Sunday, January 10, 2010

Kindle me this?

I got a Kindle for Christmas. I've been noodling over whether or not I would like using one for about a year - I mean I'm not exactly one of those techno-geeks living on the cutting edge of technology. And, there are things about reading a book that I like. Like the pages. Like the size and weight of them. Like wondering when the hell publishers started informing me of the type of font that they used to print the book and why. So, why? And when?

Anywho - George the Elder got me a Kindle. And, surprisingly, for the most part I really do like it. I also enjoy the way that my other half knows me so well that he also bought me a cunning little leather cover for my Kindle. It makes it so much more "book-like" when you don't have to hold it like a teeny replica of the 10 commandments.

And, yes - I am enjoying my little gizmo. I like that I can carry around a volume of short stories and a whole novel in my purse at the same time. I'm a huge proponent of being prepared for waiting and have always carried some reading materials with me at all times. You never know when you're going to have some time to kill while you're waiting for something. Actually, there are times that you absolutely know when you're going to have to some time to kill: doctor's offices and car pool lines are two notorious examples. But, the beauty of the kindle is that it is light weight - so my purse doesn't have the attributes of a backpack now.

And yet (as you suspected), there are a couple o' things that sort of chap me about it. First, the inability to easily scan back and re-read some passage that seemed inconsequential at the time - but instead contains the information that will unlock your utter confusion two chapters later. Yes, you can "turn" back the pages. But what you can't do is fan the pages until a word or two pops out that reminds you where that previously inconsequential passage might well be.

Second, it bothers me that I can't tell where I am in the book. There's something about starting a book, getting to the physical middle and then anticipating the ending as the pages grow in girth on the left hand side. The last Kindle book I read surprised me when I got to the end. It wasn't nice feeling. It was thinking that you have three bites of Banana Cream Pie left and then the waitress takes your plate away with your fork still in mid-air. Maybe I just need to read the directions more carefully, but I like seeing "15 of 1003" and knowing that if I just had another several days of uninterrupted reading I would soon see "1000 of 1003" and would be jazzed to know that only 3 pages remained. On my Kindle the bottom of the page says something like "Locations 1640-47." What, in heaven's name, does that even mean?

And last, I feel like my Kindle is mocking me. While my Kindle "sleeps" the printed word disappears and is replaced by assorted and various "Wall Street Journal-Esque" kind of ink drawings of historically famous authors: Ralph Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austin, Virginia Woolf and many of their other distinguished writer buddies.

"How nice?" you might say. Sure, I guess it'd be "nice" if you were a person of high literary prowess - one who actually took time and pleasure in reading such staggering tombs of classical genius. I, alas, am not one of those folks. Sure, I whip out "To Kill a Mocking Bird" every once in a while, and I recently got down with "Giants of the Earth" a book that I had read in college, remembered truly enjoying and wanted to see if I would enjoy it again. The answer, "Yes!" But, for the most part - I'm just a flimsy disciple of current day main stream literature. And, GASP! Sometimes I read pure unadulterated brain candy. Sheepishly, I admit I read the whole damn Twilight trilogy. Hardly the stuff that will be remembered in years to come with stylishly created ink drawings.

So, while I am trying to enjoy the most recent collection of short stories by Elizabeth Strout - I am reminded time and time again that perhaps my time would be better spent chewing on "Pride and Prejudice" or "The Conduct of Life", not to mention finally reading "The Iliad" which I've been honestly meaning to do.

Like I said, mocked. I am being mocked by a tiny light-weight electronic reader. Why, I never!


Ryan Holladay said...

Thanks, Wendy! I considered getting a Kindle but ultimately decided to wait and see what Apple's Tablet is all about. Some of the criticisms on here I would completely agree with and hadn't heard from others who have one.

Thanks for sharing--


Lily said...

I'm all for real books with all of the anachronism that the comment belies. (Didn't know you read Rolvag Wendy!I just had delusions of matriculating literacy.) I only own 4 sets of reading glasses for my failing eyes. I need another machine or attachment or app in my life? Please... we have more books than the local libraries and even though space is an issue, a candle and a book will out perform battery back-up for me. : )

Margaret Sacks said...

Agreed - it is nice to have a spouse that tries to move me towards technology while I still use a paper Day Timer and I love having loads of different reading material at my fingertips on a plane (Stephen King or Jane Austen) BUT what is up with those page references! Much fun to read your blog - very true to your own "voice".