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Bookworm with a View

My Snowman wants a Kindle

Bob Eckstein's Today's Snowman Contest
Published on December 2, 2009 : 11 comments

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Winter is my favorite season.  I love the smell of cold crisp air and everything that goes with it, from a fresh snowfall and building snowmen, to wearing several layers of clothes and reading a good book, all while trying to keep the house warm with a fire roaring in the fireplace.  

Seven years ago when my family was moving to Omaha, our realtor told us “it snows A LOT in Omaha.”  What I’ve since learned is that ‘A LOT’ is relative.  Moving from Minnesota, where snow stays on the ground from November to late March, it’s safe to say that I’m still waiting for a few 20 inch plus snowfalls to bring a big smile to my face. 

So, here I sit, patiently waiting for our next snowstorm – this is where my story begins…

History of the SnowmanHistory of the SnowmanWhen I have a few hours to myself, you can usually find me at my local bookstore.  I enjoy scouring bookshelves for books I haven’t read and authors waiting to be discovered.  Last week, my journey proved to be successful when I found a copy of The History of the Snowman, written by Bob Eckstein.  The title alone felt like a hug on a cold night, and I knew I had to read this book.

I must admit, I had never given much about the history of the snowman until seeing this book on display.  I picked up a copy, bought a latte, and started reading.  Here are some of the fun facts in the book: 

  • The first recorded snowman dates back to a manuscript from 1380, where he is shown sitting on a bench, warming his backside by a bonfire – our ancestors had a sense of humor!
  • The Miracle of 1511: Almost 500 years ago, Brussels had so much snow during said winter that the entire city was covered in snowmen.  I wasn’t sure I believed this story when I first read it but I did a little research and can confirm the story is legendary.
  • It takes 1 billion snowflakes to build an average size snowman.
  • Looking at the photos in this book and doing a little research online has opened my eyes to the creativity some people have when creating their snowperson.  I say snowperson because Olympia is a snowwoman and stood 12 stories high at the time of her official measurement, which makes her the largest snowman on record.

After reading this book, I bought a few copies to give for gifts this year.  It’s a great gift for people you need to buy for, but it’s not to personal.

To Kindle or not to Kindle, this is the question of this holiday season!

Amazon KindleAmazon KindleHave you ever had the feeling that you own something that no one else has, yet everyone wants?  This is the look I see when I’m talking to a new Kindle owner. It’s more of a glow, actually.

While at a convention last month, the women traveling with Kindle’s felt like members of an exclusive club.  They bragged, just enough to make us all envious, about the technology and how the pages load with real ink to make it look like you are reading from a book.  A few women bought books right in front of us to show us how easy it is!  By the time I left the conference, I had convinced myself that I might enjoy an e-reader.  I must get one, I thought, today if possible.

On the flight home, the gal sitting next to me was so excited to be traveling with her Kindle.  It was stocked with books and she was very excited to start reading, she even had that special ‘Kindle glow’.  Imagine her surprise when the flight attendant asked us to turn off electronics and we ended up sitting on the runway for an hour.  Of course no one could have predicted this event and I felt bad for her knowing how excited she was.  She looked at me and said “I guess I didn’t think this through, did I”? 

I love the idea of the Kindle. Having recently traveled with Wolf Hall (a 530+ page hardcover) and a few extra reading options for a four day trip, it would have been so nice to grab the Kindle and go. Yet, while I do appreciate it the advancement forward, I love the feel of a book in my hand a little more. 

Is an e-reader on your wish list this year?  If you have one, has it transformed your reading/shopping experience?

Upcoming Releases

If you are an avid reader there are so many new book releases to get excited about this time of year. Don’t forget you can also reserve upcoming releases at your library (I did this last night, for several of the titles below):

January 4: Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert
January 12: The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
January 21: The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes
February 2: Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian
February 2: Sweet Little Lies by Lauren Conrad
February 2: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
February 9: Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani
March 2: House Rules: A Novel by Jodi Picoult

I have the urge to read something with suspense, has anyone read a Stieg Larsson novel?  What are you reading this month? 

mpartykaHappy Reading, Mari

Comments

Anonymous (not verified) says:

December 3, 2009 : 6 years 42 weeks ago

Anonymous's picture

I love your snowman story and what a real snow storm is. So my mind went back several years. We lived near Buffalo, New York, where the average annual snow fall exceeds 150 inches. It seems as if every morning we had to shovel the driveway before we could leave for work or school. Then, we were offered a job in Minnesota, and I remember thinking, it couldn’t be worse than Buffalo. Not worse, but different.
In Minnesota we only get fifty inches of snow every year, but we get 30 or more says below zero. Sometimes, below -20.
Heaven: A warm fire and a good book. Or a Kindle…
Bring on the snowmen!

Bob Eckstein (not verified) says:

December 3, 2009 : 6 years 42 weeks ago

Bob Eckstein's picture

I’m not sure you sent me the notice to read this but what a pleasant surprise…thank you for your kind words regarding my book and I’m so glad you enjoyed it. The book was a lot work and cost me a small fortune (I’ve broken even. It’s selling but I spent a lot on photo rights and artwork, especially the cartoons!). Responses like this make it all worthwhile.

I’m currently working on the movie based on the book (starring NPR’s Mo Rocca)–maybe the snowman will truly back a huge comeback he deserves. Back to my day job at moment–as of this summer I’m a New Yorker cartoonist.

Thanks, again,
Bob Eckstein

Bob Eckstein (not verified) says:

December 3, 2009 : 6 years 42 weeks ago

Bob Eckstein's picture

Excuse me but there’s a typo in the first line (I’m a terrible multi-tasker!). Meant to say “I’m not sure WHO sent…”

Christa Hillmer (not verified) says:

December 3, 2009 : 6 years 42 weeks ago

Christa Hillmer's picture

I keep debating myself about whether I want a Kindle…I just don’t know if I can feel quite so accomplished at the end of a book I’ve read onscreen. I have an aunt who might like one, though…She is an avid reader—and a frequent flier. She mentioned once that sometimes after finishing a book, she leaves it in the airport waiting area for some unsuspecting layover-lorn person.

Jill (not verified) says:

December 3, 2009 : 6 years 42 weeks ago

Jill's picture

Hi Mari - I was told I had to comment on your blog, but as it was a delight to read, I’m happy to do so! (So… are you curious who it was that told me I must? …ahhh!) Here’s a bit about me: I recently semi-retired from working in a locally owned indie bookstore, used & new, after 11 years, and I’ve been very involved in a book group for 16 years now.

OK, the Kindle. So far I’m not very interested in it, altho I am interested in the fact that e-readers are getting much better - I like gizmos as much as anyone. But I love the feel of reading a real book, marking places I want to find again, cover art & all the odd misc stuff on & inside then, photos, the index, etc. Also, I shouldn’t fail to mention that I have a house full of books waiting to be read as a result of my bookstore career.

Snowmen - yup, I like them too. The cover of the book is very clever, but truth be told, I’m sick up to here of snow - I’ve lived in Alaska for 37 years now & I’ve done my time with snow.

What am i reading? Let’s see, on the iPod, it’s ‘Portuguese Irregular Verbs’ by Alexander McCall Smith. I just started it today & so far so good. I loved his ‘No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ series, but don’t much care for his other series, so we’ll see how this one goes. In the car I’m listening to ‘Eventide’ by Kent Haruf, which follows on after ‘Plainsong’, a book group title several years ago. It’s a lovely down-to-earth story of small town, rural America with well drawn characters. The book I’m actively reading is ‘Friday Nights’ by Joanna Trollop (a relative of Anthony). I like her work, very British & thoughtful with engaging plots & characters.

I should be reading ‘Finding Beauty in a Broken World’ by Terri Tempest Williams. It’s for my book group. But, I started in & hate it, so I’m boycotting. The first 35ish pages were interesting, she went to Italy to learn about mosaic craft. Then she jumps to the Southwest US & gives us page after page after page of info about prairie dogs - legal stuff, scientific ecosystem stuff & then a really long boring section of what must be her actual field notes from watching those critters for 10 unrelenting days. This is where I jumped ship to something easier to take in the dead of winter. Oh yeah, and the final part is about the genocide in Rwanda. I’ve read a few of her books - loved ‘Refuge’ - but find the succeeding titles less & less interesting as her style gets more & more pretentious. My friend said that the good part about the book is that there is a lot of white space. Oooohh, that was a nice little rant! :)

So, that’s all for now - I look forward to reading more - blog-on!

Mari (not verified) says:

December 4, 2009 : 6 years 42 weeks ago

Mari's picture

I love the idea of 150 inches of snow!

When my son was young and played hockey outside, the temperature cut off to stop/cancel an outdoor game was -40 with windchill. -20 without windchill is a little too cold, even for me!

Mari (not verified) says:

December 4, 2009 : 6 years 42 weeks ago

Mari's picture

Bob,

Thank you for stopping by, I’m so thankful that you received a copy of this article! I wish you much success with this book and future projects. The movie will be a must see.

LIsa (not verified) says:

December 4, 2009 : 6 years 42 weeks ago

LIsa's picture

Great article! The only reason I like the snow is to cover up all of the brown!

Jess (not verified) says:

December 4, 2009 : 6 years 42 weeks ago

Jess's picture

Thanks for alerting me to the snowman book- looks like a fun read. I live in a part of the world that gets pretty much zero snow (Northern California) so I’m a little envious this time of year, but mostly happy that I never have to shovel off my driveway. My kids, however, would love a little snow!

I’m also going to reserve a few of the new books on your list at my local library. Thanks for the heads up!

I do not plan to get a kindle. It just doesn’t seem like a necessary item for me…I’m happy with my book in my hand and on my ipod. Although, now that you mention it, the 800 or so page book I am reading right now is proving to be quite heavy and hard to deal with while I nurse my baby, which is when I manage to do most of my reading, so perhaps I should re-think my christmas list…?

mpartyka says:

December 5, 2009 : 6 years 42 weeks ago

mpartyka's picture

Kindle update - I read an article yesterday that mentioned you can not read Dan Brown novels on Kindle, or the new Sarah Palin book. I know Kindle is an Amaon product but I thought you could buy any book via Amazon… If the list of authors is condensed, buying a Kindle may not be the best option, yet.

I know a few people who enjoy the Sony reader, I wonder if they have similar partnerships.

I feel better now, I will keep reading paper.

mpartyka says:

December 5, 2009 : 6 years 42 weeks ago

mpartyka's picture

Jess - on the flip side, you can look at your 800 page book and be proud for accepting the challenge (every time you pick up the book).