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Paper books, digital books, they're all good

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It is no secret that I love books, and always have. I spent every summer as a kid with my nose constantly in a book, whether I was beating the heat on the front porch swing, in the back seat of the family car on a road trip or late into the night with a flashlight under the covers. The fact that these were books printed on paper wasn’t the important part for me.

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Whenever people ask me about eBooks, the questions always seem to center around whether they are good or bad, implying there is a battle between print and digital. My answer to the question of which format I prefer is always: “Both.” There is no reason you can’t take your tablet on a trip, loaded with books and still have a paper book (or three) sitting on your nightstand. Print books are not going anywhere anytime soon, but digital books are a great way to get more reading in your life.

For those of you who have an eReader, you have probably already heard the good news: The Brainerd Public Library now has eBooks! Since Sept. 20, our 3M Cloud Library site went live, with 1,000-plus books ready to be checked out and read on an iPad, smartphone, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, Kindle Fire, Android device and other eReaders. We have all the information you’ll need to get started at the library, at www.krls.org and are offering a hands-on workshop from 2-4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16. Please call the library at 829-5574 to find out when we will be covering your specific device.

Our eBook collection includes all kinds of books, including fiction, romance, biographies, cookbooks, young adult literature, children’s picture books, and more. Also, the print in all of these books can be increased in size, effectively making all of them large print. Get started with one of these great selections today!

If you have watched all of the PBS series “Downton Abbey” and are dying to know more about that astonishing house and its history, the abbey’s current owner, the Countess of Carnarvon, has written a history of one of its most famous inhabitants in “Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle.” Lady Almina, like many American heiresses in the early 20th century, was sent to England to marry the Earl of Carnarvon, who was landed gentry but seriously cash-strapped. Her dowry was what saved Highclere Castle, and her story was Julian Fellowes’ inspiration when he wrote the script for “Downton Abbey.”

Across the pond, in 1969, Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe were living the bohemian life in New York City, brushing elbows with some of the creative geniuses of the day. Smith’s memoir “Just Kids” tells the story of their love, and what it meant to be young in a time of new freedoms and an uncertain future.

I really enjoy using my eReader with cookbooks, as it allows me to prop it up on the counter, and increase the font size so I can read it from a distance. Another great benefit to cookbooks as eBooks is that every word and therefore, every ingredient is indexed. If you have a bountiful crop of zucchini, just search the book and find every page that includes a recipe using zucchini. Two great ones to check out are “The Pioneer Woman Cooks” by Ree Drummond and “The Skillet Cookbook” by Josh Henderson.

First-time British author Rachel Joyce is making waves with her seemingly small tale of a man who takes a journey to save a friend he hasn’t seen for decades. “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” follows a newly-retired Englishman, frustrated in his ordinary life and stale marriage, who receives a letter and spontaneously embarks upon a walking journey across the country. What he discovers are a few important things about his own life.

Also included are many great book club favorites: “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” by Lisa See, “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain and Anna Quindlen’s latest, “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake.”

For your kids and grandkids, there are books for beginning readers including eBooks featuring Elmo, Batman, Barbie and more. Two great young adult books I’ve recommended lately are about ordinary teens put in fantastical situations: “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs follows a boy on the cusp of adulthood who, after a family tragedy, decides to find out whether his grandfather’s stories about his supernaturally-gifted childhood friends were true. In “Before I Fall,” Samantha Kingston lives a charmed life, with a great boyfriend and a group of popular friends. But on Feb. 12, she dies. The next morning, she wakes up again on Feb. 12. She is given a week to discover how she died, if she can stop it from happening and everything she stands to lose if she can’t.

As always, the library staff are happy to help you get started with our great new eBook service. Come in today and see what the buzz is all about!

LAUREL M. HALL is the senior outreach coordinator for Kitchigami Regional Library System.

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