great on a limited budget, and we truly flail in delight whenever someone appreciates our hard work. We just can’t help wanting to show others how incredible our carefully cultivated bookshelves look.

Bookworms check news from their favorite authors. Bookdragons have their favorite authors’ newsletter emails placed at number one in Contacts; higher than their parents, siblings, or children. Okay, I’m exaggerating (slightly). But we do get very attached to our beloved wordsmith humans, and will frequently admit to it. Neil Gaiman is just a lovely person who I would happily sit down with for a cup of tea, given half the chance. When I learned of Terry Pratchett’s passing, I sobbed for hours on end. Maggie Stiefvater was recently joking on Twitter about an MRI she had, and I was like, “DON’T YOU DARE!”

Authors who can put into words all the feelings and experiences we thought no one else understood are highly prized treasures, and should be appreciated by the entire human race as the gift from God they are.

*Clears throat and wipes eyes*

All right, that’s my list. Any you’d add, moths?

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geekery, pop culture

The Generation Gap

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I’ve started thinking about this a lot. Maybe it’s part of getting older myself, and realizing that so much of the stuff I grew up with simply won’t exist, or will be quite different, for my own children, and wondering where the time has gone (and denying that I’m now “a grown-up”). Maybe it’s an unavoidable fact, since the culture that had been constant for several decades by the time I came of age is now in continual flux, as aspects that had stopped working years back are now in the process of reform; and that so many new things have become an integral part of everyday life in such a short span of time.

Is this is a new phenomenon? The generation gap. Or has it always been this way? In ancient civilizations, when people decided it was necessary to do away with the style of clothing/social manners/cooking/trade/education that their grandparents had supposedly thrived on, did the elders shake their heads and say, “Kids today”?

Whether we’ll ever know that or not, it is a fact in 2018 that the world has changed monumentally in the past decade and a half. When White Fang was a baby, a lot of people didn’t have wi-fi, Smartphones, Kindles, or Netflix in their homes, none of these words had become their own nouns and verbs, and kids were still expected to do the majority of their schoolwork with pencil and paper.

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And one of the most interesting things about all this change is that it isn’t only being embraced by the younger generation. Everybody uses it. Millenials, teenagers, elementary students, 30-somethings, middle-aged; even retirees have blogs and Snapchat and YouTube accounts.

But there is still, most definitely, a generational gap of knowledge and familiarity on certain topics. Have you ever tried explaining to a senior citizen what a meme is? (That’s an experience that’ll make you want to run away to Albania and herd goats, let me tell you.) Or when you think you know all the emojis, but then a brand new set is released by some company you’ve never heard of, and a 6th-grader learns them all in the time it took you to put the wet laundry in the dryer. A couple weeks ago, White Fang and I watched a movie with Arnold Schwartzeneger’s son in the male lead role — and I was suddenly, acutely aware of just how long it’s been since the Terminator first announced, “I’ll be back.”

For the first time in my life, slang that I can’t easily figure out is tossed around in my presence. There are websites people use all the time that I’ve never visited. I have actually caught myself starting sentences with, “When I was your age…”

And I wouldn’t call myself technophobic by any means. Or “out of touch,” or “an old foagie” — especially considering that I’m aware most kids these days don’t even use phrases like that anymore to describe stodgy, stuck-in-their-ways adults. And yet (due to financial constraints in the last several years), the secondhand vehicle my family recently acquired is the first one I’ve ever driven with keyless entry, power windows and locks, a digital clock and thermometer on the dashboard.

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On the other side of the coin, though, my mind can’t help but be boggled at the intensely sluggish pace it’s taking some parts of society to progress. For example: Why the hell isn’t bullying officially listed as a hate crime already? Why have I been needing to explain autism to people for the past 10 years straight? Why did it take until this fall for our school district to get laptops for all the students? How are there still people in the world who haven’t read Harry Potter? Why are people who take an interest in science fiction, graphic novels, comics, and “alt” rock still referred to as “geeks” and “nerds” and sneered at?

Why can’t we get there quicker than the next model of Apple anything?

While I may not be “up” on the all the “new” things (I’m sure some 10-year-old will happily tell me that’s not what people say anymore), I’m open to a lot. And I won’t automatically dismiss something “traditional” or “customary” as “offensive” or “ineffectual.” Too many of the pop culture moments happening right now won’t even be remembered by anybody in another 10 years. Just because something’s “old” doesn’t concretely mean it’s “bad” or “needs to go.”

But, I will still be quite happy when I don’t have to explain what memes, emojis, or apps are.

Or, for that matter, defend autism, Harry Potter, or wanting to own a TARDIS.

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