This Inventor’s Girlfriend Loves Books And Needed A New Clock. So He Got To Work.

"Anyone can be tech-savvy."

While a lot of people rely on ordinary clocks, watches, or cellphones to figure out the time, one man's "literary clock" proves there are more creative ways to do it.

Jaap Meijers, a freelance journalist and maker, tells A Plus in an email that when his girlfriend, Astrid — a teacher and scholar of English literature — wanted a clock for their living room, Meijers started thinking about a way to "make a clock that has something to do with books." 


"I consider myself a maker, and I find that giving a present you made yourself is a lot more fun than just getting something from the store," he says. 

Meijers realized he could use an e-reader as a clock, building it so that the display tells the time through quotes from literary works. It updates every minute, revealing a new quote. For instance, at 3, the clock reads:

"Three o'clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do." — "Nausea," Jean-Paul Sartre

Photo courtesy of Jaap Meijers

Considering that there are 1,440 minutes in a day, Meijers found it difficult to find a literary quote for every minute. He used a helpful quote list compiled by The Guardianand filled in gaps by repeating some quotes or using "more vague time indications" when feasible, he explains on his Instructables page.

"This quote from Catcher in the Rye is used at 9.58AM: 'I didn't sleep too long, because I think it was only around ten o'clock when I woke up.' "

When asked for some of his favorite quotes used, Meijers points to a quote from A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz: "He taught me that if I had to meet someone for an appointment, I must refuse to follow the 'stupid human habit' of arbitrarily choosing a time based on fifteen-minute intervals. 'Never meet people at 7:45 or 6:30, Jasper, but pick times like 7:12 and 8:03!"

"I like this quote very much, because I very much agree," Meijers tells A Plus. "When you think about it, it is strange that we insist on meeting people on round times."

Photo courtesy of Jaap Meijers

But the clock isn't just for telling time — it still works like a regular e-reader and it doubles as a literary quiz, Meijers explains, which his girlfriend especially likes. 

"Only when you press a button on the side of the Kindle will it show you what the title and author for the quote are. She usually guesses correctly, it's astonishing," he says.

Photo courtesy of Jaap Meijers

Finally, Meijers hopes that his work proves that anyone can build something unique if they set their minds to it. 

"Even with the maker revolution and all the great resources online, there still are a lot of people who don't realize they can make cool things, too. They think doing cool things with technology is only for big companies. A few reactions I got to my clock were: 'I love this, I'll have to persuade my tech-savvy boyfriend if he wants to make this for me.' No! You can do it yourself!" Meijers says. He adds that there are plenty of online resources (such as Instructables and Adafruit) that provide tutorials for the things we want to make. 

"Using these resources, anyone can be tech-savvy," he says. "Tech-savvy only means that someone has tried things before. Just try making something, and you'll be tech-savvy, too!"

Photo courtesy of Jaap Meijers

Click here for Meijers's step-by-step guide to building the literary clock as well as links to some of his other projects. 


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