I can't read. And now I'm part of a reading club?

Here's a fun fact: the only reason this blog exists is because I can't read. The moment I open a book, I can't make it more than five pages before my face is planted nose deep into the spine, drooling. I'm sexy and I know it. This proved to be problematic back in 2007, when I had a two-hour LA Metro train ride to work. The Metro doesn't exactly traverse the "wish you were here" LA hotspots. When you fall asleep and miss your stop, all you wish for is your mommy. Blogging meant I could stay awake, and that led to good things like getting to work on time, and also not being dead.

My kid used to take advantage of this affliction of mine. He'd pick the longest story possible at bedtime (i.e. longer than 5 pages) just to make me dream talk. You know what I mean, right? You know when you're on the phone with someone and you're dead tired and you start dreaming and say something totally non-sensical, and then they're like "what did you just say?" and then you wake up just enough to kind of remember what came out of your mouth, at which point you scramble to explain what you just said, as if you totally meant to say it? "Um, you were talking about back stabbing friends and I said pickle sunny side up ergonomic because everyone knows you can't eat on a Sleep Number bed, yet I have jerk friends who come over and eat breakfast on it. And to add insult to injury they add gherkins to that bullshit! God! Don't you hate that?"

So, getting back to my original point, Fury used to make me read long books to him because he knew that five pages in, Peter Rabbit would be riding the cashmere pineapple Pythagorean theorem. His squeals of laughter were totally worth the feelings of complete parental ineptitude that this phenomenon would trigger, however. 

In addition to the above, I also have to admit that I can't do fiction. Just never got into it. With a few exceptions (pretty much all having the name Stephen King attached to them), I have never enjoyed, nor appreciated fiction. I read true crime books. I read history. I read business, pop psych, biographies, memoirs... but fiction? Never appealed to me. When I read, I feel like I need to learn something. Fiction isn't true. Therefore, it is a waste of my time. I know this is wrong, and I know movies are fiction and I enjoy those. What's life without inconsistencies?

I recently bought The Final Storm for a plane ride, thinking it was a WWII history book. When I found out it was fiction, I tried to read it on the plane anyway. Big mistake. After every sentence, my brain countered with "you know, Jim, this never happened." I fell asleep three times and got through about 30 pages before accepting that I hated it. If you did the math, that's twice my reading endurance. This proves that I tried.

So now I'm part of an online book club. 

Say what??

This is a good time to give you my FTC disclosure statement: I said no at first. I said I don't like to read because I fall asleep after five pages. I said I don't like fiction either, which means half the catalog is dead to me. They said they would pay me. I was between jobs at that time. I said "ok, keep talking." They said that this is a reading app that lets you write comments in the margins as you read; and your friends who are also reading the same book can read your comments, and you can read theirs. It's like live tweeting a book! It's like a sidebar conversation. It's like the filmmaker's commentary on a DVD. Plus, I could pay the electric bill. Done.

Real-time social reading. This is the answer to all my reading problems. Being able to read your friends' notes on each page is like having that friend who makes conversation with you in the car so you don't fall asleep at the wheel. And that is what the Copia social e-reading tool is all about. And a 6-paragraph preamble is what I'm all about. Bullet points are nice too: 

  • Copia is device agnostic. It's not going to iPad heaven, but it'll have a good time on any platform while it's here. It'll even work on a web browser.
  • You can buy millions of book titles direct from the site. I just read Escape from Camp 14. It's a memoir of the only person to ever escape from a North Korean labor death camp. You will never look at life the same way ever again. Don't say I didn't warn you.
  • If your friends are reading the same book, you can read their notes in the margins as you read. So in the case of Escape from Camp 14, I fully expect to see notes like "Jim I hate you" "I am now depressed for life. Thanks a lot, Jim" and "Kim Jong Il can suck it!" 
  • If you go to someone's profile page, there's a cool Venn diagram thing that shows how their library overlaps yours. That's the kind of dangerous technology that causes soulmates. 
  • Copia got a whole bunch of us parent bloggers together for this, so if you're into that kind of thing, check out the Copia Parents Book Club.
  • You can also set up impromptu reading groups with your friends on Copia. Some of us decided to read the same book at the same time to take advantage of the real-time commenting feature. Feel free to join MrLady, Redneckmommy and LaidOffDad and me in our splinter group, Tanis, Doug, Jim, and Shannon Do Books. I believe you need to be logged in for that group link to work, but getting an account is free.

You may have noticed that the book we decided to read is a work of fiction. That's because Doug picked it and I'm trying to remain open to new frontiers. Just note that if you happen to be reading Telegraph Avenue with us, you might see a comment that reads jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjafvirwj'bvowirtjrq. Just be thankful Copia hasn't yet figured out how to share drool.

------------- 

If you want to jump into the pit with us, or simply enjoy agnostic reading, leave a comment and share with me one book you've been wanting to read by Friday, Oct 5 11:59pm PST (leave the comment by then, not finish the book by then). I will draw TEN lucky winners to receive any book of their choice through Copia. So get a book, fire up the iPad/iPhone/Droid/laptop and join us!

Copyright © 2007-2014, James Lin. All rights reserved.